Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Wonder Woman- Good for Girls?

As a feminist I have a love-hate relationship with Wonder Woman.  She is fraught with problems but so amazing, too.  With the new release of Wonder Woman (2017) the world is talking about her more than ever.  As much as I want to love Wonder Woman, here are a few unhelpful things she teaches women:
  1. Outlaw Men.  Wonder Woman's world has outlawed men.  This perpetuates the problem of him vs. her without offering solutions on how to live together as equals.  The sister-power thing has some value for me, but the movie downplays the sisterhood stuff a lot (see the great article in Quartz, The New Wonder Woman Movie is Strangely Uninterested in Sisterhood).  
  2. Women Can't Carry Real Weapons.  Wonder Woman may have always been a closet pacifist, but one who carries a whip a la Cat Woman (ok, just a sexy rope).  Her other weapon is the shackles of patriarchy WRIST GUARDS.  That's right.  Her main weapon is her defensive jewelry.  Thankfully, Gal Gadot gets to carry a sword and shield.  It's about time.  To be fair, Wonder Woman has used a lot of different weapons over the years, but her main thing is definitely the rope and bracelets.
  3. Girls Fight Sexy.  My number one beef with Wonder Woman is the same I have with most female action figures or heroes.  They are all sexy and beautiful beyond belief to the standards of Hollywood.  They don't bleed, they give lots of panty and boob shots and they hardly ever sweat.  When will real women be recognized as super heroes?  And when will they show the sweat?  Check out this great article from the NY Times, Women Who Have the Chops (and the Punches and the Kicks. NYT interviews some great women of action films and shares why they do the films they do. Michelle Rodriguez tells us it's hard to find good roles for women because male writers usually kill them off if they're not attached to somebody. Michelle Yeoh shares that she finds value in playing more complex roles showing women who are smart as well as strong. Charlize Theron reminds us to show our bruises. Good stuff. And can I just say- let's see more Ronda Rousey on screen!
So how do we talk to our girls (and your boys) about this? I haven't seen Wonder Women with my super-girls, yet, but I'll let you know how the conversation goes. At our house girls can do anything. They dance, do flips, build space ships, wield swords, wrestle, climb mountains and so much more. I always remind my girls: be strong, be brave, be beautiful you. Girls growing up everywhere, you are my real superheroes.

What do you think about Wonder Woman? Is she empowering women or perpetuating patriarchal problems?
My Little Wonder Women

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

News from the Mud Kitchen Cafe

A few years ago I was dying to ditch the old plastic kitchen set that lived in our back yard.  I knew my girls would love a place to cook (we are foodies, after all) so I built them a mud kitchen (thank you, Pinterest).  We used the existing fence to hang a few crates and shelves and put a pallet down for a floor.  From there it has evolved.
Mud Kitchen Cafe- 2015

I am really surprised how long this little place has survived.  The neighbor's tree provides shade and the girls do the rest.  Grace especially gets a lot of joy out of puttering around out here.  I hope someday she lets her sister cook.

Girls sharing their cafe- 2015
Grace is the chef and Rain is her hostess/server/dishwasher.  They share creative influence in the project.  The menu rotates seasonally and current offerings include fresh raspberry leaf tea, chive and rock stew, marinated mushrooms (rocks) and an amazing mud pie.  The girls have learned a lot about collaboration, kitchen management (time and materials, mostly) and customer service.  All while playing outside!

Mud Kitchen Cafe 2017
This is the kitchen, today, heading into its third summer.  Daddy and I like to sit out here in the evenings with the girls sipping on beer and ordering amazing food from their little kitchen.  I wish they made real food- I bet it would be awesome.  Soon they'll start harvesting from the garden and we'll have some edible meals out of this place.

Summer is on it's way- how do your kids get outside and enjoy it?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

5 Tips for Getting Kids Outside

It's a hot topic and one I'm passionate about: getting kids outside.  During the school year our kids are highly structured, pressured and scheduled beyond belief (mine, too) and somehow when summer hits they have forgotten how to be...kids.  Here are some tips for getting your kids outside.

1. Space to play. You don't have to have the perfect yard or a swingset or twenty acres of forested rolling hills for your kids to have fun.  But you do need to create spaces to play.  Our backyard has several areas: dirt pile, mud kitchen, patio with small pool, trampoline, shady tree and climbing tree with swing.  Then you have to let them play there.  Don't worry about keeping it perfect- let your kids have fun in their space.  And do let them play with the hose.  Yes, they'll get muddy.

2. Free time. Seems silly to say it, but don't over structure your kids' time.  It's ok to have a few special activities that you do like swimming lessons or a special camp for a week, but more than one or two activities at a time can make kids feel a little stressed, or at least cause them to forget how to have free time and be bored.  The point is to decompress during the summer months.

3. Special outdoor activities.  Unstructured time is very important, but so is a little structured time.  Plan special trips to nearby outdoor spaces like a favorite park, a creek or river, or a hike.  Plan to stay for awhile.  Give your kid a journal or camera to record some of what they find, take your time and have lunch.  Plan some "quiet time" where kids can be alone and reflect on what they observe.  Maybe bring a special book to read together or do some birdwatching.

4. Invite friends.  When kids start to get bored of the usual thing, invite some friends over.  Have your kids help make homemade popsicles for their friends or build a fort in the back yard.  Bringing friends on a hike can help everyone have more fun and forget the work of hiking while increasing the fun.  Give one of your friends a break from their kids or invite them all along.

5. Lead by example.  That's right.  You need to get outside, too.  Work in the yard while your kids are playing or show them how you climb the tree.  Turn off your device (yes, I know this is a blog) and play with your kids. Plan activities that interest you.  If the big park isn't fun for you, plan a hike or a day at the river with your friends.  Your kids will have fun if you are having fun.