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Mommy is this safe for Dolphins?

9 Oct

Kids will say the darnedest things, especially kids who can’t read.

My boy is just dabbling into the world of reading and since much of reading is recognizing shapes and making your brain associate them with sounds, I have started recalling what his “reading” was like before. Since words looked like a bunch of scribbles on a piece of paper he latched on to symbols that were in his everyday life.

Here is a small taste of toddler thinking vs. the hard work of graphic designers and logo creators. Sorry logo designers you need to work harder, tap into that 3-year-old brain I know you are just trying to shine through!

Exhibit A: The Dolphin Safe Logo

photo courtesy of Logo.net

photo courtesy of Logo.net

This kid though that his can of tuna was telling him that the tuna salad sandwich he was about to eat was safe for dolphins to eat also. Somewhere under the sea he imagined a porpoise dinning on a delicious tuna on rye. Mmmmm….sandwich

Exhibit B: Poison

image courtesy of clker.com

image courtesy of clker.com

This doesn’t mean stay away, this substance might kill you. No this symbol lets you know that pirates love this stuff. Sure they love to wash their clothing, scrub the floors, and don’t forget spray stuff on things. “Mommy, they are very clean but they won’t change diapers!” Luckily for me I worked hard at getting the real message across and it did stick. The kid won’t be adding a sprinkle of Ajax to his pasta.

Exhibit C: BTHA Safety Lion (if this one doesn’t ring a bell next time when you are at the store check out the back of the box of that toy you are about to get your kid, if you don’t see it you might want to not purchase that Ninja Turtle, because it most surely did come into contact with some radioactive ooze)

Official logo of the British Toy & Hobby Association, which means your kid's toy was not made in a sweatshop and most likely not covered in lead paint.

Official logo of the British Toy & Hobby Association, which means your kid’s toy was not made in a sweatshop and most likely not covered in lead paint.

While most kids who even read aren’t going to get this logo, my kid called it the red lion picture but was highly confused when he would open up toys and there was no red lion to be found in the box. Like it was some sort of indication that there was an extra hidden prize, making all toy boxes in to a Cracker Jack hunt. Cue meltdown when the red lion never appears.

Exhibit D: Not Tested on Animals

Are you checking your shampoo for this symbol right now?

Are you checking your shampoo for this symbol right now?

Now I know you think that most kids won’t even look at this, but when you spend hours (yes, hours) in the bathtub anything with in reach will be turned into a toy. “Why is there a bunny on this?” “Do bunnies take baths?” “Can our bunny take a bath?” “Do bunnies wear lotion?” This image was just a cue to ask a crazy amount of questions and pester your mom. Originally it was about bunnies, but it always morphed into something else; “Where is God right now?” “How do you work?” and ended me telling my kid to stop asking so many questions and shouting “I don’t know, okay!”

Finally Exhibit E: Caution Floor is Wet

image courtesy of sinoconcept.com

image courtesy of sinoconcept.com

Well obviously this tells you that there is going to be a dance party in a tiny house! Cue the Delight!

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Video

One more reason to LOVE Amy Poehler!!!!

17 Sep

Can this woman do no wrong?

Not only is she BFFs with my personal hero (Tina Fey), she is a proud Feminist, funny as hell and now she has a YouTube page that features women who have great jobs along with other inspirational snippets for young girls.

Her Smart Girls YouTube page features little videos (like the one above) with music performances by young female performers, interviews with girls from around the world, an “Ask Amy” section where she answers questions about all kinds of topics (crying, stress, letting go, and of course parents). There’s even a “Boys’ Minute”. Check them all out and spread the word to every little girl, preteen, teen and mommy you know!.

Fear Factor: Will My Kid’s Lunch Kill Someone?

9 Apr

I have learned over the years there are many ways to make yourself feel like crappy parent. Locking your baby in the car along with the keys in the front seat… more than once. Rolling up the windows on your child’s hand. Laughing at them when the cry. And the one I just can’t shake the habit of, mocking them when they are whining. All equally can add up to some way tarnishing your child’s emotional development, but I just say “add it to the therapy bill” (because I am tough as nails!) But what if you kill your child’s classmate?

Lunch

Accident waiting to happen or just an innocent sandwich? Image by http://www.skiptomylou.org

Not in a Dexter kind of way, but by packing something in their lunch that causes the kid to have an allergic reaction.

This is my biggest fear. That one day my daughter will reach into her lunch box and pull out a banished food item that I have totally forgotten about (etc. citrus), and the kid next to her drops dead. And my kid is watching the whole thing go down, traumatized.

According to the CDC  4 out of every 100 kids suffers from a food allergy, and out of that number nearly 90 percent of food allergies are caused by milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. That is just mind boggling to me. There is death (well if not death at least a mean case of the hives) lurking in every lunchbox.

If you have kids you know where this fear lies. Every classroom at my child’s school has a sign declaring if it is a “Nut-Free Zone”. We have been to birthday parties with egg-free cupcakes. And not to mention the “talk” at every back-to-school night about proper lunch items and what is not allowed.

Normally I am really good about this. I happened to grow up around people with food allergies and I am not one of those crazed parents who is going to create an all out war on the kid with the nut allergy because I am inconvenienced by getting creative when it comes to a bag lunch. So today when my 7-year-old daughter came home an lectured me about the nuts that were in her leftover Chinese food I felt like a crappy parent and automatically went into a mental freak out of how I have once more harmed my child’s mental growth by killing off a kid (0r kids) in her class. I my mind I had basically murdered a child in front of my own child. God help me!

But in all reality nothing happened… this time.  In the end I figured this is one more reason my daughter should pack her own lunch. She would not willingly off one of her classmates, like her absent minded mother would. And it helps takes one more thing off the list of being a crappy parent, now I can peacefully go back to mocking her while she whines about how her little brother getting everything and is loved more.

Ivy + Bean the Musical Debuts in Berkeley

7 Feb

A year ago Berkeley author Annie Barrows received an email from an old friend that resulted in bring the characters from her best-selling children’s book series Ivy + Bean to life. The email from Nina Meehan, executive director of Bay Area Children’s Theatre, was a simple question: What do you think about making Ivy + Bean into a musical for kids?

Barrows, along with her publisher Chronicle Books, loved the idea and gave BACT the blessing to transform Ivy + Bean in to an original stage production. Meehan immediately reached out to New York playwright and composer Scott Elmegreen, creator of Magic School Bus Live! The Climate Challenge, for help. The result is a new musical that debuts Saturday, Feb. 9 at Berkeley’ Freight and Salvage for a three week run, then travels to San Ramon and Mill Valley.

Megan Putnam and Catherine Gloria in the roles of Ivy and Bean.

Megan Putnam and Catherine Gloria in the roles of Ivy and Bean.

With eight Ivy + Bean books and a ninth on the way, Elmegreen had his hands full when it came to creating a story for an audience of Ivy + Bean fans. Elmegreen focused in on what he calls “musical moments;” instances where the drama was high and would translate great on the stage. Hopefully the young audience members won’t get too upset if something from book four makes it’s way into the storyline.

“We are asking our audience to take some imaginative leaps,” said Meehan. “Just as they do in the process of reading.”

If Barrow’s reaction at a technical rehearsal last week was any taste of what fans of the books will think, the BACT crew and Elmegreen have nothing to worry about.

“This part is similar to how you don’t know how your book is going to be illustrated,” Barrows said before entering the rehearsal. “Look at Ivy! She looks just like Ivy.” Barrows declared after seeing actress Megan Putnam in her red wig and polk-a-dot dress. “It’s like having all my imaginary friends come to life.”

Meehan’s gut feeling that the story of Ivy and Bean of Pancake Court was going to be a great kids’ production has not only been validated by the reaction of Barrows, but by the surrounding community and fans of the books. To cover the costs of creating a new musical BACT created a Kick-starter campaign that has surpassed its $5,000 goal before the deadline. And performance dates are already selling out.

“There is no way I had the expertise on what you bring forward and what you bring back,” said Barrows when asked how the theatrical production differs from her books, adding that Elmegreen and Bay Area Children’s Theatre has done a beautiful job.

Ivy + Bean the Musical will be making its worldwide debut on Saturday, Feb. 9 to a sold out crowd at Freight and Salvage (2020 Addison St., Berkeley) with a special appearance and autograph session with Annie Barrows.

If You Go:

Feb 9–March 3. Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley.  $15–$20. www.bactheatre.org

March 9–17. Front Row Theater, 17011 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon. $15–$20.

March 23–April 6. Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley. $15–$20.

New Year’s Balloon Drop for Kids

28 Dec

Every year the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, Ca

 has a New Year’s eve balloon drop as a way for kids to celebrate New Year’s Eve without becoming cranky pants because they have stayed up too late.

Here’s a video of the balloon drop in action

Balloons

Try this at home. All you need is a package of balloons, someone with strong lungs, a sheet, a digital clock with a seconds counter (you can even just bring up a clock on your computer), and a handful of excited kids.

Pin one side of the sheet to a high point in the living room so that your hands are free – or if you have two adults they can just stand holding the sheet above the kids. Fill the sheet with as many balloons as it will hold without spilling out, then begin the count down; letting the balloons drop the “crowd’s” heads at the screaming of “Happy New Year”. You can repeat the whole experience every hour, until bedtime if you choose, taking breaks for sparkling apple cider and pizza.

If you have older kids who can make it until midnight, I recommend going outside with a bunch of pots and pans and spoons from the kitchen to “bang in the New Year.”

Sometimes I Feel Like I Don’t Have a Partner…

21 Sep

When I drive home from work there is often a laundry list of things running through my head, the first being will this traffic ease up so that I can make it to my daughter’s school by 6 p.m., what does the house look like, crap did I leave the coffee pot on, and so on and so on. Lately my thoughts have drifted off to what it was like for me to be a new mom. Let me tell you it was really lonely.

Sure I had a loving boyfriend (now husband) who was there to support me, but it was really lonely because no one I knew had a new baby. I was 25 years old, many of my friends where not even thinking about having kids or even understood what it meant to be a parent.

Random 20-something friend: “What do you mean you can’t come kick it at Kitty’s on Wednesday night?”

Me: “I can’t drink, and I need to feed the kid every hour.”

Random 20-something friend: “Just slip away for an hour then.”

I would get suckered into going out, only to have to run away dripping milk down my cute top. There is nothing more awkward than having men who you have never dated but only hung out with, point out that you are having your own private wet t-shirt contest. Not to mention your boobs are no so big that everyone is interested in them and asking you if you got a boob job… psst it’s the milk you dumb ass.

When I actively went looking for moms in the Bay Area, I was met with 40-year-old moms who were jugging a CEO position with finding a nanny.. I couldn’t relate. I ended up hanging out with a bunch of newly graduated Berkeley High School moms (one who I am still really good friends with today) but they were my little sister’s age.

Today is a different story, it seems like everyone around me is pregnant or just had a baby. I can’t but feel jealous that these friends can turn to each other for advise. They can even plan fun things together. I was even invited to a “Mommy and Me” outdoor rave! Don’t get me started on Baby Loves Disco Where was all this cool stuff when I was a new mom????

But it is the nature of the beast, people have stopped partying and started popping out kids – of course they are going to want to make things fun. It was in this thought rampage over the Richmond/San Rafael bridge that it hit me – this is where I can find my place. Just like I have become the girlfriend who tells you about infant toy product recalls (since I have lived through years of them at this point) and what private schools are a hot mess (don’t get me started on that one) – I can be the blogger who helps spread the word of what “Hipster Parents” (can’t believe I am writing that out, smh) are doing. I can rejoice in the creativity of my friends and their new broods.

So my dear readers, I strive to keep it up and focus on the things I wish I had when I was a new parent and embrace the movement. Cue “Under the Bridge”!!!!

Tanturm Specatcular

2 May

There are many times I have laughed at my children at inappropriate times. Sometimes they are saying something seriously and it comes out the wrong way or they fall or walk into something, but most of the time it is when they are lying on the floor screaming their heads off in full tantrum mode.

I have a theory, there are two methods to handling full-blown tantrums. The first being let them do their thing, you are not going to win this mind game, and in the end they won’t recall that they hurt your feelings or embarrassed you – so go have a glass of wine or cup of tea and let them freak out. The second is take this time to enjoy a good laugh at your child’s expense. Come on, it doesn’t make you a bad parent! Some of the things that set these toddler time bombs off are ridiculous: wrong colored socks, you aren’t driving the right way, the tag on my shirt is bothering me, so-and-so is looking at me, why I can be naked at the dinner table, etc. If you really listen hard and pretend you are watching a nature show, the things that pop out of a child’s mouth during a tantrum are hilarious.They are like an angry drunk looking for a fight at a bar (this is why that Baby Trashes Bar at Las Palmas is so funny).

Here are a taste of some of the ones I have experienced:

The classics: “She’s looking at me.””Don’t touch me.” “I want (fill in the blank) not you!”

Forced musical selections: “No! I want to hear Katy Perry!” followed up by “Mommy don’t sing!” and “I like that song!”

The backseat driver: “You were supposed to go that way.” “It’s green, why aren’t you going?” and “Why are you driving,? I want to drive.”

Food selections: “This is yucky! Ice cream is yucky! You are yucky!” and “I want (fill in the blank) not this!”

Now all of the above sound like normal demands of a two or three-year-old, but it is the visual picture I want to place. Most of the times the kid is wearing some ridiculous outfit: sunglasses, tutu, and jean jacket, or dressed up in an ill-fitting Halloween costume. And while every thing sounds clear at first, once they get to crying and rolling around on the floor it usually turns into an oddly dressed up Eeyore, wearing broken adult sunglasses screaming “Katy Perry!” Now that is funny, its like something you would see at the Bay to Breakers in SF two hours after the race has ended.

Now it is important to not let your kid see you busting up laughing, so turn around (don’t worry they won’t notice) and crack that smile of even let out a chuckle at the spirit of Courtney Love that has taken over your child. Just heed the warning, if you get busted laughing whatever they were screaming will turn into “Don’t laugh at me,” and we all know that’s not funny.

I would like to add while this all seems cruel to some, I do let my kids have their meltdown, ask them if they are done, then give them a hug and a cuddle. I honor the fact that these little brains are overwhelmed and they need to freak out to feel better, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get a giggle out of it.