Category Archives: Products

Me, flaky? No. Sweet? Yes!

I have to be honest.

I’ve never liked flake cereal. Corn flakes, flakes with nuggets of granola, heck — put a box of flakes with nuggets of actual 24K gold on the grocery shelf and I’d still likely push my shopping cart right by. I see cereal flakes and something in my brain shuts off dies.

So you can imagine my skepticism when I received a box of Kellogg’s new Frosted Flakes Gold for my review here on mamahood:musings&more’s Reviews page. I didn’t exactly tear into the darn thing. (It was slower and more methodical. Like getting a bill you really don’t want but you know you have to pay.)

Still, the box was opened and eating ensued. For all the flaky (and sweet!) details, head on over to my Reviews page.


 

  

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Hankering for cheese? Salt? Pretzel? Cracker?

Well, then, you could be in luck. For my Mom Central review of Keebler Toll House’s new “FlipSides” pretzel cracker, head on over to my Reviews page.

 

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Marketing childhood happiness? No, thanks.

As Jenna noted, seems the Christmas Advertising Snow Job has begun. Today, I, too, found myself trying to shut out have-a-holly-jolly-Christmas jingles while perusing store aisles for very non-Christmas things.

Now, let me be clear. I’m not against Christmas jingles. Or Christmas shopping. And I certainly don’t mean to sound bah-humbug. It’s just that it all seems to have gotten, well … outta hand.

The holiday sale flyer for WalMart made its way through my mail slot earlier this week and, most unfortunately, didn’t make its way to the trash before Maeve noticed its enticing colors and images. Images and design geared for little ones just like her. (And those younger. And older.)

She wanted to flip through Every. Single. Darn. Page. Eyes wide with interest, she scanned up, down and across the ad, her little fingers struggling to keep the wide pages from spilling.

The look on her face got me thinking (and swearing I’d be more diligent in trashing the junk mail).

It’s seemingly quite a fierce marketing push to entice children these days. (Ouch. When someone says “these days,” they are about to make themselves sound very old. But I digress.)

Don’t get me wrong. I remember those early Saturday mornings, my sister and I still pajama-clad, balancing a bowl of cereal in our laps, seeking out the cartoon of the moment. And with that dose of Road Runner came commercials every 10 minutes.  Commercials stacked onto commercials, hocking toys, dolls, games and light-up-thingies that with a simple twist here and a tug there would become something else altogether.

And I loved it, coveting the Easy Bake Oven, a Lite-Brite and a Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine (oh, the quarters I knew I would make from selling the icy rainbow goodness in the neighborhood on hot, summer days) from right there on my parents’ couch.

So, I ask you: Is this an age-old issue and becoming a mama has simply heightened my sensitivity to it — or has wooing children through endless television commercials; “charactered” diapers, plates, cups, clothes and shoes (ever try to find a non-television character coloring book?); and toys with meals — actually gotten worse?

According to Campaign For a Commercial-Free Childhood, marketing to children “encourages eating disorders, precocious sexuality, youth violence, family stress, and contributes to children’s diminished capability to play creatively.”

A New York Times article in November 2004, according to CCFC, notes that “from 1992 to 1997, the amount spent marketing to children shot from $6.2 billion to $12 billion.” That’s double in five years. And that number? That’s 10 years ago.

It also notes that “almost every major media program for children has a line of licensed merchandise used to sell fast-food, breakfast cereals, snacks and candy.”

I started asking myself all sorts of questions, like why is none of this surprising to me? And, most important, what can I do to protect Maeve from it all? To keep from falling into the trap of it all?

But before panic sets in, I remember.

I remember jumping in puddles — in the rain — with my mom. And later attaching string to sticks and “fishing” in those very same puddles with my friends.

Or when a tornado twisted my new swingset into a pretzel and I thought the world as I knew it was over. The day after the storm, it was my mom who showed me how to use my imagination. After all, the tornado had uprooted a tree — and she couldn’ understand why I was sitting sad inside the house. I didn’t “get” the fun of finding the jungle gym nature had provided, until I saw my mom in the backyard climbing it herself, finding a perch and waving me over.

Or when my dad, a professional photographer, walked all around the neighborhood, teaching me about taking photos, him letting me use his grown-up cameras. And later he taught me how to develop our photos right in the bathtub.

Or the time two neighborhood boys decided I couldn’t play with them anymore — and my mom consoled me and told me to pick myself up and play on my own. She set up a little table outside, emptied a box of old fabric scraps and other “mom tricks,” and she and I had the Mother of All Craft/Play Sessions. Right there in our yard. Wasn’t too long before those boys were inching their way closer, wanting in on the fun.

Or getting up before the sun rose to go fishing with my dad at the lake, where we’d spend a few hours in the quiet of the just-waking morning.

Or the times my family would pile into the car and we’d head to the wildlife refuge near the university where my folks worked. We’d park and sit, and wait for a family of deer to make an appearance.

Funny. Ya know what?

I haven’t a clue if I ever got the Sno-Cone machine.

NaBloPoMo Stats: 4 down, 26 to go.

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On Girls, Dolls and Self-Esteem

So very, very sad. As I watched this (thanks to Dawn for the video reefer), I fought back tears to hear these girls describe how something so fundamental as their skin color directly correlates to the value — or lack thereof — they place on themselves as human beings. Now, I’m not oblivious to the ridiculously horrid way advertising, society and the culture within which our children are being raised affect their very sense of self. It’s just that seeing it, in such a black and white form (literally), is a five-minute, startling reminder of the hugeness of it all.

No little girl should ever feel she is less than another simply because she was born in her own special skin. She shouldn’t consider herself the “bad” doll or resort to adding bleach to bathwater in an attempt to attain beauty, status or happiness.

As Maeve’s mother, I’m forever charged with working to ensure she doesn’t learn to think, believe or hurt this way. (Because, by the way, I absolutely believe such thinking is a learned behavior.) Maeve needs to know she is beautiful inside and out, just like Ruby and Ariana and Madison and — well, you get the idea.

But how?

During a time of early imaginative play, many young girls innately connect with a doll. One they bestow their love and attention to, nurturing it, sleeping alongside it, talking and hugging it, feeding and changing it. Relating to it in the only ways they know how. Doesn’t it then make sense that the emotional connection to a doll that actually resembles their own features, skin color and hair type will one day translate positively into how they care for themselves?

No? Well, let’s give them porcelain-white dolls with icy blue eyes and blonde ringlets to pet and love and call pretty — and tell me that doesn’t send the alarming message that only these girls are the kinds worthy of love.

Dawn’s words resonated with me — that taking the seemingly simple matter of a childhood doll so seriously is not an overreaction. If you think so, heed Judy’s advice and read White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Then come back here and please explain how today’s stark selection of realistic and ethnic dolls isn’t problematic. I believe that for a little girl like mine, the doll in her arms — and all that she naturally learns from it — can seriously impact how she views herself, the world and her place in it.

Interestingly, I watched this video today just before taking on the tedious task of tackling the 10,000 pieces of mail that arrived while we were in Nags Head. The mail chore — and my mindset — were unexpectedly brightened when I stumbled onto the children’s catalog, Magic Cabin. Completely unfamiliar to me, I was soon engrossed in its colorful, handdrawn pages, relishing in many of the “simpler” toys and activities of my own childhood.

Launched in 1989 solely as a doll company by a stay-at-home mom, its motto is “Childhood’s Purest Treasures.” It notes the words “batteries not included” never appear in its catalog because its items are “kid-powered.” From origami lanterns, tin tea sets (yes, tin!), teepees, wooden cash registers and alphabet wallcards, to flower presses, science and nature kits, crafts and candle-dipping, theater pencils and yo-yo dolls. (I hadn’t thought of my own beloved yo-yo doll until seeing the photo, with its countless circle scraps of fabric forming floppy arms and legs. Ah, the memories!)

And then … I stumbled into the doll section. Specifically, the Magic Cabin Dolls collection.

Now, not all of the company’s doll offerings are as ethnically varied as they could be. But the Magic Cabin Doll can be selected in such myriad shades and combinations as blush skin/blue eyes/blonde hair or mocha skin/brown eyes/brunette hair or brown skin/black eyes/black hair. I would like to see its girl dolls not be limited to long “flowing” hair — only its boy dolls have the shorter “mop of mohair curls.” (Oh, I smell a letter to the company in the making: “You are so close folks, so close.”)

For the really handy sewing types, make your own doll but buy the cotton skin from them in, as they say, “all the colors of humankind” — fair, blush, golden, mocha and brown — as well as doll hair in two textures and nine colors: blonde, golden, sandy, auburn, cinnamon, light brown, brown, brunette and black. 

Progress indeed. Now, if only the mass-market corporate behemoths carried as many options so all children — no matter economics or geography — were presented the world, quite literally, on a shelf.

(Although K-Mart this month is releasing a new collection of ethnic dolls, a search on its website provided little results. Press accounts indicate the move seemingly was motivated by the success of Dora — to this I ask, exactly how many years has this girl been exploring and we’re just now seeing the light? But still. Baby steps, I suppose. K-Mart does carry the American Girl collection, which offers a Just Like You line and the Bitty Baby, which comes in several skin-tone shades. Thing is, most of these dolls cost a not-very-attainable $90. Now, if ethnic dolls were the norm rather than the exception, I’d think shelves in stores everywhere would be stocked with such dolls in various price points so all children could love a little one more like them.)

Choosing to think outside the blonde-hair-blue-eyed box when buying a doll may mean driving further for an adequate selection or conducting time-consuming online searches for that perfect doll. For me, it would be a gorgeous little mocha face, tightly curled brown ringlets and eyes the color of dark olives.

Every little girl should feel worthy because every little girl is worthy. The little girls we now cradle and hug will soon become unsure teenagers with the world and all its options ahead of them. And one day, these girls will become women, making choices, finding their own way and even raising children of their own.

So, forego convenience and encourage diversity in today’s toys.

The esteem of our daughters — and our daughters’ daughters — may depend on it.

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April showers bring May’s … book winner!

April has come and gone, and thus has my first prize giveaway. As promised here and then here, anyone submitting at least one recommended title of a children’s book involving adoption by month’s end would be entered into a drawing. The recipient — handselected by baby Maeve — would receive a brand-new copy of one of the recommended reads.

Well, the 21-month-old lass has unknowingly made her selection from the bowl of names — also known as “The Winner Is The First Piece of Paper She Touches Game.”

Thanks to all who submitted titles — and, as promised, I’ve added to the list too. If you recommended a book, your blog link is duly noted. There were a few recommended titles I couldn’t locate in my local library or in online searches. If you don’t see your title here and can provide further information on it, please pass it along and I’ll gladly add it to the list.

The list, thus far, is below, and you’ll see it also now has a permanent home at the top of musings:mamahood&more. It is by no means all-inclusive, nor is it static; I’ll continue to add titles as I find them. If you have or even stumble on a book you like but it’s not listed here, drop me a line so we can continue to build this resource. The last section of books are titles that some readers recommended in a list format, with no specific comments; some titles I’m aware of and own; as well as some titles I haven’t read myself but wanted to include in the interest of crafting both a comprehensive source and a jumping-off point for those interested in hunting down adoption-related titles. Of course, if you find that something listed here isn’t accurately represented or doesn’t mention an element to the story that others should know, please let me know that, too. If you discover something new here and find you love it, share that with us, too!

So, without further ado, the winner of my first-ever book giveaway is …. drum roll please ….  Heather! (Heather, please email me with your top three choices from the list below, and don’t forget to include your mailing address! It’s that simple, and presto — you’ve got another book to add to your library!)

Thanks again to all who contributed! It was nice to see some of my favorites are some of yours, too. And it’s even nicer to learn about so many I hadn’t known about. We’ll definitely be adding to our library for Maeve — and I hope this proves useful for you and yours.

And now, for The List:

Reader-Recommended Books (in no particular order):

“We See the Moon” by Carrie A. Kitze; recommended by Dawn: “Great chapter book about adoption from the perspective of the first family — specifically the little sister of the woman planning to place in an open adoption.” It’s “heart-wrenching” and “a positive view of a loving family and a loving first mom.”

“The Tummy Mummy” by Michelle Madrid-Branch; recommended by Jenna 

“A Mother For Choco” by Keiko Kasza; recommended by Susan, Amanda, and Diane, who also recommends (as do I!) New Jersey’s Tapestry Books, an independent bookshop (no big corporation here, thankyouverymuch!) that focuses on adoption.

“Pugnose Has Two Special Families” by Karis Kruzel (Mouse; open adoption) recommended by  Poor_Statue and Heather

“Twice Upon A Time: Born and Adopted” by Eleanora Patterson; recommended by Susan: “It’s nice because it deals with an older child getting adopted and also discusses foster adoption.”

“I Don’t Have Your Eyes” by Carrie Kitze; recommended by Susan: “Very good — each two-page spread focuses on how connections can be biological or not. (I don’t have your eyes … but I do have your way of looking at the world.)

“Happy Adoption Day” by John McCutcheon; recommended by Heather

“The Day We Met You” by Phoebe Koehler; recommended by mamagigi (“You Felt Like the Sun Shining Inside Us”), Heather

“How I was Adopted” by Joanna Cole; also recommended by Heather

“Little Miss Spider” by David Kirk; recommended by Susan; (Spider can’t find her mother, and Beetle Betty helps to look for her, to no avail. Spider realizes Betty is the one taking care of her all along and she’s the mom she needed.)

“The Colors of Us” by Karen Kaz; “The Red Blanket” by Eliza Thomas; recommended by trixieintransit

Megan’s Birthday Tree: A Story About Open Adoption by Laurie Lears; recommended by Dawn 

“The Three Names of Me,” by Mary Cummings; recommended by Sara: This is “one of my favorites — and one that is very respectful of first families.”

“Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born” by Jamie Lee Curtis; recommended by Amanda and Susan

Families Are Different” by Nina Pellegrini; “On The Day You Were Born” by Debra Frasier: The latter is not an adoption book, per se, but beautifully shares what happened on the earth the day a child was born. (While you waited in darkness, tiny knees curled to chin, the Earth and her creatures with the Sun and the Moon all moved in their places, each ready to greet you the very first moment of the very first day you arrived.)
recommended by Alice-Anne; mamagigi, too — I often give this as a new baby book.

***

Additional Adoption Books For Children
(Some suggested by readers, others I knew, and even others
I culled by searches and cannot personally vouch for.
But check them out and keep in touch with your feedback!) 

“Pablo’s Tree” by Pat Mora (Granfather buys a tree when he learns his daughter is adopting, and waits to plant it until his grandson arrives. Each year, his grandson spends his birthday with grandpa, who decorates the tree each year in a special theme and re-tells the story of how he came to the family.)

 “Mommy Far, Mommy Near: An Adoption Story” by Carol Anotoinette Peacock (told from the adopted child’s perspective; China)

“All About Adoption: How Families Are Made & How Kids Feel About It” by Marc Nemiroff and Jane Annunziata (mamagigi: Discusses for children — in a gentle way — birthparents and adoptive parents, their concerns and feelings, the process and how ultimately their paths cross, as well as acknowledging the varied thoughts, fears and feelings kids have at different ages. The book includes a Notes For Parents at the end with challenges, tips and guidelines for discussion.)

“And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (Two male penguins raising daughter, Tango)

“Horace” by Holly Keller (Animal story: Horace is spotted, his family is striped. He sets off to find others who look more like him. In the end, he realizes family isn’t about matching.)

“Lucy’s Family Tree” by Karen Halvorsen Schreck (Mexico adoption; Lucy’s homework assignment to make a family tree teaches her that all families are unique.)

“The Mulberry Bird” by Anne Braff Brodzinsky (Mother bird trying to ensure the best care for her baby. Author updated the 1986 edition 10 years later to better reflect open adoption and birthfamilies.)

“Place in My Heart” by Mary Grossnickle (Animal story; Charlie wonders if he looks like his birthparents, if they think about him. He learns there’s room in his heart for everyone he cares about.)

“Sam’s Sister” by Juliet C. Bond (When younger sibling is placed for adoption.)

“We Adopted You, Benjamin Koo” by Linda Walvoord Girard

“A Koala For Katie” by Jonathan London (After a visit to the zoo, Katie worries about the baby koala if mama koala can’t take care of it. She “adopts” a stuffed koala, like her parents adopted her, and cares for it.)

“Did My First Mother Love Me” by Kathryn Miller

“The Best Single Mom in the World: How I Was Adopted” by Mary Zisk

“I Love You Like Crazy Cakes” by Rose Lewis

“Every Year on Your Birthday” by Rose Lewis (sequel to Crazy Cakes)

“Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale” by Karen Katz; (According to Susan, listed above, this book “kind of elides the first parents all together, which is hugely irritating, but we stop and talk through things as we read.”)

“Rosie’s Family: An Adoption Story” by Lori Rosove (A beagle adopted by schnauzers, with questions about fitting in.)

“Let’s Talk ABout It: Adoption” by Mr. Rogers

“Mama’s Wish/Daughter’s Wish” by Debbie and Brynne Blackington; (China; both mother and daughter contribute to story)

“Giant Jack” by Birte Muller (Story of mouse who is different than his siblings; his mom explains why and how he is special)

“Oliver” by Lois Wickstrom (Animal story of alligator thinking about his birthparents; winner of ReadAmerica! collection)

“Our Twitchy” by Kes Gray (bunny family)

“Beginnings: How Families Come To Be” by Virginia Kroll (Myriad examples of ways families are created: international, foster, birth, etc.)

“Anthony’s Surprise” by Roz Grace (Bi-racial adoption)

“Is That Your Sister?” by Catherine and Sherry Bunin (Multi-racial)

“Brown Like Me” by Noelle Lamperti (African-American girl, Caucasian parents — child looking for all things brown in her life so she can celebrate her favorite color.)

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