Sunday, May 24, 2009

Beautiful URLs: Some Favorite Links, May 24

Look what followed me home from the Interwebs:
  • Princess pedestal: How many girls are on one? (AP) dicusses how some families have growing concerns about princess thinking in a turbulent economy. Though the Raptor is only 6 months, we make conscious effort not to call her angel or princess. Jim keeps talking to her about cryptography. Princess play will be fine here when she chooses it, but then she'll meet the real (hard-working, socially conscious) princesses (and queens) from The Daring Book for Girls rather than the Disney variety.
  • is a group of US bowling alleys offering kids 2 free games of bowling DAILY during the summer. This is the best deal for kids with bowling shoes (shoe rental is $3.75 here), it's a good deal even for a casual bowler (it's $4/game at our favorite alley). Register your kids online to participate. Want to bowl along with your kids? For $24 you can get a family bowling pass that allows two games daily (all summer) for an adult (additional packages available for 2, 3, and 4 adults). Thanks to Cara at Working Moms Against Guilt for sharing this program!
  • Want to watch an interesting nest from your living room? Jonah Lisa at the Toby Show is offering daily Nest Cam photos of a robins' nest on her beautiful Utah porch (I can see why the robins chose to build there). If you're feeling more like drinking from the visual information firehose, the Indianapolis Star has a live feed from a falcon's nest high above Monument Circle. This grittier feed (the birds brush against the lens) currently offers fluffy fledglings looking to leave the nest. If you want to know what's happening in the nest, just check out the falcons' blog. (via Indy citizen, weight loss blogger, and world traveler: Pasta Queen).
  • I dread the day naptimes end here. Muses of Megret brilliantly suggests making quiet time CDs to keep the natives peacable so caregivers can get a much-needed midday break.
What do you think? What posts have caught your imagination this week?


Dana said...

I agree on the princess thing. When I found out my first was going to be a girl, I didn't even want any pink clothes in the house. I bought only blocks and trucks and things like that, which she loved and played with. At daycare, (in addition to tons of other toys) they had baby dolls, a kitchen set and dress up, which she also loved. When she hit about 2.5, the dress up and princess fever hit us hard. I wasn't expecting it, but through the whole phase (which lasted about 18 months) I became pretty convinced it is something chemical. I've done some reading since that also seems to point that direction. At first I resisted, but it was hard being completely aloof when it was clear that the idea of dressing up with a tiara was truly exciting for her. I think the phase isn't so much damaging, but our reaction to it. I let her play whatever she wanted, let people give her gifts of princess gear, watched pretty much all of the Disney movies, and even held her fourth birthday at a fun (but not terribly over the top) tea cup cottage where they all got to pick a fancy dress and sip pink lemonade. I also took her to Disney on Ice when she was almost 4, and it was really quite a blast I must admit- she was very excited. (Not much comes to our town for entertainment, so I probably would have gone even if I didn't have kids. :) )

During this phase, I counterbalanced the whole thing with plenty of mudpie making, dirt digging, growing tomatoes and herbs with her, going to the 4H fair, doing puzzles, reading adventures, building endlessly with legos. She seemed equally happy doing both. I also got my hands on some other Disney movies- like Swiss Family Robinson. And another trick that worked and broke up the parade of pink was calling anything with a woman as the star Princess Something. We watched the Sound of Music (Princess Nanny), the songs of South Pacific (Princess Nurse), National Velvet (Princess Horse Rider). National Velvet was very popular, and it spurred lots of reading and movie adventures- Black Beauty, Flicka, Misty of Chincoteague, Little House in the Big Woods and other books that might be called "girly" but in a pink-cheeked-run-around-in-the-sunshine-way. We also went to see Cats, the Lippizaner Stallions and whatever else came to the local civic center, which was met with equal glee.

Happily, the phase ended very quickly. By her fifth birthday this year, I took all of the dress up gear to goodwill- and I really could have done it months before.

A few mitigating factors for the whole experience- her father and I are both engineers, we are also both hopelessly frugal/cheap. We live in a small, rural place where kids are more into raising livestock, climbing dirt piles, and going to the beach than walking the mall. We don't have a lot of the same crazy kids places as metro areas, even our Teacup Cottage is quite sparse and country (though she did a WONDERFUL job with the kids- that party is still talked about by all involved.)

I do notice (and this is a gross generalization) that the girls around here from households that might not be quite as educated seem to hold on to the princess phase longer- through age 8 or 9. When we went to Disney last year for a few days, I was really quite shocked at the number of older girls waiting in line for pricess autographs and going to the Bippity Boppity Boutique. I think if ours had lasted much longer, I would have felt the need to find subtle ways to discourage it.

A side note about the Disney movies- the girls that my daughter hangs out with didn't seem to really care much for the older movies with the lame and old fashioned (and sexist) story lines like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Mulan, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast held their interest much better. While they are still not exactly the models of the strong modern woman, those princesses have a bit more gumption and the stories are far more engaging. I was really surprised at how lame of a movie Sleeping Beauty is when I watched it as a grown up.

Jeez, this turned into a novel. :)

Dana said...

not sure why that princess link is sticking in my head- but I was thinking about it again and I remembered that during the thick of it that I wished there was more "Warrior Princess" material out there- when you really think it the princess message could tell a great story- someone who is a leader, has good manners, is well educated, courageous... someone who can spent the day out on the hunt, grow a great rosebush, do things with her hands, recite shakespeare, quote Plato, then pull herself together to look smashing for a reception with dignitaries. That is the woman I long to be. I have the daring book for girls on our shelf and I haven't dug much into it- perhaps my answer lies within. I've often toyed with the idea of trying to create such a heroine for a series of beginner chapter books, but something must already exist.

the Lady of Dragonwood said...

Some fun powerful princess picture books...

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch (she defeats a dragon and rescues the prince...whom she then decides not to marry)

The Tough Princess by Martin Waddell (a princess who goes on a quest to find her true love)

Also, look for stories of warriors and goddesses. My daughter loves them.

dad2twins said...

I have to admit, I've been calling my daughter "princess", but I'm not sure she's completely aware of all of the ramifications. Having twins, and "one of each", we think we're seeing some gender differences emerge. My son is into anything mechanical that moves and makes noise (e.g. fire trucks, trains). My daughter doesn't mind, but she shows signs of boredom when having to put up with my son's constant obsession. She prefers her stuffed animals, or anything that fluffy and soft.

Also, we're very close to Disneyland, the West Coast Capital of all things Princess. So, for us, the proximity will make trying to shield our daughter from the Big Princess Machine an impossibility.

I did share the sentiment about Libby Lu being shut down that one father in the AP article had, since we can see that our daughter loves "girly" things like cute clothes and shoes. Or at least shows much more of an interest than her brother. I do have that trepidation of having her go down a path of empty fashion. Of course, we're really close to South Coast Plaza, home to many boutiques...

I've flipped through The Daring Book for Girls and to me it and the very similar Dangerous Book for Boys are clearly calling to our need for nostalgia, for a "simpler" time. Ironically enough, Disney plans to make a film based on the "Boys" book.

I understand the appeal, but I wonder if we're just turning against princesses just to turn to another girl stereotype, this time from the 1950s.

And if you want to teach your kids those "old fashioned" activities, save your money and check out the original books and magazines from your local libraries. While I sympathize with this reaction to all of the pervasive technology, we should remember that the "old fashioned" crafts were projects to build things using the technology of that time. I find Make a perfect contemporary analogue to the great tradition of those old crafts magazines.

adrienne said...


Actually, the princesses I referred to in The Daring Book for Girls are living women profiled on pp. 20- 24.

Jordanian Princess Haya is an "avid sportswoman who competes in equestrian sports" as well as campaigning for health care, hunger relief, and children's rights.

There's also a Tae Kwon Do champion, a UNICEF worker, a computer scientist, a number of doctorates, and a princess who refused the prince's first marriage proposal (among many others).

The Daring Book for Girls is much more than the cover implies. It discusses Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Boudica, Hedy Lamar (as spy and military patent holder), adventurist Freya Stark, and (get this) secret agent Julia Child (yes, THAT Julia Child).

On top of making paper airplanes, it teaches 5 basic karate moves, how to negotiate a salary, and Interest, Stocks, and Bonds.

I agree that MAKE is a great tool for the DIYer spirit. We also subscribe to ReadyMade?

I assure you that Baby Toolkit is not promoting a return to '50s gender ideals or any abandonment of modern technology.

Toddler Crafts Julie said...

I do notice (and this is a gross generalization) that the girls around here from households that might not be quite as educated seem to hold on to the princess phase longer- through age 8 or 9. When we went to Disney last year for a few days, I was really quite shocked at the number of older girls waiting in line for pricess autographs and going to the Bippity Boppity Boutique. I think if ours had lasted much longer, I would have felt the need to find subtle ways to discourage will make it fun to me