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Monday, December 31, 2007

Tone Control


We all know our own flaws, and recognize them in our children, if we have any self-perception.

I was struck by this paragraph in Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesiaby Elizabeth Gilbert, I'm never going to be a wallflower, but that doesn't mean I can't take a serious look at my talking habits and alter some aspects for the better - working within my personality.

Yes, I like talking, but perhaps I don't have to curse so much, and perhaps I don't always have to go for the cheap laugh, and maybe I don't need to talk about myself quite so constantly. Or here's a radical concept - maybe I can stop interrupting others when they are speaking.

Wow, she must have really harnessed the Divine if she can control all that. I would add to that tone. I want to be able to say that I can control the tone of my voice. And that my daughter can control hers.

I know I've written about my tone before. My tone turtle idea, making us pay a quarter for every time we use a tone, didn't work out because she has no quarters and no concept of money. Many of you find my tone amusing - as do I, which is the core of the problem. It gets laughs - I like making people laugh. I find it instantly gratifying and validating.

I often refer to my tone as Angry Turrets Syndrome. Because it feels like something out of my control. The key here is that it feels like Angry Turrets Syndrome - in reality it is something that I need to learn to control. I've recently discovered that with much effort and a lot of meditation, praying and practice I can control anything, even the way I feel.Did everyone else already know you can control your feelings? It's a bit of a 2006-2007 Revelation for me.

It doesn't matter how I got my tone - let me just say, I come by it honestly. My tone is justified most of the time. My ego needs to know that. I have every right to be upset when I am upset. My ego needs to know that too. But, I choose to give up the tone anyway.

It's time to give it up. It's not getting me what I want. When something is ineffective then it's time to try something else. But, what if I'm not funny anymore?

I've got a lot of incentive to change this aspect of my self. My daughter has taken up my tone - for laughs - to be a disobedient little hooligan - to get her way - to push Mommy's buttons. The other day her friend went home because she didn't enjoy being treated so rudely. It won't be long before she becomes brazen enough to use it with teachers and other authority figures.

In 2008 I WILL get control of my tone and I will insist Ainsley get control of hers. I will not beat myself about the head with self-loathing or punishment when I fail. This is an emotional habit. Habits are terribly difficult and painful to break. But, if I can break the habit of smoking, I can break this habitual tone. I will give myself the whole year to do it and I will cut myself some slack in the midst of it. I will be kind to myself and I will expect kindness from others.

I'm going to start with How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talkby Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I find my tone increases the more frustrated I become with my children and my husband. Perhaps if I have better communication tools I won't become as frustrated. Does anyone else wonder how you make the OTHER communication partner actually respond the way they're supposed to when using these books?

Most recently we've developed a pattern where I kindly ask her to do something four times and then the fifth time I get angry and raise my voice. Only after I yell does she respond.

You don't have to yell at me!
Oh, Really? When I asked nicely 4 times you ignored me! Apparently I DO have to yell at you!

This must stop.

Tone is my parenting and personal New Year's Resolution - what's yours?

Friday, December 28, 2007

I Need Validation

For an entire year I've been doing this blog So Sioux Me.

I could use some validation.

Please go to Hoyden About Town and nominate your favorite So Sioux Me feminist post so that I may be included in the Top 40 Feminist Posts of 2007.

Nominate yourself and your other favorite bloggers too.

Contest open until the end of the year.

Thanks Readers. I appreciate that you read So Sioux Me.

Blond Ambition II


I'm sorry. I just can not feel like Tracee Sioux with plain brown hair.

It's the single brown tone that's making me feel un-me when I look in the mirror. Drab. Dull. Boring. Not on you. Just on me.

None of those words describe me. I'm fun, happy and exciting. My hair should reflect that.

Last night I spent $9.99 for a box of Loreal Chunking Blond Highlights. I put about 10 blond streaks back around my face and feel like myself again. They're a little orangey - but I do not care.

Ainsley asked for some blond streaks in her dark blond/light brown hair and I couldn't think of a reason to tell her no.

I can think of lots of reasons other mothers might give their daughters,
You're too young. You're hair is perfect like it is. You don't need lighter blond to be pretty. What will people think if I let my 6-year-old color her hair?

I respect all those reasons as valid and legitimate. But, none of those ring true for me, as I've already allowed red streaks and pink streaks - depending on what I was doing to my own hair. Who is a little blond going to hurt? No one. It's fun. That's all it is. It's instantly gratifying to change the color of one's hair. It's a hobby. It's a harmless distraction.

I'm a feminist, but not the natural kind. I think the beauty industry has gotten too extreme and makes many women feel like crap about themselves, I abhor their marketing tactics. But, I am happy when they invent a product that really works.

I use beauty products. I shave my legs, pits and groom my vajayjay. I pluck my eyebrows into a high arch. I wear make-up, apply sun screen and foundation. I get excited about my mascara. I try to control my acne with prescription medication. I'm willing to pay a lot of money for a product that makes melasma vanish and never return. Mind you - I get this stuff on the cheap so I'm not hurting myself financially in this quest for beauty. I got this rotating scrub brush and a chemical peel at a retiring Avon Lady's garage sale for a quarter.

And I love blond highlights. I'm a feminist who feels her best self with blond-highlights.

In December's O Magazine I read this quote from Nancy Etkoff, PhD, author of Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty, If we say, "Get rid of the advertisement and tell companies to stop making products, and no one will care about beauty - this is all just a creation that we can wipe away," we are denying who we are. People do care about how they look. They have adorned themselves since Paleolithic times. This is not a vanity issue or a women's issue or a United States issue. It is human nature.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

20 Posts All Women Should Read

Earlier in the month I got an email from DJ Nelson saying that my article My Face/Her Face had changed the way she thought about cosmetic surgery.

This is such a compliment.

In fact, the article, she said, made her not want to shave a little bit off the top of her nose after all.

Major compliment.

She went further and included my article on All Diva Media in a post titled: 20Posts All Women Should Read. (Yes, I did take her advice and read them.)

That's a compliment that netted me hundreds more page views.

I know this sounds a little lame, but it just barely occurred to me that to tell my readers about the article, and link to the it, is not just bragging. It's reciprocation. Of course I want to reciprocate, I'm just not very good at believing, feeling worthy of or embracing success. But, I'm actively working on that.

So, DJ Nelson, I feel privileged and grateful to have been included. Next time, and hopefully there is a next time, you include any link to me - I will immediately reciprocate.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Me. Merry You?

I hope your Christmas was as merry as ours:

Ainsley performed in her annual Christmas Pageant. This year they took the show on the road and sang and danced and played instruments at a nursing home.

This is her first dance solo.







We baked cookies for Santa. I don't know where she gets that attitude.


Barbie upstaged the guitar. Body image was balanced out by juxtaposing Hispanic dark-haired Gabriella of High School Musical with larger than life Tracy Turnblad of Hairspray.

Crush was accounted for with Zac Afron as Troy of High School Musical. Zac does pair with both of them in the respective movies.


Zack and Ainsley got a kitchen - previously owned by The Joneses.

We're keeping it in Zack's room because he has more available space.

They equally love it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Argument for Santa


Dreaming is a skill we must teach our children, especially our girls.

Would Hillary Clinton be running for President if she only believed in the Possible?

Would Oprah be Oprah if she didn't didn't believe in the impossible?

Would Nancy Pelosi be Speaker of the House if she only focused on what was easily attainable?

Would Meg Whitman be running eBay if she hadn't learned to dream outside the box?

We must keep teaching our girls that dreams come true. Having Santa fulfill their heart's desire teaches them not only that they can dream, wish and believe - but that it pays off.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Our Father Tract


When I first got married my in-laws came to visit us in New York. By the end of the trip I had to ask my mother-in-law, Peggy, to please hand the religious tracts to the waitress with the tip so we could still get refills.

I'm all for religious conviction, but some things are just socially inappropriate.

Remember that religious tract Ainsley got with $20 in it?

Mommy, how do I save this? Can you copy 67 of these so I can hand them out to people?

She had taken a children's book with The Lord's Prayer and typed every single word of it.

She's definitely your grand-daughter, I told Peggy. They shared a high-five.

Saturday she and her cousins are going to perform their Christmas Pageant (which Peggy directs) at a nursing home. I think that will be the most socially appropriate time to let Ainsley pass out her religious tracts.

Unfortunately, we're not in a position to hand out $20 with them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Friend Finder

When I was a little kid my parents moved a lot. It was the 70s and 80s. When we moved to a new neighborhood I would go out and knock on doors asking,
Do you have anyone my age that I could be friends with?

Can you imagine letting your little kid go door to door in a neighborhood you just moved to? As I said, it was the 70s and 80s and things were different then.

We just moved to a new neighborhood and I caught a glimpse of a little girl around Ainsley's age up the street.

We're going over there to meet that little girl and make you a friend. Get your shoes on.

I'm scared Mommy.

It's okay to be scared. But, we're doing it anyway. You're brave.

Knock, knock, knock.

Hi, this is Ainsley. We just moved in up the street. We thought she might be friends with you. What's your name?

Bernice.

How old are you Bernice?

Seven. Ainsley's six.

Are there other girls on the street to play with?

Nikki. She's across the street.

Would you like to go over and introduce Ainsley to her?

And that's how Ainsley had two instant friends in the neighborhood. I wish it was still that easy for adults to make friends.

How long would it take me to make the whole neighborhood Christmas cookies? Just because "people don't do that anymore" doesn't mean I shouldn't right? I mean, if it was effective then . . .

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

AGordon10 You won Discovery Girls Books

I never did hear back from Tamara for the Discovery Girls Books. So, I had Ainsley draw a new winner out of a hat. Please AGordon10 - email me at traceesioux at yahoo.com to give me your address so I can have the books sent to you. Congradulations and I do hope you and your family can make peace with your postfeminist, non-traditional familial roles.

For a chance to win Eat, Pray, Love - this season's best selling book by Elizabeth Gilbert please visit Blog Fabulous and leave a compliment about yourself in the comments section.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mani-Pedi Bond

Sundays are for bonding and resting. Oh, and a spa manicure-pedicure in front of the tube.

Learn to groom, but be frugal about it. That's the lesson here.

Ainsley bites her nails and lets her cuticles grow out to the point where a manicure is a big painful task. Turning it into a fun spa girlie time avoids the holding her down while she's screaming as I push back the cuticles episode.

After the red nail polish, we add some Bite It. It's supposed to stop her from biting the nails down to bleeding by making them taste like dirt. It's probably more effective if you put it on more than once a month. I noticed this morning that she's already bitten most of the polish off her nails.

Perhaps your daughter shares this problem. You might try Control-It! 3 Jar ~ 21 Day Fingernail Biting Treatment OMEGA3 Extra Strength. I would not care that she bites her nails if she were not complaining that they hurt from hang nails and infection quite often.

Do you allow your daughter to participate in grooming activities? (To be fair, we very democratically did Zack's nails too.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

Who doesn't love A Christmas Story? It's my favorite Christmas classic.

So, about those Barbies Ainsley keeps praying, wishing and asking Santa for. . .

Ralphie needed that Red Rider BB Gun just as Ainsley needs some Barbie dolls. I have overlooked the fact that Mattel makes the Mattel High School Musical Gabriella & Troy 2-Pack dolls for Ainsley. I also balanced it out with a Hairspray Deluxe Singing Tracey Turnblad.

I did not order the Link Larkin doll because Troy and Link are both Zac Afron and I am fundamentally too frugal.

It is unlikely she'll shoot her eye out, right?

I think they will come from Santa. Or should I get the credit?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Unbelievably Fabulous


by Tracee Sioux

I've been afraid that if I tell you about our good fortune it will vanish. That, I just could not bear. But, maybe it's real. Maybe God is going to let us keep this dream we've worked so hard for. Please God, let us keep this.

We just moved, this week, into the most marvelous and perfect Dream home.

The best part is - there are too many best parts to pick just one - is it the central air and heat which greatly improves our health?

Is it the massive 30X28 foot living room? Where Ainsley is jumping rope and Zack is actually riding his scooter and I have plenty of room to do yoga and exercise? The original parquet hard-wood floors and the vaulted lighted ceilings with a white and dark walnut beam contrast make such a cathedral effect I can't help but pray, "Thank You, God," when I walk into it.

Is it my own office? Giving me a legitimate and valid place to write and work?

Maybe it's the storage space? The kitchen is brand new and has two walls of cabinets - enough space for everything.

The massive living room has wall-to-wall original 1950s build-in shelves, drawers and cabinets. I've always gotten lusty over shelving.

The children have their own rooms and wait for it . . . . their own bathrooms! Yes, the house has 3 bathrooms! Ah, the frivolity of it!

I'm almost at a loss for words, except that I could literally write pages and pages of gratitude for every shelf and hook and cleanly painted wall (in exactly the colors I would have chosen) and cabinet and blind and appliance and strip of new carpet.

This is better than I've ever had it. Even when I was praying for it, I never dared to dream it would be this marvelous.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Forbidden Prayers, Wishes & Dreams


by Tracee Sioux

Yesterday we went walking, the kids and I, to get our exercise and take a break what seemed to be a downward spiral of bickering and frustration at home.

There's a prayer sanctuary near our house that's open to the public with some wishing wells out front. It's about a mile so we ventured forth.

Let's go in and pray. We can show God our gratitude for our blessings.

Not me. I'm praying for a Barbie.

Stupid Freaking Barbie! When she had one she dismembered and beheaded it. Now, it's her heart's desire.

Is it only because it's forbidden? I got her a Barbi-like knock off - do you think she'll be satisfied?

We made our wishes in the fountain, on penny at a time and then we had some more so we moved onto the nickels, dimes and quarters. Then Ainsley tried to fish them out because she was out of money but still had more wishes.

You can't steal other people's wishes Ainsley. And if you get your wishes back they might not come true.

So, in we went to pray. I knelt and prayed out loud (it's uncomfortable for me, but I try to teach by example) for all the wonderful gifts we've been given.

She went over to the spiral notebook and started writing.

Please bless that mom and dad will love each other all the time. Please let my brother be nice, she wrote.

Then we came home and she wrote a letter to Santa.

Mom how do you spell Barbie?

How do you spell Sleeping Beauty Princess Dress?

Okay now how to I write Barbie Computer?

Do you think he could really fit a tree house in a present?

A few days ago we were making a Dream Board, you know a collage of our dreams that we hope to come true. A visual representation of our goals, if you will.

She cut out a Bratz bedspread.

You don't want that, I tried convincing her.

I do want it.

Like every mother, my hearts desire is to make all her dreams come true at Christmas. But, you'll notice that I have a moral objection to nearly every toy on her list?

Is it irony, karma or a case of wanting the forbidden only because it's forbidden? Or is it the mass marketing to girls today telling them they must want these things?

I've my theories but I'd really, truly love to hear yours.

Pro-Ana Cheerleader Barbies
How Come Zack Gets A Barbie?
Bob vs. Barbie
Friends With Barbies
Go Bratz Go!
No Bratz No! Tantrum Or Go With The Flow?
Princess Ban
Cinderella Should Have Saved Herself
Ariel - The Little Mute
Belle - Battered Codependent

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tamara Dear, Where Are You?

Tamara won the Discovery Girls books by placing a comment about her Penguin underwear showing through her play costume. Then the whole school called her Chilly Willy. She deserves those books.

But, I haven't heard from her. If you are she, please leave a comment here and email me directly. If you know her, please email her and tell her she's won!

If I don't hear from her in a few days I'll pick a second-place winner drawn from a hat. Someone needs those free books!

Missing Views

by Tracee Sioux

This is the view I was missing by going to the gym every day. Isn't it fantastic?

Honestly, my life to 33-years-old was not about health. One day I looked at my little family and realized every one of us had a medium-sized weight problem. Well, it wasn't exactly one day - I mean, my husband had been complaining for years and I was ignoring it until my pregnancy phase was over. Then Ainsley's doctor said she was on the border of having a weight issue. Even the baby was so fat I needed to lift weights to pick him up (but, it's cute on a baby).

If a plane gets into trouble they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Otherwise, you will render yourself incapacitated and there will be no one to save your children.

I find this method to be useful for other things like creating habits and instituting change in behavior and attitude.

First I got a gym membership and spent a year developing a habit of exercise for the first time in my life. I changed my attitude about it and learned to love it.

I established a clear connection in my brain that said exercise was a real part of our lifestyle before I felt I could give up the gym membership and venture out walking with my kids.

We're up to an easy two miles now. And it's a piece of cake. It's great bonding time and great talking time. Check out the view I was missing!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hopelessly Devoted, John & Zac



by Tracee Sioux

Someone handed my daughter a religious tract with $20 in it.

I took her to Walmart and she chose the Hairspray DVD.

This, this is what I want.

Hairspray? Okay. $20 is a lot for a DVD, are you sure you don't want to wait till I find it at a garage sale?

No. I want it now. You know why? It has my favorite in it.

I'm hoping she just loves Tracy Turnblad.

Zac Efron, he's my favorite. I just love him.

There is a part of me that is just surprisingly Puritan which wants to shout, But, you're only 6 - what do you know of crushes? You shouldn't feel this way yet! You're not ready! Put that movie back! You'll never see another movie again!

Except that I am still hopelessly devoted to John Travolta, which dates back to me watching Grease when I was her age. The love is unchanged. My cousin shared my attraction to him and playing John and Sandy was our favorite game. We wanted to BE Olivia Newton-John. I listened to the Grease album over and over. I bought it on tape and CD.

My love transended Grease and progressed to all things John and Olivia. Olivia's albums including the old 70's folk music, the 80's pop Let's Get Physical album, and Xanadu. Let's not forget their encore movie together, Two Of A Kind. Then John's work Saturday Night Fever and Staying Alive - ooh la la. Urban Cowboy, American Gigolo and Pulp Fiction. I even watched those stupid 80s films with Kirsty Alley and the talking babies. I loved him, even when no one else did.

I passed my love on to my younger sister and she flew in for an Olivia concert in the 90s. When they remade and rereleased Grease we paid full price. I have the video. My husband got me an Olivia t-shirt for Christmas a few years back - I specifically asked for it.

My dancing shoes, which eventually met a tragic end, were based on the shoes Olivia Newton-John wore in the last scene of the movie. I haven't replaced them because I haven't found a pair exactly alike. I probably smoked for 20 years because of that last scene. And only this Saturday night I looked in the mirror and realized I was wearing something disturbingly similar to Sandy's bad-girl-sexy-outfit and I had to force myself to change.

Evidently, it's genetic. I recently learned my crush was shared by my 84-year-old grandmother.

I want to see Hairspray with you, I have always liked that John Travolta, she told me.

I had a crush on John Travolta when I was your age, I shared with Ainsley.

Who's John Travolta?

You know, from Grease?

Oh, yeah. I think I've got a crush on him too!

See? It's genetic.

Hmmm. Don't you think John and Zac look alike?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lourdes Bashing


While listening to the radio the other day I heard a female DJ pick apart Lourdes, the daughter of Madonna.

Oh My God, that Lourdes needs to be introduced to the tweezers. She not only had a massive uni-brow, but she's got a full on mustache too, said mommy DJ.

The DJ happens to be the mother of a baby girl.

Hello! Lourdes is a little girl. At what age are we mothers expected to sit our daughters down and tweeze, pluck, wax and shave them?

Is 6 too young? Maybe girls should start shaving their legs at 8? The Burning Times has a report on Nair Pretty, a chemical acid hair removal cream, being marketed directly to 10-year-old girls for their clean bikini line. It's profoundly disturbing that I'm no longer shocked.

Maybe it's not even about when the girls might be ready for such milestones into womanhood, maybe it's all about prevention of mean girl attention. Perhaps a mother's best bet is to attempt to prevent scathing criticism of a girl's appearance by prematurely eradicating any hair that might attempt to grow anywhere on her body.

You should be ashamed of yourself Sister DJ. You've just opened the door for bad daughter Karma.

You will find, as your daughter matures, that it is extraordinarily difficult to teach a young girl that appearance isn't everything when all evidence is to the contrary.

Friday, December 7, 2007

First Crush


Hey Ainsley, remember when I told you that if Austin was hitting you that meant he liked you?

Yeah.

Well, I was wrong to tell you that. I don't ever want you to think anyone, ever has any right to treat you with disrespect. I want you to always expect respect, especially from boys who like you. A boy never, ever has any right to hit you, slap you or call you names.

And if a Austin likes you he needs to find a better, nicer way to express himself. You always deserve that. Do you understand?

Yes. Well, we were just playing tag ball and the ball hurts when you get tagged so we had to take some time outs.

Okay. When is a boy allowed to hit you or call you names?

Never.

What are you going to do if it happens?

Tell him to stop and come get you or the teacher.

Okay then. Good.


Read the original exchange at He's Always Hitting Me.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Science Sheros

Sometimes I hear about a girl or three who, frankly, astounds me. They accomplish things I never thought to accomplish.

Girls cleaned house at the annual Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology this year.

According to an MSNBC article by Karen Matthews, Isha Jain, a senior at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pa., won the individual prize for her biology project on bone growth in zebrafish fins.

Janelle Schlossberger and Amanda Marinoff, seniors at John F. Kennedy High School in Plainview, N.Y., won the top team prize for their research into tuberculosis treatments.

Jain's research has already been published in Developmental Dynamics and said her research should lead to understanding bone growth in other vertebrates along with bone disorders in humans.

Schlossberger and Marinoff said their research could lead to more effective treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis.

After synthesizing these drugs we need to then go back to modify them and optimize them to maximize their effectiveness, Marinoff was quoted as saying in the MSNBC article.

The scientists won $100,000 in scholarships.

You Go Girls!


Every parent can encourage their daughters to think ambitiously about technology and science by providing girls with traditionally "boy" toys. One of these winners flew off the stage into her father's arms after winning. Obviously, he encouraged her scientific ambitions.

Think Wii by Nintendo (whoever bought the Wii last week through So Sioux Me - I can't express how gratifying and validating that $20 was!), Melissa and Doug Solar System 48pc Floor , or Meade 70AZ-A Telescope and, CHEM C1000: Chemistry Experime.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dove Reality Diaries


by Tracee Sioux

More and more I'm coming into contact with teenage girls and young women who meet the beauty ideal - 100 lbs, blond highlights, blue eyed, clear skin, fantastic fashion sense - and discovering their self-esteem is as low as anyones.

Even those who meet the beauty ideal don't understand why I have a blank mystified stare when they tell me how they aren't pretty enough.

What I'm thinking is, If YOU don't measure up then no one does.

Which brings us to the core of the problem. No one does and no one can.

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty "aims to widen the definition of beauty and inspire positive self-image among women – in short, to help more women feel beautiful every day."

Their newest venture in the cause to broaden beauty is the Reality Diaries.

The press release states, "The Reality Diaries Program is a 6 week program that revolves around the lives of four real girls who share their personal self-esteem stories online. They record their journey online through the use of blogs and videos, allowing girls across the country to go behind-the-scenes on their real lives and understand the factors that impact their self-esteem. Each girl deals with a different self-esteem issue and the Diaries will reflect how the media influences their self-esteem."

Each of the girls are 17 and seniors in high school. Each have different beauty pressures: Chelsea, the black pageant girl and becomes hyper-critical of every flaw to try to stamp it out before the other contestants single it out, Sydney; whose mother wants to fix her complex about her nose with a graduation gift of rhinoplasty, which only makes her feel worse; Jordan, who seems to meet the beauty standard but who picks herself apart because she fears the boys have unrealistically high standards she'll never meet; and Irene, the "pretty Asian girl" who overlooks racial slurs to gain social acceptance.

The Reality Diaries is moderated by Jess, Doves Global Ambassador of Self Esteem, who, like the rest of us, doesn't measure up to today's beauty standards, but has a self esteem anyway.

As a tool for girls the Reality Diaries will hopefully serve to make girls feel connected to other girls. Hopefully, they will realize how unrealistic the beauty ideal is and learn to have a positive self esteem regardless of cultural expectations.

For parents and educators the Reality Diaries are a great opportunity to observe what girls are really thinking and feeling about themselves today.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Discovery Girls Prize Goes To . . .

So, you get the idea. There are tools out there, like Discovery Girls, that will help you discuss important stuff with your daughter, like how to deal with mean girls and how to cope with an embarrassing moment.

More communication is always better. Sharing something of your own sticky situations and how you coped soothes a daughter's soul.

Fab Girls Guides are some pretty good tools to utilize. Not only will they entertain your daughter, but they will open doors for discussion and communication - and that's never a bad thing.

Thanks to Discovery Girls for their generous donation of this set of all four guides. I very much appreciate it. I also appreciate every reader who took the time to enter the contest.

Without further blathering. . . Tamara who wore a white dress in the school play, which made it possible for everyone to see her penguin panties is our winner. She wins because Ainsley and I thought it was the funniest. Nothing will adequately compensate for the whole school calling you Chilly Willy for a whole year, Tamara - but this is the least I could do. Please email me privately with your contact information at traceesioux at yahoo.com.

Read the original article at Discovery Girls Contest.

Monday, December 3, 2007

He Keeps Hitting Me


by Tracee Sioux

Mom, Austin kept hitting me and throwing the ball at me today. He pulled my hair and called me stupid a bunch of times!

Hmmm. Sounds like he likes you.

What? He's being so mean to me!

I know. That's what boys do when they like you.

Really?

Really.

Isn't he the one you have a crush on?

Yes.

So, then. I guess he likes you back.

Oh.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Kinda Knows


by Tracee Sioux

I checked out The Safe Side Stranger Safety video, produced by John Walsh of America's Most Wanted and Julie Clark of Baby Einstein.

I recommend this to every parent of young children. Both my kids, one and six, were mesmerized by the over-the-top Safe Side Superchick who teaches the kids the way to "be on the safe side."

Rather than the word stranger, which is confusing to children, they use Don't Know and Kinda Know.

Mom, Dad and Grandma are Safe Side Adults. Parents give children a list of 3 Safe Side Adults who are always trustworthy and on their Safe Side List. These are the people who can pick them up from school or take them on outings.

Don't Knows include anyone they don't know. Ice cream man, nice stranger in a store, another parent in the park - everyone they don't know. Children are not to speak to them or give them information unless they are in the presence of their Safe Side Adult.

Kinda Knows are anyone the child recognizes, but who are not on the safe side adult list. Kinda Knows include coaches, teachers, church acquaintances, extended relatives, family friends, neighbors and friends' parents. Kids kinda know them, but sometimes people we know might harm us. Kids are told to stay on the safe side by not being alone with them or going anywhere with them without parental permission.

I particularly liked the personal space concept. Too often we don't teach children that they have a right to their own personal space. If someone gets too close on the playground or in a store - the video tells them just to run away. Viewers are taught that they have a right to their personal space of about 10 feet around them. One great example was a car pulling up too close. The children didn't wait to find out why, they just ran.

The focus is on safety over being polite. Which was a great reminder to me, because I often encourage polite interaction with strangers in stores. Children are only expected to be polite if their safe side adult is with them and give permission.

It's a shame, but it's appropriate and necessary for children to be clued in that some adults could hurt them. The information was presented in such a way as to not scare children, but to make them feel more powerful when making quick decisions in the face of danger.

I thought this was a well produced film to teach children safety rules. My kids loved it. Stranger Safety would make a great Christmas gift, with its high-tech equivalentThe Safe Side - Internet Safety.
For more Safe Side Hot Tips visit www.thesafeside.com.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Want To Be A Model


Mommy, I'm going to be a model.

Well, you can if you really want to. But, I hope you'll never let anyone treat you like they treat models. I hope you'll expect more respect from any employer.

The thing is Tyra, at some point you became "the industry." You chose to perpetrate the abuse against girls rather than change it.

Fierce.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pro-Ana Cheerleader Barbies


I admit I vacillate like crazy on the issue of allowing Ainsley to have Barbies. It's a grey area for me. I allowed Barbie for a while, then when I found a decapitated and limbless Barbie massacre on Ainsley's bed I silently cheered for joy and vowed not to replace her.

Some people give me crap about it and think I'm being too extreme. I admit, I've been thinking What's the harm in letter her play with those dolls, really?

Then the universe sends me a message to remind me.

First, I was flipping channels and came across Say Yes To The Dress. A wedding dress consultant asks a full grown woman, what do you want to look like on your wedding day?

Like Barbie, the woman says. She wasn't kidding. Click this link to see her say it.

Then my Barbie-defending friend, Violet, sends me this Cheerleader Barbie Inspires Young Girls.

Could those cheerleaders be any more Pro-ana ? Mattel is calling this their model muse body. It makes me want to be sick - but not to lose weight, just to express disgust.

Seriously, what message do these Barbies have for your daughter? You will never measure up unless you quit eating altogether and have a rib or two removed.

Give Barbies for Christmas if you must, but Ainsley's getting the "chubby" knockoffs.

More Barbie Blogs
How Come Zack Gets A Barbi?
Barbi For President
Bob vs. Barbi
Friends With Barbies

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Discovery Girls Contest


by Tracee Sioux

Discovery Girls is a magazine created for girls, by girls ages 8 and up. I reviewed a couple of issues with Ainsley, who is granted only 6, but precocious.

It's full of about fashion trends, beauty and style, crushes on boys, and teen movie stars. I don't know why I expected that girlhood today would be different than girlhood when I was growing up. I guess I thought there would be more evolution in girlness.

That said, I totally love it and can't stop reading. I am even taking the quizzes. I totally forgot how much fun magazine quizzes are.

All the talk about boys and crushes would seem premature and inappropriate, if Ainsley hadn't already informed me who she's crushing on (I'm so not telling) and if I didn't remember being completely and utterly in love with a boy myself at her age. I would be incensed about the focus on boys if she hadn't opened the magazine and said, Oh wow, Zac Efron is in this. I was comforted when the advice column told a girl that the 5th grade was way too young to have a boyfriend. Fwhew.

The articles about Frenimies and Mean Girls are particularly useful.

Discovery Girls also recently released a series of books which I thought were entertaining and gave relevant advice.

The Fab Girls Guide to Friendship Hardship seems like a gold mine for mothers - oh, right and daughters too. At the beginning of the book girls take a quiz about their friendships and see whether they rank as good or bad. If you're friends with Poisonous Patti, she's mean, untrustwrothy and may actually be trying to make you feel bad. . . Nope, it's not your imagination, this girl is not your friend -- she's a frenemy wearing your BFF necklace, girls are advised to find better friends.

The book lists 8 frenemy behaviors: The User, The Gossip, The Part-Time Bully, The Cling-On, The Snob, The Drama Queen, The Hidder, and The Backstabber. Ah, brings back memories - not the good kind. The book tells girls what they're getting out of being friends with her.

It doesn't stop there. It addresses what to do if the girl, herself, is the mean girl. Yeah, you!, it says.

The book defines what you should expect out of a true friend and outlines how you can be one. It gives great advice on how to find friends when you are in need of new ones.

The Fab Girls Guide to Sticky Situationsis both helpful and hilarious. The really funny part is that you'll relate to lots of these sticky situations.

What should you do if your friend's mom bursts into the room and starts screaming about her D - time to slip out of the room.

What should you do if you're at school and you get period on your pants? Make a temporary pad out of toilet paper or a sock, tie a sweater or jacket around your waste and see the school nurse. Don't worry, this has happened to every girl.

The sticky situations include relevant information about what to do if you're approached by online predators too.

Other books in the series are Fab Girls Guide to Getting Your Questions Answered and Fab Girls Guide to Getting Through Tough Times.

You can buy the whole set of Fab Girls books for $29.95 or separately for $9.95 at discoverygirls.com.

Or

You can win a set of the books right here by posting a comment. If you share a sticky situation you found yourself in, you will be entered to win. The winner will be the one who made me laugh hardest. I will post the results next Tuesday.


This contest is officially closed. For announcement of the winner please go to Discovery Girls Prize Goes To . . .

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bob vs. Barbie


by Tracee Sioux

In a focus group carried out by toy manufacturer, Martin Yaffe, where children were invited to put this year’s top Christmas toys through their paces, seven out of 10 girls chose to play with toys designed for boys over the girls’ alternatives.

Around 70% of girls under six admit that boys’ toys are what they really want, according to a press release put out by the manufacturer of Bob the Builder toys.

Kristian Johnson, Marketing Manager at Martin Yaffe, said: It seems that stereotypes applied to toys in the past such as dolls for girls and cars for boys no longer apply – opening up a whole new element of choice for parents when shopping for their daughters this Christmas!

We wanted to hear directly from children exactly which toys will be at the top of their Christmas lists this year, and surprisingly found that the majority of girls preferred playing with the toys designed with boys in mind, from Bob the Builder to Fireman Sam.

The girls were given their choice between Bratz and Barbies and Bob and other toys marketed to boys. The study was done in the United Kingdom, but it stands to reason that American girls might feel similarly.

The top five picks were:
No.1 – Bob the Builder Snaptrax Garage & Car Wash set (picture of electronic sounds vehicle wash) – Girls loved working the working carwash and dryer.

No.2 – Oddbodz – The girls enjoyed playing with the colourful characters and vehicles that could be dismantled to create crazy new ones.
No 3 – Remote Control Scrambler – Girls particularly enjoyed mastering this easy to operate Scrambler, from hit pre-school TV show Bob the Builder.
No.4 – Bob the Builder Tool Bench – This was a surprising favourite with the girls who enjoyed emulating their hero Bob.
No.5 – Fireman Sam Remote Control Jupiter – This toy held its own, proving that kids still love traditional role models such as fire-fighters.

Read the whole press release. Keep in mind, this study was conducted by the manufacturer of Bob the Builder, so the boy toys were all made by Martin Yaffe.

I think we should test the theory though. Giving traditionally male toys to our daughters certainly can't hurt them.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Two Birds


by Tracee Sioux

Be kind to your children. They will pick your nursing home.

When my mentoring group was looking for a service project and the idea to visit a nursing home came up, I took the group to see my children's great-grandfather. There is a sign on Grandpapa's wall that says Be kind to your children, They will pick your nursing home.

Children record everything we do, it's vital to teach them how to treat those older than them and those more vulnerable. If you can show the more vulnerable they have the power to cure loneliness in the elderly. . . well, that's two birds.

I don't just want my children to want to help people. I want them to feel powerful enough to do something to improve things.

As faith without action is dead, empathy and compassion without action is both painful and useless.

It does no one any good to feel bad about the situations girls face if we're not going to do anything about it. It's little help to feel sad for the elderly if you're not going to do visit them.

I want my children to feel compassion and empathy. But, not if it's only futile pain in their hearts. I want them to know and understand that the power to change the world rests in their hands.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It. Is. Sick.


by Tracee Sioux

Our friends Jen and Aaron are in a health insurance nightmare. It's a predicament millions of American's face. They are middle-class. They work hard, they live within their means and are very frugal. Their situation merits attention because they are doing everything right, yet they find themselves in an impossible situation.

One of their twins has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. On Jlogged Jen talks about the nightmare she's been living in as a mother trying to advocate for her son. For a while they have benefited from SCHIPS, but now they make too much money to qualify for any programs. They've been being bounced back and forth between public programs due to clerical errors.

Too much to qualify doesn't equal ability to pay for the excessively high costs of health care. That's the rub.

My son is uninsurable. No insurance company will touch him with a ten foot pole. We make too much to get help, but not enough to cover catastrophic costs of health care. We aren’t poor enough. If my husband can find a job with group health insurance it will help, but it is still far from a perfect solution. Until then we are stuck. Our options are limited and all of them suck: a) get a divorce, b) lie, c) put my son in a state nursing home facility d.) go without insurance risking bankruptcy, and going without care that will effect my son for the rest of his life. None of these are acceptable, and this is what the richest country in the world has to offer the disabled children of America. It. Is. Sick.

There is a disconnect in this country about healthcare. I think those who are against universal care haven't received a true medical bill in quite some time. They are under the illusion that healthcare has remained reasonably affordable.

That, or they are insulated from the astronomical costs of healthcare. They are insulated either by good health or unusually high incomes.

If you think any American family could afford to carry the costs of a medical needs child on $50,000 ($12,000 higher than the median income) a year try this: Get out your budget. Add in $300 a month in maintenance medications. Add in $125 every week each for speech therapy and physical therapy. (Lucas is 5 and isn't speaking yet, whether or not he gets speech therapy now has a big impact on whether he will ever speak.) Then add in one life flight and hospital visit at $150,000.

The costs of medical care have exceeded the means of American families if they carry the burden alone. Yet, there is enough resources and wealth as a whole to provide care.

Go over to Jlogged to read more about her family's predicament.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Right to Representation


Our daughters have a right to see women in the picture too. I think they deserve to have all opportunities open to them, including that of President of the United States. Women have yet to be represented.

To ignore the white maleness of power is to deny daughters the reality of their gender.

Housekeeping Paraphernalia


by Tracee Sioux

Mommy, can I have that Kid's Washer & Dryer by Little Colorado for Christmas?

No way. You don't need to pretend to do laundry. If you want to do laundry, you can do it for real. I promise there will be plenty of opportunities for laundry when you grow up.

I don't know if I'm right about this or not. It's just gut instinct, but these toys piss me off.

On one hand, I can't get over how much my life looks exactly like my mother's life did. I don't know what I was thinking, but I absurdly expected feminism to do away with the drudgery of housework. Now I realize it's not feminism that will banish housework from my life - it's money to pay the housekeeper. Duh.

Sometimes - usually while I'm doing the perpetually defeating job of cleaning the house - I come to the realization that housekeeping really was a full time job in the first place. It was a falacy that housewives did nothing all day. All the feminist revolution got me was more work. Too much work. More work than I can do.

I'm pissed off about these toys and the expectation that my daughter will grow up to be a housewife or a housekeeper. But, why shouldn't she?

I do want motherhood for her. I don't necessarily want her to miss out on being home with her children for several years.

There's also a big part of me that believes these toys should be marketed to BOYS for a few decades to see if we can even out the housework load still being heavily born by women. To be fair, several of the commercials and ads are inclusive of boys this Christmas season.

I realize that my life might have been easier, better organized and cleaner, had I accepted that keeping house was going to be an inevitable part of it. Especially while raising young children.

But, still my gut instinct is to ignore requests for these kinds of toys and steer her in less stereotypical "housewife" direction.

Why does she want cleaning supplies as toys anyway?

What is your stance on housekeeping paraphernalia as play?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Not Nameless Faceless Kids - Hers

I read this blog about a mother's struggle to insure her special needs children - the real kind - in our current insurance system. Her child is being dropped because the insurance company isn't making any money off insuring her.

Basically once they are in the high risk pool, normal insurance will never cover them again, even if they "outgrow" their issues. They are a health risk, and insurance companies can't really make money off of those kids.

Did you know that our state provides an SCHIP program through the very company that KayTar currently has insurance through? With identical benefits? Did you know that we are eligible for this program if you use our net income, but if you go by our gross income we are just over the line? Just over the line! We don't even receive any of that money! Do you know where it goes? Taxes. We are paying the government to provide services like this for people in need and the TINY bit of money that we give is what keeps us from not being eligible for the programs ourselves. How can that be right?

The bill President Bush recently vetoed would have provided insurance for my kids. Not some faceless huddled masses. These kids. MY kids.

Read the full HealthCare is a Bitch.

But for the grace of God, there go I.

We've always been about $60 gross over the income limit for the Pre-K, free lunch and SCHIPS. The only major difference is our children are healthy and we have corporate health insurance.

My prayers are with you Kyla.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Balancing Act


by Tracee Sioux

How does this sound?

  • Paid family leave so no mother has to go back to work days after giving birth,

  • Public universal pre-school,

  • Major investments in child care so having a child is no longer the top reason American families have "a poverty spell",

  • After school programs for all kids who need them,

  • Health care for all children,

  • Benefits for part-time workers, and

  • Telecommuting incentives so parents have more flexible work options.

  • While I am a so-called liberal democrat nearly everyone I know and love is a conservative Christian.

    Here's the thing - we all want the same things and share the same basic values.

    Women who describe themselves as "stay-at-home-moms" are working. They are working part-time for low pay and getting no benefits, no security, no acknowledgement or validation from their work, but they ARE working.

    Women who describe themselves as "working mothers" would stay at home more and work fewer hours given the flexibility and choice.

    Then there is a whole class of women who vacillate between the two distinctions and make various compromises depending on age of children and practical economics. Those compromises usually sacrifice health care and benefits for more time. It's not a necessary sacrifice when we could just require employers to offer it up without penalty.

    We, as voters and citizens, need to remember that the government works for us. Not the other way around. In a democracy, we get to decide what the rules are and how the game is played. We do that by writing letters and electing the people that are looking out for our best interests. Let the employer look out for his own best interest - they pay people to lobby for that. The US Constitution wasn't design to protect employers, it was designed to protect We, the People.

    Both the liberal Democrat and the conservative Republican family can see how telecommuting, working from home, benefits for part-time work, paid family leave, after school programs and health care are good for every family in America.

    American families deserve it and Momsrising is demanding it. There is a bill before congress right now called The Balancing Act that makes life easier for families.

    If you want to see the divorce rate go down and more face-time between kids and their parents, it's laws like The Balancing Act that make it possible.

    Follow this link and write your representatives and tell them you expect the American Government to do this for American Families.

    Our daughters deserve better choices than we have. Just as we have better choices than our mothers.

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    Smoke Out


    by Tracee Sioux

    I can hardly wait for New Year's Eve to come because I never have to put "Quit Smoking - for real this time" on my list of resolutions again. I can move on to getting organized and saving my receipts so I can deduct them.

    The best thing about this year is that I've become a non-smoker. I really and truly quit smoking. Well, maybe the very best thing is that I've encouraged thousands of other smokers, to become non-smokers with the breakout success of one BlogFabulous post about the miracle drug Chantix (around 957 comments). It got so difficult to load up I started a new quit smoking support site at Quit Coping. It feels fantastic to effect the soul of the world in such a positive way.

    If you still smoke here's what I want you to know:

    You've been underestimating the tole smoking is taking on your emotional life.

    The chronic sense of failure, guilt and shame is effecting everything you say, think and do. You've been doing it so long that you think it's who you are.

    It's not.

    You'll have to take my word for it, but after a few months you'll discover a deeper person underneath all those negative surface emotions and that person is worth knowing.

    It's liberating and confidence-boosting to be without that sense of shame, guilt and failure.

    Smoking undermined every relationship in my life. If you always leave a conversation to smoke you rob yourself of the full relationship - usually the healing, reconciliation and understanding that comes at the end of conversations.

    You think you can't find the emotional strength to deal with people because you've been mentally checking out as soon as conflict comes up by thinking about how you'll escape to smoke.

    That you can't deal with stress is a fiction created by your addiction to cigarettes. Period. It's a fiction and it will take some pain and a lot of practice - but you deserve to know that you can deal with everything you think you can't deal with. You can learn to deal with stress, loss, pain, trauma, anxiety, insomnia, conflict, boredom and every other emotion you've avoided by smoking.

    You'll need to dedicate yourself to finding new coping strategies for every instance where you previously smoked. That's seriously uncomfortable. It's painful sometimes. It's overwhelming. I promise you - it's worth it.

    There is no way to quit smoking with total ease and comfort. But, Chantix will take the edge off. And if you're a smoker, I know you understand that by edge I don't mean a slight discomfort, I mean the depths of hell. Chantix will elevate you to purgatory levels of discomfort which almost feels like heaven if you've ever been to the depths of hell.

    Today is the Great International Smoke Out. Ten years ago I ended up on the front page of a Lithuanian newspaper for smoking it up on the street on this day. It's embarrassing to be held up as the epitome of stupidly continuing to smoke.

    This year, when I see smokers on the street, I want to tell you: You don't have to smoke anymore.

    Stop by Quit Coping and I'll hang with you every step of the way while you give up this self-loathing, self-defeating habit. You deserve to be a non-smoker.

    Family Visit and Maturity
    Blog Fabulous/Chantix (1,000 comments)
    I suck
    Addiction Off

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    So Totally Ana


    by Tracee Sioux

    I'm reading this little book called Bergdorf Blonds by Plum Sykes where I'm seeing the word ana. As in you're looking totally ana, you must be deliriously happy. Ana is short for anorexia and is considered the best thing to be.

    It's not just appearing in trashy hip-chick lit, it's appearing on social networking sites where the lines are being blurred between recovering from eating disorders and glamorizing being so thin they're near death.

    Worlds Largest Pro Anorexia site is where girls go to support each other in keeping their anorexia or bulimia.

    Comments samples on Pro-ana and Pro-mia sites:

    after a two day fast, i f*ed up. and had six slices of bread and butter :'( plus a bowl of spaghetti. i tried to purge but i couldn't. then i spent ages crying. how sad can i get.

    i love stepping on the scale and seeing the numbers go lower. i really do. it feels like a high-- but sometimes i actually get scared for my own healtha nd well being. my BMI is 15. im scared sometimes that i wont wake up. i tell myself i will eat healthy nad maintain my weight but then in contrast i get scared to eat TOO much. so i cycle on eating too much, maintaining weight, losing weight, freaking out, eating too much... over and over again.

    Xanga, Facebook and Myspace all have pro-ana and pro-mia sites. Those who participate in these sites defend their "right to their lifestyle choice."

    They exchange purging tips, ways to avoid eating when they are in social situations, how to hide weight loss from doctors and parents, and what pills and laxatives work best. These strategies are quaintly known as thinspiration.

    According to a 2006 survey of eating disorder patients at Stanford Medical School 35.5% had visited pro-ana/pro-mia web sites; of those, 96% learned new weight loss or purging methods from such sites.

    They post ultra-thin photos of themselves and long to be, not their own thin selves, but someone thinner and better.

    This pro-ana and pro-mia and thinspiration trend is a cry for help from the girls who internalized all our self-loathing jokes and indulged in all the girl-hating media.

    Oh mothers. What would we do to protect our daughters from this outcome?

    Would we stop complaining about our own bodies and appearance?

    It's a tangible and effective place to start. It's not meaningless and without consequence to joke about our own fatness, ugliness, lack of beauty perfection. It doesn't only lower our self-esteem, it lowers theirs too.

    Would we take the time to write advertisers?

    Is it worth monitoring their Internet use and television exposure?

    It is to me.

    The mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem. Naomi Wolf

    Self-Loathing Sin Bank

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Seven Random and Weird Things


    In response to a meme by Marjorie at 280 Main Street. A meme is what bloggers do if they like you - yea! It's like blogger approval. I'm digging that.


    • I was on the front page of the newspaper in Lithuania. I was teaching English there. It was considered improper for women to smoke on the street. A photographer caught me smoking on the street during the International Smoke Out. Due to the language barrier, I didn't know about the smoke out. I would've done it anyway. It wasn't a good photo - I had burned my bangs while trying to light my smoke on a gas stove and they were mid-grow out. I quit smoking this year.

    • I used to wimp-out when people would say, "It's too competitive." There are several moments in my life where I wish I hadn't chickened out of opportunities. I'm learning to say, "Well, maybe I'm that good."

    • I'm actively testing Biblical promises and the Law of Attraction to get what I really want. It's working. Especially for garage sale where I found four already hemmed jeans with the exact right waste, leg, brand and sizes.

    • I love being in my 30s - I feel so much more powerful and validated now. I'm starting to love cliches, because they are true like, "youth is wasted on the young."

    • I feel freed from my biological clock now that I'm done having children. I'm feeling a sense of sanity that was never there before. Like all my thoughts and actions were somehow biologically skewed to make sure I got married and had children. Now that I'm done I feel free to be more authentically me, only censored.

    • I'm resistant to organization and new technology. I get frustrated learning new things and avoid them until I can't avoid them anymore (just got a cell phone this year - actually three, since my kids destroyed my first two). I finally had to start keeping a weekly calendar and a password spreadsheet.

    • I have hemochromatosis. It's a rare hereditary condition where my body doesn't process iron correctly. Iron is poisonous in high doses so they bleed me. About 8% of the population has it. I was extremely lucky to find out about it in my 20s, so it is unlikely to effect my health or life expectancy. However, it does make me uninsurable through private insurance. Thank Goodness my husband has a corporate job which is required to insure me. I've been denied life insurance too.

    I'm going to tag Jlogged, Queen of Violets, Mrs. Blogoway, The Wardrobe Miser, Babylune, and Black Market Beauty (this chick is conjuring up her own make up recipes.) and Blue Milk.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    Carnival of Feminists and the Radical Kind Too

    Don't miss the 47th Carnival of Feminists (really? 47? Wow, that's a lot). Proud to be included. Thanks for hosting it Ornamenting Away.

    Angry for a Reason is hosting Carnival of Radical Feminists. Again, very honored to be included.

    Blond Ambition


    by Tracee Sioux

    When you write about issues effecting daughters, you put a lot of thought into personal action that might not have carried much meaning before.

    For instance, having written that women should consider how their daughters will feel before reconstructing perceived flaws through surgery in My Face/Her Face I have to wonder how far I must take the you're beautiful the way God made you message.

    Does that make it wrong for me to color my hair? Am I now restricted to only allow myself my natural color? Am I making Ainsley feel bad about her light brown hair (which is my natural color) by bleaching and coloring my hair? Am I harming her self esteem?

    I was a natural blond as a child. I'm not over it. Okay? I'm just not. I want to be a blond. My hair got darker around the 5th or 6th grade and I wasn't thrilled when I saw myself in a picture. I've pretty much been bleaching it since the 7th grade. Blonds have more fun. Blonds are prettier. Blonds are younger. Blonds are more exciting. I think you look great as a brunette. But I, my inner self or my own internal picture of me, is a blond.

    I don't feel as pretty if I don't have blond streaks. Sometimes I like to put red in it. Sometimes I really enjoy the contrast between the dark brown and the sun-streaked blond. Last Spring I loved my pink streaks amidst the blond. I like the feeling I get when I make a big change, but I like it most when there is blond involved.

    I'll probably never develop a deep satisfaction in my natural color. For one thing, by now it's probably got some grey in it and I'd color it anyway. I may never get over it - and why should I? There is nothing permanent about hair.

    However, after reading my friend Jennifer's blog A Free Haircut is Always a Super Cut arguing that professional hair color is an expensive luxury. I decided I could give up my blond - for a little while - to free up the $60 it costs me to have it done. We're buying a house and that 60 bucks, as well as the gym membership, can go to the mortgage.

    I went for my natural Light Golden Brown first. Boring. Boring. Boring. I went back for the Dark Auburn last night - I can at least give myself a hint of drama.

    And Ainsley, I've already colored her hair twice - once with pink streaks and once with red. She even had pink extensions glued in for a while. She asked for it and I couldn't think of a reason not to.

    So, if Ainsley is going to get a message I hope it's this, You have the freedom to have whatever color of hair you want. You can reinvent yourself every season if you feel like it. But, keep it in perspective - if it's between buying a house or being a blond - the house should win every time.

    Who knew I had this much to say about hair:

    Friday, November 9, 2007

    Gender Bias In Science


    There are very few women in science and technology fields because:

    A) Girls can't do well in math and science subjects.

    B) Science and Tech Fields are misogynistic Good Old Boys Clubs.

    C) All men hate women.

    D) Women just don't care about math and science - they care about fashion and babies.

    E) Teachers, professors and employers don't understand how they shut girls out and they need some education.

    A recent National Academies report, Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, found that women repeatedly face biases in academia in the science fields, and that these barriers to success discourage them from careers in these areas. In response to this report, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) recently introduced the Gender Bias Elimination Act (H.R. 3514).

    Women are capable of contributing more to the nation's science and engineering research enterprise, but bias and outmoded practices governing academic success impede their progress almost every step of the way, said Donna E. Shalala, president of the University of Miami, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. Fundamental changes in the culture and opportunities at America's research universities are urgently needed. The United States should enhance its talent pool by making the most of its entire population.

    This important piece of legislation directly addresses concerns raised in the National Academies report by authorizing workshops that educate university department chairs, agency program officers, and others on reducing and eliminating gender bias for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Under this act, agencies that fund scientific research-like the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation-will also be directed to better enforce existing federal anti-discrimination laws (including Title IX), assess the workplace climate, publish demographic and funding data for grant applications, and extend grant support for researchers on leave for caregiving duties.

    Declining interest in science and a shortage of American scientists is a threat to American competitiveness on a national scale, problems that are exacerbated by the low numbers of women and girls from STEM fields. The Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology's report Professional Women and Minorities states that women now comprise 25 percent of the labor force in STEM fields. If women and members of other traditionally underrepresented groups joined the STEM workforce in proportion to their representation in the overall labor force, the shortage of STEM professionals would disappear.

    Join the American Association of University Women in supporting, promoting and strengthening STEM education, especially for women and other underrepresented populations in the fields. AAUW believes this legislation remove barriers to success and encourage more women to choose careers in STEM fields.

    Be a Two-Minute Activist by following this link to write your legislatures to support this bill.

    Our daughters deserve to have all choices open and available to them.

    Monday, December 31, 2007

    Tone Control


    We all know our own flaws, and recognize them in our children, if we have any self-perception.

    I was struck by this paragraph in Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesiaby Elizabeth Gilbert, I'm never going to be a wallflower, but that doesn't mean I can't take a serious look at my talking habits and alter some aspects for the better - working within my personality.

    Yes, I like talking, but perhaps I don't have to curse so much, and perhaps I don't always have to go for the cheap laugh, and maybe I don't need to talk about myself quite so constantly. Or here's a radical concept - maybe I can stop interrupting others when they are speaking.

    Wow, she must have really harnessed the Divine if she can control all that. I would add to that tone. I want to be able to say that I can control the tone of my voice. And that my daughter can control hers.

    I know I've written about my tone before. My tone turtle idea, making us pay a quarter for every time we use a tone, didn't work out because she has no quarters and no concept of money. Many of you find my tone amusing - as do I, which is the core of the problem. It gets laughs - I like making people laugh. I find it instantly gratifying and validating.

    I often refer to my tone as Angry Turrets Syndrome. Because it feels like something out of my control. The key here is that it feels like Angry Turrets Syndrome - in reality it is something that I need to learn to control. I've recently discovered that with much effort and a lot of meditation, praying and practice I can control anything, even the way I feel.Did everyone else already know you can control your feelings? It's a bit of a 2006-2007 Revelation for me.

    It doesn't matter how I got my tone - let me just say, I come by it honestly. My tone is justified most of the time. My ego needs to know that. I have every right to be upset when I am upset. My ego needs to know that too. But, I choose to give up the tone anyway.

    It's time to give it up. It's not getting me what I want. When something is ineffective then it's time to try something else. But, what if I'm not funny anymore?

    I've got a lot of incentive to change this aspect of my self. My daughter has taken up my tone - for laughs - to be a disobedient little hooligan - to get her way - to push Mommy's buttons. The other day her friend went home because she didn't enjoy being treated so rudely. It won't be long before she becomes brazen enough to use it with teachers and other authority figures.

    In 2008 I WILL get control of my tone and I will insist Ainsley get control of hers. I will not beat myself about the head with self-loathing or punishment when I fail. This is an emotional habit. Habits are terribly difficult and painful to break. But, if I can break the habit of smoking, I can break this habitual tone. I will give myself the whole year to do it and I will cut myself some slack in the midst of it. I will be kind to myself and I will expect kindness from others.

    I'm going to start with How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talkby Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I find my tone increases the more frustrated I become with my children and my husband. Perhaps if I have better communication tools I won't become as frustrated. Does anyone else wonder how you make the OTHER communication partner actually respond the way they're supposed to when using these books?

    Most recently we've developed a pattern where I kindly ask her to do something four times and then the fifth time I get angry and raise my voice. Only after I yell does she respond.

    You don't have to yell at me!
    Oh, Really? When I asked nicely 4 times you ignored me! Apparently I DO have to yell at you!

    This must stop.

    Tone is my parenting and personal New Year's Resolution - what's yours?

    Friday, December 28, 2007

    I Need Validation

    For an entire year I've been doing this blog So Sioux Me.

    I could use some validation.

    Please go to Hoyden About Town and nominate your favorite So Sioux Me feminist post so that I may be included in the Top 40 Feminist Posts of 2007.

    Nominate yourself and your other favorite bloggers too.

    Contest open until the end of the year.

    Thanks Readers. I appreciate that you read So Sioux Me.

    Blond Ambition II


    I'm sorry. I just can not feel like Tracee Sioux with plain brown hair.

    It's the single brown tone that's making me feel un-me when I look in the mirror. Drab. Dull. Boring. Not on you. Just on me.

    None of those words describe me. I'm fun, happy and exciting. My hair should reflect that.

    Last night I spent $9.99 for a box of Loreal Chunking Blond Highlights. I put about 10 blond streaks back around my face and feel like myself again. They're a little orangey - but I do not care.

    Ainsley asked for some blond streaks in her dark blond/light brown hair and I couldn't think of a reason to tell her no.

    I can think of lots of reasons other mothers might give their daughters,
    You're too young. You're hair is perfect like it is. You don't need lighter blond to be pretty. What will people think if I let my 6-year-old color her hair?

    I respect all those reasons as valid and legitimate. But, none of those ring true for me, as I've already allowed red streaks and pink streaks - depending on what I was doing to my own hair. Who is a little blond going to hurt? No one. It's fun. That's all it is. It's instantly gratifying to change the color of one's hair. It's a hobby. It's a harmless distraction.

    I'm a feminist, but not the natural kind. I think the beauty industry has gotten too extreme and makes many women feel like crap about themselves, I abhor their marketing tactics. But, I am happy when they invent a product that really works.

    I use beauty products. I shave my legs, pits and groom my vajayjay. I pluck my eyebrows into a high arch. I wear make-up, apply sun screen and foundation. I get excited about my mascara. I try to control my acne with prescription medication. I'm willing to pay a lot of money for a product that makes melasma vanish and never return. Mind you - I get this stuff on the cheap so I'm not hurting myself financially in this quest for beauty. I got this rotating scrub brush and a chemical peel at a retiring Avon Lady's garage sale for a quarter.

    And I love blond highlights. I'm a feminist who feels her best self with blond-highlights.

    In December's O Magazine I read this quote from Nancy Etkoff, PhD, author of Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty, If we say, "Get rid of the advertisement and tell companies to stop making products, and no one will care about beauty - this is all just a creation that we can wipe away," we are denying who we are. People do care about how they look. They have adorned themselves since Paleolithic times. This is not a vanity issue or a women's issue or a United States issue. It is human nature.

    Thursday, December 27, 2007

    20 Posts All Women Should Read

    Earlier in the month I got an email from DJ Nelson saying that my article My Face/Her Face had changed the way she thought about cosmetic surgery.

    This is such a compliment.

    In fact, the article, she said, made her not want to shave a little bit off the top of her nose after all.

    Major compliment.

    She went further and included my article on All Diva Media in a post titled: 20Posts All Women Should Read. (Yes, I did take her advice and read them.)

    That's a compliment that netted me hundreds more page views.

    I know this sounds a little lame, but it just barely occurred to me that to tell my readers about the article, and link to the it, is not just bragging. It's reciprocation. Of course I want to reciprocate, I'm just not very good at believing, feeling worthy of or embracing success. But, I'm actively working on that.

    So, DJ Nelson, I feel privileged and grateful to have been included. Next time, and hopefully there is a next time, you include any link to me - I will immediately reciprocate.

    Wednesday, December 26, 2007

    Merry Me. Merry You?

    I hope your Christmas was as merry as ours:

    Ainsley performed in her annual Christmas Pageant. This year they took the show on the road and sang and danced and played instruments at a nursing home.

    This is her first dance solo.







    We baked cookies for Santa. I don't know where she gets that attitude.


    Barbie upstaged the guitar. Body image was balanced out by juxtaposing Hispanic dark-haired Gabriella of High School Musical with larger than life Tracy Turnblad of Hairspray.

    Crush was accounted for with Zac Afron as Troy of High School Musical. Zac does pair with both of them in the respective movies.


    Zack and Ainsley got a kitchen - previously owned by The Joneses.

    We're keeping it in Zack's room because he has more available space.

    They equally love it.

    Monday, December 24, 2007

    The Argument for Santa


    Dreaming is a skill we must teach our children, especially our girls.

    Would Hillary Clinton be running for President if she only believed in the Possible?

    Would Oprah be Oprah if she didn't didn't believe in the impossible?

    Would Nancy Pelosi be Speaker of the House if she only focused on what was easily attainable?

    Would Meg Whitman be running eBay if she hadn't learned to dream outside the box?

    We must keep teaching our girls that dreams come true. Having Santa fulfill their heart's desire teaches them not only that they can dream, wish and believe - but that it pays off.

    Merry Christmas!

    Friday, December 21, 2007

    Our Father Tract


    When I first got married my in-laws came to visit us in New York. By the end of the trip I had to ask my mother-in-law, Peggy, to please hand the religious tracts to the waitress with the tip so we could still get refills.

    I'm all for religious conviction, but some things are just socially inappropriate.

    Remember that religious tract Ainsley got with $20 in it?

    Mommy, how do I save this? Can you copy 67 of these so I can hand them out to people?

    She had taken a children's book with The Lord's Prayer and typed every single word of it.

    She's definitely your grand-daughter, I told Peggy. They shared a high-five.

    Saturday she and her cousins are going to perform their Christmas Pageant (which Peggy directs) at a nursing home. I think that will be the most socially appropriate time to let Ainsley pass out her religious tracts.

    Unfortunately, we're not in a position to hand out $20 with them.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007

    Friend Finder

    When I was a little kid my parents moved a lot. It was the 70s and 80s. When we moved to a new neighborhood I would go out and knock on doors asking,
    Do you have anyone my age that I could be friends with?

    Can you imagine letting your little kid go door to door in a neighborhood you just moved to? As I said, it was the 70s and 80s and things were different then.

    We just moved to a new neighborhood and I caught a glimpse of a little girl around Ainsley's age up the street.

    We're going over there to meet that little girl and make you a friend. Get your shoes on.

    I'm scared Mommy.

    It's okay to be scared. But, we're doing it anyway. You're brave.

    Knock, knock, knock.

    Hi, this is Ainsley. We just moved in up the street. We thought she might be friends with you. What's your name?

    Bernice.

    How old are you Bernice?

    Seven. Ainsley's six.

    Are there other girls on the street to play with?

    Nikki. She's across the street.

    Would you like to go over and introduce Ainsley to her?

    And that's how Ainsley had two instant friends in the neighborhood. I wish it was still that easy for adults to make friends.

    How long would it take me to make the whole neighborhood Christmas cookies? Just because "people don't do that anymore" doesn't mean I shouldn't right? I mean, if it was effective then . . .

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    AGordon10 You won Discovery Girls Books

    I never did hear back from Tamara for the Discovery Girls Books. So, I had Ainsley draw a new winner out of a hat. Please AGordon10 - email me at traceesioux at yahoo.com to give me your address so I can have the books sent to you. Congradulations and I do hope you and your family can make peace with your postfeminist, non-traditional familial roles.

    For a chance to win Eat, Pray, Love - this season's best selling book by Elizabeth Gilbert please visit Blog Fabulous and leave a compliment about yourself in the comments section.

    Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    Mani-Pedi Bond

    Sundays are for bonding and resting. Oh, and a spa manicure-pedicure in front of the tube.

    Learn to groom, but be frugal about it. That's the lesson here.

    Ainsley bites her nails and lets her cuticles grow out to the point where a manicure is a big painful task. Turning it into a fun spa girlie time avoids the holding her down while she's screaming as I push back the cuticles episode.

    After the red nail polish, we add some Bite It. It's supposed to stop her from biting the nails down to bleeding by making them taste like dirt. It's probably more effective if you put it on more than once a month. I noticed this morning that she's already bitten most of the polish off her nails.

    Perhaps your daughter shares this problem. You might try Control-It! 3 Jar ~ 21 Day Fingernail Biting Treatment OMEGA3 Extra Strength. I would not care that she bites her nails if she were not complaining that they hurt from hang nails and infection quite often.

    Do you allow your daughter to participate in grooming activities? (To be fair, we very democratically did Zack's nails too.)

    Sunday, December 16, 2007

    You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

    Who doesn't love A Christmas Story? It's my favorite Christmas classic.

    So, about those Barbies Ainsley keeps praying, wishing and asking Santa for. . .

    Ralphie needed that Red Rider BB Gun just as Ainsley needs some Barbie dolls. I have overlooked the fact that Mattel makes the Mattel High School Musical Gabriella & Troy 2-Pack dolls for Ainsley. I also balanced it out with a Hairspray Deluxe Singing Tracey Turnblad.

    I did not order the Link Larkin doll because Troy and Link are both Zac Afron and I am fundamentally too frugal.

    It is unlikely she'll shoot her eye out, right?

    I think they will come from Santa. Or should I get the credit?

    Friday, December 14, 2007

    Unbelievably Fabulous


    by Tracee Sioux

    I've been afraid that if I tell you about our good fortune it will vanish. That, I just could not bear. But, maybe it's real. Maybe God is going to let us keep this dream we've worked so hard for. Please God, let us keep this.

    We just moved, this week, into the most marvelous and perfect Dream home.

    The best part is - there are too many best parts to pick just one - is it the central air and heat which greatly improves our health?

    Is it the massive 30X28 foot living room? Where Ainsley is jumping rope and Zack is actually riding his scooter and I have plenty of room to do yoga and exercise? The original parquet hard-wood floors and the vaulted lighted ceilings with a white and dark walnut beam contrast make such a cathedral effect I can't help but pray, "Thank You, God," when I walk into it.

    Is it my own office? Giving me a legitimate and valid place to write and work?

    Maybe it's the storage space? The kitchen is brand new and has two walls of cabinets - enough space for everything.

    The massive living room has wall-to-wall original 1950s build-in shelves, drawers and cabinets. I've always gotten lusty over shelving.

    The children have their own rooms and wait for it . . . . their own bathrooms! Yes, the house has 3 bathrooms! Ah, the frivolity of it!

    I'm almost at a loss for words, except that I could literally write pages and pages of gratitude for every shelf and hook and cleanly painted wall (in exactly the colors I would have chosen) and cabinet and blind and appliance and strip of new carpet.

    This is better than I've ever had it. Even when I was praying for it, I never dared to dream it would be this marvelous.

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    Forbidden Prayers, Wishes & Dreams


    by Tracee Sioux

    Yesterday we went walking, the kids and I, to get our exercise and take a break what seemed to be a downward spiral of bickering and frustration at home.

    There's a prayer sanctuary near our house that's open to the public with some wishing wells out front. It's about a mile so we ventured forth.

    Let's go in and pray. We can show God our gratitude for our blessings.

    Not me. I'm praying for a Barbie.

    Stupid Freaking Barbie! When she had one she dismembered and beheaded it. Now, it's her heart's desire.

    Is it only because it's forbidden? I got her a Barbi-like knock off - do you think she'll be satisfied?

    We made our wishes in the fountain, on penny at a time and then we had some more so we moved onto the nickels, dimes and quarters. Then Ainsley tried to fish them out because she was out of money but still had more wishes.

    You can't steal other people's wishes Ainsley. And if you get your wishes back they might not come true.

    So, in we went to pray. I knelt and prayed out loud (it's uncomfortable for me, but I try to teach by example) for all the wonderful gifts we've been given.

    She went over to the spiral notebook and started writing.

    Please bless that mom and dad will love each other all the time. Please let my brother be nice, she wrote.

    Then we came home and she wrote a letter to Santa.

    Mom how do you spell Barbie?

    How do you spell Sleeping Beauty Princess Dress?

    Okay now how to I write Barbie Computer?

    Do you think he could really fit a tree house in a present?

    A few days ago we were making a Dream Board, you know a collage of our dreams that we hope to come true. A visual representation of our goals, if you will.

    She cut out a Bratz bedspread.

    You don't want that, I tried convincing her.

    I do want it.

    Like every mother, my hearts desire is to make all her dreams come true at Christmas. But, you'll notice that I have a moral objection to nearly every toy on her list?

    Is it irony, karma or a case of wanting the forbidden only because it's forbidden? Or is it the mass marketing to girls today telling them they must want these things?

    I've my theories but I'd really, truly love to hear yours.

    Pro-Ana Cheerleader Barbies
    How Come Zack Gets A Barbie?
    Bob vs. Barbie
    Friends With Barbies
    Go Bratz Go!
    No Bratz No! Tantrum Or Go With The Flow?
    Princess Ban
    Cinderella Should Have Saved Herself
    Ariel - The Little Mute
    Belle - Battered Codependent

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    Tamara Dear, Where Are You?

    Tamara won the Discovery Girls books by placing a comment about her Penguin underwear showing through her play costume. Then the whole school called her Chilly Willy. She deserves those books.

    But, I haven't heard from her. If you are she, please leave a comment here and email me directly. If you know her, please email her and tell her she's won!

    If I don't hear from her in a few days I'll pick a second-place winner drawn from a hat. Someone needs those free books!

    Missing Views

    by Tracee Sioux

    This is the view I was missing by going to the gym every day. Isn't it fantastic?

    Honestly, my life to 33-years-old was not about health. One day I looked at my little family and realized every one of us had a medium-sized weight problem. Well, it wasn't exactly one day - I mean, my husband had been complaining for years and I was ignoring it until my pregnancy phase was over. Then Ainsley's doctor said she was on the border of having a weight issue. Even the baby was so fat I needed to lift weights to pick him up (but, it's cute on a baby).

    If a plane gets into trouble they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Otherwise, you will render yourself incapacitated and there will be no one to save your children.

    I find this method to be useful for other things like creating habits and instituting change in behavior and attitude.

    First I got a gym membership and spent a year developing a habit of exercise for the first time in my life. I changed my attitude about it and learned to love it.

    I established a clear connection in my brain that said exercise was a real part of our lifestyle before I felt I could give up the gym membership and venture out walking with my kids.

    We're up to an easy two miles now. And it's a piece of cake. It's great bonding time and great talking time. Check out the view I was missing!

    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    Hopelessly Devoted, John & Zac



    by Tracee Sioux

    Someone handed my daughter a religious tract with $20 in it.

    I took her to Walmart and she chose the Hairspray DVD.

    This, this is what I want.

    Hairspray? Okay. $20 is a lot for a DVD, are you sure you don't want to wait till I find it at a garage sale?

    No. I want it now. You know why? It has my favorite in it.

    I'm hoping she just loves Tracy Turnblad.

    Zac Efron, he's my favorite. I just love him.

    There is a part of me that is just surprisingly Puritan which wants to shout, But, you're only 6 - what do you know of crushes? You shouldn't feel this way yet! You're not ready! Put that movie back! You'll never see another movie again!

    Except that I am still hopelessly devoted to John Travolta, which dates back to me watching Grease when I was her age. The love is unchanged. My cousin shared my attraction to him and playing John and Sandy was our favorite game. We wanted to BE Olivia Newton-John. I listened to the Grease album over and over. I bought it on tape and CD.

    My love transended Grease and progressed to all things John and Olivia. Olivia's albums including the old 70's folk music, the 80's pop Let's Get Physical album, and Xanadu. Let's not forget their encore movie together, Two Of A Kind. Then John's work Saturday Night Fever and Staying Alive - ooh la la. Urban Cowboy, American Gigolo and Pulp Fiction. I even watched those stupid 80s films with Kirsty Alley and the talking babies. I loved him, even when no one else did.

    I passed my love on to my younger sister and she flew in for an Olivia concert in the 90s. When they remade and rereleased Grease we paid full price. I have the video. My husband got me an Olivia t-shirt for Christmas a few years back - I specifically asked for it.

    My dancing shoes, which eventually met a tragic end, were based on the shoes Olivia Newton-John wore in the last scene of the movie. I haven't replaced them because I haven't found a pair exactly alike. I probably smoked for 20 years because of that last scene. And only this Saturday night I looked in the mirror and realized I was wearing something disturbingly similar to Sandy's bad-girl-sexy-outfit and I had to force myself to change.

    Evidently, it's genetic. I recently learned my crush was shared by my 84-year-old grandmother.

    I want to see Hairspray with you, I have always liked that John Travolta, she told me.

    I had a crush on John Travolta when I was your age, I shared with Ainsley.

    Who's John Travolta?

    You know, from Grease?

    Oh, yeah. I think I've got a crush on him too!

    See? It's genetic.

    Hmmm. Don't you think John and Zac look alike?

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Lourdes Bashing


    While listening to the radio the other day I heard a female DJ pick apart Lourdes, the daughter of Madonna.

    Oh My God, that Lourdes needs to be introduced to the tweezers. She not only had a massive uni-brow, but she's got a full on mustache too, said mommy DJ.

    The DJ happens to be the mother of a baby girl.

    Hello! Lourdes is a little girl. At what age are we mothers expected to sit our daughters down and tweeze, pluck, wax and shave them?

    Is 6 too young? Maybe girls should start shaving their legs at 8? The Burning Times has a report on Nair Pretty, a chemical acid hair removal cream, being marketed directly to 10-year-old girls for their clean bikini line. It's profoundly disturbing that I'm no longer shocked.

    Maybe it's not even about when the girls might be ready for such milestones into womanhood, maybe it's all about prevention of mean girl attention. Perhaps a mother's best bet is to attempt to prevent scathing criticism of a girl's appearance by prematurely eradicating any hair that might attempt to grow anywhere on her body.

    You should be ashamed of yourself Sister DJ. You've just opened the door for bad daughter Karma.

    You will find, as your daughter matures, that it is extraordinarily difficult to teach a young girl that appearance isn't everything when all evidence is to the contrary.

    Friday, December 7, 2007

    First Crush


    Hey Ainsley, remember when I told you that if Austin was hitting you that meant he liked you?

    Yeah.

    Well, I was wrong to tell you that. I don't ever want you to think anyone, ever has any right to treat you with disrespect. I want you to always expect respect, especially from boys who like you. A boy never, ever has any right to hit you, slap you or call you names.

    And if a Austin likes you he needs to find a better, nicer way to express himself. You always deserve that. Do you understand?

    Yes. Well, we were just playing tag ball and the ball hurts when you get tagged so we had to take some time outs.

    Okay. When is a boy allowed to hit you or call you names?

    Never.

    What are you going to do if it happens?

    Tell him to stop and come get you or the teacher.

    Okay then. Good.


    Read the original exchange at He's Always Hitting Me.

    Thursday, December 6, 2007

    Science Sheros

    Sometimes I hear about a girl or three who, frankly, astounds me. They accomplish things I never thought to accomplish.

    Girls cleaned house at the annual Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology this year.

    According to an MSNBC article by Karen Matthews, Isha Jain, a senior at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pa., won the individual prize for her biology project on bone growth in zebrafish fins.

    Janelle Schlossberger and Amanda Marinoff, seniors at John F. Kennedy High School in Plainview, N.Y., won the top team prize for their research into tuberculosis treatments.

    Jain's research has already been published in Developmental Dynamics and said her research should lead to understanding bone growth in other vertebrates along with bone disorders in humans.

    Schlossberger and Marinoff said their research could lead to more effective treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis.

    After synthesizing these drugs we need to then go back to modify them and optimize them to maximize their effectiveness, Marinoff was quoted as saying in the MSNBC article.

    The scientists won $100,000 in scholarships.

    You Go Girls!


    Every parent can encourage their daughters to think ambitiously about technology and science by providing girls with traditionally "boy" toys. One of these winners flew off the stage into her father's arms after winning. Obviously, he encouraged her scientific ambitions.

    Think Wii by Nintendo (whoever bought the Wii last week through So Sioux Me - I can't express how gratifying and validating that $20 was!), Melissa and Doug Solar System 48pc Floor , or Meade 70AZ-A Telescope and, CHEM C1000: Chemistry Experime.

    Wednesday, December 5, 2007

    Dove Reality Diaries


    by Tracee Sioux

    More and more I'm coming into contact with teenage girls and young women who meet the beauty ideal - 100 lbs, blond highlights, blue eyed, clear skin, fantastic fashion sense - and discovering their self-esteem is as low as anyones.

    Even those who meet the beauty ideal don't understand why I have a blank mystified stare when they tell me how they aren't pretty enough.

    What I'm thinking is, If YOU don't measure up then no one does.

    Which brings us to the core of the problem. No one does and no one can.

    The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty "aims to widen the definition of beauty and inspire positive self-image among women – in short, to help more women feel beautiful every day."

    Their newest venture in the cause to broaden beauty is the Reality Diaries.

    The press release states, "The Reality Diaries Program is a 6 week program that revolves around the lives of four real girls who share their personal self-esteem stories online. They record their journey online through the use of blogs and videos, allowing girls across the country to go behind-the-scenes on their real lives and understand the factors that impact their self-esteem. Each girl deals with a different self-esteem issue and the Diaries will reflect how the media influences their self-esteem."

    Each of the girls are 17 and seniors in high school. Each have different beauty pressures: Chelsea, the black pageant girl and becomes hyper-critical of every flaw to try to stamp it out before the other contestants single it out, Sydney; whose mother wants to fix her complex about her nose with a graduation gift of rhinoplasty, which only makes her feel worse; Jordan, who seems to meet the beauty standard but who picks herself apart because she fears the boys have unrealistically high standards she'll never meet; and Irene, the "pretty Asian girl" who overlooks racial slurs to gain social acceptance.

    The Reality Diaries is moderated by Jess, Doves Global Ambassador of Self Esteem, who, like the rest of us, doesn't measure up to today's beauty standards, but has a self esteem anyway.

    As a tool for girls the Reality Diaries will hopefully serve to make girls feel connected to other girls. Hopefully, they will realize how unrealistic the beauty ideal is and learn to have a positive self esteem regardless of cultural expectations.

    For parents and educators the Reality Diaries are a great opportunity to observe what girls are really thinking and feeling about themselves today.

    Tuesday, December 4, 2007

    Discovery Girls Prize Goes To . . .

    So, you get the idea. There are tools out there, like Discovery Girls, that will help you discuss important stuff with your daughter, like how to deal with mean girls and how to cope with an embarrassing moment.

    More communication is always better. Sharing something of your own sticky situations and how you coped soothes a daughter's soul.

    Fab Girls Guides are some pretty good tools to utilize. Not only will they entertain your daughter, but they will open doors for discussion and communication - and that's never a bad thing.

    Thanks to Discovery Girls for their generous donation of this set of all four guides. I very much appreciate it. I also appreciate every reader who took the time to enter the contest.

    Without further blathering. . . Tamara who wore a white dress in the school play, which made it possible for everyone to see her penguin panties is our winner. She wins because Ainsley and I thought it was the funniest. Nothing will adequately compensate for the whole school calling you Chilly Willy for a whole year, Tamara - but this is the least I could do. Please email me privately with your contact information at traceesioux at yahoo.com.

    Read the original article at Discovery Girls Contest.

    Monday, December 3, 2007

    He Keeps Hitting Me


    by Tracee Sioux

    Mom, Austin kept hitting me and throwing the ball at me today. He pulled my hair and called me stupid a bunch of times!

    Hmmm. Sounds like he likes you.

    What? He's being so mean to me!

    I know. That's what boys do when they like you.

    Really?

    Really.

    Isn't he the one you have a crush on?

    Yes.

    So, then. I guess he likes you back.

    Oh.

    Friday, November 30, 2007

    Kinda Knows


    by Tracee Sioux

    I checked out The Safe Side Stranger Safety video, produced by John Walsh of America's Most Wanted and Julie Clark of Baby Einstein.

    I recommend this to every parent of young children. Both my kids, one and six, were mesmerized by the over-the-top Safe Side Superchick who teaches the kids the way to "be on the safe side."

    Rather than the word stranger, which is confusing to children, they use Don't Know and Kinda Know.

    Mom, Dad and Grandma are Safe Side Adults. Parents give children a list of 3 Safe Side Adults who are always trustworthy and on their Safe Side List. These are the people who can pick them up from school or take them on outings.

    Don't Knows include anyone they don't know. Ice cream man, nice stranger in a store, another parent in the park - everyone they don't know. Children are not to speak to them or give them information unless they are in the presence of their Safe Side Adult.

    Kinda Knows are anyone the child recognizes, but who are not on the safe side adult list. Kinda Knows include coaches, teachers, church acquaintances, extended relatives, family friends, neighbors and friends' parents. Kids kinda know them, but sometimes people we know might harm us. Kids are told to stay on the safe side by not being alone with them or going anywhere with them without parental permission.

    I particularly liked the personal space concept. Too often we don't teach children that they have a right to their own personal space. If someone gets too close on the playground or in a store - the video tells them just to run away. Viewers are taught that they have a right to their personal space of about 10 feet around them. One great example was a car pulling up too close. The children didn't wait to find out why, they just ran.

    The focus is on safety over being polite. Which was a great reminder to me, because I often encourage polite interaction with strangers in stores. Children are only expected to be polite if their safe side adult is with them and give permission.

    It's a shame, but it's appropriate and necessary for children to be clued in that some adults could hurt them. The information was presented in such a way as to not scare children, but to make them feel more powerful when making quick decisions in the face of danger.

    I thought this was a well produced film to teach children safety rules. My kids loved it. Stranger Safety would make a great Christmas gift, with its high-tech equivalentThe Safe Side - Internet Safety.
    For more Safe Side Hot Tips visit www.thesafeside.com.

    Thursday, November 29, 2007

    I Want To Be A Model


    Mommy, I'm going to be a model.

    Well, you can if you really want to. But, I hope you'll never let anyone treat you like they treat models. I hope you'll expect more respect from any employer.

    The thing is Tyra, at some point you became "the industry." You chose to perpetrate the abuse against girls rather than change it.

    Fierce.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Pro-Ana Cheerleader Barbies


    I admit I vacillate like crazy on the issue of allowing Ainsley to have Barbies. It's a grey area for me. I allowed Barbie for a while, then when I found a decapitated and limbless Barbie massacre on Ainsley's bed I silently cheered for joy and vowed not to replace her.

    Some people give me crap about it and think I'm being too extreme. I admit, I've been thinking What's the harm in letter her play with those dolls, really?

    Then the universe sends me a message to remind me.

    First, I was flipping channels and came across Say Yes To The Dress. A wedding dress consultant asks a full grown woman, what do you want to look like on your wedding day?

    Like Barbie, the woman says. She wasn't kidding. Click this link to see her say it.

    Then my Barbie-defending friend, Violet, sends me this Cheerleader Barbie Inspires Young Girls.

    Could those cheerleaders be any more Pro-ana ? Mattel is calling this their model muse body. It makes me want to be sick - but not to lose weight, just to express disgust.

    Seriously, what message do these Barbies have for your daughter? You will never measure up unless you quit eating altogether and have a rib or two removed.

    Give Barbies for Christmas if you must, but Ainsley's getting the "chubby" knockoffs.

    More Barbie Blogs
    How Come Zack Gets A Barbi?
    Barbi For President
    Bob vs. Barbi
    Friends With Barbies

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Discovery Girls Contest


    by Tracee Sioux

    Discovery Girls is a magazine created for girls, by girls ages 8 and up. I reviewed a couple of issues with Ainsley, who is granted only 6, but precocious.

    It's full of about fashion trends, beauty and style, crushes on boys, and teen movie stars. I don't know why I expected that girlhood today would be different than girlhood when I was growing up. I guess I thought there would be more evolution in girlness.

    That said, I totally love it and can't stop reading. I am even taking the quizzes. I totally forgot how much fun magazine quizzes are.

    All the talk about boys and crushes would seem premature and inappropriate, if Ainsley hadn't already informed me who she's crushing on (I'm so not telling) and if I didn't remember being completely and utterly in love with a boy myself at her age. I would be incensed about the focus on boys if she hadn't opened the magazine and said, Oh wow, Zac Efron is in this. I was comforted when the advice column told a girl that the 5th grade was way too young to have a boyfriend. Fwhew.

    The articles about Frenimies and Mean Girls are particularly useful.

    Discovery Girls also recently released a series of books which I thought were entertaining and gave relevant advice.

    The Fab Girls Guide to Friendship Hardship seems like a gold mine for mothers - oh, right and daughters too. At the beginning of the book girls take a quiz about their friendships and see whether they rank as good or bad. If you're friends with Poisonous Patti, she's mean, untrustwrothy and may actually be trying to make you feel bad. . . Nope, it's not your imagination, this girl is not your friend -- she's a frenemy wearing your BFF necklace, girls are advised to find better friends.

    The book lists 8 frenemy behaviors: The User, The Gossip, The Part-Time Bully, The Cling-On, The Snob, The Drama Queen, The Hidder, and The Backstabber. Ah, brings back memories - not the good kind. The book tells girls what they're getting out of being friends with her.

    It doesn't stop there. It addresses what to do if the girl, herself, is the mean girl. Yeah, you!, it says.

    The book defines what you should expect out of a true friend and outlines how you can be one. It gives great advice on how to find friends when you are in need of new ones.

    The Fab Girls Guide to Sticky Situationsis both helpful and hilarious. The really funny part is that you'll relate to lots of these sticky situations.

    What should you do if your friend's mom bursts into the room and starts screaming about her D - time to slip out of the room.

    What should you do if you're at school and you get period on your pants? Make a temporary pad out of toilet paper or a sock, tie a sweater or jacket around your waste and see the school nurse. Don't worry, this has happened to every girl.

    The sticky situations include relevant information about what to do if you're approached by online predators too.

    Other books in the series are Fab Girls Guide to Getting Your Questions Answered and Fab Girls Guide to Getting Through Tough Times.

    You can buy the whole set of Fab Girls books for $29.95 or separately for $9.95 at discoverygirls.com.

    Or

    You can win a set of the books right here by posting a comment. If you share a sticky situation you found yourself in, you will be entered to win. The winner will be the one who made me laugh hardest. I will post the results next Tuesday.


    This contest is officially closed. For announcement of the winner please go to Discovery Girls Prize Goes To . . .

    Monday, November 26, 2007

    Bob vs. Barbie


    by Tracee Sioux

    In a focus group carried out by toy manufacturer, Martin Yaffe, where children were invited to put this year’s top Christmas toys through their paces, seven out of 10 girls chose to play with toys designed for boys over the girls’ alternatives.

    Around 70% of girls under six admit that boys’ toys are what they really want, according to a press release put out by the manufacturer of Bob the Builder toys.

    Kristian Johnson, Marketing Manager at Martin Yaffe, said: It seems that stereotypes applied to toys in the past such as dolls for girls and cars for boys no longer apply – opening up a whole new element of choice for parents when shopping for their daughters this Christmas!

    We wanted to hear directly from children exactly which toys will be at the top of their Christmas lists this year, and surprisingly found that the majority of girls preferred playing with the toys designed with boys in mind, from Bob the Builder to Fireman Sam.

    The girls were given their choice between Bratz and Barbies and Bob and other toys marketed to boys. The study was done in the United Kingdom, but it stands to reason that American girls might feel similarly.

    The top five picks were:
    No.1 – Bob the Builder Snaptrax Garage & Car Wash set (picture of electronic sounds vehicle wash) – Girls loved working the working carwash and dryer.

    No.2 – Oddbodz – The girls enjoyed playing with the colourful characters and vehicles that could be dismantled to create crazy new ones.
    No 3 – Remote Control Scrambler – Girls particularly enjoyed mastering this easy to operate Scrambler, from hit pre-school TV show Bob the Builder.
    No.4 – Bob the Builder Tool Bench – This was a surprising favourite with the girls who enjoyed emulating their hero Bob.
    No.5 – Fireman Sam Remote Control Jupiter – This toy held its own, proving that kids still love traditional role models such as fire-fighters.

    Read the whole press release. Keep in mind, this study was conducted by the manufacturer of Bob the Builder, so the boy toys were all made by Martin Yaffe.

    I think we should test the theory though. Giving traditionally male toys to our daughters certainly can't hurt them.

    Friday, November 23, 2007

    Two Birds


    by Tracee Sioux

    Be kind to your children. They will pick your nursing home.

    When my mentoring group was looking for a service project and the idea to visit a nursing home came up, I took the group to see my children's great-grandfather. There is a sign on Grandpapa's wall that says Be kind to your children, They will pick your nursing home.

    Children record everything we do, it's vital to teach them how to treat those older than them and those more vulnerable. If you can show the more vulnerable they have the power to cure loneliness in the elderly. . . well, that's two birds.

    I don't just want my children to want to help people. I want them to feel powerful enough to do something to improve things.

    As faith without action is dead, empathy and compassion without action is both painful and useless.

    It does no one any good to feel bad about the situations girls face if we're not going to do anything about it. It's little help to feel sad for the elderly if you're not going to do visit them.

    I want my children to feel compassion and empathy. But, not if it's only futile pain in their hearts. I want them to know and understand that the power to change the world rests in their hands.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    It. Is. Sick.


    by Tracee Sioux

    Our friends Jen and Aaron are in a health insurance nightmare. It's a predicament millions of American's face. They are middle-class. They work hard, they live within their means and are very frugal. Their situation merits attention because they are doing everything right, yet they find themselves in an impossible situation.

    One of their twins has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. On Jlogged Jen talks about the nightmare she's been living in as a mother trying to advocate for her son. For a while they have benefited from SCHIPS, but now they make too much money to qualify for any programs. They've been being bounced back and forth between public programs due to clerical errors.

    Too much to qualify doesn't equal ability to pay for the excessively high costs of health care. That's the rub.

    My son is uninsurable. No insurance company will touch him with a ten foot pole. We make too much to get help, but not enough to cover catastrophic costs of health care. We aren’t poor enough. If my husband can find a job with group health insurance it will help, but it is still far from a perfect solution. Until then we are stuck. Our options are limited and all of them suck: a) get a divorce, b) lie, c) put my son in a state nursing home facility d.) go without insurance risking bankruptcy, and going without care that will effect my son for the rest of his life. None of these are acceptable, and this is what the richest country in the world has to offer the disabled children of America. It. Is. Sick.

    There is a disconnect in this country about healthcare. I think those who are against universal care haven't received a true medical bill in quite some time. They are under the illusion that healthcare has remained reasonably affordable.

    That, or they are insulated from the astronomical costs of healthcare. They are insulated either by good health or unusually high incomes.

    If you think any American family could afford to carry the costs of a medical needs child on $50,000 ($12,000 higher than the median income) a year try this: Get out your budget. Add in $300 a month in maintenance medications. Add in $125 every week each for speech therapy and physical therapy. (Lucas is 5 and isn't speaking yet, whether or not he gets speech therapy now has a big impact on whether he will ever speak.) Then add in one life flight and hospital visit at $150,000.

    The costs of medical care have exceeded the means of American families if they carry the burden alone. Yet, there is enough resources and wealth as a whole to provide care.

    Go over to Jlogged to read more about her family's predicament.

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Right to Representation


    Our daughters have a right to see women in the picture too. I think they deserve to have all opportunities open to them, including that of President of the United States. Women have yet to be represented.

    To ignore the white maleness of power is to deny daughters the reality of their gender.

    Housekeeping Paraphernalia


    by Tracee Sioux

    Mommy, can I have that Kid's Washer & Dryer by Little Colorado for Christmas?

    No way. You don't need to pretend to do laundry. If you want to do laundry, you can do it for real. I promise there will be plenty of opportunities for laundry when you grow up.

    I don't know if I'm right about this or not. It's just gut instinct, but these toys piss me off.

    On one hand, I can't get over how much my life looks exactly like my mother's life did. I don't know what I was thinking, but I absurdly expected feminism to do away with the drudgery of housework. Now I realize it's not feminism that will banish housework from my life - it's money to pay the housekeeper. Duh.

    Sometimes - usually while I'm doing the perpetually defeating job of cleaning the house - I come to the realization that housekeeping really was a full time job in the first place. It was a falacy that housewives did nothing all day. All the feminist revolution got me was more work. Too much work. More work than I can do.

    I'm pissed off about these toys and the expectation that my daughter will grow up to be a housewife or a housekeeper. But, why shouldn't she?

    I do want motherhood for her. I don't necessarily want her to miss out on being home with her children for several years.

    There's also a big part of me that believes these toys should be marketed to BOYS for a few decades to see if we can even out the housework load still being heavily born by women. To be fair, several of the commercials and ads are inclusive of boys this Christmas season.

    I realize that my life might have been easier, better organized and cleaner, had I accepted that keeping house was going to be an inevitable part of it. Especially while raising young children.

    But, still my gut instinct is to ignore requests for these kinds of toys and steer her in less stereotypical "housewife" direction.

    Why does she want cleaning supplies as toys anyway?

    What is your stance on housekeeping paraphernalia as play?

    Saturday, November 17, 2007

    Not Nameless Faceless Kids - Hers

    I read this blog about a mother's struggle to insure her special needs children - the real kind - in our current insurance system. Her child is being dropped because the insurance company isn't making any money off insuring her.

    Basically once they are in the high risk pool, normal insurance will never cover them again, even if they "outgrow" their issues. They are a health risk, and insurance companies can't really make money off of those kids.

    Did you know that our state provides an SCHIP program through the very company that KayTar currently has insurance through? With identical benefits? Did you know that we are eligible for this program if you use our net income, but if you go by our gross income we are just over the line? Just over the line! We don't even receive any of that money! Do you know where it goes? Taxes. We are paying the government to provide services like this for people in need and the TINY bit of money that we give is what keeps us from not being eligible for the programs ourselves. How can that be right?

    The bill President Bush recently vetoed would have provided insurance for my kids. Not some faceless huddled masses. These kids. MY kids.

    Read the full HealthCare is a Bitch.

    But for the grace of God, there go I.

    We've always been about $60 gross over the income limit for the Pre-K, free lunch and SCHIPS. The only major difference is our children are healthy and we have corporate health insurance.

    My prayers are with you Kyla.

    Friday, November 16, 2007

    Balancing Act


    by Tracee Sioux

    How does this sound?

  • Paid family leave so no mother has to go back to work days after giving birth,

  • Public universal pre-school,

  • Major investments in child care so having a child is no longer the top reason American families have "a poverty spell",

  • After school programs for all kids who need them,

  • Health care for all children,

  • Benefits for part-time workers, and

  • Telecommuting incentives so parents have more flexible work options.

  • While I am a so-called liberal democrat nearly everyone I know and love is a conservative Christian.

    Here's the thing - we all want the same things and share the same basic values.

    Women who describe themselves as "stay-at-home-moms" are working. They are working part-time for low pay and getting no benefits, no security, no acknowledgement or validation from their work, but they ARE working.

    Women who describe themselves as "working mothers" would stay at home more and work fewer hours given the flexibility and choice.

    Then there is a whole class of women who vacillate between the two distinctions and make various compromises depending on age of children and practical economics. Those compromises usually sacrifice health care and benefits for more time. It's not a necessary sacrifice when we could just require employers to offer it up without penalty.

    We, as voters and citizens, need to remember that the government works for us. Not the other way around. In a democracy, we get to decide what the rules are and how the game is played. We do that by writing letters and electing the people that are looking out for our best interests. Let the employer look out for his own best interest - they pay people to lobby for that. The US Constitution wasn't design to protect employers, it was designed to protect We, the People.

    Both the liberal Democrat and the conservative Republican family can see how telecommuting, working from home, benefits for part-time work, paid family leave, after school programs and health care are good for every family in America.

    American families deserve it and Momsrising is demanding it. There is a bill before congress right now called The Balancing Act that makes life easier for families.

    If you want to see the divorce rate go down and more face-time between kids and their parents, it's laws like The Balancing Act that make it possible.

    Follow this link and write your representatives and tell them you expect the American Government to do this for American Families.

    Our daughters deserve better choices than we have. Just as we have better choices than our mothers.

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    Smoke Out


    by Tracee Sioux

    I can hardly wait for New Year's Eve to come because I never have to put "Quit Smoking - for real this time" on my list of resolutions again. I can move on to getting organized and saving my receipts so I can deduct them.

    The best thing about this year is that I've become a non-smoker. I really and truly quit smoking. Well, maybe the very best thing is that I've encouraged thousands of other smokers, to become non-smokers with the breakout success of one BlogFabulous post about the miracle drug Chantix (around 957 comments). It got so difficult to load up I started a new quit smoking support site at Quit Coping. It feels fantastic to effect the soul of the world in such a positive way.

    If you still smoke here's what I want you to know:

    You've been underestimating the tole smoking is taking on your emotional life.

    The chronic sense of failure, guilt and shame is effecting everything you say, think and do. You've been doing it so long that you think it's who you are.

    It's not.

    You'll have to take my word for it, but after a few months you'll discover a deeper person underneath all those negative surface emotions and that person is worth knowing.

    It's liberating and confidence-boosting to be without that sense of shame, guilt and failure.

    Smoking undermined every relationship in my life. If you always leave a conversation to smoke you rob yourself of the full relationship - usually the healing, reconciliation and understanding that comes at the end of conversations.

    You think you can't find the emotional strength to deal with people because you've been mentally checking out as soon as conflict comes up by thinking about how you'll escape to smoke.

    That you can't deal with stress is a fiction created by your addiction to cigarettes. Period. It's a fiction and it will take some pain and a lot of practice - but you deserve to know that you can deal with everything you think you can't deal with. You can learn to deal with stress, loss, pain, trauma, anxiety, insomnia, conflict, boredom and every other emotion you've avoided by smoking.

    You'll need to dedicate yourself to finding new coping strategies for every instance where you previously smoked. That's seriously uncomfortable. It's painful sometimes. It's overwhelming. I promise you - it's worth it.

    There is no way to quit smoking with total ease and comfort. But, Chantix will take the edge off. And if you're a smoker, I know you understand that by edge I don't mean a slight discomfort, I mean the depths of hell. Chantix will elevate you to purgatory levels of discomfort which almost feels like heaven if you've ever been to the depths of hell.

    Today is the Great International Smoke Out. Ten years ago I ended up on the front page of a Lithuanian newspaper for smoking it up on the street on this day. It's embarrassing to be held up as the epitome of stupidly continuing to smoke.

    This year, when I see smokers on the street, I want to tell you: You don't have to smoke anymore.

    Stop by Quit Coping and I'll hang with you every step of the way while you give up this self-loathing, self-defeating habit. You deserve to be a non-smoker.

    Family Visit and Maturity
    Blog Fabulous/Chantix (1,000 comments)
    I suck
    Addiction Off

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    So Totally Ana


    by Tracee Sioux

    I'm reading this little book called Bergdorf Blonds by Plum Sykes where I'm seeing the word ana. As in you're looking totally ana, you must be deliriously happy. Ana is short for anorexia and is considered the best thing to be.

    It's not just appearing in trashy hip-chick lit, it's appearing on social networking sites where the lines are being blurred between recovering from eating disorders and glamorizing being so thin they're near death.

    Worlds Largest Pro Anorexia site is where girls go to support each other in keeping their anorexia or bulimia.

    Comments samples on Pro-ana and Pro-mia sites:

    after a two day fast, i f*ed up. and had six slices of bread and butter :'( plus a bowl of spaghetti. i tried to purge but i couldn't. then i spent ages crying. how sad can i get.

    i love stepping on the scale and seeing the numbers go lower. i really do. it feels like a high-- but sometimes i actually get scared for my own healtha nd well being. my BMI is 15. im scared sometimes that i wont wake up. i tell myself i will eat healthy nad maintain my weight but then in contrast i get scared to eat TOO much. so i cycle on eating too much, maintaining weight, losing weight, freaking out, eating too much... over and over again.

    Xanga, Facebook and Myspace all have pro-ana and pro-mia sites. Those who participate in these sites defend their "right to their lifestyle choice."

    They exchange purging tips, ways to avoid eating when they are in social situations, how to hide weight loss from doctors and parents, and what pills and laxatives work best. These strategies are quaintly known as thinspiration.

    According to a 2006 survey of eating disorder patients at Stanford Medical School 35.5% had visited pro-ana/pro-mia web sites; of those, 96% learned new weight loss or purging methods from such sites.

    They post ultra-thin photos of themselves and long to be, not their own thin selves, but someone thinner and better.

    This pro-ana and pro-mia and thinspiration trend is a cry for help from the girls who internalized all our self-loathing jokes and indulged in all the girl-hating media.

    Oh mothers. What would we do to protect our daughters from this outcome?

    Would we stop complaining about our own bodies and appearance?

    It's a tangible and effective place to start. It's not meaningless and without consequence to joke about our own fatness, ugliness, lack of beauty perfection. It doesn't only lower our self-esteem, it lowers theirs too.

    Would we take the time to write advertisers?

    Is it worth monitoring their Internet use and television exposure?

    It is to me.

    The mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem. Naomi Wolf

    Self-Loathing Sin Bank

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Seven Random and Weird Things


    In response to a meme by Marjorie at 280 Main Street. A meme is what bloggers do if they like you - yea! It's like blogger approval. I'm digging that.


    • I was on the front page of the newspaper in Lithuania. I was teaching English there. It was considered improper for women to smoke on the street. A photographer caught me smoking on the street during the International Smoke Out. Due to the language barrier, I didn't know about the smoke out. I would've done it anyway. It wasn't a good photo - I had burned my bangs while trying to light my smoke on a gas stove and they were mid-grow out. I quit smoking this year.

    • I used to wimp-out when people would say, "It's too competitive." There are several moments in my life where I wish I hadn't chickened out of opportunities. I'm learning to say, "Well, maybe I'm that good."

    • I'm actively testing Biblical promises and the Law of Attraction to get what I really want. It's working. Especially for garage sale where I found four already hemmed jeans with the exact right waste, leg, brand and sizes.

    • I love being in my 30s - I feel so much more powerful and validated now. I'm starting to love cliches, because they are true like, "youth is wasted on the young."

    • I feel freed from my biological clock now that I'm done having children. I'm feeling a sense of sanity that was never there before. Like all my thoughts and actions were somehow biologically skewed to make sure I got married and had children. Now that I'm done I feel free to be more authentically me, only censored.

    • I'm resistant to organization and new technology. I get frustrated learning new things and avoid them until I can't avoid them anymore (just got a cell phone this year - actually three, since my kids destroyed my first two). I finally had to start keeping a weekly calendar and a password spreadsheet.

    • I have hemochromatosis. It's a rare hereditary condition where my body doesn't process iron correctly. Iron is poisonous in high doses so they bleed me. About 8% of the population has it. I was extremely lucky to find out about it in my 20s, so it is unlikely to effect my health or life expectancy. However, it does make me uninsurable through private insurance. Thank Goodness my husband has a corporate job which is required to insure me. I've been denied life insurance too.

    I'm going to tag Jlogged, Queen of Violets, Mrs. Blogoway, The Wardrobe Miser, Babylune, and Black Market Beauty (this chick is conjuring up her own make up recipes.) and Blue Milk.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    Carnival of Feminists and the Radical Kind Too

    Don't miss the 47th Carnival of Feminists (really? 47? Wow, that's a lot). Proud to be included. Thanks for hosting it Ornamenting Away.

    Angry for a Reason is hosting Carnival of Radical Feminists. Again, very honored to be included.

    Blond Ambition


    by Tracee Sioux

    When you write about issues effecting daughters, you put a lot of thought into personal action that might not have carried much meaning before.

    For instance, having written that women should consider how their daughters will feel before reconstructing perceived flaws through surgery in My Face/Her Face I have to wonder how far I must take the you're beautiful the way God made you message.

    Does that make it wrong for me to color my hair? Am I now restricted to only allow myself my natural color? Am I making Ainsley feel bad about her light brown hair (which is my natural color) by bleaching and coloring my hair? Am I harming her self esteem?

    I was a natural blond as a child. I'm not over it. Okay? I'm just not. I want to be a blond. My hair got darker around the 5th or 6th grade and I wasn't thrilled when I saw myself in a picture. I've pretty much been bleaching it since the 7th grade. Blonds have more fun. Blonds are prettier. Blonds are younger. Blonds are more exciting. I think you look great as a brunette. But I, my inner self or my own internal picture of me, is a blond.

    I don't feel as pretty if I don't have blond streaks. Sometimes I like to put red in it. Sometimes I really enjoy the contrast between the dark brown and the sun-streaked blond. Last Spring I loved my pink streaks amidst the blond. I like the feeling I get when I make a big change, but I like it most when there is blond involved.

    I'll probably never develop a deep satisfaction in my natural color. For one thing, by now it's probably got some grey in it and I'd color it anyway. I may never get over it - and why should I? There is nothing permanent about hair.

    However, after reading my friend Jennifer's blog A Free Haircut is Always a Super Cut arguing that professional hair color is an expensive luxury. I decided I could give up my blond - for a little while - to free up the $60 it costs me to have it done. We're buying a house and that 60 bucks, as well as the gym membership, can go to the mortgage.

    I went for my natural Light Golden Brown first. Boring. Boring. Boring. I went back for the Dark Auburn last night - I can at least give myself a hint of drama.

    And Ainsley, I've already colored her hair twice - once with pink streaks and once with red. She even had pink extensions glued in for a while. She asked for it and I couldn't think of a reason not to.

    So, if Ainsley is going to get a message I hope it's this, You have the freedom to have whatever color of hair you want. You can reinvent yourself every season if you feel like it. But, keep it in perspective - if it's between buying a house or being a blond - the house should win every time.

    Who knew I had this much to say about hair:

    Friday, November 9, 2007

    Gender Bias In Science


    There are very few women in science and technology fields because:

    A) Girls can't do well in math and science subjects.

    B) Science and Tech Fields are misogynistic Good Old Boys Clubs.

    C) All men hate women.

    D) Women just don't care about math and science - they care about fashion and babies.

    E) Teachers, professors and employers don't understand how they shut girls out and they need some education.

    A recent National Academies report, Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, found that women repeatedly face biases in academia in the science fields, and that these barriers to success discourage them from careers in these areas. In response to this report, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) recently introduced the Gender Bias Elimination Act (H.R. 3514).

    Women are capable of contributing more to the nation's science and engineering research enterprise, but bias and outmoded practices governing academic success impede their progress almost every step of the way, said Donna E. Shalala, president of the University of Miami, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. Fundamental changes in the culture and opportunities at America's research universities are urgently needed. The United States should enhance its talent pool by making the most of its entire population.

    This important piece of legislation directly addresses concerns raised in the National Academies report by authorizing workshops that educate university department chairs, agency program officers, and others on reducing and eliminating gender bias for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Under this act, agencies that fund scientific research-like the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation-will also be directed to better enforce existing federal anti-discrimination laws (including Title IX), assess the workplace climate, publish demographic and funding data for grant applications, and extend grant support for researchers on leave for caregiving duties.

    Declining interest in science and a shortage of American scientists is a threat to American competitiveness on a national scale, problems that are exacerbated by the low numbers of women and girls from STEM fields. The Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology's report Professional Women and Minorities states that women now comprise 25 percent of the labor force in STEM fields. If women and members of other traditionally underrepresented groups joined the STEM workforce in proportion to their representation in the overall labor force, the shortage of STEM professionals would disappear.

    Join the American Association of University Women in supporting, promoting and strengthening STEM education, especially for women and other underrepresented populations in the fields. AAUW believes this legislation remove barriers to success and encourage more women to choose careers in STEM fields.

    Be a Two-Minute Activist by following this link to write your legislatures to support this bill.

    Our daughters deserve to have all choices open and available to them.