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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #5

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A Holiday Tradition is something you recreate year after year.

Repetition of a similar event culminates into one big happy memory for children and adults alike.

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A really huge, expensive gift - say an electric Barbi car or Jeep Grand Cherokee or a $2,000 Tree House - might make one big whopper of a memory if it only happens once. It's just as easily be forgotten if year after year parents aim for the big whopper gift. You want to parse those out over time, otherwise you'll always be one-upping yourself. Going bigger and bigger every year has the effect of rendering the big whopper of a present meaningless. It simply becomes their expectation, and after a few years if say the economy is down and their expectation isn't met - children might think Christmas sucked. How is that fun for anyone?

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"Every year around Thanksgiving we made a Ginger Bread House together and then for a month my mom would pretend to get mad at us every time we snitched a peppermint or sweet tart off the house. She would pretend to be the witch who would threaten to throw Hanzle and Grettle into the oven for stealing goodies off her house."

That's the kind of memory I aim for with Holiday Traditions. It's time together primarily, it has staying power for the whole Holiday Season and it's yummy. The yummy part is important because every single time they taste or smell Ginger Bread they will remember our happy tradition.

The Orbit Cookie-Ginger Bread House Kit, 4lbs
costs only $12.95. That is the kind of tradition you can keep up year after year after year without going broke.

More on this at Boycott Christmas in November.

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip # 1

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #2

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip#3

Steal This Christmas Gift Please!

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #4

Happy Thanksgiving - See you Monday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Fear

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I have to give my first Toastmasters Speech tomorrow and I'm scared, I announced at dinner last night.

Everybody gets scared Mommy. It's okay to be scared. But, brave is when you are scared but you do it anyway. What's your speech about? Ainsley advised.

Me, I have to introduce myself and talk about me for 5 minutes.

I have two blogs and I write about my daughter and my son. I love my children. I'm a good mother. I have a husband who works at a chicken company. I have nice parents and two brothers and a sister. I'm pretty and I have short hair and blue eyes. I'm a writer. I have red couches and I'm a good decorator and a great cook. I love to exercise and I teach my children to exercise. I teach my children to read and write and their numbers and do projects with them. I'm a painter and I can sew. I go to church. I love yoga. I read a lot and love books. I love to dance. Just say that and you'll be fine, she told me.

At least I know she's been listening.

B-R-A-V-E

Monday, November 24, 2008

Seamstress Apprentice

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This is Ainsley's first sewing project, a really cute hot pad.

Lately, now that I have a functional kitchen I don't loath, I've resurrected this foundation of knowledge about cooking. I can cook. Well. I can make, like, anything I would want to order at a restaurant.

I'm not yet a master with the sewing machine, but I know how to use one and I can make drapes, pillows, maybe a prom or wedding dress if I have to (hoping I don't have to). I can definitely make a gorgeous and tactile baby blanket and a Christmas tree skirt. I'm kind of sloppy though and dislike details in general.

As an adult managing my own home, my perspective on the feminine arts is totally different - I guess I thought feminism would cure us of the need or desire to sew and cook and clean (which is still a million times more realistic than Cinderella - who thought marriage would be her ticket out of chores and housework).

When my friends barter with me to sew in their zipper (no, too hard) or hem their pants, I realize this skill is useful. You may even be able to earn a living at it - just check out all the women who are opening their own Etzy Stores and online businesses and make it a point to Stimulate Women's Economy.

Not only can I make anything I want to and (sometimes) save money, but I can make anything I can imagine. (Truly it is more expensive to make the baby blanket than to buy the manufactured one these days.)

This is our feminine heritage.

My mother is a master seamstress, crafter, candy maker and all around home maker. I'm trying to get her to open an Etzy store of her own. You should be so lucky to get this woman's caramels for $26 a pound. I mean, Oprah should send for these melt-in-your-mouth mother candies and list them as her Favorite Things - they are that good.

Ainsley and ZACK will definitely benefit from learning these skills.

We should not stop teaching girls the feminine arts passed from generation to generation - we should stop teaching them ONLY to girls.

Hey, who wants to buy it Ainsley's first hot pad?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Soccer Season Over

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Soccer season is over.

Ainsley played on a local church league this year. No scoring, no winning, only one team to play against.

I think we'll consider putting her in a competitive league next year. I see no point in pretending not to keep score. Our team knew we lost every single game.

Why do we keep insisting children are stupid or not paying attention? Why do we attempt to teach them the wrong lessons? We live in a Capitalist Society - if you think winning isn't important here - YOU haven't been paying attention.
Winning IS important and we should teach them how to try their best to WIN.

I did not coach because I think she is less inhibited and shy and has more fun without me there. Coaching my own kid was quite frustrating for me.

Soccer is MY favorite sport for girls because there is lots of actual exercise (unlike baseball with it's endless waiting) and it's gender neutral.

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Also, I think Ainsley has an aptitude for it.

She says she wants to try gymnastics over the winter instead of going back to Taekwando. I'll let her if it isn't cost prohibitive.

10 Antidotes to Self-Objectification

Sharks v. Happy Feet

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Body Competence vs. Body Talk

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The more I use my body the better I feel about it. The less active I am, the worse I feel about my body. There is a definite cause and effect relationship. My feelings follow my actions.

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No matter how much time I spend talking about loving my body or telling my daughter to love hers, all the talk in the world won't do as half as much as getting up and taking a hike, learning to run or mastering yoga and insisting my daughter to do the same.

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What we usually value about the bodies of boys is competence and skill. Competence in athletics and things they can DO with their bodies. This probably explains why so fewer boys have body image issues that escalate to self-destruction - because their bodies are useful.

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It occurs to me that the more opportunities we present to encourage our daughters to use their bodies competently the higher their self-esteem and body image will be.

4F4B797A-A479-4C07-BB9C-559F007E0540.jpg(Photo courtesy: Confessions of an It Girl)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Local Culture: Partake

The grandparents came to town and we took them to the Community Dance. Live band plays Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Bring your own drinks and snacks or buy some there. $5 adults, kids are free.

So, we're the only people there not collecting Social Security - think my kids care? No way.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Exclusive Gender Segregation Interview

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Last month I had the opportunity to participate in a group podcast with several different women about the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit against a Kentucky School Board for gender-segregating an algebra class in a public junior high. This is actually legal in Kentucky and quite a number of states, - as long as there is also a co-ed class available to students. The student then chooses between the two.

Evidently, the female student suing the school district wanted to take co-ed algebra and only pre-algebra was being offered as a co-ed option. There was a boys' algebra and a girls' algebra being offered.

The twist?

The girls' class the student enrolled in did so much better than the boys' algebra class that they stopped teaching the girls math to maintain the separate but equal standard and allowed the boys catch up.

Listen to that podcast.

I had a few more questions for Emily J. Martin, the ACLU Attorney suing the school district. She was kind enough to do an interview with me via phone.

What I didn't quite understand - and I guess I still don't - is why would the ACLU, and that female student, sue over the SUCCESS of a girls-only math class.

In my experience like that of many, many women I've spoken with, girls have been stuck in co-ed math classes that were anything but equal. I can't tell you the number of women who tell me they were in college or full grown adults before they felt they were competent in math, due to the way co-ed classes were taught. See reflections on my own unpleasant experiences related to public education math in Math Retarded.

So my first question was, "Is it the ACLU's premise was that boys and girls are currently getting an "equal education" in co-ed classrooms?"

"No," Martin said. "But, we want to find out more about what's behind schools' desire to segregate genders. We disagree with the notion that single-sex education is what gets to you to excellence."

"Were they using different teaching methods in the boy class and the girl class?"

"We think so but we're trying to learn more. We haven't yet gotten discovery in the lawsuit, we haven't yet gotten the documents to see the actual lesson plan.

We think the methods were different because of an article in a local newsletter when they first instituted talk about became interested in differentiated instruction movement. This movement recognizes that different students learn differently and the model was about how boys and girls need to be taught using different teaching methods. They talk about playing soft music in girls' classes and how boys do really well abstract problems. How teachers can show the girls by using toilet paper rolls and boys like the hands on, but they don't need it to learn, and how boys need to get out of their seats and have lots of games and high energy. Girls prefer to sit in seats quietly."

While the ACLU can't say yet exactly what the teaching methods were being used in this Kentucky junior high, they do know that the school hired a man named David Chadwell to head the South Carolina Board of Education's Single Gender Initiative. They also believe that David Chadwell was trained through the Gurian Institute.

Some, including the ACLU, believe the Gurian Institute is promoting "basically sexist material from the ignorance of the 1950s as science," Martin said.

Examples included in Gurian literature and publications in popular books like Boys and Girls Learn Differently, girls can play a game called musical chair math review but there needs to be an extra chair where girls can sit and relax or they might freak out. They need a place to be calm.

Conversely, boys learn best if they throw balls, get out of their seats and respond well to time limits, Martin explained.

Martin acknowledged that the school's association with the Gurian Institute is the primary cause for suspicion.

Others, however, are investigating how to use the "hard science" the Gurian institute claims to have harnessed to increase workplace productivity using gender differences. You can watch Gurian himself speak at Google.

Are there other motives for same sex classrooms the ACLU might be more sympathetic too? There are real gender issues in schools like sexual harassment of girls, medicating boys, and wouldn't experimenting with different teaching strategies provide useful information? There are very successful girls-only and boys-only schools, are there not? Is the ACLU trying to prohibit all same-gender public education, for all motives, as a solution to real gender problems? I asked.

The ACLU is very, very skeptical of single sex education in public schools. We are sympathetic to the problems experienced by both genders including low income African American boys and detention-to-prison rates. But we don't think excluding a gender, even if is increasing girls' achievement, is the best solution. We want to make sure schools are held responsible to maintaining a gender equitable environment and we don't think same sex education is where the education efforts are appropriately spent. The ACLU believes co-education is better policy and is the better educational strategy.

I really do think it's important for girls and boys to learn together in school. An important part of success in the work world is to know how to collaborate with members of the opposite sex. Even good intentions open the door to a host of problems. Gender-segregation invites students to over-inflate the importance of gender in their identity and who they are as a student, it creates stereotypes about the opposite sex. It's important to have the real world interaction with the opposite gender, to know them as friends and colleagues and it's very difficult to ensure there is equality and opportunity in one program and not the other.

Martin mentioned that another concern the ACLU has with same-gender education is that the United States isn't monitoring the programs or even keeping track of what works, what doesn't, what the actual scores or success rates are, who is participating and what the real effect is.

There is an informal tally of participating public schools at the National Association for Single-Sex Education that includes about 500 schools with more being added every year.

What's YOUR take on this?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shaping Youth Girl Week

Amy Jussel from Shaping Youth is doing "All Things Girl Week" from Nov. 1-8 and sites/finds/media offerings that are 'positive picks' pertaining to empowering girls of all ages.

Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me will be included.

Other worth-your-time samplings will include:

The Girl Mogul interview with a tee/slogan contest to kick it off.

Other content includes: Girls For A Change nat'l tour wrap up and
interview with Carrie Ellett and girls advocacy orgs including Michealene's
Tapestries of Hope/Girl Child Network documentary, and Jin's new global
leadership org 4ggl.org plus Girls Inc, and Daughters.com.

Girl-created content: Girls Horse Club, New Moon Girl Media/Orb 28, Beacon Street Girls, Readergirlz, AllyKatz.

On body image/self esteem issues, they're profiling Respect Rx Rallies,
Dr. Jenn for Girls, Dr. Robyn, Packaging Girlhood, Reign of the Girl
Child, Claire Mysko, Beacon Street Girls new book.

Sports: GLTR Girls (girls learn to ride) on wakeboard/snowboard _athlete
stuff, Girls Are Champions local S.Y. board angles w/Lisa & Liz of
Starlings Volleyball USA (club VB/preteen teams) Womens' Sports netwk,
and Hardy Girls Healthy Women.

VW/girl gaming/entrepreneurial focus_ e.g. Sara's Gamine Expedition
blog, VW site reviews on HipChicas, Hulala Girls, etc.entrepreneurial
ventures e.g. Karito Kids etc.---_Green girl sites_ and some 'cool mom
picks' like Eco Mom Alliance, SafeMama, Emily & Cooper's Motherhood.com
etc.

Wow. A lot of this is new to me so I'll spend some time surfing around All Things Girl Week at Shaping Youth. Join me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #4

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Allow me to juxtapose two parenting positions here.

There is parenting from a sense of lack.

Parenting from a sense of lack would be to hang on to and maybe even hoard clothing or toys your child doesn't use.

To over-indulge children with the newest and latest "things." Make them believe they can feed their "wanter" and feed their "wanter" and someday, somehow, if they can just have "anything they want" and never go without anything their hearts' desire - then, finally, they will be "happy."

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There is parenting from a sense of abundance.

Parenting from a sense of abundance discards the theory that things will make you happy. It acknowledges the fact that even "poor" children in America have more than most people in the entire 3rd world. It celebrates the notion, "I have everything I need. I have more than enough to give."

Parenting from these two positions is a mind-set. It has almost nothing to do with tax brackets and income levels.

Many, many wealthy people still haven't figured out that "giving more" will make them happier than "buying more."

Many poor people will give you the shirt off their backs, because they know the "high" generosity will bring their soul is worth far more than the shirt.

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Opportunities like Operation Christmas Child present themselves around this time of year where we can stress this position to our children in a very tangible and physical way.

What can you give to a child less fortunate than yourself?

My children feel such a feeling of abundance and blessing that we were able to fill a shoebox with never- or hardly-ever-been-used items that they felt would bless a poor child's life. Zack gave some Hot Wheels and a baseball. Ainsley gave a doll, a shirt, some hair accessories and we found stuff around the house like toothbrushes, crayons, papers and pens and some soap. We threw in some Halloween candy.

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This is my Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #4 - involve your children in GIVING. Our Christmas boxes expenses amounted to less than $20, but our kids FEEL we have an abundant life.

More on this at Boycott Christmas in November.

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip # 1

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #2

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip#3

Steal This Christmas Gift Please!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Advertise Here for Christmas Sales

If you are a company who believes you have a product that will empower girls - or at least not hinder girls' empowerment and you want to advertise on this site please contact me at traceesioux@yahoo.com.

You can put a groovy little 125 x 125 button on the sidebar for $20 a month (like this one).

Or 200 x 200 for $35 a month (like this one).

I'm also doing product reviews. If you think you have a product, I'd like to recommend, please email me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Real Girls, Real Pressure: Dove Self Esteem Report


“Low self-esteem among girls and young women has reached a crisis level,” said Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., a psychologist and self-esteem expert who collaborated on Real Girls, Real Pressure a report on the state of girls' self-esteem sponsored by Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty.

According to the report:

* 61 percent of teen girls with low self-esteem admit to talking badly about themselves

* 67 percent of girls ages 13 – 17 turn to their mother as a resource when feeling badly about themselves compared to 91 percent of girls ages 8 – 12.

* Only 27 percent of girls ages 13 – 17 will turn to their father for help when feeling badly about themselves compared to 54 percent of girls ages 8-12.

* At 16, girls become more likely to seek support from male peers than from their own dads.

* 75 percent of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative and potentially harmful activities, such as disordered eating, cutting, bullying, smoking or drinking.

* 25 percent of teen girls with low self-esteem resort to injuring themselves on purpose or cutting when feeling badly about themselves.

* 25 percent of teen girls with low self-esteem practice disordered eating, such as starving themselves, refusing to eat, or over-eating and throwing up, when feeling badly about themselves.

Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem was conducted nationally online among 1,029 girls 8 – 17, and is representative of the U.S. based on census indicators (region, ethnicity
and parental education.) An additional 3,344 girls 8 – 17 were surveyed in a targeted study that was conducted in 20 major U.S. cities representative of each DMA based on ethnicity and parental education.
The research was conducted by StrategyOne, an applied research consulting firm, in collaboration with Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD.

The question is: what is the cause and what is the cure for this low-self esteem in girls?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Inevitable Arguing

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I heard about a mother who believes mothers should pick one thing to intentionally argue with their daughters about.

She chose clothes. If her daughter liked a shirt she would scrunch up her nose and call it too short. If her daughter said the color was beautiful, she would grimace and say it was hideous. They argued about it all the time.

Her belief was that mothers and daughters will inevitably argue about something so this mother's best strategy was to consciously choose what they would fight over.

I have to agree that Ainsley is looking for something to argue with me about.

This mother chose clothes to avoid fighting about boys or curfews or school work.

Could this work as an effective parenting strategy?

If so, which is the least detrimental thing for mothers and daughters to quibble about?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #3

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Over the last several years I've been "opting out" of Christmas obligations and reducing the spending while increasing the fun. Have you noticed it is NO FUN to get a second job or charge up your credit cards to buy unappreciated gifts.

That's the anti-thesis of fun.

When my friends and family complain about the endless gifting and the lack of equitable gifting or lack of gratitude expressed by others for their gifts, I tell them, "Just stop doing it."

One of my friends took my advice this year and I suspect a few more will as well. She's given me permission to publish her email to her friends and family.

Dear Friends and Family,

In the interest of making the holidays less stressful and expensive for everyone, we have decided the best gift we can give our friends and family is not to participate in gift exchanges this year. Please use any money you would have spent on us for your own family or to help someone in need.

We are still looking forward to spending time together celebrating the season and enjoying each other’s company. With that in mind, we would like to invite you to a Holiday Party at our home on Saturday, December 13 at 4 p.m. We'll send more details as the date gets closer.

Love,

Your Name Here

The response from their friends and family?

Relief.

Her current feelings when she sees all the Christmas Marketing now?

Peace.

Copy and paste the note and forward it to your extraneous Christmas list. This will leave plenty of money for the really important people in your life: your spouse, your children, your parents and your children's teachers.

More on this at Boycott Christmas in November.

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip # 1

Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip 2 <

Christmas Tip #1

Steal This Christmas Gift Please!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sibling Envy

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The only cure for sentiments like this is extra attention.

So, I put aside my own need to lie in bed with a book all day on Sunday and took her to town where we went window shopping.

Left Zack with Daddy.

What do you do when your kids get jealous? I wonder how Moms like Kate from Jon and Kate + 8 gives each kid "enough" attention? My aunt Stephanie had 10 kids - how do mother's manage that?

Are girls more insatiable than boys for attention?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

National Healing

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My daughter is as thrilled to wake to a world of Barack Obama even though her friends' parents tell them that "Obama is a baby-killing Muslim and will likely be killed because he's black."

"Abraham Lincoln was killed, John Kennedy was killed, someone tried to kill Ronald Reagan and they were all white men," I told her. "Every President is at risk."

"But, what if that happens?"

"Then Joe Biden is a qualified good man who will be our President."

"What color is he?"

"White."

"You know Barack Obama is half white and half black. He will help us heal our country's racism," I continued.

"He's half white?"

"Yes, he has a white mommy and a black daddy, like our friend Neeny."

"You know, Obama also has two little girls around your age - Mallia and Sasha. We'll get to watch them grow up in The White House."

Today, though my daughter does not see a woman take the highest office in the land as I had hoped, she does get to witness a healing in the nation.

A nation that wants to be in hope and optimism because the oppression of fear was bad for the entire planet's emotional health.

Smell that? It's a hopeful future.

I almost forgot what it tasted like.

We've got nothing to complain about and everything be joyful over. It will take hard work and some money to dig ourselves out and recover - but Yes, We Can.

We are now a country where the words, All Men are Created Equal, are no longer hallow.

We are liberated from our tainted and embarrassing racial history.

I'm looking every day for ways to liberate us from our gender inequity as well - for our daughters' sakes - and for our own.

God Bless AMERICA!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What Are You Doing Here?

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What are you doing here?

GO VOTE!


Vote With Your Daughter!

Our kids will be up all night with us at the Democratic Headquarters Party. We'll be munching Pizza, drinking champagne and watching election results.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Costume Contest Winner

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I received most comments about the Dalmatian, a handmade thrift store and black marker costume.

The costume was submitted by Angela White of Breastfeeding 1-2-3. She's won a great Seagate Go Portable Hard Drive.
Congratulations.

Keep it or gift it?

Last (Lovely) Glimpse of Halloween 2008

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Bride of Frankenstein

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Cheetah

Ok, I'm no longer taking entries in the contest. I'll give you a few hours to leave comments voting on all the entries I published over the weekend and then I'll announce the winner of the Seagate Go Portable Hard Drive.

Quick jumps on these posts:

  • Real Girls' Costumes IV

  • Real Girls' Costumes V

  • Real Girls' Costumes III

  • Real Girls' Costumes II

  • Real Girls' Costumes

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    Here's a photo of us: We're Chinese. Picked them up in San Francisco's Chinatown this summer.

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    I also took a photo of the town's costume contest and here's what I can report.

    The little girls were not dressed provocatively or in an overtly sexual way.

    There were Princesses, Hannah Montanas, Super Womans, Gabriellas, and Charpeis, Cowgirls and Indians, etc. And while they were very "pretty" and "beautiful" and overtly "feminine" and "girly" - they were also modestly dressed.

    Pretty, beautiful and overtly feminine and girly do not equate to "sexy," "provocative," "slutty," "hootchy" or "sexual."

    I saw 2 very provocative costumes on older teenagers (their mothers were likely hiding at home in shame and horror) and one inappropriately short minidress on a mother who dragged that black velvet dress from her own adolescence, I'm sure. (I had one in the '90s too.)

    I realize my small East Texas town isn't indicative of the whole of America so I'm curious - did you see inappropriately dressed little girls? What about them struck you as inappropriate?

    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    Real Girls' Costumes IV

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    Pirates, Bunnies, Kittens and Monsters? Oh MY!

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    Renaissance Princess

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    Rocket and Ferris Wheel (Sooo Clever!)

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    Nightmare Before Christmas

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    Pirate

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    Number 2 Pencil & friends

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    Sweet Watermelon

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    Pink Poodle

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    Little Lovelies

    Leave a comment voting on your favorites.

    See the other entrants on Real Girls Costumes.

    I'll run the contest through the weekend allowing parents to email their Trick-or-Treating photos (traceesioux@yahoo.com). I'll give away the $150 Seagate FreeAgent GO Portable Hard Drive on Monday morning.

    Real Girls' Costumes V

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    Anne Boleyn and her cat (Love the siblings a props! LOL)

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    Fairy Princess,with a white shirt with gems on the top, a skirt with lights in it, and black leggings with glitter. Combined with a crown, wings and a flower wand. (Props for self-invention and independence.)

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    Vampire

    Leave a comment voting on your favorites.

    See the other entrants on Real Girls Costumes, Real Girls Costumes II.

    I'll run the contest through the weekend allowing parents to email their Trick-or-Treating photos (traceesioux@yahoo.com). I'll give away the $150 Seagate FreeAgent GO Portable Hard Drive on Monday morning.

    Saturday, November 1, 2008

    Real Girls' Costumes III

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    Elvis and his Groupie (LOL)

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    Chihuahua

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    Pirate

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    Tigger

    Leave a comment voting on your favorites.

    See the other entrants on Real Girls Costumes, Real Girls Costumes II.

    I'll run the contest through the weekend allowing parents to email their Trick-or-Treating photos (traceesioux@yahoo.com). I'll give away the $150 Seagate FreeAgent GO Portable Hard Drive on Monday morning.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #5

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    A Holiday Tradition is something you recreate year after year.

    Repetition of a similar event culminates into one big happy memory for children and adults alike.

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    A really huge, expensive gift - say an electric Barbi car or Jeep Grand Cherokee or a $2,000 Tree House - might make one big whopper of a memory if it only happens once. It's just as easily be forgotten if year after year parents aim for the big whopper gift. You want to parse those out over time, otherwise you'll always be one-upping yourself. Going bigger and bigger every year has the effect of rendering the big whopper of a present meaningless. It simply becomes their expectation, and after a few years if say the economy is down and their expectation isn't met - children might think Christmas sucked. How is that fun for anyone?

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    "Every year around Thanksgiving we made a Ginger Bread House together and then for a month my mom would pretend to get mad at us every time we snitched a peppermint or sweet tart off the house. She would pretend to be the witch who would threaten to throw Hanzle and Grettle into the oven for stealing goodies off her house."

    That's the kind of memory I aim for with Holiday Traditions. It's time together primarily, it has staying power for the whole Holiday Season and it's yummy. The yummy part is important because every single time they taste or smell Ginger Bread they will remember our happy tradition.

    The Orbit Cookie-Ginger Bread House Kit, 4lbs
    costs only $12.95. That is the kind of tradition you can keep up year after year after year without going broke.

    More on this at Boycott Christmas in November.

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip # 1

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #2

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip#3

    Steal This Christmas Gift Please!

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #4

    Happy Thanksgiving - See you Monday.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    On Fear

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    I have to give my first Toastmasters Speech tomorrow and I'm scared, I announced at dinner last night.

    Everybody gets scared Mommy. It's okay to be scared. But, brave is when you are scared but you do it anyway. What's your speech about? Ainsley advised.

    Me, I have to introduce myself and talk about me for 5 minutes.

    I have two blogs and I write about my daughter and my son. I love my children. I'm a good mother. I have a husband who works at a chicken company. I have nice parents and two brothers and a sister. I'm pretty and I have short hair and blue eyes. I'm a writer. I have red couches and I'm a good decorator and a great cook. I love to exercise and I teach my children to exercise. I teach my children to read and write and their numbers and do projects with them. I'm a painter and I can sew. I go to church. I love yoga. I read a lot and love books. I love to dance. Just say that and you'll be fine, she told me.

    At least I know she's been listening.

    B-R-A-V-E

    Monday, November 24, 2008

    Seamstress Apprentice

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    This is Ainsley's first sewing project, a really cute hot pad.

    Lately, now that I have a functional kitchen I don't loath, I've resurrected this foundation of knowledge about cooking. I can cook. Well. I can make, like, anything I would want to order at a restaurant.

    I'm not yet a master with the sewing machine, but I know how to use one and I can make drapes, pillows, maybe a prom or wedding dress if I have to (hoping I don't have to). I can definitely make a gorgeous and tactile baby blanket and a Christmas tree skirt. I'm kind of sloppy though and dislike details in general.

    As an adult managing my own home, my perspective on the feminine arts is totally different - I guess I thought feminism would cure us of the need or desire to sew and cook and clean (which is still a million times more realistic than Cinderella - who thought marriage would be her ticket out of chores and housework).

    When my friends barter with me to sew in their zipper (no, too hard) or hem their pants, I realize this skill is useful. You may even be able to earn a living at it - just check out all the women who are opening their own Etzy Stores and online businesses and make it a point to Stimulate Women's Economy.

    Not only can I make anything I want to and (sometimes) save money, but I can make anything I can imagine. (Truly it is more expensive to make the baby blanket than to buy the manufactured one these days.)

    This is our feminine heritage.

    My mother is a master seamstress, crafter, candy maker and all around home maker. I'm trying to get her to open an Etzy store of her own. You should be so lucky to get this woman's caramels for $26 a pound. I mean, Oprah should send for these melt-in-your-mouth mother candies and list them as her Favorite Things - they are that good.

    Ainsley and ZACK will definitely benefit from learning these skills.

    We should not stop teaching girls the feminine arts passed from generation to generation - we should stop teaching them ONLY to girls.

    Hey, who wants to buy it Ainsley's first hot pad?

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Top 20 Women Bloggers

    Check out All Diva Media's list of 20 Women Bloggers to Watch in 2009. I'm on the list. How exciting. Thanks DJ!

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    Soccer Season Over

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    Soccer season is over.

    Ainsley played on a local church league this year. No scoring, no winning, only one team to play against.

    I think we'll consider putting her in a competitive league next year. I see no point in pretending not to keep score. Our team knew we lost every single game.

    Why do we keep insisting children are stupid or not paying attention? Why do we attempt to teach them the wrong lessons? We live in a Capitalist Society - if you think winning isn't important here - YOU haven't been paying attention.
    Winning IS important and we should teach them how to try their best to WIN.

    I did not coach because I think she is less inhibited and shy and has more fun without me there. Coaching my own kid was quite frustrating for me.

    Soccer is MY favorite sport for girls because there is lots of actual exercise (unlike baseball with it's endless waiting) and it's gender neutral.

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    Also, I think Ainsley has an aptitude for it.

    She says she wants to try gymnastics over the winter instead of going back to Taekwando. I'll let her if it isn't cost prohibitive.

    10 Antidotes to Self-Objectification

    Sharks v. Happy Feet

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Body Competence vs. Body Talk

    9F2C354C-2A2B-4FEF-A42A-D6823EA70A39.jpg (photo courtesy: Shaping Youth)

    The more I use my body the better I feel about it. The less active I am, the worse I feel about my body. There is a definite cause and effect relationship. My feelings follow my actions.

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    No matter how much time I spend talking about loving my body or telling my daughter to love hers, all the talk in the world won't do as half as much as getting up and taking a hike, learning to run or mastering yoga and insisting my daughter to do the same.

    82501D51-FD43-4AF1-8485-FC4D44D551F1.jpg(Photo courtesy: Mims Muddle)

    What we usually value about the bodies of boys is competence and skill. Competence in athletics and things they can DO with their bodies. This probably explains why so fewer boys have body image issues that escalate to self-destruction - because their bodies are useful.

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    It occurs to me that the more opportunities we present to encourage our daughters to use their bodies competently the higher their self-esteem and body image will be.

    4F4B797A-A479-4C07-BB9C-559F007E0540.jpg(Photo courtesy: Confessions of an It Girl)

    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    Local Culture: Partake

    The grandparents came to town and we took them to the Community Dance. Live band plays Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Bring your own drinks and snacks or buy some there. $5 adults, kids are free.

    So, we're the only people there not collecting Social Security - think my kids care? No way.

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    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Exclusive Gender Segregation Interview

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    Last month I had the opportunity to participate in a group podcast with several different women about the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit against a Kentucky School Board for gender-segregating an algebra class in a public junior high. This is actually legal in Kentucky and quite a number of states, - as long as there is also a co-ed class available to students. The student then chooses between the two.

    Evidently, the female student suing the school district wanted to take co-ed algebra and only pre-algebra was being offered as a co-ed option. There was a boys' algebra and a girls' algebra being offered.

    The twist?

    The girls' class the student enrolled in did so much better than the boys' algebra class that they stopped teaching the girls math to maintain the separate but equal standard and allowed the boys catch up.

    Listen to that podcast.

    I had a few more questions for Emily J. Martin, the ACLU Attorney suing the school district. She was kind enough to do an interview with me via phone.

    What I didn't quite understand - and I guess I still don't - is why would the ACLU, and that female student, sue over the SUCCESS of a girls-only math class.

    In my experience like that of many, many women I've spoken with, girls have been stuck in co-ed math classes that were anything but equal. I can't tell you the number of women who tell me they were in college or full grown adults before they felt they were competent in math, due to the way co-ed classes were taught. See reflections on my own unpleasant experiences related to public education math in Math Retarded.

    So my first question was, "Is it the ACLU's premise was that boys and girls are currently getting an "equal education" in co-ed classrooms?"

    "No," Martin said. "But, we want to find out more about what's behind schools' desire to segregate genders. We disagree with the notion that single-sex education is what gets to you to excellence."

    "Were they using different teaching methods in the boy class and the girl class?"

    "We think so but we're trying to learn more. We haven't yet gotten discovery in the lawsuit, we haven't yet gotten the documents to see the actual lesson plan.

    We think the methods were different because of an article in a local newsletter when they first instituted talk about became interested in differentiated instruction movement. This movement recognizes that different students learn differently and the model was about how boys and girls need to be taught using different teaching methods. They talk about playing soft music in girls' classes and how boys do really well abstract problems. How teachers can show the girls by using toilet paper rolls and boys like the hands on, but they don't need it to learn, and how boys need to get out of their seats and have lots of games and high energy. Girls prefer to sit in seats quietly."

    While the ACLU can't say yet exactly what the teaching methods were being used in this Kentucky junior high, they do know that the school hired a man named David Chadwell to head the South Carolina Board of Education's Single Gender Initiative. They also believe that David Chadwell was trained through the Gurian Institute.

    Some, including the ACLU, believe the Gurian Institute is promoting "basically sexist material from the ignorance of the 1950s as science," Martin said.

    Examples included in Gurian literature and publications in popular books like Boys and Girls Learn Differently, girls can play a game called musical chair math review but there needs to be an extra chair where girls can sit and relax or they might freak out. They need a place to be calm.

    Conversely, boys learn best if they throw balls, get out of their seats and respond well to time limits, Martin explained.

    Martin acknowledged that the school's association with the Gurian Institute is the primary cause for suspicion.

    Others, however, are investigating how to use the "hard science" the Gurian institute claims to have harnessed to increase workplace productivity using gender differences. You can watch Gurian himself speak at Google.

    Are there other motives for same sex classrooms the ACLU might be more sympathetic too? There are real gender issues in schools like sexual harassment of girls, medicating boys, and wouldn't experimenting with different teaching strategies provide useful information? There are very successful girls-only and boys-only schools, are there not? Is the ACLU trying to prohibit all same-gender public education, for all motives, as a solution to real gender problems? I asked.

    The ACLU is very, very skeptical of single sex education in public schools. We are sympathetic to the problems experienced by both genders including low income African American boys and detention-to-prison rates. But we don't think excluding a gender, even if is increasing girls' achievement, is the best solution. We want to make sure schools are held responsible to maintaining a gender equitable environment and we don't think same sex education is where the education efforts are appropriately spent. The ACLU believes co-education is better policy and is the better educational strategy.

    I really do think it's important for girls and boys to learn together in school. An important part of success in the work world is to know how to collaborate with members of the opposite sex. Even good intentions open the door to a host of problems. Gender-segregation invites students to over-inflate the importance of gender in their identity and who they are as a student, it creates stereotypes about the opposite sex. It's important to have the real world interaction with the opposite gender, to know them as friends and colleagues and it's very difficult to ensure there is equality and opportunity in one program and not the other.

    Martin mentioned that another concern the ACLU has with same-gender education is that the United States isn't monitoring the programs or even keeping track of what works, what doesn't, what the actual scores or success rates are, who is participating and what the real effect is.

    There is an informal tally of participating public schools at the National Association for Single-Sex Education that includes about 500 schools with more being added every year.

    What's YOUR take on this?

    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Shaping Youth Girl Week

    Amy Jussel from Shaping Youth is doing "All Things Girl Week" from Nov. 1-8 and sites/finds/media offerings that are 'positive picks' pertaining to empowering girls of all ages.

    Empowering Girls: So Sioux Me will be included.

    Other worth-your-time samplings will include:

    The Girl Mogul interview with a tee/slogan contest to kick it off.

    Other content includes: Girls For A Change nat'l tour wrap up and
    interview with Carrie Ellett and girls advocacy orgs including Michealene's
    Tapestries of Hope/Girl Child Network documentary, and Jin's new global
    leadership org 4ggl.org plus Girls Inc, and Daughters.com.

    Girl-created content: Girls Horse Club, New Moon Girl Media/Orb 28, Beacon Street Girls, Readergirlz, AllyKatz.

    On body image/self esteem issues, they're profiling Respect Rx Rallies,
    Dr. Jenn for Girls, Dr. Robyn, Packaging Girlhood, Reign of the Girl
    Child, Claire Mysko, Beacon Street Girls new book.

    Sports: GLTR Girls (girls learn to ride) on wakeboard/snowboard _athlete
    stuff, Girls Are Champions local S.Y. board angles w/Lisa & Liz of
    Starlings Volleyball USA (club VB/preteen teams) Womens' Sports netwk,
    and Hardy Girls Healthy Women.

    VW/girl gaming/entrepreneurial focus_ e.g. Sara's Gamine Expedition
    blog, VW site reviews on HipChicas, Hulala Girls, etc.entrepreneurial
    ventures e.g. Karito Kids etc.---_Green girl sites_ and some 'cool mom
    picks' like Eco Mom Alliance, SafeMama, Emily & Cooper's Motherhood.com
    etc.

    Wow. A lot of this is new to me so I'll spend some time surfing around All Things Girl Week at Shaping Youth. Join me.

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #4

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    Allow me to juxtapose two parenting positions here.

    There is parenting from a sense of lack.

    Parenting from a sense of lack would be to hang on to and maybe even hoard clothing or toys your child doesn't use.

    To over-indulge children with the newest and latest "things." Make them believe they can feed their "wanter" and feed their "wanter" and someday, somehow, if they can just have "anything they want" and never go without anything their hearts' desire - then, finally, they will be "happy."

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    There is parenting from a sense of abundance.

    Parenting from a sense of abundance discards the theory that things will make you happy. It acknowledges the fact that even "poor" children in America have more than most people in the entire 3rd world. It celebrates the notion, "I have everything I need. I have more than enough to give."

    Parenting from these two positions is a mind-set. It has almost nothing to do with tax brackets and income levels.

    Many, many wealthy people still haven't figured out that "giving more" will make them happier than "buying more."

    Many poor people will give you the shirt off their backs, because they know the "high" generosity will bring their soul is worth far more than the shirt.

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    Opportunities like Operation Christmas Child present themselves around this time of year where we can stress this position to our children in a very tangible and physical way.

    What can you give to a child less fortunate than yourself?

    My children feel such a feeling of abundance and blessing that we were able to fill a shoebox with never- or hardly-ever-been-used items that they felt would bless a poor child's life. Zack gave some Hot Wheels and a baseball. Ainsley gave a doll, a shirt, some hair accessories and we found stuff around the house like toothbrushes, crayons, papers and pens and some soap. We threw in some Halloween candy.

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    This is my Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #4 - involve your children in GIVING. Our Christmas boxes expenses amounted to less than $20, but our kids FEEL we have an abundant life.

    More on this at Boycott Christmas in November.

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip # 1

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #2

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip#3

    Steal This Christmas Gift Please!

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Advertise Here for Christmas Sales

    If you are a company who believes you have a product that will empower girls - or at least not hinder girls' empowerment and you want to advertise on this site please contact me at traceesioux@yahoo.com.

    You can put a groovy little 125 x 125 button on the sidebar for $20 a month (like this one).

    Or 200 x 200 for $35 a month (like this one).

    I'm also doing product reviews. If you think you have a product, I'd like to recommend, please email me.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Real Girls, Real Pressure: Dove Self Esteem Report


    “Low self-esteem among girls and young women has reached a crisis level,” said Dr. Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., a psychologist and self-esteem expert who collaborated on Real Girls, Real Pressure a report on the state of girls' self-esteem sponsored by Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty.

    According to the report:

    * 61 percent of teen girls with low self-esteem admit to talking badly about themselves

    * 67 percent of girls ages 13 – 17 turn to their mother as a resource when feeling badly about themselves compared to 91 percent of girls ages 8 – 12.

    * Only 27 percent of girls ages 13 – 17 will turn to their father for help when feeling badly about themselves compared to 54 percent of girls ages 8-12.

    * At 16, girls become more likely to seek support from male peers than from their own dads.

    * 75 percent of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative and potentially harmful activities, such as disordered eating, cutting, bullying, smoking or drinking.

    * 25 percent of teen girls with low self-esteem resort to injuring themselves on purpose or cutting when feeling badly about themselves.

    * 25 percent of teen girls with low self-esteem practice disordered eating, such as starving themselves, refusing to eat, or over-eating and throwing up, when feeling badly about themselves.

    Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem was conducted nationally online among 1,029 girls 8 – 17, and is representative of the U.S. based on census indicators (region, ethnicity
    and parental education.) An additional 3,344 girls 8 – 17 were surveyed in a targeted study that was conducted in 20 major U.S. cities representative of each DMA based on ethnicity and parental education.
    The research was conducted by StrategyOne, an applied research consulting firm, in collaboration with Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD.

    The question is: what is the cause and what is the cure for this low-self esteem in girls?

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Inevitable Arguing

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    I heard about a mother who believes mothers should pick one thing to intentionally argue with their daughters about.

    She chose clothes. If her daughter liked a shirt she would scrunch up her nose and call it too short. If her daughter said the color was beautiful, she would grimace and say it was hideous. They argued about it all the time.

    Her belief was that mothers and daughters will inevitably argue about something so this mother's best strategy was to consciously choose what they would fight over.

    I have to agree that Ainsley is looking for something to argue with me about.

    This mother chose clothes to avoid fighting about boys or curfews or school work.

    Could this work as an effective parenting strategy?

    If so, which is the least detrimental thing for mothers and daughters to quibble about?

    Friday, November 7, 2008

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip #3

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    Over the last several years I've been "opting out" of Christmas obligations and reducing the spending while increasing the fun. Have you noticed it is NO FUN to get a second job or charge up your credit cards to buy unappreciated gifts.

    That's the anti-thesis of fun.

    When my friends and family complain about the endless gifting and the lack of equitable gifting or lack of gratitude expressed by others for their gifts, I tell them, "Just stop doing it."

    One of my friends took my advice this year and I suspect a few more will as well. She's given me permission to publish her email to her friends and family.

    Dear Friends and Family,

    In the interest of making the holidays less stressful and expensive for everyone, we have decided the best gift we can give our friends and family is not to participate in gift exchanges this year. Please use any money you would have spent on us for your own family or to help someone in need.

    We are still looking forward to spending time together celebrating the season and enjoying each other’s company. With that in mind, we would like to invite you to a Holiday Party at our home on Saturday, December 13 at 4 p.m. We'll send more details as the date gets closer.

    Love,

    Your Name Here

    The response from their friends and family?

    Relief.

    Her current feelings when she sees all the Christmas Marketing now?

    Peace.

    Copy and paste the note and forward it to your extraneous Christmas list. This will leave plenty of money for the really important people in your life: your spouse, your children, your parents and your children's teachers.

    More on this at Boycott Christmas in November.

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip # 1

    Meaningfully Frugal Christmas Tip 2 <

    Christmas Tip #1

    Steal This Christmas Gift Please!

    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Sibling Envy

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    The only cure for sentiments like this is extra attention.

    So, I put aside my own need to lie in bed with a book all day on Sunday and took her to town where we went window shopping.

    Left Zack with Daddy.

    What do you do when your kids get jealous? I wonder how Moms like Kate from Jon and Kate + 8 gives each kid "enough" attention? My aunt Stephanie had 10 kids - how do mother's manage that?

    Are girls more insatiable than boys for attention?

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    National Healing

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    My daughter is as thrilled to wake to a world of Barack Obama even though her friends' parents tell them that "Obama is a baby-killing Muslim and will likely be killed because he's black."

    "Abraham Lincoln was killed, John Kennedy was killed, someone tried to kill Ronald Reagan and they were all white men," I told her. "Every President is at risk."

    "But, what if that happens?"

    "Then Joe Biden is a qualified good man who will be our President."

    "What color is he?"

    "White."

    "You know Barack Obama is half white and half black. He will help us heal our country's racism," I continued.

    "He's half white?"

    "Yes, he has a white mommy and a black daddy, like our friend Neeny."

    "You know, Obama also has two little girls around your age - Mallia and Sasha. We'll get to watch them grow up in The White House."

    Today, though my daughter does not see a woman take the highest office in the land as I had hoped, she does get to witness a healing in the nation.

    A nation that wants to be in hope and optimism because the oppression of fear was bad for the entire planet's emotional health.

    Smell that? It's a hopeful future.

    I almost forgot what it tasted like.

    We've got nothing to complain about and everything be joyful over. It will take hard work and some money to dig ourselves out and recover - but Yes, We Can.

    We are now a country where the words, All Men are Created Equal, are no longer hallow.

    We are liberated from our tainted and embarrassing racial history.

    I'm looking every day for ways to liberate us from our gender inequity as well - for our daughters' sakes - and for our own.

    God Bless AMERICA!

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    What Are You Doing Here?

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    What are you doing here?

    GO VOTE!


    Vote With Your Daughter!

    Our kids will be up all night with us at the Democratic Headquarters Party. We'll be munching Pizza, drinking champagne and watching election results.

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Costume Contest Winner

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    I received most comments about the Dalmatian, a handmade thrift store and black marker costume.

    The costume was submitted by Angela White of Breastfeeding 1-2-3. She's won a great Seagate Go Portable Hard Drive.
    Congratulations.

    Keep it or gift it?

    Last (Lovely) Glimpse of Halloween 2008

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    Bride of Frankenstein

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    Cheetah

    Ok, I'm no longer taking entries in the contest. I'll give you a few hours to leave comments voting on all the entries I published over the weekend and then I'll announce the winner of the Seagate Go Portable Hard Drive.

    Quick jumps on these posts:

  • Real Girls' Costumes IV

  • Real Girls' Costumes V

  • Real Girls' Costumes III

  • Real Girls' Costumes II

  • Real Girls' Costumes

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    Here's a photo of us: We're Chinese. Picked them up in San Francisco's Chinatown this summer.

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    I also took a photo of the town's costume contest and here's what I can report.

    The little girls were not dressed provocatively or in an overtly sexual way.

    There were Princesses, Hannah Montanas, Super Womans, Gabriellas, and Charpeis, Cowgirls and Indians, etc. And while they were very "pretty" and "beautiful" and overtly "feminine" and "girly" - they were also modestly dressed.

    Pretty, beautiful and overtly feminine and girly do not equate to "sexy," "provocative," "slutty," "hootchy" or "sexual."

    I saw 2 very provocative costumes on older teenagers (their mothers were likely hiding at home in shame and horror) and one inappropriately short minidress on a mother who dragged that black velvet dress from her own adolescence, I'm sure. (I had one in the '90s too.)

    I realize my small East Texas town isn't indicative of the whole of America so I'm curious - did you see inappropriately dressed little girls? What about them struck you as inappropriate?

    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    Real Girls' Costumes IV

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    Pirates, Bunnies, Kittens and Monsters? Oh MY!

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    Renaissance Princess

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    Rocket and Ferris Wheel (Sooo Clever!)

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    Nightmare Before Christmas

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    Pirate

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    Number 2 Pencil & friends

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    Sweet Watermelon

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    Pink Poodle

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    Little Lovelies

    Leave a comment voting on your favorites.

    See the other entrants on Real Girls Costumes.

    I'll run the contest through the weekend allowing parents to email their Trick-or-Treating photos (traceesioux@yahoo.com). I'll give away the $150 Seagate FreeAgent GO Portable Hard Drive on Monday morning.

    Real Girls' Costumes V

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    Anne Boleyn and her cat (Love the siblings a props! LOL)

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    Fairy Princess,with a white shirt with gems on the top, a skirt with lights in it, and black leggings with glitter. Combined with a crown, wings and a flower wand. (Props for self-invention and independence.)

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    Vampire

    Leave a comment voting on your favorites.

    See the other entrants on Real Girls Costumes, Real Girls Costumes II.

    I'll run the contest through the weekend allowing parents to email their Trick-or-Treating photos (traceesioux@yahoo.com). I'll give away the $150 Seagate FreeAgent GO Portable Hard Drive on Monday morning.

    Saturday, November 1, 2008

    Real Girls' Costumes III

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    Elvis and his Groupie (LOL)

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    Chihuahua

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    Pirate

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    Tigger

    Leave a comment voting on your favorites.

    See the other entrants on Real Girls Costumes, Real Girls Costumes II.

    I'll run the contest through the weekend allowing parents to email their Trick-or-Treating photos (traceesioux@yahoo.com). I'll give away the $150 Seagate FreeAgent GO Portable Hard Drive on Monday morning.