Thursday, January 10, 2013

Olive Us

There's a blog I've been following for a while now called "Design Mom."  The woman who started it (there are several contributors now, I believe) decided a few years ago to move her family (she, her husband, and all six of her kids) to Normandy.  As in the French countryside.  The whole family is adorable, and I'm super jealous of the opportunities this woman has had.  Plus she's able to balance running a sort of company while raising six kids in a foreign country.

Anyway, a little while ago they started this mini "tv" series called "Olive Us," featuring themselves, which is just a silly, cute little show that highlights how fun it can be to get along as a family and explore life in Normandy.  Obviously a lot of it is staged/scripted, but I've read behind-the-scenes stuff, and the children are quite authentic in their actions and always enjoy the filming.

Here are a couple of my favorite episodes:


Pottery Lesson

How to Buy Eggs from a Petite Ferme

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Maybe We Can Blame Dick and Jane

I've hesitated several weeks publishing this post because I was worried about offending someone.  But then I realized I'm perfectly entitled to my opinion, as are you, and maybe we can get a healthy debate going!  I love those.

Oh, and by the way, while my observations influence my opinions, and I've probably observed your children (if you have any and I know you personally), I am in no way being critical of you.  I'm merely discussing a phenomenon.  Let it be known.

As an anthropologist (if that doesn't ever sound pretentious...), I have learned about the aspects of cultures that go into creating gender roles in a society.  It's made me rather hyper-aware of what people expose children to (people as in not just the parents, because it takes a village) that causes them to develop into or fill certain expectations when it comes to gender in our society.

Side note: it irks me when pregnant people get asked what "gender" their baby is.  Maybe people are afraid to use the word "sex" in public, but "gender" is not a genetic trait, it's anthropologically defined as cultural roles that are created (presumably by a community) to define a person (male, female, transgender, fafafini, khusre, whatever).  So I make it a habit to specifically ask, when I need to know (perhaps annoyingly so, who knows), "What sex is the baby?"  End rant.

Back on topic.  So.  This topic is always on my mind.  And apparently, it was a trending topic over on Apartment Therapy last year, and they conveniently gathered loads of samples for me so I don't have to find them for you.  Check them out here.

If you're too lazy to read through them, here's the basic premise: our culture (pan-American) has determined that young boys must be into blue, trucks, dogs, dinosaurs, tools, sports, etc.  Young girls must be into pink, flowers, glitter, princesses, babies (animal and human), fashion, and HIGH SQUEAKY VOICES IN CARTOONS.  Ahem.  Obviously, these "definitions" bother me a bit.  And apparently they bother a lot of people.  But sometimes it goes so far on the opposite direction as to be rather hypocritical, at the very least attempting to redefine something that you're attempting to ignore (which isn't helpful).  For example, someone's son asks for a doll or a pink toy, YOU'VE GOT IT BUDDY!  If a girl asks for a fairy Barbie or whatever, NO WAY.
Really, some people.
I feel like people are afraid of something if they see their kids leaning over the line that they believe clearly delineates the difference between boys and girls.  Someone tickles a little boy and he squeals and shreaks.  The response?  "Ugh, you sound like a little girl!"  "Don't be such a girl!" Or whatever.  Also, until he hits puberty, your little boy is going to sound like a little girl, and vice versa.  "You don't want to wear those fairy wings, those are for GIRLS."  So what?  There are boy fairies.  Ever heard of Puck?  He's exhibits plenty of masculine traits.  Okay.

When I look back on my childhood, the only pink articles of clothing I remember specifically are my Nala shirt, a pink pair of shorts, and a pair of jelly sandals that a friend gave me for my birthday (and I never wore those things together, thank goodness).

Lion King is always relevant.
And we never had Barbies or princess stuff (although my mom said the other day that we sometimes asked for those things, she just couldn't afford them).  And I turned out just as feminine as my peers who did have Barbies and who did wear nail polish before the age of 12.  Heck, I attracted plenty of boys.  I had my first boyfriend at age 10 (yes, it counts, you know who you are).  And this a girl who enjoyed exploring and bugs and dinosaurs and animal bones (yes, even then) and didn't mind getting scratched up or playing in the mud.

I suppose my irritation is three-fold.  First of all, the rabid children's toy and clothing market needs to take a chill pill.  It's only fueling peoples' paranoia.  Second of all, as parents and other influential people in a child's life are perfectly entitled to give gender-specific items, they need to exercise self-control in  both the quantity and the importance they (not the child) stress on it.  And third, while I fully support parents raising their children to be miniature but improved versions of themselves (heck, that's what I'm going to do, narcissistic as it may be), I think it's important to let children make some decisions on their own about what they are interested in.    If all they ever know is what is narrowly assigned to their prescribed gender role, they can't grow three-dimensionally.  That's why I love neutral toys like Legos, stuffed animals, books, and science toys.  Also I am a dweeb.

So my kids will be dweebs.  But very well-dressed dweebs.  Because all of them (even if they're boys) are going to be interested in what they wear (if I can afford it).

Post-script: I am not taking into account any influence that friends, grandparents, and gift-givers of all sorts will have on my children.  I'm very aware it will exist, and influence is influence.  My child is an individual of their own and will make decisions based on what they decide they enjoy.  If my daughter wants her lawn mower painted pink, so be it.  And you won't find me dressing my son in dresses à la Ernest Hemingway's mother.

PPS: The woman across the divider from me here at the public library is a mouth-breather of the worst sort.  It reminds me why I don't spend that much time in public.  Bleh.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Goals Shmoals

Gah!  I am remiss!  But I'll use the holidays as an excuse.  Honestly, we were kind of busy.  I'm not going to recap it all because you probably think your holiday was better than mine anyway (because mine was better than yours, you know), but just know that we had a dandy time and got to spend good time with family and made out like bandits with presents.
I hate when people put instagram pictures on their blog because I'VE ALREADY SEEN THEM but oh well here you go anyway.
It's a new year now (and how fine it looks from this side of the line).  Let's take a gander at the goals I made to do in 2012 and see how I did.

1. Toilet train the cat: Heh.  Well, we did pretty well for a few months.  We successfully got him peeing in the toilet on his own without litter, but we couldn't get him to poop in there, and it got a little messy, and did I mention this all went down right near the end of the semester when I was writing my thesis and blah blah blah?  So we gave up.  I consider this a near-success, except not really, because he is still using a litter box.  Oh well.  Maybe we'll try again when we have more free time and more than one toilet.  I don't like sharing with cats.

2. Complete every room in the apartment to the vision of what I want it to be: If that wasn't overly ambitious... Ok, I did actually get the apartment looking pretty great, considering we have little means, but there are still tweaks I'd like to do, and there are projects I planned that turned out not to be feasible (like that time I was going to stencil cool designs on our coffee and end tables...good thing the end table was dirt cheap), but overall it looks pretty good.  And there's still upkeep to do, and little changes I'd like to make.  That's why I decided to participate in AT's January Cure project.  I already have a huge list of stuff I'm really excited to do.  I'd share it with you but you undoubtedly don't care.  But I think you should do the Cure too.  I know a couple of you already are, but the rest of you should TOTES GET ON IT NAO.

3. Read 25 books: Good grief, you'd think I was planning on being unemployed or something.  And yet I think I only succeeded in reading maybe...ten?  I don't know what I did for down-time recreation this past year, honestly.  Maybe watch Bones.  I did that probably too much.

4. Do something out of my comfort zone: Hm...I lived with my in-laws for a few months.  Does that count?  OH.  I also took a temporary job doing something super difficult, if you recall.  We'll count that.

5. Graduate from college: DONE!  See?  I can do things!

6. Go to the temple twice a month, every month: Well, we went almost once every month.  Maybe it's a good thing I "over-goal" myself...I'm bound to accomplish something.

7. Stick to a budget, and never be overdrawn: I think we only overdrew a few times and only one or two of those times it was because of a fault of our own.  I think we only went over our monthly budget a few times too, and the last couple of times that happened it was by like $0.96 so, hey!  Here's to a better financial year.  It'd help if I had a job, I'm sure...

8. Show Sam every day that I love him: I know I could be better at this.  And could have.  The first year of marriage really is really, really hard.  Or maybe that's just us.  Or me.  Anyway.  This resolution is on my goal list again this year, and probably will be for the rest of my life.  Because it's that important.

9. SCUBA dive somewhere outside of Utah: Let's not talk about this.  Just give me a plane ticket to Aruba.

10. Blog more often and be more open: I think I could call this one accomplished too!  I mean, really, you probably know way more about me than you ever thought you wanted to.  Sorry about that.  But not really, because I'm going to keep blogging about the crazy junk I think about and I can't help it.  So there.


Okay, so 2 out of 10 is kind of pathetic.  Hopefully I'll do better in 2013.  I don't think I'll give you a detailed explanayshe of my goals this year, especially since a few of them are kind of personal and I'm therefore not including them, but here are a few I need you to help keep me accountable for:

-Floss.  Every night before brushing my teeth (I'm 4/7 so far!)

-Excercise.  Mostly spinal/neck stretches, yoga, and aerobic exercise.  At least 5 days a week.

-Practice photography and build a better portfolio.  I need models right now.  Come pose for me.  Or let me photograph you at home doing mundane tasks (seriously).  I need a lot more people shoots, people.  And I have a snazzy new camera to use!

My new Canon next to my old Nikon
-Be continuously reading a book.  This doesn't include scripture reading.  Last year I procrastinated reading a book I started and it took me like 10 months to read it.  That's pathetic.

-If/when we move, stay in good contact with family.  We will likely be moving this year, fingers crossed.  It's going to be hard for me, because the best part of deciding to move to Utah four years ago was that I was able to build better relationships with my siblings by having them so close.  I'll really miss them, and I don't want to undo all the work.

-Become financially stable.  Don't we all want that?  Somebody give me a job.


How did you do on your goals for the last year?  What do you plan to do this year?  I always have goals that reappear on my lists each year (ie never sticks).

You WILL stick to your goals this year.  Or else.
Currently listening to a very random and unplanned Led Zep/Muse/Professor Elemental mix.  And procrastinating getting dressed.  And showered.  Ahem.