Friday, November 25, 2011

The Onslaught

Here's the thing. Unless you make the effort to have the necessary conversations with your children, there is the distinct possibility that life is going to suck for them. The pressure to be 'cool', and attain 'perfection' is going to overwhelm them and occupy their wonderful, brilliant, creative minds, take them down a path that will rob them of their natural beauty and childhood, and prematurely take their innocence and distract their focus.

Talk to your daughters (and sons) before the "beauty" industry does.

Watch this 1-minute video everyday...every morning, if you have to, until you believe that our self-doubt, self-loathing, body dissatisfaction, perfectionism, and self-harm is fuelled by the constant onslaught of messages that tell us we are not good enough, from companies that have no other agenda than their multi-million dollar profits.

This is the Dove Onslaught video.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lest We Forget

This Remembrance Day I will remember and acknowledge all those who have died in service to their country. I chose this picture of three poppies to represent the three female Canadian soldiers who have died in combat operations in Afghanistan.

Captain Nichola Goddard, Trooper Karine Blais and Master Corporal Kristal Giesebrecht.
Thank you for your service. Lest we forget.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween

Amongst the vampires and the skeletons and the ghouls and ghosts, there lurks something scarier. Something way scarier. Scarier because unlike the zombies and the ninjas, it's real. Scarily, awfully, terribly real.

For your real Halloween fright this year, watch this video and if it doesn't give you the goosebumps, or the heeby-jeebies, then you are probably a zombie yourself.

This is part of the TLC guide to Halloween, and basically gives you all the ideas that you need to complete a transformation into a beauty pageant toddler - complete with fake tan, fake teeth, enough hairspray to make you choke, and oh, don't forget the blue eye make-up.

I wish I could say that no children were hurt in the making of this video, but I think we all know that that would be a lie.

Happy Halloween everyone.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

About The Boy

I have been asked a few times why 'girl's issues' are my thing, when in fact I have a 4-year old boy. It's a fair question, and I've thought for a while about pinning down the words and putting them in a blog post. I am a terrible procrastinator though which isn't the best for blogging.

So anyway - I was inspired to answer that question today - and here goes. Part of the reason I focus on issues surrounding women and girls is academic. I have a Bachelor of Women's Studies degree. I took endless classes and wrote mountains of research papers about many of the issues facing women and girls; health issues, criminal justice issues, the ongoing struggles against violence and abuse, the age-old questions of prostitution, pornography, and erotica. I've written about issues from eating disorders to military women, and from cartoons to technology. I'm no expert on any of them, but am pretty passionate about them all.

When the papers were all graded and school was over, I didn't want to let that passion fizzle away. Enter the Mauve Dinosaur. With the Mauve Dinosaur blog I can keep ranting on about all the issues facing women and girls; I can keep researching, learning, and passing on information, all in an attempt to make a little bit of a difference.

So that's how it started. But, back to the question about the boy. Oh, about the boy. As he grows, and his wide little eyes see more of the world, and his little ears hear more messages and his growing brain absorbs more of the expectations and rules of the world around him, it gets more important by the day; more urgent by the year, that he learns to view the world around him with a critical lens.

I want the boy to grow up in a world where boys and girls, men and women have equal potential - in a world where women are not objectified - where sex isn't used to sell everything, and an impossible beauty ideal of eternal youth, unhealthy size and fake exterior doesn't entice us into harming ourselves, and destroying our relationships.

I care how women and girls see and treat themselves, because I care how my son will see and treat girls and women. I care how everyone's sons will see and treat women, and because I think that how they are going to, depends on how the girls and women in their lives see and treat themselves moving forward from now.

I just don't want my little man growing up in a world where the blatant sexualization and objectification of women is the norm. I want his life to be richer and his experiences to be broader, alongside smart, adventurous, curious, innovative, brave women and men. I want the women in his life to make him laugh with their confidence and self-esteem, and for him to break bread and drink wine, and indulge in amazing cultural experiences with male and female friends with a healthy body-image, and exciting, diverse lifestyles. I want him to see real, raw beauty in humans all around him, for him to grow old with people who embrace growing old.

I want this for him, and I want this for his children. And that is why I care.

This awful, wretched video from The Sun inspired me to write this post today. I grew up in the UK, where the image of a topless woman on Page 3 in The Sun daily newspaper lay, available and open on millions of coffee tables across the country, every day. The video makes no bones about it's message - it's a quick, visual recap of everything in the 'Man Code'. It's everything I want to protect my son from - everything he is 'supposed' to be; how he is supposed to think about the opposite sex.

When it comes to protecting girls and boys from harmful media messages that are in danger of shaping their future, there is no us vs. them; no girls vs. boys; no women's rights vs. men's rights - we're all in this together - looking for a way to shelter their precious childhood, extend their innocence, and avert their gaze for a moment longer.

I care about girls, because I care about the future. The future of all our girls and boys.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day of the Girl!

September 22nd is the Day of the Girl! Although it's a campaign to get President Obama to support a National Day of the Girl in the US, it is intended to raise awareness about the issues facing girls around the world.

One of the things that Day of the Girl encourages us to do in September is get mad.

On their website they say:
"Get mad. If you’re not mad about the issues girls have to face, then you’re not paying attention. Get educated about the barriers to girls’ equality and get moving on your part of the solution."

So here is their wonderful introduction to some of the biggest issues facing girls around the world. Read away, get your blood boiling, cry in frustration.

Then support the Day of the Girl, sign the petition, and think about the small things that you could do. Being aware of, and spreading awareness of the issues is part of the solution.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Photo Challenge : )

So - I do enjoy a good photo challenge : ) Here's my entry on the PaperMama blog.
This was the last day of our vacation to Scotland this year. I will have this image to treasure and remember forever.

The Paper Mama

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Change the Focus - Top 5

Back in 2012 I put together a top five list of ways to get the focus off our girl's appearance. Here's that post again, for old times' sake. If you know a parent who seems to be at a loss, watching their daughter absorb the onslaught of harmful media messages that fill their world, share this post. You never know, it might be something that someone just needed to see today. :) For girls to understand and believe that their worth does not revolve around their appearance and clothes, they have to have an opportunity to feel a sense of pride from somewhere else; to receive positive and motivating feedback about something else and to see that their thoughts and actions have more of a positive impact on their community and their world than however they dress or whatever they look like.

So, here are the Top 5 ways that we can encourage girls to feel that they are more than what they look like:

1. Get them involved in some kind of community service. It is important for teens especially, to appreciate that there are problems in the world that they can contribute to in a positive way. Get them helping out. Volunteering for teens should not just be about satisfying a requirement for high school credits - if you can help ignite a passion for a cause in your community, the focus on self shifts, and that time and energy can be channelled to something amazing. Perhaps they can find a place at a humane society, sharing their compassion for animals, or perhaps they enjoy cooking and can prepare meals for a shelter. It doesn't matter - the point is that the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from giving and helping creates confidence and we need girls who are confident in what they do.

2. Sports. It doesn't matter if you think your daughter or niece is 'athletic' or 'competitive' or whatever other labels we like to use on school kids. Get girls involved in something. Think outside the box to find something that suits their personality. Don't confine yourself to traditional team activities - in addition to soccer and baseball and ice-hockey, look for women's rugby teams, water polo teams, and think about golf, yoga and swimming. Physical activity to keep healthy, develop sportsmanship, and to forge new friendships is never a bad thing, and for girls with a competitive streak, it's a healthy way for them to win (and of course, lose).

3. Technology. Let them be nerds. Or geeks. Or whatever it is that people call kids that like math and science these days. EMBRACE IT. Encourage them, and compliment them on their tenacity for problem solving, or their commitment to the computer club. Girls can easily be nudged out of this realm by other people who make them feel they are not being girly or feminine enough so if there is a girl in your life showing signs of interest in this area - let her know she is awesome. Take her to science museums, or to your local flying school, take your tween outside and watch the International Space Station fly over your house at night. Look up some awesome role models for her - astronauts, engineers, pilots, inventors, scientists and run with it.

4. Find and support a hobby. Perhaps the Girl Guides is a good fit, or a specific art or craft, or a musical instrument, but get your girl doing something. If she's busy using her body and mind to create things, or design things then she's less likely to be worried about what she's wearing, or what she looks like. It takes the focus off the superficial, and gives her free time some specific meaning. You need to work with your girl to find something that makes her tick. Look around, try new things and when you find something, support it.

5. Finally, find a way to introduce your girl to elderly women who can inspire her with their wisdom, humor and wit. Girls need to see that women are beautiful at all ages, and that beauty radiates from within. Elderly women, whose skin and hair and bodies don't match what the media tells us is the beauty ideal, force us to reconsider what the definition of beauty is. Girls who can see past wrinkles and age spots and waistlines and grey hair in others, have more of chance of seeing past their blemishes and stray hairs and cellulite. Think of people in your life whose beauty radiates from their heart and introduce her to the girl in your life.

Remember, if the images in the media are all your daughter sees, then that is all she will know.
Show her that there's more to her life than what meets the eye, and give her the opportunity to live it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Another Revenge of the T-Shirt!

Back in June, I blogged about a couple of T-shirts I had seen. The Revenge of the T-Shirt as I called it. Well, apparently I had not seen a real T-shirt battle yet...and now, well now I have, and this is how a real T-shirt battle goes down with style.

First of all, you need a big US retail chain fashion buyer (cough, cough, that's you JC Penney) to select a horrendously sexist t-shirt for girls, that completely sells girls out, puts them down, and reinforces the old-stereotype that girls can either be smart of pretty, but never, ever both.

Then you need a whole bunch of angry parents, activists, advocates and generally awesome humans to do the online yelling thing - where they post petitions and bombard JC Penney with messages that this is not the clothing that consumers want for their daughters.

After this succeeds and the big chain pulls the T-shirt (and presumably fires the buyer who thought it was a good idea), you need someone to think up an awesome catchphrase, design an eye-catching and quite honestly ADORABLE T-shirt that sends the completely opposite message. Enter Pigtail Pals.

I'm not going to post a picture of the Pigtail Pals tee,, no, I'm going to make you go there. Click on the website to see the awesomeness of the T-shirt and if you think your daughter is a million other amazing things that have nothing to do with pretty, buy her one!

Final points score in this T-Shirt Battle: JC Penny 0 Pigtail Pals 1 bazillion

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fat Talk Free Week

So here's something really worth sharing. October 16 - 22, 2011 is Fat Talk Free Week organized by Tri Delta, to raise awareness and initiate conversation about the negative effects of 'fat talk'.

The comments that women (and men) make, everyday, about food, calories, weight, image, clothes, and fat just keep reinforcing the ridiculous thin-ideal and unattainable beauty standard that the media has been force feeding us.

Most of my friends already know that I won't entertain their fat-talk. I am delighted to hear about their healthy activities or their new healthy and delicious recipe, but I won't be joining in fat-conversations about weight-loss or cellulite. They're not fun or helpful, it's a complete waste of precious time and I'd rather poke myself in the eyeball than hear about how many calories you burnt on the elliptical last night.

But changing the conversation is a work in progress. I've tried really hard recently not to comment on people's weight loss. This one is harder than you might think. It's almost reflexive to want to say something about each other's appearance...and in the past if someone has clearly lost some weight I would probably have said how 'great' they look, thinking that this was a compliment.

But I realize now that that isn't necessarily true...equating weight loss with attractiveness is in fact a regurgitation of what I'm told to think by the media. And I need to not be brain-washed.

Weight loss does not equal attractiveness. Thin does not equal hot. Skinny is a crappy ideal. But Hell's Bells, are we ever taught to think that way. Take those cheesy weight loss infomercials for example, that teach us that unless you are slim, muscular and made-over then your life just cannot begin. You need a new 'you', to become successful and attractive and popular. No other body shape or size can possibly make it anywhere in this world, and until you lose some weight you will forever be depressed and lonely, waiting and willing for your repressed 'thin' self to bust out from the burden of your average-looking body and find true happiness. What a hot-crock of crap.

So at least for Fat Talk Free Week in October, challenge yourself and challenge your friends to steer clear of Fat Talk. For one week, use the challenge to focus on everything else. Focus on your inner beauty...talents...dreams...goals. Talk about everything - enjoy food - wear your favorite clothes, but just try not to dwell on appearances. Give yourself a break from Fat Talk.

Who knows, your conversation might change for good. And besides, there is so much more to talk about.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Operation Beautiful

I took part in Operation Beautiful today : ) I left this Post-It note on the wall of the staff bathroom at work, right next to an ad for a weight-loss clinic.

It felt totally awesome, and I hope it made at least one person forget about the message in the weight-loss ad, and walk away smiling.

Join in the mission! Change the conversation. Change the way we see ourselves. : )

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A J Crew Moment

I woke up feeling rotten this morning. Head-cold rotten. Like something had sneaked up on me in the middle of the night and poured a bucket of warm snot into my head through my ears. So, I stayed in my pyjamas with the kid and we did nothing for most of the day. I let him play way too many computer games, and we watched Penguins of Madagascar re-runs and ate blueberries and oranges. Aside from the feeling like crap, it was actually a super-fun day.

Snuggled on the sofa, feeling guilty for being so ridiculously lazy and weak, I decided to grab a bottle of nail polish and do my nails. While I was scrubbing off the chipped and icky 3-week old stuff from my nails (so classy, I know), the boy, out of the blue, asked if he can have some polish on his nails.

Well, sure thing kiddo I thought and the boy got a coat of the pink stuff. And goodness gracious, was he ever fussy about it too. We had Q-Tips out to perfect the edges and everything. He sat with his hands held up for about 10 minutes, blowing gently on his colorful little nails. He even suggested that next time, we do a 'pattern' of alternating colors. ; )

When my husband got home from work, the kid showed him his nails and asked him if he wanted to play pirates and have a sword fight. "Nice nails, dude" he said and off they went to pretend fight about nothing with plastic cutlasses.

I heart my boys. Nail polish, swords and all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

RIP Wendy Babcock

Rest in peace Wendy Babcock; a woman I didn't know, but someone whose drive and advocacy I hugely respected.

Monday, August 8, 2011

So Very Wrong

This is 10 year old 10-year-old Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau.

She is posed for a fashion spread for Vogue Paris. And somehow because it's Vogue, because it's high fashion, because it's highly paid and high profile, it's acceptable and okay. How in a million years is this okay?

What kind of parent sleeps at night after watching stylists and photographers dress up their pre-pubescent girl in leopard print high heels and make-up and photograph them, posing them seductively in adult clothing for a high-fashion photo shoot? Who is letting this happen to kids?

This is high-class child pornography. Nothing less. This little girl is 10 years old. She has been primped and preened, and posed and photographed in adult poses, sexualizing and objectifying her. As each picture is taken of her staring, lost and obedient into the camera, her innocence and her potential is robbed, frame by pornographic frame.

Everything is wrong with this. Nothing makes sense. Why is the fashion industry even trying to sell women's clothes by using a 10 year old's pre-pubescent body. What does that say about the impossible, unattainable standards that the industry presents to us? Why are we not enraged and shocked by the use of a 10 year old child to sell adult luxury products? What am I missing?

I feel guilty in part for re-posting this little girl's picture. But I have to. I have to do my little part in exposing the culture that is suffocating our girls and strangling our society. We are better than this, aren't we? Can't we let kids be kids? Can't we demand more from ourselves? Can't we protect children from being used as objects and sales tools. This little girl represents all girls and women who are being used and manipulated. I want to scream and tell her that there's more to her than this...there is more to life than this...that she can be so much more. That she's being used.

There is plenty of room for fashion and creativity and art and beauty, but this is not it.

This, well this is just wrong. So very wrong.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Taking Back Beauty

I love waking up to news like this! Here is a link to a really great campaign - complete with body-positive billboards.

Check out the campaign, support it if you can. Change the conversation.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Illusionists

Just a quick link tonight. Earlier this week L'Oreal were forced to pull an ad campaign in the UK for using excessive airbrushing on Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington. The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK decided that the ads broke the rules for exaggeration, found them misleading, and banned them from being used again. Yay! It's a step in the right direction against an industry that simply creates insecurity for profit.

My link tonight is to a project called the Illusionists. A documentary type movie in the making about the influence that the beauty industry and the media have on our lives, and the obsession with physical perfection above all else.

Here's the link.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Don't Be THAT Guy

Okay, the first thing today is this amazing poster from a campaign in Ottawa that chooses to talk to the perpetrators of sexual assaults, rather than the victims.

If a woman isn't saying does not mean, no matter what she is wearing, or how much she's flirted, or who she's slept with in the past, that she is saying YES.

It's a great campaign, with a great message. I just wanted to share it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Vacation Photos!

So a while ago I mentioned that I was going to post some pictures from our vacation to England and Scotland back in May. Not one to break my word, here are just a few of my favorites taken in York, Cambridge, St. Ives, and Nairn.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Ten Year Nap

I have just finished reading The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer, and I actually loved it.

It's about four New York women (think Sex in the City in 10-15 years...with chubby husbands, saggy boobs and 10 year old kids) who have all essentially given up some major part of themselves for motherhood, marriage, and suburbia. It's a slow, intimate read; frustrating at times...much like the lives of some of the women, but also comfortable and easy, as it invites us to explore the forces behind female friendship, the torment and anxiety of raising kids and both the ambivalence and motivation behind keeping careers afloat amidst the other stuff that pulls women in all directions.

If I was Oprah, this would be my pick for the summer. But I'm not, I'm just if you know me and you want to borrow it, let me know. If you don't know me, and you're going on vacation, or looking for a bedtime read, you'll have to get it yourself. ; )

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Girls Gone Missing

Here is a link to a quick recap of 2011 kid's movie posters by ReelGirl.

I think it would suck to be a 7 year old North American girl in 2011. Sidekicks? Please.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sandy Shout Out

Just a quick post to give a shout out to Sandy Magnus, the only woman on a crew of 4 that launched into space today on board the shuttle Atlantis, marking the last launch of the USA Space Shuttle Program.

I truly believe that women like Sandy Magnus, and the other brave, driven women who have made an impact in male-dominated fields like engineering and space science are true role models. Their acheivements really can have a huge influence on young girls, teaching them that nothing is out of their reach. These are the women our girls should be looking up to...way up to.

Safe travels Sandy Magnus!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quote of the Day

"We've got to use our brains for more than filler in the space beneath our smooth, Botoxed foreheads. The generation before us fought like hell and won for us equality in education and employment. Let's use that for a higher purpose than sending pictures of kittens on Facebook ... Bottom line: your critical thinking skills are desperately needed right now for your own good as well as for the sake of your community, your country, and your planet. That nagging little voice? It's your brain, and it's telling you that it wants back in the game." Lisa Bloom

Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World

That's all : )

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pants on Fire

Beyonce's pants are on fire. And I mean in the liar, liar sense.

Here's a little video calling Beyonce out on her "Run the World" lyrics.

Love it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Honk your Horn for Saudi Women Drivers!

Honk your horns today, in support of the women in Saudi Arabia who are bravely protesting the ban that prevents them from driving.

Although there is no written law in Saudi Arabia that explicitly prohibits women drivers, women are not issued driving licences, and religious authorities and scholars have declared women driving 'haraam' (forbidden). It's the only country in the world with such a ban, and many women (and some men) feel it's time to do something about it.

Today many brave women in Saudi Arabia, spurred on by support on the Twittersphere (#women2drive) got behind the wheel, started their engines and drove their way into a courageous campaign for their rights.

Next time you get behind the wheel, take a second to think about the brave Saudi women standing up for their right to mobility. Courage after all, is contagious.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Revenge of the T-Shirt

With just two pictures and not a lot of words from me, I bring you... the revenge of the t-shirt.

Once upon a time, there was a stupid T-shirt with a crummy message.

It thought it was really hip and cool, and all the pretty girls were wearing it, and not doing math because they were too pretty, and then, kapow, along came an actually awesome t-shirt.

And all was right again. Because even pretty girls do math, and science and engineering and everything else, and the 'pretty' just doesn't even matter, because they're too busy inventing and fixing stuff and being smart and great.

That's all for today.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Classy vs. Classless

There were two contrasting news stories this week that succinctly polarized two very different types of women. We're all different, I know, but these news stories when placed side by side magnify some of the differences that I wish didn't exist. I don't think we all need to be powerhouse politicians, making laws and changing the world, but I definitely wish there were less women whose main goal in life is to look like Barbie.

I could have chosen to describe these two women in many different ways...Real vs. Fake, Smart vs. Stupid (harsh but true), Newsworthy vs. Not Newsworthy, but I chose Classy vs. Classless, which I think sums it up quite nicely.

The first picture, is Sarah Burge, a self-proclaimed 'Human Barbie', who has had so much plastic surgery to alter her appearance, that she apparently holds the world record for the most cosmetic procedures done. Anyway, Ms. Burge made the news this week, when she announced that she had given her 7 year old daughter a gift certificate for breast implants. Don't worry folks, it's not for her to use until she is 16 years old, so don't be called Child Protection Services just yet. She's just setting the lil' girl up now for a life of self-loathing and torture. What wonderful parental foresight. (Insert eye roll).

I'm not really sure where to start with this woman, or if even I should bother. She's a lost cause. I'll just suggest that perhaps there are better (less-selfish and conceited) uses for $800,000 than spending it on surgery to look like a plastic Mattel toy (the amount Ms. Burge has reportedly spent on cosmetic procedures). I can also think of an endless list of gifts that I would have loved to receive from my parents at age 7, none of which involved anaesthetic or a scalpel. Finally, I guess this story is proof that no matter what you look like on the outside...or how beautiful you think that defying age or gravity or nature makes you, you can still be a horrendously ugly, misguided, selfish person on the inside, and there's no surgery that can change that.

The second picture, in stark contrast is Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a picture of strength, poise and tenacity. Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head in January, in an attempted assassination as she spoke with constituents at a supermarket. She's had plastic surgery too - although Ms. Gifford's surgeon used the plastic to replace part of her skull that had been removed to permit her brain to swell after the gunshot to her head. Anyway, Ms. Giffords certainly didn't choose to spend the last 6 months in hospital; she has (and this is my whole point) better things to be doing with her time. She was sworn in as the third woman in Arizona's history to be elected to serve in the U.S. Congress in 2007. In her inaugural speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Giffords advocated an immigration reform package. In her first month in office, Giffords voted in favor of increased federal funding for stem cell research and for increasing the minimum wage.

Sarah Burge and Gabrielle Giffords: two very, very different women. Which one is your daughter's role model? Who will your family be talking about over dinner? Which one is more newsworthy? Who is more "beautiful" - if it matters, and whatever that means?

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Top 5 Travel Tips!

So, you might have noticed I have a thing about creating Top 5 lists. There’s the OCD again. 5 is perfect I think, a nice little, tidy, round-numbered group. Love it.

Anyway, here are my Top 5 Travel Tips for you all. I discovered all of this on my recent vacation, so if any of you are planning a trip to the UK espcially, but anywhere really, then these are the tips for you!

5. Cell-phone or ‘mobile phone’ service rocks in the UK. We borrowed a cell phone from a relative who recently moved here and once we arrived in the UK we bought a SIM card from Tesco, a nationwide supermarket. We paid 10GBP, or about $15 for 100 minutes of airtime. As soon as we activated it, we received a bonus 200 minutes of airtime. The 10GBP lasted us for the whole trip. We made calls, received calls and texted back and forth within the UK til our heart’s content. I am sure there are still 100’s of minutes of credit sitting on the phone too. If you’re planning on calling within the UK, and you can get your hands on a phone – you’re golden.

4. Maybe you still have last years precious Christmas Day photos on your camera at home, but if you’re going on a trip, take a laptop or figure out someway to take your photos off your camera regularly and save them. We took over 1000 pictures over 2 weeks and we uploaded ours every day to the laptop. On the last day of the trip, no word of a lie, I dropped our camera in the sea. The North Sea to be exact and the camera was toast. I can’t imagine how heartbroken I would have been if all 1000 pictures had gone with it. They were all OK though. Phew.

3. When travelling with kids, be ready for puke. And by ready, I don’t mean a scrambling to empty a plastic bag mid-vomit, and half a travel-pack of baby wipes. I mean expect your kid to projectile puke all over your rental car and into your purse, and if it doesn’t happen, bonus for you. I got everything I needed for such an event, after it happened once. Get it, keep it together, don’t take it out of the car and keep it for an emergency. A bottle of water, a pack of wipes, some kitchen towel, spare clothes, paper bags and plastic bags to seal away the pukey stuff til the next stop. You’ll be glad you did.

2. If you’re travelling with munchkins, give them a chance to entertain themselves, before setting up a daycare craft centre on the airplane. My 4-year old entertained himself for 7 hours with all his toys that he had chosen to pack in his backpack. I had all kinds of activity books, stickers and felt crafts in my purse ready to go at the first sign of boredom, but he played quite happily for about 4 hours before I noticed he was snoozing on my shoulder.

The Leap Frog Tag Pen the Leapster 2 get big shout outs here.

1. If you’re planning on driving, do yourself a favour and download the GPS maps of wherever you’re going. Bringing our own GPS worked out cheaper than renting one with the rental car. Our GPS maps for the UK cost us $70, so sure a map of the country would be cheaper – but let’s just say it was an investment in my marriage! It reduced the inevitable bickering that comes with map reading, asking for directions and getting lost. We could punch in Food, or Gas, or Attractions, whenever we needed to be fed, watered or entertained, and the trusty GPS guided us to the nearest spots. It also helped us plan our days, as we could tell at-a-glance how long we’d be in the car and when we’d be arriving at our destinations. In the UK, where you’re already on the other side of the road, the lane directions are written on the road, there are roundabouts instead of intersections, and mysterious road signs at every turn, take the help, get a GPS and save yourself a headache.

Those were my Top 5 Travel Tips….leave a comment if you have any good ones yourself. I’m going to post my Top 5 Favourite Vacation moments (with pictures) soon!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dare to Change

Hello Readers!!

I am back from my holidays! I had an amazing time, away from work with my boys, exploring the beautiful England and Scotland and visiting with family and friends. I'll post some travel-bloggish type stuff soon, because I have some places and things that I really want to rave about, but before I do, I just wanted to jump on with a cool ad that I saw on the PBG (Powered by Girl) Facebook feed.

I guess 'change' is my buzzword for this week. A friend posted this helpful little flowchart on Facebook the other day, and I love it.

We can all change. We can change our minds, our outlooks, our friends, our clothes, our smiles, our attitudes, our goals, our dreams, our realities, our futures, our children's futures. Anything.

Here's the ad - I hope you like it. I hope you Dare to Change.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Vacation-Inspired Top 5 British Foods

So, I'm off on vacation in just a few short sleeps, and I'm very, very excited. I'm heading to England and Scotland with my boys, for an awesome road trip adventure - and it's going to be great. We're going to visit friends and family, visit some brilliant museums and attractions and create some fabulous memories! But, there's one other thing that Blighty has that has me giddy, and that's food. British food.

For my last post before my trip, here are my Top 5 British foods, that I'm going to gorge on in unhealthy amounts during my trip, and hopefully smuggle back in shocking quantities on my return!

5. Butteries - Yes, the Aberdeen Roll. I'm going to get to a bakery
stat as soon as we reach our Scottish destination, and grab a bag of butteries for breakfast. With plenty of butter and a smothering of jam, I can almost taste the crumbly goodness already. Mmmmm, delish.

4. Cornish Pasties - Oggy, oggy, oggy. Oi, oi, oi. Cornish Pasties aren't just found in Cornwall. I'm excited for me and the boys to lunch on these little gems a few times on this trip. They're cheap, easy and filling, and even have veggies in them to boot. There's loads of different kinds...even chicken tikka...I can't wait. Amazing!

3. Battered Sausage and Chips - Not a dish requiring much explanation.
Pork sausage dipped in batter and fried, served up with a nice greasy helping of chips. It's not healthy, and it's not fine dining, but it's divine, and I haven't had one in years, so it's on the list. (And yes, pass the brown sauce please!)

2. Crisps - My very Canadian son thinks it's hilarious that 'chips' are called crisps in the UK. And fries are called chips. Anyway, whatever they're called, the UK has the edge on flavours. My personal favorites are Prawn Cocktail Skips, Pickled Onion Monster Munch, and Cheesy Wotsits. I also can scarf down a bag of Cheese and Onion walkers like nobody's business, and I'm sure I'll get my hands on a bag or two of Bacon Fries. Needless to say I'm excited about the bags of crisps. I'll plan on bringing a bunch home, but I'll tell you right now, they'll all be gone before we've reached altitude.

1. British Sweets - Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to
be a very good role model to the kid on this vacation. Maybe I'll just buy the sweets on the sly and scoff them all after he's gone to bed. thing I know for sure, is that I'll be stocking up on Double Deckers, Twirls, Revels, Galaxy bars and Minstrels not long after landing at Heathrow. I'm sure the sugar high will help with the jet lag anyway.

So there we have it. My Top 5 foods that I'm excited to get my hands on and teeth into on our vacation. Not very nutritious, I concede. OK, mostly not nutritious at all, but like I said, I've been deprived for a long time, so I'm going wild.

See you all on the flipside of the vacation. Don't forget you can still vote for The Mauve Dinosaur blog every day by clicking on the Top Mommy Blogs picture at the top right. It increases my ranking, and then maybe some newbie visitors will stop by! Cheerio for now!

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Beauty Pageants and Botox

It's hard for me to watch this video. An 8 year old girl and her mother discuss how the 'harsh demands' of the beauty pageant world have led to them using Botox injections to reduce the girl's wrinkles.

It's a tough watch.

This poor little brainwashed 8 year old says that after her "mom" injects the Botox into her head that she feels "beautiful...pretty...and all those nice words."

This breaks my heart.

It's tough for me to comment on this, without unleashing a world of anger on the woman in that video who calls herself a "mom". It's anger tinged with pity. The mother needs help; therapy, an intervention. She is clearly so deluded and addicted to the pageant life, that she is willing to buy drugs from an underground 'Doctor' and inject them herself into her 8 year old daughter's face.

I hope the mother gets investigated. I hope the Doctor supplying this drug to child beauty pageant participants loses his licence, and more than anything, I hope that against all the odds stacked against her, that the little 8 year old girl manages somehow to grow up into a strong, productive, healthy young woman. She's been objectified, sexualized and violated, by her own family; paraded, judged, and criticized by panels of strangers based on her appearance. How can she possibly emerge unscathed? How can she possibly not grow up with an unhealthy focus on constantly appearing perfect? Will she ever feel naturally good enough? Will she ever feel as though she has an assured place in the world, regardless of what she looks like?

This story isn't cute, it isn't funny, and it isn't 'what all the moms are doing'. It's an example of a heinous act of abuse. An abuse of power and an abuse of trust. This story, this video, is why we HAVE to change how we as a society are treating young girls, how we allow them to be treated and depicted and how we ignore and minimize the consequences. Is it time to stand up yet?

Time for women to STAND UP?

Take a look at this video by Media Watch. What do you think? Time women stood up?

Take a stand against the fashion giants who demean, sexualize, and violate women to sell their products.

Friday, May 6, 2011

International No Diet Day

And this is why I am loving having a blog. Because when I suddenly realize that I almost missed the fact that today, May 6, is International No Diet Day, I can hop on here and shout to the world how awesome I think that is.

I can't really do anything special in honour of No Diet Day, because for me, everyday day is...well, No Diet Day, but in hindsight I will raise my Blueberry Fritter in a toast to supporting the goals of INDD.

There is no "right" body shape (despite what the media will have you believe).

There are so many more important things to be worrying about instead of obsessing over body weight or size.

The 'diet industry' sucks. Commercial diets perpetuate negative stereotypes of women, and weight-loss surgery in many cases is another form of violence against women.

So, International No Diet Day, I tip my hat at you. I say thumbs down to self-loathing and a thumbs up to embracing your body type.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother's Day - Feel the Love

In honour of Mother's Day, I'm going to post a little random thought about the incredible, intense love of motherhood.

Sometimes, when we tell each other that we love one another, my little guy tells me that he loves me more than I love him. I go along with the game of trying to out-do each know, how many times I love him around the world, and to the moon (and back), how many times around the whole universe...infinity and twenty times, that kind of thing. It's fun and we giggle and I get the warm and fuzzies, but the truth is that he will never, ever, ever know how much I love him. I can try and tell him, and I do, but he will never actually truly know.

Maybe one day when he grows up he'll be a dad, and he'll have daddy love, which is also awesome I am sure, or maybe he'll grow up and choose to love a man instead and maybe they'll adopt me a grandbaby, and he'll have another kind of awesome love, but I don't know those kinds of love, so I'll just talk about what I know, inside my heart. The love I have is 'i-gave-birth-to-you-mommy love', and my son will simply never know it. He will never quite understand how it feels to look at someone whose heart starting beating inside you.

I grew him. I feel kind of superhero-esque when I stop to think about it actually.

I get that motherhood isn't just for women who have been pregnant or given birth, I truly do. There are foster mothers, and adoptive mothers, and surrogate mothers - there are lots of different ways to experience the euphoric highs and wretched lows of motherhood, but the growing, the giving birth and the nursing was my very personal, wonderful start, so that's all I know.

I look into my little boy's big, curious eyes everyday, and I wonder what things he will see. I wonder where he will go and what life holds for him. My heart breaks when I realize that I can't protect him from the inevitable pain, disappointment, and failures that are a part of life and I hurt a little bit when I think that one day, the 'Watch this Mommy's will stop and he'll start doing and trying things that he doesn't want me around for. My heart swells when I think that one day he'll do something great - to make himself proud, exceed his own expectations, and maybe even find love, and find his place in the big, bad world that I brought him into.

My mother love for my child is a fierce love; unconditional, pure, unwavering. Raw.

The most intense moment of clarity I've ever had in my life was the moment I saw him.
I knew at that moment that the person who coined the phrase 'Love at first sight' must have been a mother. A mother, like me, whose life and heart changed in an instant.

All mothers are superheroes. We make and raise kids in all our different ways, but we all have a superpower in common. We love our kids like only moms can, and that, is pretty damn special.

Happy Mother's Day ladies.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Other 5 of the Top 10

So, just as I promised here are the next 5 movies, rounding out my Top 10 movies featuring awesome female characters. Like I said in the other post, these ones are more without further ado, here they are in no particular order.

5. Erin Brokovich - The wonderful Julia Roberts plays an unemployed mom of 3 kids who, after losing a personal injury lawsuit, asks her lawyer for a job - and gets one in his office. In her new job, she gets her teeth into a juicy file, and uncovers a systematic cover-up of industrial poisoning in her hometown. She launches a committed investigation to get to the bottom of it and eventually brings the guilty company to justice. Maybe I just actually love the fact that this is a true story - but someone made it a movie and Julia Roberts rocks in it, so it made this list.

4. Silence of the Lambs - In a movie and a genre that revolves around the objectification of women, Jodi Foster plays Clarice Starling, an FBI agent who defies all the usual stereotypes. She's tough, smart, and assured in a role normally reserved for men. She gets the job done, without being rescued or assisted. She objects to the objectification that happens all around her, at the crimes, at work with the FBI, and at the prison. It all just works and I love it.

3. North Country - Charlize Theron is super in this role, based on real-life Lois Jenson who initiated and won a harassment lawsuit against the mine where she worked. Again, maybe I just love the fact that it's a true story, but Charlize and co-star Frances McDormand do an incredible job of re-telling it. After being raped at 16 by a teacher, getting pregnant and having a baby; after leaving an abusive relationship to move in with her emotionally abusive parents, and after enduring cruel and verbal and physical assault at her work at the local mine, Charlize's character has enough. She sues the company and as the fight unfolds, her family and hometown are forced to face the truth about her past. It was a tear-jerker for me, and definitely a front-runner for this list.

2. Thelma and Louise - So while I wouldn't describe these 2 as 'positive role-models', it is just a movie and I concede that the guns, violence and murder all have some place in the story. They aren't the reasons I love this movie though. The reason I love this movie, is that when you look past the violence and the mayhem, it's about female friendship. It's about change, and growth and not being taken advantage of. They're free to make their mistakes, and free to choose their fate. They have guts and passion and a commitment to each other. It's all about them, and I love it. The classy duo of Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis rock, still.

1. The Queen - This might be a surprise one and maybe it's only making the list because of all the recent Royal shenanigans, but I really think it deserves a place. Helen Mirren is amazing as Queen Elizabeth II in this movie that depicts the events following Diana's death in 1997. I partly love it because Helen Mirren is a walking legend, but also because, again, the true story behind the movie is incredible. Unknown to many, the Queen was an army driver and mechanic at age 18. Despite public expectation, she didn't take her husbands surname, and I love that she can clear a room without saying a word. She is a force; a classy, publicly stoic force with complete dedication to what she believes in. I love the real-life version, and the movie version.

And there we have it. That's the list. I'd love to hear what you think, or your suggestions!