Monthly Archives: October 2016

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Difficult Conversations: Popcorn by Frank Asch

popcornDo you know this story? It’s an old one. And it is incredibly funny. But what do you see when you look at the cover of this book? When I bought the book a few years back nothing about it seemed amiss, but now that I’ve started learning about diversity and whiteness and cultural appropriation, the “Indian” headband jumped out at me. 

Here’s the thing, I really like the story and I decided to keep it. But I have to be able to talk to Cam about why his costume is not okay. So we read it together and the first thing I told her was that I did not like Sam’s costume. She asked why and we talked about how he’s supposedly dressed as a Native American and that the costume is both wrong and a stereotype. It doesn’t give any hint about what nation it was taken from and even if it did, it was taken from someone’s culture. 

These conversations are hard because I’m not used to having them. They can also be hard to gauge both what level to have them on and what Cam is getting out of them. I hope we reach the point where she can roll her eyes at me because she knows what I’m going to say when I see something like this (let’s face it the eye rolling is bound to happen in the adolescent years). Or even better points it out.

Here are some resources about costumes and why cultural dress is not okay to use as a Halloween (or any holiday) costume: We’re a Culture Not a Costume

Here is some information on the controversy over the Disney Moana movie and some of the dress-up merchandise they were selling: Moana Costume Controversy on LATimes

And finally here’s an excellent article on this particular book: Popcorn on American Indians In Children’s Literature

In Praise of the Friend Without Kids

We all have mommy friends. Either ones we’ve known pre-children and have stayed friends with or ones we’ve met because we have kids. But today I am grateful for the friends we have that do not have children. 

As a parent it can be really difficult to separate your own emotions from your kid. So when they go through a phase or have some sort of issue it can be hard to remain objective and understand what is going on and what to do. I have a stellar mom’s group I can turn to and they often have superb advice. But they draw on their own experience with their kids. That isn’t always a problem, but I find that my friend without kids doesn’t have the same type of emotional attachment to parenting and sometimes you just need that. They can give you that hard, objective perspective. 

It helps that my friend without kids does have experience with kids. It also helps that she’s a level-headed sort of person and generally has good ideas and advice no matter the situation. I’ve watched her draw on her own childhood experience (something I also like to do). So it’s not like she’s coming from left field when she talks about kids and kid issues.

She’s had good advice for me when Cam struggled with preschool and with the admissions process for the school we originally considered. Even naps! She’s had good advice about naps. Sometimes she just affirms what I already know, but other times she pushes me a step further or makes me look at a situation from a different perspective. And that’s really refreshing and often the best advice I get. 

So to my friend without kids, you know who you are, thank you for all your thoughts and advice over the past few years. Outwardly you may not seem like the first choice for parenting advice, but you are. Also, get ready for the teenage years. I’m going to need all the help I can get. :)  

Science Weekly: Yeast Experiment

I was recently making soft pretzels at home and realized I have a huge tub of yeast. Since the dough was rising while Cam was asleep I thought she might get a kick out of experimenting with the yeast by itself.

Our question was, what are the best conditions to get yeast to activate? I set out a number of bowls and put yeast in each of them. I also set out some salt and some sugar. Cam added salt and sugar and nothing to the yeast in the bowls. Then we poured in hot, cold and warm water. Technically you don’t need to have sugar in the water, but without adding anything else the yeast never activated. 

It took a good five to ten minutes to really start seeing results, but once it got going, it got going. She had lots of questions about what was going on and wanted to start mixing sugar, salt, and yeast to the bowls and doing a little experimenting of her own. She realized the more sugar you add, the quicker you see results and the more foam you get. 

I think the most interesting take away from this was an interest in our own digestive system. Cam asked where the gas from the bubbles was coming from and I explained that the yeast was eating the sugar and producing gas. That was funny to her because it’s basically a fart. :) But it lead to A LOT of questions about how our bodies work to process food. I explained a little and then got out our Eye Wonder Human Body book to read more.