Saturday, March 25, 2006

Kudos to the PR Princess

Awesome press coverage -- on the front page of the Washington Post's Style section I got a treat with my breakfast this morning, an article about Club Libby Lu. I've blogged about Club Libby Lu before, first expressing my uncertainty and later my horror over the implications of such a place.

I really can't believe this picture, in the print edition, it was three columns wide and equally tall (i.e. it was a large, square picture), above the fold on the front page of the Style section. Do the parents not realize that a pedophile would think they hit paydirt with that image for their own personal use? If they don't actually have the newspaper, its comforting to know they can find and buy the image on-line. Yuck.

Am I being overly sensitive here? Maybe my long-ago interest in becoming a sex crimes prosecutor has made me overly cautious. But there are monsters out there who like little girls, I really don't think its a good idea to be dressing your kiddie up and urging her to shake her thing in the store front of a local mall. Don't prostitutes in Amsterdam have store fronts? I wonder if they dance.

Sometimes people walking through the mall gather by the windows at Club Libby Lu to watch the spectacle of little girls: all that pink and glitter. All that flesh, too.
A woman passing by says to three blondes in tight outfits, the youngest of whom is 4: "If you're wearing those kind of clothes, you gotta shake your booty."
At least the parents are paying a lot of money for this.

They come here for the makeover parties, which start at $21.50 per girl, and they stay at least an hour, and they buy.
Well, what else are the kids going to do anyway?
Is this business of pretend headsets and pants so low the waistbands of little girls' underwear shows -- is this business a girl's fantasy or is it a marketer's fantasy? Would little girls be as satisfied to dress up like 19th-century frontier women?
Maybe. It might be worth a try. There are plenty of places where kids can wear historical costumes and learn or play. Granted, you won't find them in a mall.
Turns out that Club Libby Lu is really providing a service.
In some newspapers, Blaizgis says, Club Libby Lu has been the victim of a "feminist backlash." She says articles have suggested Club Libby Lu is "forcing girls to grow up too quickly." What she hopes to get across is the store's "sense of fun."
"We are about fun and play and pretend," Blaizgis explains another day.
Well of course Club Libby Lu is not forcing the girls to grow up, the parents are willingly paying lots of money for this. And what about those feminists, don't they realize how fun dressing up is? Are they just jealous because they have aged out of Club Libby Lu? They need not worry, why across the mall is a large Victoria's Secret where they can indulge in their own "fun and play and pretend." Likewise, when the Club Libby Luers outgrow the store at age 13, they too will have a place to go.
I just hope they don't run into any pedophiles in the meantime. I know, I'm no fun -- I guess dressing up at home with your friends doesn't hold the same thrill. And its free, so no one knows how much money you are able to spend on your child's birthday party.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

From Our Favorite Libertarian

Here's a link to Crippling Competition by the unclimber's favorite libertarian homeschooling dad and former General Assembly candidate. We have enjoyed many conversations about education on the grassy plain while the children ran free.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Homeschooling Preschool

This is a post I wrote for the community blog, Life Without School. It may be a bit repetitive of some of my posts here and I notice the post has many links to this blog. But I wrote it and I want to link it here.

From the preschool books I read, I learned about circle time and finger play and snack time and arts n' crafts and the various areas within a preschool -- dress up, kitchen play, the 'members only' block corner, etc.  None of these things seemed beyond me.  

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

New Homeschooling Blogs

I haven't figured out how to do a blogroll on here yet and the one time I tried a couple of years ago, I failed.

Anyway, I want to recommend a couple of new homeschooling blogs. One is my friend, Shay's blog, Anecdotal Evidence. The other is a group blog which includes Shay, Stephanie of Throwing Marshamallows, and others (including me).

Many thanks to Robin who is both mastermind and workhorse of this project.

Worthwhile Political Causes

My husband saw this bumper sticker:

Stop Continental Drift

Opera for Kids

I'm interested in learning about opera. That means my kids are, too. Well, maybe not interested, but it means I collect kids' opera materials and strew them about my house (thats the reason its such a mess). Opera has historical, story-telling, and EQ value.

I've previously mentioned my love of the Classical Kids CDs. Many in the series focus on composers of symphonies, though a couple touch on operas, like Mozart's Magic Flute, which has two CDs to its credit. Though, Mozart's Magic Fantasy, follows the story of the opera more so than Mozart's Magnificent Voyage, which includes more historical background of Mozart's life. Robbo over at the Butcher's shop shared his thoughts about Mozart's Magic Fantasy and its relationship to the original opera.

We also have World's Very Best Opera for Kids, which I've enjoyed. We don't listen to it much, though. For those who may feel thats a dumbed down version for kiddies, I will simply note that I decided to take a pass on the Beethoven's Wig series. That and I'm dealing with a husband who whenever he hears Largo Al Factotum from the Barber of Seville asks me if it makes me think of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Small steps over here at the unclimber basecamp.

We've looked at a number of picture books for kids that tell the stories of famous operas. I can't say my kids have shown much interest, but I like to have them around. I picked up a beautiful book, At the Opera, for what seemed like a bargain from Daedalus books ($10), but, alas, its sold out now.

Other books we've looked at from the library:
The Barefoot Book of Stories from the Opera
The Random House Book of Opera Stories
Sing Me a Story

If opera doesn't float your boat, several of those publisher's put out similar books of ballet stories (Barefoot books, Random House, Dance Me a Story). Speaking of ballet stories, we like DK's book and CD set.

Monday, March 06, 2006

How Did She Make It Through High School

-- and why does she continue to re-live it?

I can't help but wonder this about the writer every time I read another Mommy Wars article in the media. The most recent article, Moms at War, comes courtesy of The Washington Post. As I looked at the headline, my first thought was "not another article on this tired old subject." Then I looked at the author info at the end and saw that the article was adapted from an anthology. This issue is so old they are compiling anthologies on it. They probably have college courses on it in Women's Studies. Imagine the syllabus.

The author of article and editor of anthology, Leslie Morgan Steiner, is on sabbatical from her current job as an ad exec with The Washington Post. Interesting. The anthology is "Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families." Isn't this just sort of dressed-up cat fights for the intelligensia?

Back to the article, her hand-wringing is mystifying to me, she admits to a nice work arrangement and life and motherhood seem to be going just fine for her (hey, the preschool teacher compliments her on her mothering -- alleluia!). She seems to be crucifying herself on the opinions, real or perceived, of others. This is where high school comes in -- surely all her encounters in high school could not have been positive and supportive of her -- her academic standing, style of dress, extracurricular activities, choice of friends, boyfriend or lack thereof, etc. High school is a great place to learn and practice how not to care about what others think. One would think she would have evolved to the point where, as an educated, self-determined woman, the opinions of other people matter very little to her. The people whose opinions seem to strike her most deeply are not those of her loved-ones and friends, they are her neighbors and the other moms at the preschool. Where is her perspective?

What I know for certain, because I see it almost every day, is that working and at-home moms misunderstand and envy each other in the corrosive, fake-smiling way we women have perfected over the eons.

Real nice, feminist view of women there. Ironic because later she picks on men as having undesirable traits:

Aren't moms ultimately united in our quest to stay sane, raise good kids, provide each other with succor and support, and protect humankind from the overly aggressive, overly logical male half of the species?

I'm not seeing how this author's portrayal of the behavior of moms is preferable.

Motherhood in America is fraught with defensiveness, infighting, ignorance and judgment about what's best for kids, families and women.

And where would we be without the suggestion that we adopt groupthink?

Wouldn't we be far better off if we accepted and supported all good, if disparate, mothering choices?

Couldn't one also argue that should all support Bush in the war on Iraq? Wouldn't we be far better off if we accepted and supported all good, if disparate, efforts to promote democracy and end terrorism? I suppose what is "good" is a matter of personal determination, in foreign policy as well as in mothering.

She describes herself saying, "[i]n one day, I rocketed from damning the holier-than-thou stay-at-home moms to damning those snotty working ones." If this kind of instability is indicative of how moms feel, I question her assertion that working moms can change the world.

At-home moms might arguably appreciate the working moms staying late to get the big promotions, fighting to increase women's presence on company boards and the front page of the Wall Street Journal and campaigning to win elections.
A thought-provoking argument, to be sure (as in "what the hell is she talking about?"). Are most working moms accomplishing this? Another consideration -- there may be working women doing this, but there are also a lot of at-home moms who also do their parts to contribute to "campaigning to win elections." They may be more suited to grass-roots efforts because they may be able to incorporate it into their daily routines more easily.

She continues:

Without the money, the power and the loudspeaker that successful careers bring,women will never have the collective bargaining power to make the world better for ourselves, our children and all the women who can't leave abusive husbands, the ones who wear veils, the moms who earn less than minimum wage cleaning houses and don't have choices about birth control or prenatal care or any other kind of care.

There is just so much wrong there. How did women ever win the right to vote if they weren't in the workforce? Of course I need to review my history here, but I'm wondering if the working moms were the women most intrinsic to winning this right. Perhaps the author could have been a bit more sensitive to the feelings of people other than herself with the comment about veils. I'm sure she was referring to women who are forced to wear veils, not those who choose to do so out of religious devotion. As if marketing Splenda in South America is accomplishing this lofty goal anyway. I'm not sure what her point is about the moms who earn less than minimum wage cleaning houses, I guess working women help them because they employ them (and I know plenty of at-home moms who also employ them).

I suppose this snippet occurred during a break from making the world a better place:

I ran into another working mom in the hallway and spent 10 precious minutes commiserating by the water fountain. The conversation went like this:
"How are you?"
"Well, I was up at 3 a.m., nursing the baby and writing a PowerPoint presentation for the VP group that I have to give in 15 minutes. How are you?"
"Oh yeah, no sleep here either. Last night Morgan kicked me all night, Tallie peed on me, and when I woke up at 5 a.m., Perry wanted to have sex."
Sounds to me that she, just like many others (women, men, moms, dads), is simply trying to survive her busy life. I remember the working moms from my office, they seemed to spend a lot of time talking about daycare and browsing the Pottery Barn Kids catalog. These government attorneys did not free a single woman from oppression while I was watching.

Ultimately, the author's anxieties seem to all come down to a couple of statements she makes at the end of this very long article (which I ignored my kids to read -- at-home moms can be preoccupied too, only I'm the idiot who is not getting paid for it)

What puzzles me is that despite the fact that I've crafted a pretty ideal work/family situation, at times I'm still envious of the trust stay-at-home moms seem to have in their husbands and in life, a breezy Carol Brady confidence that they will always be taken care of. Some days I'd kill for a dose of their faith that neither my husband nor life will leave me stranded, destitute, unable to protect myself and my children without the independence conferred by a job and paycheck of my own.
Those are some intense feelings. She has a solution, though, right before that quote she says what should be the end of the entire issue for her:

I have to work. I wouldn't be myself if I didn't. My job (most days) makes me feel energized, important, successful -- a happy mom to my kids.
Earlier in the article, she says something similar

I have no doubt that my life, as well as my family's, is immeasurably richer due to my decision to combine work and motherhood.
Why isn't this enough for her? She has made her decision and seems to be confident in her choice.

There are millions of women in America keeping me company as I fight my internal mommy war, and very good company they are.

Internal -- bingo. Why should she be internally conflicted? She seems to be doing just fine on her own. She has examined the issues and made a decision she says is the best one for her family. End of story. Why should she care what the other moms or writers think? It seems to come down to a lack of self-confidence. I guess if you don't have it by high school, you never will. She'd do better to work on healing her own issues instead of worrying what others think of her.