Saturday, November 29, 2008

Doorbuster Deals & Death at Wal-Mart

With a house full of guests and a third meal to prepare for tonight (oh yeah, when the Battle clan gets together for a long weekend, it's non-stop!) any sane person would be chilling out with their loved ones, enjoying the company and reveling in the togetherness. But screw that, I need a break!

So with all the kiddies pushed off on some poor uncle for an early matinee, I'm taking a mommy-moment. Hmmmm...what shall I do with my free time? Well, there's the computer right there; beckoning with its sleek 21st century wiles and little blinking light. It's so pretty and inviting. So here I am!

Plus, I couldn't possibly make it through the rest of weekend without blogging about this friggin' story , which has worked my normally comfy panties in a big-ass bunch!

Something is seriously wrong when someone has to die so a bunch of idiots can get their hot-little hands on some damn door-buster cardigans! These are Christmas shoppers? Does anyone even know the meaning of Christmas anymore? What the hell happened to peace on earth and gooodwill toward men? Anyone seen those around lately? The thing that hit me hardest about this story was this quote from an eye-witness to the tragedy…

“When they were [told] they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, ‘I’ve been on line since yesterday morning,’ ” … “They kept shopping.” -- NY Times

Seriously, people? And for what? Oh excuse me... these deals are unbeatable...

Items on sale at the Wal-Mart store included a $798 Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.-- Fox News

Christmas morning will be extra-special when little Johnny opens his new Hulk DVD, and squeals with delight. And when he watches it time and time again for about a week before tossing it into his pile of other watched movies, someone can feel really nice that Jdimytai Damour, age 34, certainly did not die in vain.

There are truly no words for this story. But then again; greedy, selfish, heartless, thoughtless and ignorant do come to mind. Feel free to add some of your own.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Musings & Something Hilarious

Monday's arrival is a bit of a relief this week. After this past weekend, I can use the rest!

Spent the entire day both Saturday and Sunday cleaning, de-cluttering, rearranging, and organizing in an attempt to make my house look halfway decent for company that will coming into town for Thanksgiving. Since it was freezing here in NY over the weekend, I didn't mind staying in. But despite my domestic-diva duties over the weekend, my brain was still ticking away on the workshop that I did for the Long Island Counselor's Annual Conference on Friday.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was pretty nervous about presenting to 18 middle school counselors, library directors, and youth workers. What could I tell them that they didn’t already know? Well, I worried for nothing. I had a fantastic group.

I did the presentation (which included examples of current pre-teen targeted advertising, toy catalogs, magazines, toy samples, comic books, and a rousing rendition of Lil' Wayne's Mrs. Officer) and they responded to it wonderfully. We ended my 1-hour presentation with an in-depth half-hour discussion, lots of Q&A, and a general acknowledgement that there is much to be done in the realm of media literacy; including educating parents.

In all, I'm SO glad I did it and can't wait to do it again. I also made some REALLY great connections that could pan out into some great stuff down the road, but more on that later.

Anyhoo, we had some laughs on Friday even though my presentation topic was pretty serious. But there's a lot of truth to that old saying "you have to laugh at bad situations or you'll end up crying about them." Actually I don’t think that is a saying at all. Sounds like I just made that up…Sounds pretty bad. But you get the idea. I really just needed a segue way to tell you about Target Women.

Target Women is a recurring segment on Current TV's weekly television show, infoMania. Featuring the funny-as-hell Sarah Haskins, each episode of Target Women takes a look at the often-ridiculous way the media reaches out to women. In honor of my domestic diva weekend…here's Sarah's exploration of ads for cleaning products. Laugh it up, Mamas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Masochistic Mama in the House!

The holidays are coming. Trips need to be booked. Menus need to be planned. Decorations await hanging. Children are making ludicrously expensive wish lists. So what do I do? I decide to do a workshop for the Long Island Counselors Annual Conference.

Do I get off on torturing myself with excess work? Enjoy obsessing over research and PowerPoint slides? Get a rush from the need to constantly restrain myself from drop-kicking a temperamental printer? Am I glutton for punishment? Hell no! I'm about three steps away from curling up into a mumbling little ball of nerves. But I'm still very excited, and a bit nervous. A conference of middle and high school guidance counselors and college admissions counselors is the last place I expected to be doing a workshop.

Inspiring preteens to work their dreams? Sure.

Chatting with other parents on the crazy effects of the media on our kids? OK!

Presenting a workshop to professional counselors? Aaaaack!

But when one of the conference organizers mentioned that there was a lack of workshops for middle school guidance counselors I found my hand going up in the air Horshack-style.

How could I resist?

So here's my topic
MOLDED BY THE MEDIA: Pop Culture, Music, Advertising & The “Tweenager”

And here's what it will encompass…
A brief look at how the following types of popular media affect adolescents – music lyrics, advertising, movies and television shows, and licensed toys and games derived from TV and movies. Included will be a discussion of the 2007 APA report on the sexualization of girls; the 2006 study from the AAP on degrading music lyrics; the CBC article on ads aimed at kids; and a discussion of a teacher survey on adolescent obsession with celebrity and fame.

Give or take….There's SO much to cover. And new research/ examples have come out since I submitted this description in the summer. Plus, I have such a passion for this topic that I really had to reign myself in. I've only got 90-minutes afterall. But I’m still SO excited! The chance to talk with counselors who witness firsthand the media stranglehold on kids everyday? You would have to lock me up to keep me from doing this!

And provided I don’t freeze up, pass out, or crap on myself during the presentation, I'll be blogging about it this weekend. Pop back in!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Obamas as Helicopter Parents?

With all the talk of the Obama girls being the first young children to live in the White House in a long time, the term Helicopter Parenting has been coming up. I don't know about that. That term has a pretty negative slant. As clinical psychologist Mark Crawford explains in this article,

…the term comes from the concept of hovering. They're always around their kids' life, kind of on the fringe, always making sure things go the way they need to go and not really allowing the kids to figure out solutions to problems on their own. -- CNN

The Obamas don't seem to have this type of parenting style at all. They seem to be very involved, hands-on parents, but not to the point of stifling their girls' development. You wanna see some helicopter parenting? Come to my son's next soccer game and I'll show you some hovering mamas. We all love our children, but there are some moments when parents just have to take a deep breath and let it go. For instance…

1) Yes, we understand that little Fredro will have a conniption fit if he can't have rainbow sprinkles, but you holding up the ice cream line to address the manager about it is not helping anyone. They ran out! Tell the kid to eat chocolate sprinkles or eat nothing.

2) When Missy gets kicked in the shin during a soccer game, she'll be OK. She's wearing shin guards and thick socks. No need to sprint onto the field like Batman and carry her off. Kids can suck it up… if you let them.

3) Sometimes small people need to slam into the wall, coffee table or the hard corner of the couch to figure out that running through the house in slippery socks is not a smart idea. There's no point in saying "Please stop running before you fall, honey" 1,358 times. The kid's not listening, and you're annoying everyone else. Better yet, snatch him up and make him sit in a corner until he stops running.

4) Every child has eaten M&Ms, Cheerios, raisins (we hope those were raisins) or other questionable food items from under the couch cushions. It's what they do. They can tolerate a few germs. No need to give the child Listerine bath for eating some crusty morsel off the floor.

It's easy. Take a deep breath …… and let it go. I'm doing it right now. Feels real good.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Reign: Back to Basics

In the past few weeks, between the election excitement; my super Mamas-Only Disney World excursion; and of course the normal day to day of working, living and raising a family, I can't help but feel that I've been neglecting the real foundation of Reign…namely, shedding light on the issues, stories and trends that impact our girls. So to make up for being a blog-looser (blooser?), here's some stuff that should be noted...

* Next week is All Things Girl Week at Shaping Youth! Check it out for a daily for a dose of Real Deal girl power in the form of sites, books, cool finds and other offerings that are 'positive picks' pertaining to empowering girls of all ages. Can't wait!

* This story about a 13-year old Somalian girl who was stoned to death after being gang-raped (she was accused of committing adultery, Mamas!) probably got buried among all the election buzz last week, but I did not miss it. I didn’t want you to miss it either. We may have had a victory of justice and democracy here in the US this week, but let's not forget about the rest of the world. Dammit, humanity has a long way to go.

* From The National Campaign's Pregnant Pause blog, comes a summary of a recent study by the Rand Corporation which confirms a link between television's influence on teen pregnancy…

"Teens who are drowning in sex-saturated TV are twice as likely as their peers who watch little sexy stuff on TV to get pregnant or cause a pregnancy by age 16. "

This confirmation is good to hear, but seriously…duh! Why spend millions to fund a new study that simply reiterates what smart parents have been saying for years? Why not instead, spend that money to make real change? Like education and outreach to kids who would be most effected by this type of programming, or helping more parents understand how this type of programming influences kids. Because really... how many parents are reading studies (besides me, who doesn't count because I'm a dork)?

*The arrival of the giant toy catalogs in my Sunday paper has tipped me off. Yes, the holiday shopping season is about to swing-kick into high gear. Be on the look out for my annual eggnog laced rant on the latest toys to hit the shelves ... are they mere playthings or something more?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post Election Day Buzz -- YES WE CAN!!


I'm on a serious high today and I think you know why, Mamas. Last night Barack H. Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States of America. As an American I'm so proud to know that we sent an incredibly powerful message to the rest of the world yesterday. Democracy works! The people spoke… and it was done. God Bless America!

As a black woman, I can barely formulate the words to express how I feel about an African American man being elected to the most powerful seat in the world. But you know I gonna try…

My mother's mom will be 95 next year. She was born in South Carolina, 50 years outside of slavery. The changes she's seen happen in this country have been steady and, I can imagine, as painful as they were exhilarating; but what she saw last night is something she never thought she would see.

When we visit my grandmother we always go to the beach near her house. It's something we grandchildren always took for granted, but my mother can remember a time when blacks were not allowed at that beach. Last night she saw something that she never thought she would see.

I was born in upstate New York in the 70's. As liberal as New York can be, where I grew up there was still quite a bit of tension between the races. Blacks remained in their neighborhoods and whites remained in theirs. My cousins and I used to get into fights with a group of white children a few blocks over who would throw rocks at us and call us the "N" word. I'm not going to say that I never thought last night would happen, but I didn't think it would be this soon.

My 14-year-old daughter has never been ostracized, excluded or called names because of the color of her skin. She understands that such a time existed (and in some cases, still exists) because I make sure she knows of the sacrifices that were made to get us to this point, but she doesn’t have the experience of it. To her last night was pretty huge, but in that teenage way…it was also no big deal.

My son is 5-years-old. He has no concept of race, has never heard the "N" word and his happiest milestone right now is that he can stay between the correct lines when he writes his name. His first recollection of the President of the United States will be of a man that looks like him.

"Impossible" is not even in my vocabulary any more.
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