Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Warm & Fuzzy about the Blogosphere

What I do here on Reign really gives me a rush. Promoting girl-friendly products, discussing the issues that arise with raising daughters, shedding a little bit of light on the news and trends that impact our girls; these are topics that I'm passionate about and I absolutely love blogging about them. Why else would I spend all my time doing this for free?

But the best part about running this blog is the interaction I get to have with other bloggers, especially moms. These online spaces are not simply little diaries or musings about our lives. There's real power in these portals. And leave it to thousands of smart Mamas to leverage that power into a force that marketers and media alike have come to respect and even fear.

But most of all, blogging helps me realize that I'm never really alone. So many other women in the world are going through similar issues. Whether it's the trials of raising kids, suffering a loss of a loved one or juggling work, family and all the other crap that comes along with life; we all have similar experiences to share and much to learn from each other.

That became especially clear when I submitted this guest post to My Brown Baby. Not only was I able to purge myself of an issue that has haunted me for most of my life, but I got the wonderful surprise of learning that...I'm not the only one.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cool Tools for Sex Chats with your Girl-Child

I've been out of the loop for a bit. Reign has some catching up to do. But thanks to some of my favorite girl empowerment blogs, it's easy to get caught up on the news that’s impacting the teens and tweens in our lives. A recent visit to The Girl Revolution revealed some interested things.

In a couple recent episodes, Oprah offered some great advice on how parents can and should be talking to their daughters about sex. This included some controversial advice from Dr. Laura Berman that encouraged parents to buy vibrators for their daughters. Hmmmm. I'm not sure if that's really necessary. I'm damn near 40 and I don’t even have a vibrator. I'm an advocate of the happy-hand myself. A nice massaging shower head also comes in handy.

Part of developing sexually is exploring your body and discovering what all those little flaps and buttons down there do. Handing a 14-year-old a vibrator (which, by the way desensitizes many women to a more gentle touch that doesn’t have 9-volts of battery power behind it) sort of takes the mystery away. Plus, as one of the smart ladies over on the Girl Revolution pointed out...

[Vibrators for teens] would be a great theory if physical gratification was what they were looking for - but it’s not. They’re exploring, they’re trying new things - they’re looking for emotional gratification. As a teenage girl, I was looking for intimacy with a boy, I needed his love, his validation, his approval, his etc..etc.. Masturbation would NOT have been a substitute for that. They’re not having sex for an orgasm like teen boys are. --The Girl Revolution

Very true. Which is why it's so important to get a dialogue going with girls before they get so wrapped up in their search for love, validation and approval that they cast aside their own emotional and moral standards to get it. I was a teen like that. It may have seemed fun, rebellious and adventurous at the time, but it was bad road to go down. I don’t want my girl to go that route.

Not sure about how to begin the sex chat with your tween or teen? Check out this interview I did with Austin-based sex educator Karen Rayne recently.

And Lady O herself has provided some nice downloads for sex chats on her website. One of my favorite tools are these Questions for teens who may be considering having sex. They're right to the point, down-to-earth and perfectly sensible.

Screw all the asides and gentle talk. As mothers, of course we want them to remain virgins for as long as possible. Of course we want them to be one of the girls that rises above the sexual fray. But seriously... let's give them the information they need to make those good decisions, and the tools they need to keep themselves safe and protected if they decide to go another route.

Friday, April 10, 2009

5 Ways to Get Your Girl-Child to Think Healthy

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a meeting with the Nassau County Girl Scouts. I was part of a group of supporters, parents, girls, volunteers and staff who were gathered to hear a presentation from the medical professionals from Long Island's Winthrop University Hospital. The topic of the day: Body Image and Eating Disorders. We covered:

Eating Disoders: This includes a spectrum of disorders from anorexia and bulimia to obesity. (Interesting Note: As I was typing this post, a newscast just announced that 1 in 5 preschoolers is obese.)

Disordered eating: This is a new term for me but one that I'm definitely guilty of. This includes habits like cutting carbs, restricting foods, and skipping meals (i.e. Coffee for breakfast. Salad for lunch. STARVING by 5 pm. Go home. Inhale everything in fridge.) They may seem harmless, but over time, these habits can lead to poor nutrition, unhealthy weight loss and obesity.

Media influences on body image: The average model/celebrity seen in magazines and on television is 23% smaller and 4" taller than an average woman. With that in mind, it's disturbing that girls as young as 3rd grade are now dieting to attain that certain look. **********************************************************************
With so much to think about, we wanted to discuss what parents could do to encourage healthy attitudes. So without further ado, here are 5 ways to get your girl-child (or any child for that matter) to think healthy:

1. Watch what you say about your own body, Mama.
We can't tell our girls that their bodies are beautiful and then turn around and complain about how fat our butts look in our stretchy jeans. Girls pick up on and internalize those negative cues whether we want them to or not.

2. Kick junk food out of the house.
Yes, it's easier said than done, but if there aren't any chips, cookies or snack cakes in the house, then no one can eat them. Popcorn, fruit, granola bars and baked tortilla chips with salsa are a better alternative to salty or sugary snacks. Or try this. Blend fresh fruit, honey and yogurt into a smoothie. Pour it into popsicle molds (or ice cube trays covered in plastic wrap so you can add a stick) and voila! Fruit pops!

3. Help her understand that media images not real. Nobody looks like the models and celebrities in magazines and on television. They don't even look like that. A great example of how those glossed-up, retouched, made-over, picture perfect images are created is the Dove "Evolution" video.

4. Send her to My Food Pyramid
This interactive website is a great way to help kids (and adults!) interested in nutrition. It has a really cool tool that will tell you just what you should be eating every day based on your height, weight and age. It even has creative ideas for getting your correct daily dose of grains, veggies, fruits, diary, proteins and oils. Plus games, printouts and special sections for kids. Fun!

5. Get that girl-child up and moving!
Who says you have to join a gym or own expensive exercise equipment to get fit? "There are so many different ways to exercise and most of them are so much fun that [your girl] may not even realize what a great workout [she's] getting! Rollerblading, jumping rope, skateboarding, bike riding, walking, and playing team sports are all fun and easy ways to get her body moving. One of the best forms of exercise? Dancing! If she does it for 20 minutes, just 3 days a week [she's] got herself a real exercise program." - Feel Good, Girl!

Got other ideas for getting kids to think healthy? Sharing is caring! Leave 'em in the comments so we can all give them a try.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Boys will be bo... Hey! Cut that out!

So I'm getting my son (from this point on referred to as "The Boy") ready for bed tonight. He's supposed to be getting his jammies on but, being male and all, he of course has to take a few minutes to wrestle with one of his stuffed animals.

There's a hierarchy for the stuffed animals around here. Bruiser, is a chubby hound-dog-looking guy who's been around since The Boy was a baby. As a matter of fact, Bru was sitting in the crib waiting for TB to be born. He's been around since day one. He can do no wrong.

Whiffer is a smaller stuffed hound dog who came along a bit later in the game. Probably when TB was about 6 months old. He's still a favorite, but for some reason he's become a small bean-filled scapegoat. If something goes wrong, it's probably Whiffer's fault.

So anyway, TB's wrestling around with Whiffer when I tell him to cut it out and go brush his teeth. So he says to Whiff "You just wait until I get my Wolverine Claws. Then you're gonna get it."

Mommy reaction: gasp…gasp…gasp…rolling around on floor clutching heart… OK not really, but I was surprised.

These are the "claws" my son was referring to.

Damn! Would NOT want to see those things coming at me in a dark alley.

Now I'm an X-Men fan. I grew up reading the comic books, thanks to my comic-lovin' cousin (who's a new daddy by the way. Go Rick and Ruth!) There's a "Wolverine and the X-Men" television show on NickToons now (which I actually watch) and a new Wolverine Orgins movie that is coming out next month. I'm not in the dark about what goes on cartoons and in comic books. But we're talking about a 6-year-old. He hasn't seen the X-Men movies or read the comics so he's only been exposed to the tamer side of the brand. This is a kid who just 8 months ago was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. Now he's talking about "getting" his stuffed dog with pretend claws. Jeez.

Yeah, yeah. Kids go through stages and he's moving out of the preschool stage into more of a "boy" area. But seriously what kind of anger issues are going on in this boy area? They're wrestling, doing pretend jujitsu on each other, shooting lasers out of their hands and chasing each other around with toy light sabers and swords. Basically trying to destroy each other.

We accept this behavior a "boys being boys" but is it really? Boys are naturally competitive, and lovers of action and movement. So does that translate into trying to kill, maim and beat the crap out of each other? Or is that coming from somewhere else?

Editorial Note: I explained to TB (not in these exact words) that even thought Whiff is just a stuffed animal, it's still pretty creepy and really mean to threaten him or anyone else with large metal/plastic claws. Also that Wolverine uses his claws to help people, not the hurt his friends.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Menstruation Celebration! Win a Red Goddess Celebration Box!

As promised in yesterday's post, my Q&A with Marianne Impal is below. Marianne is the creative genius behind Red Goddess Celebration Boxes for girls.

I first learned about these boxes on The Girl Revolution and I loved the idea so much that I had to share. So many girls approach the arrival of their first periods with feelings of dread. These beautiful boxes are a way to turn that special time into something to cherish rather than fear.

Check out Marianne's interview and then find out how you can win a Celebration Box of your own!

ME: The Celebration Box is such a beautiful sentiment. What gave you the idea to start creating them?

MI: Thank you! The idea came about after reading the best selling novel “The Red Tent”. Even though the Red Tent was not the primary focus of the book, there was definitely an emphasis where girls looked forward to becoming women. Women nurtured each other and the sisterhood shared between these women was very refreshing to feel. I knew instantly I wanted to recreate this ritual for my daughters, so that their transformation into womanhood would be a positive experience for them.

I told everyone I knew who had daughters this idea, but it wasn’t until years later when a good friend tried this concept with her own daughter. She said it was a beautiful bonding experience and she thanked me for it. I realized that telling people by word of mouth wasn’t enough… I wanted all girls to feel this special. It’s been my goal ever since to help change the perception of what girls think womanhood is all about. I feel it’s up to us women who have already been there to help honor these girls going through this journey in today’s world and acknowledge their physical, hormonal and emotional changes with respect and celebration and not silence.

ME: The items inside of the boxes are so unique, and they really have a warm almost soothing quality about them. How did you go about choosing them?

MI: My first thoughts on envisioning this celebration box, was that it be a treasure passed down from woman to woman. What I would want my daughters to know or things I wanted to share with them now that they were officially women. Because "The Red Tent" focused on women nurturing each other by rubbing one another’s legs and feet, I wanted to take this bit of ritual and modernize it for today’s young girl.

With my back ground in Shiatsu Acupressure, various bodywork modalities and yoga, I knew that there were ways to naturally draw energy away from cramps. Combining those rituals with these experiences, I created bath and body products exclusive to Red Goddess. I then went on to talk with other moms about their experiences getting their first period… what they would have wished went differently, or what products would have been helpful, had they known. We are always open to new ideas.

ME: Have you gotten lots of feedback from people who have bought boxes? Are there any special celebration stories that stand out?

MI: Yes, the feedback has been amazing! My main concern was getting feedback from the girls as well as the parents and so far so good! The great thing about The Red Goddess Celebration Box is that it doesn’t have to be given just to a daughter. We’ve seen many cases, where the gift is given from an Aunt, Godmother, Grandmother and even single Dads.

It’s hard to choose which story stands out the most, but I guess I would have to say when a woman called me with concern about her 12-year-old granddaughter, who didn’t want anything to do with becoming a woman. She didn’t want to discuss it and definitely didn’t want to know anything about getting her period. The grandmother wanted to know my thoughts on giving this box to her granddaughter. I explained that it was perfectly normal for a girl her age to not want to discuss the very major changes going on with her body.

The great part about giving this box is that it’s a gift with a HUGE message behind it… that sometimes the girls don’t even realize. Giving and talking about the box, puts the focus on this beautiful treasure and AWAY from her.

A few weeks later I heard back from the Grandmother, thanking me. She decided to tease her granddaughter with the box, letting her take a peek inside and know that this was something she was going to pass down to her when her time came. She said it completely changed her granddaughter's mind, piqued her interest and now [the granddaughter] can’t wait for her day of womanhood to come!

ME: OK, I divulged my first period experience in yesterday's post, (it's SO un-Celebration Box-like). In the spirit of menstrual-unity…can you tell us about yours?

MI: I’m fortunate that my experience getting my first period was a positive one. I was a late bloomer and didn’t get mine till a good 14 years of age and by then ALL my friends had their period and I thought something was wrong with me. Of course everyone kept telling me I didn’t want to get it, but just to be normal, I did want it.

I remember waking up late on a Saturday when no one was home and feeling very crampy. I thought to myself, “Could I have gotten it? Nah, I’ll never get it.” But, then I checked and saw that it was true. I remember my legs trembling with fear. Even though I thought was prepared, I wasn’t.

My parents came home at that perfect time. When I told my mom, she flew her arms up in the air with a huge smile from ear to ear and gave me the biggest hug. She congratulated me and then showed me what to do. She must have told my big sister and my aunts because everyone pulled me aside to congratulate me when they saw me. I felt like I was part of “their world”.

Win a Red Goddess Celebration Box!

Enter to win by leaving me a comment. You'll get double entries if you share the story of your first period. (Hey, I shared mine!)

Contest will end at midnight on April 15th. Winners will be choosen by Random.org

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