Monday, April 26, 2010

Save the Date: Consuming Kids

I know here we go from our princess cruise to the movie Consuming Kids.  As a parent if you don't take things with a grain of salt you're going to go a little insane, but you have to stand up for what you believe in and surround yourself with people, causes, support groups that help keep you walking the path of your ideals.


On Wednesday, drop the kids off for dinner at a friend's house, hire a babysitter, or have a girls' night out and start the evening at the main branch of the Cambridge Public Library for a screening of  excerpts from the movie Consuming Kids:  The Commercialization of Childhood.  Diane Levin will be there for a conversation about topics raised in the film and how we (parents, teachers, care givers) can react and prepare ourselves and our children to deal with the way we are "marketed to".

The event is on Wednesday, April 28th at 6:30 p.m. in the Auditorium at the Main Cambridge Public Library branch.  After you take it all in, then you can head out for a drink and a bite to eat.  Walking distance (Café Pamplona, Grafton Street, Mr. Bartley's Burgers).  If it's a nice night for a longer walk (Olé, Trina's Starlite Lounge, East Coast Grill, East by Northeast).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pretty Pretty Unsure Princess

If you mention the Disney princesses I get a little knot in my stomach for several reasons.  I'm just not a huge Disney fan, my kids are way too scared of the most "babyish" television shows to even consider watching a Disney movie, and I am not a fan of the mass princess marketing on everything from food, to clothing, to toys.   BUT, when it comes to the princesses, I don't want to stop my kids from jumping on that fantasy wagon.

Since she doesn't watch the movies, there are a whole lot of issues that I feel I just don't have to deal with when it comes to the princesses and what they represent.  My five year old knows the rule that she can play with the princesses, we even buy the princess "no-fruit" fruit snacks for a treat sometimes, but she is not allowed to have shoes, or clothes, or bags that essentially promote the princesses for Disney.  She's okay with that. She even has a nightgown or two with the princesses on it.  Given all that, I was actually excited to bring my daughter to The Spirit of Boston's princess lunch cruise.  It seemed like a cute idea and I knew she'd be so excited to drift off on a princess fantasy for a little while.  We went with her friend "aka little sister" who is a disney princess and fairy lover that is not afraid to watch the movies, her mom a lover of most things Disney, and her little sister (princess opinions to be determined).

As we walked towards the dock the girls saw toddlers, tykes, and little girls all dressed in various princess costumes (some Disney, some not).  There was a sparkle in their eyes and a rush of excited energy buzzing through their bodies as we stood in line waiting to board our cruise.

I have to say the entire event was well done.  Nothing was over the top.  The "real" princesses were almost all so perfect asking the children about their special outfits, or telling them about their own adventures from their respective stories.  They knew when to give children a moment to take it all in, and when to jump full force into a conversation.  Missing from the cruise were Princess Jasmine (it seems Abu was sick and Jasmine stayed back to take care of him) and Princess Tiana (we think she was promoting her new movie).  :)  On our particular trip princess Aurora didn't seem like she was having such a great time, but luckily the kids' were too excited to notice or care.

After we boarded and took our seats, the children colored pages from their goodie bag, and took pictures with Ariel who happened to be on deck.  They then guided us through our send-off with streamers and all.  The buffet was set with a perfect selection of foods (a few extra crudités might have been good for the kids), but the quality was excellent especially compared to other "kid-friendly" restaurants or special lunch outings (such as the terribly disappointing American Girl's Café).  It seems veggies with dip were on the menu, but I didn't see any at the buffet and somehow they had no apple juice (not a good thing with a ship full of children, but it seemed to work out.)

After lunch, it was time for a  few songs (well sung by the staff) and then a little dance party.  The girls had such a great time dancing with the princesses.  My usually quiet and clingy kindergartner was going up and down to the dance floor on her own without any concern about my whereabouts.

We were seated at the top level which was great for taking photos and perfect with our littlest princess guest (only 2 months old) because it was a bit quieter.  Also, with fewer tables and easy access to the outdoor deck, there were plenty of great opportunities for the moms (and a few dads) to take in the gorgeous views.

We were guests on this cruise, but before we even docked back at the seaport, my daughter asked if we could come again.  I said we definitely would.  The girls had a fabulous time, it wasn't unpleasant for me (the Disney-phobe) and it's an experience we would love to share with more of her friends!  Some children even had their birthday party on the cruise.

Upcoming Spirit of Boston princess lunch cruise dates are:  July 25th, 2010 and August 14th 2010.  Children 3 and under are complimentary, tickets for children 4 - 12 start at $15.90 and adult tickets are $35.90.  The cruise is from 11:30 to 1:30 with a boarding time of 10:30.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Classes We're Taking

Parents are always asking one another about dance classes, music classes, and other activities.  There are tons of resources out there, but sometimes they just become a little too overwhelming.  Here is what we're taking and I'll include what we took when the kids were younger so that everyone can find something!

Hope this helps.
It is my belief that families with young children have the right and reason enough to adjust/modify and alter their schedule on a day by day or hour by hour basis.  So, in general, this is what we do, but we adjust according to weather, mood, sleep had the night before, and the like.


Monday we're getting back into the swing of things for the week.  I call Monday my weekend.  My daughter goes off to school at Fayerweather Street School and my son goes off to his fabulous top secret family daycare.


Tuesday is dance class for Henry and I.  This is by far the best dance class for wee ones.  Creative movement is totally appropriate for children this age and there is no need for formal ballet, tap, or jazz training until later (if desired).  Green Street Studios for dance with Katie at 10:30.


Our plan was to take this art class at our favourite art center in the area Arsenal Center for the Arts for 3 and 4 year olds, but the class didn't run due to lack of enrollment.  Since we have no classes this becomes our do what we want day.  We either stay home (so mommy can get something done in the house) or we head to the playground, run errands, head to the play space at the mall on a rainy day, or head out to Drumlin Farm)


This is a work day for me, but we would head over to Sharon Simon's Music Together Class over at the Deborah Mason School of Dance (another great place I hear, but haven't tried classes there yet.)

We are on a break right now, but Isabelle really enjoyed her art classes (clay and art adventures) from 3:30 - 5:00 at Arsenal Center for the Arts.  The classes are small and I found that, because she loves art, instead of being wound up and exhausted at the end of the day, she came out of art, relaxed and ready for a mellow evening.


We start our day off with a little playtime in my daughter's class and occasionally we stick around to help with a cooking project, then it is off to gymnastics for tumble tots with Lynn at the Gymnastics Academy of Boston (in Cambridge).


This is a no activity day for us right now so we save it for family and/or mommy and/or daddy time.  Whatever we can work out or need to do that day.


We have swimming lessons at Boston University, which are great.  We have piano lessons at the Yamaha Music School in Lexington and the learn to skate program at The Skating Club of Boston.  It's a busy day, but we manage to find time to fit it all in and still enjoy the weekend.  

If you are a new parent a great place to start is to stop in at your local Isis Maternity.  Their classes are excellent and the support of other parents and the Isis staff is priceless.  From heading over to the breastfeeding drop in group when my daughter was a newborn (almost 6 years ago) to taking a walkers and talkers class with my daughter when my son was a newborn, Isis Maternity was a great resource and reason to get out the door each week (and sometimes several times a week).

I haven't made it over to JP but another great place on my radar is the Eliot School.  I am eyeing the woodworking class for Henry.

We haven't tried any of the team sports either.  I'm kind of on the fence about team sports for micro, mini, teeny, totsy, or whatever they call it.  If you are interested though, there are the super soccer stars, and micro soccer as well as the local "farm leagues".