Friday, November 14, 2008

A Salt Lake City Birthday Party

I admit it -- I'm starting to think of anything past 2100 South as "The Boonies". In trying to find birthday part options for my soon to be 5 year old, I keep hitting a wall. The idea of planning a party in Sandy or West Valley where many of the party venues seems to be overly arduous.

I like venues on the Trax line the best. Discovery Gateway, Clark Planetarium and the Utah Museum of Natural History are all easily reached by Trax and are all great choices if you are looking for something a little bit deeper than a "bounce house" party.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Family Art Saturdays at the Salt Lake ART Center

I was excited when looking at a Salt Lake ART Center newsletter a couple of months ago to learn that the center was going to start a "Family Art Saturdays". I'm always looking for experiences to give my pre-schooler that we can get to easily. The Little Princess loves to make art, so art events that kids can participate to are always a good thing for us.

We got a preview of the center's upcoming exhibition as well as a couple of other exhibits, then we headed to a room toward the back of the center where the Little Princess got to make paper flowers and draw. The event is blocked for a 2 hour time limit as a drop in kind of thing, but we spent practically the whole 2 hours there. For the next hour following, the Little Princess enthused about turning our house into an art gallery. As soon as we got home she was clamoring for me to get down her water colors so she could get started.

The Family Art Saturdays will be a monthly event and best of all, they are free! The next few scheduled: November 8, 2 - 4pm; December 13, 2 - 4pm and January 10, 2 - 4pm. Moew info about Family Art Saturdays can be found here:

The Salt Lake ART Center is conveniently located at just a short quarter block walk from the Temple Square Trax station, and half the fun is taking Trax to downtown, in any case.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My reactions to the letter I posted below

What I object to in the letter below is very loaded language: pro-abortion - I've never met anyone who was pro-abortion. I think she is referring to pro-choice which is about having options (my definition of what progressives are for) and not being forced into one way of doing things.

I also can't quite figure out what she means by pro-psycho wife and pro-exercise queen which seem like very judgmental statements. I consider myself progressive, but the only exercise I get in is the walk to and from work everyday. As a working mom I don't have time to exercise. And I consider myself pretty stable mentally as a wife . . .

I also have a problem with her language about "letting others raise their kids". That's kind of ignoring the fact that for most of human history children were raised more by community than just biological mom to biological kids, and were put to work at very young ages.

Economically, I have to work. Ideologically, I like to work -- at least the job I have currently. With both daughters I stayed at home until each was about 2 years old. I felt that was a good compromise by giving the girls lots of attention as infants and then as they got to an age when they wanted to be more social they were in an environment with a lot of kids their own age.

By the end of the second year home with my now pre-schooler, I was ready to tear out my hair because being a SAHM really isn't my talent or calling in life. But even though I enjoy what I do for a living and would be unhappy at home, I still put my kids' needs as a priority:

My oldest attends a school where the parents are required to co-op 3 hours per week and serve on a committee. I put together the school's newsletter as well as my time in the classroom, putting in easily 18 - 20 hours per month so that my daughter can attend a school that is very community oriented and nurturing.

I went to great lengths to find a daycare for my youngest daughter that was close to home. We spend quality time in the morning and evening as we walk to and from daycare talking about what we are seeing (changing seasons, dogs, insects, people) and about her day. Her daycare is a good one and she gets good learning in the morning (she's learning to write really well, is learning some French and Spanish) and in the afternoon gets quality social time with peers which I couldn't provide for her at home.

We always eat dinner together as a family, which is a great way to spend quality time with the kids talking about our days.

The weekends are all about quality time with the kids (my teenager not so much these days as friends are her main focus at this stage of her life). I take my pre-schooler on a mommy-daughter date where we usually go to cultural, artistic, or educational events or use our memberships at the planetarium or children's museum. The rest of the weekend is pretty much whole-family focused.

I don't feel that my kids suffer from my being a working parent. What does suffer is the state of our home. We're always behind on laundry and dishes. Dusting happens maybe twice a year, and other household chores happen less often than they should. I've yet to do anything with our front yard and wonder if I'll ever learn to garden. I'm years behind on scrapbooking (one of my favorite hobbies). But these are a trade-offs that I can live with (for the most part - I really want to learn how to grow my own food so that I'm not so dependent on our environmentally-destructive food system).

Friday, October 3, 2008

Can we please be done with the Mommy Wars?

I guess I live kind of a sheltered existence -- I thought we were done with the "Mommy Wars". But apparently it's still on as evidenced by this recent letter to Salt Lake City Weekly:

Why do women who are OK with abortion, who are OK with letting others raise their children and who are OK in working 40-plus hours a week outside the home call themselves “progressive?” What is so progressive about that [“Palin-Powered Females,” Sept. 18, City Weekly]?


I have been a rocker, I’ve been a businesswoman, I’ve been an intellectual. And nothing is better than being “just a stroller-pushing momma.” “Progressive women” seem to want normal women to feel like poop for doing what comes naturally. They want normal women to be pro-abortion, pro-working mom, pro-psycho wife and pro-exercise queen! Why? Why can’t I be incredibly happy being a housewife and mother? Why is it odd for me to be pro-Hillary and pro-Sarah? They are both women.

Progressive women! You may see that many women who feel like me will not make their opinions known. You may wonder why. Because they are doing what their hearts desire, and doing what comes natural to them: loving their husbands, loving their children, loving their lives! With all of that good ol’ lovin’, how can that not be progressive?
I think this individual has been listening to too much hate radio -- she's got a lot of weird ideas about what she calls "progressive women".

I might be writing back to City Weekly on this one.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Spin Machine is now working for High Fructose Corn Syrup

In these Orwellian Times, I'm glad I don't watch T.V. -- War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength, and now . . .High Fructose Corn Syrup is not bad for you.

The cynical conceit of these ads are that if you can’t recall at a moment’s notice, all, or any, of the reasons something is negative or undesirable, then your concerns are wholly irrelevant, and you should just shut your mouth, and only open it to receive a generous serving of high-fructose corn syrup. The logic behind these ads assert that because high-fructose corn syrup is “natural,” as it is derived from corn, then it is wholesome and safe, much like natural radon gas, lead and tobacco.


Facts: High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener produced by processing cornstarch to yield glucose, and then processing the glucose to produce a high percentage of fructose. It is primarily used as a preservative and sweetener in a multitude of food products. You should avoid it because of the following:

1. High-fructose corn syrup has been linked directly to obesity, diabetes and metabolic dysfunction.
2. High-fructose corn syrup elevates triglycerides levels, which can lead to heart disease.
3. High-fructose corn syrup is simply empty calories with no nutritional value whatsoever.
4. The environmental footprint of high-fructose corn syrup is exceedingly large.
5. High-fructose corn syrup is the hellion child of the corn lobby’s satanic forces.

OK, so the fifth one might not be totally accurate, but it does drive the point home. And for extra credit you could mention that consuming high-fructose corn syrup in moderation is becoming near impossible, seeing as nearly everything from sliced bread to salad dressing now proudly contains the ubiquitous ingredient.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Threes events for "healthy girls, strong women"

I just got an email about these events which seem to be really important for those of us raising girls:

Event #1: Please join Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU) with partners Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the YWCA of Salt Lake City in promoting and supporting the well being of girls and their adult caregivers. Saturday, September 13th at the Mountain View Elementary School (1380 S. Navajo St) from 9:30 - 2pm there will be a Healthy Girls Strong Women Conference for girls age 9-12 and their parents or caregivers. This conference is free and will feature opportunities for girls to learn how to change their lives from the inside out with specific break out sessions on communication, body image and media, HIV/STI prevention, and the rights girls have. Parent/caregiver sessions will be offered in English and Spanish. There will be a keynote that is interactive and brief by Andrea Johnston, cofounder of Girls Speak OutT, lunch is provided and the afternoon will feature a Talk Show created by the girls. All participants will get a simple backpack with some fun prize type stuff inside. Flyers for this free conference are attached in both Spanish and English. To register now email or click this link to the PPAU website for more information

Our guest speaker, co facilitator and trainer for the conference Andrea Johnston is co founder with Gloria Steinem of Girls Speak OutT. Johnston was instrumental in creating a public forum for girls in the UN General Assembly as part of her mission to expand the places where girls belong.

Event #2: For adults who work, volunteer, parent, or want to connect better with girls Andrea Johnston will present a Women's Day Personal/Professional Development Session Tuesday September 16th from 9 am to 3pm at the Unity Center in Salt Lake City: click here to register and find out more information:

Event #3: Wednesday September 17th Andrea will speak about the documentary film Pray the Devil Back to Hell and her work with Girls Speak Out at the opening of the SLC Film Center's Be the Change Film Series at Westminster College. Click here to leam more about the film event. *At the SLC Main Library on Monday, September 15th at 7:00pm there will be a free screening of IRON LADIES OF LIBERIA. This powerful documentary is the perfect sequel to PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL and follows the first democratically elected woman president in Africa during her first year in office.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Festivals . . .festivals

Since Utah has such a large, mostly homogenous culture, I'm really grateful for all the cultural festivals that I can take my kids to and give them some exposure to something different.

More festivals coming up. This weekend is the Salt Lake American Muslim cultural festival (Aug. 30 & 31st from 3 to 8 p.m. at Washington Square). More info here:

The IndiaFest at the Krishna Temple is a nice day trip kind of festival that I hope we can make it to (our one and only family car is giving us some grief lately). That's happening on September 13th starting at 4 p.m. at 8628 S. Main in Spanish Fork:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Singing Children of Africa - this Friday

On Friday, August 22, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. at the Sorenson Multi Cultural Center at 855 West California Avenue (1300 South), The Singing Children of Africa will perform an exciting show of traditional African music and dance. The world tour called “Love is all Around us” - sponsored by The Samson Chivatsi African Children’s Appeal, is to bring awareness of the plight of the children in Kenya .

About the Samson Chivatsi African Children’s Appeal

The Samson Chivatsi African Childrens Appeal was established in 1998 by Maureen and Ian McIntyre, after visiting a school whilst on holiday in Kenya . They were so affected by the poverty, poor health and lack of facilities at the school that, on returning to Scotland , Maureen set up the charity and sponsorship program to give the poorest children access to a good education in the area of Utange, near Mombasa . The charity was named after the first child that Maureen and Ian sponsored. For more information regarding the Samson Chivatsi Charity or The Singing Children of Africa Choir visit or or email Maureen McIntyre at

Not sure about cost -- looks to be a donations accepted type of event.

Ring Around the Rose - high quality entertainment for kids at bargain prices

I just got the new season info for Ring Around the Rose, which is a series of performances geared for little ones at the Rose Wagner Theatre Downtown (a short walk from the Gallivan Trax station). It's a great way to get your kids some culture without the worry of your child's behavior at adult programs. Kids at these performances are free to wiggle in their seats and don't have to be perfectly silent throughout the performance.

This year Ring Around the Rose will feature Brazilian Dance with Samba Gringa, Dance from Ballet West, Repertory Dance Theatre and Tanner Dance Theatre, a interactive performance with Utah Opera, a performance by actors involved with Youth Theatre at the U., a magic show, African Drumming and a performance by "Partch", which is described as "weird and wonderful muisc played on instruments he (Harry Partch) invented himself."

There are nine performances in all from September through May, and if you buy tickets to six or more of the shows as a season package, the tickets are only $4 a piece.

More info can be found at

Friday, August 15, 2008

How to insure a good jr. high experience for your kids

Those years in Jr. High were the worst years of my life so far, and from conversations I've had with others I'm not alone.

So I was thrilled when the excellent optional, public school program my eldest daughter was enrolled in became a charter school and added 7th and 8th grades to the kindergarten through 6th grade that they already had.

The Open Classroom, which had been around since 1977, has a strong emphasis on community. They believe in working out issues as a part of the learning process. Bullying at the O.C. is rare and usually caught early on and worked through as part of the community experience. I also get to know the kids who are friends with my daughter, and often their parents as well.

An added bonus, last year we started a whole new kind of lunch program, one that includes a lot of healthy, fresh and whole foods. Salt Lake City Weekly named it the best school lunch in their Best of Utah edition.

This will be our 9th year in the O.C. -- the last year for my 8th grader. Next year, my youngest daughter will go to kindergarten at the O.C. (there usually is a waiting list for the younger grades, so it's not certain). I basically can't say enough good things about this program, and as much as my older daughter has benefitted from it, I think my younger one will benefit even more.

In an effort to let other Salt Lakers know about this wonderful program, I'm publishing some of the latest promotional info on this blog:

The Open Classroom still has spaces available for the coming school year! We have spaces especially in grades 5 through 8, but may have room in some other grades as well. For more information about the Open Classroom, visit our website at -- and keep reading below, especially the testimonials from students and parents. You are also invited to our Open House, Tuesday August 19th at 6:30 at the school -- 3rd Avenue between D and E Streets.
The Open Classroom is:
• A teacher-directed, parent supported, child-centered school.
• A school for students in kindergarten through 8th grade.
• A parent-cooperative school where parents participate in the classroom every week, providing a better adult/student ratio and allowing small group learning.
• A thriving and successful program, now in its 31st year.
• A Charter School within the Salt Lake City School District.
• A school that has individual classrooms with a certified teacher for every classroom – but with an open attitude about learning!
• A school with multi-age classes where students deepen their understanding of subjects by teaching and learning from each other.
• A FREE public school.


For those who dare to daydream,
For those who don’t belong,
For those who feel out of place,
I know where you belong; I have been there and back.
I think you will love the family and friends the Open Classroom can give you.
May you find a new life like I have.
Recent graduate
My daughter was in a neighborhood school with 39 students in sixth grade. She loved being invisible! We moved her to the Open Classroom for seventh and eighth grades. She learned to love not being invisible. Her transformation was remarkable. I can’t say enough about the positive influence her dedicated teachers had on her attitude towards learning. Never social, she became an avid socialite!
As a retired Air Force officer, I taught at the OC regularly and loved the kids and my parent partners. There was a new challenge every six weeks. It kept my own interest from completely drying up.
If your child is normal, slightly off center, colorful or just creative, I’m confident they will prosper academically and socially in the Open Classroom. I’d be happy to discuss my experience with you; just communicate via this website.
Robert King, parent of recent graduate
The Open Classroom understands that we have something to learn from every individual we meet, and that the "self-fulfilling prophecy" of teaching is learning. To be a part of that co-operative learning community is powerful and awesome.
Kathy MacGregor, parent
You have your friends, you have your family. You'll have them both at the Open Classroom.
Recent graduate
It was such a privilege to be there with kids during adolescence. I didn't feel I had abandoned my daughter at the edge of the forest.
Bonnie Weiss, parent of recent graduate
When I'm here I feel like I'm home.
I feel guilty that we aren't paying tuition. The teachers and staff are really that good. I love that I am not only allowed but actively encouraged to participate in all aspects of my daughter's education. The time I spend in the classroom is priceless.
Deb Lyon, parent
The Open Classroom is like a second home--a second family. Because if you shed a tear, they'll shed a thousand. If you laugh, they'll laugh. If you decide to break into song, everyone will join in. Because these friends are true friends. The kind that you will remember forever. Thank you, Open Classroom, for showing me a school can be more than just a place for academics.
Helping in my child's classroom and having the opportunity to work on projects with a committee made it so most of the Open Classroom became like an extended family to me, my husband, and my kids. Really knowing the parents and family members of the children who were playing with my kids was reassuring.
Nora Gallegos, parent
As a parent I like the OC because my child learns to communicate his feelings and needs in a way that is applicable not only to school but for effective, lifelong communication.
Felicia Marie Baca, parent
I have attended many faculty meetings, and I was amazed when I came to the Open Classroom. I have never seen a faculty that gets along and works together so well.
Shauna Olson
Elementary School Support Supervisor
Salt Lake City School District
When I attended my first Steering meeting, my jaw dropped. I have never seen a faculty so willing to let parents take part in important decisions.
Dellis Hatch
(New) OC Principal (after his first Steering meeting)
You’ll see the big things when you come into the Open Classroom – how we work in small groups, how parent co-opers are a huge part of the learning. But it may take you awhile to see other things. The way that new kids or kids who are shy or different are embraced. The way kids love school – my daughter fakes being healthy when she’s sick so she doesn’t have to miss school! The way there are no fashion police – kids are comfortable wearing what they like. And, the way that disrespect is handled. Although kids say mean things in any school, not many schools have so many adults around to deal with it so quickly. By the time kids get older they have internalized those lessons and you’ll see older kids successfully and respectfully challenging mean behavior themselves. All of these things – and the memory of how different this was from the way I grew up – make me so happy to be part of the OC community.
Laura Lockhart, parent
When I heard two years ago that our sons' school was transitioning to a full K-8, I was excited to think that they could continue their middle school education in the same stimulating and humane setting that they had spent their elementary years from kindergarten. But when our sixth-grader was about the enter seventh grade, my husband and I had to really consider where the best place would be for him to spend middle school. After all, there are a number of attractive options now among the public and charter schools, and it would probably make my own life simpler not to have to volunteer at school anymore, after having spent seven years already as a parent co-oper. I'd like to tell you why a family like ours chooses to continue with a program like the Open Classroom.
With the Open Classroom now entering its second year as an official district charter school and its third year after forming an "Upper House" of 5th through 8th-graders, I can see the tremendous progress that has been made in this development, even as the framework from the old K-6 model remains vital and in place. The philosophy has stayed the same--the commitment to embracing and teaching to the individual while at the same time building a community around that individual. That basic respect that everyone is offered has not diminished one bit, nor has the framework that allows creativity and problem-solving to flourish, encouraging an ever-evolving curriculum and active involvement among the community. Some things on the surface may change, like course offerings or scheduling, and this is something we considered seriously,
but in the end, the more important criteria became "Will my child be able to develop his talents and will he feel good about the person he is becoming during the most emotionally challenging years of his education?"

In most middle schools, a child may have seven teachers, and they may be very caring, committed teachers, but the child is not guaranteed that one of those teachers will make sure he/she doesn't slip through the cracks. We've all heard that an at-risk child can be saved by one caring adult. At the OC, this is not left to the good will of the teachers or to the oversight of an overburdened school counselor. Even in the middle school grades, each child has a homeroom teacher and cohort of students--their "home base" at the beginning and end of school each day. As a parent, I can trust that not only do my children have the support of that homeroom teacher, but also of all the other upper house teachers. I have seen countless examples of the kind of individualized attention and collaboration among their teachers that I think is rare to unheard of in a middle school environment.

What happens when you get a whole body of people moving according to these principles and practices? You get to see what I saw at the annual air guitar assembly, where kids who might blend into the background at a normal middle school performed, rockin' and rollin' with a fluidity and sense of confidence that some of them never would have found. You get to see children who experiment with make-up and wild clothing slowly shedding the protective disguise to reveal their genuine selves. You get to see your own child demonstrate patience and compassion with a younger child, as he reads to him, teaches him the rules of 4-square on the playground, or helps him transition to the next grade.

But you only get to see these things if you show up. So yes, my child will show up to seventh grade at the Open Classroom next year, and so will I.

Karen Salas Wheeler, parent
The Open Classroom is dedicated to the inclusion of all students without regard to race, creed, color or national origin, economic status, language or cultural background.

Friday, July 11, 2008

SLC has much potential . . .

. . . mostly in the nooks and crannies. As developers eye Salt Lake City, I want to make sure they get the message that we want community-focused businesses and we don't want to see quirky and unique businesses thrown out to make room for something, well, less interesting and more manufactured.

I like living in SLC and raising a family here. I don't want to raise my kids in a Disneylandish or artificially-cultured place. But I can see this city being turned into a place I won't want to live if stuff like this continues.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Adventuring around Salt Lake City

I try to take the Little Princess out once a week on what I like to think of as "adventuring". We go somewhere on foot or by public transportation, usually by Trax train. We've been meeting some very interesting people on the trains and at the stations.

This past Saturday while we waited for a Trax train to take us downtown, we were treated to some music by a man who had just finished using rehearsal space at the Acoustic Music building nearby. He had a guitar in a case, but what he played for us was an Irish whistle, chatting with us about the music between songs. It was a little unplanned exposure to culture on our weekly outing.

Monday, July 7, 2008

This is a great summer for movies that appeal to both kids and adults

I don't usually like going to kids' movies because I usually find them to be too simplistic or just plain stupid. My kiddie film low point had to be "Barnyard" though -- after seeing this ridiculous film, I imagined an entire generation of American children who believed that male cattle had udders and produced milk, and that bulls were a different breed of animal all together.

So I've been pleasantly surprised that 4 summer films aimed at kids were nearly equally enjoyable for both kids and adults. I've put these in order of the least to most enjoyable:

Kung Fu Panda -- the story is a little predictable, but the animation is so gorgeous and it contains enough laughs that I felt like I got my money's worth.

Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian -- I read all of the Narnia books several times each as a kid and loved them dearly. I've heard the arguments about how "Christian" the Narnia stories are, but I remain blissfully unaware of it in these films or books. This film is (although not bloody or gory) a bit too violent for younger children, but it is very well put together and the story is compelling. Prince Caspian was my least favorite of the Narnia books, so I'm really looking forward to seeing the film version of my favorite (which should be coming next): The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Wall-E -- very sweet story, beautifully done. Also had enough futuristic/sci-fi-ish elements that I was interested in the story throughout the entire film. I also appreciate the reminders of what type of society we could be heading to if we don't wean ourselves off our consumption and corporate driven lifestyles.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl -- My favorite of the 4. This is usually the type of film I don't like, one based on a toy or product. But the product is a good one, a doll company that teaches girls about history. And there really wasn't any product peddling. The story, set during the depression, was compelling, heart-warming and enjoyable, if a bit innocent. Enjoyable performances by an A list cast. I hope to see more American Girl films of this caliber.

I'm discovering that the Little Princess can be quite emotional. She was in tears at both Wall-E and Kit Kittredge.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Filling kids' "wells" with gore and violence

I took the Teen to an “R” rated movie today. It was an accident. The Little Princess was with Grandma having some one-on-one time. DH left on a work-related trip this morning. It was just me and the Teen and I asked her if she wanted to see a movie with me.

I walked to the local Maverick for a Sunday paper, hoping that “Mamma Mia” had been released this weekend (it was not, sadly - I did find out it will be released later in July). The Teen was more interested in seeing something scary, in any case. She mentioned wanting to see “Happenings”, the new film by M. Night Shyamalan. The only other film I had seen by the man was “The Sixth Sense” - scary, but not too horrible for a teenager. Just as we were about to hand our tickets to the taker, I noticed the “R” in the corner. Ooops . . .! We went in anyway. The plot line to the film was interesting, but it was far more gruesome than I had expected. The Teen really enjoyed herself and I felt guilty at not doing the proper parental role and learning more about the film before I took her to it.

I have mixed feelings on the topic of kids and violent movies. My dad took me to several inappropriate films when I was a child, including “Omen II”, much to my mom's dismay. And yet as an adult, I really don’t like violent films – they usually stress me out and give me headaches. I also oppose violence as in war and social control. In my case, watching these films at an impressionable age did not make me a violent person, nor did give me cravings to see more and more violent films.

Even so, it’s hard for me to believe that seeing such sights don’t have an effect on the growing brains of children. I wonder about storing those brains with too many negative images. In the book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, we are asked to nurture our creativity by “filling the well”, experiencing many different sights and sounds and experiences. I found that to be a pretty effective way to generate creativity, and so I worry when I think that my children may be filling their wells with horror and violence, even though fictional.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Utah Arts Festival

I'm big on festivals, and I love the festivals in Salt Lake City. As a parent, I find it a great opportunity to expose my child to new sights and sounds, and sometimes even food.

This year I've taken the Little Princess to the Japan Festival, the Live Green Festival and the Living Traditions Festival. Tomorrow the Utah Arts Festival opens.

I'm taking some time off of work to Trax the Little Princess down during a weekday when (hopefully) the kids' art yard will be a little less chaotic and we won't have to fight for a spot at the art tables to do a project. The Little Princess loves making art and spends a lot more time than other kids do on their projects. Each time she starts to color at one of the kids' art yards at the various festival, I make a resolution to not rush her through and I do well for the first 25 to 30 minutes. But then I start getting antsy and try to rush her along -- and even with my urging it still may take her an additional 20 minutes to finish. I hope I can be more patient this time.

I also love to take the Little Princess to see performing art, and this is a great value (kids under 12 are free and adults can get in for $5 if they come during the lunch time special on Thurs. and Fri. from noon to 3 p.m.). I hope to see some modern dance again this year as well as musical and street art performances of all kinds.

The festival is easily accessible by Trax (Library Square) to save money and the hassle of parking. More info on the Utah Arts Festival at

Little Princess and Dad at the Living Traditions Festival

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Toll of Capitalism on Kids

I've been reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and recently read the chapter on advertising and kids -- creating a brand image and how corporations are now developing "craddle to grave" marketing strategies. In short, they want to get the kids -- and the younger the better. In Fast Food Nation, Schlosser states statistics that most American kids can recognize certain brand logos before they can even recognize their own name.

Quite coincidently, my husband had a run-in with brand identity just last night when he took the Little Princess grocery shopping with him. Despite the fact that we've never purchased Kool Aid brand drink mixes, and that my daughter has never seen a commercial for them, she was immediately drawn to them at the store and clamoring for them. We don't have a problem with the occasional treat, so my husband bought 4 of the packets. He was surprised that she knew what they were, and after having talked with her, we figured it out. Two children at her daycare would occasionally have "juice" (Little Princess' word) that looked like the Kool Aid packets. I believe that Kool Aid has a pouch drink, and it does have the same Kool Aid Pitcher mascot on it as the drink packets.

We don't have cable or satellite at our home, and the rabbit ears we have on the T.V. don't work so well -- so we almost never watch television. we instead get DVDs from the library to watch. But lately I've been getting more and more uncomfortable with the DVDs that my daughter picks out. They seem more like glorified commercials than truly original entertainment for kids, like animated films about the Bratz dolls, My Little Pony, Barbie . . .Even when the film is the point, there's now no end of toys and products that tie-in.

One of the most dangerous aspects of unrestrained capitalism is the idea that no matter how much is made, it's not enough. So corporations are finding more and more insidious ways to enter our lives. Some corporations are paying cash-strapped schools for advertising and product placement rights. While I can sympathize with the need for funds, this is a dangerous step in the direction of privatization. I really don't want my children to go to school at Coca Cola High. And the more that schools take these funds, the less that state governments will give to education, turning our system into one where kids are trained to consume the products of the highest bidder all day long.

Monday, June 23, 2008

An Introduction

I have two daughters: child #1 is 13 years old and hereafter will be referred to as "The Teen." Child #2 is 4 years old and will hereafter be known as "Little Princess".

Parenting is challenging, and seems to be getting more and more challenging all the time. And to add to that, I want to parent in ways that I haven't seen a model for -- I want to do things differently.

Where you live can really have an effect on how you parent and what opportunities are available for kids. While many families in Utah move out to the suburbs, I like living close to downtown Salt Lake City. I believe living in the city gives parents and kids many experiences they wouldn't have in the 'burbs, including having a walkable community, access to numerous cultural events and festivals, and (in the case of SLC) sustainable ways of doing so many things.

I'd like to write about my experiences, both the successes and the things that don't work so well. I'm not an expert. I'm not even sure if I'm a very good mom. But maybe I can contribute something that might be of value to other parents looking for a different way to do things.