Monday, November 12, 2012

Baby Gender: How Marketing Has Changed

It is hard to believe how much my baby has changed in a few short months.  She used to be a teeny (relatively - partner is tall & kiddo is definitely getting those genes), totally dependant bundle.  Currently, she's crawling and feeling along the coffee table for things to grab and offering me cheeky grins.

There are a lot of things I wish fo her future.  When I look at certain parts of the world, I'm worried that I won't be able to parent through them adequately.

One of the things that really bothers me is the genderization of very small children & babies.  I'm not sure when it started, but it is radically different from when I was small.

If you were born in the 1980s (and possibly the first half of the 1990s), it was relatively easy to find clothes that could fit a child of either gender, making hand-me-downs a little bit easier.  If you wanted a pair of overalls, they were just plain-old denim overalls.

Nowadays, if you want a pair of overalls, you have to choose between girl overalls & boy overalls.  The girl overalls will likely have some pink or purple elements to them, or be embroidered with butterflies/flowers/animal print or have ruffles somewhere.  The boy overalls will likely be embroidered with some sort of sports-related item, vehicles, dogs or fierce animals like crocodiles.
If you do manage to find a pair of plain overalls, it is almost a guarantee that they'll be in the boy section of the store.

There's a similar issue going on with toys.  If you were a small child in the 80s you may remember this guy:
The chatter-phone is still around.  Only now, the above image is the 'boy' phone.  There's now a girl phone, that is, you guessed it, in shades of pink.  Same thing with the awesome popper toy that you may remember.  The traditional version you may remember is now the 'boy' version, and they've done a pink 'girl' version.

I don't see how the above toy is for boys only.  To me, it's just a toy, suitable for a child of any gender.  I don't think it benefits anyone other than manufacturors to encourage the parents babies and small children into buying all pink or blue toys and clothing depending on their genitalia.  Babies don't care about those sort of differences - they're too busy learning how the world works.
Gravity is super-fascinating when you've never seen it before.

I think one of the reasons this bothers me so much is that I was never a girly-girl. I understand that there are girls who love princesses & all the things that go with that, but I never did. I wanted to be an astronaut-ballerina-archaeologist when I was little, so that I could dig up dinosaurs, bring them to space, and then put on a kick-butt dance show when I came back to Earth (somehow, not surprising that I have a BFA in theatre production & design when I think about that . . .). My favourite colour was blue.

I want my baby to feel comfortable choosing any colour she wants to be her favourite.  I want her to be able to play with a toy without someone telling her it is a 'boy' toy.  I want her to wear comfortable clothes (that I can possibly hand down to any future cousins or siblings without issue).  I know there's a chance that she'll go through a girly-girl phase, and I want to encourage her to be herself.  I also want her to understand that princess is not a career choice.

I'm not sure of the best way to wrap this up, since it feels like a bit of a rant now.  I guess my main point is that after all the advances in equality that have been, and that continue to be made in Western society (including womens' rights, gay marriage, etc), the idea that corporations are trying to get us to go back to the gender ideals of the 1950s just to make a few extra dollars, that really riles me up.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Potato-Bean Cakes - Nom!Nom!Nom!

How's everyone's fall going?  It is one of my favourite seasons - we're past the ugly, hot humidity of summer, but not yet in the super-chilly temperatures of winter.  I'm still figuring out how I'm going to carry the baby around when the temperature drops a little more, but she's currently quite content in a baby carrier, dressed in her fleece with my coat as far around us both as it will go. 

Speaking of baby carriers, who knew they could be this addictive?  There's a different kind for practically every need!  Right now, I'm holding tight at our current count of four. We have a stretchy wrap (ours is from a Canadian company called Maman Kangourou), a woven wrap (mine is the Selter pattern from Didymous and it is beautiful), a ring sling (another Canadian company called Chimparoo) and a soft-structured carrier (ours is a Beco Gemini in the limited edition Orion Black print).  The wraps are really nice at this time of year since there's a little more fabric around you both.
I don't feel too bad, since the internet tells me that woven wraps especially are addictive, and some parents own upwards of twenty!

Once again, I neglected to take photos of the food portion.  Sorry folks!  Having a baby is pretty distracting when trying to make some sort of meal. 
Anywho, Potato-Bean Cakes are an easy & fairly quick way to get some protein into your system.  They're also a handy condiment conveyance device!

You will need just a handful of ingredients.

1 large potato (baked)
1 can beans (I've done this with cannellini, black eyed peas and a tin of mixed beans, but I find a single kind of bean works best).
1 clove garlic diced (or some diced onion - personally, I prefer the onion)
1 egg
1 tsp dill (or more, if you like)
salt & pepper to taste
oil for frying

That's it!  Short list, right?

To start, drain & rinse the beans.  Then put them in a large bowl and mash them until there's still a few whole beans left.  Dice the baked potato and add it to the beans along with the egg, garlic or onion & spices.  Mash everything together until it is well mixed.
Form the mix into patties, balls or whatever other shape you would like (I find patties works best for frying).  I usually get between 8-12 cakes.  Put them on a plate in the fridge to set for half an hour to an hour.
When the setting time is done, heat some oil in a pan and fry your cakes in batches until golden (be sure to flip them & fry both sides).
Then you can eat them with the condiments of your choice!  I have eaten these with homemade plum sauce, bbq sauce & ketchup.  I've seen similar recipes that call for an accompanying aoili or chipotle mayo sauces.

They make a nice dinner when served with a salad & some steamed veggies.