Friday, October 23, 2009

G is 4 Girl Spotlight: Reel Grrls

There's a cool organization based in Seattle that tries to empower girls through the use of a camera. They're called Reel Grrls and the effects of what they're doing appears to have 'reel' staying power.

According to their site, by the time a girl is 16, she'll have spent more time watching t.v. than going to school. Part of what a girl sees each year are thousands of commercials that don't portray women in a very realistic, or even healthy, way. This bombardment of images of perfect, runway model-like women has been proven to have an impact on girls' self-esteem and body image. What Reel Grrls is trying to do is open a discussion with girls about how what they see on t.v. effects them, while giving them the tools they need to create their own media. As they put it, Reel Grrls "if women and girls are to achieve equality and advancement in today's world they must be taught to be media literate." Right on!

Since 2001, they've been helping girls learn how to produce their own videos in after school programs taught by female media professionals. Their DVDs, which are available on their site for purchase, cover a wide-range of topics affecting their young, female filmmakers. Subjects such as body image, violence against women, race, parents with addictions and many more bring to light the opinions and experiences of the filmmakers in an engaging way. The organization has received much praise for their work and the girls' films have been shown at film festivals around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival-Gen-Y studio.

Just today, my hometown paper the Chicago Tribune ran a story about three refugee teens from Africa who made a video about the violence and alienation they've been facing in their adopted home, Chicago. In some cases, it's a kind of violence they never witnessed nor feared in their home countries. You can read about it here. Sponsored by software maker Adobe, they made a documentary that helped to empower them in situations where they felt there was very little they could do. Visual media can be powerful; it's great that there are organizations willing to give youth a chance to make their opinions and voices heard. By doing so, they will make a difference!

If it's true what they say: a picture tells a thousand words, imagine what a film can do. So good work Reel Grrls! You go grrls!

To learn more about Reel Grrls, visit their site at

'Til next time,

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Commercialization of the Pink Ribbon

Everyone's seeing pink these days: pink soup cans, pink yogurt containers, even NFL players donning pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The cause of finding a cure and promoting breast cancer prevention is a worthy one, since so many lives have been and are affected by the disease.

However, the motives of companies promoting the pink ribbon have come into question: sure, a portion of a pink product's profits might be donated to organizations fighting breast cancer, but why do companies "go pink?" Is it purely for charitable reasons? Or does the company have profits in mind as well?

Before I started reading articles such as this eye-opening one from Newsweek called "Seeing Red in Pink Products," by Joan Raymond, I didn't think much about the commercialization of breast cancer awareness. I didn't even explore my own motives in trying to promote prevention awareness.

You see, as part of this blog, I posted an entry on Oct. 1st, about Breast Cancer Awareness month and what women can do to prevent the disease. I also stuck a pink ribbon on the G is 4 Girl Twitter avatar. This blog and our Twitter account are both tied-in to my company, G is 4 Girl. So why am I doing this? Why is G is 4 Girl mentioning Breast Cancer Awareness? I thought it was just something nice to do. I have an aunt who died from the disease two years ago. I'd like to see all cancers eradicated. But by associating G is 4 Girl with a pink ribbon, was I trying to elevate the status of our company by promoting this cause?

I'm not sure. Maybe subliminally, I was. Then again, we are a small biz run out of my house, not Yoplait or Ford. I just wrote a blog about breast cancer prevention because I really do care about my readers and wanted to give them some tips on prevention.

But what about the big corporations? If a portion of the proceeds go to a charitable organization, exactly how much and what about the rest? Has breast cancer awareness become a really great marketing tool? Are we consumers being guilted into buying something that comes in a pink box over a non-pink box? Are companies using the pink ribbons purely to raise their public profiles and the philanthropic aspects are simply an added bonus? Then again, is any harm being done? If a few cents per purchase goes to a charity, it's still two cents that might not have gone to the charity if there hadn't been a promotion.

There's a non-profit organization, Think Before You Pink, that takes the pink-promoting companies to task. If they find a product that's promoting cancer awareness while also being a product that contains carcinogens (such as alcoholic beverages), then they go after them. It's an interesting site to explore and will raise your awareness about those companies who say their trying to raise your awareness about a cause. They also have a great page on the history of the pink ribbon, started by one woman as a grassroots campaign to raise prevention awareness.

'Til next time,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate? That's this season's question!

As if we parents don't have enough to stress about...

The buzz these days is all about the Swine Flu: in the media, on blogs and Twitter, in phone calls and emails to and from friends and family. Will you vaccinate your child or not? What's everyone doing? What's your pediatrician recommending?

The answer is complicated and at times, a mixed bag. The government recommends shots for kids aged 6 months to 24 years old, for pregnant women and adults under age 64 with chronic illnesses. I have a friend who is a healthcare worker for whom the H1N1 vaccination is mandatory. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vaccinating too, for both H1N1 and the "regular" flu. (Click here to view their very helpful info page on the subject). But I know a number of parents who are unsure of the Swine Flu vaccine, since the vaccine being offered is new to the market.

For parents these days, it seems we have a lot to stress about. The modern world presents us with a myriad of problems to fuss over and freak out about, the Swine flu being just one of them.

I was voicing this complaint to my mother recently who agreed that there is a lot more information to process these days than when she was mothering a school-aged kid. The internet and t.v. provides so much news on various topics relating to kids that sometimes it's difficult to sort through the noise and find a voice to trust. However, she reminded me that the past wasn't without worry.

When she was a child, Polio was the great fear. She remembered that during one summer, all public swimming pools in Chicago were closed for fear of spreading the disease. Fortunately, a vaccine changed all that, but not until far too many children were affected by it. An older client of mine has difficultly walking as a result of his bout with the disease as a child. The visible scars and memories remain.

So where does that leave us today? It's up to each of us parents to make our own informed decisions about vaccinations and in some cases, to follow our instincts. For me and my husband: we're still trying to decide about the H1N1 vaccine for our child, though we're leaning toward it. We're currently trying hard to get her a regular flu vaccine, but have been told there's a shortage in our area for kids under age three, due to a manufacturer problem.

For a quick guide for parents, check out this PDF from the Centers for Disease Control. For a very comprehensive guide to the flu, take a look at the Centers for Disease Control web site,

Good luck!

Monday, October 12, 2009

G is 4 Girl Giveaway! Positive-ly Cool School Pak!

In a partnership with the blog Lipstick to Crayons, we're having a fabulous giveaway!!!

It's a trio of items that comprise our "Positive-ly Cool School Pak:" a Sm;)e tee, our "Girls are A-Mazing" bag and a "G is 4..." blank lined journal! Great gifts to help motivate any school-aged girl to do her best and feel good about herself!

At G is 4 Girl, our goal is to create products for girls that are both fun to wear & use and that are empowering! We have almost 30 different designs and a wide-range of products from tees and hoodies to SIGG water bottles and bears! You can check out our full line at our site,

You can enter our giveaway HERE at the Lipstick to Crayons blog. Last chance to enter is October 19th. Good Luck!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Today kicks off Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You'll be seeing lots of pink in the next few weeks: on t-shirts, on food products, even on the hands and heads of NFL players.

Most of us know someone who has battled breast cancer. Unfortunately, many of us know those who have lost. But more and more people are winning, which should give all of us hope that not as many of our children or grandchildren will have to face this disease or other forms of cancer.

But while we can't control some risk factors for the disease (such as our genes), according to leading medical information providers such as the Mayo Clinic, there are things we can control that might help reduce our risk and help us to improve our overall health. Get your kids started young on maintaining a healthier lifestyle by adhering to the following tips:

Exercise - That's right! Good for the body, mind and spirit. Even a 30-minute walk a day can provide significant benefits.

Maintain a Healthy Weight - Studies have shown a link between obesity and breast cancer. Find the right weight for your height and try to get closer to it. Check out this free height/weight calculator.

Limit Alcohol - Of course, kids never should drink. But to reduce your cancer risk, adults should limit consumption to no more than one drink a day or avoid drinking altogether

Don't Smoke - Good advice for everyone and for reasons in addition to preventing cancer. If you need help quitting, check out the resources available at

Reduce Fat in Your Diet - Some studies suggest there may be a link between breast cancer and diets that are higher in fat. However, diets low in fat do help reduce the risk of other problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

Self-Screening - Get in the habit of doing a self breast exam once a month. Inform your daughters of the benefits of early detection to get them in the habit doing self-exams.

For more info on breast cancer, check out the following links: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk.

Check it out: The Women's Museum

Here's a cool place I just learned about and added to my must-visit-someday list: The Women's Museum, located in Dallas, TX, the nation's only comprehensive women's history museum dedicated to exploring the contributions women have made throughout American history. Their mission is to "bring to life the voices, talents, achievements, aspirations and stories of the past, present and future." They've been open for nearly 10 years. What a great place to take your daughter, granddaughter, goddaughter or niece! If only Dallas were closer to my hometown Chicago!

The museum features both special exhibits, traveling exhibits and permanent exhibits with titles such as "Breaking Boundaries," an exhibit that "honors the women who would stop at nothing to accomplish their goals, and whose valiant efforts made possible the vast choices we now enjoy." Hurray for that! To learn more, visit their site or follow them on Twitter!

In learning about the museum in Dallas, I also learned that there's a movement to secure a permanent space in our nation's capital for another women's history museum. The National Women's History Museum is urging people to contact their representatives to encourage them to pass the National Women's History Museum Act, to give it a home next to the National Mall. They particularly need help from constituents living in California and Alaska. You can learn more about this here. Hopefully, someday there will be yet another place to take our daughters!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Will We Ever Get There?

I'm a part-time stay-at-home mom, part-time working mom. In addition to working on starting G is 4 Girl, I have a day job (one that pays the bills) at my family's business, a printing company.

I've been there for over 10 years and now know the business inside and out. While there are more and more female printing business owners and leaders in our industry, I think it's fair to say it's still male-dominated. Some of the men I encounter in day-to-day operations still harbor some odd ideas of how to treat and respond to women in the workplace.

Example: while acting as the head of our company, I encountered a vendor who came through our front door and well, I guess took a liking to me, in a sense. He proceeded to make comments to me that he never would make to a male. He started off with the whole "hey, sweetie," attitude, which is one thing, but the next incident was entirely another: He was there to pick up one of our machines to return it to our leasing facility. When I said he might have trouble getting through a narrow corridor, he mentioned he's never had a problem with narrow spaces because he's well-endowed (he used more colorful language than that, but I'll spare you the details).

He said this as he was exiting our facility, and I was so shocked, I just stood there wondering what on earth had just happened.

Most males I encounter in business are not like this. Most treat women as equals and with respect. Though incidents like these still do happen. And inequalities still exist. Most of the people placing orders with us are executive assistants and 95% of them are women. Most of the business cards we print with titles such as "CEO," "President," or "Vice-Anything," have male names above them.

Yes, we have come a long way. I thank my mother, her generation, and the generations of women who came before us for paving the way and expanding our rights to be equal to that of men. But we still have a ways to go. I hope that in 20 years when my daughter enters the workforce, tales such as these will be nothing more than outdated memories of the way things used to be.

That's one reason I started G is 4 Girl. Girls may encounter situations that make them feel inferior. We need to instill in them a belief and confidence to know that derogatory statements made to them are garbage. That they really can do amazing things and that their achievements can equal those of any male. I believe it. Hopefully all girls believe it too. And maybe, someday, no one else on this planet will take further convincing.

For more ways to inspire girls, check out this awesome organization started to help inspire girls to be strong, Girls Inc.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Even the little things to help the earth count -- we hope!

I just recently can say that I've "Gone Green." And I'm 35 years old.

Kind of embarrassing, I know. But before I moved to a recycling-friendly community, I didn't really consider doing it. It seemed to difficult, and I didn't have the time. Always an excuse.

Now I recycle as much as I can. Even drive to a facility to drop off my plastic bags that our curbside recycler doesn't take. We no longer buy plastic bottles, but use reusable ones from the Gis4Girl store (find cool SIGG ones here). We use reusable grocery bags. We bought a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

Hopefully my carbon footprint is smaller now. I'd like to think it makes a difference, even a microscopic one.

Environmentalists such as Fabien Cousteau, son of famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, say it will help. And he says we should be worried.

The garbage we create can eventually come back to haunt us. Take for example the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (you can read more about it here, as featured on Oprah this past Earth Day). It's basically a floating garbage dump in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that covers an area twice the size of Texas. It contains over 100,000,000 tons of debris, most of it plastic. Only 20% of it seems to be dumped from ships; the rest comes from land, including the U.S. The problem is it's killing millions of animals, which in itself is a tragedy. Where it will hit home, is when the loss of these animals directly effects the world's food supply.

So do what you can for your future and your kids future. And get your kids involved and educated about their part in helping the environment by checking out the EPA's kids site and an organization called Kids for Saving Earth.

For a laugh, see how Paul Rudd and his furry friends help the earth stay clean!

'Til next time,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Breastfeeding at the Zoo: Lions & Tigers & Boobs = Oh My?!?

My family and I went to the Brookfield Zoo yesterday along with hundreds of other families who had the same idea to hang with the animals on a beautiful Chicagoland day. Our time there was wonderful, despite my getting riled up at a woman who apparently feels public breastfeeding is disgusting.

You see, on our walk around the park, we noticed a woman off to the side, sitting on a bench, nursing her baby. She was covered in a breastfeeding "cape," the same kind I used when I nursed my daughter in public. Zero skin was exposed. You couldn't even see the baby, except for his tiny feet dangling from beneath the fabric. As we walked past the mother, a woman in a group next to us declared, "That is disgusting! With all of these people around, look at her breastfeeding in public! Doesn't she know there's a place for her to go and do that in private!"


I'm kind of a shy person generally, until my buttons are pushed, and this time, consider them pushed to the point of no return.

I stayed relatively calm and said, "Breastfeeding is not disgusting! She has a right to sit there and do that just as anyone else does."

The woman didn't respond, but just walked away. I am assuming she also bypassed the gorilla house too, since -- heaven forbid -- she see an ape nursing her young, like we did on a prior zoo visit.

Any child passing by the nursing mother would have no clue that a baby was being breastfed beneath, unless perhaps his or her own mother used a similar cape with a younger sibling. Let's just say the mother was being extremely discreet. No boobage was being exposed. Nary a nipple was being revealed to passersby. What this disapproving woman disliked was THE IDEA that a boob lay beneath the garment doing its God-given job. (BTW, her husband who accompanied her didn't seem to have an opinion on the subject; in fact, no one in her group seconded her declaration).

And this "place" she referred to for nursing a child in private? A "nursing station" located in the women's bathroom. Let me first say that I commend the Brookfield Zoo for conceiving such a place at all. That's the first time I have ever seen a place specifically made for mothers to go nurse their babies other than a nursing station at a hospital where I once visited someone with my infant daughter in tow.

However, the nursing station at the zoo was a doorless nook located at the back of the very stuffy, hot, and rather smelly women's bathroom. It included a bench and a sink, but not much fresh air, and honestly -- I myself wouldn't want to eat a meal in there. In fact, when I finished my business, I escaped ASAP. The doors were propped open to alleviate some of the stuffiness on an 80-degree day, so others at the zoo must have agreed that the place was hot and stinky.

In addition, when I nursed my daughter, I spent so much time indoors nursing her, that when we went on a picnic, to a festival or the zoo, I was so thrilled to be outdoors, I didn't want to go inside and find a "nursing station!" My daughter at times nursed for up to an hour. There's no way I would or should spend a beautiful day cooped up in a john for an hour to feed my child. No one should have to. And thank heavens that--at least in Illinois--legally, no one has to.

For more information on Breastfeeding Rights and laws in your area, check out this article on

'Til next time,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Boogie Wipes Rule!

If you could look up the definition of "runny nose" in the dictionary, you'd probably find a picture of every child on the planet. You'd also probably find some cranky ones, irratable with sore, red noses irritated from too much tissue use.

That's why I'd like to recommend Boogie Wipes! First let me state that I have no association with the company that makes Boogie Wipes, nor have I ever received free samples of their products to review. Their product literally hit me in the face at the grocery store at the same time my daughter was experiencing a bad cold. She refused tissues, even the aloe-filled ones, because they began to hurt when used.

Boogie Wipes contain saline and are made specifically for tender little noses. When we used them, my daughter said, "My nose doesn't hurt anymore!"

Even better, the company was founded by two "Mompreneurs" who saw a need for a product such as this.

Go to the Boogie Wipes website to learn more and get a $1 Off Coupon!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back-to-School Lunch Tips & Tricks

Its Back to School time already! To help you get back into the lunch packing routine, G is 4 Girl came up with some back-to-school lunching ideas to make kids more eager to eat the healthy stuff and moms lives easier:

Get Dippin' - No, not in the pool. That's summer stuff! Kids like dipping things--and not just chicken nuggets. Fruits and veggies go down easier with something to plunk them in: peanut butter, Cool Whip, ranch dressing, hummus. Discover how some carrot sticks and a little Tupperware cup of your dip of choice can go a long way!

Let the Kids Help - Let them pick out a cool lunch box or insulated bag to store their meal in and pack lunches together the night before. Letting your kids help and help choose what they'll be eating might make them more interested in taking a bite in the lunchroom.

Buy a Thermos - In the "old" days (or our generation) thermoses came with the lunch boxes. Not anymore. So invest in one. On a cold day, nothing gives a kid a sense of home more than a hot cup of homemade soup!

Buy Tupperware - According to, prepared lunches (think Lunchables) are high in calories and low in nutrients. In addition, they cost about $16 per pound! Get small, fun containers to put healthy foods in that they can stack and match without spending a fortune on something prepared for you.

Mom Meet Freezer - Make up a bunch of peanut butter or turkey sandwiches and freeze them for use later in the week.

Spice up Sandwiches - Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes. Or ditch the usual Wonder Bread and try pitas or whole grain tortillas for rollup sandwiches.

Bye Bye Brown Bananas - School lunchroom ladies everywhere say one item that often ends up in the trash is bruised fruit (beat up bananas, squished peaches, etc.). Get your kids their daily servings of fruit by slicing up fruit and mixing it in a cup of lowfat vanilla yogurt. Buy a large container of yogurt and you'll save money over the individual, pre-made cups. They're healthier too!

Personalize It - One of my best memories of school lunches was getting a daily note written on a napkin by my mom. She worked full-time and early, and often we didn't see each other in the morning before school. It was nice to open up my lunch box and find a special message from her inside. It helped me get through what sometimes seemed like long days away from home! Thanks Mom!

For lunch box recipes, check out's school lunch page.

'Til next time,

Monday, August 10, 2009

Girls for a Change: Helping Girls Change their Worlds

On G is 4 Girl Blogs! we like to feature organizations aimed at helping girls achieve great things. Last week, I came across a cool one that does just that: Girls for a Change.

As stated on their site, "Girls for a Change is a national organization that empowers girls to create social change." Since 2002, they have inspired girls to conquer problems and help people in their own neighborhoods by providing them with the tools and resources they need to make a difference. While Girls for a Change aims to help girls everywhere, they are especially committed to helping girls in low-income areas. They began in the Silicon Valley and branched out to the Phoenix area in 2005, followed by a Girls Summit National Tour in 2008, where they taught more than 2,500 girls about social change and how to implement it in their own communities.

What is a very cool part of this program, is that the girls frequently meet with and learn from their "coaches" -- professional women volunteers who guide them toward achieving their goals. With their guidance, not only do girls do something helpful in their communities, they learn that they have the power and strength to make those changes happen. Girl power in action!

Maybe someday soon there will be a Girls for a Change group near you!

'Til next time,

Monday, August 3, 2009

Girl World Daily: Online Mag for Preteens & Teens

We at G is 4 Girl are proud and super-excited to announce our partnership with Girl World Daily, an online magazine for tweens and teen girls that can be found on our G is 4 Girl website!

This is a really cool -- and free! -- online magazine filled with articles, interviews, and quizzes tailor-made for girls. It covers topics such as health, entertainment, relationships and more in a fun and engaging way. Better yet -- Girl World Daily shares our mission of empowering girls and making them feel good about themselves as they navigate the turbulent tween years. I wish I had something like this when I was a tween!

The magazine is created and edited by Studio One Networks, a New York-based media firm specializing in award-winning multimedia content.

'Til next time,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Check This Out: Girl Mogul Magazine!

If there's a girl in your life who's between the ages of 7 and 13, then you should know about the upcoming publication, Girl Mogul Magazine. Their motto says it all: "Encouraging Successful Girls."

Scheduled for launch in September 2009, Girl Mogul Magazine will be subscription-based and initially will reach over 125,000 girls. The magzine plans to hit newsstands in 2010.

But if you can't wait for the first issue, not to worry: girls can read Girl Mogul Online at -- a great blog for girls featuring positive articles, news and advice for girls on the move. To quote from their web site, Girl Mogul is "for girls who are making a difference in their community, who are leaders, entrepreneurs and world changers. Girl Mogul Magazine is about who you are, what you stand for and what you can do with your life. It isn’t about what you wear or what you look like, what’s inside that makes you shine.”

I can't wait until my daughter knows how to read!

They've even developed a site for parents,, offering advice and tips for moms and dads. Pretty cool! Check them out!

'Til next time,

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mamas, Wear Your Helmets!

Growing up in the '70s and '80s, I never wore a bicycle helmet. I never saw any one else wear one either. Maybe in the movie "Breaking Away," but never in real life. My husband and I laugh about it and think maybe that's why our generation is smaller than the others.

Enter 2009. Our daughter is now old enough to sit on the back of a bike and get chauffered around. On vacation, we rented two bikes and a kiddie seat. (My lovely cycle adorned with stylish 'basquette' is pictured to the right).

The bike rental guy handed us the paperwork and pointed to two bins full of helmets.

"The ones on the right are for kids, the ones on the left are for adults," he said. "Help yourself."

Oh boy.

My husband and I gave each other "Do we have to?" looks. And yes, yes we did. We just couldn't make our daughter wear her helmet, and then us two ride off into the sunset with bare heads. It just didn't seem fair. And what lesson would she learn, seeing both parents ride helmet-free? So we both donned our hard, white caps, fashionable chin strap and all. And boy, did we look cool.

I mean, I always thought of myself as being at least moderately coordinated. I played sports (yes, badminton is a sport). I think I can dance (albiet, circa 1980's "Material Girl.") So I rode around the sandy beaches and paths of Hilton Head, feeling confident that my well protected head would never make contact with ground. I was convinced that my helmet wearing was in vain.

So oblivious was I to any danger, so much did I enjoy the sightseeing, that I failed to anticipate a large bump in the road that sent me flying from my little two-wheeled rental.

That's right. I went head over heels, not for but rather on top of my lovely ride. My daughter kind of freaked out and so did my hubby. But other than a scraped knee and dented pride, I was fine.

Ever since, I've about half of parents I've seen riding bikes with their kids were wearing helmets, half were going bare-headed. No, I can't say that I felt very cool wearing it, and I certainly didn't feel cool falling off my ride. But to walk away unscathed--well now, that felt very cool indeed. And every time we see someone riding a bike, my daughter comments on how Mama didn't get hurt because Mama wore her helmet. Now that's a lesson learned truly by example.

According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, non-helmet riders are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than ones who wore helmets. And in 2007, sadly 698 cyclists died.

Helmets are cheap. Target offers them for as little as $20. A small price to pay for protecting something as valuable as your noggin.

Many states and municipalities have bike helmet laws requiring them for riders age 16 and under. But not many have laws for Mamas. But trust me, this Mama never will ride without one again.

'Til next time,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crayola...Will You Marry Me?

Oh, wait. I'm already married. And I guess you can't really marry a company. If that was the case, I probably would have proposed to Sam Adams years ago.

But seriously! Crayola...I *heart* you!!!

Let me first state that I am not a paid spokesperson for Crayola, nor have I ever received anything free from the company (though Crayola, my sweet, please feel free to correct that one, if you must.)

But my daughter who's two years old is all into painting. I have bought Crayola products in the past -- crayons and markers -- and have had much success with them (to this mom, success is the cleanup, of course; though I like to think I draw a mean tree trunk with burnt sienna).

Anyway, last week she graduated from paint-with-water to the real deal: Paints with Brushes (which, incidentally, is also her new Native American name). I purchased washable paint, and ... halleluliah! A toddler covered in the stuff washes 100% clean in minutes with a little soap and a bucket full o'h20! Better yet, everything comes clean quite easily: brushes, tabletops, shirts, dish towels, curtains, stuffed animals, purses, hair -- you name it! So let your little Picassos run free (though running with pointy brushes is not endorsed by this blogger). Dad's old shirt donned backwards is not required! Mothers of budding artists, rejoice!

For more info on the miraculous wonder that is Crayola, visit none other than

'Til next time,

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Future IS Bright For Writing

When I graduated from college and moved to New York City, I wrote my parents and friends back home at least once a week. I actually put pen to paper, sealed my correspondence in an envelope, affixed a $.32 stamp and put it in a blue mailbox on the corner of my Brooklyn street. It was 1996, and no one in my family had email. Actually, I didn't have email. I didn't even have my own computer, other than the one I used at work. Sometimes I miss those days, because I still have the letters they all sent back to me. Even my grandfather wrote me long letters which included family news as well as Bible verses to inspire me. If I hadn't moved away, I never would have received such keepsakes that someday I can show to my daughter. I bet I'll seem really old to her when I do!

So then came technology. Web sites, email, cell phones, texting, now Twitter. With all the LOL's, emoticons and other e-terms I've had to learn, I wondered about the next generation and their communication skills. No more letter writing. Nothing to really "hold" on to. Just little blurbs and blips here and there.

Then it came to me: the kids are communicating. Now more than ever! And that's what's important. Texts, emails, tweets flying here and there. I doubt they could live without their i-phones or laptops! Though abbreviated, they are writing. More so than I did when I had to drag out a pad of paper, buy stamps and wait days for my letter to get to its destination. They're writing every single day. Dozens of times a day. (Mmaybe even hundreds?)

A friend of mine told me the story of when driving with her daughter and one of her daughter's friends, she asked her kid who she was texting. "Abby," her daughter answered. "But Abby's right there in the back seat!" my friend exclaimed. Sometimes it seems kind of crazy to us parents, but that scenario is probably not so strange to kids. And while I feel texting should not be occuring 24/7 (and not at the family dinner table), it actually could be improving their communication skills.

Not only are kids writing more frequently then my generation did at that age, but they're learning to form their thoughts more concisely. As a journalism student, we performed many exercises that aimed to teach us the art of brevity. Every little word should count. Nothing extraneous. And that's just what the kids are doing because they have to. They're conversing in a way that's teaching them to get to the point. To say it quickly and sparingly. Technology just might produce a generation of great journalists after all. Even this article on E-School explains how students' writing scores are improving greatly.

I know many older people yearn for the old days and complain about technology ruining lots of things (especially when their computers crash). But if people are communicating now more than ever, I think that's a great thing. Maybe technology is bringing us together instead of isolating us. And as for the next generation, like Green Day says, "The kids are alright." (Though my pesky j-prof would have corrected them and said, "It's all right, sons. All right?")

'Til next time,

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Guess I'm Covering the Bullying Beat

I had an earlier post about my experience with bullies and bullying. Sad article today in the Chicago Tribune. A local teen ended his life and his parents feel bullying was a contributing factor. His parents say he did not feel protected by the school, and school officials -- while declining to discuss his case in particular--feel that in such cases, they try to do everything they can to help.

I was bullied a bit by some jerks when I was a freshman, but then fell into a crowd that no one bothered. But I knew other kids who were harassed endlessly. At my ten year high school reunion, I was relieved to see one of the victims there with his gorgeous wife-- a successful business man with a baby on the way. Those classmates who used to make fun of him were floored at who he had become. I liked him in school (we were always seated next to each other, thanks to the alphabet) and he remembered that I was always nice to talk to (when I did talk!). But while I was thrilled to discuss his success, I felt kind of sad that his high school experience was tarnished by a bunch of idiots who, as it turns out, really didn't amount to a whole lot.

I had hoped that, by now, things had changed for kids. The school that the boy in the article mentioned above attended said they posted posters about recognizing bullying. They also have a system in place where people can anonymously tell administrators about bullying. Maybe they can't do anything else. That the rest is up to kids and parents. But it's been up to kids and parents all along, and look at where it's gotten us.

For my friend from high school, once he graduated he realized college was completely different. He wasn't bullied. He gained confidence in himself. And currently, he is in the process of conquering the world. I hope every kid out there being bullied can see that it won't last forever. Unfortunately for some, high school seems like it never will end.

Til next time,


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lessons Learned on Vacation

I just returned from a wonderful week with my family on Hilton Head Island, SC. It had been a while since we vacationed. Having a baby does that. But it was great to have the chance to get away and see my toddler daughter revel in the ocean and the beach. After just a few days, she had become a master sand castle-builder.

I've always found that getting away from home teaches me things. It clears my head and helps me put things in perspective. I had a lot of time to think on this trip, given we had to drive 17 hrs. in the car to get there! So here's the list:

1). I don't have to check my email as often as I thought I did. Or my Twitter account. Or my web site stats. Or my blog. Or my 2nd email account. And certainly not my third.
2). Even rainy days at the beach can be a lot of fun (storms = waves, and waves = bodyboarding!)
3). At home, I invest too much time on insignificant things: too many trips to stores for only one item, too much time on the computer, too much time cleaning. It all adds up to time that could better be spent on having fun.
4). Always take an extra set of car keys when going on a road trip.
5). Always check your pockets before washing sandy clothes so as not to accidentally wash insanely expensive electronic car key.
6). Kids grow up way too fast.
7). We all need to take more vacations, even if vacation means staying at home & coming up with fun things to do while ignoring housework.
8). A roadtrip isn't a true roadtrip without a stop at a Waffle House & Stuckeys.
9). There is no such thing anymore as taking too many pictures.
10). There is no such thing as wearing too much sunscreen.
11). I need to work less (this one takes an explanation; lately I've been spending so much time trying to grow my own business, which is becoming as time consuming and as difficult as growing a banana tree in Chicago. While I still want to work at it, I'm thinking I won't work at it as much as I have been. If it fails, I have nothing to show; whereas, if I spend more of that time on scrapbooking, I have plenty to show my daughter when she gets older).
12). Southerners are extremely polite; not sure we saw one hint of an incident of "road rage" south of Indiana and people actually held open doors!
13). Life is short. Enjoy every minute of it, even the rainy days at the beach.

So there you have it! Lessons I learned from my trip. I also learned that watching cartoon DVDs in the car made me nauseated, cured only by downing a bag of Wavy Lays, but I didn't feel that was worthy of the list.

Til next time,

Monday, May 18, 2009

On Atrocities and Faith

If you're looking for my regular, light-hearted fare, then you'd better stop reading.

After reading this on, I'm not in the mood to laugh.

It's Eve Ensler's account of the atrocities occurring to women, girls--baby girls even--in the Congo.

This is not new news. For years now, I have read Ms. Ensler's accounts of her visits to the Congo and the women and girls she has met. I've written about it before. Yet, the stories keep coming and coming. I keep hoping I will see an article posted with a headline such as: "All Women in Congo are Now Safe! Someone Came To Their Rescue!" But no. Just year, after year, of gruesome stories. If something like this began occurring in, say, the state of Oregon, someone would take notice and do something. I bet even France would send in their troops. When a horrible crime occurs in this country to ONE person, the media gets hold of it, and most of the time, people are up in arms about it. But Congo is much too far away for most people to care.

I'll probably go for a walk today with my daughter and see nothing but blue skies and other people out for walks, jogging, running errands, working. To imagine seeing the horrors Ms. Ensler describes on my own impossible. But imagine a girl growing up in Congo. What has she seen? And why has no one tried to make her world better? Is there a difference between her and my daughter? Only geography.

At times like this, I get angry with governments, Western civilization, myself, and God. Of all beings who could put a stop to this, surely He can, am I right? I mean really! I think if I were God, I certainly wouldn't allow a six month old baby girl be tortured. So why would He? (Does He even deserve the capital "H" I'm giving Him, anyway?) I don't know. Maybe He thinks that because this is a man-made problem, it should have a man-made answer. He didn't swoop down and stop the Holocaust now, did He? Maybe He is hoping our goodness will prevail, we will wake up, and prevent genocide from happening once and for all. I mean, how many times must history repeat itself people!--He's probably thinking.

In the end, I can't help but feel He cries with us too, when crap like this happens. That His heart breaks a million times more than mine even, when he sees men doing these things to women and girls. That He too wonders what the heck we're all doing here, standing by idly, as other innocent humans suffer terribly. What good are they? He might wonder about us.

At least that's what I'd like to think. That there's more good in the world than bad. However, for the women and girls of Congo, THEIR worlds have more bad than good in them. And honestly, for any of us who care an ounce about this situation, we have to do something to correct that.

For more info on this problem and what we can do, visit

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Ain't No Donna Reed!

Anyone ever heard of Donna Reed? Remember her? 1950's and '60s television icon? On "The Donna Reed Show," she was a stay-at-home mom, vacuuming and ironing in wrinkle-free skirt and heels. Lovingly tending to her doctor husband and two beautiful children. Providing her family with an endless supply of fresh-baked goodies. Making wonderfully wholesome meals, served with pressed napkins, milk delivered via milkman and a gleaming white smile? She appeared to be the Martha Stewart of her time. Now that I am a wife and mom, I realize what a crock that was! No wonder my grandmother spent most of her adulthood depressed and medicated! Who could live up to that ideal? Certainly not me.

Case in point: It was almost 5 o'clock. My husband was on his way home. I looked around and realized I had to warn him about what he would find when he entered our home. I dialed. "Hi, what's up?" he said. "Um, honey. I thought I should warn you: Dinner is partially burned, but we'll just call it "blackened;" leftovers from lunch lay scattered across the kitchen table; peanut butter is still smeared into the chairs and your daughter's hair; a terrorist must have sneaked in our house and unleashed a laundry bomb because there are clothes lying in clumps everywhere; watch out for an assortment of puzzle pieces and empty Disney movie boxes you might encounter underfoot near the front door; I haven't showered today (actually, wasn't sure if I had brushed my teeth, but I didn't tell him that); our daughter is still running around in her jammies--Christmas jammies and if I'm not mistaken, it's May."

His reply: "So what else is new?"

If my mother could see me now, she would be appalled. Actually, during this conversation the doorbell rang, and I freaked. No! No visitors! Not now!!! Especially not Mom!!!

It was a man trying to sell landscaping services. I told him I couldn't talk. Something in the oven was burning. He didn't believe me. Poor young fellow. If he only knew that rare is the day when something isn't burning in our oven!

So what? So I'm no Donna Reed. Or Martha Stewart. To me, at the end of the day, success is getting my family fed and in clean (albeit, most of the time wrinkly) clothes and spending time with them. And we spend a lot of time together. Playing, going the park, swimming, planting gardens and flying kites. Better Homes & Gardens would not want to feature my home. But who cares? You don't fill up scrapbooks with pictures of your living room furniture. You don't savor memories of a clean rug or polished bathtub (actually, it's quite possible that my mother does. God bless her!). I couldn't tell you what we had for dinner last week, but I can tell you how much my daughter laughed when she and my husband wrapped me up like a burrito in a beach towel. But please, if you ever stop by for a visit, call waaaayyyy in advance! And don't mind the smoky haze in the kitchen!

'Til next time!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Girls Rights Week May 4-8, 2009

There's a non-profit organization called Girls Inc. " dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold." Pretty cool stuff. They've even developed a Girls Bill of Rights. To make their mission more known -- and the plight of girls everywhere -- they've made this week Girls Rights Week! Check out their site to learn more about them and how you can help advance girls rights and gender equity.


Friday, May 1, 2009

The Upside to the Downside of Being Bullied

Kids grow up so fast. It won't be long and my daughter will be attending school. My husband and I were recalling grade school memories the other day, both good and bad. For me, the latter always comes back to being bullied in the second grade. Mary (not her real name, though I still remember it; I doubt she remembers mine) was much larger than me, and sometimes even my friend. She would invite me to play or sit next to her at lunch, then would make fun of me, call me names, and threaten to hurt me (though fortunately, she never did physically). She even threatened that various family members of hers would come to school to beat me up (and one day, a cousin did come with with her, but fortunately, both just teased me for liking the color pink, then left.) This went on for a year, until one day, she approached me seeming both unusually sad and nice. "I'm moving," she said. "I won't be going to school here anymore." I still remember standing in our schoolyard, frozen with disbelief, my heart racing with the purest joy I've ever felt.

My memories of being bullied are so vivid, because they affected me very deeply. For many years, once I grew to be a not-so-scrawny girl, I dreamed of meeting her and giving her a piece of my mind (and occasionally, I threw a fist in there too). You see, I told my parents of what was going on right away, but they just told me to ignore her. I don't think they knew what to do about it and thought it was just the idle threats of second-graders, harmless stuff. I told my teacher, and she even paid a visit to Mary's house, after which Mary told me if I ever told anyone again, I would be in even bigger trouble than before, so I never said another word to anyone about it.

It wasn't until adulthood that I realized maybe Mary was a victim too. On one occasion, she mentioned her mom hitting her. I think she might possibly have been the victim of abuse, which is why she might have turned to bullying. I also wonder if her moving to another place might have been the result of a teacher probing into a domestic situation her family didn't want made known.

The upside is that by being bullied, I became very sensitive to others being bullied. When I was an older school child, I even had the courage to intervene and help kids out when they were becoming victims. It's too bad that back in 1983, bullying wasn't taken very seriously. I think Mary and I could have benefitted more from the situation if the adults in our lives did more to try to resolve the problem. Unfortunately for her, I'm not sure the adults in her life cared enough to bother. But I wish mine did more to put a stop to it. I know many parents and educators believe in letting kids resolve their own problems. I think that's important too. However, when that's not possible, intervention is necessary. At least, now I know that if my daughter ever finds herself in such a situation, I'll be with her ever step of the way until it's resolved, whether that means just lending her emotional support or intervening directly. No matter what age kids are, bullying hurts! And its effects last a lifetime.

For more on stopping bullying, visit Stop Bullying Now!

'Til Next Time,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hey Girls: Dream Big! (But dream little too)

I've been reading a lot lately about the pressures put on today's girls to be the all-around perfect teen: get the best grades, excel in sports or arts, and look like a runway model while doing it all. Since I design clothes for girls that are positive and inspiring, I'm always telling girls to "Dream Big," encouraging them to set their goals high and try their best to reach them. Today I'd like to emphasize the importance of "Dreaming Little" too.

When I was a teen, my dream was to become a novelist. I graduated high school and went on to study journalism in college, feeling that so many of my author heroes began as journalists, that if I followed in their footsteps and did well, I'd become a novelist too.

After college, I moved to New York City, got a job in broadcast journalism, and on the side wrote a novel. I spent two years working on a historical fiction novel set in the 1930's Florida Keys around the time of a real-life disasterous hurricane that took place there. I even went to the Keys and interviewed long-time residents and local experts to make my story authentic. And after two years of toiling over it, I began to edit and discovered was baaaaaadddddd. Really, truly, genuinely unpublishable. Sure it had some good parts. Some of the characters were good. In some parts the writing worked well. I thought the premise was a good one (still do), but overall, it didn't come together. Afterward, I tried writing and submitting many short stories, poems, plays -- you name it. In came rejection after rejection. I was a capable writer, but not an outstanding one. Maybe years from now I'll be able to write and publish a good novel -- but most likely not. I know that now and accept it.

So then what? I had kept my day job, thank goodness, so I wasn't a starving artist. I pursued my passion of sailing. I met a great guy and married him, and we both achieved our dream of having a family. And now I've started a business, which is another dream of mine. These last few dreams are ones many people share. They're pretty common. I call them little dreams. They won't bring fame and fortune, but they bring me a great deal of happiness.

And that's my point. As my daughter grows, I will continue to encourage her to follow her dreams, as grand as they may be. I will do whatever she needs me to do to help her achieve them. But I also will teach her about the importance of having little dreams too. Actually, to have many dreams -- as many dreams as she can! If all of them come true--wonderful! But if some of the big ones (or little ones) don't, then that's okay. Accept it, and move on to making another dream come true. Just as long as she has some dreams and can realize some of them, then I think she'll be okay. And I think that's an important point to make for girls (and boys) everywhere. Only a few of the thousands of school-age athletes or actors or artists ever go on to become professionals. But that's okay. Just because you don't play professional soccer doesn't mean you can't play soccer at all and enjoy it. And if we teach girls to have many dreams -- big, medium-sized and little -- then we'll teach them to rebound from the hard knocks in life and still be happy.

'Til next time,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Did the Superwomen Create the Supergirls?

When I was in 4th grade, my teacher told my parents that I had to go to college. I remember my parents -- my mother, especially -- being proud of this acknowledgment of my learning potential. Apparently, Mrs. Ortman didn't make that recommendation for every girl in the class. Nowadays, it is expected that most kids will go to college. In fact, the accomplishments of previous generations of women have opened nearly all doors for girls everywhere to pursue anything they put their minds to. Some people are now arguing that -- unlike boys -- today's girls might be at risk of developing an anxiety unique to their generation's myriad potential. A new book titled "Supergirls Speak Out" by Liz Funk addresses the problems caused by the current class of overachievers. Like the Superwoman of the '80s and '90s who managed to handle school and work while raising a family, today's Supergirl is expected to excel in everything: academics, sports, social life, and look like a runway model while doing it all. 20-year-old Funk writes from an insider's perspective, bemoaning the fact that she didn't publish her first book until age 20. Today's girls -- unlike my grandmother's, my mother's and even my own generation (I'm 35) -- can do anything. But that doesn't mean they should do everything. Some women embrace the Superwoman persona; but many do not. Maybe its up to those of us who've had a taste of the Superwoman life to teach our daughters and other girls that it's one thing to be super, but quite another to be overextended. My mother wanted to to excel, but she also wanted me to take the time to enjoy life and be happy. Maybe my mom really was the Superwoman after all!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Wear Eyeliner

I picked up a copy of a local parenting publication this week and was shocked by a full page advertisement I saw for a spa. What shocked me, you ask? Well, this wasn't any old spa -- this was one for girls 5 AND UNDER. Yes, you read that right -- a spa for toddlers and preschoolers. This company specializes in hosting parties that include -- for a base package of $34.95 per girl -- a special hair updo, makeup application, manicure, a 15-minute walk on a runway, cake and a special goodie bag including more makeup, glitter and a photo to capture memories of the special experience. This company offers services for tweens and grade-school-aged girls, however this ad specifically was targeting pre-schoolers. As the mother of a toddler girl, I am afraid -- very afraid of the kinds of things I might face in the years ahead. Are these "princess packages" creating negative images in our daughters' minds or are they harmless? Is it just a day of fun, or does it create a lasting impression on our girls that this primping and perfecting is what they need to be real girls & women? That you always should be made up, done up as much as you can, or else your just not worthy of being called a princess? Last week, an article ran on called "Generation Diva," about the very same subject. Author Jessica Bennett posed these questions and others and pondered what this "diva-fication" will do to girls' images of themselves. Will a girl raised on mani/pedis be getting Botox at twenty, facelifts at 30, and then Prozac at 40? Will the never-ending search for perfection be taken to new extremes by the next generation? The article stated that tween girls are bombarded with an average of 500 advertisements a day, many of them concerning how a woman can gain a little bit more perfection physically. That's the reason I started my company, Gis4Girl, is to let girls know that they are already fabulous and beautiful just the way they are. I don't really have a problem with girls wanting to be princesses -- playing dress up in pretty dresses can fun. And maybe they want manis and pedis and make up because they see mom doing just that. But I can't help but feel that a party including makeup application and strutting down a runway is just a bit too much for someone 5 and under. Be a princess for a day, fine. But girls: be a scientist, an athlete, an adventurer, a reader and writer, an artist, a doctor, a creator, and be yourself every other day after that!

Til next time,


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

That's Right: Throw Like a Girl!!!

I attended the park with my daughter during the past week. It was nice finally to get outside after what has seemed to be never-ending wintry weather! A father and his son stood nearby playing catch. The boy--about four or five years old-- was doing his best and his father was trying his hardest to encourage his son to improve. However, one comment struck a nerve: the father shouted at one point, "You're throwing like a girl!" Oh no! Not that!! The boy immediately changed his stance, gritted his teeth and tried harder to impress. Because, heaven forbid he throw like a girl! No boy wants that! No waaaayyyy!! I wondered: would comments like that help boys form negative impressions of the opposite sex in other ways? To throw like a girl is to throw weakly. To run like a girl is to run slowly. Doing something like a girl is then associated with being inferior. Would this kid grow up to believe that women are inferior in ways not related to physical strength? I'm not sure. I hope not. I grew up believing I was equal to males. I didn't realize some people thought otherwise until I was in my 20's. Maybe I was sheltered, but it was a wonderful world to grow up in! I excelled. I followed my heart. I went to college. After that, I moved to New York City. No one tried to stop me or tell me I couldn't or I wasn't strong enough, because even if they had, I wouldn't have believed them. I grew up believing that I could do anything a boy could do, and maybe even do some things better. I still believe it. Hopefully girls and boys everywhere can grow up believing it too.

'Til next time,

For positive clothes for girls and tweens, check out!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where do all the brave girls go?

Last week I attempted rock climbing. Since I live in one of the flattest states in the Union, this was done indoors at a local health club. Heights are not my thing, so I scaled about 10 feet, looked down and rappelled down (okay, so I didn't exactly rappel down--I kind of, er--plopped). I tried once more -- up, maybe 11 feet this time, then kick, flump, plop! Anyway, once on solid ground, I unhooked myself and decided to watch the other climbers show me how it's done. Out of the 7 others, 3 were girls, aged 10, 8 and 6. You should have seen them! Little Spiderwomen they were! They climbed as high as they could, as quickly as they could, did not look down and then--once reaching the top--really rappelled down! (Though the six year old was a bit too light to let her weight do the work and was instead pulled down by her mother and big sister).

Their fearlessness reminded me of something that happened when I was a girl. My friend Jenny and I loved to swim in a local lake. About 50 yards offshore was a platform dive. I'm not sure how high it was; all I know is that one day we swam out there and found a group of teen boys standing atop, all daring each other to jump, but none of them budging. Jenny and I climbed up, walked past them all, and without hesitation, jumped right in! I didn't stand around and ponder how dangerous it could be for me or what might happen if I landed wrong, what injuries I could possibly sustain (though I later heard that my shore-bound mother surely did). I just jumped right in.

Like the girls on the climbing wall. They were brave. They didn't look down. They just started to climb and gave it all they had. I'm not sure why, but many women I know have outgrown this sense of fearlessness, and have to work hard to get it back. I hope the girls I met the other night and every other girl out there never loses theirs.

'Til next time!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rihanna and Everything After

Everyone's talking about Rihanna and Chris Brown these days. Is she okay? Are they still together? Even Oprah made a televised plea to her to end her relationship with him. Obviously, Mr. Brown needs help. Whether or not he learned this type of behavior during his own childhood, he needs to find a better way to control his anger. Many people on discussion boards and in the media cannot fathom why Rihanna might consider continuing a relationship with him. I hope she doesn't. If, heaven forbid, my daughter ever finds herself in a similar situation, I would do everything I could to help her and encourage her to leave the relationship once and for all. At least my daughter is growing up in a family where these things don't happen. Such behavior is not acceptable and should not be tolerated. I have a family friend who found herself in a similar situation. Her partner--while drunk--hit her after she said something that upset him. Fortunately, that incident made her partner wake up and realize he had a drinking problem. He got help, sobered up, and an outburst of that kind never happened again. That was many years ago and they are still together. Unfortunately, I believe a transformation of this kind is one of the rare results of abuse. What is a more likely scenario is that the abuse continues and gets worse, even jeopardizing the victim's life. Maybe Rihanna will stay with Chris, hoping that he might get help and change. Hopefully he will try and can. But I don't think Rihanna, or any woman anywhere, should wait around hoping for a miracle.

For more information about ending domestic violence, visit The Family Violence Prevention Fund. If you know someone being abused, they can call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit their web site at


For positive and inspiring clothes for girls and tweens, visit Gis4Girl!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thank you Matt Damon

And George Clooney. And Don Cheadle. And Brad & Angelina. And Christina Ricci. And Eve Ensler. And all other celebs who actually use their fame to help people. Matt Damon made headlines today while filming a movie in South Africa. He met with a refugee from Zimbabwe who described her harrowing story of being raped while pregnant as she tried to escape her troubled homeland. George Clooney met recently with President Obama to share his concerns about the situation in Darfur. Unfortunately, the horrific stories coming out of these regions often is not enough for people to take notice and do something to help those living in these dire situations. But stick a celebrity somewhere, and everyone wants to know what's going on. And history keeps repeating itself. Lessons learned from the Holocaust, Kosovo, Rwanda -- how many genocides need to occur before we intervene early in others in the making? Meanwhile, mothers, daughters, and sisters in these areas continue to suffer and live in fear. And here in the U.S., according to the organization RAINN, 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. One in six! Every two minutes a woman is assaulted. As a mother, I know that I will never stop worrying about my daughter's safety. And to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, my daughter will not be safe until everyone's daughters are safe.

To learn more about how to help women in Africa, the US and all over the world, visit the following organizations: Not On Our Watch, Save Darfur, and RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network).


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yes, today is my birthday. I am 35. Gulp! Goodness. Where did time go?!? As my husband put it this morning, "You're half way to 70!" Smug little thing he is, younger than me by 9+ months. Ah, well. I don't feel that old. Sometimes, I still feel like the awkward 12 year old that I was long, long ago. Our culture is obsessed with age. We idolize youth and try to keep it for as long as possible. That's too bad, because I feel happier now than when I was 25. More secure, more knowledgeable, more content. Life just keeps getting better, really. And I feel, at 35, fortunate to still be here. At any age, we should not take anything for granted! But I have gray hair. And a few (or several) wrinkles. I feel time going by more quickly the older I get. I have relatives in my family that weren't much older than me when they passed on. All of that kind of freaks me out. But I look to people in my life who are much older than me and doing great things. Like the 70-year-old woman who was taking surfing lessons for the first time when we were in Hawaii -- you go girl! I believe there really is a beauty that comes with age. Unlike Western culture, the Japanese have one word to describe this: sabi. Cool and concise. I like that. And today, maybe I just gained a little bit more sabi. As all of us girls do!

Til next time,

For positive and inspiring clothes for girls and tweens, check out

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hey, Ellen and Portia: Daughters Rule!

Hi girls! On my way into work yesterday, I heard a story on the radio about Ellen DeGeneres and her spouse Portia De Rossi wanting to start a family. Good for them! Then the announcer said that they were hoping for a boy, but they would be happy to have any healthy child. That's when my heart sank. I don't know how true that statement is, since it didn't come from either Ellen's or Portia's mouth, but it made me feel a little sad. If it is truly how they feel, let me state that I'm not one to judge their reasons, whatever they may be. But being the mother of a daughter, I am at a loss for understanding why anyone would prefer a boy over a girl. In many parts of the world, such as China with its draconian "One Child Policy," boys, being the ones to continue a family's lineage, are often valued over girls. Sometimes--horribly--girls are aborted or killed after birth so that the parents have another chance to try for a boy. This breaks my heart. To think of all of the amazing girls who might not be here because of such despicable acts. I'm not putting Ellen and Portia in this category, of course. Like I said, they have their reasons and are entitled to them. But to hear people say they favor boys over girls still makes me a little uneasy. My husband and I thought we were having a boy, since his family is boy-dominant. At our 20 week ultrasound, we were surprised to find a little daughter in the making. My husband's first reaction: "I don't know what to do with girls!" And, more importantly: "Now who will I leave my Mustang to?" My reply: "You'll leave it to her!!!" Perhaps, as she matures, we will have more to worry about with her than if we had a boy. Girls are more vulnerable to violent crimes. Girls are the ones with the chance of becoming pregnant. The list of potential worries goes on and on--believe me, I've thought of all of them! But my daughter is truly wonderful, truly amazing. I believe she will grow up to do great things, like the millions of phenomenal women before her. Sure, men have us beat on physical strength, but nothing else. So to Ellen and Portia, let me say this: boy or girl, may you discover that you are equally blessed to have either!


For positive-ly cool clothes for girls, tweens and teens, check out

Monday, February 16, 2009

Barack Obama is Following Me on Twitter !?!

Last week I received a little surprise in my inbox. Barack Obama, leader of the free world, decided to follow me on Twitter. What?!?! ME??? Why me? Why, I'm--nobody. I can understand if he wanted to follow, say, Hillary Clinton's Twitters (though I bet Bill's would be far more entertaining). But me? I'm a part-time housewife, part-time graphic designer--not Anderson Cooper. I mean, doesn't he have better things to do? Fix the economy? Devise a plan for our nation's healthcare? Play a pick up game of basketball? Befuddled, I logged in to Twitter and discovered that I am but one of 275,060 people he is following. Wow! How does he do it? He really must be superhuman after all! To have the ability to read all of those Twitters! I can barely keep up with my seven! Top that George W. Bush! You didn't even read! Of course, I realize what this is. Mr. President isn't really reading about my trip to the grocery store. Or about how my daughter made me laugh. Or how I drank too much caffeine and began to think my paperclips were doing the can-can across my desk. No, surely he hasn't the time for that. I doubt he even has hired anyone to do that for him. Thousands upon thousands of little Twitters are probably languishing in his account, unread. But for me and probably 275,059 other people, the announcement in our inboxes was a surprise and kind of cool. I mean, how often can you say, "The President is following ME!"

'Til next time,


For positive-ly cool clothes for girls, tweens and teens, check out

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mama's Kisses Heal (Almost) Everything

Hi Girls! A few weeks ago, my daughter bumped her head and immediately started crying. Sometimes she looks at me first to judge my reaction: if I'm wincing, she starts to bawl; if I'm smiling, she shakes it off, no big deal. But this time, it really hurt. I checked it out and could tell that no harm was done, so to make her feel better, I said, "Here. Mama will kiss it." And poof! It was as if I had cast a magical spell upon her! She instantly felt better and went about her day. Ever since, if she gets a boo-boo of any kind, she will immediately seek out Mama's kisses to heal them. Likewise, she has determined that her kisses have healing powers too (after all, she is Mama's daughter). I hit my knee hard against the door last week and she immediately offered her kisses to assist in my speedy recovery ("I kiss, Mama, I kiss," she said). And I thanked her for them. (It was so cute!!!) I suppose there will come a time where my kisses aren't enough. She might outgrow the need for Mama kisses or think the whole concept is silly--or totally uncool. Or have a pain that I alone cannot fix. I know they really don't fix everything right now, but they really do make her feel better when a little hurt happens. So I will keep on giving them as long as I can -- or as long as she lets me. And besides, who's to say there isn't a little magic happening with each little one?

'Til next time!

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Positive-ly Cool Girls T-Shirts and Clothes at Gis4Girl

Hi Girls! This week I added some new designs to our online store at! The latest is the "My Heart is in the Right Place" tee--perfect for the tween or teen girl who volunteers her time to others or helps out her family. We really are striving to create designs that are both cool and meaningful. As always, we are seeking feedback. So check them out and let me know what you like or don't like! You can e-mail me at, or post comments on this blog. Suggestions, both positive and negative, will only serve to improve our product line.

'Til next time!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ode to Caffeine

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I would pay tribute to a long-overlooked love of people all over the globe: caffeine.

Ode to Caffeine

In many forms you come to me--
chocolate, soda, coffee and tea,
you pry open my eyes and give me a kick
just a cup or twelve usually does the trick;
Oh what fun! Now I'm typing so faaaasssst!
just me and this nifty buzz that I wish would last
For noontime always seems to come around
and you and I both come crashing to the ground;
Then you disappear, leaving me
with nothing but an empty mug and a memory;
'Til we meet again, I give you one thought that's true:
5 a.m. just wouldn't happen without you.


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Monday, February 2, 2009

Camera Phone Etiquette, Please!

Hi all! Well, it's official: Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so there's six more weeks of winter ahead. It's been a tough one here in Chicago, so thoughts of spring are very welcome at the moment. My family and I always get inspired for warmer weather by heading to the sailboat show at Navy Pier, which we did this weekend. We love all things h20, especially sailing, which my hubby and I both grew up doing. We took our daughter along this year. She loved looking at all of the boats, including little electric model sailboats in the sailing pond. It was here that we encountered something weird: a man walked up to us, held up his phone, told us we looked cute, took our picture and walked away. Whoa! What the ... !?! He did not ask, he did not linger to say anything else, strike up a conversation--nothing. What will he do with that picture? Show his friends the random strangers he encountered? Print it out and put it in an album? Or has it already been deleted? Why even come up to us and make us aware the picture was being taken? My husband didn't see this happen, since he was standing off to the side talking to a vendor, but if he had, he probably would have gone berserk on the guy. I'm both p.o.'d and creeped out at the same time. But mostly angry. Just because you CAN take a picture of anyone, anytime, anywhere, doesn't mean you should. Maybe it was harmless. A photo just meant to capture the moment. Kind of like a photo diary. But when my child is involved--I don't think so. I wish I would have said something, but I was too surprised at the moment to verbalize any kind of response. Actually, a little afraid to, as well. Maybe I'm overreacting. I just know that I wouldn't ever take a photo of someone else's child without getting parental permission. Then again, often technology works faster than people's brains do.

'Til Next Time...

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Draw Happiness

Hi Girls! My daughter, at 19 months old, is all into drawing. She's discovered crayons, pens, pencils, pudding--anything you can use with your fingers to draw whatever her little heart desires. She has what we call a "crayon purse"--a little metal 'purse' to hold all of her crayons and broken crayon pieces. She decorated a birthday card for her Grandpa this week and mailed it off, so proud that she could think of something, then apply hand to paper and voila! A mini masterpiece is made. Her favorite thing to do is sit on my lap and ask me to draw things: hearts, circles, triangles, trees, her Papa--anything that comes to mind. Imagine how I was taken aback when I asked her, "What should Mama draw now?" And after some thought on her part, replied, "Draw happiness." Then I paused and thought, "How on earth do I draw that?" Happiness? Did she just say that? Yes she did. And she meant it. I kept thinking....I wanted to get this one absolutely right. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's never to keep a toddler waiting. So I came up with this: I drew a little caricature of her, her Papa and me all huddled together. Then I drew a big heart around us. "There," I said. "Is that happiness?" She nodded and said, "Yes," with a toddler's conviction. And yes, happiness it was. And is.

May your week be a happy one!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Posting Pictures Online

Hello girls! I joined an online business networking group the other day, hoping to learn some new marketing ideas, ask questions, etc. It's for women only, so I thought it would be good to see what other ladies have been up against in starting a new biz, and what solutions they had to offer. So far so good! There's lots of intelligent females out there doing well for themselves! It's wonderful to see. Anyway, most of the other members have little thumbnail pics of themselves so that you can kind of put a face with a comment. So I uploaded mine...and then I freaked out. Is this normal? I've never really posted a pic before on a public site. On Gis4girl, I have an "About Us" page but specifically did not post a photo. Not sure why not. I mean it's only a photo of me sitting in front of the computer, fully dressed, mind you. And I'm not agoraphobic. I do leave the house on occasion (though not today; it's not even going to hit zero in the Arctic Minor known as Chicagoland). But posting pics online feels...well, kind of weird. I don't ever plan on posting pictures of my family, either, anymore than I would take a family photo and tack it up on the bulletin board at the grocery store. So why do so many people do it? I understand posting pics/video on private sites where one needs to login, but what about public sites? Anyone else feel this way? Should I just get over it and get with it? That's what I've learned so far on the road of technology. If you can't beat them...join them!


Monday, January 5, 2009

Learning Something New

Hey Girls! Happy 2009! Hope everyone had a happy & healthy holiday. My hubby & I had a nice long weekend, most of which was spent playing with our daughter. Her favorite activity now is to make her parents polka. Since a good portion of our family is Polish, the word 'polka' was introduced into her lexicon a few weeks ago. She quickly became fascinated by the polka, and now insists everyone who enters our home dance it, including her dollies. So roll out the barrel! This weekend, I too learned a new word: Sexting. Definition: sending promiscuous photos of yourself or others via phone, like texting. According to the Chicago Tribune, about 20 per cent of teens say they've sent nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves to others this way. I can only imagine that to some degree peer pressure factors into this. Much of the time, these photos get forwarded on and on and on, seen by hundreds, if not thousands of people. However embarrassing now, the real damage to sexting might not occur until later, when the sendee tries to apply to college or a job. More and more recruiters and employers are Googling applicants or checking out Myspace pages to make sure the applicant hasn't participated in inappropriate behavior. It's up to us parents to teach our kids about the dangers and ramifications of such actions. And if you're a teen reading this: don't do it! It might come back to haunt you! If you receive a photo, don't pass it on. Be better than all that. That's why at Gis4Girl, our designs live above the fray. Before I started Gis4Girl, I did some research and found that there are many clothing shops out there whose messages continue to degrade females. Here we celebrate them! I know my daughter will grow up not believing in any messages that are negative to women. I just wish all daughters did.