Sunday, October 31, 2010

Aias's First Birthday Video Countdown -- 8 Days!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Aias's First Birthday Video Countdown -- 9 Days!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Aias's First Birthday Video Countdown -- 10 Days!

Poang Chair, Kitchen Floor, and Angry Baby!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Aias's First Birthday Video Countdown -- 16 Days!

Shopping trip with Elliot and Aias

Friday, October 8, 2010

Aias's First Birthday Video Countdown -- 31 Days!

No Pants Party

Aias Gone Wild!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Aias's First Birthday Video Countdown -- 34 Days!

Consuming Kids Documentary

With Aias's birthday around the corner, and Christmas shortly after, it has me thinking a lot about the kind impression we want to give Aias when it comes to gifts on birthdays and holidays.  First and foremost I will say that I am all about giving kids presents on Christmas and on their birthdays.  I also think it's great to receive chocolates on Valentine's Day, chocolates on Easter, and to dress up and get candy on Halloween.  Don't worry, someday I will post about how I agonize over giving sugary candy to my kid, but for now I digress!  Anyhow, I can't imagine ever being the kind of parent that doesn't want to watch their kids opening presents on Christmas morning or who doesn't want their kid to look forward to opening gifts on their birthday. I'd also never want to take the experience of giving gifts to Aias away from my family as they are incredibly generous and I know it brings them great joy to give presents to kids.  I personally also really look forward to kid's birthdays and Christmas because I love gift giving.  All that being said, there are still some points we are trying to figure out.  For example, should we get Aias a whole slew of presents for these gift-giving holidays, or should we just give him a few special ones? Should we only get him extra things he wants (toys, books, whatever) on holidays and not when he asks at other times throughout the year? What should we teach him about the gifts that he gives? 

A few weeks ago Morgan and I were watching a documentary called "Consuming Kids" that a good friend had posted on Facebook a long time ago. I hadn't had the time to watch it when she first posted it, and then for some reason I had been thinking about it and decided to hunt it down again, and I'm glad I did.  It was a really interesting documentary and I've been thinking about it ever since. One topic of discussion was how there are some kid's shows that exist specifically so products can be marketed and how that really brought kids to the forefront of marketing in the 80s. It made me think of shows like "My Pet Monster," "Transformers," and "Madballz" just to name a few. There was also a Super Mario Brothers cartoon that was created to market the Nintendo System and games to kids.  Those shows were actually created so that kids would like the show and then they'd want to buy the toys that are feature characters in the show as well as other products that were created just to generate profits for corporations. It also talked about how nowadays kids have brand loyalty and how they often will want to purchase items just because the items have certain characters on them, like Dora crackers or Sponge Bob macaroni. 

After watching this (and during, I think) we quickly did a mental and visual scan of everything Aias has, and he only owns a few items that have characters. One is this Winnie the Pooh "Big Tree" toy that someone gave me on Freecycle and then he has a few Sesame Street books, a stuffed Cookie Monster my sister sent, and a wooden shape sorter that has Sesame Street characters on that. Even that sort of shocked me, although I was overall pleased that he doesn't have a lot of stuff with characters on it. I guess part of me also thinks that Sesame Street is basically benevolent, and I guess I don't count Sesame Street Characters as being nearly as problematic as something like say, Disney.  Over the last few days, I've been washing and opening up some of the second hand clothes I got off Freecycle and I'm amazed to see some other characters popping up. For insance, these Robeez that have "Cars" or something on them (I think it must be a pixar movie) and he has a onesie that has Thomas the Tank Engine on it. I'm not sure how I feel about it, to be honest. I mean, I don't think I can hide things like Disney, Sesame Street, Pixar, whatever from Aias for his whole life. I mean, I'm not even sure what use that would be to him, except for I wouldn't want him wanting to buy a bunch of useless crap just because the characters he likes are printed on it. I also don't think it's harmful for a kid to see a movie every so often.  As far as tv, we don't have cable at all, and don't even have a cable cord plugged into the tv so that we can watch the free channels, we just have the tv hooked up to a computer and we download things or pop in a DVD if we want to watch something. I'll admit he's seen The Best of Elmo 2 about 1 million times in his life, mostly because I wanted to see it, but now I can tell he really likes it. I showed him an Elmo puppet in the store and he didn't seem familiar with it or anything, but all in due time I suppose. I have to admit, I worry about the effects of advertising on Aias. I know you can't hide advertising from ANYONE for very long, if at all, but I still want to minimize it when possible. I don't think it's an "all or nothing" situation and I do believe that limiting his exposure to it when possible is doing him a huge favor. 

Something else I think about, and what really bothers me about all of this, is that as an environmentalist of sorts I find consumerism really disturbing. A couple of months ago I went to a pregnant and new mothers fair with my pregnant friend, and the second we got in the door they have you "register" and fill out a form describing what demographic you are in (no doubt to help them find sponsors and advertisers). Then when you got in, they handed you a bag full of handouts offering things like Pregnancy Planners (women who will plan your nursery for you, buy your baby stuff for you as a personal shopper so you don't have to), Doppler Rentals, 3D ultrasounds, Formula and Baby Food Samples (Similac is at all of these things, I've never seen Nestle), checklists of things you "need" to buy for baby, etc. I dunno, it just rubs me the wrong way. I got so taken in by all that when I was pregnant, and then lo and behold you don't even need 50% of that crap once your kid is born, it just ends up being extra stuff that takes up space or gets dirty or needs selling on Craigslist or to be dropped off at the Salvation Army. The whole time we walked around, it was just people selling the most random stuff, a lot of stuff that was just created with the only intention of making money off of pregnant people and people with babies. I don't know why it made me feel so weird but it did. It just made me feel dirty for some strange reason. Every table also had some sort of a raffle, which obviously serve to just put you on their contact list, and they were all like "Add us on Facebook/Twitter/Whathaveyou." I don't think it's wrong to be an entrepreneur or to sell things or to buy things or to have a business and to market, but at the same time, the whole thing made me feel weird. It especially made me feel weird when I would see something that I didn't know existed, would never have even thought of, then I see it and out of nowhere I would think for a minute or two "OMG I totally need that!"

More disturbing was when Morgan and I did our budget review. What we do during a budget review, is look at the previous month's expenses and take note of what we spent money on, how much, etc. Last month was good because we met a lot of goals (not eating out so much, not spending so much at Whole Foods, not buying a lot of random things) but there were still a lot of times where I decided we "needed" something that we didn't necessarily need. We basically spent money on something or other at least 25 days out of 30, and that was in an attempt to NOT spend money everyday. Even though the amounts may have been small ($4 here, $8 there), it was almost always something. 

I don't know why it bothers me or why I'm thinking of all this right now. I guess in a way I don't want to end up having a house full of random things that I never touch.  I don't want to teach Aias that he always needs new things. I don't want to teach Aias that he needs items to be happy or to feel fulfilled. I guess I also worry about the impact of consumerism on the environment and how the rapid advances in technology are constantly creating electronic items that are all the rage one day, then literally a few months later they are put aside or trashed only to make room for something newer and better.  Most of all, I don't want to set him up for a life of sadness where he feels perpetually unfulfilled because he will never be able to afford or acquire all of the material possessions he feels he needs to make him truly happy. 

I don't know where I'm going with this. Just thoughts, I guess. In case you want to see the documentary, I'll put part 1 of 7 below. Parts 2- 7 are just linked to on youtube if you search "consuming kids." 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Aias's First Birthday Video Countdown -- 35 Days!

Funny Shoppers Drug Mart Typo

I have strep throat so this morning at around 8am we were killing time at the pharmacy.  Aias was being a great sport, just chilling out happily despite having been plucked from a deep sleep at 7am and plopped into the stroller, dragged to the walk-in clinic, and then to the pharmacy for nearly an hour of waiting (ugh).  Anyhow, I was walking aimlessly up and down the aisles to amuse him, and stumbled upon this:

Hilarious.  The price on the left is supposed to be the regular price, and the "sale" price is supposed to be that huge number on the right.  It cracks me up.  That's pretty much how things work in Canada, haha.  

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Aias's First Birthday Video Countdown -- 37 Days!


I feel terrible that I've been so terrible at updating this.  I think it's partially because Aias does so much more now and is therefore infinitely more work, but also because it's so easy to just upload pics to Facebook for family members to view! At any rate, I haven't completely given up on blogging and I will try (again) to keep up with it.

To keep things simple, I'm going to do a series of videos that count down until Aias's birthday.  I hope you enjoy them!

Franklin Goose Flounce: Proving Geese Can Fly =P

So a friend just received an email from Franklin Goose, and I anticipate that I will soon receive the same email.  In case you don't remember, Franklin Goose did a promotion last year where people wrote reviews on products and were given $5 store credit for each and every review they did on the website.  Here's the email:

"Franklin Goose has been doing an enormous amount of discussing and planning lately.

We are wildly appreciative of your participation in the product review promotion we ran in the spring! However, the promotion was much more popular than we were honestly prepared for. As you may know, we have experienced delays in order fulfillment of the store credit orders.

In the last 6 months we have been depleting our inventory and resource with no foreseeable means of restoring these resources as our energy and time have been focused on fulfilling the promotion and not growing our business. If we continue down this path, we will be out of business -- likely long before you get the products you order with your remaining credit.

Obviously, that's bad for us both. So with enormous regrets, we are placing a mandatory freeze on store credit sales (though we will fulfill all existing orders as inventory permits). We will also be banking all store credit for 6 months (with interest). This will give us time to build back up and improve sales through the web and at our new store front in Richmond. Your account will not reflect the banked credits until October 15th.

In 6 months, we'll unbank the credits and be better prepared to fulfill your orders. We realize this decision will be unpopular, but it would be dishonest of us to let you place orders for birthdays and Christmas that we know we are more than likely unable to fulfill. And doing this now is the only way we can find that will provide everyone the opportunity to use their credits.


The Franklin Goose Team"

I have to say, I was only about 50% surprised to see this.  Offering $5 store credit for each review and setting no limit definitely seemed over generous to say the least.  In fact, at the time, many friends told me I was wasting my time doing ANY reviews because "obviously it was a scam."  I can definitely vouch for the company and say that it wasn't a scam; I received lots of nice stuff from Franklin Goose through this promotion and was never once even asked for credit card or Paypal information. Franklin Goose even covered the shipping to Canada. At the same time, I am still waiting on a handful of items that were ordered in April.  One item is a Planetwise Pail Liner and also a few newborn items that I ordered in April for my sister who is due in December with her first baby.  The newborn items will be shipped to my sister in the states and the pail liner is apparently coming to Canada, although I've emailed them quite a few times about the pail liner (which is supposedly in transit, and has been for several months) and I've been told that it's likely being held by customs.  I find it hard to believe that customs would hold a pail liner for that long, but I digress.  Not to mention, you often get what you pay for in this world... I hate to sound negative but it's true!.  That being said, the best things in life are also often free, and the best things in life are not often things,  I'm sure all of us parents can probably agree on those sentiments. 

As I stated above, I was only half surprised to see an email of this nature, but what really surprised me was that after being forwarded the email in question I immediately went to see what they were saying about it on their Facebook page, and lo and behold, the Facebook page was *POOF* gone!  This annoys me to say the very least.  It annoys me mostly because in this day in age, with social media such as Facebook, Twitter and various blogs, it's pretty much commonly known in the business world that you should never censor the complaints or feedback of your customers.  After all, better they be giving their thoughts in a space where you hold the control and the power to respond than to take it to other venues where you have none of that. Yep, it's definitely not popular or cool to try and censor the thoughts of your fans and customers. I'm actually more disturbed by this (no doubt difficult) decision.  Why on earth would they want to look like they are trying to censor the anger or thoughts on this major decision?  In all honestly, I was completely fine with the decision until I noticed that their Facebook Group had been deleted.  I respect that they've had to make this difficult decision, and I wish them no hardship, but why, why, why would you decide to censor your customers!  

As far as how I feel about what they are doing in general, meh, it sucks but I don't think it's the end of the world.  Everyone will still get their credit (with interest), they'll just have to wait 6 months.  As for the people who were already banking it and were just coming up to the end of their banking term (a few people I know are in this situation), I think it sucks especially hard for them since they've already been waiting to use their credits, and initially banked them so it would be easier on Franklin Goose.  Not to mention that I'm certain more than a few people were planning on using their credits for the holiday season, and will probably be sorely disappointed when they find out that they won't be doing so after all. I just hope that Franklin Goose makes good of this 6 month period, because I have a feeling that the second the credits become available, they are going to have a mad rush of people making orders out of concern and distrust.  I imagine it will probably be an even bigger rush of orders than they've already experienced. 

In case anyone wants to discuss this further, I've created a Franklin Goose Discussion Page on Facebook just because they've deleted their own. I think it's really important to not censor people's thoughts on a company's actions.