Friday, May 23, 2014

Amazing Things Happen When We Look Up!

Wanted to post a quick update to my latest blog "Look Up"!  After watching the powerful new spoken word film by Gary Turk called "Look Up" which encourages people to unplug from from social media and engage more with those around them, my oldest daughter and I decided to try taking popular social media apps off of our smartphone and only accessing them from the computer.  That worked well for the first week and I hate to admit it but we both ended up putting them back on our phones after a few weeks. However, we have both decided that when we are at home, we put down our phones and engage more with each other. I think that we are both more aware that when we are around one another that we are not fully engaged if we are on our phones!  My daughter will quickly point out if I am distracted and put me in check now!  I am also proud that she powers her phone down when she is doing homework as well.  We are definitely a work in progress!

Since my last post I decided to unplug and sit down with Kennedy this past Sunday.  She was busy playing and there was a Barbie doll that was near me on the floor. I picked her up, her hair was tangled up and her clothes were all disheveled.  I asked Kennedy for a brush and started to comb out the tangles.  As I began to comb her hair the tangles slowly disappeared.  I instantly was taken back to when I was a girl, brushing my doll's hair, almost combing their hair so much so that Barbie would have bald spots all over her head!  The joy that I felt inside surprised me.  I asked Kennedy where she kept her doll clothes and she pointed me in the right direction.  I started shifting through the tiny outfits and accessories and found a shiny purple dress, a pearl necklace and the perfect shoes to match.  I dressed her and twisted her hair a beautiful hairstyle. I thought to myself, "NOW..she is ready!".

 My Barbie doll decked out and styled by me!

I quickly grabbed another doll and went to work. I caught my daughter looking at me.  This was the first time I had sat down with her and actually picked up a doll to play with.  She was grinning from ear to ear! Kennedy and I both worked on our dolls and I started chatting with her about the outfits that I was sorting through.  I asked why a lot of the dresses/skirts were so short!  (Note to self.. pay more attention to the items that she shoves into my face at the store!) She laughed and shrugged her shoulders   I told her that my dolls were getting dressed to go to a special elegant banquet and they were going to make key decisions on world issues with other important leaders.  I found myself fussing over their hair, outfits and accessories making sure that EVERYTHING was in place. 

My dolls that I styled! They are ready!

My oldest daughter (age 16) walks in and asks what we are doing. She sits down and finds a doll to start working on. Kennedy suggests that we have a competition, dressing our dolls up and then showcasing them and letting our dog Teddy decide the winner.  So we all get to work. My oldest daughter decided to take over her sister's closet as a private dressing area, being careful to hide her final looks. You would think that we were all on a covert mission or styling dolls for a real fashion runway or something!  So when the final looks were complete they decided that I would go first. So I decided that I needed music for my presentation! I grabbed my phone and selected "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys. Both of my girls rolled their eyes as they know that I am always about girl empowerment and this is my favorite song!  My dolls strutted and danced showcasing their outfits.  Of course they were met by many boos from my daughters! What a tough crowd!!

So Kennedy went next! She found a song and her dolls twirled and spun around showing off her outfits! 

Finally it was my oldest daughter's turn!  She pumped up her music and brought out her dolls.  We all laughed as her dolls got their groove on and showcased their looks to some new trendy songs that hurt my ears and made me cringe!

My oldest daughter's Barbie doll models! Check out the doll on the far left and her pose!
So the girls decided that the final three dolls from that round would showcase spring looks and then our judge Teddy (our dog) would pick the final winner!  We quickly got our dolls ready for the final look!

Our lovely finalist pictured above! My oldest daughter Kayla's doll on the far left (cute outfit by the way), My doll in her pretty summer shorts romper in the middle, and my youngest daughter's doll on the far right rocking the hat (umm what does she have on???? That skirt is way too short! That skirt might have to disappear!)  

So it was time to judge!

Our dog Teddy aka the "Judge" for our Barbie Fashion showcase!
Not sure exactly how Teddy ended up with a mask on before his time to judge!!  This is what happens when dogs wander into Kennedy's playtime! After several sniffs, he chose Kennedy's doll! I think he chose mine but I went with it! She was too excited!  

As we cleaned up everything I was just so amazed at how engaged I was and how much fun we had.  The nostalgia and childhood memories of my playtime with my Barbies all came flooding back.  I have to admit as a mom I am often too busy doing a million things that even thinking about sitting down to play for a few minutes sounds crazy! I came across this chart the other day.  No wonder why playtime is far from my mind! 

After that fun afternoon I that those special moments with my daughters, as a mom are priceless.  This week I took my oldest daughter on her first job interview for summer work.  I almost cried when she got the call to come in for an interview, refusing to believe that my little girl is officially growing up! We prepped her for interview questions this week and practiced how to give a firm handshake realizing that just a few days earlier we were on the floor playing with Barbies! I am just so grateful for this project that is helping me document this special time with my girls.  I think there will be more playtime between the three of us going forward for sure, might have to bring in my hubby as well!  I'm curious to know if any of our Empower Her Moms make time to play with their daughters or what special memories they have had playing with Barbie dolls as a child?  I'm excited to see how things continue to progress over the next few months!

I want to thank each of you for taking the time to follow our journey with this project!  Be sure to share your comments and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and the official Barbie Project website! We would love to hear your favorite memories and playtime experiences!  #barbieproject!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Look Up!

I received this text from my 16 year old daughter the other day. She was referring to a powerful new spoken word film by Gary Turk called "Look Up" that urges people to unplug from smartphones and social media and engage more with the people and things that surround us everyday. The film has gone viral on YouTube with over 35 million views.

My friend showed me the video the other week, however my daughter's text struck a cord with me and I watched the video again.  Her words "my generation is sad" really resonated with me.  After watching the video I started to reply via text "Wow...this was powerful, it's not just YOUR generation" I stopped myself mid sentence! She was in the next room...why was I about to respond with my thoughts via text???  In that moment I realized just how crazy it was and that the reality of the video was true, as a society we are losing touch with real connections. I called my daughter (the old fashion way..screaming at the top of my lungs)  into my room and asked her what her teacher and fellow classmates thought of the video. She said that everyone felt really guilty after watching the film. 

I realized that kids today and parents for that matter are consumed by technology ignoring all that is around them at times and we are taken further away from many personal connections with one another.  What a different time it is from when I grew up.  I thought about a recent conversation I had with my youngest daughter about Barbie and this project.  She asked me if they had Barbie dolls when I was her age.  I told her they did and she asked if I played with them.  I told her yes and the look on her face in my rear view mirror was pure shock! She said "YOU" played with Barbie. I said "Yes, Kennedy!" She immediately asked what I did with my Barbie's. I told her that I dressed my Barbie's up and played with them just like she did. She just shook her head in disbelief and mumbled again, "I can't believe that YOU played with Barbie!"  I told her that Barbie dolls were created over 50 years ago by a mom and she created the doll because of her daughter.

Barbie Founder Ruth Handler

Barbie and her history of playtime is so important in this day and age when kids and adults are not playing, interacting, using their imagination/creativity, touching or connecting with each other. I thought about how I stumbled upon Kennedy playing with her Barbie dolls the other week and how she decided to add an elevator to her Barbie dollhouse.  Most times she wants to be on the Ipad or computer playing Minecraft or Poptropica or watching shows on TV. We have to encourage her more and more these days as she is getting older to read a book, play, explore and put down the electronics!

I had no idea that this project, simply following my daughter's playtime journey, would pull in my oldest daughter. In our discussion of the video we talked about the possibility that after her sister's generation (Kennedy is 10)  kids might not want to play with toys and that we might be creating a generation of kids with their noses and eyes glued to technology.  My oldest daughter and I both thought that would be very scary!  She was genuinely concerned for her sister.  I caught a glimpse of a conversation with her sister later that night and she was telling her that she should spend less time using technology.  She actually sat in her room that evening instead of being behind closed doors in her room on her phone/laptop and they talked about different things without distractions .

After her sister went to bed, my oldest daughter and I chatted a little more about the video and I asked her if she knew what social change was. I explained to her that social change was getting to the root of an issue, to find the cause of the problem not the symptom.  We identified that a big cause of the disconnection in our society is our smart phones and social media being so accessible on our phones.  You no longer have to go to a computer to check things it was in your back pocket now, 24 hour of the day.  We both decided to experiment with taking popular social media apps that we spend lots of time on off of our phones and accessing them from our computers instead.  We both thought that this would free up time for us to be more engaged with the family and friends during the day.  You should have seen both of us taking the apps off of our phones! 

Screenshot from my oldest daughter's phone when she took off one of her favorite apps.

 It was really neat to see my oldest daughter taking the lead and really realizing how these things were affecting her.  We plan to both engage more at home versus having our eyes glued to electronics.  I pray that simple things like playing with Barbie dolls will not be lost in the generations to come!  I pray that my daughter's children and grandchildren will experience the simple joys in real playtime not just with devices Continue to follow the journey and revelations that I discover through the Barbie Project by visiting!