Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Rich Cookie

Now, we know that the haute parenting magazine Cookie isn't meant for us. We don't usually recognize the celebrities or the Manhattan boutiques they tend to profile. But, we always thought it was an interesting window into a world where style is all that matters and no one ever has a poopie diaper. We sometimes even found interesting products within its tony pages.

But the September 2008 issue made us think maybe this is written for people we will never even meet. People who own, say, 8 houses. Inside the cover, the first four pages are dedicated to Ralph Lauren spreads featuring kids in knit Polo sweaters who look as if they can sense the unfashionable shoes we're both wearing and are slightly put off by them.

Next we have a two page spread by DKNY featuring tweens who look like they're on their way to a Cosmo photo shoot. If that's too flashy for your taste, the next two pages by Lord & Taylor offer a lifestyle of casual blue-blooded elegance. After that we have a spread featuring a vision of tween love by Guess.

So who is this magazine for? The next page makes it clear with a Citi ad featuring a multi-million dollar home on the coast of Maine with a palm tree planted outside. Using his Citi Card, Dad helped smooth the move to Maine for his daughters by relocating a palm tree "roots and all...Now we have a little bit of Palm Beach right off the coast of Portland." Thanks, Dad!

Then, we're briefly back to reality with a full page ad for Prada reminiscent of Jackie O. But, we're soon off again with a photoshopped ad for "Adventures by Disney", where you'll see "What most ordinary tourists never see..from exploring the Galapagos with a naturalist to hiking with huskies through the Alps." Sounds nice. Then...a Gucci ad.

We've always argued that it's worth spending more to get quality stuff for your kids that's ethically made. But, we're still just a couple of middle class midwesterners. After all, what kids need most is your time, not your money. Our cookie, it seems, is granola. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Really Great Day at the State Fair

From Dan: Sometimes I really like the State Fair--even though it makes it impossible to get around our neighborhood for 12 days. Somehow all the folksiness and strange smells make it feel much more inclusive and less alienating than Minnesota's other great get-together, the Mall of America.

We got there at about 4:30 and saw the crafts building and the 4H building (Abby's 4H club had performed their "10-Minute Hamlet earlier in the afternoon), climbed on the tractors, checked out the Eco Experience, rode the trolley, ate corn on the cob, and rode the giant slide (which has been my favorite thing at the fair since I was a kid.) Duncan didn't want to do it last year, but he loved it this year.

Near the slide is the McCain campaign booth, which looks a little like a shack. I think it used to belong to Jesse Ventura. It was none too busy. I sent Riley over to it to ask "Is this one of McCain's seven houses?" The campaign folks didn't seem to know how to answer him. We laughed for a long time about that.

Then we rode the river ride (Millie and Abby got really wet) and went to the baby animals exhibit. Riley stood mesmerized for about 20 minutes watching a chicken hatch from an egg. Then we had to see the real chickens at the Poultry Barn and discovered that cochins (of which we own two) grow really really big. One of the buff cochins was about the size of a turkey. Yikes!

Next we procured some honey ice cream and went to hear Brandi Carlile, who did a free show at the bandstand. Not a bad day at all.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bush signs CPSC Reform Bill

Today President Bush signed into law a much-needed reform of the CPSC, including increased funding, stronger authority, much reduced limits on lead in toys, and a ban on many types of phthalates in plastic toys. He wasn't sure he was gonna do it, but he found a way. Good boy, George! You're a really useful engine!

December '08 update: When we wrote this post, we assumed that this law would prevent more poison toys from China, but we had no idea it would have a devastating impact on small American and European toymakers who have been making safe toys all along by requiring them to perform expensive third party testing. It seems small toymakers were simply overlooked when this law was passed. The devil is in the details! Please visit the Handmade Toy Alliance for more details, including how you can help.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Oxford Pool AKA Great River Waterpark

From Dan: The kids and I finally got over to the newly renovated Oxford Pool on Lexington Parkway. We'd being swimming there for years and Abby and Riley took many of their swimming lessons there. But, it's been closed for the past couple of years for some major renovations.

I have to say that we were quite fond of the old Oxford Pool, even though it was kind of run down. We were a little afraid that the new pool would be all gimicky squirty things with not many places to actually swim.

But, we were quite pleasantly surprised. The new pool is clean and comfortable with lots to do. True, the old giant bathtub that served as a wading pool is gone, but the climby splashy thing that replaced it was plenty entertaining. They added water slides without taking away from the main pool and the waterslides were actually quick and fun. Best of all, St. Paul Parks kept the diving board, which is a rare thing in an indoor pool these days. And, unlike some other pools we could name, the lifeguards were attentive but laid back. The only downside to the new pool was the Sauna--the old Oxford had the hottest sauna in town, which probably wasn't the best thing from a public health point of view, but I really liked it in the middle of January.

All in all, it was a great improvement. We're looking forward to spending quite a few winter evenings there.