Thursday, August 11, 2005

Better late than never.

Our empty house.

One packed U-haul.

The hitch of the U-haul dug a scrape into the asphalt. Oops!

Lost in Toyland

So I'm at my new job, doing my old duties and auditing the Toy section. My ulterior motive in all this is that I'm trying to get ideas for Zoe's first birthday present, so I hit the Barbie/baby aisles to get ideas, and check out some of the toys.

Of course, it's not the first time I've come across these toys, let alone have these thoughts about the toys in particular, but today I was pretty offended as a parent while going through some of the little girls toys. I'm sure some of the boys' toys are pretty stereotypical - competition based, sports inclined, stuff to do with asserting power and force toward other weaker villians and whatnot. But I think what is more damaging are the girls toys, which wean little impressionable girls toward domesticity, vanity, and pretty much every other sexist notion that makes our culture treat women the way we do now.

Lil' Bratz, if you've ever seen it, is a sexualized group of girls who are geared toward fashion and dress up, but less so in an innocent way; the dolls are usually dressed like club girls, in skimpy and often very made up dolls. Not glamorous princess Barbie dolls, but rather looking like girls who want to get attention through their looks. I know, vanity is certainly not a new trait to be pushing onto youngsters, but Lil' Bratz is marketing that it won for T.O.T.Y, Toy of the Year. What parent wouldn't want to give their kids a toy with that kind of distinction?

There are also toys that foster nurturing, and some that hint at the domestic roles they should take on in order to be real girls, and those have their own issues, but Lil' Bratz and Barbie's spin-off line, Cali Girl, take it a notch too far. I'm conservative, sure, but goddamnit, I don't want my little girl to want to wear overly tight jeans and short tops because her doll's doing it. I think little girls should be little girls. I think they should wear comfortable clothes like jeans and t-shirts, and run around and play in the dirt and do whatever the hell they want. All this focus on vanity and materialism really irks me. I find it also amusing that the doll clothes cost more than real baby clothes.

Anyway, just a rant. I'll try my darnest to get her a normal doll, not a Winx or a Bratz or a doll the bears any variation of the image that Britney Spears, Christina Aguliera, or any other pop tarts have solidified as being a likable and popular girl.

Happy birthday, Zoe. Here's a stick and a frisbee. Have fun!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Do they sell Walls at Walmart?

You know why they call it a Wal-mart; it's because it's wall-to-wall full of people like us looking for a deal. Yes, we explicitly went out of our way to go to a Walmart because it's the only place where you can get a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke for 94 cents, and 60 diapers for $10.74. So for three bucks more, I can get twice the amount of diapers than I can at Freddys? I'm there.

So after much planning, we decided to drive down to Renton with two cars, since it is some kind of illegal to try to squeeze 3 adults, 2 babies, and a teenager into a car. It was the second closest Walmart to Redmond, Lynnwood being about a mile closer than the Renton one. Since I grew up in Renton, it was pretty much a no-brainer. So the Walmart convoy commenced its journey to the corporate brothel of retail.

Driving there wasn't too much of a problem, though my wife could never be a private investigator, or a professional driver. She had a tough time keeping close behind me, which was compounded by the evening traffic. My mum suggested a Chinese buffet place in Renton that was in view, and the food there was sorta okay in the most mediocre way. Their shining claim had to be the crawfish and abundance of prawns, both of which I disliked, and I didn't handle the crab too well. The kids, who make dining out an adventure of social acceptance, peppered the carpeted floor with rice, a couple of egg rolls, and some other things they deemed yucky. I spent most of my time diverting grabby hands from Zoe and the rest of the time shoving bits of Jello down her mouth to keep her from combusting.

Onto Walmart, which was the biggest one we've been to. The one in Bellingham is a fair size, but this Walmart in Renton probably had it's own post office, waterworks, sewage, mascot... Okay, maybe not that big, but there were that many people crammed in there. To quote my ex-girlfriend in her most unpolitically correct White girl quips, "It was like Customs."

We ran around trying to make some friggin' sense of their layout, which seemed to be all obscured by other shoppers. Shopping with a cart was almost comical, I think a lot of people just parked their carts and sent family members to go fetch specific items and then regroup. We were wise - we got two carts. But with two babies, that's just the fashionable thing to do, I suppose.

200 plus friggin bucks later and tons of diapers, we were on our way back home. Due to the fast moving traffic of 55 mph, I lost my wife in the darkness and the vast headlights, and I raced home to try to call her on my cell phone, which I had given to her if this circumstance were to come up. I was afraid that she'd overshoot her exit and end up in Canada, which wouldn't be so bad if the currency exchange was a little better and the babies didn't need their baths.

But my wife made me proud - she found her way home just fine without my help, despite my massive worrying. Good thing we got more diapers.