Of Dinosaurs, Detectives, and Drug Lords (#StreamTeam)

This past month we’ve shown our daughter a classic superhero in action, brought some long dead creatures to life, learned about the highs and lows of an iconic performer, and discovered a great new drug (show) to get hooked on.

Batman: The Movie (Cert U)

Batman-the-movie-1966-Netflix-Streamteam
Batman: The Movie

My 3-year-old daughter has declared that two of her favourite superheroes are Batman and Robin. The 1966 Batman movie is probably why.

It’s ironic that the majority of modern superhero movies aren’t actually suitable for young children. That’s certainly not the case here, with this movie version of the famed campy Batman TV show.

The film features largely the same cast as the show, and the same style and sense of humour. The ‘plot’ sees Batman & Robin (Adam West and Burt Ward) take on a super villain team of the Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman.

Made after the first season of the Batman TV show, legend has it that it was made so the production could have access to more Bat-vehicles for the ongoing TV show – so here, as well as the iconic Batmobile, you also get the Batboat, Batcopter, and Batcycle.

In an age where superhero movies have become ubiquitous and ever darker (thanks in part to the dark detective’s recent trilogy), seeing this movie is a great reminder of how much fun comic books and superheroes can be.

The Land Before Time (Cert U)

Land Before Time
The Land Before Time (1988), Dir. Don Bluth

My daughter has also taken a liking to Dinosaurs of late, after reading a book to her about them. She also has a few toys, but I really wanted to show her some film and /or TV showing them for her to engage with them even more.

This was the perfect choice. Directed by Disney exile Don Bluth (An American Tail, The Secret of NIMH), and produced by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas no less, this is a great introduction to dinosaurs for little ones. It’s the story of a group of cute young dinosaurs who get separated from their family, and their journey to be reunited with them – with a T-Rex in hot pursuit.

While it’s rated U, it does have a family death near the start which might upset some children.

(We also tried Walking With Dinosaurs on her, but it was so well done – even though it’s 16 years old – it was too scary. For her, not me. Honest.)

What Happened, Miss Simone? (Cert 15)

Netflix has a great documentary selection, and this (a Netflix Original) was one I’m really glad we watched.

Previously, I knew very little about Nina Simone other than she was an African American performer who’s most famous song was ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’.

So I didn’t know about her role in the civil rights movement, her protest songs, the troubled family life, and the highs and lows of her career and life.

A fascinating story, well constructed with a mixture of new and archive footage & interviews, with some great music too – this is well worth a watch.

Narcos (Cert 15)

This is a terrific new Netflix Original series. I’m a sucker for a good organised crime drama, and this is a fine example. It’s a dramatised account of the 1980s American drug wars and the rise of the infamous kingpin Pablo Escobar. The story is told through the eyes and narration of US DEA Agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook), who guides us through the ins and outs of the emerging Central & South American drug cartels – especially the Medellín Cartel headed by Pablo Escobar (played here by Brazilian actor Wagner Moura).

We’re only two episodes in, but rest assured that if we didn’t have a 3-year-old in the house we’d have binge watched it all weekend.

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Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam program. Our household receives free Netflix for a year and I post about how our family uses the service.

If any of these grab your attention, please head over to Netflix to check them out.

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Review & Giveaway: Kawaii Box – a Collection of Cute Items from Japan and Korea

This week we received a box of delights from Asia. Kawaii Box is a subscription based service where you receive a monthly box of assorted Kawaii items – which basically means ‘cute’.

While some brands will be recognisable (previous boxes have included Hello Kitty and Totoro for instance) for the most part these products from Japan and Korea will be new to most westerners.

The monthly boxes are crammed with random cute stuff from Asia, ranging from sweets to stickers and accessories.

It’s always fun receiving parcels, especially if you don’t know what’s inside. When our slightly battered box arrived from Singapore, it was with great anticipation that we opened it…

Just got this box of Japanese and Korean cuteness from @kawaiiboxco. Review to follow 🙂 #kawaiibox #kawaii

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So, as promised, here’s a more detailed look of what was in the box:

Kracie DIY Chain Candy

Kracie DIY Chain Candy Kwaii Box - July 2015
Some Japanese pink & blue (good choice) sweets that interlink to form a chain. Or you can eat them. They tasted… sugary.

Squishy Doughnut Mirror

Squishy Doughnut Mirror Kwaii Box - July 2015
My daughter’s favourite. It’s the perfect size for her hands, flips open to reveal a mirror, is colourful, and makes you really want a doughnut!

Dessert Eraser

Dessert Eraser Kwaii Box - July 2015
“Can you eat this?” asked my daughter. No, but it is a cute looking cake shaped eraser (aka ‘rubber’)

Kawaii Toast Coaster

The simplest item in the collection. A thin piece of wood, in the shape of a piece of toast, with a minimalist face stamped through it.
The simplest item in the collection. A thin piece of wood, in the shape of a piece of toast, with a minimalist face stamped through it.

Pastel Pearl Bracelet

My daughter liked this stringed collection of pastel balls as well.
My daughter liked this stringed collection of pastel balls as well.

Korean Glitter Glue Set

This made my daughters eyes light up - six colours of glitter glue, plus four colours of hearts, stars, and flowers to stick.
This made my daughters eyes light up – six colours of glitter glue, plus four colours of hearts, stars, and flowers to stick.

Rilakkuma Notes

This is a very cute fold-out collection of post-it notes of different shapes and sizes, all featuring the equally cute Rilakkuma character (roughly translated as ‘Relax Bear’.
This is a very cute collection of post-it notes of different shapes and sizes, all featuring the equally cute Rilakkuma character (roughly translated as ‘Relax Bear’).

Mushroom Mini Plush

The kind of thing you might see in a Nintendo game.
Reminds me of the kind of thing you might see bouncing around in a Nintendo game.

Cute Pencil Set

As described really - ordinary pencils with cute colourful patterns.
As described really – ordinary pencils with cute colourful patterns.

Flake Seal Stickers

I was expecting seals. We get what appears to be hordes of pandas, pink rabbits, and yellow birds (one with a bow in their hair).
I was expecting seals. We get what appears to be pandas, pink rabbits, and yellow birds (one with a bow in their hair).

Alpaca Keychain

My favourite. To me it seems utterly random to have three pastel coloured alpacas on a key ring, but here we are. Might try and keep this for myself…
My favourite. To me it seems utterly random to have three pastel coloured alpacas on a key ring, but here we are. Might try and keep this for myself…

So there you have it. A nice little collection of pop culture curios and oddities from the east. We enjoyed getting this Kawaii Box, and I can imagine it would be fun to get one of these each month – a regular little box of surprises.

It may all seem rather pink and pastel. As I’ve said before, I don’t object to the colour pink – just how it’s used to market things to girls, and there is nothing in the Kawaii Box offering to indicate that these items are for girls only. They’re for people who want a bit of cute in their lives. And why not.

Fancy getting your very own Kawaii Box delivery? Then click to enter the giveaway. Competition closes on 20 September 2015. Good luck!

Kawaii Box Man vs Pink Giveaway August 2015

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Disclaimer: While I was not paid to write this review, we did receive this Kawaii Box free of charge. All opinions stated remain our own.

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Does Caring Make a Man Stronger?

This week I received a package of goodies from Dove Men+Care, with this challenge put before me: Dare to Care.

While some men may balk at the suggestion they are caring, I would venture that even those who don’t exhibit this side of their personality are likely hiding it. For many, it doesn’t fit with a traditional view of masculinity and they may be uncomfortable to be seen stepping outside of that. Perhaps for them, it does take great strength to do that.

For me, this was an easy challenge to accept. As a father and primary carer for our daughter, caring is part of my day-to-day existence. My desire to care for her was one of the reasons I became a stay-at-home dad in the first place. I kiss and cuddle my daughter all the time. I tell her I love her daily. She responds, in true Han Solo style, with “I know”. She calls it our little joke.

Dove Men+Care, Dare to Care, Care Makes a Man Stronger
For me to ‘Dare to Care’

The Dove Men+Care package contained a selection of their products for me (to care for myself), plus a range of items to administer care to others – all nicely packaged up in a First Aid case.

Care Makes a Man Stronger

The items to care for others included things any parent will use regularly.

A packet of issues is an essential item in my parenting arsenal. I foolishly thought the advent of summer would mean less colds, but I think my daughter has had more of them over this mild season, plus occasional hay fever. These were also good for wiping chocolate off her face and hands on a cinema visit this week.

Dove Men+Care
Our Lottie Doll needed care for grazed knee

Something that also happens a lot in summer, because of bare legs and more running around outside, are scratches and scrapes. The pack of plasters that was included will definitely come in handy. In the past I have also offered them when other children have been injured nearby (like this instance, when a mum was very grateful). We didn’t use them this particular week, but my daughter often plays out scenarios with her dolls when they graze their knee and require a plaster, as she did this week.

We haven’t had to call on the Rescue Remedy yet (wine has a similar effect though), and the Starbucks Card is also unused – but we’ll hopefully use that when out with a fellow parent and child in the remaining summer weeks. I need to work out who to send the 10 Thank You cards to. Lots of people to thank when you’re a parent!

Dare to Care (for myself)

Dove Men+Care

For me, there was the Dove Men+Care Hydrate+ moisturising products. These were great for me because:

  • I have really dry skin
  • I’m dark so that dry skin really shows on me
  • We live in an area with some or the hardest water in the country which makes it all worse.

The Hydration Balance body and face wash was a welcome change from our household’s usual citrus fragranced shower gel, and it did leave my skin feeling noticeably less dry afterwards.

The Ultra Hydrating Cream was great to have, as another moisturiser is always welcome to have around – especially one that stays effective for as long as this (it says 24 hours on the jar).

Ever since a trip to a fancy Mayfair barber, I’ve always kept my shaving routine old school, e.g.. using a badger hair shaving brush to apply lathered foam. The Shave Cream was an interesting change. The moisturising cream removed the need to apply post-shave treatments to the skin, and the shave was pretty smooth too.

So thanks for all the goodies Dove Men + Care. I have and will continue to Dare to Care – for both others and myself.

 

Does caring make a man stronger? Please join the conversation by commenting below.

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Who is the Most Baddass Female Marvel Character? There’s an Infographic For That

I often get emailed stuff for me to run on the blog in return for nothing. No product, no money. Nothing. Usually, I ignore these requests. But for once I’m not, because this is kind of cool.

Fancy dress makers Morphsuits have put together this stylish infographic to help you figure out who is the most badass female Marvel character out there.

To be honest, this doesn’t help me decide that at all. Storm? She Hulk? Wasp (no, really)?

But it’s kinda cool to look at.

Female Superheroes, The Most Baddass Female Marvel Characters, Captain Marvel,

“We Don’t Eat Peppa Pig… Do We?”

I rather mischievously call venison sausages Bambi, and more recently have taken to naming any pork one as Peppa Pig. When shopping, and given a choice, my 3-year-old daughter generally chooses the Peppa Pig sausages. She didn’t know why they were Peppa Pig sausages, just that they were.

I was wondering when the first question about where meat comes from would happen. She understands that fruit comes from trees, vegetables are grown in the ground, and eggs are from chickens. I assumed that a knowing question about where chicken or lamb comes from would be first, as they don’t have a secret identity in the way beef/steak (cow), venison (deer), and pork/ham/bacon (pig) do. Chicken is chicken, and lamb is a baby sheep (awww).

So, while we shared a lunch of a ham & cheese rolls, my daughter asked me “Where does ham come from?”. From a pig, I answered. “How does it come from the pig?”.

While I may be disingenuous at times with my daughter, I never want to lie to her. So I set about telling her an admittedly sanitised and idealised explanation.

“Ham is actually a piece of pig who was raised to be our food. A farmer looks after a pig from when it’s little, gives it good food and treats it very nicely. When it is big, the farmer decides it’s time for the pig to die, and after it does it gets chopped up into pieces. The farmer sells them, people buy them, and we cook and eat them.”

She mulled that over for a moment and then carried on eating her ham roll, seemingly undisturbed.

I was quite glad to get this out of the way relatively early. I have friends who’s children have stopped eating meat when they realise what it is.

The other day, on our walk to nursery, my daughter had by this time made a few connections, and then asked me – “We don’t eat Peppa Pig… do we?”.

It’s fair to say I don’t really like Peppa Pig. We’ve never seen the show, but the books are so poorly written I have refused to read them aloud any more. They are read the books at nursery from time to time. I also had a copywriting job where I went a little mad with all the Peppa and George tat I had to gush about. I understand the TV show is better, but I’m too preoccupied with showing her the likes of Star Wars, Studio Ghibli, and (currently) Dinosaur movies.

So I was very, very tempted to answer “Yes, we eat Peppa Pig”. But on consideration I replied “No, we don’t eat Peppa. Or George. Or their mummy or daddy.”

“But we do eat other pigs. Sausages, ham, bacon, are all from other pigs who are dead”.

Again, she pondered that for a moment, and then our walk to nursery continued.

I appreciate that as a society, we have become increasingly removed from the fact that meat is part of a dead animal. My wife has made a better go at facing this head on. When 7 months pregnant, she took it upon herself to skin, decapitate, and joint three wild rabbits that a friend had hunted – just to prove to herself that she could. We don’t have a photo of any of this, as I was hiding in the living room until the dead animals were transformed into meat, which I was then more than happy eat.

My daughter has the beginning of an understanding of where meat comes from, and so far it hasn’t conflicted with her love of cute animals. Or annoying ones like Peppa.

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Little Hearts, Big Love

A New Hope? Next is Selling Star Wars Clothes… For Girls

Last week local blogger and author Polly Walker alerted me to the fact that Next was selling some new Star Wars clothes. What made these different was one important detail – they were created specifically for girls.

While overall I remain uneasy about the way boys & girls clothing is defined and divided, this addition is immensely positive and demonstrates for all what I’ve always known – Star Wars is for girls too.

As a geek dad, I’ve bought my daughter all sorts of sci-fi tops since she was born. When they’re babies what they wear is frequently for parental amusement. A baby has no idea why their father might like to dress them as a Star Trek red shirt.

While these geeky baby clothes tend to not be labelled by gender, as she got older I ended up browsing the ‘boys’ section, as there was never any in the ‘girls’ one. While it didn’t bother me at first, I begun to realise that this was how geek culture becomes defined as a boys interest from an early age.

Because of this, I was nervous about letting my daughter choose her own clothes when she turned 3, as I thought that would be the end of it. I needn’t have worried.

But getting hold of different styles is an issue. Making or buying custom made clothing is one solution. My daughter was lucky enough to be the recipient of a Star Wars skirt, made for her by Francesca of Sewing Circus.

I connected with Francesca online, and the internet has helped a great deal by bringing together the large and growing geek culture fangirl community. The fact it exists at all is a testament to members individuality, and determination to not be defined by strict parameters of what it means to be a girl or woman.

While the likes of the innovative Her Universe label is taking full advantage of this gap in the market, the mainstream assumption remains – that geeky stuff involving space and superheroes is for boys only.

This often means female characters being omitted altogether in licensed merchandise, as happens with The Avengers, Big Hero 6, Guardians of the Galaxy, and – yes – Star Wars. This tells boys and girls that there is no place for women in these environments.

There is a close link between a childhood interest in geek culture and science in general. The reasons for lack of women in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing) are many, but the perception of science and science fiction as ‘boy’ interests is suspected of being a major contributing factor.

Do Girls Really Like Star Wars?

All I want for my daughter – and all girls – is choice. If your daughter loves pink and princesses, then she is well served by the market. But my Star Wars loving little girl and her fellow fangirls usually have to rely on what’s in the boy’s aisle, and many will feel uncomfortable about this as they grow older. I’ve already had older girls and boys ask me with disbelief whether my daughter really does love Star Wars when they see her running around the playground in her Star Wars gear. Well, she absolutely does.

The new Star Wars movie is only a few months away, with a film a year to follow after that. There are additional comic books, novels, and cartoons. The merchandise tsunami has already begun. The new saga is about to be embraced by a brand new generation of fans, including my daughter. When I was a kid, one of the biggest Star Wars fans I knew was a girl who lived around the corner. Somehow, in the ensuing decades, it became redefined as a boys only brand.

A high street retailer like Next selling Star Wars clothes for girls – even ones with pink and sparkles – gives me a new hope that such an attitude will be a thing of the past for Star Wars fangirls in the future.

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What do you think? Is Star Wars for boys only? Do you know any girls who love it too? Please share your opinion below, or on Facebook.

My Favourite Photos of the Month – July

Here’s a selection of my favourite July photos from our Instagram account.

Watching Wizard of Oz, wearing her Dorothy dress.

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Why we love @lottie_dolls – she's a lot like my daughter 🙂

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It's a tutu kinda Tuesday 🙂 #ootd

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Our puddle hunt was successful 🙂

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"Would you care to join me for a dance?"

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Dancing to 'Kiki's Delivery Service' 🙂

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The 3yo's Saturday morning LEGO creation – old Han & Leia.

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Batgirl top, with superfriends Wonder Woman and Supergirl joining her on the skirt. #ootd

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