Mrs. Obama, We Need to Talk

April 17, 2014

PETA Kids Send an Easter Egg Message to Obama

I'm super proud of my born-and-raised-vegan stepdaughter (the one in blue) and her friends for participating in this PETA video message to our FLOTUS. 

For me, even bigger than the specific message sent is the fact that these kids are comfortable and proud to speak up for animals. When you really think about it from a child's perspective, it must take an enormous amount of strength for a little kid—vulnerable as they are to the whims and dominating nature of the adult world—to say what they feel is right in front of peers and grownups who might disagree. 

I mean, think of how many kids hide behind their parent's leg when you ask them their name. 

Involving kids in activism and the processes of being change and targeting leaders and lawmakers for social change normalizes a powerful message: when we discover injustice, there is work we can and should do to right the matter our age. 

Please share this video with a child and discuss the virtues of being brave even when others might disagree.

This kind of education lasts a lifetime.

Permission to Play

April 11, 2014


Some of you are on spring break, have it coming up, or are just coming back like us. On our end, there's not too much to come back from. Before it arrived, I told someone (I don't know why), that we were going on a stay-cation. I had had grand plans to see local wildflowers blooms and play at the beach—ha. Alas spring break meant Justin and I continued our usual work routine while Akira hung out with us.

Don't feel too bad, we're pretty fun. 

But while we usually can get work done when Akira is home (she's cool, intersted, and still young enough to be happy wherever we are), times like these call for patience on everyone's know how it is when you're handling a trillion things and your kid wants to be entertained. 

She's 9, but I'm still learning to juggle—especially given that I have always (desperately) relied on "quiet time" for creative work and general sanity. What's working for me is including Akira in work/quiet time rather than trying to hurriedly buy alone time while she's distracted with a short-lived activity that involves me setting it up. That's what's draining. Instead, I call "quiet time," or "creative time," and tell her to join me so we can "both get into our creative zones." I treat it like a sacred thing I'm protecting for both of us. And when she get into it, she produces some great stuff.  

So when Aki has downtime and we have work, I give her "permission to play"—and here's the part that takes some self-control on my end—I do it without setting her up with supplies, hovering, or trying to control the spread. She gets to choose something to do (now she has her go-to activities, but when she was younger, we made a list of ideas and taped it to her dresser) and I get even more time. You have to trust them and not worry about a mess—and if you can't not worry, then give your kids a designated mess-area or ask them to spread newspaper or a big old towel under them. Anyway, you'll have a bigger reserve of patience if you've had a satisfying work/creative/quiet session.

So, no "Ruru and Daddy are busy right now," no watching Hunger Games again (she loves those movies and I think it's fine—more on that later). Instead, we put a value on autonomous, indpendent, self-starting and the creativity that comes from uninterrupted quiet space. We enjoy it side by side, together. 

So what did it look like, this wild and crazy spring break? While I worked on a new project and dealt with an e-mail crash, and Justin prepped a new print release, Aki finished four 100+ page books, bottled "potions" made of soap, dust from her crystals, and who-knows-what-else, wrote some (emotionally-revealing) songs in her journal, and beaded some pretty impressive jewelry in the sunshine. 

It was no Hawaii, but pretty good...

Does giving your kids full permission to play resonate as a path to a more peaceful household? Do you find yourself trying to control playtime? Share a comment below.

Shriner's LA Circus Goes Animal-Free!

April 2, 2014

I'm envisioning this news marking a domino effect in the animal circus industry! After 88 years of animal exploitation and numerous accidents, abuses, and violations of the USDA's Animal Welfare Act, Shriner's Circus has announced that their annual fundraising circus event this year in L.A. will not feature any performing animals (just the human ones). Replacing the animal acts are aerialists, acrobats, clowns, and rides (there's a page devoted to this very idea in my second book, Vegan Is Love).

People always ask me how we teach our little one to make vegan choices when the rest of the world seems to be having so much fun without them. This news is a perfect example of my answer. We include our daughter in the news we learn, discussing the who's, what's, and why's.

In just a few minutes, a child can absorb both sides of a story—the circus's aim to raise funds by making their audience happy vs. the animals' perspectives and the abuses they endure—and can then rationalize a compassionate choice. A news story like this is a great opportunity to educate kids about the realities and the potential end of businesses that use animals for entertainment.

Very important: during the discussion, ask lots of questions so your kids can begin to formulate opinions and values on their own!

I know it's slightly sickening to thank abusers, but I think it's the right thing to do in this case given that a) Shriners has circus events all over the nation, and b) it doesn't seem that this move was necessarily a permanent change to all its shows. It would be good for them to hear we're watching, and good for other animal entertainment shows to know that there's support and publicity should they go this way, too.

You can sign a pre-written gratitude petition here.

Sources: 1, 2