When I read a recent Miami Herald article noting that Florida's first American Girl store will open on Oct. 6 at the Falls in South Miami-Dade, I was so glad I have boys.
The company's historical and contemporary dolls, which cost close to $100 without accessories, are extremely popular. More than just a doll, the stores have a wide range of doll clothes, accessories, books and matching clothes for the doll's owner.
Girls bring their doll to the store's hair salon for a new look or enjoy the "Creativitees" boutique, where they can make matching T-shirts for themselves and their dolls. The store also will have a bistro for light meals or tea parties. Dolls get their own seats with doll-sized menus.
The dolls are sold with accompanying books. They were originally marketed as a way to teach girls history from the vantage point of the dolls. As a result, the doll has won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Award eight times.
At $95 for a doll and paperback book, this is a pricey toy. But parents I've talked to say they like that they are really well-made dolls. And they are a version of girl power without the sexy overtones of Bratz. They see it as a way to prolong the innocence of girlhood.
That certainly comes with a price. When you throw in doll outfits at $25 a pop and swag that ranges from a $20 toy dog for your doll to a $65 girl-sized outfit to match the doll, you can end up spending hundreds on this moppet.
Will you steer your girl far away from this store opening, or stand up front and center?
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Heather Tempesta is a Brandon wife and mother of three kids, a 16-year-old boy, a 14-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy. She balances a full-time job with supporting youth football, cheerleading and high school football, all while serving as a part-time CFO, maid, chef, chauffeur and ATM. Here's a snapshot of her life she recently shared.
If you ask any parent of a teenager about their main complaint, it likely will be that their teens don't listen. Until recently, I would be one of those parents spouting off about the lack of audibility from my teenagers. But, now, I beg to differ.
Last year, we allowed our then 13-year-old to have a Halloween party at our home. It's nearly impossible to merge more than two girls together without a drama fest. And having 17 proved to be a competitive breeding ground for a daytime Emmy.
I walked over to a small group that seemed to be in a heated discussion. It only took hearing, "I will never be her BFF again," and, "He was my boyfriend first," to bring on the immediate feeling of dysphoria. I loved these girls as if they were all my own. I gave them a group hug and with a smile, I said, "I would not trade places with you girls for a million dollars."
About two weeks later, my daughter and I were having a disagreement as to how much she was contributing. I began the obligatory mom speech, which consists of telling her how difficult it is to work full time, clean the house, balance the budget, taxi them around town and be the chef.
I figured this was just another exercise in futility. She patiently waited for me to finish and respectfully asked if she could reply. Her response was simple and brief.
"You just told me and my friends that you wouldn't trade places with us for a million dollars," she explained. "I would think that you might be able to cut me a little slack since it seemed that you understood the difficulty of my age."
The sensation I felt at that moment was like a tug of war between two pit bulls. The authoritative disciplinarian in me wanted to ground her. The self-aware, open-minded human in me wanted to take it in. That is what I have always asked her to do: Listen.
Ground her? Under what pretense? Telling me the truth and being too right for a 13-year-old? My parental ego decided to swallow its pride. I took a big gulp and I said it. "You are right." I think she was as shocked as I was.
They do listen. They might not hear us asking them to clean their room or wash the dishes, but they are listening to the important things we say. And ignoring her valid point would've left me doing the exact opposite of what I want her to do: Admit when she is wrong. And I'd rather own up to being wrong than be a hypocrite.
We all have teachable moments. And, apparently age is no factor as to when we start teaching or stop learning.
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Some parents traveling with twin baby boys earlier this month cut off the nasty looks they anticipated by handing out gift bags (bribes) of candy and snacks to fellow passengers begging for their patience as they traveled for the first time with babies. While this is very clever and considerate, it's kind of sad that parents feel the need to apologize for their babies being, well, babies.
The person who posted the picture on Reddit also offered this update: The parents were fantastic and the kids were better than would be expected. Mom was super nervous and obviously very tired, but still extremely nice to everyone around her. Not a mean or frustrated word from dad either. Saw them meeting his parents at baggage, who were seeing babies for first time, and got a bit teary.
This is the first weekend for ZooBoo, Lowry Park Zoo's annual family-friendly Halloween event with haunted houses and trails for older zoo-goers, costumed characters, boo houses and seasonal lights for little ones. Also unlimited zoo rides in the dark. It's only $10 this first weekend; $17 adults, $14 children for the rest of the dates. Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 935-8552. 7-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
For the Park Ranger Nature Educational Programs at Lettuce Lake, rangers guide children ages 9 to 15 through a variety of "Indians In Florida" themed activities. $5 per child, adults with children free, adult only $5 (cash only). Lettuce Lake Park, 6920 E Fletcher Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6204. 10 a.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Sunshine Sunday is a day of play adapted for children with special needs that includes reduced lighting and sound and special programming. $5, members free. Glazer Children's Museum, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 443-3861. 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sunday.
The first Tuesday of the month brings a Target Tuesday price break for families. You get free admission to the Glazer Children's Museum this Tuesday from 2 to 7 p.m. (it's normally $15 for adults). The museum is in Tampa's Curtis Hixon Park, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza in Tampa.
Oct. 6 is Nickelodeon's Worldwide Day of Play when the channel will "go dark" so that the kids will go outside and play. Some tennis centers across the country are offering a free tennis day on the courts that day, and some are even getting a jump on it and offering free court time this weekend:
• There will be a festival with games and obstacle courses at the Hillsborough Community College courts with prizes for kids on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at 3901 Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa.
• MacFarlane Park Tennis Courts, the city courts at 700 N MacDill Ave. in Tampa, from 3 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 6.
To find a tennis event near you, plug your ZIP code into the Youth Tennis website at youthtennis.com.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne writes for the TampaBay.com parenting blog Whoa, Momma! found at TampaBay.com/blogs/moms. Follow them on Twitter @WhoaMomma