Peekaboo Beans - quality children's clothes with some pretty cool benefits

I was compensated for the following review with a pair of pants that didn't fit me well so I gave them to Brandon. Opinions are my own.

My good friend, Vicky, sells this Canadian brand of clothing - Peekaboo Beans (PB) - and the quality is amazing. When she asked me if I would do a review, I was happy to oblige. 

Brandon calls his Peekaboo Beans clothes "peas in a pod" because of the company's logo sewn on to all their clothes. It's seriously cute.

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PB clothes are meant to be comfortable, functional and allow kids to play. (This is mostly why I was so disappointed that they didn't fit me. I like comfy clothes. Sorry, Vicky; there's a downside to every product.)

The tags even encourage children to play!

All the pertinent stuff we parents need to know is right there on the front of the tags.

All the pertinent stuff we parents need to know is right there on the front of the tags.

Rather than toss it away, you can give it to your child to turn into a wee little piece of art.

Rather than toss it away, you can give it to your child to turn into a wee little piece of art.

As the mother of a child with autism who also has sensory processing disorder (SPD), I have so much appreciation for the thought that has gone into PB clothes. That tag being removable means that kids who are bothered by tags won't have problems wearing Peekaboo Beans. 

Even though the big tag is gone, I don't have to wonder what size Brandon's clothes are with the less bothersome smaller tags left behind.

Even though the big tag is gone, I don't have to wonder what size Brandon's clothes are with the less bothersome smaller tags left behind.

Another bonus is the thumb holes that are so helpful to Canadian kids and parents for roughly nine months of the year (maybe 6 depending on where you live). Thumb holes mean arms of your child's shirt aren't going to get bunched up when it's time to bundle up. (No doubt this is also helpful for kids with SPD.)

Brandon really loves his pirate ship shirt with the thumbholes. (Don't try saying that too fast.)

Brandon really loves his pirate ship shirt with the thumbholes. (Don't try saying that too fast.)

He doesn't wear this shirt without using the thumb holes.

He doesn't wear this shirt without using the thumb holes.

The pants have fake ties for the younger kids, but Brandon is old enough now to wear pants that have a real drawstring. 

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So, how does this outfit look now that I've talked about it so much?

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Not too bad at all when it's sitting on the counter.

Though I think the best part is when there's a cute kid filling it out. ;)

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In addition to selling Peekaboo Beans, Vicky is just a really great person to know. You can get to know the uber-fabulous Vicky by following her on Twitter or liking her Facebook page.

I've been a little behind on my writing (as you may have noticed since there's been a two-month gap between this post and my last), so the PB line has moved on from winter and is into spring and summer. You should definitely check out the new line!

So...apparently I lied to Brandon's teacher this week

Brandon’s junior kindergarten teacher is wonderful. She’s a lovely young woman with so much energy and compassion for children. I couldn’t be happier with the lottery that landed us in her class. She’s made so much extra effort with Brandon since before school even started. From visiting him at daycare to calling and spending nearly an hour on the phone with me to discuss his situation. She’s called almost every week since school started to talk about how things are going or give us updates on one thing or another. 

She’s exactly the kind of teacher I hoped for Brandon to get. If he has teachers like this woman every year, we will have a stellar school experience. Brandon’s principle is wonderful too. I feel like we’re all on Team Brandon - doing everything we can to help him succeed. 

So, of course, I lied to a key team member this week.

Brandon’s teacher called to tell me how well his day went after we made a change that we all anticipated would lead to some difficulty. When she called, she mentioned a book that Brandon’s been reading for a couple of weeks, introduced to him by his daycare teachers. The book? Mortimer by Robert Munsch.

I never read Robert Munsch growing up, so if you’re like me, here’s the man himself reading Mortimer:

It’s a cute book - even cuter if you’re looking at the pictures.

Why did this come up? Because B’s teacher wondered if the yelling Brandon has been doing (sometimes) is mimicking the book. I assured her that he isn’t really known for doing that. He’ll often quote books (at odd, completely out of context times), but I said it’s unusual for him to start acting them out or even copying behaviours in the books that are negative.

I found A Bunch of Munsch on Netflix last weekend and Brandon has started requesting to watch them regularly. (People, the show has trumped Thomas - this is big news.) It’s so weird, though. I can see why it appeals to kids, but as an adult seeing it for the first time I’m finding it hard to enjoy. It bugs me that the stories diverge so far from the books, too. Sure, the basic nuts and bolts are there, but there’s so much filler that makes me wonder what the writers were on when they dreamed it up.

One of the books that Brandon has been drawn to is The Boy in the Drawer. I think this one has an actual lesson in it for kids, but it’s so vague I would be truly impressed at the child who can verbalize it without help. Mind you, I could be reading something into something that isn’t there. Here’s the cartoon version - embellishments at all:

If I have to have that song in my head, you do too. :-p

Now, I know you’re wondering about this lie I’ve mentioned. I didn’t know I lied until yesterday afternoon when Brandon came running into my room and said there was a tiger in his sock drawer. Shockingly, I did not make the connection at first. I told Brandon we better go investigate. We crept into his room ever so quietly to keep from rousing the tiger. I slowly opened the drawer and screamed!!!

How did a tiger get in his sock drawer?! And he’s reading a book!

Hmmm…just like The Boy in the Drawer (click that link to listen to Munsch reading the book).

Today, Brandon ran over to tell me that the tiger threw his socks all over his room. I thought this was a brilliant opportunity to get him to pick up his mess since he was clearly play-acting out the book. However, unlike Shelly who did what her mother told her to do, Brandon doesn’t like to clean up messes regardless of who makes them.

I think next week, I’ll have to let his daycare know that they need to find some books that encourage tidiness and stop reading the ones that are so messy. ;)

Ultimately, I couldn’t be happier with this development. More and more I see Brandon using his imagination and books are such a huge part of it. I always wanted him to love reading and he does. I couldn’t be happier about it.

I should probably let Brandon’s teacher know that I lied to her now. 

Better communication could have mitigated hard ball ban backlash

This past week, the news broke that a school in Toronto had contacted its parents to communicate an immediate ban on hard balls - basketball, soccer, baseball; the stuff that hurts if you get hit from a good throw. The ensuing backlash that was sparked prompted my friend, Alison, to write about the innappropriate response of the parents, media and people in general as they made judgments about the school - I was one of those people who reacted. I strongly disagree with what the school did, but I thought Alison made some salient points that we should all think about. Parents by-passed the appropriate people to contact and turned the situation into a media circus, but I think the school could have responded differently to mitigate this possibility.

So, I would like to play devil’s advocate a little bit and say, first of all, that any organization that is making what will always be a controversial decision like this needs to have their story straight in advance. Be ready for the media to catch wind of it, because you will never be able to rely on parents who passionately disagree to remain quiet about it. That’s simply not realistic in this age of information entitlement. The story, as presented, is inflammatory, probably lacking full details and ripe for the viral spread of negative views.

Assuming that it happened the way that the story described with no missing details, the school made a couple of missteps:

  1. They could have issued a letter stating that they were banning the balls until such time as they were able to have a full consultation with parents to see how widespread the concern is and come to a general consensus/compromise on what should happen.
  2. If a consultation had already taken place, they should have given a full accounting to parents.

Sure, administration has the right to make decisions based on what they believe is best for the children, but based on the coverage so far the principal’s only defense of the decision is that she has the right to make it. I recognize that could simply be quotes taken out of the context of a more thorough explanation, but the school’s site is silent on this and that seems counter productive. If this decision was made legitimately and not as a knee-jerk reaction then I have to wonder why the school doesn’t give more information to the parents and media rather than become a laughingstock. Even if it was a “knee-jerk reaction” to an angry parent or group, banning the balls temporarily until a solution is found makes more sense than an all out ban. It also likely wouldn’t have escalated to this point.

People are not going to stop spreading this kind of information because they know it has traction. The general public want to know because it is often relevant in their own lives - from personal experience as a child or because they have children themselves.

I have been watching the story because my own son is about to start school next year and I don’t want him coddled. I want him to learn how to address situations when he’s hit with balls like this and, conversely, that it is wrong to hit others with balls in a way that can hurt them.

The reality is that this story was going to get out. There was no stopping it happening. From a communications standpoint, I think that it has been handled horribly by the school. 

As bloggers and social media users, most of us think about what we’re putting out there before we hit send/publish. We draft, edit and consider the possible response (at least I do). Sometimes, we adjust the way our message is presented to provide better context or clarification and create a more open environment for discussion. Other times we want to express a hard line view and that can generate a completely different kind of discussion. There are pros and cons to both techniques. 

The school took a rigid approach and it went badly for them, but this is the official reality of the world we live in today. Right or wrong, it means that the traditional ways that organizations handle situations have to be adjusted to account for the possible response.

Should the expectation be for people to stop sharing out of turn or do organizations need to expect it? What are your thoughts?

Do you remember the first time you rode a bike? I can't forget.

During the summer of my 11th year, I got an invitation to sleep over at a friend’s house during the week. I was thrilled. Anything to get to stay in a house with air conditioning. [Yes, we lived without air conditioning in Florida - for seven. long. years.] I was excited to hang out with my friend, too. Didi, her little brother and I played games that night and stayed up late goofing off. We got up a bit late in the morning and they decided to go to a park. Didi’s family lived on another dangerous four lane road, but it didn’t hold a candle to the highway I lived on. But she had a huge neighborhood behind her house that we could go exploring in.

Didi’s little brother brought his bike with us and I was drawn to it. My friend had helped me learn how to ride his bike in our neighborhood a little, but I wanted to try some more. I finally worked up the courage to ask, and I got a yes. You see, my dad didn’t like bikes. Or, rather, he didn’t trust us kids with them. [Ahem, he um, did actually have good reason - but not because of me!] So, the rule for us was no bikes. I was breaking the rules even riding my friends’ bikes. Didi and her brother wanted to go to the park, but I was only interested in riding. I told them to go on without me and I took advantage of the empty streets to ride around.

The only problem was that I didn’t know how to brake on this little 10-speed. Yeah, now I know - backpedal. But I didn’t know that then! I was having a grand time, though. Flying through the streets at top speed. I found a hill that was slightly intimidating, but the day was hot and I was anxious to feel the wind in my hair. I pedaled down the hill for all I was worth.

Until I realized that where the hill ended so did the street. 

I had my first and worst bicycle crash that day. I plowed into a hedge and flipped off the bike and over the bushes. It’s a miracle I didn’t break anything more than my 11-year-old pride. I got up, gingerly checked to see that all my various bits and pieces were still working before I slowly walked over to the bike. No damage. (I think.) Whew.

I trudged up the hill, where I found that Didi and her brother were, somewhat impatiently, waiting for me. I immediately handed off the bike and told them rather shakily that I’d just had a bit of a fall. I don’t know if I intentionally downplayed the severity or if I didn’t realize it myself yet. I was starting to get that out-of-body-experience feeling as I talked to Didi and told them I needed to sit for a while. I landed in a ditch in front of a house and it was there that Didi and her brother left me. I didn’t see them again that day.

Why not, you say?

[Don’t worry, this isn’t some horrible story that ends with them getting snatched.]

I knew after a few minutes that something was really wrong. My head felt like it was spinning, I was sweating and cold. Someone was home in the house I was sitting in front of, so I ventured to the front door, where I asked if they would mind giving me a drink. 

[Let’s take a quick step back here for a moment, okay? At 11 years of age, I was still one of the shyest kids alive. I hated talking to strangers and I was horribly uncomfortable going by myself into any new situation, particularly if I didn’t know anyone. With that in mind, I’ll continue.]

The woman inside the house brought me a lemonade and I did exactly what I shouldn’t have done and started gulping it down as fast as possible, which induced a baptism of sorts for her flower bed. [If there is any justice in this world, then it turned into the world’s best fertilizer.] The woman, who was clearly a compassionate and caring soul, helped me calm down and then called my father for me. She made arrangements to take me to meet him - all the way across town from her house. Did I mention she had two little kids, too? Of all the houses, in all the world, I picked the best one to get sick in front of and to this day, I don’t know her name.

I hope I have the chance to help out someone else’s child this way; it would be a pleasure.

Have you ever received help from a stranger that was unexpected? Did you pay it forward? 

Fresh from the Cabbage Patch - Morgana Bonnie

Do you remember the Cabbage Patch Kids frenzy from the 1980s? I do. If I remember correctly, I didn't tend to ask my parents for every great new toy that came out. I'm not sure if I even knew what was popular (or not popular). But when Cabbage Patch dolls came on the scene, I wanted one. I'm sure I let my mom know on a pretty regular basis just how much I wanted one. 

One day in May 1985, Mom was away for a few hours running errands and she left us with my dad. When she got home, she yelled across the yard asking my older brother to bring her a paper grocery bag. Before he even had a chance to respond, I was off running to get the bag for her. I ran back to the trunk of the car with the bag Mom requested.

This is what the packaging looked like back in my day. There was no mistaking this for another toy!My memories of what followed still make me smile today. I handed my mom the grocery bag and then glanced in the trunk to find that distinctive, unmistakable yellow and green box containing a Cabbage Patch Kid. There was no doubt in my 7-year-old mind that that doll was mine - all mine. My mom, though she was probably disappointed that my biggest birthday surprise was ruined two months in advance, got a big smile on her face as she saw my excitement building. She handed me the box, which I took and none too gingerly ran screaming into the house, "I got a Cabbage Patch Kid! I got a Cabbage Patch Kid!"

I don't remember actually opening the box, but I vaguely remember looking at my doll's birth certificate. I was disappointed that her name was Morgana Bonnie; could they find an uglier name? (She was adorable - she deserved better.) Morgana BonnieMy mom offered to contact the Babyland General Hospital to have her name changed, but I never told her to go ahead with it. I guess after a while the name grew on me and I never renamed her. Morgana Bonnie was without a doubt my favorite toy growing up. I remember playing with her more than any other toy. My little brother even decided he wanted a Cabbage Patch Doll, so my mom got him a little boy named Billy who was bald with blue eyes. My brother and I would play with our dolls together all the time. My mom truly got her money's worth from that gift.

Perhaps one day my child will want to play with her, too.

Do you remember your favorite toy as a child? What was it?