Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 20, 2015 · Page C6
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page C6

Rochester, New York
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Page C6
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Page C6 article text (OCR)

Page6C Tuesday,October20,2015 DemocratandChronicle. com THAT’S FOR BOYS Jennifer Muhm’s daughter wanted to be an astronaut for Halloween a few years ago, but she was immediately discouraged. “I can’t be an astronaut; that’s a boy’s costume,” her daughter said. M uhm, speaking by phone from Seatt le, said that the words were devastating. Her daughter was 4 years old and already she thought she couldn’t be anything she wanted to be. She was already thinking this is for girls and that’s for boys. In a press release, Muhm’s business partner Malorie Catchpole said, “Little girls pick up on messages in the clothing department. When girls don’t see dino- s aurs, space and other science themes on t heir clothing, it tells them that things l ike science and engineering aren’t for t hem.” As early as 5, girls learn to think that they aren’t as good at math as boys, according to studies, even though testing shows that this isn’t true at that age. However, many argue that the perception affects future interest and performance. Luckily, Muhm was able to discuss this with her daughter. She showed her images of female astronauts and scientists and persuaded her daughter to dress up in a spacesuit and helmet. You c an see the adorable results in a video on h er company’s website, buddingstem- . com. But Muhm thought, what about the girls who don’t even ask because they never think of science or space because it’s not something they think of as being “for girls”? EVERYONE LOVES SPACE Muhm and Catchpole launched their buddingSTEM clothing line after a suc- c essful Kickstarter campaign this s pring. They attracted more than $ 70,000 in donations and purchases, and they started shipping their first items last week — T-shirts, dresses and leggings with patterns of rocket ships, trains and the Apatosaurus (formerly the Brontosaurus although the Brontosaurus is coming back, but that’s a long story and a great one to teach to girls and boys, hint, hint). After talking with friends and family, t he duo said that they knew there was a m arket and a need. They’ve fulfilled m ore than 1,300 orders all over the count ry, including many bundles to St. Louis, and they have hundreds more to go before fulfilling all their Kickstarter packages. They even have adult women clamoring for the space-themed shirts and tights (but sorry, ladies, this is for kids). The buddingSTEM company is a long way from making a profit, but this is a labor of love, Muhm said. She’s a public affairs officer with a public health organization, and her business partner is a lawyer specializing in regulatory com- pliance. They have three children under 6 years old between them, so this is what t hey do in their very limited spare time, and it speaks volumes to their dedication and frustration over girls’ clothing choices. The St. Louis siblings behind Girls Will Be,, are also part of this campaign. They launched their line two years ago to give girls an option to sport a shirt with a robot, a baseball, a math equation or a dog that wasn’t bedazzled with rhinestones. THE PINK MAFIA Sharon Choksi, a Girls Will Be cofounder, said that companies that sell only clothing with pinks and sparkles become a self-fulfilling prophecy. “They say they make it because it sells, but that doesn’t hold water because it’s the only thing they sell” and everything else is somehow considered deviant, she explained. Some looks from Girls Will Be, l aunched by St. Louis siblings. They w anted clothes for girls who wanted s hirts that reflected their interest in math, science, books, sports, dinosaurs and other girly things. Choksi lives in Austin, Texas, but her sister Laura Burn, who designs the shirt graphics for the company still lives in Webster Groves, Missouri and their brother who is also part of the company lives in Chicago. Choksi said that after a few years, her s on wears the product as much or more t han her daughter and she’s thrilled. “ Clothing is the next frontier in c hanging gender inequities,” Choksi said. She said that by forming a mini coalition of companies under #Clothes- WithoutLimits they are helping redefine what it means to be girly and to be a girl. Girls Continued from Page 1C Get involved Find out more about the members of the # ClothesWithoutLimits campaign at clothes- And find out about efforts a t Gap in partnership with Ellen DeGeneres to c reate a line for girls who are redefining girly. buddingSTEM, F ree to Be Kids, Girls Will Be, Handsome in Pink, J essy & Jack, Jill and Jack Kids, Princess Awesome, Q uirkie Kids, Sunrise Girl, Baby Blastoff!, M y DD Hearts Dinos, heartsdinos Clever Belle, N erdy with Children, Orange Clever, Svaha: Clothing to Empower, Last year, William and Laura Baird got rid of half of their kids’ toys, half of their kitchen’s contents and a third of the family’s clothes. It wasn’t just declutter- i ng — they also ditched almost three- q uarters of their home’s square footage, m oving from a three-bedroom house into the 440-square-foot cabin on wheels that they share with their three children, three cats and a hamster. “ I was looking for less to clean,” Laura Baird said. “Less upkeep, less impact o n the environment, less electricity, less use of resources.” Living with less is the philosophy behind the tiny house movement — the rising popularity of scaled-down homes, usually less than 500 square feet, some a s small as 80 square feet. Living in these small spaces does m ean less responsibility (low prices means many are mortgage-free) but a growing group of tiny-house dwellers a re far from rootless vagabonds. Like the Bairds, they’re parents with young children. L aura, a nature educator at a state park, and William, a philosophy professor, have gotten creative to maximize space in their new home, which is parked in a campground in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (they plan to eventually move it to their own land). They’ve built a fold-out table f or family meals, installed bunk beds for their 8-year-old twin daughters and designated their 4-year-old son’s sleeping l oft as the playroom. Laura even ripped out wall panels in the kitchen to build a spice cabinet when she discovered 3 i nches of wasted space. The family is still trimming down their belongings and settling on where to store things (bulky towels are especially challenging) but the parents like that they spend more time together as a family, and more time outdoors. “We’re figuring out how to compro- m ise more, even if it’s just, ‘I’m going to the bathroom now and you can go after me,’” Laura Baird said. “It’s not as con- v enient as having a big house where each kid can have their own room, but it’s not necessarily a good thing that everything’s convenient.” Eight-year-old Jessica Baird agrees t hat the smaller space has brought the family closer. Her favorite part of living tiny: “Every room has at least one cat in it,” she said. Small-space living with kids in tow means balancing a commitment to minim alism with the realities of family life, s aid Derek Diedricksen, a tiny-house des igner and builder and author of the new “ Microshelters: 59 Creative Cabins, Tiny Houses, Tree Houses, and Other Small S tructures” (Storey Publishing). “Just because you have a space that a k id can sleep in, that’s not going to be e nough,” he said. “You need some common living and breathing and moving s pace. It shouldn’t be a jigsaw game of Jenga to be able to sit down.” In addition to having a roomy common area, Diedricksen suggests think- i ng about privacy, including isolating a dults’ sleeping space and insulating in- terior walls so everyone can get some p eace and quiet. Other tips when designing a tiny family home: Don’t skimp on w indows — they make a small space feel less claustrophobic — and plan for storage, including offsite space if necessary. Diedricksen recommends storage s heds, which can double as offices or e ven playrooms in a pinch. As kids grow, tiny houses can become e specially challenging, so some families add separate dwellings for teenagers. Tin y-house designers Andrew and Gabriella Morrison built their 15-year-old daughter a 120-square-foot cabin and their 19-year-old son a 160-square-foot t reehouse near the family’s home. “ If parents have a good, open relation- s hip with their teens and teens are mak- i ng good choices, it’s OK to create a separate sleeping space for teenagers where they can be and have their friends o ver and give the parents privacy too,” Gabriella Morrison said. The couple, who run the website Tiny-, live in the modern 207- square-foot house on wheels that they designed in Ashland, Ore. They warn that while living small is rewarding, families used to a larger home should p repare for an initial adjustment — and shouldn’t panic when things get tough. “There is going to be a period where i t’s super uncomfortable,” Gabriella Morrison said. “With perseverance and patience and kindness and willingness to change, that dynamic can change so quickly. The beauty of tiny house living i s that it’s almost impossible to avoid each other, and the family’s really going to be forced to listen to each other. You can’t just escape to your bedroom that’s hundreds of feet away.” The Morrisons say small-scale living h as also helped them work less and trav- e l more. B etter communication is a benefit t hat the Bairds said they already recognize from their family’s year in the cab- i n. Their kids are “learning how to talk to u s and to each other about what they w ant and if something’s not working,” Laura Baird said. “And part of the disc ussion is why we don’t want all the stuff —the resources being used and the whole process of consumption and where our things come from. We point o ut, ‘it only took two hours to clean this h ouse, isn’t that great?’” Families join the tiny house movement and find the uncluttered life rewarding ALICIA BARNEY ASSOCIATED PRESS LAURA BAIRD VIA AP William Baird cooks in his family’s 440-square-foot cabin on wheels in Myrtle Beach, S.C. More families with children are joining the tiny house movement, downsizing to small, often portable, homes in hopes of simplifying their lives and reducing their environmental impact. LAURA BAIRD VIA AP Jessica Baird and her brother Evan relax in the living room of their family's 440-square-foot cabin in Myrtle Beach, S.C. ing is your passion, or you have a job that c hildren may find interesting. Talk to your child’s teacher about coming in to d o a presentation for the class. You may just spark some interest in young minds a nd you make your child’s day at the same time. #4. I volunteered a couple years ago and it was not a good experience. That happens and it stinks. That said, don’t let that dissuade you from trying again, as the situation likely can’t be duplicated. T here are new situations, new teachers, new classmates, and new leaders of the P TA all to take into account. Consider that before you write off another oppor- t unity altogether. #5. Volunteering is a mom thing. No way, man! Volunteering is never gender- specific and any of the aforementioned information applies to moms and dads. Heck, it applies to siblings, grandparents, or any other family member willing t o offer their time. Volunteers are so valuable and will never be turned away. W hile volunteering is something I enjoy, and some of these ideas may spark n ew interest for some, volunteering is not for everyone and that is absolutely okay. At no point should a parent feel guilty for not wanting to involve themselves in that aspect of their child’s life. Parenting is hard enough without societal expectations getting in the way. Volu nteer. Don’t volunteer. Just be present. In the end, that’s what truly matters. Parents Continued from Page 3C

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