Eurovision Rocks!

Eurovision Lordi

The Munchkin crawls into bed this morning.

“Eurovision starts tonight, Mum”, he announces excitedly. He starts humming the tune from last year’s winner Denmark quietly to himself.

“What was your favourite last year?” he asks.

“That song by Denmark, the winner”, I reply.

“Mine too! Although I liked the Viking guy too”, and moves into his rendition of last year’s Iceland song (I was going to write the name of the song in, but you should see the accent letters! How do I type those?)

We banter on like this… discussing and singing our favourites from the past few years until it is time to get on with our day.

Hubby and I were late-comers to the whole Eurovision thing, and have only started following it for the past 7 or 8 years, and yet it has become such a big part of our family culture and vernacular (rather like musicals were for me as a child).

Long after the main event, we have enjoyed numerous evenings re-watching our favourites on YouTube, bopping and belting away. Songs that have never hit the Australian Charts are enjoyed over and over again – Eastern European Kind of Funk, Satellite, Euphoria (I’m particularly fond of the version the children’s choir performed in the 2013 Opening in Malmo, Sweden), Only Teardrops, that Icelandic one!

We giggle over Hubby’s enthusiasm for sparkly silver shorts like the Lithuanian guys. I am teased about my girl crush on Lena (have you ever seen her version of Love Cats? LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!) Munchkin bounces around the house singing Marry Me!

I also love how this one event has opened up a whole world for the Munchkin – both musically and culturally. He loves to sing and dance, and Eurovision provides some great role models for males in performing arts. Men perform in a whole gamut of roles from Monster to Viking, Average Bloke to Diva, Lover to Grandfather. And if you want to wear sparkly shorts or a volcano dress, that’s OK too!

He has probably picked up a better understanding of European geography, history and politics in the process as well.

Yes, Eurovision is incredibly daggy and silly, but isn’t that the point? Isn’t that why it has become such a huge hit with Australians? So much so, that we even have a guest artist, Jessica Mauboy, performing this year.

So this weekend, we’ll light the fire, play dress-ups, eat pizza and delight in the spectacle. We’ll laugh at Julia’s and Sam’s commentary, cheer on our favourites, follow the Twitter feed (#SBSEurovision) and deal with the earworms for the next couple of weeks, or months, or years. I wonder what new surprises will become part of our lives this year.

Are you watching?

PS. In case you were wondering… No, we don’t suffer from an intolerably tired Munchkin by keeping him up half the night. He is allowed to stay up a bit later, and then we record the rest and replay the next day. It really is a weekend long event at our house!

Image: Lordi, the 2006 Winners (from our first Eurovision experience). Photo credit: Indrek Galetin reproduced under Creative Commons license via Wikipedia.

PPS. Here’s Lena doing Love Cats!

Creativity is not just a Girl thing!

Lego Loom Bands

Marketers take note – words are powerful!

Behind the scenes here at Tiny Moments, the Kid Spark Project is slowly working its way out of my head and into… something. OK, I’m not really sure WHAT yet, but all good things take time!

For quite a while now I have been researching and thinking about this question:

Why do all preschool kids accept that they are creative, but by the time they end primary school, most kids don’t?

It is this question that lies at the heart of the Kid Spark Project, and which I intend to explore over the coming months. There are many factors at play, but one of them hit home last week, when I attended the Kids Business Bloggers Brunch.

One of the brands exhibiting was the innovative toy/stationery company, Crayola. As a lover of anything that encourages kids’ creativity, I was keen to check out their exciting new products (some of which I will review in a separate post).

However, the poor Crayola rep I spoke to was also subject to one of the unexpected benefits of meeting with bloggers in person… I gave her a piece of mind – politely, of course!

I found their “Creations” product range, aimed at tween girls, rather disturbing.

At the time, the thing that annoyed me most was that this range was the only one that included glitter pens – a much coveted item by the Munchkin. Being packaged up in fuschia pink automatically wiped the Crayola glitter pens off the Santa list! Let’s face it, no self-respecting boy wants something pink, despite his Mum’s best efforts to convince him otherwise.

It was only when I got home that I really understood why I was so upset. It wasn’t just that it was yet another example of “pinkification” of kids’ products as a marketing strategy. It was the use of the word “CREATIONS”.

The recent adoption of Loom Bands by boys in almost equal numbers as girls is, I believe, pretty convincing proof that boys enjoy creating things just as much as girls. Even my Munchkin, who normally shuns most craft activities, has been hooked! (Check out his Lego loom, pictured above, which he and Hubby built together.) Loom Bands were everywhere when I went shopping with the Munchkin the other day, and it was interesting to note that they do NOT come in pink packaging. One brand even prominently featured a young boy, proudly displaying his creations on his wrist.

Yet toy companies are constantly sending out the message to our boys and their parents that “being creative”, especially in an art/craft sense, is something only girls do.

It reminded me of a story I had recently read in Brene Brown’s excellent book, Daring Greatly. In it, she tells of being approached by a middle-aged man who, as a child, had loved to draw and dreamt of being an artist. One day, his uncle visited and, within the young boy’s hearing, suggested to his brother that he was “raising a poofter”. Not only was he then discouraged by his father from drawing, but even as a grown man, he had never pursued his love of art. He was too ashamed.

This one example (and there are many, many others) points out just how careful we need to be when choosing the words that help shape our children’s identities.

If the word “CREATION” is made exclusively feminine, where does that leave our young male artists, writers, actors, dancers, musicians, film makers, designers, architects, engineers and entrepreneurs? For starters, have you ever tried to find a good journal or notebook for boys to record their creative ideas? It’s almost impossible!

Throughout history, our culture has been shaped by creative MEN. Think Shakespeare, Tennyson, Oscar Wilde, Tolkien, Mozart, Beethoven, Leonardo Da Vinci, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Fred Astaire, Rudolph Nureyev, Stephen Spielberg, Jim Henson, Freddie Mercury, Jimi Hendrix, even (dare I admit it) Justin Bieber! The sexual preference of these men (and I have deliberately chosen a mix of straight and gay men in this list) is irrelevant. Women have only had their status as creative influencers recognised in more recent years.

The urge to create is one of the most basic elements of humanity, male and female. It is also the key to solving some of our most challenging problems.

In a rapidly changing world, we simply cannot afford to miss out on the creative input of our boys.

(Sorry Crayola… I loved the rest of your product range. I will make it up to you!)

We could build a spa!

Tonight, I am completely enamoured of the Munchkin’s creativity.

As you have probably guessed by now, Lego features pretty heavily in this house (preferably NOT in the pathway for unwary feet!).

For example, we have recently enjoyed Lego Loom Bands, Lego Pyramids and Lego Tanks.

Our latest instalment is the Lego Bretonnian Army, complete with Lego Pegasus, Lego Trebuchet and the amazing Lego Prophetess and her magical staff.

For those of you without older (nerdier) lads, I am speaking here of Warhammer battles, normally the domain of pre-pubescent boys (and geeky hubbies), and their multitudes of impossibly expensive models for improbably large armies. I know, we have two of these armies in our collection already! Not one of them is Bretonnian. (Dwarves and Skaven if you must know!)

With a lock down on battle funds, the Munchkin has turned rogue, and brought in reinforcements – Lego reinforcements!

Who are obviously in need of a post-battle spa… A Lego spa!

Lego Spa

“Just hang your helmet on the post there, Sir. Take your legs off before entering. Leave your horse to graze out the front.”

The Munchkin’s creations may not be as sophisticated as those in the recent Lego Movie (let’s face it, whose are???), but the stories are no less creative.

Which is why The Lego Movie* ticked all my boxes.

The Munchkin has never been a “follow the instructions” kind of guy when it comes to Lego. Anything built to spec has been reinterpreted, adjusted or plain out destroyed. But when it comes to his own creations, well, that’s another story! You should see the spaceships, mining vehicles, transporters, forts… they’re amazing! I love that Lego can allow kids to do this. More than that, I loved that The Lego Movie encouraged it!

There are so few toys today that allow this level of openness and creativity in kids. Everything seems to follow a special “marketing” formula… carefully designed to maximise profits and minimise creativity. <robot voice> You. Must. Buy. More. Stuff. To. Increase. Fun… Buy. More. Stuff. Now. <end robot voice>

Yet the stick and the cardboard box still remain two of the most popular toys of all time. Followed closely by Lego, I’m guessing.

In our house, these three alone have allowed us to have all the fun of millions of games, toys and adventures, without the expense. And I know that each time one of them is engaged, the Munchkin is gaining in confidence in using his imagination, his ability to create something out of nothing (or not much), solve problems, create stories and connect with others.

I think the future is very bright for our young creators. Even movies are on their side now!

It’s up to us to nurture this creativity, provide the tools, give help when required, and get out of the way the rest of the time.

Maybe take a rest in the Lego Knight Spa!

PS. Regarding the expense of Lego… not all of our Lego is brand new. We have inherited Lego (where most of the knights come from), and also bought a substantial amount second hand in bulk, on eBay.  Highly recommended!

PPS *I wish this was a sponsored post! But it’s not… I just like Lego! Sad, I know 🙁

Page 8 of 18« First...«678910»...Last »

Hi, I’m Cath

Cath Connell

Creating my amazing life one tiny moment at a time. Bringing the Hubby, a Munchkin and about a dozen tomato plants along for the ride.

Keep in touch