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High Pitched Voices, Round 3

Violet loves babies and dolls, perhaps even more than Rose did at her age and definitely more than Lily did. Lily still isn’t all that into dolls, but she does love My Little Ponies something fierce.

Lately when Violet plays with dolls, she has been shaking them around while talking in a very high-pitched voice. It took me a while to realize what was going on, but once I did I started laughing. Violet is aping her big sisters, who use falsetto voices whenever they make their toys “talk.” She was making her dolls talk exactly the way she hears her big sisters do it! Apparently the falsetto for dolls starts at age 1, everyone. AGE 1!

The funny thing is, Violet’s dolls dialogues were about as understandable as the big girls’ toy talk even though Violet has less than 100 words. I can never understand what Lily and Rose are saying when they make their toys talk! They speak in such high voices and so quickly that none of it makes any sense to me or Dr. Toy Warden. Violet could easily swoop in and play with them doing falsettos of fake language and they probably wouldn’t know the difference.

Or would they?

I always get in trouble for “not playing right” when I try to make the toys talk. Maybe they do understand each other.

Or maybe they don’t and I’m getting in trouble for speaking legibly?

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The High Pitched Squeak

What is it about playing with dolls that makes everybody’s voice go up an octave? Whenever my kids are making dolls talk, their already high voices go up another octave. I can’t even make out what they are saying because they are speaking at a frequency only dogs can hear.

I don’t know if this came naturally to them, or if it is something I taught them. Whenever I play with a doll, I tend to give that doll a voice that’s not my own and that voice is typically higher than mine to make it more girly even though I’m already a girl. Why do I do this? I don’t know. It just seems like talking that way should make it more apparent that I am not the one talking– the doll is. Is that why they do it?

Rose is particularly persistent about the high-pitched role-playing voice. Her voice hits the ceiling as she makes all the Cinderellas she owns talk about going to the ball. Various princesses all fight with each other in high-pitched voices about whom is going to the ball first. Cinderella usually wins. Or maybe not. It’s really hard to understand her in her make-believe voice even though her regular 3 year old pronunciation is generally very good as long as it’s not time to order grilled cheese (or “goo-wed chee”).

I just wonder where the high-pitched doll voice started. Do I do it because my mother did it with me? Or are all little girls naturally inclined to make their dolls talk even girly than they themselves already do? It’s hard to say, but I hope that one day they get good enough at their doll voices that I can actually make out what’s happening in their doll plotlines.

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Asian Babies on the Cheap

Today while we were window shopping at Toys R Us, I got really excited when I saw a set of Asian triplet baby dolls. In our neck of the woods, it’s hard to find a good Asian baby doll at most stores because we don’t have a large Asian demographic. There are a lot of generic “could be Asian, could be Hispanic, could be Mediterranean, who knows for sure!” dolls available, but not a lot of dolls that are blatantly Asian.

The dolls were pretty awesome, but then I noticed something odd. There was one other package of triplet dolls there that wasn’t Asian. This one contained African American triplets. At least, they were labeled as African American. The dolls could pass as dark-skinned Caucasians, but their price description labeled them as “Interactive Triplets AA”. I assume the “AA” stands for African American considering that is the race of the girl playing with them in the picture on the box. I also can assume the “AA” means African American because the Asian dolls were labeled as “Asian” on their price stickers, though the dinky pictures from my stupidphone’s camera make this hard to see.

Do you notice what was off here?

Take a closer look at the price.

The Asian baby dolls were $26.98.

The “AA” dolls were $39.99.

And they were displayed right next to each other in some sort of race pricing war.

I stood there for a long time staring and trying to figure out how the two sets of dolls might be different aside from their races, but nothing was different. The top dolls were “AA” and the bottom dolls were Asian. The Asian dolls were $13 cheaper than the African American dolls of the exact same make. The way it was set up read “Asians for sale! Cheap!” It really weirded me out.

In all honesty, I don’t think there was any intentional racism here. There were several boxes of Asian babies, only one box of African American babies and NO boxes of Caucasian babies. This leads me to believe this was a supply and demand problem. They received too many Asian triplet dolls and needed to get rid of them quick quick quick… which supports my previous post about the complete absence of Mulan baby dolls at almost all of our local toy stores (she’s at the Disney store, but they have everyone there). With low Asian demographics, stores don’t bother selling many Asian babies and when they do get some Asian inventory they have to slash the price to get the dolls out of the store because they don’t sell well. There were no Mulan, Jasmine or Pocahontas dolls of any type at this store and very few (if any) other Asian babies.

Regardless of the oversupply, I think the price cut should have waited perhaps until the other dolls sold out or the prices should not have been put side by side. It just looks bad even if that wasn’t the store’s intention. The way it’s set up right now says “Asian baby dolls just aren’t as valuable as dolls of other races!” and that just sits badly with me regardless of the true purpose of the price cut.

That said, if one race of doll is going to be deeply discounted, I suppose I’m happy that my wallet would be benefiting from it if we were actually in the market for MOAR TOYS two weeks after Christmas.

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Race Issue

Rose is obsessed with black baby dolls. If she has a choice between a black baby doll and a white one, she will always choose the black one. Recently we were at our local children’s museum and she piled up three of them to take care of in the play hospital. The white babies were completely ignored.

Her obsession fascinates me. This happens at every public play place we attend. Aside from her baby Cinderella doll, she doesn’t do much with her multi-colored baby dolls at home. We have two Asian baby dolls that are completely ignored. I bought her a black baby doll because I knew she loved them, but the only black doll I was able to find locally wasn’t nearly as dark as the baby dolls she’s drawn to in public. She ignores her black baby doll at home. I need to find a doll identical the the ones in this picture because these are exactly the dolls she loves.

I asked Rose why she likes these baby dolls so much. I think it’s adorable, but it’s an interesting choice for a half Korean/half Jewish girl. Rose’s answer?

“I like brown babies. These are brown babies like me!”

My half-Korean/half-white 3-year-old self-identifies as black.

I’m not sure what to make of this. It’s absolutely fine if she thinks she’s black. She definitely has darker skin than any of her friends, her mother and her sisters. I can see why she might think she’s black since images of black people are more prominent than Asian ones in the media. The truth is, however, she is not black. She’s Asian.

I think it’s important that she understand her own racial identity, so I got out her Asian babies and explained that while it is absolutely awesome that she loves to play with “brown babies” and I hope she continues to do so, she’s actually an Asian baby and THIS was an Asian baby like her. She was really excited by the fact that this baby, which we’ve had since before she can remember, looks like her and Daddy. She had never identified it looking like her before. Its skin is lighter than hers and its hair is black while hers is brown, so I don’t think she really understands how it looks like her.

I also explained that I am white and she is also a white baby. She’s a white AND brown baby.

What did she take away from this? Today she told her dad she didn’t have a brown face like him. She has a white face.

It’s apparently very confusing to be a 3-year-old biracial kid. We did not go through this with Lily, but her skin is very close in shade to mine. Lily’s also not as socially perceptive and verbal as Rose, so maybe these questions just haven’t come out of her yet. I’ve explained her racial situation to her to the best of my ability, but who knows what she’s gotten out of that if Rose took away that Daddy was brown and she was white when I explained she wasn’t actually a black baby but a biracial white and Asian one.

I’m not sure where we’re going with this. I keep explaining what it means that Daddy is Asian and Mommy is Jewish and “white” and how she’s a perfect blend of the two. I just have to hope that’s good enough.

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Cinderella’s Stalker

Somebody was pretty interested with the Cinderella castle my mom got Rose for her birthday (Tomorrow! Three! OMG!). My mom said that right after she assembled the castle, Merlin the cat came to investigate.

Merlin may be the reason that Rose now thinks she’s a cat. Lily certainly wishes we had a cat, but unfortunately Dr. Toy Warden and I are very allergic to cats and I have asthma to boot, so no cats will be living here. Dogs? Sure. Cats? No. It’s quite a tragedy considering Rose thinks she’s a cat.

Maybe Rose wants to be a cat because cats clearly love Cinderella, just like she does.

It probably would have been easier to play with the dolls if Merlin had had the presence of mind to come to the other side of the dollhouse.


Anastasia and Drusilla seem quite shocked that a giant cat is invading their home. Actually, this isn’t their home. These bitches don’t deserve to live in the castle. What are they doing there? Are they at the ball? But it doesn’t seem to be the ball? Hmmm…

Whatever the case, there are more pictures of the cat playing with this castle than the girls. A cat playing dolls is way more funny than girls playing with dolls. I think Merlin the cat may have been inspired by this classic “Sesame Street” clip.

How big was that dollhouse?!

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Guest Post by Dr. Toy Warden: Diversity Doll

As mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, I took the kids solo to Indianapolis for a wedding while Toy Warden took a little break at home. On our way back, we stopped at a Mcdonald’s where I called Toy Warden to update the progress of our trip. I started talking about what we did at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum when Lily interjected loudly “Rose carried the black baby everywhere! Rose loves the black baby!”

Now I am generally comfortable using the term “black” when describing someone of African descent and I’m told it’s a perfectly acceptable term. Somehow, though, referring to a baby doll as black and having a four-year-old shout it out in public seemed a bit inappropriate. Yet I found it pretty funny at the same time. Anyways, the following is the story of Rose and the black baby.

When we were planning our trip I was real excited not just about the wedding, but also the world famous Indianapolis Children’s Museum about which I had heard such great things. The wedding was great, but the museum was largely a disappointment especially at the beginning. All I saw was educational exhibits for things like trains, dinosaurs and world cultures. Frankly, I wasn’t interested in any of that stuff. I came there to have fun, not to learn about stuff. Somehow though the girls kept migrating to these educational exhibits, the last being “The Power of Children” Normally I’m passionate about fair treatment of everyone and fighting discrimination, but I didn’t shell out $42.50 to learn about the Holocaust, racism and children with AIDS. The kids though didn’t want to leave. They spent about 30 minutes putting together puzzles of children from diverse racial backgrounds and coloring bookmarks at a table of books about Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White.

Certainly these were courageous and important children in history, but I had had enough. All of this stuff we can do at home. So I called Toy Warden. “Where the hell is all the fun stuff? I have had enough of this educational crap!” She suggested we try “Playscape.”

So I somehow finally managed to get the girls out of “The Power of Children” and into “Playscape.” They spent some time at the water table and the sand box before discovering the black baby at the pretend kitchen. Lily and Rose spent a good twenty minutes feeding this baby with everything the kitchen had to offer. Once again I got impatient because we already have this kind of stuff at home. Lily moved on and enjoyed other parts of Playscape, but Rose stayed with the baby. Another kid stopped by with this white/perhaps half-Asian baby and wanted to use the highchair, but Rose insisted that it was her baby’s highchair and wouldn’t allow it.

Eventually Rose did move on and took the black baby everywhere. Down the Slide.

Planting Crops.

Everywhere.

Despite Rose feeding the baby everything in the kitchen earlier, she returned in shock that a different white baby had taken her baby’s spot on the high chair.

So naturally Rose throws out this other baby and puts her baby in her rightful place in the high chair.


I worried that we wouldn’t be able to leave the baby there without a major tantrum. I thought about asking if there was a way to buy the baby from the museum, but much to my surprise we were able to leave without incident.

I called Toy Warden and told her about how Rose carried a black baby everywhere and how she dumped the white baby out of the high chair. So Lily didn’t actually come up with term “black baby” on her own. That was from me.

Personally, I thought the whole episode was pretty awesome. I usually scoff at people who say “I don’t see race” because you know, of course they do. However, it appears that Rose really didn’t see race, so perhaps it is possible. It also may be that she actually preferred that baby because it was black, and that would be fine with me too. The fact that I bothered to note that this was a black baby perhaps reveals my own subconscious racism where white is normal or ideal even though I am Asian. I know if Rose was playing with a white baby I wouldn’t have called it a “white baby”. I would have just called it a baby. Perhaps I should have paid more attention at “The Power of Children” exhibit and maybe Rose did learn something there about loving and treating everyone the same. I hope she doesn’t forget.

My husband Dr. Toy Warden has a hilarious blog about his organic chemistry student evaluations over at Beratemyprofessor.blogspot.com.

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A Tale of Two Baby Princesses

Rose recently became very attached to her Baby Sleeping Beauty doll. She has spent a lot of time caring for the doll. Her attachment to this doll has become so intense that she has actually been bringing Baby Sleeping Beauty on outings instead of Baby Woof Woof. Lily finds this part of the development disturbing. Who doesn’t want a Woof Woof with them all the time? Rose has clearly gone mad!

At the same time, Lily became intensely jealous of Rose’s domination of Baby Sleeping Beauty. Since Baby Sleeping Beauty is specifically Rose’s toy and we have PLENTY of other baby dolls, I haven’t made Rose share her. Lily REALLY wanted to play with Sleeping Beauty, but every time she touched the doll, Rose would get really upset. I repeatedly told Lily she had to respect that Baby Sleeping Beauty was Rose’s “special” toy and Rose didn’t have to share her. Lily could play with ANY other doll in the house.

Seriously, she had plenty of choices.

Lily got upset and said she just wanted to play with Sleeping Beauty. Lily has been amazingly good lately and hasn’t cashed in her chore stickers in a long time. I told her since she’s been such a great helper, we could go get her her own princess baby. She could have any princess baby she wanted. The dolls are only $10. I will gladly pay $10 to stop the crying and whining.

Lily said she wanted Baby Sleeping Beauty. She didn’t want another princess.

Monday we made a special trip to Walmart to get another Baby Sleeping Beauty, but when we got there there was no Baby Sleeping Beauty to be found. They had Baby Belle, Baby Tiana and Baby Cinderella, but Baby Sleeping Beauty was missing.

Ironically, the only reason we have Baby Sleeping Beauty is because when I went Hanukkah shopping for Rose the store was out of the Baby Cinderella Rose wanted.

I told Lily I was sorry, but they didn’t have Baby Sleeping Beauty. She could have another princess or we’d just have to wait.

Lily is usually pretty easy-going about toy shopping, but she got very upset about this. “I don’t want another princess! I just want to play with Baby Sleeping Beauty! If I can’t play with Sleeping Beauty, I don’t want to play with anything ever again!”

Now, I suppose I shouldn’t have indulged this near tantrum, but I agreed. It wasn’t fair. I asked what she wanted me to do to fix the situation and she told me to buy Rose Baby Cinderella so Lily could have Sleeping Beauty.

I’d thought of that, but I was worried that Rose was so attached to Baby Sleeping Beauty that she STILL wouldn’t let Lily touch it after I’d bought the second doll and that Lily would be unhappy if she had to play with Baby Cinderella instead of Baby Sleeping Beauty.

I bargained. “Ok, if I buy Baby Cinderella, you guys have to take turns with the baby princesses. If Rose has Baby Sleeping Beauty, you will play with Baby Cinderella. If Lily has Baby Sleeping Beauty, you have to play with Baby Cinderella and if anyone gets upset about this, I will take BOTH dolls.”

Rose immediately grabbed onto the Baby Cinderella and handed Lily the Sleeping Beauty. “This is my most favorite Cinderella doll ever!” she declared.

She hasn’t put it down since.

And they all lived happily ever after.

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Calusta Gets Fresh

The Calusta mystery deepens.

Back story: It’s old news that Lily has Little People representing every single member of our extended family. Recently we added a black doll to the mix, she named it Calusta. Calusta started living in our family’s Little People House.

Well, Calusta doesn’t just live with Little People us anymore. He sleeps with Mommy and Daddy Little People.

This looks really uncomfortable.

When my husband saw Lily doing this the first time, he immediately said “Lily, you really need to tell us the next time you see the real Calusta. I really really need to know who he is.”

Because, to the best of my knowledge, neither we have ever had a third person in our bed (aside from a baby when I was nursing). Our bed most nights looks exactly like this, except we sleep inside the house, not on top of it.

The real Lumpy is usually on top of my feet, but close enough.

See? Just me, my lovely (usually Asian, but for some reason white in Little People world) husband and our bed-hogging dog. This is how it’s supposed to look.

Why on earth is Calusta invading our bed? You’d think if anyone was invading our bed it would be one of the kids, not the stranger who has suddenly started mooching off my husband modest salary.

Lily says Calusta is sleeping with Mommy and Daddy because there’s no space left to sleep in the house. And indeed, our extended family seemed to be having a slumber party during this play session, but I’ve seen Calusta sleeping with Mommy and Daddy when there are no other overnight guests.

My sister, brother-in-law, parents and Dan and Larissa were spending the night at our Little People house on this night. Lily hasn’t seen Dan and Larissa in probably a year, but apparently they needed to spend the night instead of driving their dump truck.

I pointed out that Calusta could sleep on the Little People couch, but she said no. That he likes to sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s bed and that’s where he belongs.

Have I been missing something at night?

I sure hope not. If my husband and I have been having a threesome, I really really want to know about it.

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Toy WTF: A Little Too Much on Display

There’s a problem with, oh, probably ALL the Tinker Bell action figures.

The only way they’ll sit is spread eagle. They can’t stand unsupported, so if you want them to place them in an upright position, they have to sit. Spread eagle. Their skirts are short, so you get a good glimpse of their underwear.

I guess at least they are wearing underwear? All their dollie goods would be on display otherwise.

I mean, it’s pretty vulgar to see your fairies go all spread eagle and flashing everyone.

Surely there’s a better design for this? Barbie never sits like this. Barbie is a lady. She’s prim and proper. She keeps her legs all straight and together when she sits. Sure, she’ll make out with Ken until one of their heads pops off, but she generally doesn’t sit spread eagle.

Seriously, WTF with the Tinker Bell flashers?

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The Blue Dress

Every morning before Rose even eats breakfast, she puts on her blue Cinderella-inspired princess dress, crown, shoes, necklace and holds her magic wand. EVERY MORNING. All the wishing I did that Lily would play dress up sort of backfired on me there. Dress up once a day or even once a week would be plenty. I have dress up almost hourly, and she’s not big enough to dress herself. So I’m constantly putting that princess dress on her and taking it back off, helping her with her shoes and adjusting her crown. The only way to prevent this from being constant is to turn on the tv. Is it any wonder she watches so much of it? ;)

Secretly Cinderella, but without the chores.

Rose has a preference for the blue dress above all our other dress-up clothes. I was surprised when I recently secured new princess gear for the girls and Rose wanted little to do with it despite her zest for dress-up. It took me forever to figure out why she preferred the blue dress. Then one day she brought me her favorite Little People doll while she was wearing her blue princess dress and pointed out everything about this Little People doll, who represents my sister in the girls’ Little People Dynasty.

“Look Mommy! Princess Emi! Blue Dress! Crown! Necklace! Magic Wand!”

And if that didn’t write it on the wall for me (um, it didn’t quite), she pointed to the same things she was wearing. “Princess Rose! Blue Dress! Crown! Necklace! Magic Wand!” (Yes, she speaks in all exclaimation marks, as do all near 2 year olds I’ve met.)

So all this time Rose was trying to emulate her favorite Little People and maybe even her aunt. And here I thought she just liked to play dress-up. Nope. She just likes to dress like her favorite doll (and/or person).

(Happy Birthday, Emi!)

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