Posts for Media Category

Get Your Girl…Go Squirrel!

Go Girl!, Media - Allison Kenny - July 10, 2016

In her kindergarten and 1st grade year, my little girl was always bringing home these 10 page paperback early readers with just a few words to a page. The featured cats and monkeys with lots of repeat phrases to make reading fun and accessible. As I sat with her each afternoon to practice her reading, I listened to storylines that were bland (ahem…hella boring) and thought, “I can do better than that.”

What are the words I want my daughter to read in the precious moments she’s reading for the very first time? As her critical thinking skills are just starting to develop, what characters do I want her to examine? What concepts do I hope she’ll dig into and ask questions about?


It did not take long for me to generate a set of 9 simple stories that star a powerful girl (ahem…Squirrel) with the courage to learn from her mistakes. Are these stories about my daughter? YES. They are a celebration of all the things she has had the courage to learn since coming home to us. But our daughter is not the Squirrel in the story. Our daughter is one of the featured Go Girls cheering Squirrel on. Look for the girl with glasses. She helps Squirrel remember how to be a good friend, how to stay flexible, how to manage big feelings and how to love herself just as she is. These are the values I have for our girl. They all match up to the Go Girls! Culture Code and are reinforced in our summer camp.


My daughter and her friends love coloring in these books. Christy Booth’s illustrations are so darling, that I can’t help but join in and color right along with them. Christy is an expressive arts therapist and captures the emotional life of children through simple shape and design in a way I didn’t know was possible.  Saturday mornings at our house look like each of the 3 Go Squirrel Coloring Books out with every colored pencil in the house. Mama Lynn, Squirrel and I each take book, drink tea and color…a sweet time I’ll always remember.


I hope you love these books as much I loved making them. Order one book or all 3. Color with your kids- I’d love to know how it goes.


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More Books for Girls This Summer

Girl Power, Go Girl!, Learning, Media - Allison Kenny - June 13, 2016

Our little girl loves to read. This is big because last summer, her confidence around reading was non-existent but now she can sit with books for a long time on her own. She loves that I write books and will ask me now and then, “How’s your next book coming along?” which makes my heart melt completely. Continue Reading

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The Growth of Self Love…1 Package of Fruit Snacks at a Time

Go Girl!, Media, Pop Culture - Lynn Johnson - August 11, 2015

The other day while shopping, the Squirrel picked out these fruit snacks to put in her lunches to take to camp…

I actually considered it for a second.  I figured, how much harm could it do?  I am learning that anything that gets her excited to jump out of bed and into the day is usually worth it.

Then, I looked at the nutritional content and realized that these fruit snacks had just as much potential to rot her body as they do to tear down any shred of positive self-concept she has developed.  So I said “No. Not these ones, Honey.”  And I picked out these instead…

“Are the other ones too expensive, Mommy?”  Because that must be the reason, right?

“No.  The other ones are basically junk food.  These are just better for you.” And, of course, double the price of the princess ones.

Before she could argue for her selection, I jumped in.  “If you want princesses, I can give you princesses.  How about we buy these ones that I picked out and I’ll put some princesses on them?”

“How can you do THAT?!”

“Just watch.”

So, we got home and I went to my computer.  I searched “disney princesses” in Google images and found this image.  I printed it out, cut out the princesses and, with the magic of Scotch tape, we had ourselves some princess fruit snacks…

She has loved them so far.  Here is the one from yesterday that she insisted on keeping (and hanging on her wall) even after she threw out the fruit snack wrapper…

I have to acknowledge and honor the things she likes even if they are not my fave.  But, I can do it my way.  I can at least try to take advantage of her love of the princesses as an opportunity to bolster her love for herself.

You know, if I was really a badass, I would make my own fruit snacks.  How cool would that be?  Anyone have a recipe?

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Wow, thanks Wells Fargo

Foster/Adoption, Gay Parenting, Media - Lynn Johnson - April 28, 2015

This commercial made both Allison and me cry.  Have you seen it?  What do you think?

This is the first commercial in Wells Fargo’s #WhyIWork campaign.  This post on Ad Age says that Wells Fargo “wanted to create a more personal connection with consumers and highlight why people actually work.”  I know.  After all that we’ve gone through with big banks recently, it sounds a little like bullshit.  We’re cynical and jaded, aren’t we? Banks don’t care about us!  They don’t want a personal connection!  All they want is our money.

But, here’s the thing.  I am totally taking my cynical hat off for this one.  Many of us, when asked to describe why we work, would share an answer that has something to do with our family.  I am beyond elated that, in Wells Fargo’s attempt to connect with consumers (whether the connection is authentic or not), they have dared to travel outside of the traditional family box.  They have taken a stand that they intend to hawk their wares to all kinds of families.  So there.

I can say that, as a interracial, lesbian, adoptive family, I have never ever ever seen a family that looks anything like mine on a major commercial.  Big bank or not, I think this is really friggin’ cool.  Thanks Wells Fargo.

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#InMyShoes: a radical act of empathy for our girls

Girl Power, Media, Parenting - Lynn Johnson - March 23, 2015

daughter's shoesExcuse me for the stereotype but I am a woman who loves shoes.  The semi-annual sale at Nordstrom makes me giddy.  I haven’t actually bought a new pair of shoes in a long time…for myself anyway…but that doesn’t matter.  The point is that I love shoes and am thinking about them this morning.


Last week, the Go Girls! Camp Facebook page featured 2 stories about girls and shoes.  There was this one about Mo’ne Davis, the Little League Baseball pitcher, and her brilliant plan to design a line of shoes that will benefit girls in the developing world.

Then, there was this one about Sophie Trow, the 8 year old girl who wrote a letter to Clarks Shoes about her disappointment over the lack of diverse shoe choices for girls.

The coolest part of Sophie’s story to me is the radical acts that followed.  Tons of women scientists who were moved by her story posted pics of their own shoes on Twitter (#InMyShoes) in solidarity with her cause.

Of course, these stories aren’t really about shoes.  They are about superhero-sized acts of empathy.

I’m sure you have heard empathy defined before as “the ability to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”  Perhaps, if our eyes are the window to the soul, it could be argued that our shoes are the foundation of empathy.

When I think this morning of Mo’ne and Sophie and all of those scientists on Twitter, I think about how complex and amazing it is to be able to kick off your own shoes and consider how they may or may not fit the feet of someone else.  I think about how brave it is to speak out on behalf of another woman’s experience.  I think about how bold it is to actually stand in the shoes of another girl and see…well…yourself.

Perhaps our love for shoes may have little to do with the superficial consumer-obsessed stereotype that plagues our advertising landscape. Maybe a woman’s love of shoes has a much higher purpose.

As I look at my own daughter’s shoes on this soggy Spring morning, I can’t help but imagine everything she has already experienced in her short life and all the paths she will walk in the future.  I can imagine those shoes taking her to the White House or to the top of a Silicon Valley tech company or to the moon.  But my true wish for my daughter – and all our daughters – is that she feels so comfortable in her own shoes that she loves herself beyond her wildest dreams and that she has the desire and strength to walk in someone else’s with so much radical love that it sparks a revolution.

Plus, its Spring, so I can also imagine myself in a new pair of espadrilles.  Wedges, please.

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What’s a princess without a prince? OR how to watch Disney on Ice

Media, Play Time, Pop Culture - Lynn Johnson - March 2, 2015

Yesterday was my first experience of Disney on Ice.  Whoa.  Have you been?  “The Squirrel” and I went with some good friends of ours, another 6 year old Go Girl!, her dad and baby sister.  Cuteness all around.  My favorite part of the whole show was when TinkerBell came out at the end and my daughter nearly worked herself into a fit.  She jumped to her feet and spread her arms out wide and screamed “TINKERBELL!!!  Over HERE!” at the top of her lungs as if that just might be the key to make her fly over and take us all with her on one of her incredible fairy adventures.

disiceCinderella 1 - Low Res

But that’s not the part I want to talk about.  I want to talk about the Princess sequence.  Now, for some reason, I was able to tolerate the incredibly aggressive marketing tactics, the dearth of performers of color, and the $12 beers, but, as a Go Girl!, I was jumping out of my skin during the Princess sequence.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t identify as a Disney princess hater.  Little Mermaid is one of my favorite soundtracks…ever.  However, the ice show takes it to a whole other level when they create this scenario – Minnie Mouse wants nothing more than to be a beautiful princess with a prince on her arm.  The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella comes to her and introduces her to all of the famous princesses who skate with their princes as examples of what to strive for in life.  At one point, Fairy Godmother actually even says to Minnie “What’s a princess without a prince?”  Yikes.

At that point, I knew I had to do something.  I had to say something to these young Go Girls! to counteract that message.  But we were having fun.  I didn’t want to make it too preachy and awkward.  So, here’s what I said…

Me:  Hey girls!  Wasn’t it amazing how strong those princesses were?!?  They were doing amazing things on that ice!

Go Girl! #1: Ya!  The boys were strong too!  They lifted the girls up so high.

Me: You’re right.  Those boys were really strong.  But, those girls had to do all those spins and flips and so much amazing stuff with their bodies.  They had to use a lot of muscles to do all of that.

Go Girl! #2: Wow! How did that do that?

Me:  Well, they practiced a lot and worked really hard.

Then, the popcorn vendor came by and that was the end of that.

What do you think?  What would you have said in my situation?  What has worked for you in the past to counteract the power of princesses?

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What Lady Edith may be able to teach us about raising a girl

Foster/Adoption, Media, Parenting, Pop Culture - Lynn Johnson - February 24, 2015

Downton-Abbey-Edith-and-baby-MarigoldWe all worry about Edith, don’t we?  Her place as the middle sister/”ugly duckling”/sad sack of the Crawley family makes us Downton Abbey fans mutter “oh, Edith” week after week.  I never cared much for Edith before this season, I have to admit.  My allegiances have instead leaned towards with the charismatic and snippy Mary (upstairs) and the spunky and strong-willed Daisy (downstairs).  I found myself giving up too many “oh, Edith”s that I was downright sick of her.

Then, they gave her Marigold.

This season, Edith is working her butt off trying to figure out how to raise her own daughter, Marigold, despite the societal stigma unmarried motherhood working against her.  Whereas I used to think that Edith was just wasted screen time, I now see in her the potential to be a model mother of a little girl – one that we can all learn from.  I believe that, if Edith can somehow pull her head out of the Eeyore-style cloud of despair that she carries around with her all the time, she can become the kick-ass modern mom of a daughter that all of us are trying to be.

Here’s what she can teach us:

Don’t let your more accomplished sister (or whoever) get you down

God bless her, Edith sure does her best to hold her own under the weight of Mary’s relentless cruelty, doesn’t she?  And with Marigold now living in the nursery alongside Mary’s son, she is standing up for herself even more.  What if she can take this even farther?  What if she can really dares to take up space and refuse to take any of Mary’s crap?  What an incredible example that will be for Marigold who will inevitably face a bunch of mean words in her life as an “orphan” child to a single mom.

Teach yourself to drive

Sure, this may not be a big deal for us today in 2015 but let’s not underestimate how bold and brave it was for Edith to learn to drive in a time and place when women just didn’t really do that.  She was like “whatever, I don’t care about you. I got places to go!” So, maybe for us it’s learning how to code our own website or hang drywall instead of drive a car, but we all have that thing that we really want to do that seems impossible.  When we dare to do it anyway, we are teaching our daughters to access their own unlimited potential.

Run that publishing company…with no apologies

Don’t get me wrong.  Big sister, Mary doesn’t sit around doing nothing all day.  She has rolled up her sleeves and made herself into quite the business woman as she has partnered with her dad and Tom in running their affairs.  But Mary still works for her dad.  Edith, on the other hand, doesn’t need to work for anybody.  She just got her own publishing company! She is gonna be THE. BOSS.  Plus, she is an accomplished writer herself.  Which means that she will be in charge of bringing her own ideas and stories as well as the stories and ideas of others to life in the world.  All women – mothers or not – should have the chance to do this.  Marigold will grow up knowing and expecting girls and women to share what they think and feel with the world.

Don’t give up on your child no matter what

Edith’s incessant visits to the Drewes’ farm to see Marigold where she would annoyingly show up unannounced looking like a drowned rat got kinda old as a viewer.  However, it showed us that part of Edith that clearly has no intention of giving up on her daughter.  Based on what I have been learning about attachment theory raising ‘The Squirrel”, I predict that Marigold’s early childhood being bounced around among different homes in different countries with different caregivers will most likely result in a few issues as she grows up.  These issues can manifest themselves cognitively, emotionally, physically or all of the above.  This means that Edith will be parenting a child with special needs.  So, her utter tenacity in being there for her child is going to serve her well in the future.  Edith is showing us that she has what it takes to love and support her daughter through whatever challenges come up along the way.

There may be hope for Lady Edith yet.  Perhaps all of the bad luck she has faced in these 5 seasons so far will culminate in her becoming the mama of our dreams.  We’ll see.  But she really has to do something about the fact the she does always look like a drowned rat.

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