Baby & Kid & Person Gifts – Part 2

Since quite a few people have asked me about baby / kid toys, I’m sharing some of the gifts that I like to give. This is Part 2 in a series.

For Baby’s First December-fests, I like to give out the book My Heart Fills With Happiness, which is a great board book that HH brought to my attention. (I’m pretty sure that First Nations authors and illustrators are severely under-gifted in my circle of young gift-getters, so this is very unlikely to be a repeat for anyone’s library.)

You can also include a recipe for bannock, or bake some to give as part of the gift. (That’s one of the words I get the most questions about from the book.) There’s an Aboriginal People’s Television Network Fish Out of Water episode on the topic, too!

Shipping advantage: Books send at the Media Mail rate from USPS, and this is a board book, so it’s pretty easy to wrap and send without fear of damage. I wound up ordering multiple copies from our local bookstore and got a “bulk order” discount (and didn’t have to pay the incredibly high shipping-from-Canada-fee from the publisher), so that’s an option if you have a good local shop.

If you are in a sibling-situation and don’t want to repeat a book, another great option brought to my attention by RM is The Snowy Day, which you can also get as a board book (or not!).

A cute pairing for this book might be melted snowman soap, but I’m having a hard time finding any off-season…

You could also go with the cookie or candle version of this, because kids love cookies. And parents love fire.

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Baby & Kid & Person Gifts – Part 1

Once upon a time, when I was an impressionable young undergraduate student at McGill University, our philosophy of feminism professor told us a story about buying gifts for two young relatives, a sister and brother.

She said that at first she thought she ought to give the girl a blue truck and the boy a pink doll in the interest of challenging gender stereotypes in children’s toys, but in the end, she decided to give them both musical instruments. Flutes of some kind, if I recall correctly, because I guess she hated their parents.

(Image links to Jezebel – I couldn’t find the original original.)

Because a few people have asked me about baby / kid toys (although really, I feel like all people need more books and craft supplies), I’m going to share some of the gifts I like to give. Also, because I am Pinterest-incompetent, I am sharing my gift ideas in blog form in a multi-part series.

Before I decided to blog about this, I gave away all of my one-year-old gifts, so I don’t have a picture, but they included:

  • a mini personalized sand bucket (which was originally meant to be the main gift, but I don’t understand measurements in inches, so I wound up buying larger buckets from the $1 section at Target to serve as a gift bag / bucket)
  • a larger personalized sand bucket from Target (I did the personalizing with a paint pen because I don’t have time in my life to wait for puff paint to dry)
  • small sunglasses (I got a dozen from the oh-so-PC-ly-named Oriental Trading, and tried to give the girls green and yellow, while the boys got pink and purple. I also mixed up the bucket colors. You do you – I just feel like colorful fish glasses and one-year-olds more generally are decidedly gender neutral.)
  • small fishy bubbles (they have a fish on top – I was going for a nautical theme)
  • a small squirty fish for the bathtub (because I hate other parents and want them to get soaked, too)
  • a large squirty fish for the bathtub (see previous addendum)
  • two sand shovels (these came with the buckets – I wrote a birthday message on the larger one. By “message” I mean “Happy Birthday [INSERT NAME HERE.]”)

It turns out that you can apparently just buy these gift kits as a set. Ah well.

One disadvantage of the large buckets is that they’re sort of a hassle to mail. (I wound up dismantling a box in order to reassemble it in a more bucket-sized container for mailing.)

One advantage is that you can stack a few buckets together to send multiples to siblings, and they are really light so they ship fairly inexpensively other than the bulkiness factor. (Apparently many of the children / parent parings that I love to hassle live very far away.)

These seem to be the kind of thing that constantly get lost / broken / left at the park sandbox or the beach, so I think it’s a reasonably decent thing to get (as opposed to something large or unwieldily or less useable, like I don’t know what exactly, but there are a lot of dumb kid’s products in the world).

PS The age guideline is really just to help me avoid repeating gifts. (Oh, you’re turning 2? I guess I won’t give you a bucket again!) I think a sand bucket assemblage is a good gift for any age person’s pool party (but maybe replace the kiddie sunglasses with Corona for mature audiences).

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California Map Society & Stanford Lecture Series Notes

After a series of hilarious incidents during which I ate half of someone else’s grilled cheese and ice cream sundae, then couldn’t find the campus shuttle due to a failure to read maps correctly… I wound up at the California Map Society & Stanford Lecture Series only a little bit later than I had originally planned.*

California Map Society & Stanford Lecture Series

I attended the student paper presentation at the David Rumsey Map Center in the Cecil H. Green Library at Stanford University on 4 May 2017. It. Was. AWESOME. There were giant monitors around the room for viewing maps, and neat spinning globes atop every shelf. The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has been an invaluable on-line tool for my research and teaching, so it was really cool to go to a room dedicated to preserving and displaying the collection.

The student talk was based on materials from the collection and the speaker had won an award for her essay. (I’m definitely planning to include her name and institutional affiliation as soon as those become available on the California Map Society page. As I was late due to terrible map-reading skillz, I missed those important details.)

She was speaking about two maps by Guillaume de L’Isle and [???] (I’m waiting for the paper to become available to get the spelling of the second mapmaker’s name). She noted the emphasis in each map on the abundance of commodities and commercial potential for the Louisiana Territory. Both mention “The Heart of the River” in their titles (any one have ideas as to why? Theories accepted in the comments). The focus on the river routes and fur trade was particularly relevant to my area of interest, of course (CANADA).

The rivers were crucial to the expansion of French fur trading, transportation, communication, and missionary efforts, a point reflected by their prominent role in each map. She mentioned Native American / First Nation birch bark canoe and sled use, which were both copied by the French. However, overland trails such as buffalo routes were generally avoided by the French, who preferred the ease of access afforded by the rivers. By 1685, there were French trading posts around the Great Lakes, with missions established nearby.

She mentioned the travels of Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette (a Jesuit who’s rather infamous in the Chicagoland area) along the Mississippi River through to Spanish territory in 1673. The Governor of New France, Frontenac, footed Joliet’s expedition bill. In 1682, de La Salle travelled with Louis Hennepin (a Franciscan whom she classified as “a bit of a scoundrel”) along a similar route. The maps celebrate 19,000 miles of navigable waterways — but, she asked, “what are they hiding?”

She noted that the maps have a celebratory tone about the French voyages along the Mississippi, and the missionaries even baptized the territory in the name of France, but their tone belies chronic uncertainty about the Louisiana Territory. The area was a burden for the French crown, which was concurrently engaged in various European wars. Even map inscriptions like “La Floride” on Delisle’s map betray the dominance of Spanish claims.

The frantic “race to the Gulf of Mexico” by D’Iberville (who named Mobile and Beloxy in 1700) was tempered by British colonization, religious strife, and poor agricultural opportunities. (I’m not sure if this was a joke or a quote, but she noted that there were no pearl or buffalo exports possible from the region.)

John Law revived French interest in the region, but John Law’s Company of the West ultimately proved too good to be true. In the “Mississippi Bubble,” his self-made currency collapsed, and he was ultimately dismissed in 1720.

In 1729, there was a bloody fight at Natchez, which had formerly been considered the gem of the region. Overall, Louisiana was plagued with geopolitical instability.

There were many intertribal conflicts, but also exchanges, collaborations, and unstable British and French alliances with Indigenous communities. Overall, the maps tend to conceal any conflict. She argued that despite the violent imagery in a cartouche of a Native American figure carrying a scalp, this was merely stock iconography.

Furthermore, maps conceal the asymmetrical distances. While one may reach New Orleans downstream two weeks after leaving Kaskaskia, the return journey might be a four month upstream slog. (Fun facts about New Orleans from the Q&A: Among other factors… it was too hard to travel much further upstream, especially when larger ships were involved, so New Orleans was founded in a floodplain in 1718.)

Some discrepancies between the maps that she noted were in the illustration of tributaries and the naming conventions. For example, de L’Isle’s 1703 map includes Mexique et Floride as opposed to drawings of turkeys. There was plenty of copying and referencing of earlier maps; she called mapmaking “a cumulative textual process.”

I noticed that the Carte du Canada cartouche included a beaver (*nod to some NEH participants…*) as well as a “much more edifying bunch of cattle.”

De L’Isle was the preeminent geographe du bois of his era, and the ‘accuracy’ of his maps served as a definitive reference point for decades.

Other topics she mentions:

  • John Senex map – copied with name changes
  • Native American contributions to mapmaking
  • Jesuit navigation
  • Imperial optimism about North America
  • Processes of mapmaking
  • Seven Years War
  • Lake Erie’s alternative names (Lac Chat?)
  • Quebec’s Jesuit hydrography and navigation school
  • Apparently North and South Carolina (the Carolinas) were named after either a French or English king. Mapmakers carried on the dispute.
  • Joliet made elaborate but sloppy maps, whereas Jesuits like Marquette made comparatively sophisticated, nuanced pieces of cartography.


The next talk was about Revolution: Mapping the Road to American Independence, but my childcare ran out!

Her paper should be available on the California Map Society website soon. I’ll update when I see it!

Abbreviated List of Further Sources

California Map Society Conference posts from May 2015:

* And I had planned for this. It was an OUTING. I wore my cartographic skirt from DM, my cartographic scarf from JKZ, and my cartographic necklace from SS. I drew an apparently terrible map of the bus lines I needed to use. Plus I was carrying my Chicago Map Tote bag. What a cartographically-themed life I lead! Also I had gotten childcare.

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It’s 2017…

Here is a letter that I sent to Current Catalog about diversity in capitalism. (No word back yet, despite an alleged 48-hour reply time… But I can wait!)

To: Current Order Processing Center, Colorado Springs, CO 80941-0001

Sent: 3 April 2017

Dear Current Catalog,

I am a longtime fan of Current items. My mom got stickers from your catalog when I was a kid, and I’ve been doing the same for my little one. (They are great entertainment for airplane rides!) However, I would like to bring an item to your attention that I think would help you sell stickers and holiday ornaments to a broader consumer base.

I recently purchased the “Happy Family Shipping Labels” because I thought that the images were of a very cute black-and-white cartoon family. When the stickers arrived, I realized that the family is lightly colored, a fact that I hadn’t noticed while looking at the computer screen while ordering the labels. Since my family is not actually the color of the family on the stickers, my husband was quite put out and set our son to re-coloring the faces with crayons. [Addendum: The Happy Family Shipping Labels do not appear to be available on the website anymore as of 17 April 2017.]

Current Catalog, “Happy Family” face (zoom).

This reminded me of last Christmas, when I was trying to order a personalized family ornament from Current Catalog but was unable to find an option for non-white family members. For example, the Snuggle Up Hand-Lettered Resin Ornament, Blended Family Ornament, Shovel Family Ornament, Christmas Tree House Ornament, Caroler Family Hand-Lettered Resin Ornament, Snowball Fight Ornament, and Personalized Lamp Post Ornament are only available with white faces. This leaves us with the option of moose, owls, gingerbread, snowmen, or stockings, but it would be great to see more inclusivity and diversity of options in the colors of the figures on your ornaments and labels.

Current Catalog, personalized family ornaments (samples)

We ran into the same problem years ago when trying to order a mixed couple topper for our wedding cake, so we chose to go without one, but it’s 2017 and we would really be happy to see more representation of the variety of family forms (and colors!) in your items available for purchase.

That’s what a Google image search for “wedding cake topper” gets you — cis, hetero, etc. wypipo.

Endnote: I know that Current Catalog falls definitively into the category of “stuff white people like,” but I still thought it was worth a shot.

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I’m working on a publication about Nunavut derived from the Nunavut case study in my dissertation and thought I’d share this mash-up of invented Nunavut names…


Merle Tingley (Ting), London Free Press


Montreal Daily Star, 1928

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Finding the way…


Peter Radacina. Vancouver Sun.


Northwest Territories to Be Divided in Two - Aislin - 1987.jpg

Aislin. “Northwest Territories to Be Divided in Two.” Montreal Gazette. 1987.


Alootook Ipellie.


Happy Birthday, Nunavut.

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Cartoon of Quebec’s Little Boy

p 68 Behind the Jester’s Mask - Macpherson, Toronto Star.png

Duncan Macpherson for the Toronto Star, in Behind the Jester’s Mask: Canadian editorial cartoons about dominant and minority groups 1960-1979 by Raymond N. Morris (page 68)


“Madame Quebec’s Wild Boy,” Grip, 12 August 1882, in A Caricature History of Canadian Politics, Volume 2 by John Wilson Bengough (page 318 and 319)


“Trudeau: Care to purchase a little Québécois for next to nothing?” by Normand Hudon, 1969, via the McCord Museum

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Hand Maps

Today, let’s look at some hand(y) maps!


Michigan might have the best known hand map (at least for Midwesterners!).


But attentive readers will know that Alaska has a hand map, too!

Here are some other gems…


Map glove from 1851. (Via the Chicago Map Society Facebook page.)



hand map mapnificent-image.png

From the 2013 exhibit “MAPnificent! Artists Use Maps.”


Reg Manning’s 1938 “Cartoon Guide to California.”

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“Turn out the lights and go to sleep Lucien, you can catch the mouse in the morning…” by John Larter, Calgary Sun, 2 March 1996


Nine Premiers Consult on How to Woo Quebec,” by Serge Chapleau, 1997

mackay 2013-10-05.jpg

Graeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator, 5 October 2013

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A Piece of Imperial Pie

We’ve already seen some of the various plum puddings of the world in danger, so let’s move on to pie and other territorial delicacies…

How West Virginia Became a State:


“Chief Cook CAMERON divides the VIRGINIA GOOSE between MARYLAND and DELAWARE.” In the 21 December 1861 issue of Harper’s Weekly (at least that’s the citation according to some other bloggers!)

Carving up Africa:

afrique pie.png

Circa 1884.


Uncle Sam: “I ate turkey nearly a week ago.” 30 December 1896. Clifford Berryman.

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Toronto Daily Star, 26 October 1903. (Via the Begbie Society Contest.)

1898 May 28.jpg

Boston Globe, 28 May 1898.

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Emperor Guangzu watches as China is carved up by Victoria (UK), Wilhelm II (Germany), Nicolas II (Russia), Marianne (France), and Meiji (Japan). “En Chine. Le gateau des Rois et des Empereurs.” Le Petit Journal, 16 January 1898. Henri Meyer.

The Glutton finding the world too hard to eat, World War I.JPG

The Glutton finding the world too hard to eat, World War I.

And now for something completely different!

The hungry customer.png

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