Thursday, July 31, 2008
a) I would sooner feed them a sippy cup full of bleach.
b) My kids watch TV...when they're on international flights or getting their teeth cleaned.
c) My kids don't watch that much TV...just a few hours of Playhouse Disney in the morning and an hour or two of PBS Kids after lunch--oh, and of course I pop in a video or two while I'm making dinner and before bedtime.
Here's a really interesting essay about TV-watching and its possible benefits. As a kid I grew up watching lots of TV, but also reading lots of books and loving riding my bike to the art museum down the street from my house. I have to say when I read this essay, I found it refreshing to hear someone actually admit that watching TV is fun, can be educational, stimulating, provocative and moving (just like any other art form).
As an adult I still love watching TV, although when it comes to interesting shows, it's slim pickings these days. Brandon and I get really excited on Wednesdays and Sundays because we know two of our favorite shows are going to be on on those nights: Project Runway and Mad Men (If you haven't watched this show about Madison Avenue advertising executives in the 60s, check it out. It's really great fun). I have now outed my husband as a Project Runway fan...he will never forgive me. We love watching those shows together and talking about them. It's a cheap date, but I would also contend it is time well spent together. We are also serial watchers of Jon and Kate Plus Eight. We will put the kids to bed, finally get a moment to ourselves and then head down to the living room to watch other people struggle to put their kids to bed and wish they had a moment to themselves. I'm not sure why that show is so appealing...who wants to watch a show about what you've been doing all day? I guess being a voyeur of a life that is so similar to your own is cathartic. It's like a mirror that you hold up to yourself and it turns out you actually look okay.
So, if Brandon and I are responsible recreational TV watchers, wouldn't it follow that we could teach our kids to be also? I think this idea that TV is all bad or all junk food for the brain is really false. There are some great kid shows out there too. Have you ever watched Word Girl before? It just won a Television Critics Association award for best children's programming. I love that it has inspired my daughter's super hero imaginative play and she's learning words like "cumbersome" in the process. I admit as a writer and a lover of books, I often think of myself as a "word girl" too. If I had a super power it would be the power to diagram sentences in the blink of an eye.
If one of my kids wanted to watch Max and Ruby while I made dinner, (which is, conveniently, when Max and Ruby comes on) I probably wouldn't say no. I love the Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells and the show does the books proud in my opinion. The stories are smart and character-driven and they always remind me of the way Emma and Charlie interact with each other. To quote Noggin's blurb about the show: "The brother and sister relationship is at the heart of these stories, and what makes the relationship humorous and fulfilling is that Rosemary Wells has added salt and pepper to it, instead of sugar." I guess Max and Ruby is to Emma and Charlie as Jon and Kate Plus Eight is to Brandon and me (except I would argue that I'm not nearly as uptight and bossy as Kate).
I certainly don't agree with everything the writer says in the aforementioned essay. I don't think it's a good idea to haphazardly expose young viewers to content they aren't mature enough for. I would not be pleased if Charlie started watching The Family Guy, for example. But I do think that there are worse things than finding comfort and entertainment in a favorite TV show. I know it makes my Wednesday that much better knowing that a new episode of Project Runway is waiting for me at the end of it. Why should I deny the same innocent pleasure to my children?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
One of our favorite names is Teddy (Theodore). The other night, in the middle of the night, I was woken up by a leg cramp, a.k.a. a "charlie horse." I was screaming and writhing around in such a way that might make one doubt that I am capable of the non-medicated birth I am hoping for. Anyway, all my carrying on eventually woke Brandon up and he asked what was wrong. "I have a....a....Teddy graham" was all I could come up with at the time. I think I was obsessing so much on the name "Teddy" that I replaced the "Charlie" in "Charlie horse" with Teddy and then Teddy horse didn't sound right, but Teddy graham seemed like a plausible answer. Hmmmm....Graham...that's a nice name too. Hadn't considered that one yet.
This name stuff is making me totally nuts. I keep thinking that we will just know what to call this person when we see him. I hope that happens. I know that I am probably very influenced by all of the baby naming resources that are literally at my fingertips via the Internet. I think sites like nymbler and name voyager are making parents feel like the "right" name is out there if they just look hard enough and Google long enough. The blurb on the back of the baby name book I'm currently reading says this:
"Yes, your baby’s perfect name is out there. The trick is finding it. The perfect baby name will speak to your heart, give your child a great start in life—and maybe even satisfy your relatives. But you can't expect to just stumble on a name like that in an A to Z dictionary or on a trendy list. That’s why you need The Baby Name Wizard. Created by a name-searching mom, it uses groundbreaking research and computer generated models to pinpoint each name’s image, examine its usage and popularity over the last 100 years, and suggest other promising ideas. A perfect guide to the modern world of names, The Baby Name Wizard will engage you from the first name you look up and keep you enchanted through your journey to the just-right name for your baby."
Could it be that all the "computer generated models" and "groundbreaking research" are actually making our job as the official namers of another human being harder rather than easier? Suddenly perfectly good names like James or John or even (gasp!) Charles, sound so plain, so obvious. I mean do you really need a computer generated model to lead you to John? Did you really do your baby name homework thoroughly if all you could come up with was John?
Then there's the flip side of that. If everyone's using these complicated web-savvy ways to find a baby name, then why not be a real trendsetter and come up with a name that is so anti-what-everyone-else-is-doing that you're actually sort of cutting edge? Doesn't that make John, like, way more hip than say, Milo?
Uggh. I just need to have the baby, see what mood we're in at the time and give the little guy a name. Whatever the name, we will love it because we will love him and he will be the cutest _____ we have ever seen, I'm sure.
Monday, July 21, 2008
The tomato plants are growing, my tummy is expanding, Charlie needs a haircut. The days are slowly drifting by, but I still feel like summer is never going to end. Part of me wants it to and part of me doesn't. Judging from my blog entries, you might be led to believe that every day is an educational thrill a minute. For every blog entry I've written about some fun summer activity we've done, there have been about six days in between where we spent the time at home; me folding laundry and intermittently groaning about how giant the baby is, the kids playing out one of their crazy imaginary scenarios where they pretend to be lifeguards at the beach or drive their babies around in convertible cars. These exciting days are peppered with trips to the grocery store and maybe a visit to the pool where we always seem to be the only people there. We try our best to follow all the pool rules as we swim under the unflagging gaze of a very stoic lifeguard, every word we say magnified by the water and the lack of other people. It's not a bad life, but for some reason I'm ready to get on with things and get back to "real" life.
One thing I've noticed though is that all this unstructured time has been good for us. It has fed my spirit and I feel sort of happy (when I'm not complaining about the heat, or the giant baby, or the tyrant of a lifeguard.) I've come to the conclusion that a little boredom is good for the soul. I just read the following quote today (it's about writing, but don't worry, it applies to lots of things): "If you write, good ideas must come welling up into you so that you have something to write. If good ideas do not come at once, or for a long time, do not be troubled at all. Wait for them. Put down the little ideas however insignificant they are. But do not feel, anymore, guilty about idleness and solitude...if it is the dreamy idleness that children have, an idleness when you walk alone for a long, long time, or take a long, dreamy time at dressing, or lie in bed at night and thoughts come and go, or dig in a garden, or drive a car for many hours alone, or play the piano, or sew, or paint ALONE; or an idleness-and this is what I want you to do--where you sit with pencil and paper or before a typewriter quietly putting down what you happen to be thinking, that is creative idleness. With all my heart I tell you and reassure you: at such times you are being slowly filled and re-charged with warm imagination, with wonderful, living thoughts."*
The tomatoes are coming, along with shorter days and deep blue skies that will be set off by bright orange leaves. The preschool will open its glorious doors again, and the sounds of football will fill our living room as it does every fall, as will the cries of a brand new baby. And most likely I will look back dreamily on our long summer days as the best days--the days I wish I could have back again.
*From Brenda Ueland's book If You Want to Write
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
After reading this article, I can't help but wonder do kids make me "happier?" I think they definitely do... I think I'm much happier sharing my life with them, seeing the world through their eyes and most importantly, I don't have time to think about myself and be all angsty (as is my tendency) because I'm too busy cleaning up after their potty training messes, their arts and crafts messes, their food messes, too fried from playing judge and jury as they both debate about who had the Bob the Builder computer first. This morning Charlie woke me up at 5:40 a.m. because he wanted to cuddle. Did that make me happy? I'm too tired to know or care. It's not that cleaning up messes all day and feeling sleep deprived make me happy, but they are a small price to pay for a life filled with the deep and abiding love I feel for my family. So, in the end, I think it's safe to say, I'm happy.
I might be a lot happier after a nap though...
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
We never did end up needing the aforementioned box. I'm not sure where Emma came up with that one. We did end up having a lot of fun...and meeting a few of our neighbors...and I think we made a whole dollar. Not bad for a Monday afternoon.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Yesterday the weather was this amazing combination of cool and breezy and sunny. I miss Texas almost every day, but I have come to LOVE the fact that in Virginia we still get a cool and breezy morning on the first of July. After determining we absolutely had to do something outside so that we didn't waste this beautiful day, we decided to head out to Great Country Farms yesterday to see what all the hype was about. We had heard great things from friends, so yesterday seemed like the perfect time to check it out for ourselves. I packed up some pb&j sandwiches and snacks and about an hour later we were leaving the suburbs and driving through the rolling green hills of Virginia to the farm. As you head further and further west of our house you start seeing the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The landscape of townhouses, outlet malls and McMansions starts dissolving into a vineyard situated on the side of a green, lush hill, an isolated General Store that advertises its sandwiches and homemade ice cream, and every so often you'll see a farm house. It is quite an improvement as far as views go. As I drive, I start fantasizing about one day living out here in all this beauty, and then I start to wonder where I'd go out to eat...I'm sure the sandwiches at that General Store are delicious, but....
Charlie's favorite farm activity...sending these wooden sifter things down the water channel. I think this was supposed to be some kind of lesson in how prospectors used to look for gold, but Charlie just enjoyed seeing the wooden "boats" float by.
Back-to-back bunnies and a duck
Bunny up close
Charlie on the "Moo-cow train"
Two happy kids
Charlie, master of the U-Pick
Charlie in the middle of exclaiming, "This is a dark blue one!"
Heading back to the farm with our harvest.
Later that night....ice cream with blueberry sauce for dessert!
Well, I better go for now...we have another fun summer day ahead of us! Today probably won't live up to yesterday's adventure seeing as we have Charlie's 3-year check-up on the agenda, but you never know when serendipity will strike and a perfect day will be had by all. Happy Wednesday, everyone!