May 31, 2008

Driving Skills

I love the conversations that I have with Jack (4) in the car when it's just the two of us. We have had some truly great ones.

Here is how one went recently:

Jack: Mom, bald people can't drive cars.

Me: Oh really? Why not?

Jack: (a sigh that surely included an eye-roll which I couldn't see) Because they can't see! They would crash!

Me: Oh, I think you mean BLIND people.

Jack: What does "blind" mean?

Me: It means you can't see.

Jack: Oh. What does "bald" mean?

Me: It means you don't have any hair on your head.

Jack: (incredulously) What??? (pause) Oh. (pause) So, can bald people drive cars?

Me: Yes.

Jack: So, what do you call it when you can't see?

Me: Blind.

Jack: Oh yeah. Blind.


Jack: Well, when a blind man goes to work he goes with a dog. The dog knows where to go.

Me: Yes, that's right.

Jack: But then he doesn't know where he his home is so he has to stay home.

Me: Hm. (huh?)

May 30, 2008

Kids and TV

My parents were pretty strict about TV viewing when I was growing up. The TV (and I do mean "The TV"... it was the only one in the house) was housed in the basement, but the power was controlled by a switch upstairs in the kitchen. It was a crummy TV too; small and not very good reception. Most of the TV watching I did as a kid was at the homes of friends. (Yes, even "The Wallace and Ladmo Show.")

It drove me crazy at the time, but today I am very grateful that my parents were so strict about it. I have had some shocked responses to the fact that my kids are not allowed to watch television. Yes, it's true.... even PBS. Some have asked how we do it. Here is the scoop.

We have had the no TV policy for many years. When Collin (our first child) was about 2 years old, we started letting him watch PBS... things like "Teletubbies" and "Barney." But that didn't last long because I soon noticed there were some other shows on PBS they we didn't approve of ("Arthur" for one) so we just decided to quit it completely.

On our old TV, we simply deleted all of the channels from the remote control, meaning you had to punch the number in manually... otherwise there was nothing but the channel for watching movies... and we kept the remote in our closet and only got it out after the kids were in bed and Jay and I wanted to watch it. The kids never knew the difference.

Our new TV works differently, but all we had to do was program it so that all the channels (yes, even PBS) and all TV ratings are blocked unless you have the PIN, which the kids don't. They don't even ask to watch TV.... they are just used to it. Mary and Jack have never even watched PBS, and Collin was so young that he doesn't even remember watching it.

I always knew I didn't want my kids to watch commercial television (and not just because of the commercials) but I realized there was a problem with the concept of television itself.... there is always something on. (That's the problem I have with cable TV too.... too many options.) After one show is over, another one comes on, and another and another, and before you know it the child has watched it for hours and hours. A video or DVD has an end. Videos were even better because they had to be rewound before you could watch it again, where as DVD's can start over instantly. But thankfully my kids are beyond that stage where they want to watch something over and over and over and over in the same day.

During the school year, my older kids rarely even watch DVD's... they just don't have time. Sometimes Jack will watch a movie in the afternoon when there is no one else to play with and I'm working on something, or he is just exhausted and needs some down time (since he's kind of old for a nap).

During the summer they seem to watch a few more movies because it's so hot (and we don't have a video game system either, but that's another story), so they will put on an movie on a summer afternoon when they don't have anything else to do. But again, it's just one movie, and kids movies are usually less than 90 minutes, and I'm fine with that.

We have mostly Disney ones (including those great old ones like Pollyanna, Swiss Family Robinson, Darby O'Gill, and Mary Poppins, which are closer to 2 hours). We do own the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies, but the kids are not allowed to watch them except (on rare occasions) with Mom and Dad (those are high up on our closet shelf) and absolutely no PG-13.

Obviously, it would be harder to institute this kind of rule in your home if your children are already used to watching TV. I'm very grateful that I started early. But if you really want to do it, you can make it happen... you will just have to be vigilant. Or you could do what Jay's parents did when he was a kid.... throw out the TV or give it away. Good luck.

May 29, 2008

The Wholesome "Bean"

Jay and I have a few TV shows that we enjoy watching together, but our children are not allowed to watch TV, period, which they don't, unless it's at a friend's house. (We don't have cable TV.) However, they are allowed to watch G-rated children's movies, of which we own plenty.... probably too many.

(Note: I despise PG-rated kids' movies. I would rather have my children see a PG movie that isn't for little kids, like "Star Wars" or "Raiders of the Lost Ark" than the ones made for kids, which always seem to contain an excessive amount of toilet humor, rude behavior, and back-talking children. ARGHHH!)

With the exception of the Pixar movies, which are great, there aren't really any that Jay and I would want to sit down and watch with the kids. But we have recently discovered that our children love to watch something that Jay and I enjoy just as much.

Mr. Bean.

If you haven't been introduced the joys of "Mr. Bean," then go to youtube and watch any (or all) of the clips of Mr. Bean episodes. You can't help laughing. And your kids will too. You gotta love anything that's funny and clean and that the whole family can watch together.
We purchased this DVD set, "The Whole Bean." We also enjoyed "Mr. Bean's Holiday" which I will probably purchase in the near future (only buy books and DVD's from way cheaper!). By the way, don't bother with the "Mr. Bean Animated Series." It's just not that funny. You have to see Rowan Atkinson doing his stuff.

May 25, 2008

Time for a break

May has been a busy month (does that justify my negligence in blogging?), but now that it's almost over, it's time for me to catch up on other stuff, like this blog. So, here is the month in review.

Collin decided to celebrate his 9th birthday at the Arizona Science Center with a few friends (which is appropriate since Collin frequently insists that he will be a scientist when he grows up). They had a good time.

One of the things that has been keeping me really busy this year has been the music classes I have been teaching.... 2 preschool classes (Jack), and a musical theatre performance group for school age children (Collin and Mary). I only agreed to do it because my own children would be involved. The preschool classes are fun and pretty low-stress. However, the performing group has been a lot of work, and quite stressful. But fun too! We did a performance in December, and did our second one a couple of weeks ago. It was called "Broadway Dreams" and I think it turned out pretty good. I was really worried that it wouldn't come together in the end, but the kids worked hard and did a great job.

Jack finished his first year of preschool (one more to go, and then kindergarten... yikes!) and they did a little program for the parents on the last day. It was really cute. Here he is with his wonderful teacher. Mary had her dance recital this weekend. She did really well. (Here she is with her cousin backstage.) This was her first year at this studio, and I was really impressed with the quality! The recital was fantastic!
Here is a video of Mary's ballet dance. She is on the far right in the beginning, the one experiencing the wardrobe malfunction. (The video is compressed so it's not great quality.)

Other things that happened this month that I don't have photos of:

- Mary received the "Excellent PE Student" award for the entire 1st grade (I know, kind of random)
- Collin finished his 3rd season playing coach pitch baseball
- We attended 2 family parties in the same weekend
- I enjoyed a nice Mother's Day with my family (it was especially nice and relaxing because it was the day after the big show, and I didn't have to attend any early morning meetings so I got to sleep in a little)
- Jay and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary by escaping for a weekend to the Mondrian in Scottsdale. We felt really old and "un-hip" surrounded by all the gorgeous 20-somethings. But it was nice to get away. We also enjoyed (finally) eating at La Grande Orange for dinner (YUM!!!), and at The Orange Table (service is very slow but the food is good) for breakfast the next day (yes, Arizona... especially Scottsdale... certainly has the citrus theme going). And when they found out we were celebrating our anniversary, the resort manager gave us a certificate for a free dessert in their restaurant, which was thoughtful.

The kids are excited to be out of school for the summer. I'm excited about having a less hectic routine.... I hope.