Thursday, April 25, 2013

on good old Mr. R and tv + kids in general

watching Mr. Rogers and eating "puppy treats"

There always seems to be something floating around the web about Fred Rogers; particularly last week with all the talk about "looking for the helpers" in the midst of bad news.  And for good reason.

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was far and away my favorite show as a child.  And now as a mom, it is far and away my favorite tv show for my kids to watch.  (Did you know you can watch every single episode for free with Amazon prime!?  We've been working our way through the mid-to-late 80s and early 90s... it's like re-living my childhood.  Amazing.)

Seriously, Mr. Rogers helped shape me.  His television program is so unlike any other, and the differences are critical.  The Neighborhood program engages viewers as "neighbors."  It is slow paced to encourage reflection, it's encouraging of the individual, supportive of arts and music, it teaches preschoolers how to interact politely and show genuine interest in others, encourages curiosity and creativity, encourages pretend play while differentiating between real and pretend, shows small children that there can be trusted adults other than their parents, it features songs that instill simple truths about love and acceptance, it introduces kids to all sorts of different people, teaches about taking good care of our bodies and possessions, teaches us that we can be liked just the way we are.  I could go on and on.  In short, the Neighborhood is a place that helps us live better lives, instead of being merely a distraction from real life.  {I can't think of one other kids' program that stands on its own merit; even "educational" shows use flashy graphics and goofy voices to suck kids in and make them expect that kind of entertainment in real life.}

I think that a little tv around here does us all some good.  Gives the kids a chance to chill for a bit; gives me a chance to take a shower or cook dinner.  Plus, the tv did pretty much teach Bob to read.  BUT-- it's a slippery slope for sure.  You've got to set rules and limits and stick to them -- otherwise it's whine, whine, argue, push, push, push.  When the begging for more tv time occurs, I try to give thoughtful answers instead of just "because I said so," like: "I know your play time is very important to you.  I don't want dinnertime or bedtime to come and you to feel like you didn't play everything you wanted to today!"  We've had seasons where we slipped into relying on way too much television (like when Owen was born, as I recall), but the good news is: it's possible to climb back up and reset normal.  You've really got to screen everything before you let those little eyes see it, too -- to make sure the show's not too scary, or mean, or annoying, or pointless, or whatever else.  If I could do it again, I think I'd keep the pups from everything except the reading show and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.  Lately we're on an almost-strictly Mr. Rogers diet -- plus Fireman Sam.  {It's hard to imagine our lives for the past couple of years without Fireman Sam, since -- for better or for worse -- that's what Bob's entire existence is built around.}

On a somewhat related note, I read this post earlier and it really resonated with me.  (And from reading the comments, lots of other people too!)  I'm still a dumbphone user, and as much as I've been coveting the iPhone since the day it was dreamed up, I really am glad I'm too cheap (or is it poor?) for one, because I see the way people can't look away from them and it's sickening.  Plus I know the pups would be annoying the crap out of me begging to play with it.

Still, my imac demands much of my attention, and I could certainly stand to "unplug" more often.  This blogland here can be addicting, for one!

But... the weather's warming up and summertime helps.  for.  sure.

Whatcha think?  Am I the only one who is nutso for Mr. Rogers, not just in theory but in real life?

also: linking up with little days today

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bob at three and a half

This boy.  Where to start?  He is one cool kid.  We took Owen to the doctor for a checkup today and while we were out Pupper made every single person he saw smile and laugh with his jib-jabbering 'excuse me's and running and jumping and climbing.

He's his own little self.  He wants to do things his own way.  He wants to wear pajamas all the time.  It's the hardest thing about getting out of the house: two thirds of the time he cries and argues because he doesn't want to remove his jammies, doesn't like the socks I picked, wants to run barefoot in the snow!  Well, don't worry, my boy -- summer's a'coming.  This weekend Bob enjoyed his first outdoor "barefeet toes" of the year; he ran through the grass with a speed unseen since autumn.

Bob is an adventurer.  He's rescuing all the time.  For the most part, he's all boy.  He wants to be riding a motorcycle.  And climbing everything.  And pretending to be a puppy.  And playing every kind of ball game imaginable.  But at the same time: his favorite color is pink and occasionally he needs some time playing dress up in a "princess dress" and "glass slippers."

Snuggling is of utmost importance.  Pup spends a good bit of time each day snuggling in his bed or mine with his blankie and suckie, and sometimes Mom or Owie or Dad.

He LOVES his baby bro.  We have many conversations every day about the fact that Owen is the best.  "Hey, mom?  I wuv vat widdul duy duy.  He is my best fwiend eveh."  And most of the time, he likes to have that little guy guy close by.  There are times, of course, when Bob needs time away to do his own thing undisturbed by Owie's menacing.  But for the most part, they're a duo.  And that's a whole post in itself for another day.

I could go on and on about my sweet little Bob -- he's funny, he's smart, he's loving and thoughtful.  There are trying times for sure; there's a lot of learning happening at three, and Bobby tends to be a very emotional fellow; but every day I tell him and feel it to be true: "Pup, I am SO glad that YOU are my first baby.  I think you are amazing."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

art for toddlers: chalk

Chalk!  Now that Owen is getting past the must-put-everything-in-mouth phase, chalk is a definite favorite for art time.  It's great for an early art medium because there's no need to hold the chalk a certain way, no dipping or rinsing, no need to push down hard; there's a nice contrast between the board and the chalk that makes it easy for little toddlerfolk to see what they drew.  I bought this piece of chalk board at Home Depot for under $10.  We lean it up against the wall when it's not in use and put it on the floor anywhere when we want to get chalky.  Chalking it up on the floor is much preferred to the wall because these guys like to get their feet into it and cover themselves in chalk head to toe.  Best part: cleanup couldn't be easier.  A quick rinse for the pups, a quick vacuum of the floor, done.

What's your favorite way to CREATE with your tiny people?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dear Owen: {almost} fifteen months

Dear Owie Bowie -- my sweet little Owen.

As I write, you are sitting in your crib, recently moved to Bobby's room, watching him looking at books on the floor in front of you.  You've been like this for a while now, just happy to be in his presence.

fast forward 48 hours or so.  i had been waiting for you to accomplish your morning poop, and then you did, and then i had to tend to it, and now here i am at my next chance to write.

You are one sweet, happy baby at fourteen months -- almost fifteen now.  You do get very MAD when you can't have something you want, or when you can't do something Bobby's doing.  Oh, but you try.  You follow behind him mimicking his every dangerous deed.  Well, not all of the deeds are dangerous, but too many are; I don't know how you'll survive your second year!

Sometimes your copycatting is just plain cute.  The other day Bob spilled something-or-other and got a towel to clean it up.  When he went to return the towel you were right at his heels; you grabbed it and bent over to wipe the ground at your feet, then struggled to reach high enough to hang the towel up again.  Earlier today there was a similar scene involving a dust pan and broom.

Up until last week you've spent most of the time sleeping in mom and dad's bed.  We {I} love to snuggle you up as much as possible while we {I} can, but we {Dad} would like to be able to fit in our {his} own bed once again.  It's true: the nighttime menacing of your little feet ranges from annoying {slow and steady push into the bladder} to painful {a donkey-kicked heel to the eye}.  So far you're taking the transition to a shared brother room pretty well.

You like music and you like to dance.  I'm pretty sure you get your dance moves from me because you resemble a hunched sideways old man with a cane that's too short and he alternates between leaning on it and waving it around his head.  But you love it.  You do a little singing, too -- mostly mimicking Bobby's rendition of the fireman sam theme music.

Your kisses are too perfect and possibly the sweetest thing on earth at this moment.  You dole them out pretty freely -- to mom, to dad, to Bob, to your two baby dolls.  You're a sweetheart with your dolls, hugging and patting and yanking their diapers off.

You enjoy sitting at the table to draw; "daw" is one of your best-pronounced words.  Mom, Dad, nah-nah (for nurse), Baaaab (for Bob), bah-beh-ball (basketball), dog... You use a few signs too -- "nurse" (you've gotta have two ways to say that one), "all done", "please", "hurt", "bath"...  And the rest of the time you jib-jabber on in your cute little baby language.

You are growing so much in so many ways!  At times it seems your bubbling personality is just exploding out of you.  A few nights ago you simply couldn't sleep; you were running around the house like a madman until 11pm making your little jokes; you found yourself so amusing you could hardly stand it.

We all feel SO lucky to have YOU in our family, my son.  Bobby says it a dozen times a day: "I wuv Owie.  He is my best fwiend eveh."  Your toothy grin makes us all really happy every single day.

xoxo, mom.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Can you skip to the part where He gets killed? {easter weekend}

My hard drive crashed last week so I've been out of commission for a bit.  Fortunately I had everything backed up with time machine and had no trouble restoring.  boom.  points for preparedness.

Easter week was interesting -- trying to find a balance between a sneaky bunny and a seriously-hard-to-explain-to-a-3-year-old Savior.  Bob was quite interested in the story of Jesus's last week on earth, but mostly the whole crucifixion bit.  "Mom, can you just skip to the part where He gets killed?"  Or I catch him punching Owen; "I'm just nailing Owie to vuh twoss."  Hmm.

There was interesting commentary about the Easter bunny as well.  Like, "Mom, can you leave my door open so he can get in here?  Or, do you think he's big enough to hop through the window?"  The day after his treats were consumed he was very concerned about getting a treat for the Easter bunny for next year.

Easter weekend was nice...  We spent time on Saturday with James and Bailey.  Bobby absolutely adores his cousin Bailey; he thinks everything she says and does is hilarious.  He'll be in bed later jabbering on about, "That was so funny when Bailey said she didn't say spider but I thought she did say spider!"  Um... okay, Buddy.

Saturday night we colored eggs -- the traditional paas way -- and Bobby really loved it.  Of course he wanted to switch a lot of the eggs from color to color to color, but he let them dry just long enough in between dunks that they actually turned out really cool and not just brownish.  And all the cracks from dropping them repeatedly actually added to the uniqueness of Pupper's eggs.  So yes, it seems Bobby has a future in Easter egg dyeing.

Easter Sunday Bobby woke up around 4:30 am and came into my room already eating chocolate he had found.  I brought him back to bed and told him to go back to sleep until it was day.  He did.  And then he was back, and Owen was up -- they looked through their Easter baskets and then searched the house for eggs.  At first Owie was nonchalant but then he started to figure out what was going on and realized how much he wanted those peanut m&ms inside the plastic eggs, and he joined in the hunt too.

We opted to skip church in favor of rest time, since Sunday dinner at Aunt Judy's would fall at the normally appointed hour.  And these pups need their sleep.

We had a nice big dinner and another egg hunt and lots of fun playing on an old tractor.

Later on at home Bob flew a kite for the first time -- the kite was a gift from the "Easter bunny" and the windiest day ever was a gift from God; it made first time kite flying super easy and fun.

Peace to you, and a very late 'Happy Easter' from me and mine!
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