Archive for June, 2010

Why Nobody Died When We Got Rid Of TV.

06.28.10

kids_in_hallway
I mentioned recently that we don’t have TV. Readers reacted. It was cute.

Our decision to remove television from our daily lives was not entirely for the reasons you might think. Also, our kids are actually allowed to watch it a little from the internet. But they rarely choose to. So here’s how that phenomenon came about and why…

The Reasons: A Combo of Old-Fashioned Values, Creativity Values, & Futurist-Techie Geekiness

Old Fashioned Values: It’s probably obvious from my blog that I only embody some old-fashioned values while many others I shun. I’m quite strict and traditional when it comes to what I think is appropriate content for children — more strict even than many of the religious families I know. There are a lot of “children” shows that are surprisingly not really child-friendly.

Restricting content is the easy part, though. You just tell the kids why they can’t watch a certain show and then empathize with their wishes that TV producers wouldn’t deliver that kind of content to children. Kids understand honest reasoning, and they respond well to your empathy toward their unfulfilled wishes.

Creativity Values: It’s the general limiting of time on the television that I found difficult. For years we let our kids watch TV, more than I ever thought I would as a parent. I am an avid non-watcher. I always thought I’d be good at limiting the amount they watched. It turns out that if you’re also distracted with an exciting lot of projects you enjoy, it’s hard to monitor amounts. And when a child sinks into the TV habit, it’s hard for him or her to motivate themselves to do creative stuff.

Plus, all day, everyday, our kids were constant infomercials to Izzy and me, pitching sales lines like, “At Best Western, if you drop a towel, they’ll pick it up for you!”

We supposedly needed this mattress, and that kitchen device, and a million different other things. The kids were adding items to their own Christmas list every single day starting Dec. 26 of each new year.

Futurist Techie Geekiness:
Then something amazing happened. Television shows began to appear on the internet! Izzy loves diving into the future headfirst before anyone else has gotten there, and as soon as a handful of shows became available online he sat the family down and made a proposition. He told the kids that we would let them each buy a TV show episode from Netflix every week in place of the TV. They could also watch some shows online.

The kids agreed. We canceled the satellite. For probably four years now, absolutely zero shows feed though the big black box in our living room. It only works for gaming and DVD’s now. We don’t even have local channels.

Then The Magic Happenend

Something truly magical and amazing happened two or three weeks after we got rid of TV — the kids lost interest! They stopped requesting the weekly show we promised to purchase for them. Since that time, internet television has grown and shows are easier to access than ever (and are usually free) but our kids only sit down to watch them around once a month or so. It’s amazing.
dinner_outside
A few weeks ago we were having dinner and one of the kids piped up, “It’s so weird how a bunch of my friends will start talking about some toy that they all know about but I’ve never heard of it. It’s because they learn about all this stuff on commercials.”

The other of our older two children agreed to noticing the same thing.

Uh-oh. Here it comes, I thought. They’re going to tell us that it bugs them how weird and different we are from everybody else.

“So, how do you feel about that?” I asked.

“It’s okay,” one said.

“Yeah, I don’t care,” said the other. “It’s just weird that they all know about the same things.”

Wow. I was not expecting them to be cool with that. I mean, I personally have never minded being different all my life. But I don’t know many other people who are cool with it.

So we talked about how much time they have to be creative and make things — which they do daily — and they said it’s a good trade.

We may be secularist, vegan, non-materialist, non-TV weirdo’s, but we’re a bit Leave It To Beaver, too.

How to get kids who will make your breakfast for you

06.16.10

muffin
. . . In two easy steps.

Step 1 –

Introduce them to an amazingly delicious but healthy breakfast, like these Jam-filled Oat Bran Muffins.

Step 2 –

Make oatmeal. Over and over again.

Enjoy!

If your kids are anything like mine, you will eventually wake up to them begging to make breakfast for you. And you’ll get to enjoy those muffins again, but without the effort.

Jam-filled Oat Bran Muffins

from The Joy Of Vegan Baking

16 muffins

2 Tbsp. ground flasseed
6 Tbsp. water
2 cups oat bran
1 cup unbleached all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/4 non-dairy milk (try oat milk!)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional, or use less if desired)
1/2 cup strawberry (or any fruit) jam preserves, or fruit spread, preferably unsweetened

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease your muffin tins.

In a food processor or bowl with electric hand mixer, whip the flaxseed and water together, until you have a thick and creamy consistency. This can all be done by hand, but a food processor/hand mixer does a better job in 1 to 2 minutes. It also makes it creamier than can be done by hand. ( I use my Braun hand-held mixer).

In a large bowl, combine the oat bran, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the flaxseed mixture, milk, and oil. Stir in the walnuts, if using. Add to the dry ingredients, and mix just until blended.

Fill the prepared muffin cups less than half full with batter. Place a dab of jam or preserves in the center of each cup. Add more batter to fill the cups two-thirds full, concealing the jam. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Cool in the tins for 3 minutes, then remove to cool on a wire.

Music Monday: Can’t Stop — Addicted to the Shindig

06.15.10

love
Photo by Mohsen Masoumi

Do you have any songs that define your personality or the way you view and live life? I’m sure some of us have a few, but Can’t Stop by the Chili Peppers — or at least my interpretation of it — is the big one for me.

A few of the lyrics that stick out are…

“Choose not a life of imitation”

“This life is more than just a read thru”

“Complete the motion if you stumble”

“Knock out but boy you better come to
Don’t die you know the truth is some do
Go write your message on the pavement
Burnin’ so bright I wonder what the wave meant”

“The world I love
The tears I drop
To be part of
The wave can’t stop
Ever wonder if it’s all for you
The world I love
The trains I hop
To be part of
The wave can’t stop
Come and tell me when it’s time to”

I’m not a huge fan of music videos because of the way they replace my own mental images for a song. But I love the Can’t Stop video by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a display of who they are to the core: passionate people who dive into life but don’t take it too seriously. At all.

The visuals — the use of light, color, contrast, and movement — are amazing. They are all based on the One Minute Sculptures by Erwin Wurm.

What song resonates with the way you feel about life in general, or your life specifically?

People Watching

06.14.10

swim_bag
I’m a people-watcher, and the best place to go people-watching is the community pool. I’ve been going to the pool to watch people about twice a week since the kids got out of school in May.

This week, among my finds, I saw a group of young moms with their tiny toddler and preschool-age kids, and I was thinking about how lucky those moms are to have each other. Later on, while Izzy and the kids and I gathered to have a snack break, I commented on the group of moms and we wondered out loud for a while how the group came together.

“All the kids are mostly the same age,” I reasoned. “I doubt they just all happen to be friends on their own. I bet they’re part of a mom’s club or something.”

“Or maybe their kids all go to the same preschool. That could totally be it…” one of us suggested.

We came up with three possibilities before our six-year-old, Aiden, cut into the conversation with, “But the real question is whether they have iPads and iPhones.”
iphone_ipad_ds
Clearly, those are the all-important issues in our household right now.

* * *


Ella Publishing Co. has nominated me as one of the nine Most Influential Scrapbookers of 2010. You can learn more about this award, the nominees, and the blog tour at ellapublishing.com/misa or ellapublishing.com/blog.

Please help me honor my fellow nominees by visiting their blogs throughout the week. You could win one of 100 cool prizes! Click below to say hello to today’s spotlighted bloggers.

and

The Ripple Effect

06.11.10

Trinity asked for the camera when we sat down to dinner at Chipotle’s the other night. I handed it to her and made a face. I guess people liked it because the face caught on and took many dips and turns along the way.

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act . . . Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
faces
So true, Scott Adams. So very true.

Aiden Plays With The Dentist’s Spit Sucker

06.09.10


He is our constant source of entertainment.

Music Monday: New Music Love – Josh Ritter

06.08.10

I have a new musical love, thanks to Izzy. He saw one of Josh Ritter’s cd’s at Starbucks and got curious because it boasted NPR’s recommendation. If NPR loves something, we’re pretty likely to love it, too. Our tastes and NPR’s tastes run similar that way.

So, with the recommendation of NPR giving us some hope, I put Josh Ritter into the search field of my Rhapsody app. It was immediate love for both Izzy and me. They say his style is Americana. That’s a new genre term for me, but I get that his influence is folk, and after hearing him I think I understand the Americana label, especially after listening to this beautiful song…

The Temptation of Adam

If this was the Cold War we could keep each other warm
I said on the first occasion that I met Marie
We were crawling through the hatch that was the missile silo door
And I don’t think that she really thought that much of me

I never had to learn to love her like I learned to love the Bomb
She just came along and started to ignore me
But as we waited for the Big One
I started singing her my songs
And I think she started feeling something for me

We passed the time with crosswords that she thought to bring inside
What five letters spell “apocalypse” she asked me
I won her over saying “W.W.I.I.I.”
She smiled and we both knew that she’d misjudged me

(For the rest of the lyrics click here)

Girl In The War

. . . Is another story-telling folk song where Ritter pulls biblical characters into the story and works a lot of wordplay into the song. I wish I could say I fully understand it. I don’t really get it. All I know is it’s beautiful.

Rumors

There’s one that takes me back to my earlier years. Ritter was a child of the 70’s like I was and this song — to me — sounds like the Partridge Family meets Pink Floyd. I bet you never thought a combination of those two bands was possible. I can only find live versions, so this recording isn’t as good as his studio version . . .

Change Of Time

But if you prefer the softer folksy style, here’s another really moving, beautiful one. It gives me chills. The old American patriotic drum beat rolls in partway through and then the music continues to build toward a higher and higher climax. Have a listen…

Just Because.

06.03.10

wine
“It’s so nice to be back home,” he said.

. . . while sitting with me at the local wine bar.