Babes in TV Land

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baby Einstein finally DEBUNKED!

click below to read article...

"Disney Expands Refunds for Baby Einstein Videos" by Wendy Mitchell

I remember when Awsumb was just a couple weeks old a friend brought over some of these videos and suggested since her baby liked them my baby would. I remember thinking she was totally nuts. First of all, why would I put a few week old baby in front of the TV? And did people really think these videos would give their children a head start?

My child had a lifetime to discover the screen and I did not feel any urgency to make that introduction. I felt validated in my opinion when I read this article, "Babes in TV Land" by Chris Beam which states the AAP recommends NO TV under 2 years of age.

Later I learned that the creator of these videos was just a mother, who noticed her baby loved to watch interesting objects. She also knew how important it was to read to a child and that hearing language pattern from other languages was benificial. So she took her home video camera, recorded some interesting children's toys like a mobile, etc. and hoped it would be something she could market. And there you have it, an entire line of products (eventually the name was bought by Disney) with absolutely no research behind them, making parents believe they would really give their kids an edge... or at least enterain them long enough to take a shower!

Later as Awsumb grew into a toddler I remember parents bragging that their child knew how to put in a DVD and start a movie. I would silently roll my eyes... As if my child was going to be behind because I didn't let him at the DVD player. Plus some of these same friends also shared the typical "child put toast in the DVD player story" during other conversations. For me that was just another reason to keep my child away from the DVD player. Now that Awsumb is 8 he has shown to be just as proficient with DVD players and toasters, without leaving crumbs in the living room.

I feel that I successfuly limited screen time with my child. Although he probably saw more decorating and news shows that he needed to I rarely put children's shows on for him. And if we watched a movie, we sat down to watch a movie. Start to finish... no starting a movie just to keep him busy for 20 minutes and then letting is play in the background while he became interested in other things. I am not sure if that helped his attention span or if he was just born with a longer attention span. Studies suggest that in any case, children's TV only damages attention spans.

Sure, there was plently of Bob the Builder and a couple other shows at our house. But Daddy usually put them on in the morning for a bit and then the TV was turned off the rest of the day. Awsumb never really asked to watch TV and to this day didn't realize certain shows came on at certain times. This is probably because we mostly took advantage of the DVR, recording only select shows we thought appropriate. So there was no full days of whatever was on PBS or Nick Jr.

Now that Awsumb is in 2nd grade, he has occasionally comes home and talks about shows he has never seen. If it weren't for his Father he probably wouldn't even know about the select shows he does know about, as they have a few different super hero cartoons they watch together.

THIS study found babies who watched these types of videos might even learn fewer words! Babies require face to face interaction. And that's the worst part. These DVD's were just another way to separate child from parent.

What I find sad about this is how once again, mothers flocked to buy something that might even be more damaging in the long run, when really their own instincts should have given them the right tools. To sing and read to your child, to carry your child, to talk to your child, to let your child lay under a tree and watch the leaves blow in the wind... interact with your child, play with your child, imagine and dream with your child.. these are the things that will really give your child and edge and you don't even need your debit card!

I am proud to say I voted with my dollar on this one! I have not spent one penny on this line of products, nor anything that simply carried the label.

Check back later for my comments about why LYING is a developmental milestone.

Angel vs. Spike

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Edited the below post to add a few things...

If you have watched the Buffy or Angel TV series you know that Angel the vampire cursed by gypsies with a soul. At first he is miserable and alone.. then he gets the advice to get over himself and help others... Of course he is drawn to protect the slayer and Buffy and Angel fall in love. But if Angel experiences "pure joy" he is cursed to loose his soul and turns back into an evil vampire again... thus he and Buffy cannot be together and Angel goes off to start his own TV show in L.A. in which, "he helps the helpless."

Enters Spike, whose entrance into Sunnydale as Buffy's Nrch Nemisis just screams, "Now, this is a cool vampire!" Though he is pretty good at causing mayhem for our little slayer, he somehow gets himself mixed up into the "Scooby gang" (Buffy's friends) helping to protect Dawn (Buffy's kid sister), fighting demons and other vampires - right alongside Buffy, etc. While at first he does this for protection or even some cold hard cash.. he eventually becomes part of the group like it or not. And somewhere along the way falls in love with Buffy.

As the weekly adventures unfold Spike slowly earns his soul and proves his worth as he shows that he does have some kind of humanity still part of his character. While Angel only spends his life trying to earn a soul he was cursed with.

Spikes story of redemtion, going to hell and back is much more powerful to me. Forget team Edward or Jacob (from Twilight)... I am Team Spike all the way!

Buffy vs. Bella

After reading Entertainment Magazine's -"20 Greatest Vampires of All Time"
(click to read) I had some notes written in this magazine of some thoughts I had on the subject and Kenneth threw it away. So this won’t be as witty as I had planned and this is just a quick rant...

Twilight is THE most ridiculous story I have ever read. It is even worse than many of the LDS novels Covenant put out for all those years. Each book the story became more and more ridiculous. The 'Vampire Lore' did not seem planned out well enough. Didn’t anyone close to her proof read and give her suggestions? These books lacked action and character development and I cannot believe how quickly the world was possessed by them. Kenneth refused to even finish reading after book 2, but I followed the train wreck to the end all the while shouting out to him how absurdly insane books 3 and 4 were.

In the article it mentions that Stephanie Meyers did not read or research any other vampire books, TV or movies before writing her story. Well, that’s obvious. There is really no character development. What does Edward see in Bella anyway? She has nothing to offer… just drooling over some guy… like he is the only thing in the world that would complete her? Hello Jerry Maguire! MEN don’t COMPLETE us! We have to be a complete person on our own in order to offer anything to a relationship. Sure the are soft and cuddly and nice to have around... Oh, sorry Bella, your man isn't! But they DO NOT complete us.

When referring to Twilight, Author Laurell K. Hamilton said, "The fact that women are so attracted to that idea – that they want to wait for Prince Charming rather than taking control of their own life – I find that frightening.” I get that young girls love the simple story of Twilight that left out sex and violence...(Until books 3 and 4!!!! Don' t even get me started on the violent sex) but I feel they were cheated as there was not anything to be gleaned from the Twilight saga.

Bella could be compared to Marianne in Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility. Marianne is just as silly and boy crazy. But she learns a lesson and in the ends picks a very different man that the silly girl she once was ever would. In the end she becomes a complete person, ready to stand alone and be a full pillar in a relationship that will last a lifetime.

But the #1 problem is the whole vampire tie is that the entire concept of becoming a vampire is supposed to be gravely damning to the soul. I much prefer the way the Buffy series by Joss Whedon dealt with this issue. Buffy is a young high school girl who was chosen to be a vampire slayer. The story is about how she deals with this huge responsiblity while living as a 'normal' teenager. The stories of vampires like Angel and Spike (two main vampire characters who are Buffy's enemies, friends and love interests at one time or another), who struggle to live as a vampires with a soul is an amazing story of redemption.

While the concept of vegan vampires could have played into that sort of story, in the end Twilight was more like the episode on Buffy where the goth kids pretend and wish they were vampires only to be eaten alive. Where is the story Stephanie? What is their purpose? What do they learn about themselves and the world around them. This is not a book I would recommend to teens simply because the main character is silly and her journey is pointless.
The entire part about a vampires fight with being once being human is totally left out. What is their place in the world? Do they have a soul? are they damned,?etc. Oh and how did Bella know if she was changed she would be able to resist human blood and be "vegan" anyway?! There was no discussion about the danger SHE might end up being to her father etc. A book about vampires without all this is empty.

If you haven’t seen the complete Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV Series I highly recommend it. We followed the weekly series from the beginning, but I stopped watching when in season 4 because I couldn't get over the introduction of "the initiative." Then the year before last Kenneth convinced me to watch them again and we tore through them in a couple of months. This time instead of the monster of the week I really fell in love the whole arc of the saga. More about Angel and Spike (Kenneth wants me to add, who are REAL vampires) and the vampire with a soul idea later...
Check out the side of my blog for a cool book on my nighstand that combines Zombies and Prejudice!>>>>>>>>>>

Vampires and Witches - OH MY!

I discovered The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova a few years ago and love it so much I have read it quite a few times. It’s not just another vampire story, but THE vampire story… one of the only books I have read that could actually stand up to Bram Stoker’s classic. The Historian is historical fiction that follows three generations as they search for the Dracula. Their journey takes them to olds countries with rich history and tradition. Along they their individual love stories are also told. Not cheesey in anyway. The audio version of this books is wonderful. The actors really bring out the characters and it is better than any vampire story or movie I have seen or read.

This year I found The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, which takes place in modern times and in the time of the Salem witch trials simultaneously. As Connie searches for a mysterious book by her grandmother she learns more about who SHE really is. I enjoyed this quite a bit and it is a quick read.

Both of these books are more mystery books, which is probably why I enjoyed them so much. I will have to share my thoughts on Twilight another day... (eye roll)

I will also add The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips as part of these suggestions. Set in the 1920's this one is another great adventure that reads much like The Historian. The story is told through journals and letters... If you think it's slow, hang on because you don't want to miss the ending!

Do you have any seasonal book recommendations?

Awsumb's 8th Birthday

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Montessori Classroom has a special birthday ceremony.
Each year the birthday child carries the earth
and walks around the sun as a biography of his life is read.
Today our little Awsumb is 8 years old
and he gets one year closer to taking on the world.
Awsumb Kenneth Hardy
Born October 19, 2001
In Redmond, Washington
Awsumb is named after his grandfather, Dennis Awsumb
His Awsumb grandparents are so excited for his arrival
that they drive overnight from Utah just to see him.

Awsumb goes on a road trip with Daddy and Mommy
through Oregon, California and Nevada
to see the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Utah.

Age 1
Awsumb is talking and walking… can shoot a basketball
and likes sit on the bottom step to look at books,
especially books about fire engines.

Age 2
Awsumb likes to sings songs like, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”.
He is very active and can hit baseballs, kick soccer balls,
and do somersaults, but mostly "Jump Around" (as he likes to say)
This year Awsumb flies to Florida to meet Mickey Mouse,
sails on the Puget Sound and rides a horse.
Age 3
Awsumb drives through the middle of a big tree in the Redwood forest.
He learns to plays soccer with Lil’ Kickers.
Awsumb memorizes books and loves to play board games.
Age 4
Awsumb has a crazy summer camping with his Dad in the rain,
catches two foul balls at the Mariners games. He rides his bike
in the 4th of July parade and digs for dinosaurs bones in Utah.

Age 5
Awsumb can swim across the pool unassisted.
He plays on the Fireballs t-ball team.
At home Awsumb spends all his time building Lego sets.
Awsumb can read!

Age 6
Awsumb explores the Dungeness Spit in Sequim,Washington
and finds frogs on a camping trip.
His father coaches his Blue Rockets baseball team.
Awsumb takes a trip to Utah goes fishing for the first time
and cooks his fish for a big family dinner.
He also visits the largest buffalo herd on Antelope Island, Utah
where he eats his first “buffalo burger”
Age 7
Awsumb moves up to the Micro League in Soccer.
His Sluggers baseball team wins the Jamboree.
Awsumb’s family drives through all 3 “drive-thru” trees
in the Redwood Forest and down the California Coast.
Awsumb learns about Shakespeare and enjoys plays in the park.
Awsumb visits Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Rainier while doing volcano research
He joins the Little Sammies Swim Team and learns the butterfly stroke.
October 19, 2009
Awsumb is now 8 year old.
His family is excited to see him grow and learn
and take on more responsibilities.
Awsumb is special to his family because
he always has a big smile, a not-so-short story,
and a warm hug for everyone. (And a cape and a stuffy.)

Bacon, eggs, and cheese...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Awsumb's friends were so generous and he got some really great quality games and toys for his birthday. Today we tried out a new game he picked with spending money at Uncle's, our favorite game store.

RattleSnake comes with 12 high powered magnetic rattlesnake eggs. Simple roll the die and play them one at a time on the board on the color snake determined by the die. Be careful, these high powered magnets begin to react and begin moving the other eggs pretty easily. If they clash or crash together you must take them back into your hand. First player to get rid of all their rattlesnake eggs win!

A simple game with lots of excitement. There was much squealing and cheering! Priced just right, I will be adding this to my gift list!

Check back for a review of...

Chateau Roquefort

Played any new games recently?


Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's well known that people who live with OCD love to collect things, line things up, organize things, etc. But what you might not realize is that pertains to everything around you, even things that are not yours.

For my husband there is no safe place in this house that is all his. Not one place that I don't come upon at least once in a while and just starting sorting, throwing out and lining up. I remember at one point he was carrying around TONS of files in his backpack, back and forth to work so that they were "safe" from one of my mad episodes! (until I found them LOL!) Even his office at Microsoft isn't totally safe. I can't stop by for more than 30 seconds with out throwing out all the Dr. Pepper cans that have gathered on his desk, throw out all the trade show crap that is piling up and wiping all the surfaces. I just can't help it.

For my child this means that he doesn't really even own his toys. First, I have always had all sorts of bizzare rules about which toys go in which room... and they have to be segregated. It's like they become contaminated if they enter the wrong room. I simply cannot have toys mix. Even toys of the same brand type (Legos, etc.) MUST be separated by themes, etc. When he was small I would actually COUNT all the little pieces that went with specific sets EACH night when I put him to bed.

Counting is very relaxing for me. But I can also become a slave to it. And for any behavior that I am able to overcome I will just adopt another, most likely one not of my own choosing. So, I count. I count the Little People, I count the blocks, I count cars, I count the socks.

Before you decide I am totally crazy, just remember this... Didn't you see Toy Story? Don't you feel bad for missing toys or missing pieces? What about that little squeaker that got lost behind the dresser!?! And even if the toy doesn't really have feelings, what about the child? That could have been the one special sentimental something... No missing toys in this house!

Somewhere along the line I had to stop counting certain things. But counting gives me a control that I just can't seem to find anywhere else. So about 6 months ago when Awsumb bought his first Nerf gun I taught him how to keep track of the darts. 2 guns, 6 darts each. Easy. Each time he finished playing we collected all 12 darts. Once in a while one would go missing and just like my "sock alerts" we put out a "dart alert" so everyone in the house could be on the look out for the missing dart. When found the darts were neatly placed in the 12 little slots on the guns. Awsumb wanted more darts and I didn't want him to get any more because I didn't want to keep track of the pack of 36!

Then there was the big neighborhood dart gun fight in the front yard one evening and I knew it was over.... right now, at this very moment there are 2 or 3 little darts, lonely and wet out in the front yard, hidden under a bush or a pile of leaves and they will never enjoy the love of a child again! So today at Awsumb's birthday party he was give the Cadillac of all dart guns. AND it came with 100 darts. The battle is over. The darts won. But we will have to search for the perfect size little bag, themed and all for them to live in until they too become lost in the cold, dark world...

Next to tackle the Lego Star Wars Minifigs, which thanks to the XBox Lego Star Wars game Awsumb had to mix 'n match all up... Get ready... there is a sorting day for those in the near future!

Pirate Month!

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's officially National Pirate Month at our house. Here are a few good pirate game reviews... (excuse the IPhone shots)
Piratissimo is a pretty simple child's game. The 'bits' might be the best part of the game. At $44 it'ss over priced and I admit I bought it for the bits! Small wooden pirate ships gather treasure as they sail around the board. Watch out for the 'tornadoes' (something might have been lost in the translation there!). This is easy enough for a child to set up by himself. Awsumb LOVES it!

Pirate's Cove is our new favorite. From Days of Wonder, the makers of Ticket to Ride. While set up first felt daunting, the system was easy to catch onto. Navigate your pirate ship to the islands on the board trying to build up your ships defenses (sails, cannons, crew, hull) to earn fame! If you land on the same island as another pirate you must battle it out. Watch out for the legendary pirates as they can be hard to beat! The pirate with the most fame wins. Again, this has cool bits, beautiful art work, etc.

Dread Pirate We were given a special edition of this game as a gift. The bits are some of the best we have ever seen, metall pirate ships, colored jewels, etc. Move around the grid on the map much like clue (great for kids to add die rolls and count spaces) then battle it out to collect the most treasure... All while fighting to hold the title of the Dread Pirate! Kenneth thinks this is a little long. With kids it's best to play the simple rules version. Awsumb plays this quite often with his friends and afterwards, they love to just play with the cool pieces!

Pirateer is an old one that is simple and quick to learn. Following the direction of the tradewinds, chase after the treasure and try to get it back to your base to win the game... Watch out for the rivals who are now all after you!

And if you need some good tunes to get you in the pirate spirit, check out... Captain Bogg and Salty. Awsumb and Kenneth saw them in concert and just love their little tunes!

One of the best things about playing pirate board games with little kids is that they always opt for a battle... So, don't forget to talk like a pirate!

Played any good pirate games lately?

Calm Waters

Monday, October 5, 2009

Awsumb has always been such a good little boy. Ever since he was small he obeyed house rules and stayed out of trouble. He committed so few toddler crimes that I can name them… One day I caught Awsumb pulling all the tissues out of a Kleenex box. Another time he faintly colored on a wall with crayon. The worst was probably the day he got into Kenneth’s mission scriptures.

Kenneth had a leaf pressed between the pages that was special to him. Awsumb crumbled it all over the library floor. At the time he was deathly afraid of the vacuum, for his punishment he was forced to help me vacuum it up by holding onto the handle. I am sure he will be in counseling for that when he is 23.

Oh and I can’t leave out the time I left him sitting in his high chair alone while I took a phone call in the office. When I returned I found his entire dish of macaroni & cheese with peas on the floor. The final incident almost landed me in the nut house … I had been on the phone with my friend Peg and was so upset at the scene I found that she had to “talk me down” and even offered to come over and help me clean it up!

Of course since I am his mother I think Awsumb is still just about the most perfect little boy. He has since had a couple bigger instances, but besides talking too much in class while he is supposed to be doing schoolwork he is really a pretty great kid. Oh and then there is that sassy thing… sigh...

As he is approaching the age of accountability, we have been talking to him a lot about being responsible for his own actions and that he is the one that controls how his life is going. We have had many discussions as of late as to why we punish him or take something away for a time when he messes up. So tonight at dinner Awsumb made this observation and I thought it really showed that he is finally getting it. He said…

“Life is kind of like the sea. When we make good choices it’s like living in calm waters. But, when we mess up we create these huge waves, which make life hard for us. But then when we repent it’s calm waters again.”

Well Little Awsumb, here’s to a life of Calm Waters! Smooth Sailing little one!

(photos: above by Awsumb Hardy – Lake Union 2007
below Awsumb Sailing the Puget Sound age 2 on Peg and Dick's boat)

Fashionable Food

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I find this blog fascinating!

Luxirare <--click to view Apparently the website it going through some changes. Here is what I want to know. Why is the model's face always blurred? Is she a space alien? Who is the photographer? Does she really dress like that? I guess not, after reading the intro... And the food, where does one come up with this stuff? Amazing. Did you see the avocado salad? !!! <--click to view!
What do you think?