Monday, May 3, 2010

Great Success!

I have attained several goals recently,

  1. TV is less important to my children
  2. I got to the library
  3. We are back into reading chapter books together

 Caroline watched no TV today while Will was at school and when we got home from school pick-up, the kids did not ask to watch TV. Instead, on the car ride, they planned to play a secret game involving a witch and a Star Wars commander.

They are apparently experts at this game because it was on almost before we got in the door.  However, they switched roles so that Will could be the witch, and Caroline got to choose between being a commander and an at-at pilot.  I have no idea what that is, but it's on the box of Legos we got for a friend's upcoming birthday. P.S. Sorry Jack, the box is  a little (lot) crunched, and a little open.  We love that box of Legos and badly wish it were ours.

Also, I finally got to the library today.  Here's what I got for myself:

Stacked by Susan Seligson  a book about boobs
Under the Black Flag: the Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates   By David Cordingly
Near Death on the High Seas: True Stories of Disaster and Survival  edited by Cecil Kuhne
2-at-a-time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes
Favorite Socks:25 Timeless Designs from Interweave 
Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber

(Why do all books have such long subtitles these days?  Kind of like the Most Excellent and  Lamentable Tragedie.... except that's a surtitle. Am I supposed to put in the subtitle when discussing these books?  I need to check a style guide).

This list of books makes me think that maybe I have some sort of bizarre mental disorder. I can't even begin to surmise what it says about me other than the fact that I was only able to browse in the non-fiction section because of an impatient four-year-old so I grabbed everything that caught my eye. Breasts! Shipwrecks! and Knitting your own socks!  What could be better?

I also got a bunch of kid books, most notably Book 1 of the Spiderwick Chronicles.  Will and I read one and a half chapters tonight.  I think it's going to be a pretty good one.  All I know of this series is that it is  magicky, very popular and was made into a movie.  Last week at Media Center, Will checked out a Spiderwick from later in the series so it was impenetrable to him.  Today, I got Book One at my library and he got an illustrated Field Guide at his. We are set.

Also, we have been reading and LOVING  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by  Kate DiCamillo.  We loved Despereaux even though my kids were maybe five and three when we read it.  It takes a lot of stopping and explaining words, concepts and plot, but somehow my kids are mesmerized my Ms. DiCamillo's stories. There is alot of talk of love in these books, and the value of it, and feeling it; and about  looking for love and how it it the truest and most important feeling.  Despereaux Tilling is a mouse with strong feelings for honor and courtly love, while Edward Tulane is a china rabbit who is learning about love and what's important on his long and incredible journey. These stories have so much in them, strong characters, vivid descriptions, a recognisable, but slightly magical setting,  talk about the important things in life,  I think it all rings really true to my kids.

Ms. DiCamillo mixes in fairy tale and minor magic with perfect prose and pacing. She won the Newbery Medal for The Tale of Despereaux, and she has won numerous other notable awards, which she deserves.  I love her very much.

Friday, April 30, 2010

It's Over

I just posted "Screen Free Day 4" But really it's day 5  I think. I have literally been so busy this week that even though I am allowing myself screen time in the evenings for blogging, I haven't gotten to write much.

I'm declaring Screen Free a complete success even though I crapped out today.  Caroline was up coughing last night, and so this morning I didn't have the gumption to say no TV to Will.  I think he may have watched TV, played Nintendo Ds, and Wii in sort of a TV withdrawal orgy.


And now we are sitting on the couch watching King Fu Panda.

 Here's the thing.  I love sitting on the couch with my kids. It's so cozy and lazy. Plus, to assuage my guilt I  have plans for a healthy dinner and a then an evening trip to the park.

To sum up: I have also learned how easy it is to reduce screen time and how well my children adapt and blossom in a media free environment.  I plan to have much stricter limits on TV and video games, and I don't anticipate much resistance.

Screen Free Day 4

Hey this isn't so bad!  I was hopeful about cutting out tv, but scared.  I don't know what I was scared of, like maybe their heads would explode, but really, no biggie.  They ask for tv, but not with much enthusiasm.  And the way they have adapted by wandering off to their rooms by themselves.  Yesterday in the time before they left for Dad's house, a period we often have the tv on, I laid on the couch and ignored them and they played a rousing game of school involving shouting  and jumping.

A few of my goals haven't been met, I haven't made it to the library YET.  It's now Thursday morning and I'm going to make it my main goal today.  But really, we've been so busy with a field trip, with bowling and going to the park we haven't had time to get books to read.

In lieu of reading actual fun books, I finally finished 1984 by George Orwell.  It was a slog.  I wanted to read it because of it's prominent place in our culture and all that.  I'm glad I read it, and I appreciate it's significance, but woof.  It's really not my kind of book.   In high school for summer reading, we had to read a book by Ray Bradbury, and the only reason I remember it is because it was so alien (haha) to me and things I think about.  In most cases, I am not a fantasy or sci-fi gal, and don't care much for apocalyptic visions of earth or society.

An apocalypse on a small scale, like a family tragedy scale, yes, but collapse of human society, nah.  That said, in the last few years, I've read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, World War Z, 1984, and a couple others, all giving a vision of post-western society.   Now that I have them under my belt, I'm glad, but ick. Not fun reading.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Screen Free Day 1

Day 1 of Screen Free Week at my house was pretty darn good!    The kids asked for tv, but really in a half hearted way.  They were both happy to find other activities; painting, playing Polly Pockets, Legos, dancing and doing dishes. I probably read ten books yesterday and have an assignment this morning from Will to get a Spiderwick book to read to him.

Yesterday, in the hours not spent watching TV, Will built this:

A clever, clever lego battle scene complete with zip line!
 and Caroline painted this:

Hooray!!! Look at my pink hair! I love my girl.

What I'd really like to do with this project is start a better pattern of using imaginations more and screens less, so I'm not sure how long I'm going to make this go-- seven days or five?  Should I make this a regular occurence?  Every few months rather than once a lifetime?

 I want my kids to be able to fill time on thier own, without relying on electronic devices. This is much easier in the  warm weather months, they are great at playing outside, and immediately lapse into thier own imaginary world when riding bikes or playing in a pool.  But during the winter, they were helpless to figure out something to do.  My goal is to have days like today, when Will asked if he had time to play legos after dinner.

My mom suggested doing some sort of reward.  I'm considering it, like a new Lego set for Will, and  some new thing for Care.  I don't want to treat no tv as a hardship that needs a reward, but I think rewarding them with something that encourages imagination rather than zombielike staring at a screen adds to the point rather than subtracts.

Now that I am writing this on day two, I want to add that Caroline built this:

It's a city, built out of assorted girl stuff.

Just this morning, she's given her dollies a bath, is coloring at the table and hasn't asked for tv once. I think just knowing it's not an option really makes a big difference.

I also want to note that my kids generally do alot of playing and art and building, it's just that this is more production than is usual.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Crap, it starts today

Shit and Hell.  TVfree week begins today at my house.  Better switch off the tube and shut down this computer before the kids' dad drops them off at 8 this morning.

I am really unprepared for this. My children are going to be VERY angry with me.

I also need to get to the library, I've got nothing to read.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sayonara Boob Tube!

Around my house we watch a fair amount of television. Much of it is fairly innocuous children's programming,  but some of it is SpongeBob and recently we have picked up a few less nice shows on Cartoon Network- Ick.   Also, I bought Will Lego Star Wars for his Nintendo DSi, and he loves it which is sort of good, but he is obsessed with it. He wants to play every minute, and  since the game's arrival, I have seen a marked decline in his behavior. He whines and threatens, and acts annoying about a stupid black plastic box.

Luckily, today a new issue of Tessy and Tab , a fun little magazine for kids, arrived in the mail.  In it, Tessy and Tab participate in Screen Free Week.  A week with no tv, video games or computer. "National Screen Free Week" is April 19-25, but I think I'm doing it  the week of April 26th. I don't think the  Screen Free gods will mind. I'd also seen this in an Arthur episode a few years ago, and I thought it was a good idea but was really too much of a disaster to buckle down and turn off the tube.

I'm confident that I can easily get my own tv habit under control, I keep it off in the evenings once in a while, and if there's nothing on, I turn it off. I also don't watch anything for myself during the day. On the flip side, my kids watch TV for probably about 2 hours a day weekdays and possibly more on weekends.  They really like tv. It makes me a little sick to think about it actually, the brain cells that are collapsing as they stare zombie-like at the gentle flicker. Hmm,  I don't think tv's really flicker any more.

Because this idea came into our lives at a moment when screens seem to be  negatively influencing behavior, and because I like to do things that are a little hard and not that fun, we are participating.   I'm sort of on the fence about whether I will allow myself to turn on my computer at night to check e-mail and weather.  Will is very concerned about finding out the weather report, and this way I can convince him that I am magic and psychic.  Also, blogging could probably be allowed as it is creative writing.  I'll think about these issues....

I bet I get a lot of reading and knitting done. Plus maybe some good game time, puzzles, library trips and probably some yelling.

I invite you to participate, and if not, at least  to review your own television habits.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Plea. Plus Picture!

Now that I have a camera again, here's a picture of Patch. Handsome, No?

I think I'm out of reading material at my house.  Have any good suggestions?

Also, please note that every blog post title in April has an exclamation point.  Hmm.  I think I may need to revisit my punctuation policy.