Friday, April 24, 2015

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

Lying, to me, has always seemed like a waste of time. It always comes out, and it's always worse when it does than if you'd told the truth in the first place. Which is exactly what I say when I talk to my kids about it. My kids aren't really big on lying anyway, mostly because they just stink at it. Beege turns red and won't look at you. Kee, squirms around the truth like a contortionist, answering every question but the one you asked. See? They stink at it.

Maybe it's because I'm a terrible liar that I find shows about people who do it all the time so fascinating.

Recently, My sister and I became full on addicted to Pretty Little Liars. The show starts out about four teenage girls, beautiful and rich of course, who are being terrorised by a mysterious cyber bully called "A". A knows all of their secrets - holy crap, do these girls have secrets - and is willing to use them against the girls. So do their parents, and all of their friends. As some random artist in season four says, "this whole town is strung together with whispers." A town full of secrets is, by default, full of lies.

I can only think of one person on the entire show that doesn't make a habit of continually lying to everyone around her, and as far as I can tell she is also the most oblivious person in the world. The real miracle is that any of them ever believe anyone else. We've given up trying to figure anything out, and just enjoy yelling "what?!" at each other when they pull out another completely ridiculous piece of 'evidence', or previously unmentioned but somehow pivotal character.

Joking aside, I think that it's important to talk to your kids about lying, and watching a show or movie with them is always a good jumping off point for a discussion. My kids are a little young for it yet, but Mean Girls is an excellent movie to spark questions about bullying, lying and how to be a friend while being yourself. I've said it before, Tina Fey is a genius.

It's an important discussion to have, and a good idea to start early so you can have a continuing conversation as your kids get older, just like anything else.
If you're looking to start a conversation with your little one(s) about lying and its pitfalls, here are some suggestions for your jumping off point:

  1. Super Why!: S1,E15: Humpty Dumpty and Other Fairytale Adventures: Pinocchio
  2. Curious George: S1, E19: Truth about George Burger
  3. Clifford the Big Red Dog: S1, E26: The Kibble Crook
  4. The Adventures of Chuck & Friends: S1, E9: The Pothole / Chuck’s Perfect Plans

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

It's FINE.

I made a blanket recently. Well, I finished a blanket recently. The colours are beautiful, and it's nice and cozy.

I don't usually use patterns. And when I do, I feel the crushing need to alter them in some way. Even when there's nothing wrong with the pattern in the first place... I mean, I bought it, I must've liked it, right? So when I sat down to make this blanket, I decided I would just follow the pattern. I wouldn't change anything, I would just make it as is. No thinking, no figuring, just making.

I didn't manage it.

I ended up changing a few lines of the pattern to make the colour transitions cleaner. I knew that sitting under my blanket and staring at that one row of stitching that leaked into the row above it would drive me crazy.

It took me a few weeks to finish the knitting. Then I had to sew it together, and knit a border around the edges. Finally. Done. I folded it over the back of the chair to take a picture, and realised that on one side, I'd messed up. After all that futzing around to make sure that each colour stayed neatly in its place, I left out an entire effing stripe of colour. On one side. The last side. If it had been the first side, I could have rationalised that I didn't really like that colour anyway and left it off the rest of the border too. But no.

What followed was nothing short of a full blown existential crisis.

After much groaning and tearing of hair, I decided: I was going to leave it. I had to fight against all my instincts to rip that last border down and redo it. I was going to leave it, because as Husband says, "done is better than perfect."

But is it? Is it really?! Because it's a week later, and it's still driving me crazy. I had a dream that I crept downstairs in the middle of the night and fixed it.

I still might.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Science Time!

When we moved into our house, we decided not to get cable. We had been spending far too much time parked in front of the TV, even watching things that we'd already seen before, just because it was on. We had rules about how much the kids were allowed to watch, but more often than not, they ended up watching more than planned because we got occupied with something else, and didn't notice when the show we'd said they could watch was over until they were halfway through the next one.

I will admit to pangs every once in a while when I'm missing current seasons of things (although it balances out because I can watch things like The Walking Dead while the kids are at school instead of just before bed), but really? We haven't missed it much.

The one channel I *do* miss is TVOkids. I've always been a big fan of their children's programming. They have great educational/entertaining programming without commercials, and I've always been confident about sitting my kids down to watch a show without worrying about what we'll need to talk about once it's over. There is exponentially less of the boy-crazy/too-much-makeup/kids-being-mean-to-each-other kind of tween-age programming that I've come to expect from YTV and the Family Channel.

Luckily, I've been able to find some of the shows we've been missing the most on Netflix! Even better that we're not tied to a specific time to sit down and watch them together.

Beege has always been the kind of kid who takes 45 minutes in the bathroom because she gets sidetracked building an aquaduct from the sink to the bathtub drain, so she loved shows like Sid the Science Kid when she was younger, and I was over the moon when we recently found SciGirls. It has quickly become one of my favourite shows to watch with my kids. Each episode follows a different group of girls as they tackle science and engineering projects from start to finish. We all love the way it shows real girls, cooperating and working together to figure things out.

Another great one is Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman. Real live kids take part in challenges to get to the bottom of things for cartoon detective dog Ruff Ruffman.  Teamwork and creative problem solving are the basis of this show, and my kids love the mystery aspect of it as well.

There are also any number of documentaries available to learn about everything from space to germs. Beege and her dad have been working their way through Cosmos, and I'm looking forward to watching some TEDtalks: Let Your Mind Wonder with them. I, for one, am very interested in learning about the Mystery of Motion Sickness. 

What about you? Any recommendations?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I'm Gonna Gush Now.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Have you watched it yet? The whole first season went live on Netflix on Friday March 6th, and I've already watched it all the way through once. Then I watched it with my husband. Then I watched it with some friends. Now I'm impatient for season two.

 Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) is one of the "Indiana Mole Women", a group of four women who were held in an underground bunker by the "Reverend" Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm) of the Church of the Scary Apocalypse, an apocalypse cult. When they are finally found after fifteen years of captivity, Kimmy decides to move to New York to start a new life without her past hanging over her head. 

This is one of the best shows I've seen in a long time. It's smart, funny, and incredibly sweet. Off-kilter story lines combined with a wonderful cast of quirky characters make this show a pleasure to watch. It's packed with one liners, musical numbers, and 90's pop culture references, and there is a character called "Xanthipe".

Basically, I'm telling you to go watch it. You won't regret it, promise.

Troll the re-spawn, Jeremy.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Shoes Notwithstanding.

My girls and I have been enjoying the Ever After High books by Shannon Hale (The Goose Girl, The Princess in Black) and were excited to find out that it was also a show available on Netflix. 

What do you do when you don't want the destiny that's been written for you? That's the problem faced by Raven Queen, and several others who are not looking forward to following in their famous parents' footsteps.

The stars of the fairy tales that we all knew growing up have also grown up, and are parents themselves. Their children will be the next generation of fairy tale princesses, princes, and evil queens, and are learning how to fulfill their destinies at Ever After High. All that's left to do is sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their fates. Apple White is more than happy to become the next Snow White and live out her Happily Ever After. Raven Queen on the other hand, has less than no desire to fulfill her role as the Evil Queen.

Rumour has it that if a character doesn't sign the book, their entire story will disappear, including happy endings. If it means becoming the hated evil queen, then not signing might just be a chance that Raven is willing to take.

Ever since watching a couple of episodes, including the newly released Spring Unsprung, for our Friday movie night, the girls have been pretending to be Ever After High characters (Kitty Cheshire and Madeline Hatter among the favourites).

They've even made their very own Storybook of Legends, and their favourite part, by far, is slamming it shut while declaring loudly, "I am going to write my OWN destiny. My happily ever after starts NOW!"

For a lesson like that, I'm willing to overlook the make up and ridiculous shoes.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Of Course It Is.

This morning, after five hours of restless sleep, I got out of bed. I made sure the girls found clean clothes to wear. I made the girls breakfast. I made them their lunch. I made sure that water bottles were clean and filled. I combed and braided hair. I found projects and library books. I made sure that backpacks were packed.

As Kee stood in the hallway, complaining about the waterproof mitts I was insisting she wear so that she could play in the snow at recess without getting frostbite, we heard the school bell ring. Frustrated, I stomped my foot and said, "crap. You're late! What happened? we were running on time! When did it fall apart?"

She replied, "I'm not sure what happened, but I am sure that it's your fault."

And because I am a very, very, nice lady, I'm still going to let her live here.

BTW - Don't forget to go enter the giveaway for a free year of Netflix!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Wait... There's a Book?

I love books... everyone knows that. I also love movies... which everyone also knows. So when there is a book that gets turned into a movie, I'm a very happy girl. Even happier when I watch a movie that I love and realise after the fact that it was adapted from a book, because then I've got a new book on my list.

How To Train Your Dragon, is a great example. One of my favourite movies, ever. The animation is charming, I have a soft spot for vikings, and there are lessons to share with the kids. Lessons about accepting  people's differences, about not judging a book (or dragon) by it's cover, about working together. See? Lessons! So when I found out that it was also a book - nay, a series of books - I was pretty darn excited. And Then Beege read them, and then Kee read them... *sigh*... so happy. 

The Lorax, which I can't recommend enough, is a wonderful adaptation of the book which, by the way, everyone should read to their children. Then there's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (which is nothing like the book - but both fun), The Very Hungry Caterpillar (beautiful art, great for the little guys), Harold and the Purple Crayon (again, great for the little guys). Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, World War Z, The Book Thief... there are so many great adaptations to enjoy.

Don't take it from me though - go ahead and surf around on Netflix to find some new favourites. Not on Netflix? Here, let me help you out. Thanks to the lovely team over at Netflix Canada, I'm giving away a free one year subscription! **Make sure to use the Rafflecopter to be included in the giveaway.**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This contest is running from January 30th til February 13th, and is open to Canadian residents (excluding Quebec), over the age of 18. Don't worry if you already have an account - the prize can be applied to current accounts as well as new ones. Good Luck!