Friday, March 12, 2010

Our Kid and Her Movies

Recently, I had a friend of mine looking for recommended movies. As you know if you’ve been following this blog, Kara and I avoided watching TV with the little one until she was two, and then pretty much avoided watching it after that until she expressed curiosity with the huge screen-y thing that we sometimes used to show other people what she looked like as a baby.

Then we started getting into The Potty, and with it came potty videos, and then we were off and running.

Not long ago I read an article that said some kids as young as two years old knew how to operate the remote to the TV, and that many parents didn’t verify, at all, what their kids were watching.

So I gotta admit, the 90 or so minutes a day my kid watches a video while we attempt to accomplish necessary life tasks (making food, consuming food, cleaning, trying to plan other days in our life) don’t make me feel like a bad parent at all.

I also feel decent about our watching time because we do most of it together, and more importantly, it’s all DVD-based, so I actually know what it is she’s watching.

Here’s a list:

Elmo DVDs

We’ve got a few of these, but man, once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all. Which is the point. Kids like patterns, and so every Elmo DVD follows the exact same structure. Which is great if you’re a kid, but enough to make you want to weep for your sanity as an adult.

If anyone wants a complete list of Elmo DVDs, feel free to ask, but really. They’re all the same, and in general good at helping kids learn about concepts. For example, the one Mihret loved for about two weeks was “Elmo Visits the Fire Station,” which talked all about avoiding fire, and not to be afraid of firefighters.

So you can’t go wrong with them, but they’ll drive you insane.

A Bug’s Life

This was Mihret’s first real movie, which did lead to some whining when she wanted to watch it in the morning, when she needed to be entertained for about 30 minutes while I showered, and not for an hour and a half.

“Bug,” as she calls it, is an AWESOME movie, and even after seeing it more than a dozen times, I’ll still stop whatever I’m doing and watch parts of it with her. It does get a little intense at the end, which both scares the little one a bit. Though she enjoys it.

She takes after her dad that way.


This was Mihret’s favorite movie for about a week, and you know what? It got old, fast. The genie doesn’t show up for half an hour, and while you think he’s going to be funny, a lot of what he does is now based on fairly dated pop culture.

As for the rest of the movie, it’s got decent songs and an okay story, but it doesn’t whistle along the way Bug does.


This one? Funny, but it made me a little uncomfortable showing it to the kiddo, as it contains a lot of jokes that use an alternate word for Donkey.

Luckily, the kid got over this one fast, and I’ve tried to tuck it away so it doesn’t become a staple.


You know what? When I was in college, I resisted these, and I think I was partially right. I’ve seen some of the old videos, and while there’s humor and good life lessons in there, the animation isn’t that great, and the dialogue comes off pretty stiffly.

But a lot of the later ones are fantastic.

Mihret’s favorite one for a long time was the story of St. Nicholas, and honestly, it’s well worth a look. Check it out, and take a peek at the bonus features to see how much of it was true (they did actual research).

Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie didn’t do all that well in theaters, and actually bankrupted the company, but there are some awesome songs in the movie, and it tells the complete story of Jonah. If you think you know Jonah’s story? Watch this, and learn.

The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: This one is something of an anomaly, as it doesn’t mention God at all, making it a non-religious story. It’s a little slow in spots, but it still has a nice message.

Lord of the Beans: Lord of the Rings parody. A good one.

I also have a soft spot for Sumo of the Opera, which takes Rocky and Gilbert and Sullivan and jams them together in a really hilarious way.

In general, stick to anything made in the post-90s, and you’ll be okay.

Dora and Diego

Repetitive. Really repetitive. But the kiddo likes them.

In general, I’d say stick with Diego, who at least will teach your kid about animals.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Making memories, one jelly bean at a time

Post-Crescent column - March 5, 2010
My long oak dining room table holds multiple centerpieces at one time, a mix of handmade and handle-with-care.

Many of them — crafts my 3-year-old daughter Mihret created — we've arranged around a candleholder from my childhood home. A googly-eyed, blue paper octopus with crinkly, curled-up tentacles sits next to two nativity figurines we thought too precious to put away after Christmas. Their neighbors are a glittery pumpkin and a Mother's Day vase containing tiny handprint flowers.

The latest addition is a see-through jar of jelly beans with a flower arrangement atop it. The gold lettering on its ribbon is flecking off after several weeks of display, but we can tell it read "Great-Grandpa."

Mihret and her great-grandpa shared special time together in the few years they knew each other. David Dorow, my husband Josh's maternal grandfather, died Feb. 16 in Oshkosh at age 86.

When Great-Grandpa was a boy, he'd visit his grandma and she'd give him a jelly bean or two. He continued that connection with Mihret when we visited his assisted living apartment.

Unsteady on his feet, Great-Grandpa often sat in a recliner. Mihret knew the way to his apartment from the building's front door and she'd race ahead of us, often reaching him first.

She'd climb up on his lap, undeterred by the fits of coughing that had become a fact of his life.
Their exchange was simple. Great-Grandpa's hearing was almost gone, but this time needed no words. Great-Grandpa would reach into the container of jelly beans he always kept on his chair-side table, Mihret would accept the colorful candies from his hand and they'd snuggle together.

At Great-Grandpa's funeral, the flower arrangement and jellybean jar showed up among the other displays of caring. Josh's parents had thought of everything.

Mihret is too young to remember anything but snatches of her time with Great-Grandpa. We hope that when she eats jelly beans, it'll trigger those precious memories.

-By Kara Patterson, Post-Crescent staff writer/

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Word on the Street is: Braids

A few months ago, we started getting our daughter’s hair braided on an every-two-weeks basis.

Since then, we’ve had a ton of questions asked, a lot of them the same, which leads me to think that that a lot of people are a) just curious, or b) wondering what to do with their own kid’s hair.

So here are the most commonly asked questions we get:

Do we braid Mihret’s hair?

No. No, no, no. I think if we were more crafty people, we might. But Kara doesn’t do all that much with her own hair, and while I’m good with words, I’ve never been much of an artist.

We have a wonderful woman, Miss Carla, who does her hair.

What does it cost?

$29. Plus tip.

How long does it take?

1 to 2 hours, depending on how squirmy the little one is, how elaborate the hairdo is, and how busy the hair place is.

Does it hurt?

Not me, no. And Miss Carla is well known in these parts for being an ouchless hairdresser. That said, Mihret will, every once in a while, give an, “Ow.” But much less than the average person combing their hair.

How do you get her to sit for so long?

First, she usually sits in my lap. She’s sat on the booster seat a couple of times, but I think the comfort of having daddy there makes it a little easier to take.

Second, movies. Miss Carla has a DVD player. So we put something in, it runs, and that helps to distract during the hair process.

Third: The smoothie. Our daughter is a fruit-smoothie junky, thanks to the College Avenue Farmer’s Market. So after she gets her hair done, she gets a smoothie. It works for her.

How does she sleep on her braids?

Very carefully. Actually, Miss Carla keeps the ponytails out of the way of the back of her head, and she can sleep on her hair just fine.

She does need a silk pillowcase, though, as she refuses to wear a silk hat to keep her braids looking nice.

How often does she get her hair done?

Every two weeks. We’ve gone for three, but she gets really, really fuzzy, and we can’t take her hair out because it’s gotten WAY to long to leave it free now.

How do you wash her hair?

Get her head wet, put some shampoo in my palm. Get the shampoo wet, then rub it into the spaces between her braids.

I’ll also rub a little shampoo into her braids as well, especially if things have been messy lately.

How often do you wash her hair?

Every 10-12 days.

Do you have to do anything with her hair between braidings?

For a while, I used to put extra conditioner in her hair every few days. Then I started doing it once or twice.

Now, I check her hair for dryness, and I’ll condition maybe once. The kid’s hair is REALLY soft now, and it doesn’t have a lot of weather damage, so this works out just fine.

Plus there’s conditioner in her shampoo. That also helps.

Feel free to put more questions in the comments, and we’ll answer them in another post. I know people hunt for this information all the time – at least, I know I did.