Entertainment Through Generations

StreamTeam Post on Mommy Miracles

We didn’t have cable when I was really young. I spent the first seven years of my life in what felt like a television waste land. By the time we moved from my first house when I was seven, all of my friends were watching shows that I wasn’t allowed to watch, but it didn’t really matter because we couldn’t access them anyway. Sesame Street. Fred Penner. Under the Umbrella Tree. Mr. Dress-up. Sunday night Disney movies. That’s what I remember watching.

When we’d visit my grandparents, I would always want to watch television – or at least the episodes they had recorded for us. They had cable. It was at their house I could watch Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood and episodes of Sesame Street that played on PBS instead of CBC.

When we moved when I was in Grade 2, the world of television opened up to me. I’m not sure if it was just something my parents planned to do, or if it was easier to get cable because we were no longer living in the middle of nowhere, or if it was to help ease the pain of moving, but we had cable at our new house. I remember just jumping from channel to channel in our new house once the television had been set up basking in the joy from having so many options.

Cable television was the best thing ever.

Now here I am – and adult with children of my own – and I have done the very thing that I never would have dreamed of doing when I was a child.

We don’t have cable.

Trust me. Cutting cable was very hard for me to do. My husband thought it was a great idea long before I did. As a married-without-children adult, I planned my life around the shows I needed to watch live and was a master DVRer for the shows I could wait on. We had it all: the fancy cable package and the fast Internet (a must-have for us). We were spending a lot on this form of entertainment and eventually it just made sense to cut the cord.

It was the right choice for us. It’s the right choice for many these days. There are so many other ways to consume this kind of media that cable is starting to feel antiquated. (And yes, I realize this blog post is so #yuccie of me.)

Sometimes though, I wonder if my kids might be missing out by not having cable (what a terrible-parent thing to say). I think I hold some nostalgia over flicking through the channels and discovering new shows. I sometimes like the idea of my children watching a series of different shows instead of just the same programming in sequence of episodes. (Netflix suggestion box: Allow parents to program a string of different shows and episodes to play. Like a playlist of episodes from different shows!)

Earlier in June, encouraged by the bright yellow school bus on the title image, Gavin chose to watch The Magic School Bus. They watched multiple episodes and Cameron started telling me about molecules. And then that nostalgia kicked in again. I was no longer wondering if they were missing out by not having cable (Seriously, Laura? What were you thinking?). I was remembering back fondly to when I was a kid and how much I looked forward to watching The Magic School Bus. I can still sing the theme song. My favourite episodes were always when the bus went inside a human body.

I thought more about other shows that brought back good memories from childhood, and so one day, I turned on Bugs Bunny for the boys. I was sure they’d resist. They tend to only want to watch shows that they know they will love. But they watched these classic episodes of Bugs Bunny over and over and over. As they watched, I thought about how my parents used to love it when we’d watch Bugs Bunny. They’d usually make a remark about the classical music (my Mom even mentioned the Bugs Bunny music this past weekend while she was visiting). Perhaps though, they feel their own nostalgia as Bugs Bunny plays over their grand-children’s Netflix account.

Bugs

I wonder which television shows my children will remember back on fondly. Maybe Bubble Guppies and Paw Patrol? Which programs will still be available to watch 25 years later when my children’s children are searching for something to watch? It’s interesting to see what stays will us in our memories and what we can pass on in these ways.

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I am a member of Netflix’s Stream Team and as such I have been compensated with a complementary Netflix subscription and a few other perks. The stories and opinions are all my own and have not been influenced.

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Book Review: Open Boxes

Do you feel like your life is compartmentalized? Man. I sure do. And that is hard. I mean, honestly, it affects my marriage. It is so hard to be in mom-mode all day and then jump into wife-mode. And what about all the other parts of me? My passions? My goals? They don’t just sit around in a box waiting for me to come around to them and deal with them. Or maybe they do. I often set the “me” aside to deal with everyone else. As for the spiritual part of me? I know that when I let that part of me seep into my whole life, I feel more grounded, more prepared to face my daily challenges. I can more easily focus on what is bigger than myself and not get so caught up in the everyday weeds of life and parenthood. But more often than not I simply take my quiet time, the time set aside for bible study and church, and leave that part of my life in those spaces. Sometimes, I don’t even do that.

This is what I thought about when I read the introduction to Christine Organ’s Open Boxes: the gifts of living a full and connected life (affiliate link) as she explained the premise of her book: We live fragmented and disjointed lives, compartmentalizing and detaching one part of our life from the other, and it prevents us from finding “meaning, purpose, and joy.” (page 2). Yes, I thought. This is the book for me. This is what I do.

Open Boxes by Christine Organ

Christine writes about the mysteries of grace, wonder, and miracles that allow us to open the boxes of our life and start to bring everything together. When writing about these three things, she isn’t talking about the huge, biblical-proportioned acts of God, but the everyday grace, the daily miracles that we often fail to notice and the wonder that comes when we pay attention and notice.

So much of this book spoke to me. In fact, I felt like a lot of what Christine writes about is the raison d’être of this blog. I titled my blog “Mommy Miracles” because I wanted to write about noticing the miracles in the everyday world of motherhood. When you look for them, they’re easy to see. And when you put meaning behind that, you find blessings.

This book is filled with essays that fit into these categories of grace, wonder, and miracles, and it is beautiful to see the world through Christine’s eyes. It is inspiring. While I believe that this book is for everyone, it was definitely applicable to my life as a mother, because it is in this mother of small children season of my life that I have found myself compartmentalizing the most and I am seeing how it is affecting my life negatively.

The only thing I really couldn’t get on board with in this book was the generalized spirituality of it. While I believe Christine Organ was writing it to be inclusive to everyone, I found it counterintuitive to my belief of who God is. God is not just a “force” in my life. But, so much about what she writes about “God” is true for me, and so it was easy to read through the generalized spirituality parts that made me uncomfortable. Like Christine writes, “God’s voice isn’t spoken only to and through priests, rabbis, and shamans; it’s heard in the music we hum in the car, in a dog-eared book, in our children’s voices…” (page 6) and it is definitely possible to find Him in the pages of Open Boxes. And yes, I suppose that means it is possible to find the positive life force that connects everything in this book too, whether you call that “God” or not.

I can almost guarantee that readers of my blog will love Open Boxes, not because I am comparing myself to Christine Organ, but because the topic is so similar to what I strive to write about. I encourage you to pick up a copy. You can find the book at Amazon (affiliate link) and Barnes & Noble.

I was given an electronic copy of Open Boxes for the purposes of review. The content of my review is unbiased.

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The Kids Are Alright

StreamTeam Post on Mommy Miracles

There are times when I feel utterly discouraged and I wonder if I have royally screwed up this responsibility of raising these kids I’ve been given. Maybe I’m too strict. Maybe I’m too angry and not patient enough. Maybe I don’t provide a loving enough place for my children to feel free to be themselves. It just seems too easy to mess all of this up, especially in this increasingly sleepless state.

There are days when I just feel so overwhelmed that my kids won’t listen to me, or that they can’t be nice to each other. They don’t want to learn, don’t want to go outside. I pick my battles and leave too many unfought – but also, probably too many fought too.

Am I neglecting this precious opportunity of their early years to foster attachment and habits that will lead them into positive adulthood?

There is no Easy Button for parenting. No One Size Fits All, a point made especially clear when you realize the need to reinvent the wheel for each subsequent child. There’s only the chance of screwing up someone’s entire life. Possibly three someones. Cue monumental fear.

On Thursday, I looked at the clock to realized that time had gotten away from me. Our car needed to be at the garage in 20 minutes. We were at least 10 minutes away with one kid to wake up, two diapers to change,  and three car seats to buckle. Plus, I had totally forgotten to plan something to entertain the boys when we would undoubtedly be waiting for hours.

We arrived at the dealership 15 minutes late. “It’s okay” said our attendant when I apologized. “It’s understandable! You’ve got your hands full!” Yes! I do! People tell me this often, and I just accept it and eagerly agree. It isn’t a slight against me. It is an extension of grace. It’s okay. This is hard. We understand that it is hard. But you’re doing it.

Our van ended up being out of commission for over four hours. My little foursome walked to the most family-friendly location within walking distance: McDonald’s. A restaurant without a play-place, we had lunch and wound up back at the dealership to wait out our appointment. With a train table, the dealership was slightly more desirable.

The boys played with their Happy Meal toys and the train table. Cameron pulled out his 2DS. Gavin asked to watch Pound Puppies on my iPad. My anti-sleeping baby remained in my arms for the most part. I helped him stand. I let him sit on my lap. I nursed him. We practiced trying to sit alone on the floor. We waited. So much waiting.

Kids Waiting at Car Dealership | Mommy Miracles

An older gentleman walked up to me. “I just need to tell you that I am so impressed with how well your boys can entertain themselves! You don’t see that much anymore.”

Thank you — except — was what he noticed really a compliment to my children and I? He didn’t tell me they were well-behaved, though perhaps that was implied. No. They were good at entertaining themselves, with little parental involvement.

My mind rushed to all the times I’ve told my children to play downstairs so that their noise would be far away from the baby. I thought about how often I tell them to turn on Netflix or play a video game because I am too tired or busy to encourage more beneficial and productive activities. Is it because I leave them to their own devices so often that they are good at entertaining themselves? Do they not need me as much because I haven’t made myself as available as they need me to be?

Kids Entertaining Themselves | Mommy Miracles

When they finally called us over to pay the bill, the lady behind the desk mentioned my kids too. “We get kids in here who destroy the place after thirty minutes. Your kids were here for four hours and we didn’t hear a peep. Just little giggles from your baby. And it was such a rough day here that hearing those giggles were our bright spot. It’s clear that there’s some good parenting behind those happy kids.”

It is true that one of the best parts of bringing the third baby home is that neither of the older boys seem to mind the change. They have each other, and their friendship has grown stronger because of it. Every day I get to listen to their conversation and watch their games. I get to witness them learning to live closely with another person.

It is also true that I have been getting more hugs and kisses from Cameron than I have in a long time. I think maybe it is because I am around. He isn’t at daycare, his Dad works a lot. I’m his caregiver and I have to be present enough in his life to be warranting all of these expressions of his love.

I’m not perfect. I’m going to struggle my way through this parenting journey. I’m going to leave my children with baggage. That’s what living in relationship with someone means. But perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on myself – or my kids. They aren’t bad kids like I can sometimes wonder in the midst of the long days at home. When we get out of this insular bubble I discover that my kids actually play well with others, listen when directed, and are quite quiet, all things considered.

It’s nice to get out in public to actually see that we’re not doing too bad as a family. I have so many reason to be proud of my kids, and maybe I can even spare a little bit of that pride for me – even if I do carry around a tablet with Netflix on it for emergencies.

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I am a member of Netflix’s Stream Team and as such I have been compensated with a complementary Netflix subscription and a few other perks. The stories and opinions are all my own and have not been influenced.

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