Tag Archives: Xanga

Reading to Children

July 2007

Before I was even married, I read to my step-kids. It was a stupid Sesame Street book. When I got done and had put them to bed, their father said to me, “I know why you like to read so much, you read really well.” He is probably right. My mother was a librarian, and my father should have been. I got read to a lot, and I got to see adults reading for fun. Both my brother and I still read quite a bit.

They say you should read to your kids 30 minutes a day. I don’t do that, but I do read to them a lot, and I have learned a couple of things about books. As a parent, you have to make a quick decision. If you think you will not like reading a particular book to your kids, get rid of it as soon as possible, before they have a chance to get attached. This way reading to them is still enjoyable to you. If you aren’t enjoying it, they will catch on.

I don’t have a vendetta against Sesame Street, but their writers just aren’t the same caliber as other contemporary writers. Some of their books are better than others. I really like There is a Monster at the End of this Book. However, none of their books holds a candle to Sandra Boynton or Dr. Seuss. I literally have read Mr. Brown Can Moo over 500 times, to just two kids, and I’m not finished, I still have two to go! Luckily for me, I am not tired of it yet, although the book is looking pretty tired these days. I’m not even bored with Goodnight Moon, but I do have both memorized. I also can recite large portions of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by heart, and if you are under 10, I’ll even sing it.

When I read, I don’t always read exactly what is on the page, so my kids can’t call me on making the story shorter that it is supposed to be, although I don’t try to do that. Some authors write well enough that their words flow off the tongue with ease, and others’ phrasing just isn’t right. I guess that is the writer in me coming out. I also make my kids participate. When we read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day you can guess what I had my kids do. That is a lot of words to memorize, but my three-year-old Sarah did pretty well. Some of the best books don’t even have words, like the Carl the Dog books.

When Lydia was really little, we belonged to the Cat in the Hat book club. After several months, I cancelled my subscription, for two reasons. Some of the books were lousy, and as I told the lady with whom I canceled, we have more than 100 children’s books at our house as it is, and I probably should not be acquiring more on a regular basis. As my Mother-in-Law helped me pick up one day, she suggested putting away most of the books and only keeping a few out at a time. I was appalled! I would rather take away all of their toys than all of their books!

I am anxious for my daughters to become old enough to enjoy Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the Betsy Tacy books. Unfortunately, I yawn when I read out loud. A lot. I can only imagine how many yawns for each chapter, probably upwards of 50. Even Skippyjon Jones ranks about six. For some reason I do it when I am singing too, but not when I am talking. I try to project, so I can inhale more oxygen, but haven’t had good results, fortunately my kids are patient.

Sesame Street

July 2007

I don’t let my kids watch Sesame Street. Why? Good question. We don’t watch much TV at our house, we get the Prairie Package: Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS. Since I don’t watch soap operas, women gossiping, or people suing or exploiting each other for entertainment, the TV sits off until Jeopardy comes on at 4:30, (although I have been known to sneak in a little Rachel Ray). I do let the kids watch TV for a while during the day, a half hour here and there, usually when we are eating lunch, or when I need a diversionary ploy. The TV is not on for noise at our house.

Back to Sesame Street. It was great when I was a kid, in fact my brother learned to read by watching Sesame Street before he went to Kindergarten. The program has changed though, and not for the better. The first half isn’t so bad, but the second half, the half aimed at younger children, specifically Elmo’s World, is lousy. Although we don’t know what causes autism, it is widely assumed that children should not watch things that “flash”. The whole premise behind Elmo’s scenery is flashing and throbbing. Several other segments like “one of these things doesn’t belong here” flash as well.

The other thing that offends me about Elmo’s World is that when Elmo wants to learn about something, for example music, he asks Mr. Noodle, who is silly but harmless, then he watches “the music channel” on a TV then he asks a baby. I don’t see anything specifically wrong with these things, but as an adult, I would not be able to learn anything useful from these sources, even a grade school child would not learn anything from these sources. Apparently the Sesame Street neighborhood lacks the basic fundamental of learning, a library. As annoying as he can be, at least Barney has a library card.

(2023 side note: One day Lydia Mae came to me in the kitchen and very solemnly said, “In Germany sometimes women wear a dirndl for special occasions.” I was floored. Then I went to a dictionary to look up dirndl. Sure enough, Lydia was right. Where did she learn this? Several weeks later I was walking past the living room and there was Barney’s Colorful World, and Barney was explaining just that same thing in those same words.)

Personally, I love Curious George. He has a great personality, he doesn’t speak English, and the show focuses on his imagination and how he learns through trial and error. I also love Mr. Rogers, and so do my kids. He isn’t flashy and modern, but he is engaging and interesting, his program provides the kind of television environment a young child should expect. George and Fred have both visited the library, although George didn’t go there to look at a book.

Barney is a little sappy, but also good. I don’t mind Clifford or Calliou either, although we don’t watch them as much. I wish these things were on Saturday mornings. What passes for children’s programming Saturday mornings is awful, and what isn’t is very scattered. I don’t mind Babar or Veggie Tales, but finding them and having the TV off in between isn’t easy. We either leave the set off or watch a movie. There is nothing wrong with having the TV off, but sometimes I just want the kids somewhere that doesn’t involve being under my feet.

I now take an active role in my children’s television viewing. When my oldest child was a few months old, I wanted to mop the floor, so I put her in a swing, in the living room and turned on Saturday morning TV then left for the kitchen. When I got done mopping and went to get her, she was watching some kind of skanky women’s wrestling. I felt horrible for exposing her to such programming, but I atoned by setting aside a special “counseling account” for her.

June 21 2007

This was the first post in my first Xanga blog. I was a stay at home mom, and pregnant with my fourth child when a friend suggested blogging. I didn’t know what I needed, but this was it. Xanga saved my sanity. And believe it or not, I still have several friends I made on the site.

Organizing Recipes for Fun

What a luxury, today I spent all afternoon organizing my recipes. These would be the ones I tear out of the paper, various magazines and get from the Country Woman subscription Grandma gives me for my birthday. I purchased a binder, made some tabs and stapled recipes to sheets of paper. To deal with the magazine ones that took up a whole page, I simply used my punch to make three holes along one side. It would take too much time to copy them all out, and they might not be any good anyway, so this way I can rip them out and toss them if we don‘t like them.

I found some really sturdy plastic Post-It tabs that were tough enough to flip through. Now I don’t have to mess with cramming teeny pieces of paper into slots. I first used the tabs to make dividers for my recipe box several years ago. The dividers that came with the box were woefully lacking. If I wanted to find a breakfast casserole I never knew if I should look under “casserole” or “egg and cheese dishes.” Now I file it under “breakfast.” I never used the “lamb” tab, so now I have a “snack tab.” It works very well for me.

Why do I save so many recipes, when it is mathematically impossible to use them all in a single lifetime? I come by my recipe problem honestly, and from both sides of the family tree. My step-dad accused Mom of having too many recipe books and claimed that she had never used some of them. That was a mistake, because she is now working her way through them making a meal from each one to prove him wrong. She said he’ll be surprised some day because she has a book of just cookie recipes.

My father’s mother, the one who blesses me with Country Woman, has an archive of stuff she’s clipped out of the paper for over 70 years. It must rival the Library of Congress’s recipe collection. I need to remember to ask for a tour next time I am home, or she will surely think nobody will want to deal with it when she is gone, and she will toss the whole collection. God forbid! My dad gave my great grandmother’s original Better Homes and Gardens cookbook to me for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I use it occasionally. It has her notes in it, and she was quite a cook. On my wish list is a Fanny Farmer cookbook. I think that was one of the first cookbooks widely published.

I heard an essay on National Public Radio by a woman who made every dish in her Julia Child cookbook over the course of a year. She must not live in Grand Island. Even though I shop in a town of over 40,000, I am unable to find “exotic” ingredients such as bean sprouts in my regular store. I do have the option of several stores, but hunting through ethnic Mom and Pop groceries, or unfamiliar supermarket floor plans for obscure ingredients with three pre-schoolers is not my idea of fun, especially since none of the other stores have carryout. Recipes with ingredients such as prosciutto and gruyere strike fear in my heart because I know I will never find the right stuff. I know that ham or Swiss cheese would work, but surely these others are better, or the recipe would call for ham and Swiss cheese. I long to get my hands on some fresh mozzarella. Until then, I will just hang on to my recipes and wait 50 years until I can bequeath my recipe collection to an unsuspecting grandchild.