Friday, April 23, 2010

TV for Toddlers

Now that Claire is two years old, she's been given the green light by the American Academy of Pediatrics to watch up to two hours of TV per day. I'm not going to lie to you. Her eyes have already beheld the flickering lights of the screen, and she's quick to identify Dora and Boots and Kailan and Ho-Ho. Still, I have given much thought to the role that I would like TV to play in my children's lives, and I'm ever-so-curious how other moms feel about this topic.

My goal to keep Claire TV-free until age two came to an end last fall when she got her first cold. We felt so sorry for our sleepy, snotty, sweet little angel that we allowed her to sit in a nest of blankets on the couch watching as much TV as she wanted for an entire weekend. When she recovered, she begged and pleaded to watch TV but I managed to help her quit the addiction cold turkey and we were back to our active days.

Next came my morning sickness. A few months later, a sprained ankle. And lately, the third trimester exhaustion has set in. During these times when Mommy hasn't been feeling well, the TV has become a lifesaver; even a half hour on the couch in the afternoon can do us both a world of good on the worst days.

I recently finished Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood by Jamie C. Martin. I love her strategy of creating a flexible structure for days spent with young children, and she even includes about an hour of TV time so that she is able to get things done. My heart sang when I read this: finally, someone is telling me it's OK to let my kid watch TV! I tried this strategy for a week (Claire was almost two, ok?). I turned on Nick Jr., a channel that I feel offers somewhat educational and age-appropriate programs (with no commercials!) and got to work cleaning the house and starting dinner. I got so much accomplished without a whiny late-afternoon toddler underfoot, and she was happy as can be.

After a few days, though, I realized that maybe this plan wasn't so perfect. Would I rather have Claire think that a magical fairy cleans the house (as her father does), or have her "help" me with chores - or at least observe what needs to be done to care for a home? Would she benefit more from sitting down to dinner, well-rested from an hour on the couch, or from watching me turn fresh, colorful vegetables into a healthy meal? Even if she chooses not to observe or participate in my cleaning or cooking chores, I feel that she could benefit more from some independent and imaginative play time than from being entertained by cartoons.

Now, don't get me wrong. Claire genuinely enjoys her favorite shows and learns new vocabulary and concepts in the process. I certainly don't think that all TV is bad. I'm not a huge fan of videos designed for babies (like Baby Einstein) (check out Buy Baby Buy: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds by Susan Gregory Thomas for more on that subject), or the commercialism of licensed characters. Still, there are plenty of commercial-free TV alternatives for toddlers available (such as DVD's or channels like Nick Jr.).

I think it really comes down to being intentional with my TV choices for Claire. Even as a stay-at-home-mom, I usually feel that there are more worthwhile things that I'd like to do each day than I have time for. I would hate for TV time to take away from time spent playing outdoors, reading books, or going on fun outings. So here is my current strategy: watching TV will be a special treat reserved for days when I really just need a break (remember, I am 7 months pregnant!), with a maximum of one hour per day*.

How do you use the TV in your home? Is it a useful tool allowing you to get things done? Is it an educational and enriching part of your child's life? Is it playful background noise, offering your child something fun to look at between other activities? Or do you choose to keep the TV off? Please chime in; I would love to hear some opinions!

*In this post I'm talking about TV time during the day, when Claire's awake. Nick and I never miss an episode of Glee or 30 Rock, so evening TV is another story!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Free Concert Sunday!

Pikes Peak Flute Choir Spring Concert
Sunday, April 25, 3:00 pm

Join the Pikes Peak Flute Choir, led by Karen Morsch, and go “Over the Edge” in a spring concert that takes the listener through images of land, sea, and air. This concert will be presented in the sanctuary of Bethel Lutheran Church, located at 4925 Farmingdale Drive. The flute choir includes nearly forty members and has instrumentation from piccolo down through contrabass flute. Gerald Grandel, featured percussionist, will join the flute choir’s Small Group. Concert starts at 3 p.m. and admission is free and open to the public.


I'm the one playing the gold flute! See you there!

If only...

Things I would be doing right now if I wasn't extremely pregnant...
  • Sitting in a hot tub (*with added bonus of not looking like a beached whale in my swimsuit).
  • Eating a big plate of blue, gorgonzola, and brie cheese. That's it.
  • Riding on the most dangerous and vomit-inducing ride at the sketchy carnival on Palmer Park & Powers.
  • Not feeling the combined effects of heartburn, sciatica, and insomnia.
  • Buying cute spring clothes with a waistline.
Do I really have 10 weeks to go?

I'd like to make a special shout-out to Dora the Explorer and Louie's Pizza for allowing me an hour of lazy couch time this afternoon :).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Butterfly Pavilion: Claire's 2nd Birthday!

We took Claire to the Butterfly Pavilion in Denver to celebrate her second birthday. I can't believe she's already two! I told her our plans about a week before the party, and every day she would ask "Butterfly? Party? Plates?" multiple times (she was really excited to use the paper plates I bought).

I am horrible about taking pictures, so any family members who had your cameras out the entire time (you know who you are!), would you please email me your favorite shots when you get a chance? Thanks!

Thank you to Claire's family and friends for joining us - and for all the fun gifts! On the drive home, Claire fell asleep but awoke suddenly with a shout of "Butterfly party!". She must have been having sweet dreams :). Happy Birthday, Baby!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sky Sox Baseball

Yay, the Sky Sox opening game is this Friday! SpringsBargains just posted this season's discount schedule here. I'll be working at the stadium again this season (at least until the baby arrives) and I can't wait! Fireworks, hot dogs, and cool summer evenings, here we come. See you there!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Deals to Meals Review

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I'd signed up for a new service offered in Colorado (and 12 other states) called Deals to Meals. Basically, they scour our local grocery ads every Wednesday and create menu plans out of the best sale items. They also recommend which non-perishables and freezable items are at their lowest price so you know when it's a good time to stock up.

I LOVE this service! What a great idea! I've been in such a rut lately with my menu, tacos, pasta, etc...and had reached a point where I just wasn't excited to cook or eat dinner. In fact, Nick had figured out that if he called me around 4:00 p.m. and casually suggested he pick something up on the way home from work, I was likely to agree. Not good for our budget or our waistlines!

Now, I have healthy recipes (including side dishes) scheduled for every day of the week and I'm always excited to try them! Everything that I've made from Deals to Meals has been delicious. My pantry and freezer have been filling up the last couple weeks without increasing my spending. I love that the entire plan is done for me so I don't have to think too much before going to the grocery store :).

The service costs $4.95 per month (after a 2-week free trial period), but if I refer any of my friends I can get a year of free membership! So if you decide to try the 2-weeks free trial then please let me know!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Pictures

Not too sure about the Easter Bunny at Whole Foods.

The "smile" I get every time the camera comes out.

Happy Easter!