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Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Explore and Discover

I'm not blogging much this week... It's spring break and the kids are keeping me busy, so I don't have much time or energy to compose more than a sentence or two.

But I can certainly provide a link to someone else's words: Fellow Idaho blogger One Voice says that parents have a responsibility to teach their kids to love and respect the Great Outdoors. I couldn't have said it any better.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Egg Hunting

Here's my son, snatching the last easter egg away from a little handicapped girl.

I'm so proud.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Here Comes Peter Cottontail

This cute story appeared in Paul Turner's weekly "slice of life" column for the Spokane Spokesman-Review:

Holly Sims was shopping with her children when her 7-year-old son asked for Marshmallow Peeps.

Sims denied this request, explaining that the Easter Bunny is the official supplier of that particular confection.

But the boy, Zachary, persisted in his pleading.

"So I told him that if he didn't stop, I would call the Easter Bunny and tell him not to bring any this year," said Sims.

Hearing that, her 4-year-old daughter, Hailey, gazed up at Sims with a look akin to awe. Then the little girl asked a question.

"Mom, you can talk to animals?"

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Hooked On Pepsi

Brett at DadTalk advocates the removal of vending machines that sell candy and soda from our public schools, as do I. However, it's not the students that are addicted... It's the school districts that have an unhealthy reliance upon the money they earn from those machines. The Salem-Keizer School District in Oregon received $413,000 from Pepsi in 2004. And that's just the beginning. Read more about the issue of vending machines in schools here.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Cuckoo For Cocoa Puffs

So much for reduced-sugar cereals...

Nutrition scientists have discovered that these new cereals are almost identical to full-sugar cereals in the amount of calories, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber.

"You’re supposed to think it’s healthy," said Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University. "This is about marketing. It is about nothing else. It is not about kids’ health."

I'm not surprised by this. Companies like Kellogg's, General Mills, and Post are more interested in the health of their stock price than the health of the American public. Rather than actually change their products for the better, they change the appearance of the product to satisfy the short-term interests of the average consumer.

Seriously, now, give us what we really want in our kids' cereals... Better toys! (And more honest packaging)

Friday, March 18, 2005


Perfect Play

Legos, Play-Doh, Hot Wheels, Barbie... Toys that come close to achieving playtime perfection.

But my kids tell me they'd trade everything in for this:

One big ol' pile of dirt. The ultimate playground.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Happy St. Patrick's Day

It's not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green's the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful
And I think it's what I want to be

Listen: Kermit the Frog - "It's Not Easy Bein' Green" MP3
Buy it at:


Turn Off The TV

I've blogged in the past about kids and television, but here's another article about the subject, with frightening statistics that bear repeating.

The typical American child spends an average of 20 hours a week watching TV, yet they spend less than 40 minutes each week engaging in conversation with their parents.

56 percent of 8 to 16 year olds have TVs in their bedrooms, as do 33 percent of the kids under 6.

Holy Rabbit Ears! What in the world are these parents thinking?! If you are reading this blog post and your child has a TV in their room, then stop reading, go into your kid's room, and remove that television set right now!

Don't get me wrong. I love sitting down to watch TV with my kids, but we do it together. And I'm the one in charge of what appears on the screen. We watch all sorts of age-appropriate programs, mostly on DVD. I can't think of any show on the big four networks that I would let my 6-year-old watch. He's a big fan of The Crocodile Hunter, Scooby-Doo, and Johnny Quest. We have movie night once a week, on Friday or Saturday night, when we'll view a Disney film, or something similar, and maybe something short like a Bugs Bunny cartoon or an episode of Mr. Bean. In fact, we're having movie night tonight (no school tomorrow) with "The Incredibles" as the main attraction.

TV is definitely a part of our family fun, but it's a distant fourth on the list behind activity, imagination, and reading.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Family Films Rule

PG-rated films made more money at the box office last year than R-rated films, the first time that's happened since 1984. Only four of 2004's top 25 films were rated R. Families ruled the day at the movie theaters... Expect more of the same in the years to come. The movie studios follow the money.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Wiggly Party

I was so excited to hear that The Wiggles are finally coming to our area. My kids have loved them for years. It's the only music, other than Ralph's World and the occasional Beatles song, that they've listened to during their early years.

So I dialed up the online ticket site and found that the only decent seats left are $25 each. Multiply that by four, add in the "ticket charge" of $4.50 per ticket, $20 for snacks, and probably around $50 for souvenirs, and the day would turn out to be a $200 outing for my family.

Yikes! Now I had to put some thought to this. My son has been outgrowing The Wiggles... He still likes their music when we're in the car, but he won't sit and watch the videos anymore. My daughter loves the videos and the music, but she's not terribly keen on live concerts. So why am I going to shell out $200 if nobody's really going to enjoy it? Granted, I would probably secretly have a good time, especially if The Wiggles performed their brilliant cover version of Split Enz's "Six Months In A Leaky Boat," but I'm not sure that justifies the expense.

Oh well... Wiggles, thanks for the great tunes. You guys helped me introduce my children to music, dance, and quirky lyrics. My son has many favorite Wiggles songs, but this is the one I still hear him quote when we're out for a walk:

Listen: The Wiggles - "Look Both Ways" MP3
Buy Wiggles CDs at:

Friday, March 11, 2005



I've been selling things on eBay for seven years and have built my feedback up to a near-perfect 3000 (one negative from some psycho bidder) in recent weeks. I've had bidders tell me how much they appreciate seeing the feedback for me, so they feel good about buying my auction items. That got me to thinking... Wouldn't it be nice if we could leave feedback for everyone? Doctors, postal clerks, mechanics, teachers... How about parents? Would you be a better parent if you had a numerical measure of your actions and decisions as a mother or father?

I love the daily feedback from my kids, whether it's a hug or a high-five or just one of my kids actually doing what I ask them to do. Tonight I had one of the best feedback comments of all... During storytime, my son turned to me and said, "I'm sure glad that you love me and want to take care of me."

Thursday, March 10, 2005


PG-13 For Next Star Wars?

"Revenge of the Sith" is going to be so dark and violent that it may get a PG-13 rating, according to director George Lucas. How am I going to explain this to my 6-year-old son? He's been talking about this movie for months. There are Star Wars images plastered all over products in the stores, so it's not like I could keep the film's release a secret from him!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


A Message From My Son

"People should not bring their dogs on the school fields. Tommy stepped in dog poop and got it all over the gym and Mrs. Burt made him clean it up. It was yucky. Playgrounds should be for kids, not for dogs."

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Toy Story

A couple of daddy blogs wrote this week about the accumulation of toys and more toys, so I thought I'd add my two cents to the discussion.

I'm a recovering pack rat, and it looks as though my kids have inherited that particular gene from me. My son saves every rock he picks up from our travels. Each stone and pebble represents a happy memory of a day at the lake or a trek up a mountain trail. Trouble is, he has no idea which rock is which, so they're all just one big jumble of quartz and granite all over his room. Many years ago, when I was a student at the University of Idaho, there was a story about the discovery that a building on campus was in danger of collapse from the sheer weight of the geology department's rock collection. I'm afraid my son is on his way to that.

My daughter doesn't actively collect anything yet, although she does love her Princess gear. The biggest box of toys in her room contains kitchen play items. She has more pots, pans, utensils and dishes than we have in our real kitchen. And her stuff is nicer too!

I've asked both kids if they want to weed through their toys and give away the ones they don't play with anymore. That didn't go well. So we wait until they're asleep to sneak the old baby toys into a box bound for Goodwill. But I have a hard time parting with some of their things, especially those items that the kids played with a lot - like the little wooden Thomas Train engines and tracks. Those toys hold special memories for me, as I spent many hours helping my son build train tracks all over the living room floor and into the kitchen and down the hall.

Beyond the toys, I've begun to notice another growing problem. During my son's kindergarten year, we saved just about every piece of paper he brought home... The first squiggily attempts at writing and math, the art projects dripping with too much glue, even the handouts and calendars the teacher would send home. Now, in first grade, the amount of paper that he brings into the house is starting to overwhelm us. I have to be much more selective in what we save and what we toss.

While we're worrying about stepping on toys, we might just find ourselves drowning in paper!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Love Plus One

Researchers have come to the conclusion that having one child is better than having two or more.

The article states that additional children will actually diminish a parent's happiness. Hmmm... I'll have to remember that next time my second child makes me laugh or smile. As if her presence in this family takes away from the quality of our lives.

"If you want to maximize your subjective well-being, you should stop at one child," says sociology professor Hans-Peter Kohler of the University of Pennsylvania.

What nonsensical psycho-babble. How much you want to bet Dr. Kohler either doesn't have children or can't even remember his kids' birthdays? I know too many fathers (and mothers) like this, who measure their happiness and well-being through career, possessions, hobbies, money, and anything other than their family.

My life is rich because of both my kids. When we had our first, I was happy. But I was even more happy when the second one came along. I can't even imagine thinking that my well-being had been maximized with just the one.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Really Saying Something

Things I'm Tired of Hearing Myself Say:

"Did you wash your hands?"

"Do not stand on the chair during dinner."

"Do not sit on the cat."

"I didn't hear please."

"I can't understand you when you talk with food in your mouth."

"Sharing is fun."

"Nobody likes a whiner."

"It's six in the morning. Can't you sleep for another hour?"

"Cover your mouth when you cough."

"You don't need more candy."

"Who made this mess? I just cleaned up in here!"

"I am not a trampoline."