It’s Been A While…

A few years ago, I started this blog to capture all that was going on in this head of mine. I wrote almost weekly for about 18 months about my family, current events that interested me, my job, and other odds and ends. I enjoyed using this form of media to express myself, and I found that lots of people read what I wrote. I was honored.

Over the past few years, a lot has changed in my world. My girls have grown a lot. Lydia is in 8th grade, and is training to be a world class pole-vaulter. She cleared 7’6″ the other day – only 8 more feet to go and she could be an Olympian. I’m hoping 4 or 5 more feet gets her a college scholarship of some sort. Ansley is in 6th grade, and has become a well-rounded tween girl – music, sports, school, and talking back are her specialties. Clarissa is in 2nd grade and is always smiling and laughing. She loves soccer and writing and singing and watching her shows. Lydia and Ansley are taller than their mother, Carrie. Clarissa is taller than Lydia and Ansley were when they were 8.

Our pet population has changed. Babe the mini-beagle is our eldest pup. We have Asuna the slightly psychotic cat. And now we have Arlo our “bagle” – beagle/basset hound mix. Arlo is an interesting pup. We rescued him from a lady who rescued him from some shady people who had him in a cardboard box in the back of a pick-up truck. She brought him home and let him live in a barn until she could find a good home for him. He’s slightly stubborn, and he still thinks he lives in a barn from time to time. We also have a beta-fish who no one really takes care of but continues to survive.

The world has changed a lot over the past few years. We have gone from the first black president in our nation’s history in Barack Obama to a president whose most recent claim to fame is starring in The Apprentice. Mr. Donald Trump has turned our country and world on its proverbial ear, and we’re still trying to get our bearings back. His speeches are normally 140 characters and can be found on Twitter. It would be awesome to be a speech writer for Trump. Not much editing involved. Just random streams of thought in 140 character bursts. The Chicago Cubs finally won a World Series after over 100 years of futility. Joe Maddon, the Cubs’ manager is the Phil Jackson of Major League Baseball. There’s a new series of Star Wars movies. The next one is called The Last Jedi. Now the world is wondering what that really means especially after Luke Skywalker’s brief appearance at the end of The Force Awakens. The New England Patriots just won their 5th Super Bowl thanks to Tom Brady and Darth Belichick.

Who would have dreamed any of this stuff could happen?

My work life is virtually the same. I still have the same job in the same place. Carrie does too. We still attend the same church. And we still have the 2013 Honda Odyssey EX-L I blogged about in April 2013.

We still live in the same house on the same street. We do have some new neighbors who have lots of kids and have recently opened their home to foster kids. They are truly special people. I would like to have more kids, but Carrie says we’re too old for that.

I have 592 Facebook friends. I’m hoping to get to 600 soon, but I’ve become more selective about my friend choices thanks to the election. I can only handle so many political posts, and that’s all Facebook is these days. Political posts and advertisements for companies and products I purchased a long time ago. I miss the days of pictures of people’s kids and constant bragging about how perfect people’s lives are. Today my feed is filled with posts about why Trump is awesome and why Trump is an idiot, and why Obama is the reason Trump is having so many problems. I did enjoy the Obama/Biden meme’s for a little while. Some of them were hilarious.

That’s all for now. Gotta go pick up Lydia from her friend’s house.

She’ll be driving soon.

That’s a scary thought.

TV Time: Learning Life’s Lessons from The Brady Bunch

How are hard is it for you to find shows that your family can watch together?  Can TV of today learn some lessons from shows of the past?  Read and find out.

TV Time: Learning Life’s Lessons from The Brady Bunch.

 

TV Time: Learning Life’s Lessons from The Brady Bunch

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Once upon a time, watching television as a family was much easier than it is today.  Today, we have to screen TV shows for foul language, inappropriate subject matter, and generally poor entertainment value.  Channels like Nickelodeon and Disney promote shows that portray kids in such a way that does not translate well to real life.  Parents are either portrayed as total “screwballs” or are totally non-existent in the life of the kids on the show.  Many of these shows attempt to teach valuable life lessons about the importance of treating others with respect or befriending a new kid at school, but the context in which these situations are acted out normally does not correlate well with what a kid experiences each day.  Shows like iCarly, Hannah Montana, Shake it Up, and Jessie are prime examples of these types of shows.

You have to be careful with cartoons too.  Gone are the days of Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes.  They’ve been replaced by Spongebob and many others.  Even a cartoon for young children like Max and Ruby could be deemed as somewhat questionable.  Has anyone ever seen an episode that shows their bunny rabbit parents?  Is Ruby really old enough to be the primary caregiver for her younger brother, Max?  We see their grandmother from time to time, but we never see their parents!  How can a girl barely old enough to sell Bunny Scout cookies be expected to take care of her toddler age brother?  Only in cartoon land – I guess.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Max and Ruby.  It’s hilarious.  I love watching it with my youngest daughter, Clarissa.  Max is always creating mischief, and Ruby is always trying to do something productive despite Max’s constant attempts to sabotage her efforts.  At the end of each episode Max’s mischief always seems to have a positive impact on what Ruby is trying to accomplish even though she always tries her best not to let that happen.  And as always, there is a lesson that is learned.

TV in general has become more vulgar over the years.  As the rules have changed so has the subject matter.  Drugs, sex, violence, and reality TV – that’s what sells today.  Older shows revealed subtle hints about sexual relationships between characters.  Newer shows make it the main topic in almost every episode.  Even shows on ABC Family have become racier than those shown in years past.  Teenage soap operas fill the primetime hours instead of the family-oriented shows of the past.  And don’t get me started on commercials.  How many commercials do we need to see about male enhancement and womens’ contraceptives in a day?  They even show them during Harry Potter movie marathons on ABC Family.  Good luck explaining that one to your 8 year old.  Or is 8 the new standard age to have “the talk?”

Tonight, my wife and I found reruns of The Brady Bunch on the Hallmark Channel and watched them with our 3 girls.  It was wonderful.  It was the first time my kids have watched The Brady Bunch.  We didn’t even know it was still on TV.  The nice thing about the evening was that we didn’t have to worry about crude humor or inappropriate subject matter.  It was TV innocence at its best.  Tonight’s episodes showed the Brady’s (and Alice of course) as they took their family vacation to the Grand Canyon.  Along the way, they experience adventures in a ghost town where a gold prospector locks them up in the old jail because he’s worried about them staking a claim to his newly found gold.  He steals their car and all of their camping gear.  The Brady’s eventually escape from the jail, and the man eventually returns with their car as well as a document giving them 10% of the value of his claim.  Instead of calling the police or filing a lawsuit, the Brady’s forgive the man, tell them to keep his gold, and continue on with their trip.

I remember watching these episodes after school on TBS when I was growing up.  I would come home from school and watch a couple of shows before starting my homework.  Leave it to Beaver was one of my favorites.  I remember watching Andy Griffith reruns with my Mom and Dad as well as other shows like The Munsters and The Addams Family.  All of these shows not only entertained us, but they taught us a lot of life lessons.  Shows like the Brady Bunch and Leave it to Beaver taught about the value of right and wrong as well as the importance of family and friendship.  Characters on these older shows got in trouble for doing bad things.  Andy was always trying to teach Opie to do the right thing.  New shows seem to glorify the goofball or the character that causes problems – Samantha Puckett anyone (iCarly reference)?  What kind of image does does that send our children?

I’m only 37, but a great deal has changed in the last 25 years or so.  Racier shows used to come on after nine ‘o clock.  Now they are on starting at 8.  And with so many channels showing reruns of current sitcoms, the opportunity to find age appropriate programming has become that much more challenging.  I’m definitely not a stick in the mud.  I enjoy lots of shows on TV today, but I don’t enjoy watching them with my children.  If they are in the room, I constantly find myself hitting the mute button or changing the channel so I don’t expose them to something I don’t think they’re ready to hear.  For example, a show like The Big Bang Theory is truly funny, and I would love to be able to watch it with my 10 year old daughter, but the crude jokes and subject matter, at times, make that almost impossible.  Reality shows are even worse.  Has anyone watched Welcome to Myrtle Manor?  The day of the “family sitcom” is dead.  It’s been replaced with the “unfamily” sitcom, and I don’t think the “family” version will ever be back.

At the end of the last Brady Bunch episode of the evening, the Brady’s help a young Indian boy who wanted to run away from home make the decision to return to his village.  Earlier in the episode, Bobby and Cindy meet the young boy while exploring the Grand Canyon.  They try to follow the boy but eventually get lost.  The boy helps them get back to their camp.  In exchange, Cindy and Bobby agree to bring the Indian boy some food.  When Bobby and Cindy sneak out to take the boy food, they are eventually caught by Peter and Greg who try to help them get back to camp before their parents find out.  In the end, they all get caught, but Mr. Brady doesn’t yell or scream at them.  Instead, he sees they are trying to help someone, and he takes it a step further.  He shows them the importance of helping others make the right decision.  He helps reunite the boy with his family.  To me, this is doing the right thing, and it sends the right message to the viewer – especially younger viewers.

What do you think?

Daddy and The Three Girls! – Part Deux

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As I noted in my last post, my wife, Carrie, was out of town Thursday and Friday at a conference, which meant I was in charge of making sure my three girls got to school on time, got picked up from school on time and were well fed.  I was also responsible for setting the social calendar as well as keeping the general peace.  This is a tall order for a Dad with three girls.

After spending my day Thursday playing Mr. Mom, I decided to take Friday off to make my day a little easier. Thursday was a disaster as far as how my day normally transpires. I am one who doesn’t like to feel rushed, and when I feel rushed, I don’t get much accomplished. And Thursday, I felt rushed!  So Friday was a day to focus on the needs of the family and myself.

The morning went pretty well.  We had packed lunches the night before and laid out the clothes for the next day.  All of the girls’ papers were signed and the bookbags were packed.  Planning ahead seemed to work well.  The girls ate a nutritious breakfast – Cocoa Puffs!  I know it doesn’t sound nutritious, but it really is.  There are more vitamins and minerals in Cocoa Puffs than can be found in a plate of vegetables.  The same can be said for Pop Tarts and Lucky Charms.  And they’ve done a pretty good job of cutting back on the amount of sugar in these products too.  If General Mills or Kelloggs needs a spokesman, I’m their guy.  I generally don’t condone breakfasts of sugary cereals and toaster pastries, but when Mommy’s away, I have to do what I can to make the girls happy.

I’ve digressed – again.  I dropped the older girls off at school without a hitch – no replay of Thursday where I pulled in the wrong lane.  Then I took Clarissa to the preschool.  We dropped off her bookbag, and then we walked down to the early dropoff room and….she just walked off.  She didn’t even say good-bye, didn’t wave, didn’t even acknowledge I was leaving her there.  To be honest with you, I was heartbroken.  No hugs or kisses.  She just walked in like a teenager would when they get dropped off at school.  She’s 4 years old going on 13.  It’s difficult to take, and I’m not ready to get used to it.  She’s the baby.

After I dropped Clarissa off, I went and got a quick bite to eat and went home.  I paid the bills, read the paper, checked the e-mail, and cleaned up a little bit.  I also had a couple of errands to run – buy a new shower curtain, pick-up the dry cleaning, and mail the bills.  I was getting some stuff accomplished.

12:00 – Time to get Clarissa.  Apparently, I showed up too early as Clarissa was not ready to go.  The little boys in the class were happier to see me than she was so I helped them clean-up the blocks.  I talked with Ms. Elizabeth and said hi to Ms. Pruitt, and finally Clarissa was ready to go.

12:15 – Time to prepare lunch for the princess.  She has requested cheesy pasta – not my forte, but I’ll give it a shot.  Apparently, Carrie allows her to assist with this process.  I’m not exactly inclined to let her help near a stove with boiling milk and water, but she says she helps all the time (I found out later that this was not the case).  I give it a shot.  Making cheesy pasta is a process that requires patience.  After 10 minutes, Clarissa wants her pasta, but it’s not ready yet I tell her.  I get “the look.”

12:30 – Pasta is done.  Applesauce and croutons on the table.  Croutons are not normally served with pasta and applesauce, but that’s what she asked for so I oblige.  We eat lunch and watch some shows – Dora the Explorer.  I’m so excited….

2:00 – Time to go get the big sisters.  Clarissa objects.  Her shows are still on.  I give her “the look.”  She gets her shoes on and we head to the car.

2:30 – Big girls in the car.  Heading home.  My boss is on the phone.  We’re trying to talk work stuff, but it’s hard to carry-on an adult conversation with three giggling girls.  I tell him that I need to go.

2:40 – We’re home.  It’s snack time!  Popcorn, Doritos, Nerds, Granola Bars, and a bunch of other stuff.  My daughters are as thin as rails, but they eat like horses.  Now we’re watching movies – Hello Kitty.  Lydia heads upstairs.  She’s too old for these shows.  I need to check the work e-mail and answer a few of them.

4:30 – Girls are asking when Mommy’s coming home.  8:00 can’t get here soon enough.  I walk in the kitchen and see Little Debbie cake wrappers on the counter.  Man, these girls are sneaky.

5:00 – Time to start thinking about dinner.  Pizza night.  Papa Johns online, but I don’t know the password.  Carrie handles ordering pizza – not me.  I text Carrie, but don’t get a response.  She must be in class still.  I could just pick up the phone and call, but we get points when we order online and I don’t want to miss out on the points.  I want the free pizza.

5:30 – The phone rings.  It’s Lydia’s friend Olivia.  Lydia’s going to spend the night.  They’ll come get her after they eat dinner.  Bummer – now I’ll have to watch Lydia chokedown some pizza.  She hates pizza.  Kinda weird for a 10 year old.  She apparently dislikes the sauce.

5:40 – I call Carrie.  I need this password.  We must collect points.  She’s getting ready to leave.  Hooray!  She’ll be home soon.  I get the password and order the pizzas.

5:50 – Lydia is packing and wants to borrow Ansley’s movie – Hotel Transylvania or Hotel Pennsylvania as Clarissa calls it.  Ansley has some reservations about letting Lydia borrow her movie.  Lydia loses things or forgets them.  This is why she doesn’t have an iPod.  I tell Lydia she can take the movie.  Ansley has a meltdown.  Mommy can’t get here soon enough.

6:00 – Girls and I are in the car to go pick-up the pizzas.  Clarissa doesn’t want to go so she complains about the music and her sister.  Ansley is in mid-meltdown over the movie.  I listen to my music.

6:10 – We have the pizzas.  I’ve successfully negotiated a deal for the movie.  If Lydia forgets it, Ansley gets $10.  Lydia now professes her love for her younger sister (sarcasm).  Ansley professes her love for her older sister (more sarcasm).  Little girls can be awfully mean.  Clarissa is still mad about the music and is kicking my seat.  Where is Mommy?

6:20 – We’re home with the pizzas.  Olivia and her mom show-up.  Lydia and Olivia eat some pizza.  Lydia’s idea of eating pizza is pulling off the cheese, wiping off the sauce, and eating the crust.  She takes about 4 bites and tries to hide the rest under a napkin.  I tell her that won’t work.  She gives me “the look.”  I make small talk with Olivia’s mom.

6:40 – Lydia’s gone.  Ansley and Clarissa are eating pizza and fighting about shows.  I negotiate a deal.  Animaniacs and then Dora and then Good Luck Charlie.  Carrie should be home before I have to renegotiate the terms of the deal.  I’m not sure how the next round of negotiations will go.  I don’t want to test it.

7:00 – I finally get to sit down and enjoy my pizza and watch Animaniacs.  Pinky and the Brain are my favorite.

7:45 – Mommy’s home!  All is right with the world again!

8:30 – Time for Ansley and Clarissa to go to bed.  Mommy’s home so she takes charge.  I head upstairs.  The girls and Carrie are in our room.  Getting them to bed tonight should be easy, but Clarissa has her own plan.  It’s hard to describe what happened next, but Clarissa was like a small Tasmanian Devil.  She couldn’t be stopped.  Ansley and Carrie took the brunt of it.  It was fun to watch, and Clarissa had a blast.  She’s happy to have her Mommy home.

9:00 – Girls are in bed.  Duck Dynasty is on.  Time to relax.

The past couple of days with the girls have been fun, but I need a breather.  I’m glad we had this time together, but it’s time for Mommy to take over again.  Time to get back to the routine.  I better enjoy it while I can because I’ll have to develop a new routine in about a month when Carrie goes back to work.

Wish me luck.