Friday, March 21, 2008

Barney Is A Dinosaur, Who I No Longer Mind So Much

Okay, so, full disclosure: before becoming a parent, I thought that Barney was a great purple harbinger of the decline of western civilization. Then I became a parent, and decided that it wasn't Barney that was the harbinger of our civilization's decline, it was show's kid-performers (just a little too slick and rehearsed for comfort, always comporting themselves as though their mothers-slash-managers were standing by backstage with agents on speed-dial). I made efforts to change the channel when the show came on television.

But Wonderbaby loved it. LOVED. IT. She'd squeal the minute the big purple dinosaur lumbered onscreen. She had learned the words to the opening theme within one or two viewings. It was like twenty-odd minutes of sing-songy purple crack for her - and twenty-odd minutes of alone-time for me. So I caved. I let her watch it.

I avoided, however, buying the DVDs or seeking it out in the TV listings. If it came on during specified TV times, then fine, she could watch it. But I wasn't going to encourage the watching.

So, when the opportunity arose to review a new Barney DVD - Barney ABCs - I hemmed and hawed. No big fan of Barney myself, I thought it only reasonable and fair to not review it. On the other hand, Wonderbaby is undeniably a huge Barney fan, and it's her opinion that matters, right? Also, this one was about ABCs, and ABCs are good, so why not give it a try. And maybe watch it myself, for a change.

So I did. And yes, I still found Barney himself a bit too goofy, and the kids a bit too cloying, but you know what? It wasn't unendurable (unlike, say, Wonderpets, which make me want to rip my ears off). And, of course, Wonderbaby loved it. The revelation, though, was that as far from my personal tastes as Barney is, I really had to admit that it's really pretty good children's programming. It really encourages a certain amount of interaction from the viewer, in the form of song and dance and movement: WB and I sang every song together (one can, of course, sing along to any show with a musical component, but these songs are EASY. I like EASY) and marched and moved along with Barney and friends and there was much clapping and cheering and discussing and when it was all over? WB was sufficiently stimulated and satisfied with her TV fix that she happily turned off the TV and asked if we could go do marching outside.


(Part of PBN's Barney ABCs Campaign. See other reviews here, and learn more about the DVD here.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sharing Is The New Black

I am seven months-plus pregnant. This is my second pregnancy. I have bought NOTHING for the new baby, nor for my pregnant self (okay, one sweater and a pair of maternity jeans. But THAT'S IT.)

The first time around, I had, by seven months of pregnancy, bought a stroller, two diaper bags, a few pieces of art for the nursery, numerous books - for baby and for anxious pregnant mom-to-be - nursery linens, and tons of baby clothes, to name but a portion of it. I had acquired a secondhand crib (duly inspected for safety, of course) and carseat (ditto) and a lot of hand-me-down baby clothes, which pleased me to no end, but still: I shopped, a lot, for new stuff.

This time around, not so much. It is, in part, because, I already have much of the stuff that we need. But not all of it, by a stretch. This next one is a boy, which means that much of Wonderbaby's wardrobe isn't pass-on-able (I don't mind pink on boys, but her pink stuff is hot punk-rocker pink and a bit over the top.) And he should have some of his own things, things that are just his.

But I'm just not interested, this time around, in dropping tons of cash and acquiring tons of new stuff. The novelty of having a baby that propelled me into the baby shops the first time around just isn't there any more. And I'm feeling a lot more eco-sensitive now that I did two and half years ago. I don't want generate tons more waste. So I've been looking for ways to accommodate the need for stuff for this new baby without, you know, falling into the trap of MORE STUFF.

Recycling and freecycling and searching second-hand stores are all obvious strategies, and ones that I'll employ. Sewing and/or knitting my own stuff? Nope. Not crafty or handy in the least. Also, I'm lazy.

Mostly, though? I'm going to try to make do with less stuff. Which doesn't necessarily mean acquiring less for our new guy, but trading off on what comes into this house. Giving away or freecycling more of the stuff that WB has outgrown (I'm terrible about hanging on to stuff for nostalgic reasons - oh, the first onesie that she barfed on! oh, her seventh vintage-look baby concert tee!), to offset the new stuff coming for the boy. Committing to giving away or freecycling the boy's stuff as soon as it becomes obsolete. Borrowing and/or accepting hand-me-down stuff that we don't already have, rather than buying it new or even second-hand. Being diligent about what we really do need. Paying attention to what others need, and passing more stuff along in that direction.

Sharing, a lot.

Part of the PBN Blog Blast in support of Zwaggle, an online community of socially responsible parents doing their share to give back to other parents, their kids and the environment. (Sign up for Zwaggle HERE.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Can She Watch It? YES SHE CAN!

A new Bob The Builder DVD wasn't a tough sell on my two-year old. She loves Bob The Builder. LOVES. She can sing the whole theme song - which, I know, scary - and has been known to holler YES I CAN in response to any question that includes the words 'can you do this?" This is all to the great delight of her father, who grooves on anything related to home improvement and construction, and he looks forward to the day that he and she can don hard-hats together and build build build.

So, yeah. Present her with a Bob The Builder DVD and she yells OPEN IT OPEN IT! and then breaks into the theme song and I - mercifully, mercifully - am granted 20 minutes of Mommy Time.

But it's not the Mommy Time that sells me on this DVD (okay, it is the Mommy Time. But that's only part of it.) Building Bobland Bay - like all the other BTB shows - deals in realistic portrayals of how things are built, which is awesome in itself inasmuch this teaches kids a little bit about what really goes on on construction sites and how buildings are made, etc., etc., and it deals with portrayals of how things are build with a close emphasis on eco-sensitivity. This is really, really key for me: many children's shows place a lot of emphasis on sending proper messages v.v. kindness and sharing and cooperation (BTB does this too, in spades), but BTB goes a step further by placing eco-friendliness prominently among those messages and does it in a way that isn't remotely preachy. Being environmentally sensitive is just how it's done in the world of BTB - it's presented as a given that any interference with the earth should be done in as gentle and non-invasive a manner as possible. People need to build things - to live in, work in, play in - but they can do so in such a way that minimizes the impact of that building upon the environment. I love this message, and I love that it's presented in such a simple, matter-of-fact way.

So there're the mom props. WB loves this DVD because it has all the old BTB wonderfulness - songs, building, 'mighty machines' - and some new locations and characters (her favorite new character: Splasher. Splasher, I should say, has introduced a new dimension of activity to our bathtime routine, which is a mixed blessing.)

I try to keep WB's TV/DVD time to a minimum, but this is exactly the kind of DVD that makes feel less guilty about turning on the screen. Which, you know: WIN-WIN.

Part of PBN's 'Bob the Builder: Building Bobland Bay' Campaign. (You can get your own copy of Building Bobland Bay HERE.)