Jonathan Haidt’s message often gets muddled when speaking about politics as biases get in the way, including my own which is why I avoid them. However, when he talks about raising kids he has a pretty clear message. Get your kids off Social Media until at least high school. Worth a listen.
….Captain Tushii of the Hi-Knee City Police Department tracked Keister over five states and predicted he would target the Tokus National Bank. So, he and Detective Gloot E. Uss, waited in the bank’s posterior for Keith to arrive. Keith parked his horse, Duffy, and strode confidently into the bank…
That’s an excerpt from a short story I wrote with John and Julian, our 6-year twin sons. I hated potty talk before I had kids. Now I want to dig a deep hole and dump the words butt, fart, poop and fill it with concrete. With twins, potty words have legs.
The dilemma is how to blow up the potty talk echo chamber? The solution? Add more potty words. Lots more. How many words for butt do you know? Probably not as many as you think. We wrote down all the ones we knew and found dozens more online. It was a hilarious exercise and butt is mundane when you put it against tokus or badonkadok.
The next step was important. It’s to give those words life in a creatively way. We wrote a story – The Scary Derriery. In the story, we shoehorned a couple dozen ways of saying butt in fun ways. The kids and I mapped out the bones of the story around the ghost of a bank robber who uses too many potty words. We often write stories or make them up on walks and car rides as a way to discovery and understanding; when just reading about something doesn’t go deep enough.
Your stories don’t always need to be about potty words. They can be about how to be more grateful and optimistic, beat boredom or what bullying is. They can be poems, graphic novels or wordless cartoons. Pick a theme or a lesson and a learning moment will present itself. It’s also something you can return to as a reminder.
The point for us was to build something together, learn there are many ways to examine a similar thing while improving their reading and not pretending we are Ronald Dahl. If you would like to read The Scary Derriery in full click the link.
Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime for Kids
Our boys are six but think they’re sixteen. They are obsessed with Minecraft and Harry Potter. Both are amazing but include mature themes like death and zombies. I’m sure plenty of parents like us use Harry Potter as a measuring stick judging what’s appropriate for their kids. We’ve taken a pause at film four of the Potter series. It’s gotten a bit too dark and the stakes too dramatic.
I wish I could recommend Netflix’s Original series tackling history The Who Was Show, but it’s a tough hang for kids and adults alike.
The Great British Baking Show – Netflix has a show called Nailed It in the kid section. We turned it on and it kicked-off with crude language and things I didn’t want to explain during a cooking show. We love the Great British Baking Show, it’s civil, educational and we all love it.
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure – There is a huge catalog of 80s and 90s films I grew up with. For every new film we pick some older ones and most of the time the kids are into it. Pee-Wee was one.
Cool Runnings – I was surprised how much the kids loved this. I feel privileged to grow up watching John Candy films and hope my kids too.
Paddington – I genuinely love this movie and the sequel should be nominated for best picture 2018.
Miracle – Add this to a Cool Runnings double feature.
The Iron Giant – We own this one and it’s one of the top 4-5 animated movies in the last 25 years.
Ghostbusters – One my kids said there is a curse word that is the name of a person in this. Not sure how he figured that out as I had the close capturing on and coughed over it. Other than that and a few scary scenes this is a must.
Chasing Monsters – Monsters, in this case, are giant fish. This show is a part adventure, a part travel, and the rest – education. Nothing offensive except maybe a story of a legendary fish who may have eaten a pet.
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. I can’t wait until I can watch Raiders of the Lost Ark with my kids but want to avoid melty face scene for another year or two. I enjoyed Young Indiana Jones and it’s a nice warm-up for the real deal. For the older kids, all of the Indy films are available on Amazon
Hugo – Super entertaining film.
Odd Squad – Best kids show on TV period. It’s not animated and the kid actors are incredible.
Zathura – We recently watched the original Jumanji and this is a fun watch with some dramatic moments and brotherly love
Nova – No matter what your children are into, Nova has covered it. We recently watched the ones on Petra and Machu Picchu and it was enthralling despite being geared for adults.
A couple quick recommendations of products we’ve been loving……
Getting your kids to brush their teeth is not always an easy task. Well, then you need to convince them to do it correctly. Good luck. Our guys are okay brushers, but if we didn’t tell them they needed to, they’d skip it every time.
Check out Chompers. They describe it as a twice-daily tooth brushing show. The three-minute show features, jokes, stories, songs and fact sessions intercut with brushing reminders.
Staying on the Gimlet Site, I’m also recommending the Story Pirates Podcast. The Story Pirates are a talented and quick-witted troupe of improv artists who act out “original stories from real kids.”
We loved Story Pirates back when they were weekly feature son Kids Place Live; now they have their own podcast. We’ve seen them live it’s a fun afternoon.
Our guys have been reluctant readers. It takes persistence and they’d rather be inventing recipes, but that’s changed recently. They’ve become super motivated, and the book that has helped us reach their goals is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann, Phyliss Haddox, and Elaine Bruner.
It’s beautiful watching the kids read on their own, and this book’s straightforward system, of layering sounds, words and eventually sentences is simple, exciting and effective. I can’t say enough good things about this book. The only negative is we should have started earlier.
Help Kitchen Visual Guides
Fire up the color printer because we have 16 of our favorite kitchen diagrams. We need these because we never have all the ingredients, always wonder if that’s still good to eat, and what is the best wine to pair with string cheese. In all seriousness, tape some of these up on the inside of your cabinets for a fast answer to simple kitchen questions.
1. Easy Soups
Hold up, you may not need to run to the store to pick up dinner. Here are 10 soups you can make combining an odd can of beans, the last veggies in your fridge and seasonings that may have expired.
2. Spice Pairings
Did you know you can use Caraway with Cottage cheese?
3. A Guide to Cooking and Baking Substitutions
This one is super useful. We have made entire recipes using only substitutions.
4. Cooking Methods
Disappointed the torch method can’t be used for Grilled Cheese.
5. Guide to Flavoring with Spices
Another spicy visualization.
6. Conversion Chart
For when you find a recipe on a British Blog… Or when you’re anywhere else in the world and need to know what the American’s are talking about.
7. Kitchen Volume Conversion Aid
When you need to turn the volume up in the kitchen…
8. Healthy Oil Cooking Guide
If you watch Food Network, you may not know you can’t use Olive Oil for everything.
9. The Onion Breakdown
This is helpful in some dishes but I normally ignore everything except the Red Onion bit.
10. Egg Substitutions
If I don’t have eggs, I normally have bananas. The PB substitution is mind-blowing.
11. How Much to Serve at a Party
Cupcake ratio seems a bit low.
12. Veggie Cooking Cheat Sheet
You can’t throw in all veggies at the same time and expect it to taste good.
13. Perfect Cookie
All look good to me, but 7,3,6,5,4,8,2,1
14. How to Store Your Groceries
Have you stored a peeled banana more than a day? I’d like to hear the story behind that.
15. Real Good Cheap Easy Food
Lots of good recipes and note the shopping list on the sides.
16. Wine & Cheese Pairing
Everyone knows Boursin and Gruner Veltliner pair well, but you may not know cheddar and merlot are BFF’s