Every year, the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year's offers families the opportunity to establish and enjoy their holiday viewing traditions. For us, the apex has always been Christmas Eve when, for a long as I can remember, the entire clan has snuggled up on the couch to watch Chuck Jones' 1966 animated masterpiece Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (I can't stand the 2000 remake with Jim Carrey as the "Mean One").
Yes, the 26-minute TV special is as old as I am. Yet I still tear up every time at the end when the reformed green, furry guy carves the Who's roast beast.
But many of the other pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.
And if I ever reference the fact that they might shoot their eye out with a Red Ryder BB Gun, they look at me quizzically. Ralphie and the rest of 1983's A Christmas Story is a not in their repertoire of holiday viewing.
Our generational divide was even more stark this past week when watching holiday commercials. One of those new tongue-in-cheek ads for Honda came on featuring kitschy, power balladeer Michael Bolton. My 11-year-old daughter asked if he was Bon Jovi, the only singer she'd ever heard of that could have possibly been that old. Or that blonde.
The next day, the point was hammered home even further when my sister forwarded me an email, composed by my niece, also 11, who was hoping to switch her subject for a school assignment.
I am writing you in the hopes that you will consider my request to switch my biography to Jim Henson.
You might remember that I started with Whitney Houston. But when I came home and told my mom, she hoped I would pick someone who lived a more inspirational life. I agreed, gave it some thought and decided to get a book on Steven Spielberg. Halfway through, it dawned on me that nothing was mentioned about the Muppets! So I consulted the index and looked under "M" and found no Muppets! Since it was very confusing to me, I checked with my mom, and asked if she knew who the Muppet creator was. And sure enough she said, "Jim Henson."
I've read the complete book on Steven Spielberg, and I have written down some questions. But he isn't really that interesting. Besides I barely know any of the movies he made other than "ET" and "Jaws".If you would allow me to switch, I can promise you that I will read an entire biography on Henson.
The holidays came early for my niece, the teacher said yes.
But my sister and I still marveled that as children reared on Sesame Street, The Goonies and Raiders of the Lost Ark, we had clearly dropped the ball when introducing our kids to some of the modern classics.
So I guess it's about time we add the Muppet "Christmas Carol" to our list of compulsory holiday viewing; Kermit sure makes an adorable Bob Cratchit. And I'll make sure all the kids pay close attention to the credits -- the film is dedicated to the memory of Jim Henson, who died two years before its release.
Somehow this seems preferable to requiring everyone to watch Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular on Thanksgiving night.
And I definitely think we are due for a Spielberg marathon over winter break. Because while not technically holiday fare, there is no question ET's desperation to "phone home" is about as "in the spirit" as you can get.
And Jurassic Park? Well, the raptors aren't exactly reindeer. But an awful lot of those dinosaurs really do look quite a bit like Mr. Carrey's live-action Grinch.comments powered by Disqus
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.