Monday, July 26, 2010

PBS Programming

So, Gareth has been watching a lot of television while we've been here. Yes, I'm a horrible mother. Actually, I'm quite excited to get back home where we don't have television anymore. It was awesome to have it during the World Cup and for watching a friend compete on Jeopardy! (she's won twice and is still on - watch her tonight!), but it's annoying because Gareth wants to watch T.V. all the time. And it's way too easy for me to use it to keep him out of my way while I get stuff done.

It's been a great opportunity to watch a wide variety of PBS Kids programming and see what we've been missing. I must say, I'm not much of a fan of Sesame Street these days. Elmo's voice has got to be one of the most obnoxious things on television. And his little song for Elmo's World makes me want to kill someone. Oh, and whatever the name is of that girly fairy character that's so popular, she's annoying too. If we get up early enough, Gareth catches the end of that show, but often we miss it entirely, thank goodness.

Curious George usually comes on after Sesame Street. This one's fine, though they seem to repeat shows an awful lot. But, it tries to teach some math skills (though sometimes what they're teaching seems a bit old for a 3 or 4 year old) and Gareth is a fan of the books and monkeys in general, so I'm okay with this one.

Then, comes Sid the Science Kid. This is even worse than Sesame Street. Who came up with such annoying characters? And why do the adults act like imbeciles??? Yes, the things it's trying to teach are great, but my sanity isn't worth it (thankfully I'm usually showering at this point).

SuperWhy! is pretty cool, I think. It's done a fairly decent job of reinforcing recognition of letters, especially lower-case ones (Gareth needed some help on these ones). And they occasionally have parts that discuss what sound letters make, which I think made it easy for Gareth to pick up when I started working with him on that the other day. The characters don't have obnoxious voices and are pretty likable.

Dinosaur Train is okay, though I highly doubt that a Pteranodon family would ever raise a Tyrannosaurus Rex...and the dinosaur information imparted in the show really doesn't seem to be sticking with Gareth at all. He's learned a lot more from reading How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? at every nap and bedtime.

Gareth enjoys Dragon Tales. It's sometimes annoying, but not horribly so. Clifford isn't bad, but we usually miss that one, so maybe I just haven't watched it enough to be annoyed yet. I'm not sure if Dora the Explorer is still on tv. We don't ever watch it there, but Gareth discovered it on Netflix and he adores it. I hate it. I've racked my brain, but I can't think of what it's supposed to be teaching the kids, except for a bit of Spanish. The map song is incredibly dumb (so much so that Brian Regan even makes fun of it).

Gareth also has discovered Thomas the Tank Engine on Netflix. I'm a little perplexed as to why it's so popular, but I guess it's not as horrible as some of the other shows. I just find Thomas to be a pain in the neck. He's either full of himself, incredibly obtuse, or too easily offended, depending on the episode. I guess maybe that's the point - he's supposed to teach the kids not to be that way.

Martha Speaks isn't too bad. Occasionally characters are annoying, but not often enough that they grate on my nerves much. Caillou is okay, except for the voices of the characters. Too high-pitched all the time. That just gets to you after a while.

I guess I've discovered that, as with most other television programming, there isn't usually anything worthwhile on, even when it comes to kids shows. Two and a half weeks until the television is gone! (Oh, and we don't watch all of those shows in any one day. I'm not that horrible a mother.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gareth One-Eye

It all started with our insatiable desire for raspberries, of which there are plenty in the backyard here. Gareth gets excited whenever I ask if he wants to go pick some berries. Partly because he likes to go talk to the chickens as well and tell them that they don't get to eat berries and to stop yelling. But that's beside the point.

On my birthday we all headed out to the raspberry bushes. It seems that no one else has been picking them, so there were plenty around for us to enjoy. Ryan was willing to join us since there were (amazingly) no bees around. We all had a marvelous time and went back inside to enjoy the fruits of our (not very difficult) labor.

Walking in the door I noticed a small welt under Gareth's eye. I assumed it was just another mosquito bite and thought nothing more of it. Until we ate dinner with our neighbors and they commented that his eye was a bit puffy. "Oh, yes, I suppose it is! He got a mosquito bite." And I proceeded to not make a big deal about it. Until he woke up the next morning:

And these were taken later that afternoon, after a couple of doses of Benadryl. He opened our door in the morning, said, "Mommy, I need..." and burst into tears. It took me several minutes to get his head out of my shoulder and realize what was wrong. Thankfully our neighbors lent me their car so that I could get the Benadryl quickly. After I arrived home, we spent the morning with Gareth holding his hand over his eye, laying with his head in my lap, and sucking his thumb while holding his orange blanket. We watched a lot of Gareth's favorite shows on the computer. And I didn't get much of anything done at all.

I was getting a bit worried by the afternoon when the swelling didn't seem to be getting any better and even more so the next morning when it definitely wasn't any better. I had to run to the store Wednesday morning and got plenty of strange looks from people as well as several people asking about it, especially as it started to take on a slight purple-ish hue. Needless to say, both Ryan and I were grateful when Gareth was suddenly able to open his eye fully Wednesday afternoon. It's mostly better now, though slightly swollen still, and has a more bruised look about it. And Gareth's desire for raspberries has not diminished in the least. (Though he has also developed a taste for Benadryl, which he calls "tasty medicine".)

Kubota Garden

About a week ago Gareth and I ventured to Kubota Garden, another nearby attraction/park/garden thing. I guess there are several types of gardens there and I'm pretty sure we never made it to the Japanese garden as well as a couple others. Mostly we wandered around in the same area, exploring all the paths we came across, until we hit where we started again.

The first thing we came across was this cool "cave" in the trees:

Gareth once again enjoyed playing with rocks and water. He thought the bridge over the water was fun.

The garden has a peaceful, quiet atmosphere. A few people were there just to walk. Several people were there to take pictures. We did some of both. We played around the bridge for a while and then explored various waterfalls and pathways:

I loved this tree:

And Gareth enjoyed playing with the water wherever he found it.

Definitely a successful outing. I'm excited to head out there again and see the rest of the gardens.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival

On Saturday we checked out a wooden boat festival in the area. Unfortunately, we got there a little too late to do much. The model boat races were over for the day and all the seats on the boat rides were taken already. Gareth still enjoyed it, though he was pretty upset that we didn't go on a boat ride.

We were able to see a couple of war ships fire their cannons at each other and there were boats there that people were allowed to board and check out (kind of like the old cars out on Main Street in Somerville every Friday). Thankfully we had Gareth wearing his monkey, because he was extremely excited about seeing the water, meaning he spent a large amount of time leaning precariously over the edges of the dock. It's a two-day festival, so it was a bit tempting to take Gareth back on Sunday so he could see some boat races. They have two teams make a boat in 24 hours and then race them Sunday afternoon. But, in the end, we decided not to go back.

Gareth loves taking trips into downtown or pretty much anywhere if it involves riding the bus or the train, so he was still in a good mood on the way home. He particularly enjoyed drumming in the station.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Women of Faith

This is just a notice to make sure you all know about the Women of Faith project. I know some reading this blog might be interested in, or know someone who would be interested in, participating in this scholarly project. (If you're interested don't delay going to the website - proposals are due by August 31st!) We don't often get a chance to learn about the women in the church who have been influential and important in many spheres. I'm very excited to see the end result of the project.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend "Exploring"

If exploring means shopping, then we did some on Memorial Day. It'd been rainy every day since we'd arrived. Every single day. Ryan didn't bring a jacket or a sweater with him since his jacket at home is fairly useless and old and ugly (the sweater we just forgot). So we headed out in search of a jacket. We came home with three. It was almost four, because there was a fake leather one that looked really nice and was on sale for a really, really good price. But Ryan decided four jackets was a bit ridiculous for now (though we will eventually purchase him a real leather jacket, because they can look great, and a trench coat a la Bogart, and the list goes on and on). But one of the three is super-casual (more athletic) and the other two we absolutely fell in love with.

So, here's Ryan modeling his awesome new jackets:

The first jacket we found. Awesome, but we needed something else for everyday wear.

The second jacket. Great for casual wear. But we still wanted something in between jacket one and jacket two.

The third jacket. This is the one I totally fell in love with and would have mourned if we had left it behind. Especially since it was the last one of its kind in the store.

Totally worth the money spent, in my opinion. I'm very excited about the steps we've been taking in revamping Ryan's wardrobe. Next up: pants. Or maybe a coat. Or shoes. Unfortunately we can't just do it all at once!

We also went and checked out the folklife festival that was going on, so our exploring wasn't solely shopping. It was fun to go just to see, but I doubt I'd go again if we ever came back this way. Basically, I'm glad it was free. We listened to a local fiddling club play some pieces. There were several vendors selling artwork, brooms, jewelry and so on. Outside of the main venues it seemed like random people would come and try to play their harmonica or guitar and get money from people. Most of the people doing this were beginners or simply not very skilled. A lot of hippie-type people were in attendance. It was fascinating for people-watching but not really worthwhile for much else.