Brain Melt? Netflix Helps Keep Us Sharp

With all of our kids in the pre-kindergarten age group we're not quite at the stage of being concerned about brain melt during summer break. It's not that we don't work at it - it's just that our kids have so much to engage their little brains every day. Their summer days are perhaps more stimulating than the rest of the year.

In a normal day they wake up between 5 am (yes, early birds!) and 6:30 am. They get to watch a show on Netflix (lots of negotiation about WHAT show since it has to be appropriate and appeal to all three of them) like The Magic School Bus, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories, and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, for instance. Then they have breakfast and play for a bit with each other. Once the happy play time turns into scrappy play, W heads to camp or swimming or plays with a friend and the younger two get a trip to the park or lake or tag along for errands. After it's lunch time and naps for the little kids and W practices piano, does some reading, and then gets a "show on Netflix that the little kids can't watch," like Monster Math Squad or Clone Wars (ugh). Then it's back out to the park or a walk or scooter ride around the block or plans with friends. The kids have been thriving this summer.

W has started to read, as in really READ. B has mastered his knowledge of songs, colors, and numbers. A is talking up a storm. Summer her been good. They're moving full steam ahead.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team.


Reading Aloud... The Moment I've Been Waiting For

Just. Can't. Stop.
I'm a book lover - clearly - and I've been one as long as I can remember. My mom read aloud to us a lot. She would sit on the ground with her back supported by the bed and my sisters and I would lay in various positions and listen. My favorite position was hanging over the bed, reading over her shoulder... I remember her reading Little Women so clearly. I still love that book. And I learned that books can touch you so deeply to bring you to tears and give you such a true connection to characters. Beth's death. Ugh. My heart still breaks when I think about it and remember my mom crying as she read it aloud to us. It was beautiful.

Being read to, being introduced to the beauty of stories and words are some of my most vivid memories. It was such an important part of the time I spent with my mom and my sisters. To sit and listen and learn and connect. It was a gift and I can't wait to share the same moments with my own kids. It's hard to believe we're getting there.

W has already proven to be a deep lover of books as well. I've been sensing it could be the right time to pull out some classics. Like real, intense books... books that are big on words and low on pictures. I have a long list. We're in the middle of getting through Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and he loves it. He begs for more, but it's hard to find the time to get through a chapter or two. It just makes me so excited for all the books I'll get to read to him in the next few years. Because - man - this boy loves a good story.

What are your first memories of books as a child?

This post was inspired by the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. To celebrate, Penguin Young Readers Group, in partnership with Dylan’s Candy Bar, the world-famous candy emporium, and First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides books for children from low-income families, is launching a year-long international celebration.

Head over to From Left to Write to learn how you and your child can have a chance to win the Golden Ticket Sweepstakes where the grand prize is a magical trip to New York City plus much more! For every entry submitted, Penguin Young Readers Group will make a donation to First Book. Then, join From Left to Write on July 24 as we discuss Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As a book club member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


Currently Streaming On Netlfix: Orange Is the New Black

The other day we were hanging out with friends who wanted to discuss some of their favorite tv shows, but we could only say we heard they were great but hadn't seen them. They looked at us rather shocked. And then asked about when we decompress and we couldn't really answer. We're not big tv watchers around here. Mostly because we binge watch and can't control ourselves and get a little obsessed. We get through a show and then feel guilty and wait a while... Dexter was our last show, but then between renovating this house and moving we just never had time for tv. We have a really long list of shows to watch, but I didn't want something too heavy. Sometimes life just feels heavy enough. So, we started Orange is the New Black two weeks ago.

We're both busy at work and have house stuff piling up. Bedtime can take an hour. AN HOUR. And then we have to clean up and get some real stuff done. Get stuff ready for the next day, catch up on work, laundry... do all the adult things we do every night.

So, we came to an agreement... After an hour of getting stuff done, we watch an episode... or two. But never three. We just wait for 9:00 to roll around the next night and get to watch it again. We're bingers, what can I say?  It's been nice to decompress.


Trying To Create Our Low-Key Summer

I'm trying to figure out a good summer for W who starts kindergarten in the fall. He's going through some separation anxiety. We've had a lot of change for an emotional kid like him and change usually sparks something in him... And his last couple weeks of preschool are stirring up lots of emotions.

So, I'm trying to figure out how he should spend his summer. Most kids in our area have been scheduled out for a couple months. Most kids have camp and plenty of fun activities. I haven't been able to pull a few minutes together to do anything. I was on the fence on whether we should put him in a camp with kids that will go to his school next year, but where he is likely not to know many (or any) other kids. OR a camp with a friend or two, but would not have kids he'll go to school with next year. Think I'm over-thinking this one a tad bit? I opted for the camp that is most convenient and that's the one most likely to have kids he won't know.

Once I got over dragging my feet, I decided tonight would be my deadline. And I forced myself to do it... Our park district schedules camp by the week, so I had to go through a four step process for EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Just as I was registering my last week I was kicked out due to inactivity. INACTIVITY. My shopping cart was cleared. I lost 20 precious minutes. I started again... Three weeks in and I was kicked out again.

This does not set a good tone for the summer I'm hoping for W. This simple little summer that I have in my head, but can't seem to get him registered for... And it turns out simple might not be so simple. Three days of half-day camp, plus his swimming, piano lessons, and maybe a sport... Maybe that isn't quite as simple as I thought it would be. And - wow - he is five.

This post was inspired by Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, a novel that exposes the gothic underbelly of an American dynasty, and an outsider’s hunger to belong. Join From Left to Write on May 20 we discuss Bittersweet. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.