Whew! Where did last week go? The kids danced in their recital this past weekend, and with practices, dress rehearsals, etc., I think when I looked up it was Monday. On top of it all, the youngest managed to catch some strain of runny nose/cough/sore throat last week while we were out of town, and it has passed its way around to each of us, so I’ve been feeling like something the cat dragged in for the last few days. However, I spent yesterday visiting my friends, and boy, did I leave encouraged! I think this atmosphere has been more beneficial to me than any magazine—in fact, I cancelled my subscriptions—and I encourage you ladies to keep doing what you do. Your words are like honey, and the Lord will bless you for being the welcomed feet that bring good news. I was able to reminisce about my fishing days with my parents courtesy of PeakmoreAcademy, I got to see Laura Ingall’s little house/museum and Lake Pekin (the lake she visited when she first went to town with Pa in Little House in the Big Woods) thanks to a visitor to ThreeLittleLadies, and I was reacquainted with the joy and educational power of music after visiting Schooldaze. I hope to get to bubbebobbie’s tag today; it looked like loads of fun.
As an aside about classical music, I grew up in a musical family and know the power of music as education in addition to sheer joy, but I’ve struggled to introduce classical music in our home in a meaningful way. We’ve attempted to study one composer each semester with books and CDs (some great investments are the Classics for Kids collection and ____ for Babies collection, though with the latter, I’ve only heard Bach and Beethoven). The oldest gets distracted by the music if I play it while they work, and the extended car drives are limited as gas prices continue to rise. I think that the most the kids have gotten out of our studies is some facts for short term memory, and perhaps an appreciation of Tchaikovsky after seeing the Nutcracker a time or two. In the fall, I am going to try a series that I saw at a recent seminar by Opal Wheeler and Reba Mirsky. The biographies look much “meatier” than some of the books we’ve read, and they now come with CDs.
Our church is in the midst of a fast right now until 07/07/07. I did give up a meal, but perhaps the sacrifice that I’ve benefited the most from to date is the giving up of television for 30 days. I’ve known for a while now that a part of my frustration with the kids’ television watching is in part my fault. I don’t sit down and watch much, but I like the television on for noise purposes while I do other things. Also, I’m a nut about watching movies that I enjoy over and over again. So on Monday (the first day of the fast), I actually looked at what was on the television that I simply had to watch; there were a couple of movies that I’ve seen enough times to know dialogue backwards and forwards, but overall, nothing was on! Then I noticed that the kids have begun to do the same—watch what they really want to watch, and then cut the TV off! So for the last three days, we’ve read for longer than normal, we’ve played games, we’ve toured new housing developments nearby, we’ve been a family. After reading Schooldaze’s post, I took an in-the-moment learning opportunity to pop in some Beethoven while we hung out; the younger two began to dance, and the oldest said, “What is that noise?”, but sat and enjoyed the time with us nonetheless.
Don’t get me wrong; I think our kids are special, at least on most days. They stand heads above most of their peers, and not just because of their long legs (HA HA). Even Sunday, one of the “old heads” in the church approached me as our second child is now a part of her Sunday School class. This teacher said to me, “I knew he was another Bullard,” and she proceeded to brag on he and his older sister. That made me feel great. But I don’t just want a harvest; I want ripe, plump, juicy, desirable fruit, and I’ve seen that television can pluck in a matter of a few hours what you might have spent all year sowing. I have limited what the kids can watch, but even “family” television is not desirable for any family that I know. At the risk of being redundant, TV teaches kids that they’re smarter than their gullible, confused, if not outright stupid, parents; it teaches them that it’s not cool to be smart and/or to love learning. I won’t even get into the choices in fashion. The influence is so great until I can’t go to a regular dept. store an buy my son “regular” clothes: even the PJs are monsters, pirates, or extreme sports, and though the latter choice isn’t so bad, what choices are there for the kid who just wants something simple to sleep in besides a T-shirt?
I digress, but I did want to share one other revelation. I said earlier that I don’t actually watch much programming. This is true with one exception—sports. My original sacrifice was to limit myself to perhaps a movie or 1 hour of television per day, so on the first day I watched a couple of 30-minute sports journalism programs that I enjoy. My conclusion, although it never hit me quite this abruptly before, is that sports are no longer family programming, either. The programs are targeted to men ages 18-40. So, guess what’s on every commercial? Scantily-clad girls, alcohol, and enhancement (you get the picture) drugs. When I heard the toddler quote a slogan for a type of beer, enough was enough: it’s cold turkey for me until July, and perhaps beyond.