Watch and Learn

“Why do you like this show? It’s sort of weird.”

“I just do, Mom.”

“But why? Why do you pick it?”

“I don’t know. I like the action.  But I also like shows where someone doesn’t change themselves to make people like them.”

I was surprised. I honestly didn’t think he would have such an insightful answer, but it makes sense. His favorite shows are Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh. While I think they are pretty strange and the characters act odd, he loves it. I’ve watched with him before and he’s right: the main characters in the shows are all people who are loyal, trustworthy, and kind. And even though they are regularly taunted, they choose to stay true to themselves and their friends.

Everyone knows one of the reasons I am such a big advocate for reading is to build empathy and compassion in my kids’ hearts. It never occurred to me until Eddie said this that media like TV, movies, and games could help instill this as well. We blame TV and movies for a lot of ills–and rightly so. There is a lot of garbage out there that can undo the values we try to instill in our kids. But there are good shows out there too that reinforce the kind of people we want our kids to grow up to be. And let’s be honest: sometimes our kids will listen to what a cool show or movie says more than they will listen to their parent, am I right?

Monday Eddie discovered Happy Feet (which was just released May 1 on Netflix). He was engrossed because he loves music and funny penguins, but I realized that this too was another show where the main character embraces who he is–a penguin that can’t sing, but has mad dance skills.

Another character Eddie identifies with is King Julian. Again, I think it’s maybe the made dance moves and the fact that he, too, likes to “move it, move it.” Eddie is a goofy, positive, happy kid who wants to spread that around to others. He is unapologetic for being who he is. A new series, “All Hail King Julian: Exiled” is coming to Netflix May 12. Ed’s pumped.

We have our share of struggles with Eddie as he approaches age 8, but self-confidence about who he is has never been one of them. In fact, I admire his ability to walk into a room and make friends immediately with anyone. I think it’s no coincidence that he choose shows and movies with protagonists who have the same qualities.

Oh! Before I sign off…The Secret Life of Pets is now on Netflix! I’ll admit, I have NO IDEA if this fits what I’m writing about here, but I can tell you it is on deck for a Sluiter Family Movie Night soon!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team. Netflix provides the Netflix and a device to watch it on, and my family and I provide the opinions. It’s good times for everyone!

 

 

Girls Can Too

Have I ever told you about how Eddie is a feminist?

I honestly can’t pinpoint when it happened; he has always just had intense feelings about how boys and girls can like and do the same things and anyone who tries to challenge that gets quite the ear-full from him. Actually, he is pretty passionate about social justice in general and is always looking out for the people who might be mistreated, left out, or hurting. In fact, his teacher this year described him as “quite the little activist.”

That makes me more happy than I can express.

He has a bunch or rowdy, good guy friends he hangs with who like to use their imaginations, run around, and trade Pokemon cards with him. But when he was Person of the Week and he brought home his book that everyone wrote to him in, over and over the girls (and some of the boys) described him as “kind” and “helpful” and a “good friend.” He tells me a lot that boys don’t really play with the girls at recess, but he does sometimes because they are his friends too.

I even overheard him and another kid talking about the president and Eddie said, “If Clinton had won, she would have been the first girl president ever. And that is a big deal. I wish she would have won because we need girls to do those jobs too!”

It’s probably not a surprise then that he is always thinking of his sister in this way, Whenever we watch shows that have strong female characters, Eddie says, “this would be a good show for Alice!” It’s interesting to me, because he never really says that about things just because they are girly, but it’s like he noticed the girls in the shows who do things that the boys can do too.

One of his favorite shows has been A Series of Unfortunate Events, and he has told me, “Mom, I think Alice will like this show someday because the baby, Sunny, is cute and the older sister, Violet is really smart. Just like Alice.”

He also really likes the show Trollhunters. He thinks I should get a purple stripe in my hair like Claire, but I told him maybe not.

When Eddie was very small, we always taught him that there were no such things as girl colors or boy colors; there are just colors. And if you like a color it’s a YOU color. When I would go away to conferences, he would ask that I paint his nails the same color as mine so we could think about each other when we looked at them.

And when I was pregnant with Charlie and brought home a baby doll, he loved it and immediately named it Baby and we used it to talk about what life would be like when Charlie arrived.

(Once Charlie was here, by the way, one baby was apparently enough for Eddie, and Baby was cast into the toy room never to be found again…until Alice revived her.)

Eddie has never shied away from doing or liking something simply because people think it’s “for girls”–which is probably why he has also watched every episode of Monster High on Netflix as well. He just likes what he likes!

But it makes my heart soar when he noticed strong girls and thinks of his sister, or when he hears the Disney channel commercial with the Dream Big, Princess song and sings along to it TO his sister.

It makes me feel like we’re doing something right around here, and that Eddie will do wonderful things for women and social just someday.

This is not a paid post. I am a member of Netflix’s Stream Team. They provide the Netflix and a device for our family to watch it on. We provide the opinions and experiences.

How Netflix Helps Us Cheat

We are a family of book lovers. In fact, one of Alice’s first words was “booky,” Charlie pretends to read books to Alice, and Eddie had his nose in a book this morning before I left for school. We get upwards of 40 books a week at the library in the summer and blow through all of them. My To Read pile is almost as tall as I am.

“booky? Peez? Ma Ma?”

We are a family of readers. Cortney read The Hunger Games trilogy and loved it, so I got him Divergent. Although he hasn’t cracked it open yet, I was confident he would.

Then I caught him watching the movie on TV and I was like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU HAVE THE BOOK! YOU CAN’T JUST WATCH THE MOVIE FIRST!”

We do not fool around here.

But I have a confession. Sometimes we cheat on books with Netflix.

It’s true and it’s almost hard for me to type these words, but Netflix has tons of great movies and shows based on books, and some of them we have watched without actually reading the book first.

For instance, we have watched The Jungle Book numerous times without actually having ever read it. Ever. We even own it. Maybe this is Ok, right? Because it’s a kid’s book? Maybe we get a pass?

And Eddie really loves Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. The newest one is not my favorite solely based on the ending, but Eddie enjoys the weirdness of it. I will say we have read Roald Dahl’s version, but the boys were pretty little and I know my own Charlie doesn’t remember it. Eddie does, though. And like his mom, he is quick to point out the differences in the movie from the book. Good boy.

I am currently teaching The Giver to my 8th grade students, and I have actually not watched the 2014 movie yet. It’s on Netflix and I plan to watch it this weekend while I’m on midwinter break. But I plan to watch it with Cortney who has not read the book. I’m a cheating enabler!! (It should be noted, though, that he will watch it and become increasingly annoyed with my commentary about how it is not like the book).

Probably our worst offense, however, is that Eddie has been binge-watching A Series of Unfortunate Events and I have been encouraging it–even watching it with him from time to time (I can’t help it, I love Sunny!)–and NO ONE IN THIS HOUSE has ever read ANY of the books.

I AM SO ASHAMED!

But we can’t help ourselves! And I do have the full intention of getting the Lemony Snicket’s books for our home library so the kids (and I) can read them together. Really.

I SWEAR.

So tell me…how do you cheat with Netflix? Do you watch shows before your partner can get to them? Do have a guilty pleasure you let yourself indulge when you should be doing something else? Spill the beans, yo.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides a year of streaming and a device for our family to watch it on. I am not paid for this content. The opinions are all our own. I am part of Netflix’s Stream Team, and I love it, yo.

Beyond Cartoons

With Eddie turning eight this summer, we are finally seeing the light at the end of the Kiddie Shows Years. Don’t get me wrong, with an almost-two-year-old who is very interested in everything Mickey Mouse–and who puts her hand to her mouth and says, “Oh Tooooodahs!”–we are not exactly out of those years, but we are starting to have more than just animated shows and movies on our TV screen.

While Alice and Charlie still enjoy shows like Curious George, Octonauts, and Little Einsteins, Eddie is ready for something aimed more at his age group. When we get home from school, we have about an hour before his brother and sister get home. In that time he likes to watch a lot of anime–which admittedly is not my favorite programming, but he likes it and most of it is really Ok as far as content, so whatever floats his boat…er…catches his Pokemon. Am I right?

There have been a number of Netflix movies that our family has found to enjoy together, most notoriously Zootopia. However even that has started to lose Eddie’s interest. He would rather watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is boring and a little freaky for the little kids.

So we are getting into that space of life with Littles where it is hard to please everyone.

This month, Netflix released the first season of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate EventsI admit I have never read the books, however they always seemed like something I would have loved as a child. Eddie is still a little young to have read the on his own, however he had heard of them. So one day after school, I showed him the show knowing he liked darker stuff (like our buddy Willy Wonka).

He was immediately taken by it. Neil Patrick Harris is an awesome Count Olaf and Patrick Warburton (aka David Puddy on Seinfeld and Cronk on The Emperor’s New Groove–also a Netflix fave back in the day) is a ridiculously perfect Lemony Snicket. It’s just dark enough, but not so much so that it is scary.

A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Eddie binge-watched all the episodes without me.

Another family-favorite movie is Home. Netflix now has an animated series based on the movie. It’s pretty cute and all three kids like it, so it’s a win here!

Eddie also discovered that now there is a “recently added” row of suggestions under his profile. This is handy because it helps find stuff that he might not otherwise watch. Like a show called Precious Puppies which my puppy-lovin’ kid watched.

And saw puppies being born.

His reaction? “It was so gross…and kinda cute at the same time.”

This is why we love the individual profiles…that could have been a WHOLE lot worse if his profile wasn’t catered to his age group.

Thanks, Netflix.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides us with a year’s worth of streaming and devices to watch it on. All opinions are our own..

Netflix for the Holidays

I don’t know that there is a better time to have Netflix than at the holidays. Not only does it give the kids (and adults) something to watch when it’s too cold or yucky to play outside (or if you’re avoiding housework or grading…what?), but there are so many fun Christmas movies to watch and get you in gear for the season.

I will admit that while I have looked up all the ones we can watch and suggested a bunch, the kids inevitably choose Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas. We have watched that thanks to Netflix no fewer than 100 times in the past twenty-three days. I know all the words.

The second most watched? Dreamworks Holiday Classics. Eddie watches the Madagascar one over and over because King Julian is hilarious.

We have also watched all the Mickey Christmas offerings: Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas, and of course, Mickey’s Magical Christmas. We may have some heavy love of the mouse in this house.

The Frosty the Snowman movies are also available. Those are not my favorite, but the boys like them. We have also watched The Cat in The Hat Knows A Lot About Christmas a few times.

But there are also non-cartoon Christmas movies!  I found Ernest Saves Christmas which brings back tons of memories. My family LOVED the Ernest movies when I was a kid. We rented them on VHS and laughed and laughed.

I also found Love, Actually, which I admitted on Twitter to never having seen. I still haven’t seen it, but it’s good to know it’s there. Heh.

Remember Bill Murray in Scrooged? Ha! Yup, Netflix has it!

Love the classics? There’s White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street.

And of course, on Christmas morning, we turn on Fireplace For Your Home because we don’t have a real fireplace, and it’s just as good as the Yule Log video.

If all that wasn’t enough, Netflix has a BRAND NEW SHOW: Dreamworks Trollhunters! It just debuted today and Eddie has been binge watching it ALL MORNING. I have to admit it’s pretty good. It’s funny and it got us talking about the best ways to tackle problems like being too busy or having someone at school pick on you. So far, I’m pretty impressed. Plus it’s funny too (they keep a gnome in a dollhouse. Just watch, it’s funny).

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There is a boy wrapped in that blanket

Anyway, now that we are on Christmas break for the next 10 days, I am sure that we will spend some quality downtime taking in new shows as well as some old favorites. Hooray for Netflix for the holidays!

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. I am a member of the Netflix StreamTeam. I get a subscription to Netflix as well as a device to watch it on. All opinions are those of my family and me. 

Family Frenzy

Recently, Cortney and I participated in a marriage retreat of sorts through our church. One of the topics we talked about was family. We were asked to reflect on our family traditions growing up and whether or not we were super affectionate or close. Cortney and I had some great conversations and it did shred light on what we both bring to the marriage in terms of sharing and hugging whatnot.

While Cort and I were brought up in similar families–both middle class, Christian, three kids (one girl, two boys), and we are both the oldest–there were enough differences in traditions that we were able to blend them a bit for our own family.

I was trying to decide what family on TV we were most like, but honestly we have bits of many families. Let me see if I can break it down.

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I guess it’s not a shock to say I am an over-sharer. But what is interesting is that is not what my family was like growing up at all. In fact, I routinely made my mother blush and my father sputter with what I would say. Cortney is the exact opposite. After more than twenty years of knowing him, I am still finding out new things because he doesn’t bring stories or topics up until he feels like they apply with what is going on or what we are talking about. I am more of the “if I think it, I blurt it out” type.

I guess that would make our family part Bluth.

 

My Eddie also shares whatever he is thinking, but it’s usually more naive. I mean, he is only seven, after all. But he is just so sweet and trusting. He wants people to be happy and he truly believes the world is a good place. This would make our family a little Kimmy Schmidt too.

As I said before, Cortney is the strong silent type. But he knows how to get down and loves good music. He is also very handsome in a suit and totally smooth. So he brings a little Justin Timberlake to the family.

beat-bugs

My two Littles: Charlie and Alice love to shake their groove things. Ok, let’s be real: we all love to do that. We all love the Beatles. We all help each other out, and we all love a cute story line, so that makes us a little Beat Bugs too.

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Other shows you don’t want to miss: Paddington is now available and a totally cute family favorite. And of course, unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is available. According to Facebook, quite a few of you binged over Thanksgiving weekend. Good for you!

So what TV or movie family do you most identify with? Or is it a mix like us?

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides my family with streaming service and a device to watch it on in exchange for posts about what we watch. All opinions are our own.

Netflix for Spooky Spookertons

Halloween is, by far, NOT my most favorite holiday. If we didn’t have kids, Cortney and I would probably skip it all together.

I don’t like scary things. I don’t like dressing up. I don’t like handing out candy.

Of course our kids love all of these things, so we roll with it. I think Charlie would dress up in costumes every day of the year if we let him judging on how often he has worn his batman mask already this month. And candy? Forget about it. My kids try every trick in the book to get candy for every meal. (It doesn’t work. There is much sadness in the Nation).

As for scary things, Eddie loves it. Well, he doesn’t like truly freaky things, but spooky stuff is totally his jam.

Three days a week we get home about an hour before Cortney and The Littles, so Eddie can get on his Netflix profile and watch what he wants. The rule is that when Cortney gets home with The Littles, he has to turn on PBS because the shows he watches seem to me like they might be a little spooky for Charlie, and way too spooky for Alice.

Eddie is a true binge-watcher, so when he finds a show he watches ALL the episodes before moving on. His latest spooky binges have included Scooby Doo, any and all superhero things (which I get are not traditionally spooky, but I think they could be a little scary), Power Rangers (again, it’s not ghosts and vampires, but it’s got some pretty creepy monsters), and Monster High.

He’s also watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Curious George: A Boo Fest, and Hotel Transylvania 2 a dozen times each.

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I think he’s old enough now to watch ET, so we might have to do a mom and son movie night soon!

Alice and Charlie are just excited that season two of Beat Bugs is now available. Charlie just realized there are more episodes of Dinotrux. And Eddie found season three of The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show, another favorite around here.  I haven’t told him yet, but Eddie will also be jazzed that season one of Skylanders Academy will be available by the end of the month…because dragons.

As for this year’s costumes, I will be sharing pictures of those soon enough. Eddie, every the spooky spookerton, chose to be a skeleton again this year. Charlie chose a batman costume he found (hence the mask he’s been wearing for the past two weeks), and Alice is going as a lady bug…hopefully. I have the costume from a friend, but as we know, toddlers can be persnickety when it comes to actually wearing the costume. Here’s hoping!

Anyway, what spooky shows do your kids like to watch? Anything we should add to our list?

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This is not a sponsored post. I am part of the Netflix Stream Team and am provided with Netflix and a device to watch it on. All opinions are our own.

Disney and Netflix

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I have a confession: I love Disney. I do. I know I am not a typical “Disney Mom,” but some of my fondest memories of growing up involve Disney productions. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that my kids are also drawn to anything associated with mouse ears too.

When I was in elementary school, VCRs were the new big technology thing, and my family didn’t have one. It’s a safe statement to say that my parents are not technology bandwagon jumpers. It is 2016 and they both only have flip phones. And my mom has one reluctantly–we had to give it to her for Christmas and switch their landline to it for her.

So in the 80’s the Riemersma family did not have a VCR of their own. However when my parents wanted to treat us to something special, we would go to the local rental shop and rent both a VCR and a few family-friendly (G-rated) videos.  Remember those little local video stores? Not the big box ones, but the little mom & pop ones? The one in our town was actually a repair shop that started renting videos and VCRs on the side. When you found a movie you wanted, you took the little circle tag off the hook in front of it and brought it to the shopkeeper. He would get it for you from the back and you would pay your rental fee.  They also sold microwave popcorn at the counter. But of course, we didn’t have a microwave either.

Anyway, my family always got a few Disney movies. Always. One cartoon and one non-cartoon. Always. I still sing “First you take a rag, put in the bag. BUMP BUMP!” when I am picking up after the kids.

First you pick it up, put it in the bag. Bump Bump!

My kids love Disney too. All three have gone through the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse stage. Alice is in it right now and I admit to loving watching her do the hot dog dance. Eddie has found all the old Mickey cartoons on Netflix and watched them a zillion times. His favorite is the Three Mouseketeers. He once told me that he loves it because “they always work together and the good guys always win….every time I watch it, Mom!”

Disney

This past summer I took Eddie to see Zootopia. We both loved it! And guess what! As of September 20 it’s available on Netflix! I know what we are doing this weekend.

If that news isn’t big and exciting enough, maybe this will knock your socks off (it did mine): Netflix is now the exclusive place to stream Disney (THE JUNGLE BOOK!), Lucasfilm (ZOMG STAR WARS!), Marvel (Netflix original shows!), and Pixar (FINDING DORY IS COMING!). THESE ARE ALL OF OUR FAVORITES!

Just in time for the weather to turn cool and to bust out the cuddly blankets for a good movie night! So grab some popcorn and start streaming!

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Disclaimer: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam. I receive free Netflix streaming and a device to watch it on in exchange for a post once a month. All opinions are my own.

 

All You Need is Love…

I don’t think it’s a secret that we love music in this family. Months and months ago, Cortney said, “hey…did you know there’s a new show coming to Netflix with Beatles music and Eddie Vedder sings one of the songs?”

Usually I am the one giving the first-to-know Netflix news, but when it comes to Pearl Jam/Eddie Vedder, Cortney is usually the one in the know first.

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We sort of forgot about it until a big box came in the mail the day I had my hernia surgery. Inside was a tambourine, harmonica, hats, and a microphone. I wondered for a moment if Netflix was trying to kill me, but then remembered that Beat Bugs was now available to watch!

The first day I was home with the kids after my surgery (which was 5 days post-op), I busted out the box of noise because I thought it would keep them occupied. I was right. Naturally they loved it. Naturally.

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He is singing, “I LOVE MY DAD EVEN WHEN HE IS MAD AT ME I LOVE MY DAD DAD!!!” in the most metal voice…so funny.

It was only after the kids put on an epic rock n roll concert that we settled down and found Beat Bugs on Netflix. Eddie was all like, “hey, they sing a song in every episode. That’s neat.” And Charlie was like, “I love songs!” And Alice just shook her booty.

I was like ZOMG THE BEATLES!  AND EDDIE VEDDER JUST SANG “MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR!” And is that P!nk singing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”? SHUT UP!

I mean, the show is cute. Yeah.

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Do you want to hear something funny? Cortney was actually a little mad we watched the show without him!  Ha!  We are usually late to the new shows, but we jumped on this one because it has everything we like: cute characters (look at Buzz! Just look at her! She is adorable!), great music, and umm…that’s it. That is all we require in a great show. It’s surprising how few shows meet these qualifications, really.

The only draw back (other than the fact that Netflix sent noise to our house via FedEx) is that Eddie keeps arguing that one really does need more than just love. “Love will not fill your tummy with food mom, even if you DO say the secret ingredient in your ice cream is love. I’m pretty sure it’s not.”

Rock on, fellow Netflix watchers!

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This post is not sponsored. Netflix provides free streaming and a device to watch on. I provide my own opinions.

Lessons from Netflix

We just got back from being without screens for four days. It actually went really well because we were so busy the boys didn’t have time to want to watch anything. Even before bedtime when a show is usually what chills everyone out, they were so tired from all the swimming and playing that a listening to a couple books was enough to knock them out.

Last night, though, when we got home around bedtime, the first question was: Can we watch a show? Of course I answered “yes” because I too, missed the electric glow of the screen. As we watched yet another episode of something the boys are currently obsessed with, I realized that over the past three years, we have learned a lot from Netflix. Here they are in no particular order.

  • I should probably not supplement my income by making and selling meth with a former student. (Breaking Bad)
  • Vampire squid can see in the dark. (Octonauts)
  • Tomato juice works for getting skunk stink off. (Curious George)
  • We all enjoy waving our hands in the air like we just do not care. (Home)
  • All guys experience the “vinegar strokes.” (The League)
  • There were dragons in the time of Vikings. (How to Train Your Dragon and Dragons: Race to the Edge)
  • Not everything on Netflix is 100% nonfiction (see above lesson)
  • When the children are watching a show and everything stops and the little loading circle stops at 25%, there will be shrieking and gnashing of teeth.
  • It’s fun to go to the “search” option and just type random letters and see what offerings pop up.
  • Excellent nonfiction books can be turned into ridiculously addictive fictional television series. (Orange is the New Black)
  • My kids will watch anything that has been on the Cartoon Network and I will hate all of it.

I have also learned that my kids can binge-watch just about anything, where I simply do not have the binge gene. I can watch a few episodes of something at a time, but I feel like I am wasting my day if I turn on the old Flix then, and at night I am too tired to watch more than a few episodes.

Even so, I have learned that I don’t think our family could go with out Netflix. We all have our favorites shows and movies (um, Back to the Future is now showing. Yes, the entire trilogy!), and it’s become a preferred way to relax at the end of the day…together.

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