The Flix Wherever You May Be

We don’t travel for the holidays because our entire family lives within a 45-minute drive from our house. In fact, we rarely travel very far with our kids. We are, what you might call, homebodies.

This is not to say we haven’t made road trips with the kids. Generally speaking, our kids are usually pretty solid car riders–give them some Kidz Bop and they will happily ride without needing anything else to occupy them. However the couple times we took kids to Chicago–a three-ish hour drive–we did, in fact, make sure we had some Netflix downloaded to the tablets and some “ear muffs” so we didn’t have to listen to it.

Our Netflix reality is pretty much non-mobile these days, and everyone has their own To Watch List. Alice is a fangirl for all things Beat Bugs. She also loves PJ Masks and anything with Micky Mouse. I think we have watched every single possible Micky Mouse video available. Octonauts continues to be a hit with all of my kids.

The boys have their sister-free hour of Netflix right after school while I make dinner. Charlie is on a Chuck Chicken binge right now, while Eddie usually chooses TrollHunters or Voltron.

While I was in St. Louis, the family watched Boss Baby and loved it…even Cortney thought it was pretty funny.

Cortney and I get somewhere around zero Netflix time to ourselves. We have about an hour after the kids go to bed before we are falling asleep on the couch ourselves. This means that about 95% of the Netflix watched in our house is done by people age eight and younger. It’s Ok, though. At some point we will get to finish watching the first season of Breaking Bad, right? And maybe someday I will be able to continue watching Orange is the New Black…seeing as the last time I watched it was while I was on maternity leave with Alice two years ago.

Although on our immediate To Watch list is 13th because we enjoy documentaries to binge-watching an entire series. Rogue One is still on my short list too because STAR WARS! Maybe we will actually get time to watch during the holidays?

Who am I kidding? The kids will take over and we be left without any access to Netflix.

Streaming Ourselves Smarter

Growing up, my brothers shared a room in the basement of our house. My dad made them bunk beds, and of course, the oldest had the top bunk while my baby brother had the bottom. Next to their bed was a small nightstand. On top was a vintage lamp of a clown holding big plastic balloons. Underneath, it had a shelf that had a stack of children’s books. Most were from Scholastic book orders, and I can remember reading those books to my brothers when I babysat them.

The older brother would hang over the edge of the top bunk to see the pictures, while my baby brother would lay on his side, cuddled in his bottom bunk. I would situate myself on the floor, leaning against the bottom bed. One recurring book choice was The Magic School Bus.

My brothers and I went inside the human body and all the way to outer space with Ms. Frizzle and the students. We traveled into the Earth’s center and down into the deepest oceans. They were among our most favorite books.

I was probably Eddie’s age when those books came out. I was in high school by the time the TV show came out, but my youngest brother was around Eddie’s age then. So imagine my delight when I found out that Netflix is now streaming the Magic School Bus series!

Eddie and Charlie love shows that are nonfiction and teach them things without them really realizing that they are learning. Often they will blurt out facts about things, and when I ask, “where did you learn that?” They will say from some show or other.

They area also taking right after their mom with wanting to Google more about things as we learn them. I can’t watch anything without Google in my hand (catch me watching superhero shows/movies and I am constantly trying to read more about their comic book origins), and I am starting to pass that habit down to the boys.

The problem is that I am their Google since they don’t have phones/computers at ages eight and five!

But you know what? I don’t even care! They are not just learning stuff, but finding joy in something that I loved as a kid too!

The next thing we need to do is see if Grandma still has all those old books! I bet Eddie would enjoy reading them to his little siblings as much as I did to mine!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides the streaming and a device on which to stream, but we watch what we want and provide the opinions and commentary.

The Art of Persuasion

“What do you guys want to watch? You can choose between Zootopia, Moana, Secret Life of Pets, or Trolls.

Eddie: MOM! You always give those four. I want to watch something different!

Charlie: ZOOTOPIA

Eddie: You knew he was going to pick that! I’m not picking from that list.

Charlie: It’s Zootopia then because Alice will pick Zootopia and Eddie votes for nothing, so no matter what mom votes for we win. Zootopia.

Eddie: Maybe not. Alice? What do YOU want to watch?

Alice: TOPIA!

Eddie: UGGGGGGG!!!! I’m going downstairs to watch what I want.

Me: No popcorn then. Only movie watchers get popcorn.

Eddie: UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!! This is not fair!

<20 minutes later>

Eddie: Charlie! Here comes our favorite part! “You’re dead, Fluff Butt!”

Charlie giggles

Alice: “You dead, Fuf Butt!”

Me: (munching popcorn) told ya so.

We all know that sometimes it takes a bit of creative persuasion to get someone in our house to watch what we want to watch. To be honest, I would have been cool with any of the movies I listed above, but I love Zootopia and I know if I throw it in as a choice, Charlie will pick it every time.

But sometimes, rather than give choices, I just start something. You all want to watch a show? You will watch what I put on.

Ok, some shows don’t take a lot of persuasion.

“Who wants to watch some Beat Bugs?”

“MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

But other shows…

Eddie: Hey Bird, ya wanna watch Trollhunters?

Charlie: No.

Eddie: But it’s really good. There are trolls. And they get hunted.

Charlie: No.

Eddie: You would like it.

Charlie: No.

Maybe Eddie needs this…

This works for grown-ups too. For instance, I love Star Wars. A lot. But I haven’t seen Rogue One yet because it’s apparently hard to get out of the house to go to the theater without kids. Cortney, however, is cool with Star Wars, but hasn’t even seen all of the Original Three.

I KNOW!

Thankfully I have this handy dandy guide to help me persuade him:

Just kidding. All I need to say is, “Hey. Ya wanna watch Rogue One after the kids go to bed?” And he’d be like, “Sure. Let me grab a beer.”

The art of persuasion man.

*************

*Disclaimer: This is not a paid post. Netflix supplies the streaming and a device to stream it on; we provide our opinions. Beat Bug merch available at Target. Netflix did send us that too. We love it.

Sneaky, Sneaky

Recently I read some survey results that Netflix did indicating that 71% of moms admit that they “sneak” in Netflix time between all their busy momming duties. Some of the even hide in bathrooms and closets to catch the next episode of the new favorite show.

This statistic really didn’t surprise me at all. Staying home with my kids during the summer definitely makes me feel like hiding–and sometimes I do, but with a book on the deck. And that is usually only in the summer since I’m at work teaching during peek Netflix sneak hours of the school year.

But we do have a Netflix sneaker in our house: Eddie.

He knows there are certain shows that I’m fine with him watching, but that I don’t want his younger siblings watching yet. Anything fighty like Pokemon or Troll Hunters I would rather he watch on his own. So while I’m doing something with Charlie and Alice upstairs, Eddie will suddenly disappear. When I head downstairs to do laundry, I will find him curled up in front of Netflix binge-watching every episode of shows like Buddy Thunderstruck.

StreamTeam

Buddy Thunderstruck is one of those “choose your own adventure” shows like Puss in Book is. Speaking of that boot-wearing cat, there are new episodes of Puss in Boots that Eddie likes to watch too.

While he will sneak away during the day, his prime sneaky watching time is early morning. He tends to wake up around 6:30am, well before his siblings and I get up. This morning, for instance, I found him in a little nest he built himself watching Sing, which was just released on Netflix and which he absolutely couldn’t wait for the rest of us to enjoy with him apparently.

If I did stay home with my kids every day, all year long, I would probably become a Netflix sneaker too, to be honest. I imagine myself making the kids all rest during Alice’s nap and then I would binge on my ipad or something. Those surveyed said doing the sneaking gives them much-needed “me time.” What do you think?

What kind of sneaky sneakerton are you? And what would you watch? I would catch up Orange is the New Black since I haven’t watched any of it since my maternity leave with Alice.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid post. Netflix provides streaming and a device on which to stream. All opinions of shows are those of our family. Some more unfortunate opinions than others.

A Break from the Break

Summer is supposed to be a break, right? The kids get a break from school and/or full-time daycare. I get a break from work. We get a break from School Year Schedule that is full and rigorous, and exchange it for a slower, more open Summer Schedule.  It’s supposed to be easy…well, easier anyway.

Except that a lot of times it’s not easy at all. In fact, summer can be downright difficult.

I’ve mentioned before that I try to have something for us to do each day whether we head to a park, the library, the splash pad, or the farmer’s market. But sometimes it rains. Sometimes the bickering and whining is too much that I don’t even trust that leaving the house will help–and it might actually result in a worse meltdown, and in public.

We need some sort of break from each other on those days.

Because we (let’s be honest here: I) need these breaks often, my kids probably get more screen time than most during the summer. Alice’s break is her nap (thank the Lord), but the boys need to be separated for part of the day too.

Days like yesterday that are lovely and not so horribly hot that we feel like we are on the face of the sun, I shoo the boys outside. In fact, I may have even been so desperate for them to stay out of the house that I tossed their afternoon snack of a Popsicle off the deck and made them catch them. Allegedly.

But on days like Monday and Wednesday when the storms started around 9am and continued ALL DAY LONG, they needed something else.

You know this means Netflix.

Netflix is the way we take a break from each other. Our house is not that big. It’s easy to be all in each other’s business, so the boys can either sit in separate chairs and watch the same thing like Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale–which is kind of cool because it’s like a choose your own adventure show.

They giggle about songs and choose which way to have the story go.

Or if the need to be physically AWAY from each other (or I get sick of the stupid “trout” song on Puss in Book), one can be upstairs watching Octonauts (Charlie) on our smart TV, and the other can be downstairs watching the latest episodes of Dawn of The Croods (Eddie) on the Wii.

Sure we also play games or read books, but let’s be real. The best way to make the house quiet is to turn on something everyone wants to watch.

Which is probably why we watched Zootopia again this week. Twice.

What?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides streaming and devices to watch it on, but we choose what we watch and provide our own opinions. And yes, we really do love Zootopia that much. It’s almost a sickness.

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).

Netflix

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. 

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