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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My Summer Binge List

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I’ve seen everybody talkin’ all about what they can’t wait to binge watch this summer on Netflix. New seasons of favorite shows have started coming out and the list of what is coming and going in July was just released. I’ll be honest, it gets sort of stressful to me.

In fact, I have had to avoid certain Facebook threads because people are discussing the new season of Orange is the New Black. Season four just came out like last week and people are already talking all about the thing. I am not even done with season 2 yet because that is how far I got last year on maternity leave before the boys were home for the summer and I never watched it again.

I also haven’t finished Breaking Bad yet.

So let’s put both of those on the list for this summer. I get two days each week without kids and I have some projects to work on that I can do in front of the TV, so maybe I will get to watch my favorite not-kid-appropriate shows while accomplishing things. That would be fun.

Ok, but the real thing that I am looking forward to having a binge-fest on is coming in July. Cortney rolled his eyes so hard when I told him about this that I thought his eyeballs were going to get stuck in the back of his head.

I’ll give you a hint…I’m sort of a super fan…

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YES! BACK TO THE FUTURE! ALL THREE MOVIES IN THE GREATEST TRILOGY OF ALL TIME!!!!

Ok so yes, I have all three movies on both VHS and DVD (including all the special features, commentary, etc), but now it’s on NETFLIX!  That means it’s even EASIER to access on all of my screens all of the time.

ALL OF THE TIME!

No more will I have to go downstairs to find the DVD, put it in the DVD player and all that jazz. Nope. It’s right there. RIGHT THERE ALL THE TIME!

B to the F! Marty! Doc! George! Lorraine! Biff! The whole gang!

Gotta get back in time!!!!

Ahem.

Sorry.

To recap: Orange is the New Black finish season 2 and watch seasons 3 and 4. Maybe finish Breaking Bad. Watch the Back to the Future Trilogy ad nauseam until my family makes me stop.

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Disclaimer: I write posts for Netflix once a month. They give me free streaming and a device to watch it on. All opinions are clearly my own because no body else in the world–except maybe my brothers–love Back to the Future this much.

Oh, I would also like to pour one out for all the PBS shows that are leaving Netflix this summer. We miss you, Curious George. And Daniel and the Kratt Brothers will be very VERY missed.

Sibling Conflict: The Netflix Edition

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I never had the experience of having a sibling who was the same gender as me. Cortney didn’t have one close to his age (his brother is seven years younger than he is). Eddie and Charlie’s relationship being two and a half years apart is a whole new world to us.

They are super close in a way I wasn’t with my brother and Cort wasn’t with his sister, but that closeness also means they fight. A lot.

Eddie is typical oldest child: He is bossy and too smart for his own good. And like his mother (who is also an oldest child), he is rule-follower and a tattle-tale. He’s also a bit of a wimp (also like his mother).

Charlie is proving to be typical middle child: Stubborn, gives no damns about rules, rough, and did I mention stubborn?

At almost seven and four, Eddie and Charlie have pretty different preferences in what shows they want to watch. Charlie is still very much into Disney Jr. shows and chooses Dinotrux, Curious George, Handy Manny, and other shows that are geared toward his age group and love of tools, trucks, and silliness.  Eddie likes anime shows, but he’s also starting to watch movies and shows with real people, Odd Squad being a real favorite.

Each night we watch a show before heading downstairs for books and bed. Sometimes it can turn into a real argument about what we watch. From time to time we also do a movie night and that can get heated too since the boys have such different preferences of what is entertaining.

This is where I admit that when we found out Charlie was a boy, I had all happy brothers-gotta-hug-type visions of how Eddie and Charlie would grow up together. I pictured Eddie putting his arm around his little brother’s shoulders and guiding him. I pictured Charlie looking up admiringly to Eddie.

<insert cliche record scratch sound>

TV show and movie arguments are the tip of the iceberg with these two. It seems like when they are getting along it’s because they are doing something naughty–like throwing spaghetti noodles at the sliding door windows (outside, thankfully, not in) while I get Alice cleaned up after dinner. Or they are are throwing things into our tree and then standing on top of the cozi coupe to get them down. Or they are supposed to be eating lunch, but instead are thinking of different ways to describe their food in terms of poop and giggling until they have the hiccups.

All of the rest of the time they are LOUDLY yelling/screaming at each other or smacking each other around.

Is this normal brother behavior? I don’t really know.

I do know that they are able to agree on a few things: butts (and everything they do) are funny; bubbles are a good time; and Netflix has at least three things that they both like to watch.

I’ve mentioned before that they both like the movie, Home.

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And now Inside Out is also on Netflix and they both really love that one. In fact, Charlie took one look at Anger and said, “I like that red guy.”  No one was surprised.

While we were on our little mini-trip over spring break, we found Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on TV and they were both totally into it–much to my surprise. We read the book together last summer, but both forgot some of the details. Eddie discovered this week that it’s on Netflix, and they have watched it twice since.

As far as shows, they discovered Kong: King of the Apes this week and seem interested in it, so I foresee that one one being the next binge they go on. And as always, the whole family loves some Phineas and Ferb.

So give me some suggestions for these crazy boys. What are your kids watching? I need some back up ideas for what is looking like a rainy weekend coming up!

Lego Crazy!

I knew it would come. I wish I could say that prepared me, but it didn’t. Knowing doesn’t always equate to preparedness.

The minute I found out I was pregnant, I knew the day would come when our house would be invaded by Legos.

First it was Duplo. Both of my boys enjoy getting the Duplo sets, but the real fun was seeing if you could use every single block in a tower or stack of some sort. I have had to get increasingly larger bins for the amount of these chunky blocks, and it seems already that Alice loves them too.

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Then came Eddie’s first “real” Lego set. He was only four and the set was too hard for him to put together himself, so I did it for him. At that age, the fun wasn’t yet in the building, it was in playing with the finished product. That is where Charlie is now. He got a Lego Junior set for his birthday last week–a road construction truck and road blocks. While he wanted to sit with me and watch and put the wheels on, he really just wanted me to hurry up and snap it all together so he could spend time blocking the “road” for his other toy cars so his new Legos could do construction.

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Eddie, at almost seven, is now into Lego for the joy of putting them together. He looks through the catalog that arrives each month and carefully circles each set he is interested in that he knows he has a chance of getting (he is savvy enough to know no one is spending $300 on a dang Lego set for him). He is at the awesome age where he loves to tear open a new set and carefully follow the directions to put it together, but he doesn’t just put it on a shelf when he is done. He actually plays with it.

It’s not surprising then that some of the first shows he discovered a few years ago were the Lego Shows on Netflix. He absolutely devoured them. In fact, what he knows about Star Wars is all based on what he’s seen on Lego shows (and Angry Birds). He about died of boredom when I tried to show him Episode 4. Apparently he is not ready for actual actors yet…just animation.

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But hey! That’s Ok because Netflix now has Bionicle: The Journey to One and Lego Friends: The Power of Friendship. He has watched all of the Bionicle episodes…twice. He even checked out the Lego Friends because gender stereotypes do not apply to him. He says it’s pretty good.

Oh, and not to be left out, Charlie has enjoyed the new season of Dinotrucks. That kid sure does like his dinosaur/truck hybrids.

So what are you watching and/or building?

A Night In With Netflix

Dear Netflix,

Eddie has been learning about the difference between “wants” and “needs” in school lately. He’s a first grader, you know, and it’s an important subject. Kids his age get those two things confused all the time. We have to remind him he doesn’t NEED a cookie or the Wii or more Pokemon cards. It’s a good lesson, all around.

There are many things that I want that I don’t really need too: A bag of Cheetos, a venti cinnamon dolce latte, yet another book on my To Read Pile.

One thing everyone in my family  needs is down time. We are a family of introverts. At first glance you might not guess–especially Eddie and me. We are loud and love to laugh and we are not afraid to talk in front of people. However the way we recharge is by being quietly alone. Or at least just with our family.

To some, it may look like we zone out. The ipad, the tablet, our phones, the Wii, books are all easy ways to go into our own heads to be away from the rest of the world that we just gave so much energy to all day.

Ok we are zoning out.

But we need it.

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The nice thing about you, Netflix, is that you help us to zone together. We choose a show and can all enter into a united zone out.

So I guess I am saying thank you. Thank you for being a part of every single night in we have as a family. I don’t know how thankful I am that one of your choices is Pokemon, but whatever. It keeps Eddie happy on snow days, so I guess I’m ok with it.

Anyway, we all enjoy watching Phineas and Ferb and Chuggington. We like Curious George and Peep and The Big Wide World. We have also watched Home at least eleventy billion times since it became available. We are not so patiently waiting for US Netflix to get Inside Out (Canadian Netflix has it, friends from the North!), but at least we have lots of Madagascar spin-offs to keep us busy.

So Netflix, what I’m trying to say here is “thank you”.  Thank you for being part of my family’s daily routine of winding down and zoning out. Thank you for helping us regroup from a big day and come together as a family for some rest and relaxation.

Sincerely,

The Sluiter Family

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Family Adventures!

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Winter in Michigan means being indoors a LOT.

Typically January in Michigan means feet of snow keeping us in; this year that is not so much the case, but it has been pretty yucky. In fact, yesterday it rained on the snow that is already on the ground. It’s like cold oatmeal out there on the roads.

So yeah, we stay in.  And when we stay in, we do crafts and puzzles. We build with Mega Blocks and play Animal Crossing on the Wii, but we also spend a good amount of time in front of the television.

Last week, Eddie and I had a snow day. I spent a lot of the day working, but Eddie busied himself finding new stuff on Netflix. That’s when he found Dawn of the Croods. The Croods is a family favorite movie around these parts. It is frequently chosen when we have a snow day in the winter or a movie night or a rainy afternoon preventing us from playing outdoors. The new show is sort of a prequel to the movie and it’s all about the Croods’ adventures as a family.

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That got me thinking about the adventures we hope to have this year with our family. Last year we had a really big adventure: Alice!  This year is our first full year as a family of five and here is what we are looking forward to, complete with an overabundance of exclamation points!

The Big Alice in Wonderland Unbirthday Tea Party! Alice and Charlie have birthdays that are only a week apart, so we have decided that they will share their party, and this year, we are doing an Alice in Wonderland theme. Alice will, clearly, have a cute little white onsie and blue tutu and Charlie will have a Mad Hatter hat and it’s going to be SO MUCH FUN!

Spring Break to Chicago! A couple years ago, we took just Eddie for a weekend to Chicago and left his baby brother with my parents. It was a major hit. Now that Charlie will be four (the age Eddie was when we took him), we are going to do the trip again, but this year with just the boys. We will stay downtown somewhere with a pool because, according to Eddie, that was the best part of the trip. Weather-permitting we will also go to the Lincoln Park Zoo and probably the Lego Store.

Summer Vacation! I’m not sure what this summer holds as far as getting away, but it sounds like there are at least two possible weekends our family will get to stay in a cottage or something. I hope so because it’s always super fun to take the kids to the beach. And this will be Alice’s first summer actually being able to play in the sand rather than just be held under an umbrella.

Pearl Jam! Pearl Jam is ending their North American Tour in Chicago this summer and Cortney and I are hoping to go because PEARL JAM!

Two Kids in School! This fall Charlie will be starting preschool while Eddie moves on to second grade.

New Daycare! Our beloved Renae “Nae” has made the tough decision not to renew her daycare license this spring, which means after almost six years, we will have to find a new place for The Littles. In the fall, Charlie will be going to Preschool, so we can do the childcare option there, but Alice will need a new place. We are very sad, but hopeful that we can find a wonderful place for our kids.

The Unknown! Ok I admit, “The Unknown” gives me anxiety, but it is fun to have the sense of “what could happen next?” that comes with not having everything planned out. I know that, like The Croods, we will have lots of unforeseen adventures in 2016. Some will be sucky (changing daycare), but some will be super fun.

So, here we go 2016! Let’s get adventurous!

The 12 Days of Netflix

Well, here we are on Christmas break, and before me lies twelve days before we hit the weekend of going back to school. I would like to say I am totally prepared and am jumping off the walls with excitement about being home with all three kids for the next two weeks.

But that would only be partly true.

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While I do have some fun things planned for break–including way too much sugar–we will have a lot of down time too. Cortney and I are really trying to keep the boys off their ipads and tablets, but I figure watching movies and shows together is cool, right?

RIGHT! Which is one reason we love Netflix. Here are twelve more–because twelve days of Christmas. Get it? Yeah, so anyway…

  1. We can watch it anywhere in our house. We have a roku TV in our room, a Wii downstairs. a Roku TV upstairs, and an ipad mini. Technically all four TV-watchers could be watching a different Netflix show at the same time.
  2. There are choices for all of us individually AND as a family.
  3. The League
  4. Seemingly endless episodes of Phineas and Ferb
  5. All of the Pokemon that Eddie can handle.
  6. Eddie being able to work Netflix from any device all on his own–which means he can start a show for his brother and himself at 7am allowing me to sleep a little longer.
  7. No commercials
  8. All the Christmas movies and episodes of things to fill a few afternoons. Ahem.
  9. Orange is the New Black
  10. Individual profiles so we don’t have Curious George in our favorites next to Breaking Bad.
  11. There is ALWAYS something to watch.
  12. Say what you will about screens and shows, but watching Netflix is truly something we do as a whole family. I love that.

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What are you watching this holiday season?

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.. I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam so I get free Netflix streaming and a device to watch it on. The opinions here are always my own.

The Bedtime Battle

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I have a love/hate relationship with my children’s bedtime routines.

I know all kids are different, but it always astounds me how we can do the same thing with all three kids and get three vastly different outcomes.

As a baby, Eddie just couldn’t fall asleep on his own. We tried. Oh boy did we try. But I just couldn’t leave him to cry in his crib, so at a very young age, he was held until he fell asleep. Then he was read to and rocked to sleep. Then he was read to and laid by until he fell asleep…well, Ok that is the routine even now.

We tried putting him to bed without laying next to him. It resulted in some interesting “getting out of bed excuses” and even a couple times where he appeared completely naked requesting “a little help.” In fact, I wrote about all the ridiculous things he would say.

Charlie was so easy. We would feed him his last bottle of the night,  put him in bed completely awake, and walk away. He would sleep all night. Eventually we added books and rocking, but even then after he felt he’d had enough rocking, he would point to the crib and go to bed.

That was until he realized he could escape the crib.  Then bedtime became an all-out, throw-down battle with that child. Put him to bed, he gets out, put him back, he cries, gets quiet, gets out, put him back, ad naseam.

That is when the bunk beds came. My dad built the boys their beds, and since Eddie was the oldest, we gave him the pick of top or bottom. He picked bottom, and quite awesomely, Charlie got the top…and couldn’t get out by himself! 

Now our main battle is about getting jammies on and getting teeth brushed and which shows we will watch before and which books we will read.

Alice…well…she is a good sleeper. Such a good sleeper that lately she has been falling asleep on the living room floor. (If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen this phenomena). She wakes up just long enough to have her last bottle, then promptly falls back to sleep in our arms, and unless her teeth bug her, she’s out for the rest of the night.

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As the kids get older, they get slower about the nightly routine. Charlie somehow spends at least part of his “show time” in his underwear because apparently it takes him a full 20 minutes to put on pajamas, and just the other night Eddie told me he “forgot” to brush his teeth in the 30 minutes he had to do so.

I know we have not had the weirdest bedtime battles, nor have we had the worst. But sometimes, at the end of a long day, all you want is for the kids to go to bed…so you can go to bed.

Or eat chocolate and watch Netflix or DVR-ed SNL Jimmy Fallon episodes.

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am part of the Netflix StreamTeam, so I share some things I love or write to a prompt once a month. In return, Netflix provides me with their service as well as devices to watch it on. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Netflix and Dinosaurs and Trucks

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Ah, the smell of fall is in the air today. I am seeing lots of back to school pictures filling up my Facebook feed. Eddie’s teacher letter came in the mail today making him ALL excited that he needs a pencil box for first grade. Yes, it’s almost time for school to start.

Many parents feel a mixed bag of emotions this time of year, and I’m not different. Although I will say that having been off work since March 5, and having the boys home since June 6, I am ready for us all to get back on our school schedule. I am excited to start another year with 8th graders, we all look forward to Eddie becoming a 1st grader, and Charlie is pretty jazzed about Alice coming to daycare with him.

We have two weeks left.

In those two weeks I was hoping to jam in some last minute summer fun!  Then it rained. A bunch. And now it’s all of a sudden 65 degrees–not exactly beach weather, if you know what I mean. It’s even windy enough that the state parks are flying red flags at Lake Michigan.

But fear not! The boys have found themselves a new Netflix original series to keep them occupied when the weather is too chilly and wet for slip n slides and bike rides: DinoTrux!

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This show is about these creatures that are part dinosaur and part machine. There are also tiny ones that are party lizard and part machine.  They are sort of like the little tools and the big dinosaurs do the big construction work. For a kid like Charlie who loves all things construction and big “monsters” like dinosaurs, this is the most perfect show. There are “good guys” who are all friends and a “bad guy” who tries to break up the friends. Of course the friends always win by working together. Well, at least for the three episodes we’ve watched they have.

It’s a cute little show to fill the time between play doh and lunch time. From today until two weeks when we go back to school.

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam. Netflix provides their service and a device for us to watch it on. All opinions and show choices are our (my) own.

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