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.

Adventures and Netflix

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Being home with three kids ages 6 and under is intense. It’s always been my goal that we get dressed and get out of the house at least for a bit every day in the summer. This summer that has sort of gone out the finger-printed window. With a new baby and a freshly turned three-year old in the house who still needs a nap, we haven’t been able to do all the adventures outside the house that we would really like to do.

We have had to resort to calling swim lesson drop-off an “adventure” for the day. I have also declared Popsicles as a snack an “adventure” because we couldn’t go anywhere due to a baby who was on a weird nap schedule that was different from her three-year-old brother’s nap schedule…so pretty much someone was always napping.

That being said, my boys were off the charts excited when we got a big ol’ box from Netflix a couple weeks ago.

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My boys really like How to Train Your Dragon, and Eddie informed me he had already watched several episodes of the Netflix series, Dragons Race to the Edge. After we opened the box, Eddie blew up the sword and Charlie grabbed the treasure map and they were off to outside.

Later while Cortney was feeding Alice, I came out with the chalk and we filled up the driveway.

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That night, Charlie asked to sleep with his blue dragon.  After he tried on the mask…and let his sister have a turn, of course.

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I have let myself feel quite a bit of guilt this summer for not being able to take my kids out daily to do fun adventures. I stare at the “bucket list” we made and wonder if we will get to even a couple of the items.

But you know what? Netflix reminded me that we don’t have to leave home to have fun adventures. We can use our imaginations and our resources right here to find fun.  And when we get tired from all that fun? We can sit down and enjoy adventures on our TV thanks to Netflix!

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This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides us with service and a device to stream movies and shows on, but the opinions are all our own.

Netflix and His New Obsession

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I blame Netflix for this.

Which means I suppose I have to blame myself since we have Netflix because of me. Plus I am the one who encouraged him to break free from Curious George and find some other shows to fill his “quiet time” while Charlie and Alice nap.

I honestly didn’t know it was still a think. I remember kids my youngest brother’s age going all wonky for it when we were kids, but I guess I didn’t realize little kids are still into it.

And now it’s invaded my home.

Pokemon.

Eddie loves it. LOVES. IT. WITH. A. CAPITAL. L. LOVES.

It’s his number one choice show during “TV Time” (rainy days, siblings’s nap time, and right before bed). When he’s not watching it, he is asking me to print coloring pages of Pokemon characters off the Internet. Or he is showing me the six cards a friend gave him and explaining powers and evolving to me.

The other day he was standing next to me while I was working giving me the low down on a bunch of stuff I didn’t really care about, and it brought back the memory of friends with older kids assuring me my two-year old would indeed talk so much one day I would wish for the days of no words back.

That time still hasn’t come, but I will admit the Pokemon stuff is boring and uninteresting to me. BUT…it’s so SO interesting to him. I really don’t care about battles, but watching him explain it to me with such fervor is amazing.

He watches those Netflix episodes over and over and studies those six cards like it is his job, asking me occasionally about words on them. He draws Pokemon on everything.

His birthday was this week and we gave him a pile of presents including Lego, craft stuff, and yes, a pack of Pokemon cards. Of all the things he got from his family (including a fishing pole and a marble maze) that tiny pack of Pokemon cards is his favorite. He even told me he was going to use any of the money he got to buy a book to keep his cards in.

Listen. There are worse things that he could be watching.

I’ll take the Pokemon phase.

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I am part of the Netflix #StreamTeam. This is not a sponsored post. I was provided with Netflix and a device to watch it on, but the opinions and stories I write are all mine, yo.

Binge Watching with Netflix

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I’ve watched hours of a show before. When I stumble upon a marathon of a sitcom or show I love on television, I have been known to lose that day (and night) to the TV. But just this past week I learned the true meaning of what “binge watching is.”

I just finished the first season of Orange is the New Black.

YOU GUYS. IT IS SO GOOD.

Ok, for over a year now you have all been raving about this show. Last year I had the opportunity to meet Piper Kerman (the author of the book the series is based on), so I quick read the book. It is phenomenal.

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Almost everyone at the event had already watched the two seasons that Netflix had released. I may have been the only one who had ONLY read the book. I was excited to watch the series, but it was hard with two little boys at home to find time to watch something alone. Since I was pregnant with Alice, I was just too dang tired at night after the boys went to bed.

So I put it at the top of my maternity leave watch list, after Friends of course (I know, I know…I had already seen all of those episodes a million times. Don’t judge). Last week I finally started season one. And holy cow! I don’t think I have ever been so into a show in all of my life.

Alice and I hunkered down every afternoon on the couch. At first I tried to do work while I watched, like I did when I watched Friends. I quickly learned that no, I was not going to accomplish anything while it was on.

The show is nothing and everything like the book. A lot of the characters from the book are represented (some more fully than others) in the show, and a few of the stories that Kerman tells in the book have also clearly inspired certain episodes. The show also does a good job of showing the corruption and problems with the penitentiary system in the United States that Kerman strives to show in her memoir.

That is where the similarities end. The series has WAY more sex, way more drama, and the characters are way more exaggerated. And it’s awesome!

Don’t get me wrong, I adore the memoir. In fact, I want to re-read it, but the show is amazing in a different way. Just like when I am entrenched in a book and think about it when I’m not reading it, I get caught up in the show’s plot lines. I love that the series also follows some of the inmates’ stories of how they ended up in prison. I love that it’s not just about Piper.

In fact, I haven’t started season 2 yet because I actually have work to do and I simply can do nothing but watch when it’s on.

So as soon as I meet some deadlines (ahem, this is one of them), I am going to plow through season 2 because, HELLO, season 3 will be available in in June!!!  Just in time for my kids to be home, which means I will have to figure out how to watch in the evenings or on the weekends.

I’m going to guess most of you have watched the show; have you also read the book?

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This is not a sponsored post. I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, so I receive a year-long subscription to Netflix and a device to view it on, but I am not compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own.

Netflix for Maternity Leave

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I am currently sitting in our big leather chair, a baby snoring quietly on my  lap, a cup of coffee getting cold on the arm rest, and Friends via Netflix on the TV.

I am on maternity leave.

how we spend most of our time together, hence lots of Netflix.

how we spend most of our time together, hence lots of Netflix.

In preparation for maternity leave, I made a list of shows that I want to binge watch during those long days when I have a baby on me.

  • Friends – I have been looking forward to this since they announced earlier this year that the favorite sitcom was coming to Netflix. I am already on season four after spending the hours of 11am until about 2pm watching it every day.
  • Orange is the New Black – I read the book last summer in preparation for meeting Piper Kerman at Netflix HQ in California, but I was saving the show for maternity leave.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – This is the newest to my list and it’s also new to Netflix. I’ve heard hilarious reviews, so it’s on my list because I like to laugh, yo.
  • Portlandia – Cortney and I started watching this when we first got Netflix, but we never finished. It’s so ridiculous because Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are the king and queen of ridiculous. It also makes me miss Seattle and want to move to Portland. I don’t even think it’s supposed to have that effect.
  • Sherlock – you all tell me it’s great, and I like great. Also I don’t see the hotness of Benedict Cumberbatch (which, by the way, sounds like a totally made up name), but you all tell me if I watch this show, I will.
  • TED Talks – Yes, I am letting my nerd show. I love me some TED Talks.
  • Freaks and Geeks – I have never watched it, yet our sociology teachers show it every year and scoff at me every year because they say it’s amazing. So it’s my goal to determine that.
  • The Wonder Years – This list would not be complete with out the ultimate throwback possible. This was hands down one of my favorite shows growing up, and it’s currently available on Netflix.

I would say this list will keep Alice and me pretty well-occupied for the next three months, don’t you think?  Is there anything we should add? I don’t like scary stuff or stuff that is disturbing–I save that for the books I read. Watching TV should be a little mindless fun, ya know?

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, but am not paid for my opinion. I am provided with Netflix and a device to watch it on. All opinions (and To Watch Lists) are my own.

Someday I Will…

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Eddie talks about what he wants to be when he grows up all the time, and every time it ends with “and I will live here with you and daddy forever!”

Cue me smiling hard and trying not to say, “NO YOU WILL NOT.”

Our last conversation went something like this:

Eddie: Mom, when I grow up I’m going to be an artist. And still live with you guys.”

Me: What kind of artist?

Eddie: A paintist

Me: And you’re going to live here? Why?

Eddie: Because I like living here.

Ok then.

Eddie loves crafts and painting and drawing. He also loves writing and reading. He also loves math. He also loves playing Clash of Clans and Cut the Rope and watching “good shows” on Netflix. He also loves to help clean and pick up because he “just wants to be helpful and responsible.”

He has absolutely no doubt that whatever he wants to do someday, he will do it.

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Always creating.

 

Do you remember when you had that sort of confidence about the future? I do. I distinctly remember in 3rd grade being asked to draw a picture and write sentences about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote that I wanted to be a telephone operator so I could push buttons. I drew a picture of me sitting in a chair with a huge table of buttons in front of me and I was happily pushing the ones that lit up.

I was absolutely sure that is what I could do. I also was sure that if I changed my mind, I could do whatever else I chose too. I was eight. I had no thoughts of training or schooling or having to pay for that training or schooling.  Or moving away from my family. No, in my mind you just became what you wanted.

I asked Charlie today what he wanted to do when he was bigger. He put a finger next to his face, was thoughtful for a minute and answered “watch George.” I guess at 2-years old it’s harder to think about being “big” and having a “job”. He was, however quite involved with his tool set when I asked him after just watching a bunch of episodes of Handy Manny on Netflix.

Charlie is our putz-er. He likes to fiddle with things and “fix” them.  Last week I found him “working on his car”–a toy ride-on car that his Granny gave him. He had it upside down and was using a pencil to “fix” it. Upon closer inspection, he had also poured all his goldfish into the wheel well.

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“shh. mom. I working.”

 

Even Cortney and I are always talking about what we want to be when we “grow up”.  He finished his degree and is now a business owner.  That means it’s “my turn” again to go to school if I want to. And what I REALLY want to do is get my PhD.  I want to teach future English teachers.

With a baby coming, a new vehicle needed, and extra costs for diapers, formula, and daycare, we don’t have the money to pay for classes right now. I am, however, taking steps. I’ve met with “The Retirement” guy about retiring from my district in 10+ years. I have also been looking into re-taking the GRE (since I took it over 10 years ago for my Masters program, I have to re-take it before I apply to my PhD program). Then there are all the letters of rec and writing samples to get for my actual application.

It’s never too late (or too early) to think about what you want to do “someday”. That is something we try to instill in our kids. Education and learning new things never has to end.

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Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix has provided a year of free service along with a device to view it on, but the stories and opinions are all my own.

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