Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Little Miss Elizabeth has a favorite TV show and it's Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, a show I can't say enough good things about. It seems like each of the kids has had a favorite show as a toddler. For some it was Teletubbies, for some it was Blue's Clues, for Haley it was Dora. Thank heavens no one here ever really fell in love with Barney! But this sweet little show is perfect for Betsy and it's a really blessing to our family.

Do you remember Daniel Tiger from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood? This show is an animated Mr. Rogers takeoff that is set in the the make-believe world Mr. Roger's trolley used to travel to. It features Prince Tuesday and Mr. McFeely and X the Owl and the whole cast. Daniel even puts on a sweater and tennis shoes while singing, "Won't you be my neighbor?" during the opening credits. The show is soft and sweet and repetitive, like any good show for toddlers should be. But my favorite part are the "strategy songs."

Here's an example of a useful strategy song. You know how you're always struggling to get a toddler to stop doing one thing and start another? Time to stop playing and get ready for bed. Time to stop swinging and come inside. Daniel Tiger's friends have this same problem. When it happens, their parent sings,

"It's almost time to stop, 
so choose one more thing to do." 

The little creature chooses to go down the slide once more or reads one more book. Then the parent sings,

"That was fun but now it's done." 

(For a video of this song, go here, then scroll down to the item called "It's time for bed.")

I love having this in my toolbox for Betsy. Sometimes I sing the first part, "It's almost time to stop..." and a few minutes later, with no more prompting, she sings the second part, "That was fun but now it's done." In fact, throughout the day Betsy sings herself little cues from Daniel Tiger. Things like--

"Stop and listen to stay safe." 
"Use your words and tell me how you feel." 
"If you can't do it alone, work together."
"Say 'I'm sorry,' it's the first step. Then 'Can I help?'"
"Eat breakfast, brush teeth, put on shoes, then off to school!"
"Making something is one way of saying 'I love you.'"
"Do something nice for your neighbor. Do something nice for your friend."

The kids have even caught on to the magic of Daniel Tiger's jingles. When Betsy is struggling with something, they'll say, "Is there a Daniel Tiger song for this?" And often, there is.

Apparently Mr. Rogers is a gift who keeps on giving. If you've never fully appreciated Mr. Rogers, watch this, where his sincerityand guilelessness basically conquer the Senate.

Where can you see Daniel Tiger, you ask. On an expensive cable channel? Oh no, it's for free on our good ol' pbs. Thanks for that too, Mr. Rogers.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Today Jesse's school journal contained this:
See the little heart above the red-headed scientist's head? It's because "he loves his potion bottles."

For his birthday, Jesse received from his grandpa a beautiful, handmade wooden toolbox full of all manner of supplies: nails, screwdrivers, popsicles sticks, zip ties, brackets, string, a pencil... It was just what Jesse needed to spark is imagination and inventiveness. Each morning of the summer, he would wake with a plan in mind and immediately begin scouring the house for the requisite supplies.

 This is a dart gun. The "arrow" is a ball and stick you see here inserted in a piece of PVC pipe.

This is a pair of binoculars made with a soap container and a plastic cup.

Look, on the inside there's a separate little tube for each of your eyes to look through.

This one is my absolute favorite. It's a meerkat claw. Made with a garden tool, popsicle sticks, a winter glove, and of course, tape.

Sometimes Jesse would wake up in the morning with an idea for new supplies he needed. Maybe suction cups or masks. He discovered that almost anything can be found on amazon, so we'd do some research, identify his price point, and figure out how much money he needed to earn. I pay a dollar for every two jobs, so we'd make a chart like this to show how many jobs he needed to do. He was amazingly great on the follow-through and earned money for some truly great gear--most notably a huge ninja-strength grapple hook.

The mess from all this was..substantial. Jesse basically worked diligently all day every day, roaming the house and garage, and virtually anything could become his fodder. Tape, of course. Also kitchen implements, garbage, clothes hangers... Here he is in the backyard working through a pile of junk. I believe this was to make a time machine.

I hope that when Jesse grows up to rule the world, he will look back and appreciate his mother's indulgence to support his talents.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Summer 2013 Recap

This summer was a doozy. Water heater, car, fridge all on the fritz. Major tantrums and mood swings from Jesse's medication.Other drama. Oh, I don't even want to talk about it. But after all the drama, the summer ended on a high note.

First, we had an Ashurst family reunion. One of my all-time favorite things to do. Here's me with my parents and siblings. Color coordinated! (Where's my favorite red-headed sister? Home recouping from having a gorgeous baby. But she showed up the next day!)

The day after the reunion, we took Roscoe to the temple. That was an all-time high for me. My goal is for all my children to be in the temple, then for all of them to complete the eternal progression the temple foreshadows. This felt like a big happy checkmark on my bucket list. Just happy, happy, happy.

Okay, so consider this blog officially caught up.