Aug 30, 2011

The Muppets 2011

There's a new Muppets movie coming out this November. Hope it’s a good one! Their last few films were duds, but I still watched them when they came out. The last one on the big screen even—as I wouldn’t settle for a DVD copy. I will always be a fan. I grew up with them and Rainbow Connection is the song of my childhood. This dates me, I know.

I loved it when they put up their YouTube channel. Remember Bohemian Rhapsody?  I also had a mini freak-out out when I saw Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew as mascots in Disneyland. Yes, Disneyland  because apparently The Muppets franchise has been bought by the Disney Corporation which owns practically everything in Entertainment these days.

Hence, this very slick, (and okay, very commercial) reboot of the Muppets Theme done by OK Go—those guys who did that awesome treadmill video and that other one with the MIT-developed Rube Goldberg machine which we had gushed over here.

Indie music lovers may also want to check out the entire Green Album from where that came from.  It's basically classic Muppets music sang by alternative rockers. So far, I’m really liking the Wishing Song rebooted by The Airborne Toxic Event. The album is really trippy. Fray sings Mahna Mahna, Weezer does Rainbow Connection and Andrew Bird sweetly croons Bein’ Green. And this isn't even the movie sound track yet.


The Muppets are now being handled by Disney’s marketing people. I can hear some folks (“the purists”) saying eeew. Well, I’m still going to get all nostalgic. It’s The Muppets! Also, I hope Disney makes them more relatable to this generation of kids. That can’t be too bad. I hope.

Aug 26, 2011

Oh, and a Spider!

Still caught up in the excitement that there is now more to Bear's reading than Tintin, Asterisk, Calvin and Hobbes, Geronimo Stilton, Kzone and DC Kids—I am reading my own First Chapter-Book-of-Note to him and his sister… 

I am not exaggerating when I say this is my First True Literary Love. The book that started my love affair with books. The one that made me realize words on a page can make you cry, crush your heart and put a knot in your stomach.

I was in the third grade when Charlotte's Web hit me. I even remember the day my Tita got it for me at the huge Barnes and Noble in the now gone World Trade Center. After tagging along on a Saturday morning to her office, we stopped by the bookstore and as a treat I got a pencil box in my then favorite color Lavender and the E.B.White classic which I ended up reading all the way until Sunday. 

Flash forward to decades later. Now I am relishing moments reading E.B White's words to two curious children who are loving the story, so far. We're not done yet. I wonder how they will they take the ending! Meanwhile, I look forward to nighttime when we cuddle up in bed and I get to read them beautifully-wrought lines and dialogue like these…

* * *
The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year—the days when summer is changing into fall—the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.

* * *
"When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle."

"What's miraculous about a spider's web?" said Mrs. Arable. "I don't see why you say a web is a miracle—it's just a web."

"Ever try to spin one?" asked Dr. Dorian.

Mrs. Arable shifted uneasily in her chair. "No," she replied. "But I can crochet a doily and I can knit a sock."

"Sure," said the doctor. "But somebody taught you, didn't they?"

"My mother taught me."

"Well, who taught a spider? A young spider knows how to spin a web without any instructions from anybody. Don't you regard that as a miracle?"

"I suppose so," said Mrs. Arable. "I never looked at it that way before. Still, I don't understand how those words got into the web. I don't understand it, and I don't like what I don't understand."

"None of us do," said Dr. Dorian sighing. "I'm a doctor. Doctors are supposed to understand everything. But I don't understand everything, and I don't intend to let it worry me."

* * *
Mrs. Arable fidgeted. "Fern says the animals talk to each other Dr. Dorian, do you believe animals talk?"

"I never heard one say anything," he replied. "But that proves nothing. It is possible an animal has spoken civilly to me and that I didn't catch the remark because I wasn't paying attention. Children pay better attention than grownups. If Fern says that the animals in Zuckerman's barn talk, I'm quite ready to believe her."

* * *
"Let Fern associate with her friends in the barn if she wants to. I would say, offhand, that spiders and pigs were fully as interesting as Henry Fussy. Yet I predict that the day will come when even Henry will drop some chance remark that catches Fern's attention. It's amazing how children change from year to year."
* * *
My nightly readings have made me realize this book is not just a classic, it's a classic that's great to read aloud. Revisiting Charlotte, Wilbur, the Zuckerman barn and the Arables with my own little boy and girl currently tops my list of Simple Joys.

I love you E.B. White... you and your elegant prose and existential truths in a most touching and riveting story that is Charlotte’s Web.

Aug 24, 2011

Dragons, a Gun, and a Cricket

Posterity post! 

Bear has entered the age of reading chapter books all on his own—and the kind with literary flavor. Sorry, but I wouldn't count Geronimo Stilton last year, though I think that nerdy little mouse is good at getting kids to read. Anyway... Officially recorded here, his first solo literary adventure at age 7, the year 2011. It was an Amazon freebie I had put on my Kindle, but here's a picture of the children's classic by Ruth Stiles Gannett…

Bear told me there was a “really scary” part—so scary, he “didn't want to read anymore.” But the story was just so good, he had to finish it. He adds that it was “really funny.” I have not read the book myself, but I love it just because it was his first chapter book and because it was so riveting he had faced his fears just to get to the ending. Imagine that.

While he’s anxiously waiting for the sequels (Elmer and The Dragon and The Dragon's of Blueland) I have yet to score, he has also read and enjoyed, so far...

So incidentally...

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo warns us about boys failing to thrive academically and socially in this age of video games and the Internet.  Middle school teacher and author John Scieszka is on a mission, going on a "Guys with Books Tour" to make more boys read because not enough of them do. 

It doesn't have to be that way. 

Bear enjoys his Minecraft, LEGO Star Wars and Pocket God, but he can still get into books written in the 1940s. I’m hopeful literature will be a big part of his life. 

I think it's all about giving boys the chance to read. Just the chance, no forcing or bribing or preaching. During No Electronics Time at home, one of the things our Resident Boy chooses to do is pick up a comic, magazine or book. Otherwise, boredom. There's stuff to read, might as wellTapping into natural interests is another thing. So I chose Newbery winners, but I also clued in on his liking dragons and guns and insects. These are all very much boy things. And it worked. He got into it. The children’s canon of books is so big there's enough to excite every kid, boy or girl

I have always thought books are like friends. You can't really choose which ones your kids will love. But we're the ones that give them the opportunity to meet them. That's a big deal. Books are some of the best friends we could ever have. 

Aug 19, 2011

Twin Etiquette 101

"So which of them is the B-E-S-T?"

Ummm...OHMMM...  (deep breath  1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9..10..9..8..7..6..5...) 

Where do I begin? Seriously?!?  First of, we're in one tiny room together.   You, me and the twins.  Between the two of them,  they've got four good ears.  Statistics will show at least one is bound to hear that for sure. Add to  that the fact that they ARE  children.  And oh wow don't we all know how they love to play deaf when you ask them to get off the FIFA  game on your Iphone to brush their teeth but suddenly all ears when they're in a room full of grown-ups?  More importantly they've got two hearts too, in case it didn't occur to you.  If I  did give you an answer how would that work for you?  Will you show preference for the "best" one or go for the underdog?  Favoritism never helps anyone. Not the favored one and not the neglected one.  No one. Please trust me on this.  Oh and have you forgotten? They are almost six. They can spell B-E-S-T.  They can even spell T-A-C-T-L-E-S-S.  Possibly even I-D-I-O-T-I-C.  No, really.  They can.  Oh and you're asking about my TWO boys right?  So the proper question would be: Which one  is B-E-T-T-E-R?  That's just grammar-wise of course because there's nothing proper about the question itself.  

Well you did ask so here you go: They're both really, really great in their own way and they're the  B-E-S-T things that ever happened to me.  

Thank you for asking. 

While I'm at it here are a few more questions  NOT to ask a mom of twins:

Not anyone's business unless the information is readily given. Mine were conceived without the aid of fertility drugs or procedures and yet I don’t think they are any more “natural” than those conceived via IVF.

Because not all twins do.  Some twins are fraternal, some are identical and even many identical twins don’t look exactly alike. Same rule applies to skin shades. 

Please don’t ever make us choose.  There is more than enough love to go around. 

A Girl/ Boy set seems really cool but I am totally in love with my two so let's keep it at that. 

(This one has left me speechless.  Still does. Suggestions needed)

Thank you for listening.

Aug 17, 2011

Tooth Fairy... you there?

Dear Tooth Fairy, 

We need you tonight. This is Tato's first. He woke up thinking he swallowed his tooth and panicked.  Not because of what it might do to his digestive tract but because of the possible loss of income. He drove the house crazy but he found it eventually somewhere in between the sheets. You may need to make a side trip to the bank though. He is leaving his tooth under his pillow in exchange for crisp 2011-issued notes in twenty peso denominations. 

We try to raise them as best we can but they just turn out so damn demanding.

Tato's Mommy

P.S. His is the bed on the left. 

P.P.S Mak's fourth tooth is just about ready to fall too.  Might as well stock up on those new bills.  You never know. 

Aug 12, 2011

In Living Color

At about the time your child turns five or just when big school is around the corner, your pediatrician will most likely recommend you see an opthalmologist.   Nothing alarming.  Just a  simple, basic, comprehensive eye exam.  Off we went.

Mak went first.  


Then the  doctor  pulled out a little hard bound book at the end of the session filled with pages of  what looked like colored, pixelized circles  with numbers in them. He would be checking for color vision deficiency, he said. 

Doc:  Tell me the numbers you see in the picture.

Mak:   25...6...45...8...56 and 29.
Doc:  Perfect.  But  try keep the children away  as much as you can from all those new gadgets like the Ipad.

Umm yeah sure.. like telling a woman to walk away from a buy-one-take-three shoe sale. 

Tato was up next.  Same drill. All good too. No sweat. Then the Doc pulled out the same book.

Blank stare.

Doc: There are numbers inside those figures.  Can you tell me what they are?
Tato:  Huh?
Doc:  Can you tell me what  numbers you see?  
Tato: One? 
Doc: There are two numbers in the circle.  Can you see them?

By the end of the book, Tato got  three out of sixteen plates right even after he carefully studied each.   Thanks to  Japanese opthalmologist Shinobu Ishihara  who developed a test to screen military recruits for abnormalities of color vision together with a color blind assistant while working in the military, we learned that Tato is color blind.  Since this is the  age of being PC the more appropriate, 21st century term is color vision deficient.

Pubmedhealth has a clearer explanation for all of this: 
Color vision deficiency occurs when there is a problem with the color-sensing granules (pigments) in certain nerve cells of the eye. These cells are called cones. They are found in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye.
If just one pigment is missing, you may have trouble telling the difference between red and green. This is the most common type of color blindness. If a different pigment is missing, you may have trouble seeing blue-yellow colors. People with blue-yellow color blindness usually have problems identifying reds and greens, too.
Most color blindness is due to a genetic problem. About 1 in 10 men have some form of color blindness. Very few women are color blind.
No surprises really. Welcome to the family, Tato. You and almost every other male  on my dad's side of the  family is too. We've had a few laughs over the years hearing how the wives help dress up the color-challenged husbands and all the silly arguments they get into because of colors.   We've also had to change things and keep it real simple for our usual color-coordinated family reunions.   Red, white and green were the colors one year  and a few of those assigned green still came in brown! 

The year we chose purple was a bit of a disaster.  

We picked black last year.  We figured no one could go wrong with that.  

Aug 4, 2011

Oh Bab(y)ies the Places You'll Go

"Next thing you know they'll be off to college"

MacDaddy's last words before bed.  

It felt like I had just written this  post about them entering preschool  fifteen minutes ago.  Now here we are with first graders all set for their first day of school. No tears on my end this time and none on theirs either.  More like tears of joy actually. A five month summer break is no laughing matter.  Seriously.  Still, I'll miss my almost-daily lunches with them.  And the noise at home all day. And the laughing. And the fighting. Oh wait.  Maybe not.

On the drive to school they both looked so grown up all of a sudden - all nervous and excited at the same time.  Traffic on the road.  Cool. Perfect time as any for the Oh Baby the Places You'll Go talk. 

You're big boys now.  You'll meet a lot of great people.  You'll make lots of new friends. These are the best years.  It will be so much fun.  Your teachers will teach you so many cool things... blah blah blah

Then I thought I'd manage some expectations. 

Me: Sometimes your teachers will give you work to do at home.  Not a lot but some once in a while. 

Mak:  I'm NOT doing homework.  Only girls do homework.

Me:  What?!  Mak.. what did you say?

Mak:  The girls will do my homework.  Boys don't do homework.  They make the girls do it for them.

Me:  Who told you that?!?!  

Mak:  Papa.

Darn! Darn!  Somebody beat me to THE talk.

Aug 2, 2011

Summer Lovin'

I'm still here.  Slacker, slacker. We've been back a while from our trip. Even with an entire month to spare, we didn't waste any time.  My three boys are the suck-the-marrow-out-of-life sort and its easy to get caught up in their craziness. First order of business:  bucket lists. 

The football crazy Mak-Tatos were deadset on watching a major league soccer game and adding to their jersey collection.

Then they wanted to see the Giants play. Thanks to all those summers playing kickball with the cousins I managed to pretend to figure out the  mechanics of baseball. 

And then of course there was that date with Bono.  Watching U2 perform LIVE was always in our  must-do-before-we-croak list.  Arriving seven hours ahead had its perks. Just a rail  between me and  Bono. 

We all died and went to heaven.