Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mooed music

I often wonder what mental images Bud is carrying around in his head that I could easily clarify, if only I knew they existed.

We were driving the other day and Carrie Underwood's song "Two Black Cadillacs" came on the radio:   Two black Cadillacs driving in a slow parade, headlights shining bright in the middle of the day...

Bud read the song title on the satellite radio screen.

"Cadillac?" he asked.  "Like a cow?"

Of course.



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Flummox and Friends: Tune in, connect, have fun

Today was one of those days.

I spent the day at work in a small, crowded room.  I spent the day talking.  But not just talking.  Talking, debating, rehashing, rephrasing, summarizing, confronting, objecting, parsing, facilitating, suggesting.  And then talking and talking and talking some more.

It was exhausting.

It was one of those days that makes me acutely aware of my introverted nature - of the very real fact that though I enjoy people, I enjoy them most in small doses with long breaks.  By the end of the day, I was left with just enough energy to crawl onto the couch with my iPad to block out the world and become totally engrossed in an episode of The West Wing.  Or three.

As a result, of course, it was also one of those days that left me with a new appreciation for Bud, who must have days like this all the time.  It's no wonder that he often comes home from school and heads for his laptop and the safe haven that is PBS Kids dot com.  Because it's HARD to navigate the world of social interaction and it takes a whole lot of energy when you're forced to do it. 

And so, it seemed like a really good day to sit down with my boy and re-watch the pilot episode of Flummox and Friends, a live-action comedy designed to enhance children's social and emotional development.  We've watched it before, of course, and are both huge fans - but, really, it's the kind of show that never gets old.

If you haven't been introduced to Flummox and Friends yet, let me give you a thumbnail.  The show was created by Christa Dahlstrom, Jordan Sadler, (two of my favorite people) and Liesl Wenzke Hartmann (who I'm sure is also delightful).  It's designed to engage children who have social challenges and to give parents and teachers a jumping-off point for conversation and education.  I have to admit, when Christa and Jordan initially told me about their plan, I was excited, but my expectations were modest.  But let me tell you:  the finished product blew. me. away.

It's sharp.  It's funny.  It's SPOT on with its message and its approach.  It meets children where they are - it says "I see you.  You matter.  You are whole and full and complete just as you are."  And then, it says, "And, if you're interested - when you're ready - there are some other things you might want to think about, too.  Because you have options, if you want them.  You always have options."

The characters in Flummox and Friends are quirky and endearing.  When I watch Bud watch the show, I can see him see himself in them.  He laughs in all the right places.  He processes all the right talking points.  In other words:  it works.

The first time Bud and I watched Flummox and Friends, he was riveted and, like me, seemed impressed by the production quality of the show.  "Is this PBS?" he asked, voicing the highest praise he could bestow.  "What is this?  Is this PBS?"  ("No, Bud," I replied.  "But it should be.")

And then, weeks later, we got our very own copy of the pilot in the mail.  Bud ripped open the package, held up the DVD, and proclaimed, "Flummox and Friends?  I've been looking EVERYWHERE for this!"

Not bad for a show designed to teach him how to engage with groups by tuning in with his eyes, ears, and ideas.

But don't take my word for it.  Or Bud's for that matter.  Click here to watch the pilot episode for yourself.  You can also download guides for families and teachers, filled with suggestions about how to use the video with children.

So go.  Watch.  Enjoy.  Complete the online survey to let the creators know what you think.  Come on back and leave a comment and let me know what you think, too. I promise, I'll read it.  But later.  Right now, I'm going to curl up on the couch with my iPad to block out the world and become totally engrossed in an episode of The West Wing.  Or three.

Cause, you know.  Today was just one of those days.

Monday, January 14, 2013


So, Kristen is shutting down her blog.

It's giving me pause.

I've seen so many of my blogging friends - people who were my lifelines in Bud's early childhood - step away from blogging as their children get older.  And it's no secret that I've stepped back myself.  I start a lot of posts, but truly, it's hard to write about the core issues - the things that REALLY matter - without feeling like I'm invading the privacy of a whole lot of other people in my life - people who never signed on to being vaguely pseudonymous Internet characters.

I've thought about it a lot over the past year - a year in which I experienced extraordinary change in my life, and yet a year in which I posted only seven times.  The internal conversation has inevitably gone something like this:

Can you call yourself a blogger if you never really blog?

Can you call yourself a writer if you never really write?

And what's that all about, anyway?  If writing - if blogging - has been central to your sense of self for so long, critical to your perspective on who you are - what does it mean that it hasn't gotten any of your attention?

Are you losing sight of who you are?  Or is who you are simply changing?

Meaty questions.  But questions that go mostly unanswered.

And now Kristen is closing shop.  Kristen, who has continued to post regularly - by my standards, anyway.  I know she's been thinking about it for a long time and that it's the right step for her.

It would be easy to follow suit - to toss in a "me, too" and go watch another re-run of Downton Abbey. 

But it seems I'm not ready.

I'm not sure what I have to say.  But I'm not ready to decide not to say it.

I'll be back in a day or two. 

No, really, I mean it. 

Some friends of mine have a really cool project I've been meaning to tell you about.