Advice Needed: Televisions

I would like to get a television for Pdad for Christmas.  Currently, we only have a computer monitor and he needs something bigger for playing Kinect.  (We are still really, really liking Kinect).  Could you shower me with your collective television buying wisdom? 

Do you have advice on LCD vs. LED vs. Plasma?   Edge lit?   1080 vs. 720p?   Who do you think does the most reliable reviews of TVs?   What is the best way to research this?   Consumer Reports?   CNET?   Somebody else?   Where do you think is a good place to buy a television?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

P.S., Amelia heard I was going to get Pdad a television for Christmas and said, “can’t we just use our computer monitor?”  Ah, the pain of deviating from our tv-free ideal of ourselves.  Alas!

Nice reply from The Chocolate

Check out the friendly, thoughtful reply from the owners of The Chocolate to the post and comments below.  It is always good to remember that businesses big and small, good and bad, are populated by real people with lives, hopes, and crushable dreams.  The nice thing is that for most businesses like The Chocolate, win, win is possible: make your customers happy, make yourself happy (in terms of business success).

PSA: Hand-me-downs


Do you have hand-me-downs stored away for a younger child? Could it be time to try them on again?  I was surprised to find that although Kate had been wearing belly-button baring shirts for a while, she actually had a substantial wardrobe at the ready. Oops.  Better late than never though–at least she hadn’t outgrown much of it yet.  While my reasons for saving some obviously unattractive things were mysterious, I found several things I really liked.  I’m glad that I passed on the Christmas dresses at the store–what was in the box was better!

Stained glass at the library

Yesterday we went to the library to see a movie for Family Home Evening.  Unfortunately, like me, Duncan is easily frightened.  _Ponyo_ frightened him to pieces, so the two of us soon found ourselves in the children’s books.  I had never been there at sunset before.  It was amazing. I wish I had a better ability to capture what I saw.

The Problem with Not Writing

is that it leads to more not-writing, and pretty soon the post of the century is required in order to start posting again. 

Just to lower your expectations: Although this is long, this is not the post of the century. 

I have had a hectic summer.  I continue to be amazed at how people who have many children do all the things that must be done.  I can’t figure it out.  Taking care of three children seems like an all-consuming task to me most days. 

Brief description of summer 2010:

Noorda Theatre Camp for kids–driving to Utah Valley University  every day in June.  I found a new, better route for getting there.  I am always astonished when this happens.  It seems that I tend to pick very slow ways of getting places and then after driving that route for two or three years, suddenly: duh!  There is a much better way of getting there!

Anyway, although there is room for improvement, I would strongly recommend the Noorda Theatre Camp–lots of classes to choose from and some good opportunities.  I took a Mommy & Me dance class with Kate from Mary Linda Thomas.  What a master teacher!  She was a treat.  Amelia played Miss Fern in _Super Student and the Case of the Water Pistol_ and her acting abilities seemed to expand considerably.   I enjoyed seeing her portray an adult.  We discovered that her hair looks beautiful in a bun and (with great difficulty) she learned to walk and even skip! in high heels.   

Duncan went to an art camp sponsored by UVU continuing ed and that also was an outstanding opportunity.  This camp was a little more art-centered than play-centered than the SCERA art camp he has attended in the past.  Both are good for a child like Duncan–I wouldn’t hesitate to send him to either of them again, but they have different strengths.  

Another thing Duncan did this summer was the whole daily study ritual with mom (me).  He begged for a summer bridge enrichment book at the beginning of the summer, but when I soon came to realize that he couldn’t write his numbers properly, the fun summer bridge book went out the window, and we settled into drills, drills and more drills: practicing writing the numbers every day.  How can you do math if you can’t write your numbers properly?

I am a failure as a summer homeschooler.  I regret it, but I am just not a fun mom.  I am not a fun teacher either.  I make learning feel like work.  I don’t know what to do about that.  That doesn’t make for the funnest summer.  However, I will say that I was thrilled when I saw that one of the first things they did in Duncan’s first grade class was to write their numbers 1-50.  I am confident that he could not have done that at the beginning of the summer.  Also, I know that he reads much better now at the end of the summer than at the beginning.  I just wish I could figure out how to attain this progress while being the fun, nice mom, not the boring, strict, do-this-or-else Mom. 

July was the month of our big family vacation.  Since we had already indulged in a nice Disneyland vacation over spring break, we decided to stick closer to home on this one.  We became Salt Lake City tourists and bought 3 day  SLC Connect passes (what a great bargain!).  We rented a condo in Salt Lake City (another bargain, summer is the off-season!) and spent the week there.  If you are local (well, even if you aren’t), I recommend this.  We had an awesome time and did all the Salt Lake things we usually don’t do, even though we live close by.  As is the norm for Pmom-planned vacations, it was a little exhausting.  We went to the Beehive house, we ate at the Lion House pantry, we went to the Salt Lake City Library and the Natural History Museum, we saw a show at the Hansen planetarium, spent most of a day at Discovery Gateway, went to the Hogle Zoo and the Tracy Aviary, toured Temple Square, enjoyed half of a free concert at Abravanel Hall (only half thanks to Duncan and Kate)  attended the Farmer’s market, saw the Living Planet aquarium, rode the tram at Snowbird, ate at two outstanding gelato places, had mediocre Thai, Indian, and didn’t-live-up-to-the-hype belgian waffles.  We also watched Harry Potter Movies and “It’s Me or the Dog” (Duncan’s 5 star favorite) back at the condo.  Several evenings closed with bowling on the Wii (our kind sister-in-law lent it for the trip). 

We had also planned to stay in Park City, but learned the hard way that in Park City you must ask if your lodging of interest features air conditioning.  July was very hot and we wanted air conditioning.  It isn’t a featured amenity for skiiers, though, so you have to check; we didn’t.  Thankfully, we escaped from that situation and went home and slept in our wonderful beds with good air conditioning.  It felt like our trip had been cut short though, so we decided to do some last minute camping. 

May I offer some advice?  If you are the sort of wimpy family that can’t stay in Park City because of the lack of air conditioning, do not suppose that camping in Hope Campground during July will necessarily be an appropriate  alternative.   It is cheaper than paying to be hot in Park City, but you will still be hot.   Hope is very convenient because it is nearby and chances are won’t need a reservation.  But did you stop to consider why?  The problem is, Hope is nearby–it isn’t high up in the mountains.  This means that your camping nightmares of waking up as an icicle won’t come true, but if it hot in Orem it will be hot at Hope.  And while you may have air conditioning in Orem, you won’t have it at Hope.  Consider wisely–are you up for it?  Or are you up for wimpy camping where you watch movies in the air-conditioned dollar theater and eat in air-conditioned restaurants by day and simply sleep at the campground by night?  Can you handle the embarrassment?           

The first two weeks of August were painful, because Amelia went to her school district’s camp for a week, and then after only a day or two at home, she went to Girl Scout camp.  Being her mother, it is my job to worry about her ceaselessly, and let me tell you, I excel.  *Especially* when she is gone for two weeks.  It was painful.  However, she came back all in one piece, in pretty good spirits, knowing many more camp songs than before–so all’s well that ends well, I hope.  I won’t let consecutive camps happen again, though.  I learned my lesson.   

My brother was in Afghanistan for many months this year, so his wife and daughters came to visit us for a few days and then we met up with them again after his return to the States.  We had a big family reunion to celebrate his safe return, his brief presence in Utah, and his daughter’s baptism.  Wonderful.  The only bummer was, I put in a lot of work and worry on coordinating a whole family picture (since some of us are only in Utah every few years) and it didn’t turn out that well.  You get what you pay for, I guess, and besides, sometimes you just get unlucky.  Large group photos are notoriously tricky.  That doesn’t stop me from wishing for a good one, though.   

The week after the reunion we went camping with some of the cousins at Timpooneke.  Wow.  That is a great campground.  No wonder you need to make reservations in advance.  I would definitely camp there again.  The camp sites were spacious and well-equipped, the trees and other surroundings were beautiful.  I was well-pleased.  The kids had a great time playing with their long lost cousins.  Kate now asks me, on average once a day, “when can we go camping?”  She can’t seem to believe that the true answer is: “Next year, at the earliest!”

Patricia Polacco

One of the greatest pleasures I have found in motherhood is in sharing good books with my children.  I love to read books with these small people and to discover that they take the same joy in them that I do.  Let me recommend one source of this joy to you in case you haven’t discovered her already, author Patricia Polacco. 

Polacco’s books are wonderful for reading with elementary school children and on one’s own.  Polacco is prolific and both writes and illustrates her books.  She is one of the rare authors who are able to do both extremely well.  Her stories (many based on her own childhood) are oh-so-human, so engaging, so interesting, so ready to transport you to a different place and time.  As for her illustrations–well, facial expressions have never been so well captured.  (Intriguingly, Polacco earned a PhD in art history and is an expert on Russian iconography–but her pictures are earthy and achingly real, her texts down to earth and accessible).  Some of my favorite titles are Thank you, Mr. Falker,  Just Plain Fancy , Chicken Sunday, and The Keeping Quilt

Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare--Patricia Polacco

After forgetting about Polacco for a while, just last week my love of her work was renewed by a title I’d never seen before: Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare, a partly (mostly?) true story of a conflict with her brother and how it all ended happily ever after.  Since sibling contention is an ongoing issue in our home, and I’m always hoping and looking forward to the day that my children can write their own happily ever after endings, I just adored this book.  Check it out!

P.S., Already familiar with Polacco?  What are your favorite titles?

Why I’m A Donor

I am a latecomer to blood donation .  I regret this.  I have always wanted to be a person who donated blood.  The 4th grade teacher I idolized, Mr. Dunkley,  took us on a fieldtrip to the hospital and donated blood before our eyes.  He was so noble! so brave!  I wanted to be like him.  Later, in high school, Hawkeye Pierce and the gang, my M*A*S*H friends, were always ready to lie down and pull up their sleeves when someone needed them–and someone often did. 

Well, I don’t live in a war zone, but the Red Cross tells me that every 2 seconds in the United States someone needs blood.  I can donate as often as every 56 days, but my blood’s shelf life is only 42 days.  In fact, last year a study suggested that patients who are transfused with blood older than 28 days are more likely to suffer infections.  So, the fresher the blood, the better.  That means the more donors the better.  The difficult part is that donors are hard to get.  Less than 38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood.  Of those eligible, most don’t donate.  There are a lot of us who are squeamish and afraid of needles!

But if you are someone who can donate, consider the cancer patients, the new mothers, the car accident victims, etc., who may need your blood.  Some day you could be the one who needs blood or your mom, sister or daughter, your dad, your brother, your boss, or your best friend.  Or several of you.  One thing is almost certain: if you can donate regularly, you will help people.  The need for transfusions is rising 6% every year, and the number of donations isn’t rising that fast.  We hope for artificial blood, but it’s still a hope for the future.  Today what’s true is that if you can donate blood, YOU ARE NEEDED.  If you can’t donate, you can help by volunteering, organizing a blood drive, or my personal favorite:  babysitting for someone who wants to donate!  (The donation process takes almost an hour start to finish and no one wants to take small children to a blood donation center).


CommentLuv is  now enabled on my site.  I don’t like the name, but I do like the idea.  According to the WordPress plugin directory: “This plugin will visit the site of the comment author while they type their comment and retrieve a selection of their last blog posts, tweets or digg submissions which they can choose one from to include at the bottom of their comment when they click submit.”

I have long admired the blogroll at Visual Anarchy.  Not only does it show the blogs Lis likes, it also shows the title (with a link!) to the most recent post at each blog.  I don’t know if this sort of thing is available for WordPress (she’s on Blogger) and my links are less visible anyway because you have to click the link button on the homepage.  So, hopefully CommentLuv will help generate the same sort of community feeling–at least for the commenters who have blogs.

I’d love for you to try it (and let’s be honest here, I’m always hoping for comments) and let me know how it works for you.