Friday, February 22, 2008

Blinding him with Science

The hubby has many fond childhood memories of bonding with his dad while conducting various science experiments. Need to make a battery out of a lemon or a clock made out of potatoes? Marc can tell you how to do that and why it works. He and his dad tackled all kinds of projects. (Who needs MacGyver when you’ve got a chemistry professor in the family?)

Now both Marc and his father are starting to share their passion for science with Seth. As Seth grows, I can see he’s definitely taking after his paternal grandfather’s side of the family. He’s very interested in various science fields – from chemistry to physics to biology.

But how do you foster a love of science when you, yourself, flunked high school chemistry? Well, you have two choices. You can marry a person who’s very strong in science (like I did) or you can start checking lots of websites like Hobby Science or Zoom for project ideas as well as simple explanations. (I do this too.)

Identifying concepts your child will find of most interest can sometimes be tricky. But for the most part, just follow their lead. (Of course you’ll have to adjust your vocabulary and explanation of concepts depending on age.) Seth is a Star Wars fanatic. So what better time to introduce astronomy? When his passion for all things transportation was at its peak, we introduced the concept of energy and how the parts of the vehicle interact with each other in order to make that vehicle stop and go. When he eats, we discuss food choices, nutrients found in various foods, as well as how the body uses those nutrients. When I’ve vacuumed, we’ve discussed how the vacuum cleaner works. When he’s gotten a cold, we’ve discussed germs, how they get into the body, why we cough, and that lovely byproduct — snot.

When it is too cold for a trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis Science Center, The Magic House or the St. Louis Zoo we check YouTube. Want to watch a solar eclipse? Want to watch a tornado form and wreak some havoc? Want to see how rattlesnakes mate? It is there.

But it is always good for kiddos to get some hands-on experience, yes? And for that, there are also some supa cool offerings at Target for kids of varying age ranges and interest. The Discovery Channel Store also has a plethora of products.

Although Seth has been begging for this FOREVER he recently got this for Valentine’s Day. This totally appealed to the hubby too - being he’s an electrical/computer engineer.

This blog post is was written on behalf of Parent Bloggers Network as part of the Zula Intergalactic Inquirer blog blast.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Friendship, Fun and "Bunko Babes"

Becca is the typical midwestern mama. She’s got her share of tribulations but she’s also got her "bunko babes" to help her get through those tough times. When Becca discovers she has Lupus, you find the other characters reach out to her with love and support.

Sounds like "The Bunko Babes" is a story with great potential, yes? So when I was approached to review the book, I was super excited. I’m a midwestern mom. I've got a fun group of bunko babes too. We have a blast! I was all set to LOVE this book.

But my excitement quickly soured a mere few hundred words into this overly sanitized tale, written by Leah Starr Baker.

Overall, I didn’t find myself becoming more emotionally invested with the turn of each page. (That would be because the characters seemed flat and contrived.) Baker’s writing style is very simplistic and lacks charisma. (There are an overwhelming amount of clich├ęs used on each page. It was not only distracting but very vexing.)

The overall energy of the story feels very forced. By page 10, I had to make myself keep reading. By page 85, I started skimming. And honestly? If you only read the first few pages as well as the last few? Well, it doesn’t take much effort to put the rest of the story together.

I’ve got a very close friend with ALS. Another friend and fellow bunko babe died of cancer this past August. I do have some life experience in how women come together to support and strengthen each other through the monumental as well as mundane. Baker, in my humble opinion, just didn’t capture the essence of how those connections change and grow. She didn't convey how these deeper connections changed the souls of all involved. I find that to be a grave disservice to her characters as well as the reader.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Building with "The Bob"

"The Bob." It's the term our family uses when referring to the beloved Bob the Builder. Seth was a devout fan until his fellow kindergarteners turned him into a Star Wars fanatic.

So when given a chance to review Bob the Builder's newest dvd -- Bob the Builder On Site: Roads and Bridges, I was all over it. I figured this would be the ultimate test. Would the self-proclaimed "big kid" still be interested in what he now deems as a "baby show?"

The answer? Oh yeah, baby!

Testing came at a most opportune time at Casa Midwestern Mommy. Seth woke at 2 .m. a few nights ago in a coughing fit, sputtering and gagging. After giving him some medicine, we laid in bed watching this new dvd, waiting for the meds to "kick in." The show mesermized him. He was able to relax, which meant, better breathing. (Yeay for Bob! Yeay for portable DVD players!) I turned off the show once the meds were working. (There was much protesting as a result.)

The next morning, first thing, he asked if he could finish watching the dvd. Again, the movie captivated him. And he's been asking to watch it every day since.

This dvd combines the world of Bob the Builder with the real world. You get to watch footage of actual graders, diggers, concrete trucks and construction workers in motion while building roads and bridges. Little boys who love their vehicles will love, love, LOVE this video. Methinks even girly-girls will enjoy watching. As a parent, I found it delightfully entertaining and soothing.

This may sound really wierd but... You remember as a kid, getting a stomach virus so vile you couldn't watch tv because the food commercials would turn your stomach? Or there'd be some shaky, fast moving camera angles? Or even a promo for some type of hospital drama (of course always including blood or grisly scenes)? You were dreadfully queasy. You just wanted some type of diversion to pass the time but you'd end up turning off the tv because you couldn't deal with it all. (There is a point to this, stay with me...)

This video? While great for well kids, is perfect for sick kids too. Bob's voice is soothing yet enthusiastic. The subject matter is interesting to most kids and there aren't any fast moving scenes or shaky camera angles. And as most parents know, it is always a good idea to have at least one movie on hand that won't anger the upset stomach of a vomiting kid.

The only thing I wasn't completely thrilled with was the amount of repetition incorporated throughout. While some repetition of the building method is nice and aides in learning, I found myself thinking, "Ok already! I get it!" (But Seth didn't seem to notice, so what do I know?)
But all in all, kudos to the creative team behind this effort. Great execution on a wonderful idea.
This review was written on behalf of Parent Bloggers Network.

Win something pretty from MikaRose

Michaella Lawson, owner of MikaRose is giving away a $60 gift certificate to one lucky Midwestern Mommy reader! (And yes that’s enough to include shipping!)

In case you aren’t familiar with the brand, MikaRose dresses are great for the office place and other times when revealing your inner “hoochie mama” isn’t appropriate. The dresses are cute, affordable, easy to accessorize, and not frumpy.

In order to qualify, go to the MikaRose website and then go to my main site and leave a comment as to what dress you’d like and why.

"The boy" will pick at winner on the 14th.