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Posts Tagged ‘TV’

I was ALL ready to go for a nice long healthful walk this morning but then I got home from camp dropoff and my foot was already screaming at me, simply from a) driving and b) walking from the car to the door of the house. So I have scrapped the exercise idea and am typing nonsense to you instead. 

  • I cannot find SkinnyPop snack bags anywhere. And by “anywhere” I mean at Target or at the grocery store that offers curbside pickup. I suppose I could go to Costco, but going to Costco is a Whole Thing and I like to put it off as long as possible. 
  • Every few months, my face decides to FREAK THE FREAK OUT and today is that day. Yesterday, it broke out into dozens of little itchy pimply bits, so before I went to bed I washed it really well and then applied a thick layer of Eucerin. Then – and I think this was a mistake, although it’s hard to tell because I have experienced this same Face Freak Out many times and I don’t think I always do this step – I applied some benzoyl peroxide via Q-tip to the afflicted areas. Then I went to sleep. When I woke up, my cheeks and forehead were bright sunburn red and everything was tight and itchy. I washed my face again, applied another thick layer of Eucerin, and now I just have to wait it out. I wonder why it does this? It’s regular enough that I don’t worry (so much) that my face is going to stay this way forever. But it’s irregular enough that I never know what’s going to provoke it. I am washing all my sheets and pillowcases today, though, just in case that helps. 
  • My husband and I are (finally) watching the latest season of Stranger ThingsWe watched a recap of the series before we started the first episode, and seeing all the seasons condensed into key moments like that made me laugh. The series is SO RIDICULOUS. It sounds absolutely bonker balls. And yet it is so good! I love the characters and I love to hate on their TERRIBLE hair. The danger is palpable and so intense. The acting is pretty great. I love it. This season is VERY intense though.
  • One of my favorite parts of watching the show is the closed captions. My husband and I have reached that glorious stage of life during which we really PREFER to watch shows/movies with the captions on. But for Stranger Things in particular, the captions for the musical choices bring me great joy. “Intense synth music” it will say, in parentheses. “Eerie stinger.” The adjectives give me life. “Curious synth music” or – my favorite – “inquisitive synth music.” How do I get the job of the person who writes these captions?
  • After an episode of Stranger Things – or anything that’s intense/scary – I need to have a little mental palate cleanser. Lately, I am watching an episode of Seinfeld. I have been making my way through the whole series over the past year or so, and I’m finally at Season 9. As with most TV shows from the 90s, there are a lot of storylines that are completely cringeworthy now. But so much of it is still so, so funny. And I am constantly reminded that Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of the great comedic actors of our time. Plus, there are countless guest stars: Aunt Becky! Lorelai Gilmore! Sarah Silverman! Luke Danes! Charlotte York! 
  • I cleaned out my Contacts list on my phone. So many names of people I haven’t talked to in years – a few I haven’t talked to in a decade. A couple of people who are no longer with us; I deleted the entry for my husband’s grandmother, but not the one for my friend. A couple of restaurants from which I used to order takeout when I traveled for a job I left in 2012. Contact info for colleagues from that job and for the job I left in 2016. The number for the psychologist I saw several years ago. Details for various car services in various cities. Phone numbers for several old babysitters. The address and number for the dear woman who took care of Carla in the infant room of her first daycare. The numbers for both daycares she attended. Names and numbers of mothers of some of Carla’s former friends. And so many many names that I no longer recognize AT ALL. Kind of makes me wonder how many phones have me listed as a contact… and how many of those phones’ owners remember me.
  • The reason I started cleaning out my Contacts List is because I was hunting for a specific number. We have a tree in our yard that is starting to overtake our driveway. The bottommost branches scrape against my husband’s car when he pulls into the garage. I think it’s time to call in a tree expert. And we HAD such a tree expert come in and remove from branches from the defunct telephone wire a couple of years ago… but for the life of me I cannot remember what his name is! There are a couple of candidates in my phone – local numbers with names I don’t recognize. But did Past Me add any helpful notes about who these people were or why I have their numbers? No, she did not. Future Me is changing her ways, though, mark my words! We did have a separate tree service come out and trim the giant oak in our backyard, so I could call them… but it took FOREVER to schedule them to come out, and I don’t particularly want to wait forever. They did do a good job, though. And seemed very knowledgeable and professional.
  • I am still thinking about the poor cashier at the party supply place. I went in before Carla’s birthday party to order a couple of balloon centerpieces. The place was fairly busy – two people waiting for their balloon orders to be fulfilled, a man in front of me in line, a handful of other people wandering the aisles. But the poor cashier was FRAZZLED. He was doing everything at five times the appropriate speed – like when I asked for a specific balloon, he dashed over to the balloon card catalog and fumbled through the cards trying to find the right balloon, then dropped the balloon on the floor. Then he asked me what other colors I wanted for the centerpiece and I told him, and he swooped over to the area where the centerpiece balloons are kept, but then he grabbed only three instead of four, and had to swoop back to get the fourth, and then he dropped one of those. When he was writing my receipt, his writing was nearly illegible and his hand seemed almost shaky. And then he forgot to give me my credit card back. And then he dropped the pen, and couldn’t get the credit card receipt out of the machine. I felt SO BAD for him. And it wasn’t like there was a big line of people forming behind me. And no one was yelling or tapping their foot impatiently. One woman did come up to him and ask if there were any staff members on the floor, and then asked him where she could find the party games, and he told her. So it seemed busy but not frantic, you know? Maybe this guy was brand new at his job, and nervous because of that? Or maybe he had too much coffee that morning? Or maybe he’d already been yelled at by his boss for being too slow? I don’t know what the deal was, but I felt terrible for him because I know that feeling. I wish there was something I could have done. I wanted to say, “No hurry, I’m not in a rush.” But that seemed condescending, or like it would call attention to his distress. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything that I could say that would soothe him, so I tried to just speak in a low, calm voice and smile in a mild and unhurried way. If he were Carla, I would have suggested that he stop and take a few deep breaths, but I resisted the urge. 
  • I made a new type of pizza sauce yesterday. It’s quite good, so I want to record the recipe somewhere (although this may be a poor place to put it) for future consultation. I put a 28-oz can of tomato puree, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and 12 large leaves of fresh basil into the blender and blended them up. Then I added 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic to a small pot and heated them gently until the other stuff was done blending. Then I added the contents of the blender to the pot and added approximately 1/3 teaspoon of dried oregano and about 5 shakes of cayenne and stirred everything together. I heated everything through until it started to boil, then I turned the heat off. It was really quite good.
  • A while back, Wordle “reset” and ended my winning streak. It’s not like I have that impressive a streak (although I have yet to miss a single word) (because I consult my husband if I get stuck and he is AMAZING) (there have been a couple of days when I somehow forgot to do the Wordle though, which I hope we can all agree is not the same as getting one wrong), but I like seeing how many Wordles I’ve completed and how many days it’s been since I last forgot to play. (72 days, before Wordle stopped keeping track.) Now I still get the satisfaction of playing, and it still shows the breakdown of how many times I’ve gotten the answer in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 guesses (0, 5, 19, 62, 27, and 13, respectively) but it no longer says how many times I’ve played. I am not a fan of this development.
  • Okay, I contacted the tree service that took care of our oak. Partly because they are a known entity, and partly because I can EMAIL them instead of calling. Why don’t more companies offer this option?

What’s new with you today?

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It’s a dreary, grey Sunday – the kind where the weather is obstinate and heavy but refuses to give into the relief of rain. Everything is Deeply Oppressively Gloomy. I feel like writing (actually, I feel like Avoiding Exercise), so let’s try some medicinal randomosity.

  • Speaking of medicinal remedies: I plan to make a batch of chocolate snickerdoodles with Carla at some point this afternoon. If the weather clears up, we will have a farewell “party” tomorrow with the three friends she’s been doing an afterschool activity with for the past couple of months. The weather has to clear up because the “party” involves pizza and cookies and will take place outdoors. The cookies will take place either way. 
  • One reason I feel so gloomy is that I am in a phase of poor sleep. I know it’s a phase. I have been in poor sleep phases before. And yet knowing it is a phase does not prevent me from being absolutely certain that I will never get a good night’s sleep again, that this is my life now, and I will live out the rest of my days feeling tired and groggy and cranky, craving carbs and thinking of nothing but strategies for finally breaking the poor sleep pattern that will surely fail.
  • I am not having trouble falling asleep, which is the issue that plagues me when I am stressed. Instead, I fall asleep just fine, but then either a) wake up five hours later as though that is an appropriate amount of time to sleep night after night (it is not) or b) wake up multiple times throughout the night, ensuring that I never get the deep restorative rest I need. The other night, I counted and I woke up eight times. Twice to pee and six times because my husband did something obnoxious like turning over or breathing.
  • My normal get-back-to-sleep strategies are failing me. Nonetheless, I doggedly keep at them. Maybe THIS is the night I will sleep. I keep trying to remember that lying in bed and resting has value, even if it is not as MUCH value as actual sleep. I also keep wishing that my husband – a real live doctor – would say, Wow, you should go see your doctor about this. He does not, which I think indicates that there’s nothing I can do about it except wait for the phase to end. 
  • Things I have tried: Sleeping in the guest room. Making my husband sleep in the guest room. Exercising in the morning. Exercising in the afternoon. Taking melatonin. Taking Benadryl. Eliminating screens for an hour before bed. Taking a warm shower before bed. Wearing socks to bed. Wearing squishy ear things in my ears (they have a name, but all I am coming up with is “ear phones” and that isn’t right; the lack of sleep is already setting in as mental decay). Eliminating soda. Eliminating alcohol. Not eating too close to bedtime. Cutting out all liquids at nine pm. Drinking warm herbal tea right before the nine pm cutoff. Doing soothing stretches right before bed. Going to bed early. Going to bed late. The only thing left to try is giving caffeine up entirely (I drink tea every morning), but I don’t wanna.
  • Okay, I am done talking about my sleep struggles now. 
  • If you are a fan of at-home exercise routines, I would like to recommend Lindsey of Nourish, Move, LoveI found a few of her exercise routines on YouTube, and enjoyed them. And then I found out she has free challenges on her site. I’ve been doing the April challenge, which has a great mix of routines. None of them is too long, and they require very little equipment – maybe a yoga mat or a chair or a set of hand weights if you have them. If you have no equipment, she recommends workarounds. She suggests variations you can do if you want low impact or higher impact, so I never feel like I have to push myself to do things my body can’t handle. I find her routines to be challenging but doable, and they make me sweat and they make my muscles sore and I always feel good when I’m done. And she seems like such a lovely person – she does the entire workout along with you, and makes “oh my gosh this is hard” faces and sweats and shouts motivational things at you. She doesn’t really talk at all about weight loss, at least not that I’ve noticed – she will mention eating a balanced diet once in a while, but really she’s all about feeling strong and powerful. I love that message. Sometimes she has other people join her for the routines, and sometimes she’ll invite advertisers to come work out with her. Like there is one exercise routine where she works out with a representative from the Minnesota Pork Board, or something like that, and I find that so charming – both that she would get a sponsorship from Big Pork and that they would send a representative to work out with her. And so she’ll mention pork a few times during the routine, about how it’s a lean protein that’s great for building healthy muscles. It’s very low pressure and I find it amusing and sort of sweet. Anyway, it’s all free and available on her website or on YouTube and if you want to switch up your at-home workouts, you might want to give her a try. 
  • I am still on the lookout for The Perfect Summer Dress. I have rejected every dress I’ve tried on. Once again, I’m confronted with the fact that I do not look good in a maxi dress. Apparently this is a lesson I am forced to learn annually, because it never sticks from year to year. I really WANT a maxi dress – they seem like they would be comfortable and cool and look cute with a denim jacket – but they are not for me. Really what I want is the T-shirt and jeans equivalent of a dress. But with a waistline. And the sad fact is that I am too lumpy for jersey, which is what most of those dresses are made of. So. The search continues. Lauren says my perfect dress is at Boden, so I am looking there.
  • Reading Lauren’s latest post reminds me that I need to get cracking on my seed starters. So far I have purchased the seeds and seed starter and moved a seed tray into my dining room. That FEELS like progress, but I am really no closer to growing pepper plants and sugar snap peas than I was before. 
  • In an effort to Treat Ourselves (and also treat me, by removing a large something from the freezer), we made schnecken for breakfast. My in-laws had sent us the schnecken some time ago but they ordered us an enormous quantity, so we had some left over. If you have not ever experienced schnecken, it is similar to a cinnamon roll… but with less cinnamon. It also has raisins, which I pick out. It tastes like eating cooked cinnamon roll dough made out of butter. A very decadent treat indeed.
  • Would you like a non-update on my housecleaner situation? As you may know if you read Swistle’s recent post on the topic, I have been eager to call my former housecleaner to see if she wants to return to cleaning our house. Now that I am fully vaccinated, and Carla is out of the house all day, IT IS TIME. After Swistle posted on the topic (and also sent me a very nice, reassuring email), and I read all of the lovely comments, I gathered my nerve and placed the call. She sounded genuinely happy to hear from me, which was such a relief; I had worried that she would be mad that we had discontinued her services (after paying her not to come for several months, it started to feel weird to keep doing so).  When I said, all in a rush, that I would love for her to come back now that my husband and I are vaccinated, I could HEAR the smile in her voice as she said, “I would LOVE to come back!” But of course, you know, it wasn’t as simple as all that. She has, understandably, taken other jobs. And I think she had just placed a new ad for her services. So she said she needed to check her schedule and get back to me. This was nearly a week ago and my confidence in that “I would LOVE to come back!” is now wavering. Also, when we spoke, she said “I think I still have your number” and I SHOULD HAVE said, “Oh, just in case you can’t find it, here it is” but I DIDN’T and so now I am fretting that she has no way to get in touch with me. Plus, I forgot to say that I would want to know EITHER WAY – even if she can’t work me into her schedule now, I would ask her to put me on a wait list for next time she needs to fill a spot. And also, I was so overwhelmed by making the call and talking with her after so many months that I completely forgot to mention that I’d prefer her to wear a mask. Well. There’s nothing I can do about any of it NOW. I suppose I could call back after a couple of weeks go by just to check in. I really REALLY do not want to find and vet and train another housecleaner, especially when my old one is so lovely and wonderful. 
  • Meanwhile, the house creeps further and further toward squalor. Some sort of mental switch flipped, I think, when I heard my housecleaner’s voice. And I just felt Done with housecleaning. Carla is doing her best to contribute, having renewed her interest in various toys with thousands of tiny parts/crafting projects that require her to pull multiple supplies out of the craft cupboard and strew them all over every available surface. My recent clothes buying craze hasn’t helped either; I have “to try on” and “to return” piles all over the place.
  • What are you watching right now? My husband and I just finished Bodyguard, which, in case you are operating under the same misapprehension, has nothing whatsoever to do with the 1992 movie The Bodyguard starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. I got over my disappointment pretty quickly because it was a great series. It was very action packed and made me EXTREMELY stressed, though. Like, heart pounding, gripping my husband’s hand tightly kind of stress. So keep that in mind if you plan to give it a try. The lead – Richard Madden, of Game of Thrones fame – was fantastic, and should probably win an Emmy for his jaw-muscle acting alone. There was also some good hair acting in the last third of the series, but maybe we should award THAT Emmy to his hair styling team. Prior to Bodyguard, we finally watched Little Fires Everywhere, the TV adaptation of the best-selling Celeste Ng book. It starred Reese Witherspoon and Joshua Jackson and Kerry Washington and a whole host of child actors and it was excellent and thought provoking. I am telling you this as though I am not the last person in the universe to watch it. It was one of those rare TV shows that, to me, was even better than the book – but in a way that made the parts of the book I loved really shine… and in a way that made me appreciate the book anew. Reese Witherspoon is one hell of an actress, is one of my takeaways from the show. Also, Joshua Jackson is Full On Dad Mode in this series, which may be upsetting if you are accustomed to seeing him as a teen heartthrob; I never watched Dawson’s Creek so it didn’t bother me, but I could see how it MIGHT. Anyway: two great shows in a row, and now I am at a loss for what to watch next. 
  • Speaking of shows, the next season of Ted Lasscomes out July 23! I don’t know how the second season could possibly stand up to the quality of the first, but I am excited nonetheless. Have you watched the trailer? Ted Lasso (and Ted Lasso) was a real bright spot in the past year and I am really looking forward to having MORE Ted Lasso in my life.
  • Every single time I type “Ted Lasso” I type “Lasson” instead, and then have to erase the terminal N.
  • Earplugs. They’re called earplugs.

All right, Internet. Time for me to go make some cookies and then get through Leg Day. How are you on this, the final Sunday of April?

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If nothing else, being forced to stay at home and supervise my daughter’s distance learning has been excellent for my reading. I have already read ten books this year (which is a lot for me), and eight of them since self-isolation began in mid-March.

Since we last discussed books, I have read several more that I can recommend. Agatha Christie continues to be a perfect book type for me – I love mysteries, and Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are just so charming and coy and the mysteries themselves are fun and not overly violent or dark. The very definition of cozy. And nothing distracts my brain like a good mystery. I just read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and it was delightful. I wish my library had more copies of Christie books available via ebook, but I am apparently not the only person who finds them ideal pandemic reading.

Speaking of cozy mysteries: Allison R. mentioned Louise Penny in response to my previous post which reminded me that I had her first Inspector Gamache mystery – Still Life – on my bookshelf. I read it and enjoyed it. Perhaps not with the enthusiasm I feel about Christie books, but with enough pleasure that I will read more Penny books.

I did read the Liz Moore book my husband got me for my birthday. It was excellent. A well-crafted mystery. Good writing. Believable, relatable characters. But… it dealt with a lot of Heavy Topics, so I don’t know that it helped my mood any.

Open Book  – Jessica Simpson’s memoir – was a very satisfying read. I am predisposed toward Jessica Simpson – I was a teenager when she and Britney and Christina appeared on the music scene, and I watched Newlyweds  religiously and found Simpson’s ditzy act to be charming and refreshing. The book was also charming, in its way. And I loved learning all about her life before stardom and getting the juicy details about her breakup with Nick Lachey and the juicier details about her on-and-off relationship with John Mayer. This book also had some Heavy Topics – sexual abuse and alcoholism/substance abuse – but Simpson somehow managed to address the topics in a way that felt truthful but also optimistic. And her religious faith and sense of humor are threaded throughout the book in such a way that buoys you along. This book was nowhere near as light and fluffy as I’ll Be There for You: The One About Friends, but it was still light enough and definitely scratched my celebrity-curiosity itch in a very satisfactory way.

The BEST book I have read recently is Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert. Kelly used to be a blogger, a million years ago, and I always enjoyed her posts. But man, her fiction is EXCELLENT. I read her first novel, Conviction, a couple of years ago and really liked it; it’s a book that has stayed with me, and I still find myself thinking about the protagonist and his motivations and choices. But Picture Us in the Light is just… it’s one of those books that I want you to read so badly I am having to restrain myself from grabbing you about the shoulders and shaking you until you buy it. First, it’s Young Adult fiction, which is not normally my thing… but the writing is so good that it feels relevant and worthwhile to read even so. (This feels reductive of YA fiction, which can be excellent. But there’s enough out there that’s not great that I feel I have to include a caveat.) Like some of the other books I’ve been reading, it’s got some Heavy Topics, although I don’t want to detail them for you because I don’t want to give anything away. But the care with which Kelly handled the heavy stuff and the beauty of the writing and the wonderful, wonderfully flawed characters made it a hypnotizing book that I read straight through in a couple of days. I’m not going to tell you that it won’t break your heart; I fell in love with the characters and wept several times over their pain. But there’s healing there, too.

I have been watching much less TV than I anticipated I would during a pandemic. Partly because I want to be providing A Good Example for my child, and partly because I am sitting in her room with her for hours every day as she does her schoolwork. But I have been watching a little bit, and I have some recommendations.

The second season of Songland  just started on NBC. I only watched the first season begrudgingly because my husband was interested… but fell in love with it almost immediately. The premise is that a singer/band is looking for a new song to round out an album. Four songwriters present songs they think would appeal to the singer/band. The singer/band picks three songs to work on, and a trio of music producers – Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, Ester Dean, and Shane McAnally – help the songwriters improve their songs, which they then re-present to the singer/band. The singer/band chooses one of the songs. It is really fun to watch the songs’ transformations from something beautiful and raw to something more produced and tailored to the specific singer/band. The producers are super talented and everyone treats the songs they are working on with such respect and care. It’s a feel-good show and I really love it.

Together with Carla, who wants to be a zookeeper someday, we are watching The Zoo on Animal Planet. It takes place in the Bronx zoo, and usually has three storylines, following three separate animals. Maybe an injured bird will be rehabilitated and the released into the wild. Or a red panda will get pregnant and have babies. Or a camel will be found down in the yard and the zoo staff have to figure out what’s wrong. It’s got cute animals and staff who are deeply enthusiastic about the creatures under their care. Sometimes animals die on the show, which is sad – but I suppose that’s what happens. What I love most – beside the cute fuzzy critters – is the staff. It makes me all teary to think that there are people in the world who love animals SO MUCH that they make it their life’s work to take care of them, to make sure they are loved and fed and comfortable, to help spread the word about conservation and what it’s like for these animals in the wild and why their habitats are disappearing. These are people who care so much about the mental and physical health of the animals that they will spend days or weeks training them to feel comfortable around and inside a crate, just so the creatures aren’t scared or worried during a very short trip to a new location or to a veterinary clinic for a checkup. It’s a very welcome difference from the money-hungry cruelty of Tiger King.

My husband and I finally got around to watching the final season of The Good Place. The last episode made me sob and sob, it was so well done. I really wish I could watch the whole series again for the first time.

After several years of hearing rave reviews about it, I just started watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Oh it is so good. I have been staying up much too late to watch multiple episodes back to back. My husband doesn’t love it – it has the same non-stop patter viewers will remember from Gilmore Girls, which drives him nuts. But I don’t mind that, terribly, and it’s hilarious. Raunchier and cruder than I anticipated, with a LOT of foul language. But it’s so funny and fun. If, like me, you are years behind the TV trends, I highly recommend it.

Next up: I am in the middle of Elvis Duran’s memoir, Where Do I Begin? Stories from a Life Lived Out Loud. On the recommendation of NGS, I have checked out Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street. On the suggestion of Kara, I have recommended As If: The Oral History of Clueless to my library, because I want to read it and they somehow do not own it. And, because of a recommendation from Lee and Angela, I have As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride on hold via my library – only six weeks until it’s my turn to read it!

 

Now it’s your turn. What have you been reading/watching since we last talked?

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We are at the glorious age where Carla wakes up on weekend mornings and trots herself down to the living room and turns on the TV all by herself. My husband and I have been sleeping in until the grand old hour of EIGHT AM. It is lovely. (IT GETS BETTER!) But then she just wants to watch TV alllllll day long. Sometimes I want to give in to this, because TV is such a good babysitter. I can cook or clean or read books or look at my phone. It’s wonderful.

But. No amount of TV is ever enough. My child is addicted to TV. She looooooves it. I love it too, so I completely empathize. But I also want her to enjoy non-TV activities, like riding her bike and playing on our backyard playset and exploring nature and building LEGO creations etc. etc. etc. And… she gets a teeny bit mean after she’s been watching shows for a while. And… TV consumption makes her want to consume MORE TV.

Listen, I am no TV detractor! There is some great programming on TV, for kids and adults alike. You can learn things from TV, from concepts about friendship and self-control, to new vocabulary words, to famous operatic scores (I’m looking at you, Bugs Bunny).

But, because she truly seems addicted, and because she gets a little mean, and because she needs to occasionally do other things – like move her body and flex her brain – we limit her TV consumption. During the school year, there is no TV on school days. There are exceptions, of course. If we go out to dinner, we bring an ipad and she can watch TV after we order food. If we go on a car trip that’s longer than an hour, we bring the ipad. If it’s a vacation day or a weekend day, we limit TV to an hour or two, depending on various factors. This works for us. Other people have found other PERFECTLY REASONABLE media-consumption strategies. I do not care if your kids watch hours of TV a day if it works for your family.

Anyway, I have gotten off track from my original point. Which is that my kid and I both like TV. Yet I cannot stand most of the TV shows she likes. My Little Pony, yuck.Daniel Tiger, yawn. Puppy Dog Pals, eye glaze. Barbie, more like barf-y. And I am not going to settle in to watch Real Housewives of New York Cityor Stranger Things or even old episodes of Friends with Carla.

But I have found something that we can watch together! MasterChef Junior.

We picked a season at random on YouTube (season 6, I think), and watched the whole thing together, episode by episode, over a number of weeks. We had such a good time!

It’s about kids, so it’s geared toward kids. Which means there’s none of the yelling and cursing I associate with other Gordon Ramsey programs (he’s the host and one of the judges of MasterChef Junior). The premise, like all other competition reality shows on TV, is that you get a big group of contestants and then give them challenges, whittling the group down until you have one winner.

But all the contestants are age 8 to 13! Which makes them relatable to Carla. And they are all SO TALENTED. And, even better, they are all super articulate and kind and gracious. So even when they lose and get booted off the show, they have these really sweet, grateful things to say. Like, “I’m super sad to be going home, but I really learned so much while I was here! And I made so many friends! And I am just so lucky that I had this wonderful opportunity!” Seriously, they are more gracious losers than I’ve seen on ANY OTHER competition reality program.

The other thing I love about this show is that it has Life Lessons that Carla and I can talk about while and after watching. In one episode, a little girl gets overwhelmed and starts crying. The judges step in and help her recover her equilibrium, and she calms down and gets back to cooking. So Carla and I can discuss how awful it is to feel overwhelmed, and how it happens to everyone, and then we can talk through some strategies for recovering from that feeling and doing what you have to do.

And we can talk about losing, and how upsetting it is, but how there are really good things that come from trying your best at something, even if you don’t win. And how to behave in a gracious and sportspersonlike way, rather than allowing our hurt feelings to bubble over into anger and pouting and kicking things on the way out the door.

And we can talk about hard work, and putting in your very best effort. And how it takes really focused energy and a LOT of practice to become really good at something.

I like to think that these conversations have a decent chance of sticking, when she can apply them to what we’re watching.

Anyway, watching Season 6 together was a lot of fun. I think Carla got a little bit bored by the end (I think there were 14 episodes), so we haven’t started a new season. But maybe we’ll do so in the future. And I’m trying to think of other similar shows that we might try instead. I think she’d like So You Think You Can Dance or maybe evenProject Runway, but neither of those shows is geared toward kids, so I’d worry about adult topics or nasty language. (I loved the Christian Siriano season of Project Runway, but some of the very sassy trash talk that made him so charming is not really what I want to model for my five-year-old.) I’d also like a show where the contestants are as gracious about losing as the kids are on MasterChef Junior. But that may be a fool’s errand.

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