Thursday, June 13, 2013

Phineas and Ferb Philosophy

Before this year, I had lumped the animated children's show, "Phineas and Ferb" in with other detestable children's cartoons like Sponge Bob and well basically anything on The Cartoon Network.  When my kids asked me why they couldn't watch such shows, I honestly answered, "Because they make you stupid," to which my kids would of course reply, "You said stupid!!!!" and then forget that they had asked to watch a t.v. show (distractionary parenting techniques, one of the favorites in my parenting toolbelt).

But then, we got Netflix streaming and I allowed the kids watched all sorts of unapproved shows with their father while I was at work.  (They call this babysitting.  My kids now can relate anything in life to an episode of Mythbusters and talk as if they know Adam and Jaime personally.)  One show I caught them enjoying was Phineas and Ferb and as I eavesdropped, I found myself smiling and even chuckling a little.  It turns out the show is pretty smart and funny and not full of potty humor or alien robots (just a platypus that turns into a secret agent, whatevs).  As with everything that I start to like, I go a little over the top, so this happened:
Meet Phineas, Ferb, and Isabella (she plays the part perfectly: "Wat-cha do-in'?") 

The other two play their parts equally well.

Jeremy and I decided that what we like about the show (besides the clever humor) is that it highlights the ingenuity and resourcefulness of two brothers who don't sit around waiting to be entertained or complaining that they're bored...they go out and make things happen (like roller coasters in the backyard or putting their sister's face on Mt. Rushmore).  And somehow they always manage to clean up their mess so that their mother doesn't have to be any more stressed out than she should be.

So we encourage Phineas and Ferb behavior around recently when the kids discovered that they could wrap the house 4.5 times with the tape from one old VCR tape (sorry Kendra, I think it could have been Band Memories 1990-something or Kendra Waits for Homecoming Date While Dad Sneers Thru the Peephole in Ugly Gold Short-Sleeved Sweatshirt With Gun Tucked in Waistband).

Many of our Phineas and Ferb (maybe I should call them "Ph and F" and you should pronounce those phonetically in your head, or outloud, whatever floats your boat) episodes involve pajama pants, rope, flying stuffed animals...

...and someone falling over.
"Just as long as everyone cleans up!!!!"

I seriously get this yummy happy feeling inside when I can hear the kids doing something imaginative and creative (and maybe a little bit risky) without too much direction from an adult...I don't want anything to interrupt them and I just want to eavesdrop until it's way past bedtime.

So a few of my friends have told me about day camps or special summer programs that I should sign my kids up for.  I'm sure those activities would be fun and my kids would love them, but I usually just answer, "We're planning to have a Phineas and Ferb summer."

(Except we've been needing to tighten up discipline and chores and general responsibility, so maybe we'll have a Phineas and Ferb summer with a little bit of this thrown in:) 

***Informational Bulletin:  We're planning to spend the summer in Flagstaff while Jeremy (hopefully) writes his thesis in the privacy of his old office and we enjoy some cooler temperatures and let my parents have their house back! We'll see what happens after that.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


So...Sam has been learning to write a proper paragraph this year and there has been a lot of emphasis on crafting a good topic sentence.  I try to help him, but I realized that my topic sentence of choice is:


So, one of the highlights of kindergarten in Mrs. Dey's class is that a student gets to bring home the class pet, Frank the Frog on a random weekend during the school year.  He comes with a backpack that contains a journal where the kids can record what they did with Frank and a book, called A Frog Thing.

While Frank was with us, he got to meet other "pets" and swing on the hammock,

play with Legos (I couldn't convince them to fold the laundry),

do cross-eyes,

go to church,

and go to a Birthday party!
During the weekend, he also got to go to the driving range but since he was in the custody of my husband, there were no photos taken of this certainly noteworthy activity.

So, there was a book that came in the backpack along with Frank, and a few pages in, I got a little irritated:

Now, I happen to have a pet peeve about the over-used saying, "You can do anything you set your mind to."

(I also have a pet peeve about the rampant usage of a dot on a capital I in this country.  If you haven't noticed it before, you will now.  A dot is for a lower case i, people!!!) 
Well, this sign has more going on than just the dotted capital i, sadly.
Anyway, back to Frank and the book and my first pet peeve.  I just have a problem with telling people that they can do anything they set their mind to, or even worse, if they believe it, they can achieve it.  I can't be an Olympic athlete, no matter how hard I try or "put my mind to it" (whatever that means).  Barring some kind of Divine Intervention, I will not learn to tap dance well or live long enough to master Japanese and Russian.  It's just a fact, folks (on a side note, I am a fan of "Where there's a will, there's a way" for some reason).  But I have seen the odious phrase on school signs across the southwest (well, one in AZ and one in CA) and it seems to be on the end of every sappy reality competition tv show.  Jeremy and I have taken to calling the message, "BECHiEVE iT!" (with dotted capital i's thrown in for fun).

Surprisingly, as I continued to read A Frog Thing, I realized that it was going in a direction I liked.  Frank was a frog but he wanted to fly.  His parents told him he could do anything he set his mind to but when he told them it was to fly, they responded by lovingly reminding him that he was a frog and that they had meant he could do any frog thing he wanted to.  Like becoming a good swimmer.  So he swam and sadly watched the birds fly overhead.  One day, he had the opportunity to rescue a little bird who had fallen into the water.  In gratitude, the parent birds offered him their assistance with anything he would like.  When they found out he wanted to fly, they put a stick between them and he hung on and "flew" around about the entire froggy community.  Ok, at this point, you are thinking what I was thinking, "It wasn't really Frank who was flying."  But get this, he comes back and ADMITS that the birds were flying and even though he loved it, he realized that he was a frog and he would never be able to actually fly.  He decides to be content with swimming well and the last picture is one of him happily (if not a bit wistfully) gliding through the water with birds flying far in the distance above him.  Hurray!  An accurate story (well, I mean, the animals talked, but whatever).  I loved it.

By the way, you will be happy to know that while Frank was with us, he did get to fly!

And then he got stuck in a tree.

Sorry, Frank, you are just a stuffed frog, you know.