Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kids and TV

How much is too much?....
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When I was a kid…
When I was growing up, my parents allowed me and my younger brother to watch 30 minutes of TV per day. No more and most often less. This was considered to be a torture tactic by many of my friends, but my brother and I didn’t mind. It was just the way it was.

Now that I have a child of my own, I’ve had to start thinking about all sorts of things, including TV time.
I allow my 20-month-old daughter to watch TV once a week. On Saturday mornings I put on an Elmo DVD that’s about 30-40 minutes long (she loves Elmo). She doesn’t usually watch the whole thing and most often toddles off before it’s done. She’d much rather be outside.

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Too much TV
I also found this: “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.”
I think I'm doing pretty good at less than 30 minutes a week.
My daughter also doesn’t eat candy, fast food, or drink pop. And no, I’m not one of those parents who plan to shelter their child from the evils of the world (like sugar- Grrrr).
There’s going to be a time when my little one starts asking for junk food and TV and until then, why introduce or encourage it? I'm not planning to forbid any of it because that will just backfire eventually. Plus, it’s just not realistic.

Breaking News...
This past week I was feeling mighty fine about our TV restrictions when my brother sent me a link to an interesting article about the effect of TV on kids under the age of two. The article read:
It goes on to say that “barely a 10th of children in some areas can repeat even one nursery rhyme and, in extreme cases, some do not even know their own name” and that the problem is “now more prevalent than dyslexia or autism.”

Braggin’ Time
My daughter can sing her way through Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Row Your Boat, and likes to add her own twist to the end of Skinamarinky (her version ends in “I love me”). She also knows a few Wiggles songs (including the actions) and can make her way through the whole alphabet song, adding in a few mumbles of “next time won’t you sing with me” to the end.
She can recognize and say around 10 colours (my mom taught her “aqua” as a joke, but she knows it!) and knows her names (both her nickname and her full name), along with Mommy, Amma, Grandpa, Auntie and Uncle. Oh yeah, and all the characters from Sesame Street including Prairie Dawn and Abby Cadabby (she learned about them from books).

She knows the names of several animals and the sounds they make in addition to other words in her growing vocabulary. She often wakes up and “reads” to herself and practices her ABC’s for up to 45 minutes before wanting to get lifted out of her crib.
As you can see, I could go on forever…  And no, she doesn’t pronounce all the words or letters clearly, but she’s definitely got the sounds and the rhythm down. I’m not listing all of this just to brag about my daughter (okay, maybe just a little bit).

Cause and Effect?
Does any of this have to do with limited screen time? Who knows.  All kids are different and each develops at his or her own pace, but I can’t help but wonder. I’m not judging other parents’ choices and think there are some great educational programs out there… but again, I’d rather teach my girl how to count by reading a book or playing with her than have her see it on TV. The TV has its place, but I think it’s something that can easily get out of control, especially considering “children who consistently spend more than 4 hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight”.

Food for thought
So, I am going to try and stick with the Saturday morning TV tradition and lead by example. The only TV she sees me watch is the news at 6 pm. In fact, when she hears the TV being switched on, the first word she says is “news”.
I think it’s also important to take the lead from my daughter. Who knows, maybe she’ll never want a chocolate bar or want to watch TV… yeah right.
But a mommy can dream.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stranger things have happened...

So, I started writing about my foray into the world of sports and it quickly turned into something much bigger than a 100-word post... I want to put some more thought into it, maybe even turn it into an article of some sort... we shall see. That's my "problem"--- once I start writing, I can't stop.

I can say that in addition to becoming an author and journalist (see previous posts), I think I'll add sports person to the list. What does that mean? Not too sure yet. But the Winnipeg Blue Bombers game last Saturday had a surprising effect on me...

Alana, a sports fan? Stranger things have happened....

Friday, October 21, 2011

A date with my blog...

I’ve noticed the one phrase that most commonly follows “Yes, I have a blog” is “but I don’t write as often as I’d like.”

I feel the same way. I love to write, but finding the time to blog isn’t easy. It’s kind of like exercising: you feel great after doing it, but getting started is tricky.

Usually a week passes before I realize I haven’t blogged in a while. In a perfect world I’d like to be posting 2-3 times a week.

So, because I don’t have 28 hours in a day, I think what it’s going to take is planning. I'm a very organized person, so maybe scheduled blog sessions are the way to go.

Will planning dates with my blog lead to more posts? Stayed tuned to find out.

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Friday, October 14, 2011


Friday. End of the week.

This week (and every week since the end of last August) I’ve spent more time at school than at home, which means during the week I spend more time with my classmates than my own family.

Our instructor Duncan often tells us to partner up with our BFFCC (best friend forever in CreComm) and we all laugh, but when you’re with the same 25 people day in and day out, it’s amazing how fast you bond.

It’s safe to say that no one understands what’s going on in our daily lives better than our classmates. We’ve been through the autofailing lows and the post-election highs together. For the next two years CreComm will be front and centre in most of our lives and no one gets it better than other CreComms.

And I think there’s something really great about that. It’s been one of the surprising highlights of this program so far.

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Recently one of my classmates was absent for two days in a row. In my university days I wouldn’t have been concerned (or even noticed) but in CreComm, missing a day is a big deal. Missing two is cause for concern.

When he got back (he’d had the flu) he said he’d never had as much support from classmates before. A few people sent him a text or email to see if he was all right, and I was one of them.

At the end of August, I would’ve thought that would be crazy, a little stalker-ish and just plain nuts. Now, maybe some people in the program do think it’s nuts, but I’d like to think we all feel the same way: like we’re in this together.

My free time tonight is going to be spent with the same 25 people I’ve seen all week. Again, anyone from the “outside” might think that’s crazy. But you just don’t understand – you’re not in CreComm.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Black as midnight on a moonless night.

It was a late (but exciting) night last night and I'm feeling a little drowsy today (understatement of the year).

So, as boring as it sounds, if I had an extra four hours today I would use them to catch up on some sleep. But since that's a no-go, I'd like to dedicate this post to something that’s always been there for me during this first month of CreComm: coffee (my substitute for sleep).

It gets my heart racing and gives me the strength to keep on going. Without it, I’d be nowhere (or fast asleep in the middle of class -- something that's bound to influence my professionalism marks).

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And with that, I'd like to throw it over to my favourite Special Agent, Dale Cooper. How can you not get excited about java after hearing what Coop has to say about it?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The CBC & Me

This weekend was a mix of work and play. There’s no question that the highlight was attending the CBC open house on Oct. 1.

I started the morning off with breakfast at the new Stella’s Café downtown. It’s a beautiful location and the food, as always, was delicious.

(I recommend the Veggie Breakfast Sandwich: two fried eggs, sautéed spinach & mushrooms with tomato, mayo & cheddar cheese on toasted rye. Is your mouth watering yet?)

As nice as it was to sit and enjoy breakfast, I was anxious to head back to the CBC building (just up the street) because I had been warned that last year the lineup for the open house was so long it wrapped around the side of the building.

So, I showed up early and was first in line, so excited that standing in the cold wind didn’t faze me.

I should explain that I’m an avid radio listener and felt like a kid at Disney World at the prospect of getting to see the inner workings of a newsroom.
CBC newsroom.

During my childhood, the radio was a staple in the kitchen. It was always on and always tuned to CBC. This was partly because of the quality programming and partly because my mom cannot stand radio ads.

(I should add that now that I've had to write a few radio ads, I can say a lot goes into those 30-second spots...)

And so I grew up listening to the voices of Peter Gzowski, Barabara Budd and Vicki Gabereau. To this day my mom always has the kitchen radio on and set to CBC.

My dad, on the other hand, is definitely more of a CJOB man but has to do his listening in the truck or on his own radio somewhere else in the house (poor dad). I should mention that I also really enjoy CJOB (I grew up also listening to and loving Peter Warren). 

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When I lived in Iceland I always had the radio playing on my computer in the kitchen. Back in 2009 I even wrote one of my weekly Iceland Review Online articles about it. 

I've always been interested in working in a newsroom. In journalism class we’ve talked about the link between journalism and serving the public, as well as having the work benefit citizens. Being a journalist is noble and important work, and I’m realizing more and more that I want to be a part of that.

Am I a little naive? Maybe. But that doesn’t change how I feel, at least not at the moment. And based on the conversations I had with the people who work at CBC, I got the impression that they are just as excited about what’s going on around them as I am. Everyone was curious and energized about the thought of learning more. It was easy to see they loved their jobs.

Needless to say, the tour was great. I definitely got a lot more out of it because of what we’ve covered in our radio, TV and journalism classes so far.

So, that was my Saturday: devoted to the news. Interestingly enough, I ended up on it that day. Check out (around the 3:30 mark).