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Review: The Fresh Beat Band, Upbeat & Positive

by Amanda on September 1, 2009
category: Pop culture

fbb The Fresh Beat Band premiered on Nickelodeon last week after many, many promotion videos. The show is about four best friends, Marina, Kiki, Twist, and Shout, who go to music school together and play in The Fresh Beat Band. This live action program is targeted to preschoolers. They sing about solving problems with fun dance moves and includes a little musical education.

The group was originally called The Jumparounds, then inexplicably changed to The Fresh Beat Band. Noggin and Nickelodeon started to heavily promote the show over a month ago. The songs quickly grew on me and I was excited about the premiere last Monday.  After viewing the first episode, I found the show just okay. My 2 year old daughter watches it sometimes, but it isn’t her favorite. I try to get her to dance with me when they are on. Some of the moves are little complicated even if I tried to follow them.

The show encourages creativity and playing musical instruments. The show is more entertaining and fun to watch than educational. However, I never expect anything from Nickelodeon to be educational. Noggin is wrong – they are not “just like preschool!” Television can never replace personal one-on-one interaction. I think the explanation of how a show is supposed to enhance social awareness  before a show begins on Noggin are a joke. Okay, I am stepping off my soap box now.

I do like that Kiki and Marina are modestly dressed. They wear dresses and skirts, but have leggings underneath. The boys are appropriately dressed as well.  The songs are fun and positive. I kind of like the “Great Day” song. Shout’s rapping does getting a little annoying, because that is so 1997. Hopefully, the show will only get better. I think it has a lot of potential.

Many folks in the Nickelodeon forum think the show is too mature for preschoolers and find the music irritating. I personally don’t find this show as annoying as other preschool shows on television. I think it would be super adorable if my little girl danced and sang the songs. I hope The Fresh Beat Band improves with each episode, because I am still tuning in.

This show has a lot of folks on either side of the fence. Did you find the promos annoying? What do you think of The Fresh Beat Band?

The Mom Show on We TV: A Recap & Review

by Amanda on June 15, 2009
category: Pop culture

Let’s chat about mom topics on TV! We need more mom programs on TV that are informative and helpful, instead of exploiting crazy mothers. This Canadian import on We TV on Friday mornings fits the bill. The Mom Show is hosted by two moms, Catherine Marion and Laurie Gelman. Catherine is Canadian TV personality and is a mom of 3 boys and 1 girl.  Laurie has 2 girls and is the wife of Michael Gelman the Executive Producer of Live with Regis & Kelly. The show opens with some chatting in the kitchen, has guests, filmed segments about various topics such as parenting and designing your home, and a panel discussion.


Once you get past the incredibly cheesy opening of mothers who are dancing,  the fast talking, and the odd daycare/home set, the show does have some helpful information. I was really confused why there were kids in another room and who exactly it was that was watching them. Apparently it is Nanny Robina Uddin who is watching them and later she shares about how to teach your kids moderation. The kids are the children of the panel of moms that will appear later in the show. While filming the panel discussion the mothers start without their kids in their lap and then the kids appear with their moms after a commercial break. As you can tell I was quite distracted by this, but it seemed so true to life! I loved how one mom held her newborn throughout the discussion.

The two hosts invited 3 moms and family expert Dr. Karyn Gordonis to discuss the difference between raising boys and girls. This was my favorite part of the show, because I enjoyed hearing each mother’s experience. The discussion even went down a rabbit trail about teaching your kids about finances. Laurie did a good job of asking good questions like “What do you hope your daughter learns from you?” and “Are you raising your kids how you were raised?” Dr. Gordonis pointed out how we either copy how or parents raised us or we do the complete opposite. There was no concrete point made during the discussion. It is what just that – a discussion.

The beginning of the show included 2 segments. The first segment was called “Baby Diaries” and showcased a family and how their 2 year daughter is getting along with her 3 month old sister. It did feel like a one big long Johnson’s sponsored ad (the show is sponsored by Johnson’s), but I still liked it because that is exactly where I am at. I have a 2 year old and a 3 month old. Also, in the clip they show the mother breastfeeding! (You really don’t see any boob.) Hooray for breastfeeding on TV portrayed in a normal light.

In another segment one mom gets an entry way makeover. The mother had an accent while speaking English and they subtitled her. Really, you could understand her and the subtitles were a little offensive. The room was nice, though.

Finally, the show ended with Brenda Bornstein from Arm & Hammer showing different ways to clean with baking soda. I picked up a tip or two on how to use this cheap cleaner! It was nice to see the visual of how-to’s.

After only seeing one episode I am definitely interested to see a few more episodes, before I make up my mind completely. I do think that if we want to see more good mom-centric shows on television then we should support this pioneer!

Have you seen the show? What do you think?

TV Recap & Review: “16 and Pregnant”

by Dawn on June 12, 2009
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),Pop culture,Pregnancy

teens-pushing-prams I wasn’t feeling very well last night, so it was out of sheer curiosity that I tuned into the premiere of “16 and Pregnant” on MTV.  I’m a mom, I like various reality tv shows, and there sure are a lot about moms these days.  (Did anyone catch the premiere of “Raising Sextuplets“, also on last night?  I thought about it, but decided it was already being done by, oh, I don’t know, another family in America.  Plus twins!)

As a mother who had her first child at age 29, “16 and Pregnant” was pretty tough to take.  The first episode focused on Maci and Ryan, high school students who like motorbikes, tattoos, and multiple piercings.  They also like each other, or did, enough to get pregnant and engaged.  The episode took us on their journey from 32 weeks pregnant to their baby being about 4 months old.   Since the birth occurred just 25 minutes into the show, it focused a little more on the reality of parenting a newborn than it did the pregnancy.

Their story is told through the eyes of Maci, who narrates throughout (sounding like a girl reading a school assignment in front of the class).  During the pregnancy, she seems optimistic and excited about the direction her life has taken, bragging to her peers about her apartment and new couch.  She and Ryan are evidently taken care of very well (financially) by their generous and enabling parents.  The baby’s room was filled with rock & roll onesies and personalized pacifiers.  Maci’s parents even bought the baby a little motorbike for him to grow into in the future.  (Not exactly a helpful baby shower gift for any new mother, but whatever.)  It was clear that Maci thought she and Ryan and their baby would be a happy little family.

Meanwhile, Ryan is nearly speechless all the time and flummoxed about his impending responsibilities as a husband and father.  The more Maci presses him for enthusiasm, the more he shuts down.  “Ryan’s attitude sucks,” Maci complained.  Indeed.  But he’s also acting his age.  She seems to think that because she saved her pennies to buy a couch, she’s ready to be an adult.

While transferring to an accelerated high school so she could graduate sooner (she is, after all, a self-described “overachiever”), she becomes a little celebrity for her baby bump.  I cringed at this part; the students crowded around her like she was Ellen Page in the flesh, and Maci loved the attention.  It was in this brief scene that there was any discussion at all about why she decided to have the baby.  Her reason: “May as well make the best of it.”  I half-expected her to say, “It’s what that girl did in ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’, that’s why!”

At 38 weeks, Maci, Ryan, and their parents inexplicably go four-wheeling in the woods.  I just couldn’t believe my eyes.  It could have just been the editing, but right after that, Maci went into labor for 30 hours.

My heart melted for the baby boy.  They named him Bentley.  And he was precious.  Maci & Ryan would squabble about who would change him or feed him or comfort him, and for the rest of the episode, I kept thinking, “Give me that baby, I’ll hold him!!”  Maci stepped up and took her mom responsibilities seriously, even though she’d pepper her conversations with complaints like, “Bentley! You’re ruining [my graduation robe]!”  or “He’s cranky in the mornings, and it gets on my nerves.”  (At least she’s honest.)  For awhile, she deluded herself into thinking she could raise the child, care for an inattentive teenage fiance, take classes in college, and go to dance classes twice a week.  Later, she dropped dance.  As far as I can tell, she is still taking university courses and making the most of her mom’s free babysitting.  Ryan, meanwhile, does nothing other than work, work out, and hang out with his buddies at the bowling alley.

In the end, Ryan admitted he hated coming home to Maci, and didn’t want to be together.  She cried, and I didn’t blame her; she has the weight of the world on her young shoulders.  And as I watched their tale come to a close, Ryan ignoring his worries by getting another tattoo the size of his right ribcage, all I could think was, “THIS is why you don’t have sex when you’re an unmarried teenager.”  They’ll grow up, Maci & Ryan, but I worry for their son, an innocent little life who needs a lot of love.  I am glad this show did not romanticize teenage pregnancy but emphasize the magnitude of its responsibility.

Did you see “16 and Pregnant”?  Would you show this to your pre-teen and teenage children as a cautionary tale? 

Photo courtesy paulbence

Summer Reading: The Wednesday Sisters

by Dawn on June 5, 2009
category: Pop culture,Product Reviews

I have been a reading like crazy.  I had originally resolved to read 26 books this year (roughly two per month), but I started off so strongly that I am actually shooting for 52 by year’s end.  I am not reading many difficult books, so I don’t want you to think I’m some sort of Rory Gilmore.  Sure, I’ve got a decent piece of literature here & there, but it’s usually surrounded by plenty of fluff.  You can see my 2009 books-finished list here.

Last month, I completely raced through The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton.  It was published about a year ago, and I saw it on the paperbacks table at Barnes & Noble.   Because I love The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood so much, I have a radar for any fiction about a group of women friends with the words “society”, “sisterhood”, “club”, etc in its title.  This trend both entertains me and makes my eyes roll.  :)   Anyway, this story about five mom friends in 1960s California who become published authors sounded quite intriguing.

I was not disappointed.  The story is told through the eyes of narrator Frankie, and she describes the evolution of her friendship with Kath, Linda, Brett, and Ally – all young mothers who spend their mornings together chatting at the park while their children play.  It was nice to read about moms who still yearn for friendship after having young children.  And when these believable characters started an amateur writing circle to engage themselves creatively, I was both envious and inspired.

Various subplots woven throughout the book had the five principal summer-reading  characters seeing each other through pregnancies, miscarriages, unfaithful spouses, taboo interracial relationships, the womens’ lib movement, major illness, and the highs and lows of 1960s/70s American history.  Though this is fiction, I was kind of amazed by the medical subplots.  Some of the characters were dealing with major health crises, and the way they were treated astounded me – after all, the 1960s were only 50 years ago.  I was born in the mid 70s, so to imagine my mom might have had a similar experience while pregnant with me is fascinating.

If you’re looking for a breezy, heartfelt read about moms who seek comfort in their friendships with others, The Wednesday Sisters is a great choice.

What are you reading this summer, Mom Crowd?

Second photo courtesy ruminatrix

True Confessions: How Messy Is Your Mom-mobile?

It’s something I swore I’d never do: let my car get messy after having kids.  My car was relatively clean before we had babies, and I thought if I kept up with it enough, it would stay that way once the kids got older.  Pretty naive, huh?  :)   I used to be so grossed out by family vehicles, frankly – all the old Cheerios, grubby toys, and crumbs on the seats.  Ick!  Go into my garage, though, and you’ll find out that my car is decorated in the exact same way.

A few weeks ago I was surfing the internets and found out about this contest (now over):  Mom’s Messy Car Photo Contest. It made me a little relieved to see that this trend is more common than not.  Even though the contest was expired, I got my camera and grabbed a few shots anyway.  Here’s a peek!


Your standard collection of toys on the floor of the car, almost never played with.


This one shows a bit more garbage, which grosses me out.  How did I let that happen?


Finally, you have a shot of my daughter’s handprints all over the back-inside of the car.  Rest assured, she is not bumping around the back of the car while it’s moving.  (If you must know, hubby & I were “discussing something intently” while sitting in a parking lot, and we let her climb over the seats to keep her busy.)  This is the kind of thing I will never get around to cleaning – I barely go through a drive-through car wash, much less take windex & a towel to the interior side of the windows.

I often comment to friends that I desire to have a clutter-free, “Real Simple-style” home, but who are we kidding?  With toddlers, this is just not realistic.  If I prioritize a beautifully clean car, that means I am sacrificing something else: time and joy with my kids.  So for now, the deal is, I let some messes slide in the name of preserving my sanity.  I want to teach my kids how to pick up after themselves, but I don’t want to be on them every two seconds about throwing a toy on the car floor.  If Rice Krispies make them happy, I’ll vacuum up the dropped ones eventually.  I’m okay with my messy mom-mobile.

What about you?  On a scale of one to ten, how messy is your family car? Do you have any practical tips for keeping it organized?

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