Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Netflix Kids: What Not to Watch

Between Arizona summer, pregnancy, and new baby, I have watched a crap ton of kids shows on Netflix in the past year. I am now an expert at kids television and my expertise has come at a terrible cost. The world needs to know what titles to avoid and in which to encourage avid fandom in your child. So here is the skinny on what to include--or not--on your Netflix queue.

Category 1: Movies you as a parent will legitimately enjoy.

Any given Disney/animated movie from your childhood is a good choice. Some will still be great, others you loved as a kid and only realize now how weird they are. Either way a spoonful of nostalgia helps the insane A/C unit go down! (I'm talking about you, Brave Little Toaster).

Voltron: Legendary Defender, Phineas and Ferb, Animaniacs, and A Series of Unfortunate Events are all shows I actively encourage Paul to watch because they are delightful.

Category 2: Shows that won't drive you insane if they play incessantly in the background of your life.

Octonauts- A crew of giant-headed animals who explore the ocean and meet animals in improbable ways. Physics, biology? These are inconsequential to the almighty Octonauts!

Dinotrux- Dinosaurs who are construction equipment, presumably some evolutionary forerunner to the Transformers. This show gets bonus points for being a Netflix Original so there is no chance that will suddenly be removed from streaming and leave you with a an angry fan child.

Storybots- Small squarish characters--apparently they are robots--who answer kid's questions. Questions like, "Why is the sky blue?" Lots of catchy songs and sundry silliness. I'd buy the soundtrack.

Ninjago and Lego- Lego ninjas. They fight snakes, mostly. All of the animated Lego cartoons I've seen have the great quality of not taking themselves too seriously. The Lego super hero cartoons and Lego Jurassic World are pretty funny and your kids will love them if they are into super guys or dinosaurs. They are the non-violent, non-scary alternative to the grown up movie versions.

Rescuebots- Roll to the rescue! Transformers who are rescue vehicles. There really isn't much more to it than that. Heavy on the humor, light on the peril, so perfect for your kid and I find this show remarkably easy to ignore.

Foreign Languaged Anything- If you pay too close attention to these shows they will drive you nuts, but listening to television in any language you don't speak is pleasantly easy to ignore. Paul has unearthed a number of Japanese, Korean, and Spanish language children's shows that are so easy to ignore, I don't even know what they are called or what they are about. AND I can pretend they are educational!

Category 3: Shows to never, ever, ever, ever watch. Ever.

Animal Mechanical- This is one of the worst, just the worst, things I have ever had to listen to. Weird mechanical creatures that have special skills that are all referred to as  "mechana-gizmo!" "mechana-stretch!" The voices are the worst. The script barely makes sense, the animation barely reaches N-64 levels. It is just no bueno.

Sonic Underground- Did you ever play Sonic the Hedgehog and think, "You know what? I wish Sonic were in a band." Well if you did you'll be happy to know that in this animated series Sonic inexplicably has two siblings and the three of them play cheesy early 90's rock/pop songs. Apparently, Sonic is exiled royalty or something? Well I do recommend sitting through a couple episodes so you can enjoy the nostalgia of what "cool" sounded like 20 years ago.

Pac-Man- If you watched Sonic Underground thinking it was kind of crappily entertaining--like how "Plan 9 From Outer Space" is kinda fun to watch--you might be tempted to watch the Pac-Man cartoon thinking it will be similar. It's not. It is so much worse. It is so bad I couldn't finish the first episode.

Bratz Super Babies- This show straight up offends me. The animation is disturbing in its badness, the premise is stupid, but I think what I hate most of all is the Bratz doll look on "babies." They tried to make sexy babies and that sickens me, upsets me, and enrages me for so many reasons that I think every episode should be burned from existence with Balefire. Infact, I almost hate that this show is appearing in a category along with these other crappy shows. It belongs in the same category as Mein Kampf and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

 She-zow- A boy who is a super hero who is a girl. This show confuses me. Should I be offended on behalf of Transgender people? Or is this treatment of gender bending totally kosher now? I don't know, I just think it is stupid.

Super Why, Sid the Science Kid, Bo on the Go, Word Party, Kate and Mim Mim, and many others- These shows are run of the mill crappy. The voices annoying, the plots non-existent, the music irritatingly difficult to tune out.What earned them placement in this category is the animation. I HATE, HATE, HATE the way the characters move. They do not respond to gravity properly, their joints are...wrong. Watching the Barney like flailing of Sid, Bo's bizarre "dancing", and those poor Super Readers trying to move with no joints and watermelons for heads, gives me the heebie jeebies.

There are really SO MANY terrible shows for children, I wish Netflix had a "block this show so I never have to see it again" button.
The good news is that many of those shows won't stay there forever. The bad news is many good shows will also get the axe. Yes, I am still sore over losing Wild Kratts. WE HADN'T GOTTEN THROUGH ALL THE SEASONS YET! Well, here's to hoping the creator of Bratz Super Babiesbgets arrested and the 4th season of Voltron is coming out soon.




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Disney with the Phillips

I am not one of those Disney bloggers who have spend hundreds of hours in the park and know where all the bathrooms are and have memorized the show schedules. I have no expert tips. There are literally hundreds of those blogs and this is not one of them. I am just going to share some fun trip memories and cute photos so my kids can't claim I never took them to Disneyland. See, boys? I did too take you, now stop asking to go again.
This was all part of the Phillips family reunion of 2017, which was a very fun, full week. Since we got home Paul has been asking about his cousins and whether or not Disneyland is "closed" (yes. the correct answer is always yes) so I guess he had a good time.


First stop: California Adventure! I think Paul liked the Little Mermaid ride the best, but he also loved the wilderness explorer playground.







Me and my two Space Rangers.
Just waiting around for World of Color to start...

We spent two days just in Disneyland, here are our adventures there in no particular order:

The whole gang is here!


Paul's favorites were the little rollercoaster in Toon Town and the Buzz Lightyear ride where he got to "shoot ALL the robots!"

Pro tip: You can get these ride photos for free via email!



 Paul was so certain he could open this little door and get into the White Rabbit's house. He asked me to try the knob multiple times.

Jungle Cruise, wow these guys all look exhausted!


I dreaded the line for this ride, but it turned out to not be too bad.


I am not above taking crappy photos of photos if it saves me 30 bucks. This one was worth having just because we actually filled the whole boat with our group and we are all doing awesome faces.

Obligatory castle photo.

A few of us grown ups also visited Universal Studios while the kids had a Grandma day. I'd never been to this particular park, so it was fun to go on some new rides and the studio tour was very cool.



The biggest donut I've ever seen. Pretty sure I could have eaten by myself...




I am not sure when our travel plans will bring us back to all these theme parks, but I think it was a very successful first visit for Paul and Laszlo. It was twice as fun because they had aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents to share it in the excitement.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

How to Not Die of Heat Stroke

So far my goal living in Arizona in the Summer months (May-October) is to avoid dying of heat stroke. I am pretty good at it so far. Here are my secret tips to not dying:


Rule #1: Only go outside during Monsoon storms.


Rule #2: If you must go outside, only do so to travel to another air-conditioned location. Like, the grocery store or the International Wildlife Museum.


This is my new favorite animal.

Rule #3: If you absolutely cannot stand it anymore, leave Arizona. Go somewhere north...somewhere cooler...like Idaho!


I may be a little late to the party on sharing my eclipse photos, but here they are anyway. No one who knows me will be surprised that I was late for something. Not only was Idaho a lot less hot, during the eclipse the temperature dropped rather dramatically. Bonus rule: eclipses make things less hot.

Jordan, Kody, Lee, and Karen Phillips

Sun gazing.


Rule #4: Get wet. Fountain, splash pad, pool, water fight, whatever it takes. These cousins helped us tremendously while we were in Utah.



Grandma treated us to lunch and a fun day at Temple Square!

Renaissance Festival: Thanksgiving Point: Paul picks grass, Uncle Matt
gives Princess Ellie a ride.


Paul joins the water fight at his cousin Liam's birthday.

Laszlo loves his cousin Kimball because Kimball is the Baby Whisperer.

Rule #5: Eat your feelings. Yes, you are trapped in your house, but you can escape! Through delicious food.

Lunch date with Pa Duane: Laszlo also loves Samoan food.

Grandma keeps the boys busy while I make dinner.

Rule #6: Dream of winter time. Paul is always talking about Christmas. His favorite part of the Miniatures Museum in Tucson was their Christmas Village and North Pole. He made up a song about it.


The good news is that the highest temperatures of the year are behind us. We probably won't see anymore days of 110 degrees this year, but that doesn't mean we are done staying inside. I have learned to expect triple digit temperatures through September and daytime temperatures into the 90's until November. Fall is not a thing here so put away your pumpkin spice flavored everything and keep your jackets in storage! We won't be needing them anytime soon.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Impromptu Vacation: Tombstone, AZ

Over the 4th of July, we thought to ourselves, "Wow. Lee has a bunch of days off work and we have planned nothing. Let's do something." So we tossed around various "staycation" ideas, and eventually settled on visiting Tombstone AKA "The town too tough to die." We'd never been, it is a bare 45 minute drive from our home, and due to freak monsoon weather patterns the weather there was going to be in the 90's! Compared to the triple digit temps expected in Sahuarita, it seemed a no-brainer. Let's go to Tombstone for the weekend!


I explained to Paul that Tombstone was a "Cowboy" town, which he thought was cool. What really won him over was the ice cream cones he saw everyone walking around with. It seemed the thing to do so we got an ice cream cone to share. Laszlo is really quite greedy about ice cream and so is Paul so it ended up being difficult to keep one happy while the other got a lick or two.


Surprisingly tasty and reasonably priced!

We cooled off at the hotel pool then grabbed some dinner before being struck by an epic monsoon storm. It felt like hail, because each rain drop was laced with a few grains of sand...very pleasant...

Puny John's BBQ: Definitely get
their mac and cheese.

The next morning, we visited the famous Boothill Graveyard. I got a kick out of some of the epitaphs and there were some very interesting historical tidbits. If you are visiting Tombstone, you gotta visit Boothill. It is an inexpensive and essential part of the experience.


"Here lies George Johnson Hanged by mistake 1882.
He was right, We was wrong, But we strung him up
and now he's gone."

Down the hill, this is the Jewish cemetery of Tombstone.

I just loved how sad Paul looks...

"Here Lies Lester Moore, four slugs from a
44, NO LES NO MORE."

The oldest grave in Boothill.

We took a stagecoach ride around town and our driver narrated the whole thing with terrific historical tidbits about the O.K. Corral, the Chinese Mafia, Wyatt Earp, and a number of other colorful characters.



We ate lunch in the Crystal Palace Saloon...


And, of course we went to the O.K. Corral and watched their gunfight, because we are tourists and that is what tourists do.



Here are our gunfight actors, generously posing for me.


Lastly, we visited the Courthouse museum. It was probably very interesting, but we were going at a "Paul" pace, so we saw everything very quickly. We spent a lot of time ringing some old bells and locking Paul up in the jail.



By then it was time to head home and do an Independence BBQ, like real Americans. Some things we really wanted to do but couldn't this trip: tour the old Good Enough Mine, and the Bird Cage Theater. Both looked wonderful, but not for babies. We'll come back again sometime and check them out. Stayed tuned for future family adventures! Our next few months promise to be non-stop super action adventures! Or, at least, they will be very busy and possible photo worthy.