2012…A look back at the year in review…the good…the bad…and how we dealt with it as parents!
Well, maybe you heard about these stories. Maybe you didn’t But these were big stories shared across our country that were noticed and/or discussed in my household. Here’s a very subjective list of this year’s top stories (top not meaning best or greatest, but just popular for that month); also, how my household discussed it or didn’t and what does it mean for us as parents (if anything!)…
Top Grossing films of 2011 – One of my favorite family activities to do when it’s cold or dark out is going to see a movie. Surprisingly, we saw a number of the top grossing films in 2011 – guess the family as a genre is becoming more and more important to moviemakers. We saw #8 Cars 2, #15 Kung Fu Panda 2, #16 Puss In Boots, #18 Rio, #19 The Smurfs, and #20 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. What I find interesting is that in celebrating the films of 2011, only a select few from the top 20 grossing films of that year were honored with awards through SAG, People’s Choice, the Golden Globes, and the Oscars. Great movies that were honored, however, were The Help (best movie, best actress, best supporting actress, best adapted screenplay), Bridesmaids (best supporting actress, best screenplay), and of course the best animated films (Rio, Kung Fu Panda 2). Here’s the list, for all you film buffs. What was your favorite of 2011?
Rank / Movie Title
1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
4 The Hangover Part II
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
6 Fast Five
7 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
8 Cars 2
9 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
11 Rise of the Planet of the Apes
12 Captain America: The First Avenger
13 The Help
15 Kung Fu Panda 2
16 Puss in Boots
17 X-Men: First Class
19 The Smurfs
20 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
Whitney Houston’s Death – Sadly, an amazing voice and talent came to an end with the tragic loss of Whitney Houston. So many rumors surround her death, and maybe we truly won’t know what actually happened in that hotel bathroom. What we do know is that Whitney did have a troubled life in the spotlight; but most importantly, that Whitney was an exceptional singer and good actress, and she left a very sad and huge fan base of supporters who knew she was taken way too soon, troubled or not. What is troublesome when it comes to the media is the picture that haunted many magazine covers that my children ended up seeing every time we went to the grocery store in February. I had to explain what happened to Whitney, and how sad the situation was, and that maybe those photos were set-up, or even totally fake. I don’t like having to explain the sickness that can come from the media to my kids, that sometimes what they see “in the news” is not what they can believe. Here’s to hoping that the media will clean up their act in 2013, so we won’t have to explain horrifying pictures of dead bodies that flood the magazine covers in the grocery store aisles.
Life on Jupiter’s Moon? – So you didn’t hear about this news piece? That there was a group of scientists researching the moon Europa on Jupiter for life? Well in March and April there was a lot of buzz about it. And any time there is a story about possible “alien life,” my children get excited. Hearing about it from his teacher, my older son came home and asked me if we could look it up online. And so we did. “Considered one of the best potential sources for extraterrestrial life in the solar system, Jupiter’s moon Europa may host life in the ocean deep beneath the moon’s icy crust. Some organisms could even travel to Europa’s surface through cracks and instabilities in the crust, some researchers speculate. But radiation from Jupiter’s magnetosphere constantly bombards the moon and could annihilate life at shallow depths, making it difficult to detect with an orbiter or lander. So scientists are seeking to determine experimentally just how deep organic life on Europa needs to hide in order to avoid being destroyed.”
Clive Palmer to build Titanic II – Following the hype that surrounded the second debut of the film “Titanic,” billionaire Clive Palmer announced he was going to build a modern working replica of the original Titanic ship, the Titanic II. Professor Palmer said as the scheduled destination for RMS Titanic on her maiden voyage in April, 1912, New York has been central to the tragic ship’s story for more than a century.
“She would have docked at New York’s Pier 59, just a short distance from the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum where we will hold our global launch,” he said.
“Ultimately, only around 700 passengers and crew made it to New York when the rescue ship Carpathia arrived on April 18, 1912. Titanic II is scheduled to set sail from Southampton to New York on her maiden passenger voyage in 2016. Shipping company Blue Star Line has announced a new date for the global launch next year of Titanic II on the retired aircraft carrier USS Intrepid in New York and has also rescheduled five other Titanic II events around the world. Professor Palmer said the New York global launch and gala dinner will now be held on USS Intrepid on Tuesday, February 26, 2013, where he will officially unveil the plans for Titanic II.
Other Titanic II events will be held on February 16 in Macau, February 25 in Boston, March 1 in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada as well as two launches in England on March 2 in London and March 5 in Southampton. In April, 2012, Blue Star Line signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese company CSC Jinling to build Titanic II, while plans for the ship have been commenced by Finnish-based marine design and engineering company Deltamarin. Found on etravel.
May 20 Solar Eclipse – We took our kids to the front yard to “look” at the solar eclipse. They used soda can boxes with holes pointed toward the sun – they then made a reflection on the other side of the box and the children would watch as the sun went from full to half to covered and back to full. They were in awe. And I was so impressed my husband just whipped those boxes out! I used my camera and a short-stop manual phase to try to snap some photos. I was mostly impressed by the unbelievable shadows that the eclipse shone through our front yard trees.
From the HuffingtonPost.com: “The turbo-charged New Moon Solar Eclipse in Gemini on May 20 was an event so powerful that it was pointed out by the ancient Maya as a rare occasion when the Earth, Sun, Moon, and Pleiades would align to create great forces of transformation. Many claim Nostradamus also referenced this date in his Quatrains, as well. Our own master astrologers called out this “annular eclipse” (when the Moon’s diameter appears just slightly smaller than the Sun, making the Sun look like a ring), as a time of information overload, when our minds would become clouded as dreamy Neptune made a stressful square to the New Moon. A strong 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck northern Italy on this day — will there be more to come as a part of these transformational times?”
Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee – This past June marked the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the thrones of seven countries upon the death of her father, King George VI, on 6 February 1952. “She is today queen regnant of 16 sovereign states, 12 of which were British colonies or Dominions at the start of her reign. Queen Victoria is the only other monarch in the histories of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a few other Commonwealth realms to have celebrated a Diamond Jubilee, which she did in 1897.”
It was an historical day in London, as the Queen received a Diamond Jubilee medal during a two-day celebration. “Members of the Royal Family, governors-general, and prime ministers from the Commonwealth realms were present at various functions held on 4 and 5 June: A reception took place at Buckingham Palace before the Diamond Jubilee Concert and a service of thanksgiving was conducted the following day at St. Paul’s Cathedral, also attended by 2,000 other guests. Will Todd’s anthem ‘The Call of Wisdom’, commissioned specially for this event, was performed by the Diamond Choir, made up of about 40 children from around the UK. The Archbishop of Canterbury dedicated his sermon to the Queen, during which he noted her “lifelong dedication” and stated that she ‘has made her ‘public’ happy and all the signs are that she is herself happy, fulfilled and at home in these encounters.’ Another reception was held at London’s Guildhall and a luncheon took place at Lancaster House, hosted by the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. A reception solely for governors-general was held by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.” Found on Wikipedia.
2 million year old skeleton head found in South Africa – For decades children have been fascinated by dinosaurs and archaeology. Films, toys, television shows, museums…they are all themed around earth as it was millions of years ago. So did you miss the news this year? A 2 million year old skeleton head was put together after pieces of the bones were found in South Africa three years ago. According to the SMH, “The remains of a juvenile hominid skeleton, of the newly identified Australopithecus (southern ape) sediba species, are the ‘most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered’, University of Witwatersrand paleontologist Lee Berger said. The skeleton is thought to be about 2 million years old. The upright-walking tree climber would have been aged between nine and 13 years when he or she died.” Found on the Sydney Morning Herald website.
Summer Olympics in England – What an exciting summer! It was amazing to watch the opening and closing ceremonies with my children. I was especially reminded of 1984 when the Olympics were in Los Angeles. I was 10, and my sister was 16, and she got to be a placard bearer at the opening ceremonies for Syria. My dad took us to see synchronized swimming.
While we weren’t able to take our children to see the live summer events, what a fun and entertaining few weeks it was to watch the Olympic sports events on television. We watched the American soccer team beat Japan at Wembley Stadium for the Gold Medal. (I am a former soccer player turned soccer coach, so to watch these women play their hearts out as they did was super exciting for me!) We watched the American men dominate in swimming, and the American women succeed in gymnastics, and May and Walsh win gold in women’s beach volleyball. Thrilling, epic moments!!!
It was fun to talk about all the different sports that are featured in the Olympic Games. My children were curious and looked forward to watching the competitions. We all thought London did a great job overall. My husband and I also had the talk with our children about the dedication it takes to become an athlete like Ally Morgan or Hope Solo (soccer), Michael Phelps (swimming), Allyson Felix (track) or Gabby Douglas (gymnastics). My children were interested in fencing, high jump, gymnastics, soccer (yay!) and swimming. Some people say that Olympic dreams are farfetched or that the demands put on children are too much in order to get them to the medal competitions; I say that if someone has a dream, they had better go after it, and as parents we should help them every way we can. We only have one life, and so do our children. We can only help to give them opportunities like that; they can take the opportunities and do with it what they will. But if we don’t at least try, no one will ever know what might have been. Check out the NBC Olympic site for great highlight photos, interviews and videos.
Economy – It’s hard not to talk about 2012 without discussing the economy. From a family and parenting perspective, it gets even more complicated. I can relate to the difficulties of finance, struggling with bills, and having to tell the kids things are going to be tight, or that they can’t do certain activities this year, etc. I have been without a full time job for three years. Normally, by day I am a Marketing Executive. By night, my writing superhero skills come out. For the past three years, even though our financial situation has been extremely difficult, being home to be a full time mommy and more than part time writer has been such a blessing. But talking to the kids about money can be very hard. Where do you draw the line? How do you explain to them your financial situation without putting any stress on them? I found that being honest and gentle is important. Our children need to understand the cycle of working for a living, paying bills, and buying groceries and gasoline to get around. Children also need to know what a luxury is, especially in times of tight financial strife. Kids will surprise you and can be very understanding. But children usually ask questions where the answer directly impacts their well-being, like “are we going to lose the house?” or “are we going to move?” If you find yourself in such a conversation with your children, prepare for such questions with honest but reassuring answers, so the children know they are going to be safe, even though some changes are taking place in their immediate environment.
For more information, check out this great interview about talking to your kids about tightening financial belts.
Hurricane Sandy – East Coast residents took to their storm cellars or whatever safe haven they could get to in order to hide from the imminent Category 1 Hurricane/Superstorm. Bryan Walsh of Time Magazine wrote, “After Hurricane Sandy hurled the Atlantic at the Northeast coast on Oct. 29 and 30, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo returned from touring a shell-shocked New York City to face reporters. The storm surge had inundated lower Manhattan, Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn and Queens. It had obliterated the New Jersey shore. Across more than a dozen states, from North Carolina to Maine and as far west as Michigan, it left more than 50 people dead and more than 8 million without power, and it likely caused more than $20 billion in damage. Sandy, a seemingly minor Category 1 hurricane, was a major catastrophe.” Check out the hurricane in numbers here.
The US Presidential Election – In November the nation, and the world, watched as the media followed the United States presidential election, with debates, commercials, talk shows, and more. We live in Nevada, and the two biggest elections being watched with a magnifying glass were, first and of course, the run for President between Obama and Romney; and second, the Senatorial run between Dean Heller and Sharron Angle. My husband and I taped the debates and let our children watch them. We told our children how we were voting and why, and the children ended up leaning our way. My son at one point badmouthed one of the presidential candidates and I had to remind him that he is a human being, too, and we are voting for the candidate we believe would do more for our family, but that there are many people and families out in the country that will be voting for the other candidate as well. My children ended up seeing some of the defamatory commercials, mainly run by the Senator candidates; it led my children to be confused and wondered how liars could end up being in Congress. That was an interested conversation to have. I tried to explain that the people who make those commercials twist words to the point that the other candidate can’t even begin to fight back and what they do is just find something else silly that they can say about the other candidate, and that somehow, they think these commercials influence people’s votes. The obvious question from my oldest son, who is nine: “well, do they make you want to vote?” My answer: “these commercials are not how I vote. I study the candidates’ views on the issues I find important and what impacts our lives as a family the most. I think the commercials are silly and horrible and I try to change the channel when they come on.” And then my son came up with an idea that any time a campaign commercial came on TV when we were watching something together, we would change the channel for a minute. It worked.
I took my two sons to early voting with me and they were excited about the process, watched my every choice, and then asked the poll place volunteers for a double-ended eraser “pencil.” The elderly woman helping me said they were too expensive to give away. So the boys got stickers. In the end, Obama won and Dean Heller won. I won’t say which way I voted, but I can tell you one of them is someone I voted for and one of them wasn’t. So the election went my way somewhat. My children saw that I was decently pleased, and so they were too. But I notice each year they are more and more involved in politics, and the education they are receiving at school about American history and politics.
The Tragedy in Newtown, CT – We end the year in review on a sad, tragic note (for at least this article, anyway – let’s hope we can all find joy and gratitude in hope for love and joy in the New Year): The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut left the country shocked, saddened, and in sincere confusion over the violence and loss that left 27 dead, 18 of them children. While the story remained in the media 24/7, somehow my husband and I kept our three kids away from the TV and radio talk shows, and nobody at their school has discussed it with them so far. While my husband and I made the decision to wait to talk to the kids about the Newtown incident, other parents are ready to discuss the incident with their kids, either because they feel their kids have a right to know immediately, or because they are somehow connected to the tragedy, or because their children have learned about it through the media, or through someone else who spoke about it. People I’m sure will question my husband and my decision to delay our discussion about this subject. And we will discuss it with our 9 year old and twin 6 year olds. In some ways, our decision might be perceived as selfish; in our eyes, while we can see that perspective, we feel protective over our children’s thoughts, fears, and trust in their security at their own elementary school. To learn more about how to talk to your children about the Newtown, CT tragedy, I did some research and found the following tips to be very helpful:
• “The first rule of thumb, though, is never lie to your kids,” says Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, pediatrician, author, health journalist, and CEO of Pediatrics Now. “If they come home and ask you about it, no matter what age they are, tell them the truth. If they’re 4 or 6 or 8 and they ask ‘was there a school shooting and did people die?’ Your answer has to be yes.” Then you reassure them. Tell them that their school is safe, that your community is different, that there are protections in place and it will never happen to them. “Even if you’re not sure that’s true, you have to make sure that they believe it. They have to go to school every day.”
– Found at CNN.com
• Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate:
– Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.
– Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.
– Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.
– Found on LakeViewPatch.com
• If you find yourself welling up in front of your child of any age, you don’t to need hold back. It’s OK to have honest emotion in front of your children. To a child of any age, but especially those under 8, say simply, “This just makes me so sad.” Here’s the caveat: You need to recover and move on, and they need to see that. Wipe your tears, offer a hug, and continue with whatever you were doing.
– Found on Boston.com Moms
• If your child heard something at school before you had the chance to discuss it with them:
– Let your child lead the conversation.
– Don’t give your children more information than they need or already have. They don’t need pictures drawn for them. Answer their questions, and show them the respect of taking their inquiries seriously. But address their concerns and curiosity without delivering extraneous information that will create more confusion and anxiety.
– Help your child feel safe.
– This is your highest priority right now. Information is important, but contextualizes everything so that your child feels safe. Explain how rare the situation is, and that he has no reason to expect that it would happen at his school. Promise that you’re always watching over and protecting him. Let him know he can absolutely count on you and that you will always try to keep him safe.
– Found on Mom.me
Please spend time with your children this holiday season. Tell them how much you love them and explain why you work so hard for them – sometimes they forget that if you have a job away from home it has anything to do with them. Happy Holidays. Cheers to a wonderful 2013.
–jodi, Reno Family Examiner