Tag Archives: Sesame Street

Day 20: A Day at the Zoo

Dear Readers,

I joined my son’s class at their year-end  field trip to the local zoo. It was a beautiful, sunny day and everyone was in good spirits. I was so happy to take a break from the revolution to spend time with M and his classmates,  parents,  and teachers.

zootrees

After every experience with Ms class, I’m always left asking,  how do teachers do what they do every single day? I bow down at their feet in gratitude. Really. They’re amazing.

Today offered a beautiful reminder and I felt deep appreciation for hands-on learning, exploring, adventure, team work, cooperation, kindness, generosity, empathy, caring, humor, and love.  I’m especially thankful for the new friends I’ve made via Ms class this year.

On several occasions, when M got melty (hey, his mom was there so of course that would happen), his friends (and teachers) stepped in to help. It was incredible to see how they all look out for each other.

Plus, we rode the train.

Image

And we met this guy, a red panda who I’ve fallen in love with.

redpanda1

redpanda2

redpanda3

Also thinking about James Gandolfini, being scared, and things that help.

Thanks, Sesame Street and Mr. Gandolfini, for helping us cope with big feelings.

Love and Peace and Hugs,

Elana

Helping children after the storm

Dear Readers,

I hope you’re all safe and sound after the storm. We’re OK.

I  just started writing a post about the storm and after the storm. Then I saw a post and pic (see below) on Sesame Street’s Facebook page today. Since this show airs tomorrow –in the NY area, on WNET-13, it’s on at 7:00am—I’m sending this out now.

I highly recommend it for  anyone with young children; anyone who may have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy or who knows someone who’s been affected; or for anyone who’s human with access to power and a TV.

As with everything Sesame Street produces, this special episode is helpful for children and grown ups alike. It touches on a range of emotions experienced by so many, but that are often difficult to express, understand, or cope with.

Info and activities for parents and children:

http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/hurricane

And more resources:

http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/11/05/kids-hurricane-sandy

More soon-ish.

Stay well and warm,

Elana

From Sesame Street’s Facebook Page: 

From Sesame Street’s Facebook Page

“On Friday, we’ll be airing a very special episode of Sesame Street.

A hurricane has swept through Sesame Street and everyone is working together to clean up the neighborhood. When Big Bird checks on his home, he is heartbroken to find that the storm has destroyed his nest. Big Bird’s friends and neighbors gather to show their support and let him know they can fix his home, but it will take time. While everyone on Sesame Street spends the next few days cleaning up and making repairs, Big Bird still has moments where he is sad, angry, and confused. His friends help him cope with his emotions by talking about what happened, drawing pictures together, and giving him lots of hugs. They also comfort Big Bird by offering him temporary places he can eat, sleep, and play. Big Bird remembers all the good times he had at his nest and realizes that once it is rebuilt, there are more good times and memories to come. Finally the day has come where most of the repairs to Big Bird’s home are done and his nest is complete. As he is about to try it out, though, the city nest inspector says it not safe, yet, because the mud isn’t dry. Big Bird is sad that he has to wait another day, but Snuffy comes to the rescue and blows the nest dry and he passes the test! Big Bird thanks everyone for being his friend and helping to rebuild his nest and his home.”

Please check your local listings to see what time the episode “Sesame Street Gets Through a Storm” will air on PBS, at

http://www.pbs.org/tv_schedules/

Sadness and Gratitude Holding Hands

Dear Readers,

There I was, writing about Kindergarten fears, when news of the shooting near the Empire State Building in NYC on Friday stopped me cold.

I started to write about that.

Then I learned that Jerry Nelson, longtime Puppeteer for the Muppets and Sesame Street, had died.

I started to write about that.

Then yesterday, the news that Neil Armstrong had also died.

I stopped trying to write and let it all sink in. I tried to focus on the good.

Two great men. Two kinds of heroes. Both figures that entered my world when I was just a toddler and have been around my whole life. Gone.

Jerry Nelson was immensely talented. He brought joy and learning to countless children and grown ups over his long and marvelous career.

I thought about watching Sesame Street as a child in 1969 when it first aired.

I found myself furiously sketching this:

Then I reached for a book, Sesame Street Unpaved, scripts, stories, secrets and songs by David Borgenicht

I thought of my friends who work at  Sesame Street and how sad they must be.

I thought about how incredibly fortunate I was to work there (on and off) in a variety of jobs for over 20 years. I first started working there in the early 90’s, just a few weeks before the late, great Jim Henson died. At that time, I was an intern, answering viewer mail. I’d never seen so many condolences letters. So many lives were touched and changed by his work. And we continue to enjoy his greatness even though he’s long gone from the planet. I think Jerry Nelson will also be remembered for a very long time, especially through his remarkable body of work as a masterful puppeteer, most notably as the creator and original performer of The Count, among many other characters.

How do you quantify or measure that?

I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Albert Einstein:

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

 Jerry Nelson’s  work and legacy lives on in the many characters he created; immortalized on film and video. It’s all there for us to enjoy for years to come. What a great gift we’ve been left with.

I thought about relationships and work colleagues. I met my husband at a party on the set of Sesame Street in 1995. Tomorrow, we’re celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary. I couldn’t be more grateful for that life changing moment when my friend, a writer for the show, introduced us. I love and admire her for many reasons. That moment, which has led us to 17 years together, is certainly one of the biggest reasons. That isn’t something I can quantify. It’s immeasureable. At the same time, it counts as a HUGE moment that altered my life for the better and in ways which I could not have imagined for myself.

Makes me think of when Andy plays the Elton John song so beautifully on piano, “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” (Lyrics, Bernie Taupin):

“And I thank the Lord for the people I have found.”

Oh, yes, minus the Lord, for me, but yes, deeply thankful for the people I have found. And what a beautiful song that is.

I thought about how when loved ones die and leave behind a family, friends, colleagues, those people will never celebrate another living anniversary or milestone or ordinary day together ever again. Life can be gone in an instant. I’m grateful daily for the people in my life. Gratitude helps with my sadness. It grounds me in what is here now and it lives along with the sadness. It isn’t one instead of the other. It is both. Sadness and gratitude holding hands.

I thought about respect, talent, and a love of children. And a belief that all children have a right to a decent, good education that is free from war, violence, and sorrow. They have a right that we do our best to provide that. They deserve that we don’t stop working towards that.

Here, two great men, one from the arts, one from science–both made remarkable contributions to our country and the world. I think about science and the arts and that they’re equally important and they’re both connected by imagination, exploration, and discovery, by hard work and requiring an attitude of humility, and open minds that creates a pursuit of life long learning, which in turn creates progress. I want Max to have role models and heroes in every area of life. And I want him (and all the other children in this country and beyond) to grow up in a place where both science and the arts are recognized as being of value.

And where they intersect–in places like Sesame Street, counting, numbers, and math delivered in a fun, playful, accessible way. Art, math, and music together! Do you remember that Slimey the Worm also went into space? Sesame Street pretty much covers it all. Then there is flight, courage, space exploration, walking on the moon, and from that we have heard and seen some of the most poetic words and images. There was an opening up of imagination and expanding limits beyond what was possible that still inspires today:

 “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

–Neil Armstrong, First man to walk on the moon

I get goosebumps every time I see that footage. I was three when I saw it happen live for the first time. It never gets old.

I thought about a disgruntled worker, killing another. Someone lost their job a year ago, and on Friday, killed a man, and created panic and fear in the heart of NYC. The news says what it says. The same story spins around again.

I thought about guns and why our country is hell-bent on self-destruction, so heartbroken, fearful, and angry. Quick to pull the trigger. So desperately sad. I watch neighborhood children with their toy guns and their water guns, and I wonder why their parents can’t (or won’t) find them something else to do with their natural, human aggression? Why the guns?

Then I thought about people like Jerry Nelson who brought light and laughter into the world. Our world needs people in it who bring fun, light, color, movement, creativity, and music. Then I think about those who suggest the arts, physical education, foreign language, libraries, and classroom aides are lines that should (and are) cut from the budgets. They are deemed unnecessary. Really? Imagine a world without art, music, film, tv, theater, or books.

We need to give children a fighting chance to grow up by making our country safer and healthier. We need people who inspire learning and play. We need science and math and ALL of it. We need people to end hunger. We need people to fight poverty. We need people to teach in ways that support and nuture children, not just test them into oblivion.  We need business, too, of course, but not instead of people and their basic welfare and health. There’s a way to have both. Not all businesses are evil, far from it. But priorities must shift. Maybe remembering these two men will remind us all what people can become and accomplish if they’re nurtured, educated, and fed both literally and figuratively.

I see people are incredibly unkind to one another. The anger is spraying bullets through easily purchased guns. I came across this:

 “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

 —Dalai Lama

I can’t say I’ve never been unkind, I know I’ve been unkind, and I know I’ll likely be unkind again, because I’m human, and sometimes people are unkind.  But what if we made this our goal? Something that we work towards. At least something we attempt to do with our children. Each other. Our city. Our town. Our country. Our planet. The only thing I can come up with for today:  to the news of the violence, to the news of death, to the news of endings–is to send  out words, colors, love, and wishes for peace.

I choose a rainbow of colors, fur, monsters that don’t hurt, but teach us how to be human.

I choose marveling at the moon and the men who walked on it.

Thank you, Jerry Nelson for the years of amazing characters,  voices, and songs. I hope you rest in peace. You have made a difference in so many lives, including mine.

I love this quote from him I found in Sesame Street Unpaved:

 “Don’t give up, no matter how far away you are from the mark.”

 –Jerry Nelson

For my friends who knew Jerry Nelson personally, and who worked with him, some over a lifetime, you have my deepest sympathy and I’m sorry for your loss.

For Neil Armstrong, American Hero, I’ll see you in the moon, there to remind me what is possible when dedicated people work together for the greater good.

A long time ago, a little girl saw images on TV and they lit a spark that continues to inspire  today. Thank you.

With love,

Elana

all words and images copyright 2012 Elana Halberstadt except where noted otherwise.

Hunger

I’m sorry I couldn’t post per usual on Friday. It’s a long story. Here’s a short post for today:

My dear friends at Sesame Street are tackling the topic of hunger.

A new special, “Growing Hope Against Hunger,” is airing tonight on PBS. Written and produced by two great friends: Christine Ferraro (super talented, multiple Emmy and WGA award winning writer) and Melissa Dino (amazing, super talented, and multiple Emmy award winning producer).

I think we can all agree that no one should have to go hungry. Especially children. It’s high time to shine a light and raise awareness. I suppose that those who know, do and help. But a lot of people are unaware. So, please pass it on, share the info, and let’s all keep doing whatever we can to help those in need. No child should go hungry. Here, overseas, or anywhere. Period.

I’ll be watching. I hope you will, too.

Love and peace,

Elana

Safely Through the Storm

Hi,

I had another post I was working on for this week, but in light of Hurricane Irene, I’ve decided to write about preparing for an emergency. Because that’s what I’m doing for our family today.

As I look out my window, it’s hard to believe this storm is approaching. All I see are sunny, blue skies. However, our yard animals have been behaving differently the past few days. I’m noticing less birds and squirrels. They seem to have an advance warning system of their own and are probably taking cover wherever birds and woodland creatures go when a storm is coming.

For anyone with small children, I’m including some great info and links from Sesame Street.org here:

Let’s Get Ready Toolkit (Help to get your family prepared for an emergency):

Let’s Get Ready Initiative (more info):

There are also Sesame Street shows about a hurricane that strikes. You can see “Hurricane – Part 1.”   Or go to Sesame Street, click on videos and search for “Hurricane” and all four parts will show up for viewing.

I’ve explained to Max that a big storm is coming, but that we’ll be safe at home. We’re preparing ourselves with everything that is recommended in advance of such an emergency. I’ve checked our local state government website, local news and weather reports —-all have detailed information about how to prepare with handy checklists.

I’m letting Max in on some of what is going on so he understands and can participate in the preparations in an age-appropriate way. On his level, that means he knows where his own flashlight is, and some of what we’re planning to do (make sure we have batteries, a radio, chocolate treats, etc.) But not too much information that might overwhelm or scare him. He asked me, “Mommy, is the Hurricane going to be the kind that takes away our house?” I replied, ‘It’s unlikely, but we’ll probably have lots of rain and wind. We’ll be safe at home.”

Every child is different. So, I determine what I think Max needs to know and when. Reassuring him is something  I’ll continue to do (even if I am NOT so sure about what exactly might happen).  Clearly, if one is in an evacuation zone, the info you share is even more crucial and urgent. I  think it’s best to give kids the feeling that parents are in charge. Suggest they bring a beloved “lovey” toy or stuffed/plush animal, books, and any other item that will comfort them away from home. If they can choose something, they will have a sense of control. If they can’t choose, choose for them. Staying calm and collected is important. It’s easier said than done when the reports are alarming and real. And Max always picks up on my vibes.  When I don’t know the answer to a question, I’ll say, “I don’t know, but we can find out.” I try to give Max the sense that the most important things (our family including our cat, etc.) will all be safe. I let him express his fears, and I comfort him when he does. Even if you don’t know for sure, I’ll say,”We’re doing everything we can to keep our family safe.”

We certainly can’t control Nature, but we can do our part to be safe as can be. If you don’t absolutely need to travel, please get off the roads to ease congestion: a) so people who are being evacuated can get where they  need  to go safely. b) so emergency responders can get through. If you’re on the roads for whatever reason, please be extra patient and kind to your fellow travelers. Expect people to be  nervous/distracted/on edge while driving around shopping for supplies. People who have been evacuated might  be especially distraught and for good reason. I will  now take my own advice and take a deep breath.

If you’re home and have everything you need, it’s time to pull out the games, pitch a tent in your living room, and break out the sleeping bags (Max thinks this is “so cool!”).  If I can give Max a sense of adventure about the storm coming, but also balance that with truth (i.e., this is  a serious storm and we need to pay attention), then I think we’ll be OK.

I hope everyone stays safe and out of harms way.

In the words of Randy Newman from the song, “That’ll Do” (from the movie Babe):

“A kind and steady heart will surely see you through.”