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Sesame Family Robinson – From making Muppets to Raising Moppets

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Eighteen Months of Diapers and Counting

Number of the day: 4320!

18 months x 30 days x 8 diapers a day! Approximately 4,320 diapers have crossed the bottoms of our dear Lyra and Ripley. I shudder for the environment but we do use green diapers without any chemicals! Like all parents, we’ve had our share of diaper mishaps and adventures. My favorite still is only a few days after we got them home and Lyra had done a poo, then a pee, then a poo again, all at 3AM. Finally, Marty called out to me with Lyra in the sink saying “I need some help here!”

And now, we are slowly starting to begin that eventful journey to potty training. I plan to watch the Elmo’s Potty Time video at some point (written by Sesame writer Chrissy Ferraro!) and have already ordered a few books from Amazon. Last week, I purchased two little training potties for the girls. They love them. They carry them around, they sit on them—in their diapers—but they have yet to actually pee in them.

Lyra and Ripley on a toilet.

I place them in their little seats sans diapers before and after baths saying “Take a pee now!” and other encouraging words. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. What we won’t do is rush them. Hopefully, they’ll be potty trained by age 3, when it’s time for pre-school and karate class—both require diaper-free kids.

Meanwhile, 4,320 diapers and counting!

The New York Hall of Science

Abbreviation of the Day: STEM

We have started writing Season 42 of Sesame Street! It’s hard to believe but for 42 years Big Bird and friends have been helping children laugh and learn on your local PBS station. (The 41st Season launches in September, but we are always writing at least a year ahead.) We had our first writer’s meeting and discussed show ideas for the overall curriculum of the season, which is science and particularly STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. This is a bold goal for our age range, but our head writer, Joey Mazzarino, feels we are up to the challenge. The US is still lagging behind most developed nations in both math and science and we believe Sesame Street can help by giving children a love of science at an early age. 

I pitched a show about bubbles where Alan and Chris are hosting a “BubbleFest.” I was told there was a bubble exhibit at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, and wanting to be a good scientific researcher, I piled my kids and nanny on the train and subway to go play with bubbles. The exhibit wasn’t as large as I had hoped, but Ripley and Lyra really liked the pre-school area. They purchased plastic vegetables in a mock store, dropped balls down a Japanese pinball contraption, and put bricks on a conveyor belt.  

Twins at the science center.
Ripley, Lyra and our nanny Clory Ferreira with the Japanese Pinball.


Children playing at the museum
Ripley and Clory putting bricks on the conveyor belt.

I showed them the space rocks and read to them about the search for life on other planets, but for now, they’re still focused on figuring out life here on Earth.

Children looking at science poster.
Ripley and Lyra – Future Scientists

Meet Super Grover 2.0!

Super Grover 2.0

Curriculum of the Day: STEM


He’s still inept. He’s still crash landing and dropping pianos on himself. Only now he has his own 6-minute format. It’s part of the new 41st season of Sesame Street, which starts next Monday, September 27th on your local PBS station!

Why 2.0 you ask? Well, because it’s funny in that adult, topical humor way we like to do on Sesame Street. His costume is new and improved. And the educational content is new for us, too. It’s called STEM. I know you start thinking, stem cell research? We writers did. It actually stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. These are areas that the United States is really lagging behind in educating our children. Joey Mazzarino, our head writer, read the statistics that we’re way below other developing countries in these areas and was appalled. He took it as an imperative for Sesame Street to lead the way in getting preschool kids interested in and proficient in math and science.

I have to say, this new format really was a challenge for all of us. Using STEM required a lot of science language and questions that always tend to sound false in our characters’ mouths. It also makes the action stop dead, or kills the humor. Explaining what a lever does just isn’t very funny. Still, we needed to write six of these new format shows fast to get them ready for Season 41. Joey did a wise thing and had us all get together as a group and come up with the ideas together as a team. (Usually we pitch show ideas individually, only getting together as a group when we discuss larger topics and make character and plot choices that affect everyone.) We sat in that room hammering out shows about balance, wheels, ramps, pulleys, etc. until everyone had a topic. When we finished with all the shows, we got together again and read them out loud to each other to be sure they were all consistent in language, structure, and comedy.    

The result, I have to say, is a home run. Not only are these new Super Grover 2.0 shows educational, they are funny in the classic Grover way, and the background animation is incredible. See for yourself next week when the new season starts airing!

End of Summer Pictures

Annie and her twins at the beach

Ripely with sunglasses on.

Lyra pointing at the beach.

HandyMan Visits the Control Room




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Like your family we have twins, boy/girl, that turned three last month. I saw your blog entry for January and it looks like we have something in common, potty training twins. Like one of your girls, my son WILL NOT pee in the potty but his sister was doing well until she caught on to "Bubbie" not trying. I was just letting things run their course but our local pre-schools/mommy day out programs require the children to be potty trained and this mommy needs a day out. Bribery isn't working. Have you had any success?

Sommer

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How often is the telly puppet renewed or replaced?

Katherine Sydney, Australia

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I read in 40 Years of Life on the Street about an incident involving Snuffy's puppet where a sombrero caused the wood frame to collapse on you and Bryant Young. Did they rebuild the puppet after that or did they just make a new one?

Edward

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I just wanted to say thanks for the blog. My daughter Kylie (who just turned two yesterday) loves to ask if we are going to see "the babies." Thank you so much to you and Marty for bringing the joy of Sesame Street into our lives every day.

Kendal and Kylie Montreal, Canada

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I've noticed that there are fewer Muppets and people in an episode now than there were twenty years ago. Does everyone show up on the set for filming days or only certain ones? Who decides who gets to play the Anything Muppets? There are some voices I hear more than others.

Glenda

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