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Family valued 

Meet the family

Most of the parents I know practice what I call "intentional parenting." They make careful, deliberate decisions about what they do with and for their children, and what they allow them to do (or don't allow them to do). For intentional parents, information is everything. We want to make good decisions for our families, and we want to base those decisions on high-quality, timely information.

            This week, City adds a new weekly feature called "Family valued" (page 25). Our goal: to provide a consistent, useful resource for intentional parents. Each week, you'll see a short calendar of events for families, parents, or children (send listings to calendar@rochester-citynews.com); a column of information for or opinion by parents; and a family-related arts review.

            This week, you'll find Jennifer Loviglio's thoughtful discussion of helping her children deal with death. Switching gears, Dave Cross takes a sideways glance at the SpongeBob SquarePants: Original Theme Highlights CD. In the future, you'll see articles by pediatrician Lawrence Sugarman, librarians from the Monroe County system, and many others, including a teen author or two.

            If you have ideas, we want to hear them. Write to themail@rochester-citynews.com or to City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester, NY, 14607.

--- Adam Wilcox

Adam Wilcox, a City Newspaper food and features writer, lives in Rochester with his wife Anne and children Lila (7), Iris (5), and Oscar (2).

Review

SpongeBob SquarePants: Original Theme Highlights

Kids seem to be the most marginal of all markets being served by the music industry. Among the current slim selection and wickedly dull offerings at local malls, chains, and retail stores, the most appealing discs to my kids are current cartoon soundtracks and reworked, watered-down top-40 numbers with kid singers.

            Even if you live under a rock, you know that SpongeBob lives in a pineapple under the sea, right? Well, hey there kiddies, get his disc, and you can drive your family completely bonkers. Play the SpongeBob theme four or five times on your little blaster while giggling so hard your chocolate milk squirts out your nose. I guarantee you'll get a reaction.

            While mom's busy cleaning up that mess, you can learn to tie knots in your shoelaces via a quick lesson from Ween. Or Sandy The Squirrel and Junior Brown can help you yodel like Hank, Sr. If your howling isn't enough to send your dear old dad into spasms of absolute irritation, well, there's also a serious, thrash-metal whupping from Pantera.

            Of course, this is all in fun. All I know is my kids love this disc in the van, so I like it too.

--- Dave Cross

This week for families:

Barnes & Noble Greece Storytimes Every Wed, 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.; every Fri 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.; 330 Greece Ridge Center Dr, 227-4020

Barnes & Noble Pittsford Storytimes Every Wed 9:30 and 11 a.m.; every Fri 7 p.m.; 3349 Monroe Ave. 586-6020

Brighton Memorial Library Storytimes Every Mon 10:30 a.m., toddlers; every Mon 11:30 a.m., preschoolers; every Tues 7 p.m., all ages; every Wed 3:30 p.m., ages 5-7; Every Thurs 7 p.m., families; Every Fri 10:30 a.m., ages 2-4. | 2300 Elmwood Ave, 784-5300

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryThurs-Sun, Mar 18-28. Performed by the Rochester Academy of Performing Arts, 727 East Main St, Thurs-Sat 7 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. Tix: $10, $7 kids. 325-3366, www.rapaonline.org.

Model Matzah Bakery Wed-Thurs, Sun, Mar 17-18, 21. Learn how to make matzah, Jewish Community Center, 1200 Edgewood Ave, Wed-Thurs 4-6 p.m., Sun 1-5 p.m. Free. 271-0330

"Parent-Caregiver Relationships: Marriage Without the Vows" Wed, Mar 24. Amy Baker, speaker, Rochester Association for the Education of Young Children, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 249 Highland Ave, 7 p.m. Free.

Phillis Wheatley Community Library Storytimes Every Thurs. For preschoolers, 33 Dr. Samuel McCree Way, 10:30 a.m. 428-8212

Rochester Model Railroad Club Open House Sat-Sun, Mar 20-21. Rochester Model Railroad Club, First Universalist Church, 150 S Clinton Ave, Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 1-5 p.m. Donations. 454-2567

Seneca Park Zoo: The Critter Challenge, Sat, Mar 20, animal trivia, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. | Book and Beast, Wed, Mar 17 and 24, 11 a.m.| Family Fun Night, Wed, Mar 17, African adventure, 6-8 p.m. Tix: $35 per family. |2222 St. Paul St. Tix: $5. 467-9453

Strong Museum:All Aboard! Family Trains Weekend, Sat-Sun, Mar 20-21, train displays, songs, crafts, activities, Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $7, $5 kids. | Ragtime, Cakewalks, and Traditional Jazz, Wed, Mar 24, the Making American Music series, music by the Smugtown Stompers, 7:30 p.m. Tix: $12. | One Manhattan Square, 263-2700, www.strongmuseum.org.

Information on museum exhibits can be found in the calendar's Museum section.

A body in life and death

My mother-in-law, Joan, died unexpectedly in her sleep two weeks ago. She had requested a cremation and no service. I respected that, but in the vacuum formed by our lack of religious traditions, my husband and I wanted to do something meaningful for our children and ourselves.

            Mark Anthony, co-director of Anthony Funeral Home, suggested that seeing her and saying goodbye would help us heal.

            "Death is a natural part of life," he said, "but because it's unfamiliar, we fear it."

            At first, I wasn't sure it was a good idea. Like many, I associated death with creepiness and decay, the exact opposite of the wonderful woman who had brought so much light into our lives.

            But the boys had questions. "How do they know she's dead?" and, "Do people ever get buried when they are still breathing?"

            We entered a private room in the funeral home and saw her lying on a bed with wheels. Her hands were folded over a pretty blanket and her hair was brushed back. Unlike at a wake, where dead people look like they're made of plastic, she looked like herself. Peaceful. Younger than her 77 years.

            I cried and held her delicate hands. "Your grandma loved you so much," I said to the boys.

            "Can we touch her?" they asked, fascinated.

            They took turns holding her hands, which were neither ice-cold nor rigid. She was our Grandma Joan, all right. But she was dead. And we are sad.

--- Jennifer Loviglio

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