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'Saved by the Bell's' Tiffani Thiessen on new children's book and THAT viral reunion photo
Tiffani Thiessen and husband Brady Smith made a children's book to remind parents to look up from their phones because they're "missing it!"
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A new children's book by "Saved by the Bell's" Tiffani Thiessen and illustrated by husband and actor Brady Smith was inspired by looking out the kitchen window.
Smith was absently pushing their 3-year-old son, Holt, on the backyard swing while scrolling through his phone.
"You're missing it!" Thiessen yelled out he window.
Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, "You're great," try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, "Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for cookies was hard, and I really liked your patience."
That became the title of their book, released Tuesday, April 30 on Amazon and in bookstores for $17.99.
The couple talked with USA TODAY about the book, but also spilled the secret to their almost 14-year marriage and how a viral photo of the "Saved by the Bell" cast came together.
A children's book is born
Thiessen said what happened in their home over too much screen time, jump-started the book idea.
"That's a conversation that's probably very much in the forefront in many households these days and it's definitely been one of ours," Thiessen, 45 told USA TODAY.
The couple also are parents to a daughter, Harper, 8.
Smith, 47, who also makes a living as a fine artist, said his mom had been pushing him to do a children's book because of his artistic skill.
After his wife yelled at him, he tore into studio and began drawing the artwork and outlining the story. The story follows children as they discover creatures from nature in a park. Meanwhile, a dad stays absorbed in his phone until something big causes him to disengage.
A creative, Hollywood-long marriage
Thiessen said Smith did most of the book's heavy lifting, but it was her agent from her cookbook, "Pull Up a Chair: Recipes from My Family to Yours," that made the book possible.
The actress is known for her role as Kelly Kapowski on "Saved by the Bell," and soon after as Valerie Malone on "Beverly Hills, 90210." Thiessen also hosted a cooking show, "Dinner at Tiffani’s,” on the Cooking Channel. She's now appearing in the Netflix show "Alexa and Katie," a sitcom about a teenager with cancer.
She's always dabbling in something creative, whether it's cooking or acting and the same with her husband, who just finished a commissioned fine art work and has appeared in episodes of "Parks and Recreation" and “CSI: Miami."
Creative space and respect is one reason their marriage works.
"We always respect each others' creative process and opinions," Smith said."I think I drive my wife bonkers sometimes. I have to edit myself. I love my wife's two cents on any creative project because she's one smart cookie and I have to pull back a bit."
Pick your battles. Kids can't absorb too many rules without turning off completely. Forget arguing about little stuff like fashion choices and occasional potty language. Focus on the things that really matter - that means no hitting, rude talk, or lying.
The couple, who live in the Los Angeles area, also give props to the examples set by both their parents, who have having been married almost 50 years each.
Tiffani and Brady married in 2005.
"We also didn't get married crazy young," said Thiessen, who was 31 when she married. The couple also took time to have kids, she shared. "We also have great communication and a lot of laughter. That's so important."
The book is dedicated to their children Harper and Holt. "Always keep your heads up and eyes open. There's a lot of beauty out there you don't want to miss. We love you more than you know! Love, Mom and Dad."
Dinner as a family, no phone at the table
Thiessen said the book is to remind parents that childhood goes by fast and that screen time can rob parents of it.
She admits they're "lucky." They have flexible jobs and their children are in school, even Holt, during daytime hours, allowing them to get their business meetings and jobs done.
They eat dinner as a family every night and there are no electronic devices allowed at the table for parents or children.
In the mornings when she's prepping lunches, or when the children arrive home from school and she's preparing dinner and getting them ready for bed, Thiessen said she stays off her phone.
"I don’t literally have time to be on my phone," she said. "And they know if they try to reach me at that time, they won't be able to," she said. "There's always conference calls that need to happen and (the children) know that. But not very often."
Thiessen also said she's "lucky" to have children who want to be outside. When they went to Santa Barbara, Calif. during spring break, the children left electronic devices at home as they visited the zoo and rode scooters.
Smith said he tries to recall what a friend once told him: "The thing about children is that everything is new and fresh. As a parent you're going to remember the first time your kids find a roly-poly (bug) or jump off the swing, You're not going to remember what was so important on your phone. At least I'll speak for myself."
'Saved by the Bell' reunion photo
Thiessen said she was the one who organized the "reunion" photo that had everyone rejoicing at the "friends forever friends" dinner.
More:'Friends forever': 'Saved by the Bell' cast reunites to celebrate 30 years of friendship
The candid pic showed Thiessen, Smith, Mario Lopez, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Elizabeth Berkley and other spousesover dinner at Petit Trois in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Thiessen said her and bud, Gosselaar, who played her love interest on the show, "go there quite often."
"I put it together and we finally had a date on the calendar and we had a really great time," she said, adding, "It won't be the last dinner."
Fess up when you blow it. This is the best way to show your child how and when she should apologize.
What about rumors of a show reboot?
Put that one on the back burner. It's probably not going to happen, she said.
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