Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Are we changing our children with technology?

Anyone who knows me knows I love technology and I am always looking for ways to use it in my everyday life and in teaching.

I have an app (Anylist) on my phone for my shopping list or I would walk out of the store without the one thing I came for. I take care of my banking (I only write checks to my babysitter and the hospital) and budgeting online. I take all my pictures on a digital camera or with my phone or tablet and do most of my scrapping on sites like Snapfish, Picaboo, Smilebox, and apps like PicCollage of InstaMessage. I can carry my music collection in my pocket on my iPod or connect to my radio in my car with a cord and not worry about changing the CD. TV and movies can be watched anytime or anywhere on tablets or laptops. And since I am no longer in a library everyday most of my reading is borrowed via wireless without stepping foot in a library. I can constantly connect and respond instantly (which I often do before I forget what you asked b/c I am on to my next task)  with old or new friends via Facebook, Google+, FaceTime, email, or text. I even keep virtual post it notes via reminders on my iPhone or iPad so I don't forget to do something. I very rarely write things on paper anymore because it is faster to put a quick note on Evernote so I can access it wherever I have an Internet connection. I even keep my calendar and lesson plans online so I can put in notes and know where I need to be when I need to be there. I have been trying to convince my husband to keep track of his calves and dairy herd online so he doesn't have to scrape manure off his notebook. I can find my news instantly and interact with it via social media and Web 2.0. I am even an author as I write this blog and another about education and follow many more to get ideas and advice. I can spend hours scouring Pinterest for ideas on crafts and recipes. I can sell my creations on Etsy and have a virtual yard sale anytime on eBay. I am sure there is something I haven't thought of or will learn about tomorrow I want to try. Technology is everywhere and if we don't embrace it we may be left behind. 

But I have seen some posts on Facebook and other blogs about how children today are different because of all these changes and it made me think. My two year old is already learning, playing games, and finding music or pictures on our tablets. I feel lucky they will get to have better experiences due to changes in technology, but I have to agree they are changing and missing out on some things because of all this technology. 

The biggest thing is patience. Everything is instant. They will never have to wait all night for the DJ to play their favorite song on the radio only to have him talk over the beginning when they push record so they can play back in their tape player when they want to hear it again. They will never learn to be kind and rewind when they return a video to the store. They no longer have to cruise up and down Main Street all night to find their friends. They will not wait for their sister or even a neighbor to get off the phone so they can place a call. They will never flip through the card catalog to find the title, author, or subject card to send them in the direction of a book they need. They won't wait six weeks for a toy to come in the mail they sent in for via an offer on a cereal box. They won't spend time searching the couch cushions for change to go to the neighborhood Ma and Pop store to get a glass bottle of Pepsi to enjoy on a hot day. Pictures are even instant. No more taking them to the store to develop and waiting a week only to find out you head was cut off or the best one was blurry. Even shaking a Polaroid to see the picture appear takes too long. 

Imagination is also dwindling. Boxes don't become houses, cars, and the sheriff's jail. Two cans don't get strung together or a blinking flashlight code is not made to get messages to their neighbor. They can't leave the house on their bike after breakfast and explore in the woods until the street lights come on and it's time for dinner. They won't sit around a 9" black and white TV in your grandma's kitchen with your cousins and guess the color of the dresses of the ladies in the Miss America pageant. The week will probably not be spent on their grandparents family farm learning to plant gardens or flowers and create things in the wood shop. Even in my own van and on my last field trip all I can see in the early morning light is the blue/green glow of electronics to occupy out times instead of seeing what is going on around us. 

Kids are too busy and forget about being kids. Sitting around the table all together for supper after the farm chores are done is almost a thing of the past. In order to be competitive and win you must play school and club sports. And if you don't win you can be so hard on yourself because of what others must think of you. A friendly neighborhood game of kickball in the empty lot on a dead end street where the only prize is a slap on the back and some skinned knees to brag about does not happen anymore. What happened to learning fundamentals and having fun as you are playing? And to be well rounded you must also find time for drama, speech, musical, volunteer and academic activities as well. I am not saying these activities are not a good thing as I have said before I learned just as much from my extracurricular activities then some of my classes at school, but it did ultimately take away from time for me and with my family. With all of the technology we have it sometimes seems we are too separated by our devices as we spend more time on them then in a conversation. I personally find it sad that my girls will probably never receive a hand written love (or rejection) letter as they grow up. 

Now don't get me wrong, I am not ready to become unwired or give up all my technology. As I started this entry with some of those things really make my life better and easier and in some cases technology advances are really saving lives. I just wish that attitudes and behaviors did not change with the technology as well. I do wish there was a way to have a better balance of both. 

It was sort of fitting that I started my day with this video by Miranda Lambert from her new song Automatic. My husband was telling me about it the other day as it sounded just like what I was talking about when I was sad to hear that due to budget cuts the librarian at my daughters school will only be available one day a week, because (in not these exact words) technology will be replacing the need for a librarian in the minds of the decisions makers in the district. 

The 'tail' end - what do you wish was still around from your past and how did it teach you to be a better person? 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cold and snow go away the kids are SO ready to go out and play

To say it has been a long winter would not really cut it! We have had snow on the ground since November and sub zero temps most of the winter. It is now March and we are jumping for joy at above zero temperatures. Recess and snow days have been spent inside most of the winter because being outside for more the five minutes this winter could mean freezing your tush off. I have never seen so many calves dead and frozen littered around the farm or had to wrestle coats on calves to keep them warm. The cows and my husband messed up their legs from all the frozen manure, snow, and ice. My middle daughter is ready to go find the groundhog and have a talk about making sure spring happens exactly six weeks after he saw his shadow.

So I thought I might put together a list of 7 (I do love my odd numbers) things we did to keep us from going stir crazy this winter. And I am adding a few little ideas we should have tried if we would have known winter would have been so long. 

7 - Put your pinkies up for a 'tea' party - well in our case it is usually a hot cocoa session - especially since I order myself a Keurig machine for a holiday gift with my well earned Kohl's cash. The girls and I have really gotten our use of the hot cocoa cups! 

Had we known this was going to be a winter for the record books we should have set our table in the basement and invited all our stuffed friends and dressed up with scarves, boas, and big hats! I think this summer it may be my mission to find some of those items at garage sales to stash away for our next hibernation cycle. 

6 - Set up an oh la la fashion show - it turns out the center of our living room doubles as a runway with the curtains making a great place to start the show. Changing clothes is also a natural occurrence in this house so fashion shows happen quiet a bit sometimes just to show off our walk and dance moves. 

If we would have known this winter was going to be colder than the North Pole we could have hit the thrift store to stock up on our dress up supply. We could have also looked for some red fabric to make a red carpet runway and brought up the karaoke machine to MC the festivities. 

5 - Create your own paradise - blankets, the couch, and kitchen chairs make a pretty good fort to spend lazy afternoons. It even makes movie watching an adventure. We also added a pretty amazing teepee to our collection via Grandma and made by my sister-in-law so it makes set-up even easier. And my youngest thinks it makes peek a boo even funnier as she peeks out from inside. 

If we would have known this winter was going to cause us to hibernate we should have found some inflatable palm trees, flower leis, and hula skirts to make it feel like an island paradise inside our forts. That may be as close as I ever get to the islands again... 

4 - Extremely girly makeover - when your oldest daughter is a girly girl nail polish, make-up, and hair bows are a staple in this house. Santa also picked up a fun pump up chair that has found a place in our bathroom for makeovers. I have even got a nice updo with bobby pins, hair clips, and lots of hairspray! And finger and toe nails are never one shade of pink for too long. A few nights we had a full out salon and I received a bill for $42 for getting my nails painted at the salon! 

Had we known we were in for subzero temps a majority of the winter we could have created a poster for the bathroom door to name the salon and tell the prices of all services. We could have scanned Pinterest for hair updo's and finger nail designs. We could have also invested in those nail pens and learned how to create designs on our nails. 

3 - Family Fun Night - always a good stand by - this gets everyone together and usually results in some great giggles. Our new game of choice is a card game called Ruckus. We all get cards and try to make matches. Once you have a card in your hand that is the same as a match you can say the name of the card and move the pile to your collection. If you don't have a match you draw from the pile in the middle until you do? This continues until all your cards are matched up and you yell RUCKUS! We also had fun one afternoon getting all the mega blocks we had in the house and making the highest tower we could w!

If I had known it would be a winter even the polar bears would be cold in we could have featured a new game to play each week or stocked up on more puzzles to put together as a family. We did do some sticky back wall puzzles the girls got for Christmas and redone small puzzles many times, but I think we could have done a few larger puzzles to glue together and add to the collection of puzzles on the walls from my husband's childhood. 

2 - Arts and Crafts Corner - it is no secret that Pinterest can be one of my biggest time wasters and I am always trying some new craft to share with family and friends. I have passed the love of creating on to my girls already. We love to color, paint, create with play dough, and draw. Sometimes the kitchen table and counter are over run by our crafts. Before the holidays we had fun turning rice filled socks into snowmen that I found on Pinterest. I have created a Snapguide to show how ours turned out. They are not as neat and professional looking as the ones we found, but they were a heck of a lot of fun to make and made the teachers we gave them to smile, so that was all that mattered. 

Had we been aware it would be a winter longer then the lines on Black Friday (and just as brutal) we might have made Sunday afternoon Pinterest Playday and found a different ideas to do each Sunday. Just think of all the great items we would have had by now? 

1 - Do a room swap - this was probably the most fun we had this winter. The two big girls decided they were old enough to stop sharing a room and move to the basement. Which meant a lot of sorting and moving for a pack rat such as myself. My father-in-law was in awe when we switched housed and I was able to fill up a house in one weekend that supposedly took him 40 years to do so (and that was before two of the three girls- so imagine what I have picked up in the last 6 years!) but we got things done and over the course of this never ending deep freeze we have got all of their belongings situated - yet I still wake to find girls sprawled on the couch, curled up in chairs, and even tucked up in their old beds sometime, so the transition is clearly still happening! 

Well with all the fun the last few weeks of the littlest chickadee having pneumonia and the farm boy having knee surgery to fix some torn cartilage it took me awhile to compile this list so hopefully we are on our way to muddy boots and dripping wet snow pants (I never thought that would make me smile!) and you won't have to pack yourself (or your sister up) and ship yourself to a warmer climate! 

The 'tail' end - Share what you and your family have done to make it through this Arctic Vortex/ Polar Freeze of a winter?