The Dangers of Social Media

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I became a parent later in life than many of my friends.  I fortunately do have a few friends with kids the same age as my son, but my other friends and many of my co-workers have kids much older than mine, so the issues we deal with are different.  I’m at the “Please remember to wipe your butt after you go number 2” stage in parenting.  My backup at work however has older children.  She is in the “Travel baseball and Tik Tok” stage.  Although some things in parenting remain the same throughout the generations, many things seem to change.

There’s so much kids do these days on social media.  I can’t even keep track of the apps kids are using these days. It blows my mind how many of these apps kids use and what they use them for.  These apps can be a lot of fun, but they are also used to bully.  Kids use Tik Tok videos to fight with one another.  Nowadays, kids can get picked on for not having many followers or likes.  Sounds silly to those of us adults who have a fully developed prefrontal cortex, but to a kid, it can be a huge deal.  School and friends are your whole world when your’e a kid.  Think about when you were 12.  Things that are trivial to us now as adults mattered in a big way when we were kids. Remember getting picked on for not having name brand shoes?  It is like that, but more high tech.  For the most part, the majority of the things kids are doing on social media are pretty harmless and fun.  There are dangers however that kids don’t seem to be aware of or they just aren’t taking seriously.  Kids these days are too trusting.  Were we this trusting at that age?

I woke up Monday morning to a follow request on Instagram.  When I checked who it was, I realized it was from a 12 year old girl.  I recognized the name as my friend’s daughter’s friend.  I have never met this girl or her parents.  I follow my friend’s daughter on Instagram, because I know her.  I’ve known her mother since kindergarten.  My friend was working as my backup at work that day, so I asked her about it.  She explained that this girl and her daughter had an argument in the past and it came up that the girl didn’t have as many “followers” as her daughter.  My friend had also received a request, so after a little investigating, we found that the girl had been sending requests to everyone on my friends daughter’s list of followers in an attempt to gain more for herself.

We laughed at first about how juvenile this behavior was.  Then again, these are 12 year old girls we are talking about.  Then the reality of the dangers of the situation began to sink in.  I said to my friend “That’s not very smart.  There are a lot of weirdos on the internet.  This is how you become an Amber Alert.”  Kids are randomly adding strangers on social media simply to increase their number of followers.  Does anyone else see how dangerous this is? Sure adding your friends’ parents might be okay.  Even adding friends of your friend’s parents might be okay, but let’s be realistic.  Some kids have shady parents.  Some parents have shady friends and lots of shady people are good at hiding it.

You hear all the time about not just children, but grown adults coming up missing.  Not even the Facebook marketplace is safe.  Although many people like to pretend this doesn’t happen, sex trafficking is a highly profitable business and is happening everywhere.  It happens enough in my home state that there shelter in my town for those who have escaped from it and are in recovery.  This shelter would not exist if there wasn’t a need for it.  Predators are clever with luring in their victims and our impressionable, gullible, and trusting children are their ideal targets.  So what is the answer?

Seriously, I would like to know.  I’m not saying we should keep our kids entirely off social media.  We all know many kids find ways to open social media accounts against their parents wishes and without their knowledge.  We need to be smart about it, but how? We need to teach our kids to be smart about it, but how?  I’m not writing this to judge.  My parenting experience is limited to baby, toddler, and preschool years.  I’m writing this to open up a dialogue.  How do we as parents combat this? What do you do?  How do we protect our children from the dangers lurking online?  If you are currently in this stage of parenting, what are some things that you have found helpful?

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Adventures in Jeep Culture

20190504_133616Sitting here alone with my coffee while enjoying the silence and stillness of the morning is something that almost never happens.  Yet here I am doing just that.  It is glorious.  My husband is at work and surprisingly my son is still asleep.  That never happens.  I am lucky and sometimes he sleeps in until 7:00ish on the weekends.  Lately however, he has been doing this thing where on the weekends and on my days off, he wakes up earlier than when he needs to on days I work.  On weekdays it is no big deal.  He can just climb in bed with me, but on weekends, daddy is home and there’s no room.  That means mommy is getting up with him at 6:00am to snuggle on the couch and watch tv.  I love it, but sleep is nice too.  Today however is an odd exception.  Actually it is making me a bit nervous and I’m having to force myself to not check on him.  He went to bed late and grandma wore him out.

I know I’ve written before about off road adventures and Jeep culture.  I’m doing it again.  Our son was partying with grandma for a reason yesterday.  We attended the 2019 Blessing of the Jeeps.  Although it is a family event, we like to run the obstacle courses and feel that it is unsafe for a child his age to come along.  Especially without a roll cage. So, he went camping with his grandparents the night before and spent the day hanging out at the campground with them.20190504_100420

Normally when we go to this event, we go as a group and it is a blast going with a group of friends.  This year it was just my husband and I.  Turns out we have just as much fun by ourselves.  Sometimes groups of friends get into a hobby for a bit and then after a while, grow tired of it and slowly one by one, get out of it and move on to something else.  I’m not for sure, but we may be getting at thst point with our group and the Jeep thing.  My husband and I are far from done though.  Our kid enjoys it just as much as we do and we have met so many fabulous people during our adventures.20190504_101729

It seems that many who have never tried it have this misconception of the Jeep culture.  When they hear someone talking about off road adventures, they think of drunken rednecks tearing up the mud in their back yard.  I was unaware of this stereotype until I mentioned the blessing on Facebook one year and talked about an observation I made regarding what I felt were some poor parenting choices being made.  Someone commented that rednecks aren’t known for making good choices.  That’s when I realized Jeep culture is stereotyped.  Just like motorcycle culture.   Bikers have been dealing with it for decades, because of a few bad apples.  Not ALL bikers are barbaric criminals.  As a matter of fact, very few of them are.  Guess what.  It is the same with Jeepers.  Sure there are a few “hold my beer while I make a bad choice” people out there, but that is not the entire Jeep crowd.  As a matter of fact after all the people I’ve met since we’ve been doing this, I have yet to meet someone like that.

For most of us, it is a lifestyle.  Sort of like owning a Harley.  Many Jeepers buy a vehicle and put time and money into customizing it so it can do what they want it to do. Many of us trailor our vehicles, because they aren’t exactly something you can drive every day on the road anymore.  Not to mention, if you break something, it is good to still have something you can drive home.  It isn’t for everyone.  Sort of like owning a motorcycle isn’t for everyone.  If you are into it though, it is a fun lifestyle.  Far from “redneck idiots.” The Jeep Blessing is no exception.20190504_141435

The Jeep Blessing is a family friendly event.  Not everyone who goes there drives the obstacle courses.  Many just come to hang out.  There is a live band, bounce houses, vendors, and food.  Not only is that portion of it kid friendly, but it is dog friendly as well.  As a matter of fact, I saw large water dishes set out at many vendor booths for dogs to stop by and have a drink.  Vendors brought their dogs too of course.  There is no alcohol allowed at this event for obvious reasons.  Drinking and driving is enough of a no no as it is.  Drinking and driving on an obstacle course in a vehicle that can be known to flip over is just a bad idea.  Period.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few who have decided to sneak it in, but from what I’ve seen, almost everybody respects the rules.

So, aside from the band, what do the people who aren’t driving the courses get for entertainment? They watch the drivers run the obstacle courses.  Although I personally prefer being on the course myself, I see how watching other drivers on it can be entertaining.  These people get to watch others test their vehicles to max capacity as they tackle logs, rocks, hills at sharp angles, and concrete bowls that are known for claiming jeep parts or flipping jeeps if one is not careful.  That is also why there are plenty of trained volunteers ready to spot you to help you over an obstacle or rescue you if need be.  There is also a mud bog for those who want to get a bit dirty.  It is definitely fun to watch thst as well.  At the end of it all, there’s a raffle.  Who doesn’t enjoy a good raffle drawing?20190504_160321

It is a great way for a family to spend the day.  There are usually anywhere from 1,000-2,000 Jeeps in attendance.  You get to meet new people, meet vendors, get some ideas for modifications to your vehicle, and maybe show someone how you modified yours and give them ideas.  Every year, the course changes to keep it interesting.  Although it was just my husband and I, we enjoy each others company, so it was kind of like a nice all day date.

We do bring our son to other Jeep events during the year.  For the last couple years, we have been attending an event on Drummond Island.  Sure obstacle courses, sand dunes, and off road parks are fun for a day, but what never seems to get old is overlanding.  Personally this is what I really enjoy.  Overlanding is where you hit some off road trails and explore nature.  You have a destination that you are headed to.  It is like hiking, but without the walking and you can do it in any kind of weather.  The trails may be manmade, but the “obstacles” are not.  You get to explore the beauty of nature while deep in the woods in places where your cell phone serves no purpose other than to be a camera.20190504_161104

There is something exciting to me about traveling through the trails in nature all day long with a group of people and getting to know one another.  We talk on the CB radios as we travel, stop for lunch in some of the most beautiful places, and watch the sun rise together on a cliff overlooking Lake Huron.  What’s great about traveling in a group like that is if someone breaks down or gets stuck, we help each other out.  The memories made are priceless as well as the friendships and connections that are made.  Heck maybe the world would be a bit better if more of us stepped away from the TV and dare to go where there was no cell service for a while and enjoyed nature.

There are a million ways to have adventures and make memories with the kids.  This happens to be one of our favorites.  It is also a great way to just spend the day for a date, because let’s face it, sometimes mommy and daddy need to spend some time alone.  Even if it means sitting in the Jeep after running the obstacle courses while munching on kettle corn and watching people attempt the mud bog.  What started out as just some goofing off with friends on the weekend has grown into a lifestyle for us.  We are hoping to get in some more overlanding adventures this year.  Parents, feel free to share some of you stories of things you like to do for “adventures” with the family.20190504_114307

Sometimes You Win & Sometimes You Learn

20190330_164746My son loves the Food Network. He enjoys “helping” me in the kitchen and learning how to cook.  He especially enjoys cooking competition shows.  A couple weekends ago, I decided to enter my white chicken chili in a chili cookoff.  I took the opportunity to teach my kid more about cooking and he was eager to help and learn.  I let him help shred the chicken and add the seasonings after I measured them.  I told him we could share the prize if I won.  He was pretty confident that “we” would win.  I figured we had a good chance, but I explained to him that there was a chance we might not.

The whole experience of the day was fun.  The event was a fundraiser and the contest was a family affair with the in laws entering the red category.  My son enjoyed socializing with everyone and ordering drinks at the bar.  Apparently he doesn’t realize someone needs to pay for them.  He just kept walking up to the bar and saying “Pineapple juice please.” He was hitting it pretty hard, but we cut him off after the third one.

The taste testing and voting was blind and my son took it pretty seriously.  He tried each sample and then handed them to me to try as well.  He made sure to tell me which ones he liked and didn’t like.  Then I let him cast his vote.  While we were taste testing, I found two others in the white category that I liked a lot.  I liked them better than my own.

When the votes were in, the winners were announced.  My sister in law and brother in law took 2nd and 3rd place in the red category.  We joked that it would have been cool if our whole family dominated the contest, but how it would look pretty fishy if we did.  The winners for the white category were announced and mine did not place.  Considering how stiff the competition was in that category, I was not surprised.  However what was unexpected, was my son’s reaction.

It wasn’t until after all the winners were presented with prizes and they were reading off the winners of the raffle items that he realized we didn’t place.  He hung his head and with a pouty face he said “I didn’t win anything.”  At first I thought he was referring to the raffle items.  I explained that we didn’t put in any tickets for the items on that table, so we weren’t going to win anything.  Then he said with tears in his eyes “I didn’t win a trophy.”  The 1st place winners in each chili category got a trophy.  I didnt think he would take “our” not placing that hard.  As sad as this was to watch, I took it as an opportunity to teach him a valuable life lesson.

Disagree if you wish, but it seems in this day and age, we seem more concerned with feelings and making sure everyone is a winner so no feelings are hurt.  Hey, I’m all for making your kid happy and feel like a winner.  Sheltering kids from every disappointment imaginable and not allowing them to “fail” once in a while leads to someone who grows up ill equipped to navigate the obstacles of real life.  I decided experiencing this “disappointment” vicariously through me and explaining things to him before he even starts school may give him an edge in life.

I explained to him that although winning is nice, in life you don’t always win and that’s okay.  No matter what the situation, it is more about the experience as a whole than it is about the outcome. I decided to be an example to him of how to properly handle disappointment.  You take it as an opportunity to learn.  Celebrate with the winners.  Aknowledge disappointment, but don’t let it discourage or stop you.  Winning can teach you things too, but sometimes losing teaches you more.  Overcoming obstacles builds character.

We seem to have a lot of folks out there these days who expect everything to just come easily to them in the real world.  Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like somewhere along the line, we lost touch with how to prepare our kids for the real world.  Not everybody wins in the real world.  Sometimes you get passed up for that promotion, because someone else is better suited for the position.  Sometimes the candidate you voted for loses the election.  You don’t always win the contest, because sometimes another entry was better than yours.  That’s life.

Also, life isn’t always fair.  Initially sometimes it seems that those who cut corners get ahead.  Your hard work and determination isn’t enough, because somewhere along the line someone was dishonest.  This is a lesson that kids may learn while still in school.  Little Johnny won the grand prize for selling the most candy bars, because his uncle bought them all to give to his clients.  Another kid in the class takes first place in the science fair, because their parent made their solar system for them.  Sometimes another kid ends up getting into the college that you applied to, because their parents had enough money to bribe the powers that be.  The thing our kids need to take away from these moments, is that although these kids appear to come out ahead, in the long run, they will be less successful in life.  Having learned this lesson that life isn’t always fair helps equip a child with certain skills needed to navigate life just the same as losing once in a while does.  These kids who always win or cheat and win will eventually end up entering the real world lacking problem solving skills and the knowledge necessary to navigate life.  They will never learn how to properly deal with disappointment, how to be happy for their peers and celebrate their victories, or improve upon their skill sets in order to achieve more.  They will simply expect it and be devistated when things don’t go their way and not know how to handle it.

Losing sometimes, builds integrity.  Kids learn how to cheer for others around them and celebrate with them.  They learn how to better solve problems.  They learn how to stop and think “What could I have done differently here.  What can I change to do this better next time?”  Teaching our children to be lifelong learners and constantly looking for ways to improve will take them much futher in life than a trophy ever will.  It will even take them further than those who cut corners.  The key is to teach them how to handle these disappointments gracefully and to not give up just because of a setback.  Winston Churchill said that “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”  It is true.  If every person throughout history gave up after the first failure, life as we know it would be quite different and not for the better.  Yes, winning is great and you can learn a ton from that, but we also need to teach our kids how to lose and the valuable lessons that come along with that.

By the way, my son was over our loss within 5 minutes and he won the “guess how many” game the following weekend at an Easter Egg Hunt, so he’s happy now.

Creative Ways to Stash Savings and an Introduction to My New Shop

A couple weeks ago, I made a decision to reopen my Etsy shop.  I closed it down temporarily when I was about 34 weeks pregnant.  I needed to focus on getting things ready for baby and didn’t want to be worrying about filling orders during that time or during my post partum time.  I originally decided to leave it closed until I found my groove as a parent.  Just as I thought I was beginning to have this parenting gig together, I did some thinking about reopening and felt it was best to keep the shop in vacation mode and possibly never reopen.  I was okay with that.  Honestly, I was burned out.  I didn’t even enjoy what I was doing anymore.  The bulk of my shop was custom, decorative light switch covers.  I loved making them at first.  Business picked up and was quite steady for a number of years.  I stopped having a premade inventory when I realized that most of my orders were custom orders and I could not predict what people would want.  It was less work to make the order on demand than it was to keep a well supplied inventory that may or may not sit forever.  At some point, keeping up with orders became a struggle.  It was no longer fun for me. What is the point of crafting and selling your craft if you no longer enjoy it?  Even now, I have no desire to start back up.  Why am I bringing this up?  Well, it has a bit to do with family life.

About 3 years ago, I started to realize that now more than ever, we needed to pay better attention to our money.  We needed a budget.  We needed to set money aside for things.  Christmas, was one of those examples.  Christmas does not come by surprise.  It comes the same time every year.  Yet, how many people take a huge financial hit and fall behind on bills, because they blow the money they are living off of on gifts?  Of course how many people actually have just random heaps of extra money lying around for special occasions?  Not me.  I decided to start putting money aside each week into “The Christmas Fund.”  Just a little bit each week.   I mean if you plan ahead, even $10 a week adds up fo $520 in one year and that’s $520 that isn’t coming out of your money that you live off of. To help it build even faster, I found a new way to be crafty and creative.  I started designing and selling shirts on Teespring.  It was great, because I could crank out new designs during nap time, go live with them, promote them online, and once they sold, Teespring handled the printing and the shipping.  This meant very little time was taken away from time with the family.

This worked great for years and it contributed a good chunk toward the Christmas fund.  Then something changed.  Teespring changed their site.  I guess I don’t blame them.  They are now catering more toward those tech millennial types I suppose.  The ones who went to school for design, have fancy design software, and a desire to work from home.  I suppose those types probably make up the bulk of their seller base as opposed to people like me.  Their change left people like me, parents with full time jobs, amateur designers who do this on the side for fun and extra cash, with no way to continue growing their business with them.  I had no choice but to leave.  All my old designs are still active in my store there Mama Boomer’s T-shirt Factory, but due to a change with their site, I can’t even share the old designs to promote my old designs.

After researching many other similar sites, I stumbled upon Printful.  Their choices in graphics and text are limited, but I imagine that will expand with time.  They will use an online store you have to sell your designs.  When one is purchased, they print and ship for you.  I saw that Etsy was one of the stores they work with.  So, I re-opened my shop and gave it a makeover.  An added bonus is with it being my Etsy shop, I can not only sell my t-shirt designs, I now also have a venue to sell any small crochet goodies if I so desire.  It is all still very new, but I am hoping that it will at least add a little to the Christmas fund.

I’ve felt that over the last few years, budgeting and setting money aside for things such as a Christmas fund, have been really beneficial.  Each year since I’ve tried it, I’ve had more and more to work with, because I find new ways to add to it.  I start off by putting in a set amount each week.  Even if that’s all you can do, it will add up by the time you are ready to do Christmas shopping if you start at the beginning of the year and stay consistent.  I started out by just setting cash aside in a hiding spot in the house, but now I have a separate bank account that I put it in.

I’ve also taken advantage of rebate apps such as ibotta or shopkicks.  I have yet to earn enough kicks to get anything from shopkicks, but I like it, because if you remember to actually turn it on, you can get “kicks” for just entering a store or scanning items even if you don’t buy anything.  I liked ibotta in the past, but they aren’t as great with the rebates as they have been in the past.  These are great ways to bulk up your Christmas fund.  Another great way is decluttering your home.  Speaking of declutter, I’ve used an app called Decluttr to sell DVDs and CDs in the past for extra holiday spending cash.  Basically, you download the app, scan the products with your phone, they make you an offer, and send you a shipping label.  Then you print the label, package the stuff, bring it to the UPS store and ship it for free.  Once they receive your items, they deposit money wherever you have directed it to go.  I have cleared out a lot of space doing this.  Then there’s always Facebook marketplace.  I’ve been able to get rid of quite a bit of items we are not using anymore via the marketplace.  Especially baby and kid items.  Sometimes my husband scoffs at me, because each individual sale isn’t usually very much, but they add up over the course of a year if you are stashing it away.  Our pop can return money also goes toward this, but I suppose that only works if you life in a state that gives you money when you return bottles and cans.

Once it comes time to go Christmas shopping, you might feel like a baller when you realize how much you have to spend freely.  Although it is a great feeling, I recommend making a list of who all you need to buy for and how much you plan to spend on each person.  This will help you stay within budget and not go over. You’ll still feel like a baller once you are hitting those sales and knowing that this money is not coming out of the money you are trying to live off of.  It eliminates a lot of stress as well.  We all know the holiday season is stressful enough.  Why add money woes to it?  As long as you stay within budget, you will some into the new year on top as opposed to in the red and playing catch up until March.  Then you can start again setting money aside right away for the following year.  I realize that this may not work for everybody, but for those who don’t have extra money lying around to begin with, like us for example, it can be a huge benefit.  Not to mention finding creative ways to add to it can be fun.

This is why I’m excited to share the news of reopening my Etsy shop.  I’m not expecting to corner the market in t-shirt design and towel toppers, but a little extra Christmas money is always nice.  So feel free to check out my shop.  If any of you have any other ideas that you’d like to share or apps that you use that have been helpful for setting aside a bit of a savings stash, please feel free to share.

Here’s the link to my shop.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/HouseofBoom?

 

If They Knew What We Know Now

20190323_150908I think it would be safe to say that my work situation is a unique one.  I love my job.  That might be partly why it is unique.  How many people can say that can actually mean it?  I love what I do.  Even after early 10 years, I still feel a sense of purpose in what I do and feel challenged and stimulated regularly.  I still learn new things each day.  Another reason it is unique is there isn’t a high turnover.  Everyone in our office has been there for years and we are quite close.  We are like a family.  As a matter of fact we refer to our group as “work family.” We’ve seen each other through weddings, cancer, losing loved ones, and miscarriage.  The doc I work with every day delivered my baby.  Our group is more than just a medical office.  We are family.  There’s another reason my work situation is unique though.  One of my co-workers is a childhood friend.   Not something that is very common at all.

Recently, she filled the role of the backup in our office.  Having a backup has been very beneficial in our office setting.  The clinical staff plays an important role in helping the doctor stay on schedule.  Sometimes, we are in a position where we are expected to be in two or three places at the same time.  Having a second clinical or “backup” working with the doctor helps make the process run even more smoothly.  When there’s two medical assistants as opposed to just one, it is easier to keep the doctor on schedule and minimize patient wait times.  Since she has become the backup, we spend a lot more time working together.

When you work closely with someone whether it be a childhood friend or not, you talk.  You are eventually up on what’s going on in each other’s lives.  This is no different, but there is one exception.  Due to our history,  stuff comes up that reminds us of some sort of memory from back in the day.  Sometimes it is a memory that one of us has long since forgotten.  There have been many times throughout the years where we would get together and play “remember when.”  These days however, that sometimes takes on a new meaning.  Why? We are now both parents.

While working together, we discuss our parenting woes.  Her younger two are in middle school.  Since mine is only four, I’m really not much help.  My parenting experience is limited, so when we discuss the pitfalls of parenting middle schoolers, I have no experience to help her with.  All I have to go on is my own personal experience of being a middle schooler once.  That’s where the memories come in.

I remind us that we were not much different back in our day than her kids are now.  Sure the technology is different, but the mentality is the same.  We talk about how if we had such technology back in our day, we would likely use it in the same ways.  I mean, we were pretty creative with the technology we had.  Three way calling, *67, putting the karaoke machine speaker in the second story window while stepping out on to the roof to perform for our street.  I recorded it all too.  Even just while hanging out and goofing off, I recorded antics with the karaoke machine.  I even made a “greatest hits” cassette tape one year.  Yes, if we had the ability to video ourselves, we would have had our own YouTube channel.  If there were TikTok, we would have used it.  We probably would even make fun of one another through it.  Move over three way calling while putting a friend on mute, here comes TikTok and Snapchat.

While having these conversations and reminiscing, one common theme comes up.  I think all of us as parents can relate.  We want so badly for our kids to know the things we didn’t know growing up.  We wish to pass on our knowledge that we acquired through growth into adulthood.  What parent doesn’t want to arm their children with everything they had to learn the hard way growing up, prior to entering school or while they are in school?  We all want these things.  How nice would it be if they actually listened to us?  What if there were some magic pill we could give them that would just pass all this knowledge on to them?  If they could gain the same knowledge and wisdom without facing the challenges we faced? If only life worked that way.

I for one, know that if back then I were anything like I am today, I would be 100 times more badass.  The one thing I am already desperately trying to get into my son’s head even now is not to worry about the opinions of others.  I don’t want him finding himself in situations where he is doing things simply to impress his friends or the “cool crowd.”  I want him to be happy with being himself.  I’m sure all parents want this for their kids and I know he won’t fully get it or listen to me, but I’m hoping at least some of it sticks while he is young.

I want him to understand how freeing it is when you don’t care about what others think or about social hierarchy.  I am thankful that I realized this while I was still in high school.  Once I was about 15, I didn’t give a rat’s a** about social hierarchy or what people thought.  I was friends with whoever I wanted to be friends with and didn’t care who had a problem with it.  As a matter of fact, I made it pretty clear to people if a situation arose where someone had a “problem” with one of my friends.  I didn’t care what “group” you associated with.  If you were a “band geek” and I liked you, we were friends.  If you were “popular,” I would at least give you a chance and be nice to you as opposed to immediately writing you off as “snobby” and being mean to you.  I even kept a lot of your secrets while you ladies talked amongst yourselves as I sat nearby doodling in my sketchbook.  Yes, I heard your conversations, but your juicy gossip was safe with me.  Although I have to admit, some of you gals had some pretty hilarious one liners that I had to share with my friends.  We had some laughs at your expense.  I apologize.  It was all pretty benign though.

 

I want my son to have a clear understanding of these things.  I want him to understand how freeing it is to just be who you are.  Don’t get me wrong, for me, I was still pretty tightly wound back then, but this was where the journey began and I’m thankful it started when it did.  Because I didn’t give a crap, I talked to everybody.  As long as you weren’t an a-hole, I was nice to you.  If you were a jerk, well, you probably experienced my wrath at some point.  Maybe it was justified.  Maybe it wasn’t.  In either case, I’m sorry.  I had anger issues back then.

I feel that the freedom that came with not caring about what others think is a good part of the reason why high school was a blast for me.  My husband also had a blast in high school, but for entirely different reasons.  We went to the same school, even had some of the same friends, but our paths did not cross.  We had different interests.  However, he had a blast too.  My point is, that it doesn’t really matter what group you fall into in school.  ALL groups have drama.  From the jocks and cheerleaders to the chess club.  Every single group has drama.  Every single group also has great times and memories.  Our kids need to know this as well.

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Another thing that I feel we as parents wish our kids would understand is that their time in school is temporary.  Of course all life situations are temporary, but if only they could understand just how small of a blip on the radar our school years are compared to the rest of our lives, it would alleviate a lot of the pressures our kids face.  I know this from personal experience.  I didn’t give a crap about homecoming court or being voted most whatever to whatever.  I enjoyed all these things.  I had fun being involved and the experiences made for great memories.  Snowcoming, prom committee, decorating for the homecoming dance, the tennis team, Friday night football games, and driving around the streets at night with my girls.

The experiences were great and the memories made were fantastic.  That being said, even then I was aware that there was more to life than high school.  As a result, I wasn’t that competitive.  I wasn’t desperate to get my picture on every single page of the yearbook or get some fancy title.  When my friends questioned why these things weren’t that big of a deal to me, I would say “This stuff only matters here.  Out there in the world, nobody cares.”  Of course the colleges you aspire to get into care about your activities, but once you are in, nobody cares.  Your Anatomy and Physiology professor doesn’t care if you were Prom Queen. Your boss doesn’t care if you were voted “best yodeler.” Your spouse doesn’t care if you were a “band geek.” They probably admire your musical talent.

If we can get our kids to understand this, it can make their experience better.  They will join activities because they want to, not because they feel pressured to.  They will enjoy these activities more.  They will have more time to focus on SAT scores and planning for the future.  If we can put it into perspective for our children, it could eliminate a lot of pressure and anxiety for them.  Our school years are great, but as all things in life, they are temporary and in the grand scheme of things, just another small dot on the road map of life.

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Of course it isn’t that easy is it?  Our kids don’t always listen to us.  We could easily just fill them up with our wisdom if our kids just listened to us and hung on every world we said.  I’m laughing as I type this, because even though mine is only four, I know this isn’t the case.  Kids don’t listen and as they grow older, they get this crazy idea that we are clueless and they know everything.  I want so badly to arm my son with this wisdom prior to entering school, but I know better.  Did we listen to our parents when they tried telling us these things? Probably not.  We acquired this wisdom on our own.  It was only through life experiences, facing these challenges for ourselves, and personal growth that we leared these things.  We can talk to our kids until we are blue in the face with our insights and helpful advice, but the truth is, wisdom like this comes from none other than the trial by fire experiences of life that we grow from.  We as parents know this deep down and it terrifies us.  That’s why we still try talking until we are blue in the face hoping that even a small tidbit sticks.  We turned out fine though.  Chances are, they will too.

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Throwing Cheese At Babies? Seriously?

I suspect many of you have seen this new “challenge” out there.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have likely seen a video or two pop up in your newsfeed of parents throwing a slice of cheese on their adorable baby’s face. Perhaps you’ve even participated yourself.  I mean, it is kind of funny.  I’ve laughed at a couple.   The babies reactions can be funny and it isn’t like parents are throwing bricks at their babies…yet.

Ah, the internet.  Where people try to outdo one another with stupid acts for “likes” and attention.  The internet inspires people who are goofing off in the privacy of their own home to think “Hey, we should video this and post it.  Everyone would want to see this.  Right?”  What we dont realize is not everyone thinks we are as hilarious as we do. This is the newest thing out there for the moment.  Soon to be replaced with something equally as stupid.

Who even comes up with this stuff?  Seriously, I want to know.  Who was this person sitting at home and suddenly had this “epiphany?”  I imagine a couple parents sitting around thinking “Hey, you know what would be hilarious? Let’s throw a slice of cheese at our baby’s face and video their reaction!”  Perhaps it was a parent making a sandwich while their baby was in the kitchen having a meltdown and in a moment of weakness, they throw a slice of cheese at their baby’s face and the baby stopped crying and it became funny.  Maybe it was an older sibling.  Honestly that’s something I could see considering the mentality of this “challenge” seems a bit juvenile.

Think about it.  Does this really sound like something adults, parents for that matter, would come up with? If so, I fear for our society. Have we really dumbed ourselves down this much? This sounds like something my friend and I would have done in middle school.  We would have done this one day after school, likely to each other or unsuspecting neighborhood kids out of boredom.  We would have laughed our butts off while wishing we had a way to get it on video.  Thankfully, we grew up in a time without smartphones and Tik Tok. Maybe I should tell her to bring some Kraft singles to work tomorrow and we can spend our lunch break throwing cheese.  It is the cool thing to do.  Right?

I’m not saying this is a horrible thing or even that someone is stupid for liking it.  With all the ugly and awful things we see in our newsfeeds each day, it is a refreshing dose of humor in a way.  It is light hearted silliness that breaks up the heaviness of the terrible stories all over our Facebook feeds.  I’m calling the “challenge” itself stupid.

For starters, it proves once again that the definition of the word “challenge” has been lost.  Does anyone even know what a challenge actually is anymore?  Passing your drivers test is challenging.  Scoring well on the SAT, is a challenge.  Quitting smoking is a challenge.  Making a decision to eat healthier, exercise, lose weight and stick with the lifestyle change is a challenge.  Running a 5K, stepping outside your comfort zone, competing against a worthy opponent.  All these things are challenges.  A challenge is something that is actually CHALLENGING for you.  It can also be something you challenge someone else to do.  “Look, I did a back handspring.  I challenge you to do one and do it better.”  There is NOTHING challenging about slapping an unsuspecting little baby in the face with a slice of cheese.  Funny, yes, depending on your type of humor, but not challenging.  Is this something that’s hard for you to do? No.  Then it isn’t a challenge.  It is simply a stupid video.  Oh, you are “challenging” others to do it? Considering it isn’t a task that requires any skill, that still doesn’t make it a challenge. It is simply someone posting a video of something stupid they did and encouraging others to do the same.  This is not a challenge.  It is middle school peer pressure and nothing more. Like the Harlem Shake and the Keke Challenge, it will be forgotten as quickly as it became viral and replaced with something else.

What about the babies? As I’ve said earlier, it isn’t as if their parents throwing bricks at their faces. I’m sure the “brick challenge” isn’t too far behind though.  It seems people nowadays will do anything on internet for attention. For the most part, this seems pretty harmless.  Some of these babies are pretty young though.  They likely can’t eat solids yet, or at least cheese.  You are going to stick something yummy to their face that they can’t eat?  C’mon.  How would you feel?  Personally, if someone stuck something to my face that smelled amazing and delicious and I was unable to eat it, I would be pissed.  Again, it could be worse, but that’s just not right.  Food is no joke man.

Speaking of food not being a joke, this is how you can tell we as a society are truly privileged.  It makes me wonder  what children in Ethiopia would think of us taking perfectly good food and throwing it on the faces of babies for likes on the internet.  Some kids might go days without a meal or maybe have just that one piece of cheese to eat all day.  Meanwhile, we have it so good, we throw it on the faces of our children, because it is funny and we want to be included in this viral new internet trend.  Perspective.

What am I getting at? Not much other than my own opinion of this “challenge” is that it is stupid and it makes me worry about our current state of society. If grown adults are doing these things for attention on the internet, I worry for our future.  Are we beginning to mature backwards? Since when did something that’s not challenging become a “challenge?”  I think we all have too much time on our hands and we need some hobbies.  Particularly some that might be a bit “challenging.”

By the way, I did NOT throw cheese at my son.  He willingly posed with a slice of smoked Gouda on his face to get a picture for this post before he split it with the dog.

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A Thankful Heart

IMG_20190203_104910_973Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned.  We’ve all been there.  You can plan and plan, but there are always things outside our control.  I’ve learned that it is less about the circumstances and more about your reaction to the circumstances.  It is in how you look at things and if you can even find a way to make the situation eventually work in your favor.  Honestly, your attitude toward what is happening can determine whether or not you will be miserable.  Who wants that?

I woke up at 7:30am today to the sound of explosions down the road and the power going out.  I was annoyed at first, because I had planned on sleeping in since my son had stayed overnight at grandma’s so my husband and I could have a date night.  I reported the outage and it was projected to be on at 9:30.  No biggie.  It is no longer -15 degrees outside and I’m alone in the house with the dog.  I can stay warm in my bed until 9:30. So, I did.  Later, the update from the power company at 9:30 said that the restoration time has been pushed back to 11:45.  Well, that put a damper on things.

I decided to get up and throw on some layers of warm jammies.  If the power wasn’t going to come on for a few more hours, I needed to figure out what my best option to pass the time would be.  I texted my mother in law to see if they had power.  They did, which meant my son was safe, comfy, and warm right where he was.  This was where the thankful part came in.  If this were to happen, it couldn’t have happened under better circumstances.  My son wasn’t home.  I could keep the fridge closed and if the restoration time kept getting pushed back, I would just stick the contents of the fridge outside.  That’s one of the benefits to living in Michigan.  Although it can get cold if you go without power for too long in Winter in Michigan, you can keep your food from spoiling by setting it outside.

I started to wonder how I could at least enjoy the luxury of some coffee.  We have a gas stove, so I could light a burner, boil water, and pour it through my coffee maker.  However, the fantasy of leaving took over my brain.  I was alone.  I could leave.  I could be passing my time wandering alone through Target sipping on some Starbucks while browsing through their Winter clearance.  I could stroll leisurely through the aisles at JoAnn Fabrics shopping for yarn.  I could pass the time someplace warm that has electricity until mine was restored.  I could have mommy alone time somewhere with heat and fancy coffee.  There was only one problem.  My car was in the garage and with no electricity, that door wasn’t going to open.  Do I boil water and make coffee at home?  Do I attempt to open the garage door manually and head out on the path to freedom?  Although, the latter would be more difficult, it was too enticing not to try.  I found the handle to open the garage door manually.  I grabbed it, pulled, and I broke it off.  Now it was official.  There would be absolutely no way I was going to leave the house in my vehicle.  I was stranded.

Again, I was thankful.  My kid wasn’t with me.  I didn’t have to worry about there being some emergency with him that would require us to leave.  I could hang out by myself at home for a few hours.  Mommy quiet time can be at home.  Mommy needed coffee though.  I lit a burner on the stove, boiled some water, and poured it through the coffee grounds in the filter in my coffee pot.  I sat quietly at the kitchen table enjoying my hot cup of coffee while contemplating what I would do if the power stayed off longer than expected.  What to do with the food in the fridge.  I still had two loads of laundry to do.  There was a chicken I planned on cooking.  I came up with a back up plan just in case.

After putting some clean laundry away and getting some other cleaning done that would have been more difficult with a four year old, I got the call from the power company.  The restoration time was being pushed back another 45 minutes.  The cause of the outage was still unknown.  Many of my friends in the area and nearby businesses were also without power.  Just as I was preparing to put some of the contents of the fridge outside, the power had been restored.  I was quite pleased to learn that with no power for 4 1/2 hours, the temp in the house only went down to 65.  Considering I had the thermostat set at 68, I figured that was pretty good.

Why am I sharing this boring story? Yes, I’m admitting it is boring.  I actually got bored writing it and put it down for a while.  Nothing exciting happens here.  It isn’t a horrible experience.  I get it.  Suburban mother goes without power for 4 1/2 hours.  Hurry, someone call FEMA!  Seriously, I’ve had actual bad days worse than this.  So, what is my point?  My point is, I’m not complaining.  I’m telling the story, but at no point am I complaining about the situation.  Even though, it wasn’t a huge deal, I could have let any one of those setbacks completely make me miserable.  I could have chosen to sit around angrily stewing about how I couldn’t get out of the garage.  I could have allowed myself to get so upset over any of those setbacks that I wouldn’t be able to think clearly enough to possibly solve any of the problems I was having.  I wouldn’t have been able to think clearly enough to figure out how to make myself a cup of coffee and enjoy the silence.  If I had reacted differently, my day could have been “ruined” and I would only have myself to blame.  Why?  Because, it is all in how we react to situations that are outside our control.  We all know someone who can find one negative detail in a beautiful day and let it ruin their entire day.  It could be their birthday, sun shining, surrounded by loved ones, wonderful food and gifts, and the someone spills water on their pants.  Next thing you know, this person is focused on the spill and in their mind, the day is an utter “disaster.”  That’s what I mean.

Things happen and when they are things outside our control, we are in control of our reactions and how much we let our circumstances get to us.  Some people can see an entire field of roses and only notice the thorns.  Others can look out the window at a raging blizzard and notice a cardinal.  The more we practice being thankful for the good things in our lives, no matter how small, the more good things we notice.  The happier we are.  I had no control over the power going out or how long it would be out for.  However, I chose to be thankful for the circumstances.  Knowing it could have been worse.  I could have been stranded at home with a 4 year old trying to keep him warm and keep him out of the fridge.  At least I had a home.  I had walls and a roof keeping me out of the rain.  I had a gas stove that I could light a burner on and boil water to make coffee.  Sometimes all we need in life when things aren’t going as expected is a change of mindset and to remember our blessings.

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