Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Category

Parenting in the Digital Age

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Confession: I often resort to pulling up baby-appropriate videos on my phone to keep the baby entertained when we go out to eat. Sometimes I feel a judgmental stare, but most of the time, people will stop and ask us where we got our iPhone tripod and how awesome it is to have access to technology like that whenever, wherever. (Seriously. This happens EVERY TIME we go out and use the tripod stand. People LOVE it and we’ve considered selling them on the side for a slight mark-up.)

And let’s face it, judging or not, just about everyone can agree that they’d rather my child be entertained by a video for 20 minutes than screaming his head off and disrupting not only our dinner, but everyone’s dinner in the restaurant.

Technology and its place in the family is a hotly debated topic, and it will continue to be so until the next attention-grabbing thing comes along. Some of you may remember this post from last year entitled Dear Mom On The iPhone. It made waves several months later among many, MANY bloggers and received quite the response, such as Dear Mom Judging Me For My iPhone.  First of all, this was the first time I ever considered that someone would judge me for looking at my phone while my child played. Second of all, it made me second guess picking up my phone in public while my child played. And to be honest, I feel conflicted about that. On one hand, it’s important for me to be present in my child’s life. I only get a few hours with him after work in the evenings. But that doesn’t mean my attention still isn’t divided between him and running errands to the grocery store (while he gnaws on a cookie in the cart) or fixing two separate dinners (one for him and one for the adults) or trying to put away some laundry, water the flowers, feed the dog, and whatever else I can squeeze into those few hours at home each evening. The truth is, he rarely gets 100% of my undivided attention for the entire couple of hours before bedtime each night. And I’d imagine this is the same story any SAHM would tell as well. It takes a lot to keep a home running, whether you work or not. Also, no one – no matter how many hours they spend at home – are spending their entire days playing with their kids all day every day. And guess what? THAT’S OKAY! (This is what I have to tell myself all the time anyway.)

So when I’m at home, I try to put the phone down and only pick it up when someone calls or texts or when it’s time to play his bath music. Or when I need to snap a picture because that’s almost a daily occurrence. Granted, there are times when I need to be on the lookout for a work email or the allure is too much and I mindlessly open FB or Instagram, but I catch myself within 30 seconds and put it back down. It’s a work in progress for someone like me who treats her phone like her 3rd arm.

But that’s me, and though it’s a daily battle, I feel like I balance my attention to D versus attention to what’s on my phone fairly well. But what about D? What’s too much tech for him? There are some families that don’t even own a TV; some families practice time limits for tech – be it a half hour a day or 3 hours a day; and some, like the home I grew up in, not only don’t enforce time limits, but the ADULTS have trained themselves to not be able to sleep without a TV on in front of them. (While I grew up in that sort of household, let me just say that I do not live this way anymore.) I’m more of a middle-of-the-road type of person. Everything in moderation is my motto. I think technology can and should be enjoyed, within limits.

Then I read this article on Today.com about a family who thought it would be a good idea to go back to 1986 – around the time they were born – and completely do away with all forms of technology beyond a basic tube TV, a rotary phone, and a Nintendo. (I question the need for a Nintendo, but hey, I guess they were around in 1986.)  I was intrigued until I read this paragraph:

Instead, shutting their family off from the normal barrage of technology opened up new doors, both literally and figuratively. After dinner, the family has to find an activity to occupy their time. They adopted a dog so they could go on walks. They play outside or go to the splash park.

So…you had to get rid of modern technology in order to go on walks, take care of a dog, and go to the splash park? We do all of these things quite regularly, actually. And the best part is, I usually have my smartphone there to document it all too. This article did absolutely nothing to prove to me that living a life with reduced technology is any better or more enjoyable. In fact, it sounds a little worse:

“The road trip we recently took to Minneapolis was the worst,” says McMillan. “It would have been a lot easier to hand them a DVD player when they were both screaming about sharing stickers in the back seat of the car.”

So remind me again why not letting them watch a DVD on a road trip is such a noble thing to do? Why you’re a better parent? Or why your kids are smarter/better for it? I’m not seeing how this is a good thing.

I guess I just feel like I read about so many people denouncing today’s technology – either for themselves or for their children – and we glorify it as if they’ve overcome some huge obstacle like losing 100lbs or running a marathon. How many times have you heard (or said) “I’m quitting Facebook!” or “I’m taking a blogging break.” or “The Internet is such a waste of time, I’m going to go off the grid for awhile.” (I’ve actually said all of these things. Multiple times.) And others respond “Good for you!” or “I need to do that too.” or “I wish I was able to do that for a while!” I know everyone needs a break from their day-to-day once in awhile, but shouldn’t this discussion be more about finding balance and using today’s technology for GOOD? Why does it have to be so all or or nothing? Life is filled with gray areas and this is definitely one of them. Expect more on this topic in the future.

Something I really hope to figure out soon is how to use technology to help educate my toddler. My friend Sara posted a list of apps for 12-16 month olds that I’m eager to check out. And another blog I follow, Cool Mom Tech, often features cool apps and tech tools that relate to education, though D isn’t old enough for most of them yet.

So what say you? Do you have a “no screens” policy for yourself or for your kiddos? Do you limit it to say, 1 hr per day? Do you have a list of cool toddler-appropriate apps to share? Or will it be crayons and wood puzzles until your kids are in kindergarten? I wonder how many 2 yr olds will be getting an iPad mini for Xmas?


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I think I skipped a 6-9 months post on my favorite baby things so I’m cramming them into one, big 6-12 month post.

1. iPhone or iPad – preferably both. The iPhone has come in handy for SO MANY THINGS. Taking photos/video, playing music (babies love music, especially my baby), or playing videos when we’re trying to have a meal at a restaurant and baby D has decided that everything within reach must be thrown on the floor. The iPad has been most helpful when we’ve  spent 10 hours in the car ONE WAY to visit my husband’s family, which has already been SIX times since he’s been born. That’s about twice the amount of trips we make on a normal year. We try not to rely on it until he’s getting really annoyed, which typically happens after about hour #6. I can’t blame him though. I’m pretty much over the road trip after that long too.

2. iPhone stand – As mentioned above, we like to eat out and while I’ve read posts from other parents who think it’s better for kids to learn how to behave in social settings like a restaurant without the need for an i-something to distract them, those people aren’t usually around when my kid is throwing anything he can get his mits on to the floor. If they were, I’d say “here, you take him so we can eat our meal in peace.” Then I’m sure they’d probably be okay with us playing a little Baby Einstein for 20 minutes. And this iPhone stand helps keep the phone out of reach and in place.

3. MumMums – All of those baby finger foods found in the baby food section are fantastic (and puffs/yogurt melts/etc.) but MumMums are probably our favorite because he can hold them and gnaw on them until they’re mushy. They keep him busy for awhile and I don’t have to have a special place to set it down; I just hand it to him and he goes to town. Unlike puffs or yogurt melts that basically require a clean, flat surface to lay a few out and let him pick them up.

4. Baby Einstein exersaucer – Really any exersaucer will do. This one just happened to be free from my inlaws when they found it at a yard sale for $5. At first, we didn’t think we would need this, since we already had a bouncer seat, bumbo, and jumperoo. I mean, how many baby contraptions does one family need?! But we soon realized that this was the best of them all because it gave us somewhere safe to put him, and I could move it from room to room (unlike the jumperoo) so I could make dinner and have him right there with me.

5. Playmat – Once D started crawling and pulling up on things, we decided even our carpeted living room was too hard and purchased this playmat to provide a little extra cushion should he take a tumble. Maybe that’s the overprotective parent in both of us, but it gave us a little peace of mind. And while this mat is supposed to be some sort of cool block building thing, if I had it to do over again, I’d probably buy a mat with a fewer parts since D likes to pull it apart all the time.

6. Board Books – I don’t know what it is about books, but they fascinate him! His favorite BY FAR is called Baby Woof Woof and we keep it separated from the rest of the books and only break it out at certain times because one reading requires at least 5 readings and even when you’ve done that many, the boy will fuss and cry until you read it again – or find something better to distract him with.

7. Balls – Basketballs, baseballs – any kind of balls really. Balls are his favorite toys. First, he learned how to roll it back and forth, then he quickly taught himself to throw it and loves to spend an hour playing his version of catch. Already a sports fanatic.

8. Blocks – After balls, his blocks are his second favorite toy. Well, blocks and stacker rings. He loves to pick two of them up and bang them together. He still hasn’t quite figured out the sorting aspect of it yet, but he loves to put him in and out of the bucket.

9. Original Sprout Shampoo – I try to use Burt’s Bees lotion and bubble bath almost exclusively because I love the smell, but after fighting a bit of cradle cap when he was around 7 months old and getting his first haircut, the stylist suggested the above Original Sprout Shampoo. And you guys, it cleared up with just ONE use and we haven’t had so much as a dandruff flake since. Awesome stuff, even if I don’t love the smell as much as Burt’s Bees.

10. Glow Seahorse – I was determined to get baby D a glow worm for nostalgia’s sake (both the hubs and I had them as babies) but the glow worm didn’t look the same and I just liked the seahorse better. He doesn’t fall asleep with his arm around it like the baby in the picture but it has provided some comfort and distraction from time to time and I can probably credit it to at least a few hours of extra sleep a week, so it’s already worth the minimal cost.

Tell me your favorite baby item for months 6-12!

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Goodbye, Steve Jobs

The world lost a true visionary yesterday. The news has been everywhere. My entire Twitter stream was flooded with adoration, my Facebook feed filled with surprise and sadness, the morning radio playing clips from old speeches, the news channels busting into baseball playoff games to make an important announcement.  All filled with respect and a sense of loss.

But then, I saw a few comments that made me irritated. One person posted “RIP for the children that died of famine in Africa.” Another person posted about how no other cancer victims that die today, tomorrow, the next day, will be talked about on Facebook and how sad that is. And while I get the point – one life is no more or less valuable than any other life – I still find the comments to be in bad taste because they don’t get the point everyone else is trying to express: That this man was extraordinary. It’s not about this death. Dying is not extraordinary. It’s about the life he lived, and the realization that it is over.

Steve Jobs changed the way we use technology, the way we listen to music, the way we watch movies (nod to Pixar), the way we communicate with each other, and the way we operate business. His inventions have touched the lives of so many people around the world, either directly or indirectly. He followed his dreams and he created things that people didn’t even know they wanted – yet once we saw it, we instantly needed it. It’s like my husband said, he’s our modern day Thomas Edison.

More than that though, he’s the embodiment of inspiration. When I think of Steve Jobs, I think of a man that created a technology empire. Apple fans are very adamant about their products and it’s almost like a cult following. He’s admired by CEOs around the world – even his competitors.

I read a blog post today by a woman with a son that’s in kindergarten. Her son has adored Steve Jobs for a long time. She even refers to Jobs as “Apple’s Dumbledore.” For all intents and purposes, Steve Jobs is this boy’s hero. Imagine her heartbreak at having to tell yesterday’s news to her son. I nearly cried reading it. I read another post, about her son learning of Jobs’ resignation as CEO and there was a line in there that explained it perfectly. Why it’s not only okay, but imperative that we recognize, respect, and honor a great life:

“Because without dreamers like him today, there would be no inspiration for the dreamers of tomorrow.”

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I love baseball. More specifically, I love Cardinals baseball (and nachos). But I’m not really into the whole All-Star Game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely cool to see the city of St. Louis come alive with Cards fans, almost like it did during the World Series in 2006 (which we attended), but it just seems like one big giant commercial and I don’t understand people that pay thousands of dollars to attend the events. I guess I just don’t get it.

Still, that didn’t keep me from wanting Home Run Derby and All-Star Game tix to please my husband who suddenly went from non-chalant during the pre-promotional period to “OMG WE HAVE TO GO” as soon as all of his sports shows, radio commercials, and friends started plugging the events non-stop. The power of advertising, I suppose. Still, I wasn’t lucky enough to snag tickets but he was, when he came downtown to meet me after work and hang out among the festivities. So we went to the Home Run Derby, which probably ranked right up there with attending the World Series and seeing a final-season game in old Yankee Stadium for him. (Even despite his excitement, he still remembered to bring me a change of clothes. He even brought TWO different outfits so I could choose – shorts or jeans, tennis shoes or flip flops.)

The only thing he forgot? A camera. So my iPhone had to do. Here’s Albert Pujos, at the plate:


And look at the cool design of the Arch and the old courthouse on the field:


And for those of you just dying to know how I like my nachos, I will tell you. I’m a “purist” when it comes to my nachos, meaning cheese and jalapenos ONLY. No meat, sour cream, chili, whatever. Those aren’t TRUE baseball nachos.


Now THAT is what I call Baseball Heaven. Makes me drool every time.

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Oooh, shiny!

I’m not really a gadget kind of person. I like to keep up on the latest technology (actually, sometimes it’s my job to keep up on the latest technology) but I rarely incorporate it into my daily life. I have a flat screen HDTV, but I only subscribe to basic cable (which is completely idiotic, I know). I have an iPod nano, but it’s two years old and can only play songs. No video. Not that I would use the video capability even if I had it. Like my husband, who has a newer video-capable nano, but leaves it sitting in the drawer untouched for months. I have a digital camera, but it’s nothing fancy. I think it can record video, but I’ve never tried. I don’t own a video camera. And the most sophisticated computer I’ve ever had is my Dell laptop, which work provides for me. Then there’s my phone. My basic, standard LG flip phone. I can call people just fine, but the camera is crappy and texting people is a major pain in my arse. It pales in comparison to my husband’s Blackberry Curve with GPS and e-mail capability. Out of curiousity, I’ve tried using it before and to tell you the truth, it’s a little overwhelming. Which is why I’ve never really minded keeping my money in my pocket instead of spending it on useless toys. So then why in the world did I walk into the mall tonight on a work-related assignment and find myself walking out with an iPhone?

Yep. That’s right. I’ve joined the ranks of the tech savvy. I am now the proud owner of a baby iPhone. I think I’ll name him Earl. Earl the iPhone. Has a nice ring to it, no? Ha! Get it? Ring? iPhone? Hahaha!

I’m sorry. I apologize for my nerd jokes. I blame Earl.

Anyway, I have an iPhone. And it’s pretty fuckin’ cool, if I do say so myself. I spent the last half hour setting up my email and watching YouTube videos in compete and utter amazement. I also tested the camera.


Hubby had these little guys waiting for me when I came home from work last Friday. Now that I have this iPhone, I’ll probably need to pick up a little surprise for him. He’s been a little down all night. I think he’s suffering from iPhone envy.

So tell me, are you a tech geek? Do you have a fancy phone? And if you have an iPhone, tell me why you love it (as if I need any more reasons).

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