Category Archives: gadgets

I Swore I Wouldn’t Do It…Then I Did

"Seriously, mom. It's such a dinosaur."

“Seriously, mom. It’s such a dinosaur.”

“Our children will not have iPhones. I don’t care how uncool it is. They will absolutely not carry the internet in their pocket. Ever.”

I’m pretty flexible. I’m an obliger (take the test!) It would be my great horror to be viewed as a megalomaniac.

Sometimes I should care more, but I just don’t. Where to go to dinner? I don’t really care (as long as it’s not McDonald’s). The Professor wants to choose the color of the van interior? Have at it. You want some input on a new living room rug design? Either one is fine. I just don’t care. It feels inconsequential. It doesn’t matter. Yes, sometimes I should care more. For example, I’m prone to impatiently hacking my hair off every few months (I really shouldn’t.)

But there are other Amy Absolutes:

Thou shalt not have a DVD player in the car. Because children should be bored occasionally, daydream, and look out the window. Maybe even talk to me.

Thou shalt not do all the chores. Because a working family is a happy family! And the mother is not the slave of the family.

Thou shalt not speak rudely to mom and dad. Because honoring thy mother and thy father is a worthy endeavor.

Thou shalt not use my toothbrush. Or I will never speak to you again. The Professor has had to ask for forgiveness on multiple occasions. 

Oh yes, these things do matter. Technology use is my hot-button. I can get more fired-up about technology rules than most political candidates. Kids and iPhones. No. Why in the world would I put that device in my child’s pocket when there is a world to explore? When technology addiction is rampant, when a child’s brain is so malleable and still forming?

No, we shall frolic and sing with our bonnets and aprons on at all times….

The hills are alive with the sound of music!

The hills are alive…

I’m sad and terrified when so many of our children do not know how to read a textbook and pull out cohesive “take-aways.” When The Classics are “boring.” When Google is so easy, that “hard” is avoided at all costs. When English courses have to cut out whole books, curriculum, and reading because our teens just don’t have the brain power to sit still, absorb, and ponder Anna Karenina. I liked this post.

And yeah, I blame technology for some of that. I read less because of my phone. It sits on my bedside table, putting me to sleep and waking me up. All the dings, alerts, and Twitter notifications that go off in our pockets, pulling us away from absorbing, focusing, and being “all in.” I see the effect in my classroom every.single.day. I fight that battle every.single.day.

Two years ago I wrote about my gollum-like fascination after finally getting an iPhone. It’s been life-changing. I can actually find your house now with that nifty GPS! I keep an on-line calendar, use reminders, check Instagram, comment on Facebook and blogs, schedule appointments – I LOVE my phone. I love it. I love it too much. Which is why I wanted to keep it out of the hands of my darlings as long as possible.

“My friends make fun of me everyday,” The Boy tells me. After revealing he had to ask permission to use technology at home, his friend literally rolled on the floor laughing. Now, every time he sees The Boy using his iPad at school he says, “Nelson, did you ask permission??!” 

Come on now, are technology rules SO WRONG?

Last month when I assigned a homework assignment, it involved downloading the Adobe Voice app. Every single student whipped out their smart phone. I realized maybe my high school kids were right…they were the oddballs. But aren’t oddballs adorable?

My oldest darling, Cope, is a junior in high school. She has a flip phone, which is “absolutely mortifying.” The Boy, a freshman, flat out refused. He would rather not have a phone than to be seen with something “so lame.” Which sounds terribly materialistic, but there are a few things in a boy’s life that really matter (girls, meat, shoes…and phones?)

Let us back track to last week when The Professor said, “I think we should get you a new phone for Mother’s Day.” My contract was up, you see, and I’d been drooling over the new and improved camera feature. I didn’t object to The Professor’s wishes 🙂

Yesterday, we giddily (read: me) visited a Verizon store (where the customer service is out of this world, awesome) and discovered that not only could I get a new phone, but we could upgrade to a better plan (text me! I now have unlimited texting!!!!) and also transfer my daughter’s phone number to my older iPhone and pay LESS than what we were paying for her flip phone.

Ah, geez.

What’s a mom to do?

We took the deal.

Yep, I sold my child’s imagination for a few silver coins. The world is ending.

I had a moment. “Wait, wait, wait! I only want her to be able to take photos, text and call – THAT’S IT!” It turns out we can control the cellular data (for $5/month!) but if she has wi-fi? Well, it’s free reign.

I felt ashamedly resigned. I rationalized like this: she’s a good girl. she has a good imagination. she still loves to read. and sing. and yeah, she’s a bit addicted to youtube videos but mostly if they involve Lin-Manuel or cheesy BYU studio C outtakes. Also, I know that technology, used the right way, is AWESOME. We can change the world right from home!

At least, as far as I know. Maybe I don’t know. Maybe they’re all tech addicts at 3a.m. If you know of such behavior, you better tell me.

We held out for almost 17 years. Maybe it was time to extend the leash a little further. In a few short years, mom isn’t going to be around to set the parameters (I weep.)

The best part was having our stellar Verizon gal, Kelly, transfer Cope’s old number and plan to my older iPhone, knowing her flip phone would suddenly stop working. She was going to freak out. When Cope came home from school I showed her my new phone, which she drooled over, as I casually asked, “I called you today – why didn’t you call me back?”

“Something is wrong with my phone.”

“You must have dropped it.”

“No, mom, I swear. I didn’t drop it!”

“How sad,” I said. She sighed.

At this point I very slowly took out my old iPhone. Before I could say anything she screamed. And started hopping up and down. It was rather wonderful.

After having yet another technology discussion (I like to be thorough 🙂 ) she reached out her hands, snatched the iPhone, and whispered, “Precious.”

Heaven help us all.

Alas, it’s not all roses around here. The Boy has taken this injustice very personally. We obviously have favorite children.

“Mom,” he says, following me around. “You’ve got to let me have Snapchat now – you gave Cope an iPhone!”

That, my friends, is the latest battle. What say ye? Do tell.

 

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The Best Toy Ever

So far, we’ve been able to withstand all the kid pressure in the house to get video games. I almost caved a couple years ago, when I learned that we could get Netflix movies through the Wii.  But Gregor was firm and in the end, I was glad.  I, perhaps, have this unnatural fear towards video games and the addicting nature of them.  And Gregor stamps his foot just as hard.  We just don’t like them.

Nelson begs for them every once in awhile because, you see, he is the only one in the WHOLE WORLD who doesn’t have a play station, a Wii, or 360 or whatever it’s called.

But what he does have is a newly acquired toy that everyone in the WHOLE WORLD  will be insanely jealous of.  Once they hear how fun it is, they will want one too.  It’s a…..Typewriter!

Yes, it’s true, after years of begging, we finally got one.  No matter that it was actually Cope that was the one doing the begging and won’t let anyone else touch it, because Grandma brought us another typewriter!  Now Cope has her very own special typewriter in her room, with the autocorrect and spell check, and rest of us share the other one.  It sits down here in the kitchen:

Paige is really learning her letters and words!  Brynne comes home everyday after school and types one story after another.  Yesterday it was about a mermaid coming for Thanksgiving.

Luckily Amazon stocks the ribbon cartridges because we’ve already gone through one.
Typing a story while lunch waits near by.
Nelson is the last hold out.  He’s not doing much advertising on this very special toy.  I don’t think he’s written one word yet.  But the typewriter is the best thing my children have gotten in a long time.  What I love most about it?  There’s no internet.  There’s not even the temptation to look up an inane YouTube Video or surf the web for weapons (is this a boy thing?).  

I’m not a total tyrant.  Nellie gets to go onto the computer after he does his piano.  This has been the best piano deal yet.  He comes straight into the house after school and sits down for some Motzart.  Sometimes I think it would be SO much fun to play Super Mario Brothers with him, but on the other hand, with no games he’s forced to make his duct tape shoes, ride his bike, and play in the tree house.  At least, that’s the hope.  The most irritating words to me?  “I’m bored.”  Really, I can help you find something to do.

Go sit down and type me a story on the typewriter. Oh, I just love that tap tap tap of the keys moving up and down.  It sounds ambitious and industrious to me, like work is getting done.  I’m a fan!  Try it, you may like it.  And maybe Nellie will someday too.

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What Makes You Feel Like a Real Man?

For Nelson, it’s a new pair of running shoes.  Genuine.  The real deal.  The kind of shoes made just for running.  That aren’t from Wal-mart.
He’s been wanting to run everywhere!

He is very careful with his shoes and will not wear them if he thinks he’ll get them dirty.  The novelty hasn’t worn off yet – he ran two miles with Gregor and me this morning.  And made us work for it!

He feels even more manly if I let him wear my GPS watch that tells him his time, pace, and distance.

He had some chores to do so he couldn’t wear his manly running shoes, but the magic must have rubbed off because he cut down a small tree for me.

This guy requires more than running shoes.  For months and months our neighbor has been asking if Gregor will buy his John Deere Mower.  I have been opposed.  We purposely bought a real-man big-time DR Mower so he could walk and get exercise.  But Gregor drooled from afar and wished with all his heart that some day his manly pursuits would be realized.
Then finally, Mr. Goody (that’s really his name and he really is GOOOD neighbor!) made an offer.  Gregor crawled home on his hands and knees and no joke, honestly asked with…”I won’t ask for anything for my birthday, anniversary, or Christmas…”  Seriously, how many times did you use that one when you were a kid?
Well, it worked I guess.  He loves his John Deere as any real man would.  He is in a new John Deere club with all the farming neighbors who tilt their hats at him when they pass him riding his John Deere tractor.  They recognize this great passage in life.  Oh he loves it.  He wants to stop at all the John Deere stores and talk John Deere talk.
He keeps saying, “Pinch me.”

He makes up stories about the lawn needing mowing so he can go outside and ride his new John Deere mower.  You see?  Dreams do come true.

Tenny, what makes you feel manly?  Just look at that old-man face.  We promise not to dress you up in ballet dresses for the next little bit.  Sometimes a man just needs to be a man.
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The Phone Quandry

I love my cell phone.  How did I ever live without it?  I call Gregor in the grocery store, one aisle over to ask him about tomatoes.  I call my parents when I’m on the long ride to the grocery store.  It’s how I catch up on news with my sister and my brothers.

I have a Motorola Razor.  Don’t laugh.  Patrick.  It used to be the cat’s meow.  In 2000.  My contract is way over due so I can basically get a free phone.  I’ve resisted for a long time because I like my phone and I know how to use it.  I’m basically a technology luddite.  Have you ever heard of that?  I’d never heard of it until John Mayer said that about Jennifer Anniston and I looked it up.  (How do I know these things!!!)  I’m basically an ignoramus when it comes to technology.

It’s good to be pushed, to learn.  If it weren’t for my husband I would still be developing film at the grocery store.

I’m constantly asking Gregor to help me – “I did what you said and it still won’t work!” and then he’ll do it and it works.  Even when I follow directions, applications don’t work (sorry Nate!)  I’m constantly emailing my sister-in-law Cassie for photo help.  You’re all so patient.  It’s amazing I know how to blog.
On our date Monday, Gregor took me into a Verizon store.   Ohhhhh…so many nice phones.  I can be talked into a new one.  But which one?

The Blackberry is pretty cool.
Gregor has a smart phone.  And boy is it smart!  I was a widow for a good month as he figured it out.  Now it’s just the mistress.  The smart mistress.  With a male voice.
  I loved it on vacation.  It talked to us and told us how to get ANYWHERE!  In the middle of Wyoming we found a Panera.  Gasbuddy.com tells you where the cheapest gas in the state is.  Or a Coldstone.  Point it at the sky and it tells you which constellation.  Genius.  It can talk in an Australian accent.  We could pretend it’s Hugh Jackman.
“Turn right mate!”
“Thank you Hugh.”  
Here’s my quandry:  the data plan.  All smart phones require one.  And I am resisting.  Gregor cannot understand how I want to keep my pen and paper with me at all times.  I’m constantly jotting stuff down.  To do lists?  Character observations?  I love my paper.
And data plans are at least $30/month!  Frankly, I’d rather get a new shirt once a month.  Or a pair of earrings.  You feel me dog?
Why do I need a smart phone?  To update facebook?  No.  Browse internet?  On a tiny screen?  No.  Look at email?  eh.  Directions?  Yes.  Calendar and organization?  Does it work for you?
This is all I really want:  To call and to text.  I’ve just recently gotten the texting bug.  REALLY like that.  But it wasn’t included in my plan so it was costing me every time I received or texted back (but Gregor fixed that little problem for me last night for $5.  See?  I need him).
Do you have an opinion?  Do I need a smart phone?  I’d like to know.  Or maybe I can just live right here in the dark ages.  Me and Jennifer.  
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Wicked Cool Watch

From Gregor and the kiddies…to me!
Very excited for my next run
Featuring a GPS satellite system
Tracks your mile pace
Total miles
Beeps if not within zone
Workouts: Quick, Interval, and Advanced
Navigation
For running, cycling, XC skiing…any sport…any movement
Tracks heart rate
Download onto computer and track progress
Been wanting; Gregor delivered.  Thank you love!
Come run with me
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Good-bye old friend

Three years ago I signed up for my first marathon.  The New Hampshire marathon boasted 26 miles of beautiful views and humungo hills.  It was true to the boast.  My brother Patrick ran it with me and after finishing said, “That was awful.”  The bright spot for that race however, was a gift my husband presented to me the night before the race – the ipod shuffle.  From the very start, this gadget and I were a team.  I could load American Idol, my “country crap,” Neil Diamond, or Beyonce, and no one could moan or scream for Winnie the Pooh.  Just me, my shuffle, and the wide open road.
Kelly Clarkson has gotten me through grueling hills, and U2 has sprinted me to the end zone.
Alas, during a recent workout the cord snagged on a doorway and ripped apart.  Oh horror was this!  It worked again, with some super glue, but could not load any songs or charge.  I knew our days together were numbered.  
It happened this week.  It stopped.  Ran out of juice.  Kaput.
Good-bye old friend.
One must remember that all good things come to an end.  When one door closes, another one opens.  The door opened!  Gregor came home with a gadget Proctor is having him try out, keep?  Who knows.  He had the the ipod touch.
This is no shuffle.  He can text, email, gps, look at this blog! load gazillions of songs.  So I tried it out.  For all it’s glory, I liked my shuffle better.  The touch was almost too complicated for me.  Gregor couldn’t understand.  This great gift and I can’t appreciate it?
“I hate holding it,” I said.
“We’ll get an armband,” he responded.
“We don’t run to the same songs,” I countered.
“Make a playlist.”
“It’s too complicated,” I whined.
“Mess around with it. You’ll get it,” he said with patient exasperation.
“It’s so big!  It’s not runner-friendly.”
“Amy.”

It is pretty cool.  And an armband will help.

But this is what I’m craving.  Simple. Cheap!  And it’s pink!

Mulling another option.  This is the Nike Plus.  Pretty awesome.  For $30 you can use this with the ipod touch.  You put the gps gadget in your Nike shoe.  It will tell you how far you’ve run and your mile pace.  The downside?  You always have to buy Nike shoes.  I don’t.
So many options.
I didn’t have that armband today so I ran with nothing.  I just ran.  Alone.  No music.  
You know what?  It was great.  The weather was perfect.  The morning was still sleepy and quiet.  I ran on the newly completed rail trail and really noticed the gorgeous creeks and woods.  Birds twittering.  I heard my feet hitting the rocks.  I heard each inhale and exhale.  I actually heard myself think.
I thought, “This is why I run.”
So I’ll miss my old friend, my ipod shuffle.  And I’ll run with music again.  But every once in awhile I’ll remember to put away the gadgets.  And I’ll just run.  Maybe singing,
“You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need!”
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