Category Archives: technology

Our Technology Contract!

If you’re like our family, Christmas brought presents in the form of technology. (Hallelujah, the boy proclaims – you finally got me a phone!)

With a fresh year upon us, it’s a perfect time to review the tech rules are in this house. As our kids have gotten older, we’ve all had to evolve, discuss, negotiate.

Our contract for Brynne (7th grade, iPod only) looks different than her high school siblings. She has to ask before she uses her iPod, which is kept in my bedside drawer. It’s more like an after school snack rather than a permanent fixture on her body.

The older, high school kids carry phones and do homework on iPads. Their tech contract:

Dear _________________________________

Congratulations! You are in possession of a powerful piece of technology. With this great privilege comes great responsibility. Your devices have the potential to do great good. They also have the power to cause great harm, not only to yourself but to others.

As a tech user in the Makechnie house, you agree to the following:

  1. Technology is used under the supervision of your parent. Other than homework and seminary, you must ask permission to use your iPad (not your phone.)
  2. Technology must be used in a public place, like the living room or kitchen, not in bedrooms or behind closed doors. If you need a quiet place, we will discuss.
  3. All apps must be approved.
  4. We will always know your passwords and follow you on all social media sites. 
  5. We will be able to read your texts and conversations at any time.
  6. Technology is put away and off your body at meal times.
  7. When you begin driving you will never ever text or talk while driving. 
  8. Never post anything online that could be hurtful or harmful to another human being.
  9. Never search for or post anything that you would be embarrassed for your parents or Heavenly Father to see. While on-line, imagine us standing next to you! If someone shows you pornography, FLEE.
  10. At 8 p.m. phones are to be turned in.
  11. At night, after homework is done, iPads are to be turned in.
  12. On Sunday, we have a technology Sabbath. This is so we remember what one another looks like and that the scriptures are actual books. Even God, who was incredibly busy creating the world and animals and people, rested on the seventh day!
  13. When riding in the car with friends or other adults, use devices appropriately. Have conversations.
  14. When using technology, and another person enters the room, close your device and acknowledge the person (it is also polite to stand up in certain situations).
  15. Download and listen to music that is uplifting. Ask: How does this make me feel?
  16. If you break your device  (it will happen) you are responsible for the replacement.
  17. If you break one of these rules, your devices will be taken away for a period of time.  They will be returned to you when your parents deem it appropriate.
  18. There will be times when we ask you to put your technology away for an extended period of time. Taking breaks are good for your brain! (See HERE and enter @maisymak for 20% off.)

Remember that these rules have been put in place because we love you.

Love, Mom and Dad



We had quite a negotiation session regarding this contract. Honestly, they think it’s super strict and totally unnecessary (go ahead, submit an eye roll 🙂 ). But we parents take tech really seriously. It is a WONDERFUL tool, but it can also be dangerous and addictive on young, growing brains. So we have rules because we love the darlings. The end.

Make your own contract by cutting and pasting the one above, or using the original tech mama’s TEMPLATE.

Kelle Hampton’s, PDA With Your Device? Get a Room idea is hilarious and adorable. I might get crafty and make one! Check out the Unplugged Motel, where family tech spends the night:featured1-1024x683It was especially hilarious to see the expression on my boy’s face when I suggested making the tech motel for the family. Still laughing.

Also, check out THIS LINK, or better yet, watch it with your kids!

Here’s another cute idea: crate your phone!

crateToday, all of my students put their phone in this cute crate and focus abounded – one girl even thanked me! Which goes to show…they need us on that wall 🙂

Want a cute crate for 20% off? Visit and enter the coupon code maisymak.

Enjoy technology, make some rules, stay strong.


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 I fight that battle

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.



The iPhone: Frodo’s Modern-Day Ring

My husband gave me a present on the eve of Father’s Day.

“I have something fun for us to do tonight,” he said as I snuggled down into the covers with the girls.  8 p.m. a blissful bedtime.  (yes, I am loads of fun.)

I opened one eye.  “How fun?”

“You’ll see,” he sang-song.

“Will I have to use my brain?”


“I’m tired,” I whine. anything to get me out of health saving account planning or ew, a summer budget.

He shrugged to let me know I’d be the one missing out.
“How long will it take?”

“About an hour.”

Hmmm.  How fun could this be?

“Tell me!”

An hour later, curiosity pushed me down the stairs and stumbled me onto the couch.

He was like a kid on Christmas morning.  Slowly, he handed me a cardboard box.  “This is for you.”

Happy clap!  Presents!  This is fun.

Inside the cardboard box was a black box.

And inside the black box was an iphone 5.
Husband of mine was grinning from ear to ear. 

Let us pause a moment and say I would probably not know what the internet was if it weren’t for my husband.  I would probably still be using a phone with a curly-cue cord.  Technology tends to be over my head and so I stay scared and ignorant of it.

When Gregor starts talking about “routers” and “gigabytes” I’m likely to break out into a cold sweat.  When he wants to browse the Verizon store I start snoring.

I am always behind.  A couple of years ago I called my brothers and said, “There’s this really cool thing on the internet called Facebook and if you sign up we can be friends and talk and post pictures and stuff!”

Long pause.

“Uh, yeah…we’re on Facebook – like two years ago!”  And they laughed themselves silly.  I am left to wonder why I never got a friend request in all those 730 days.

I have been using my little dumb phone (if that isn’t brilliantly annoying marketing I don’t know what is) for a good long time.

It was driving my husband crazy.  Yes, not me crazy, my husband.

I am married to the man who loves all things technology.  My ineptitude is like a personal insult aimed right at his heart.  His great aptitude does work to my benefit when I cry AT the computer for being so obtuse.  And then he will slowly push a button and it works perfectly.  “That’s what I did!” I’ll cry.  Smug-smile.

My perfectly good dumb phone was driving him crazy because it was old and because I had dropped it in a rain storm and miraculously found it (God is good and must be often annoyed…it’s her again – she lost something ELSE!)  but the rain ruined the text feature and I couldn’t see the messages I was typing.  It was like braille.  Kind of.

iPhone.  Game changer.

I read that there are more iPhones than toothbrushes.  Which has to be a flat-out lie, as everyone I know has a toothbrush and not everyone has an iPhone.  Or maybe I’m still behind on the times.

But then.  Gregor placed it in my hand and I immediately felt the power.  I became Frodo carrying the ring.  When Cope came into the room she gasped, looked at me enviously, inched her way over to me.  Ever so carefully she took it out of my hand…

my precious she said in her best Gollum voice.  me wants it, me needs it…  

“Give it back!” I snatched it and held it close to my chest.  She limped away, wounded, watching it a coveted way…

iPhone training began.  If you need a visual, it was like me teaching Paige how to read.  “la, la, la, la…look at the first letter…sound it out.  Okay, what comes next?  La-la-lamp – Good girl!”

“Turn it on,” Gregor said in his patient teacher voice.  “That big button.  Good girl!”


“Next,” he whispered.

And so I began the discovery.

He did some fancy typing and now, with the tap of my finger I can check email – I don’t even have to log in!  I can SEE the text messages I write and the entire stream before.  

Internet, blog posts and oh my gosh – the weather!  It’s all there.  If I knew what a stock was, I could check.  I took that app off. 

Everything is stored in this cloud thing.  I don’t know exactly where the cloud is but it follows me and lets me put things in it.

Google Calendar for family and personal was set up.  At the orthodontist I didn’t have to scribble down an appointment and shove it in my purse or call them back later – I put it in the phone.  “Would you like a card?” they asked.

“No thanks,” I said with a smile and an iPhone wave.  it’s all here!  

Now my husband has to share his friend, Siri, with me.  She talks to me and gets me places with a GPS that’s right on THE PHONE.

Instead of wandering down Route 4 or Route 11 or Route 4A or the old Route 4A by the big white house past the goat farm next to the old apple orchard, I just follow the little voice in my head…make a right hand turn.  NOW.

When I told Siri she was my best friend she said, “Thank you.  I would like to be your friend.”
Grocery lists

Packing lists


And this amazing device takes PICTURES.

“Look at this,” Gregor said, “You can take notes instead of having all your little pieces of paper and lists all over the place.” Ah-ha!  You see, this really was a present for him!  He was looking so pleased – Amy would finally be organized!

Now I can even send reminders to myself like children starving – buy milk.
Finally, at 11 p.m, the roller coaster iPhone training high was beginning to crash.  “I’m tired now.”

“Focus,” Gregor said. 

“Can I get a case?” I asked.  “A pink glitter one?”

“Here,” he said, googling…I just never knew what a big business this really was.

We picked out a case.  It’s a rather classy sea-green.

I gazed at the phone.  “This,” I said.  “Is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Gregor smiled.  Had he ever looked so happy? Maybe our wedding? Maybe?  “I’m just so glad you’ve jumped into the 21st century,” he said.

I went to bed, my hand wrapped around the ring phone, a smile on my face.
The next few nights involved more iphone training.  “There’s a whole bunch of things we need to talk about,” he said.
I laughed.

“I’m serious.”

Yes, Sir.

For instance, there are banned activities such as:  No throwing phone in purse.  It could get scratched!  He brought me home a screen protector because I cannot be trusted.  No children allowed on phone.  Ha.  They’ve become my personal assistants.

The day after that he brought me home this arm band so I can stream music from itunes or Pandora.  And there’s a Nike app that tracks mileage, pace, and distance.  He suggested I could use my phone instead of my beloved Garmin.  WHAT???
We talked about data usage versus Wi-Fi.
It’s been a week.  It’s still the coolest thing ever.  I’m on a steep learning curve.  Gregor is talking about Evernote.  And sending me links to apps like the Pomodoro Technique.  Yes, a little red tomato is going to make Amy so productive!

What’s the best app you have?  Please Tell! 
Now I understand.  All those articles about moms addicted to their iPhones.  Now I get the addiction.  I GET IT.  Who ever needs to look up again?
I’ve had to impose personal boundaries.  Like turning off the dings and whistles for email alerts.  The temptation is so powerful…

my precious…

This isn’t an iPhone advertisement.  I don’t think.  Maybe it is.  My life has changed.  I think for the better.

Perhaps you are like my brothers.  Laughing.  Perhaps the iPhone was so two years ago for you.  But don’t rain on my parade.  It just takes me awhile to come around to such things.  Who knows, maybe next year I’ll get a Kindle. 

Oh – one last thing.  Have you heard of this thing called Instagram????  If you haven’t seen it, it’s like totally awesome.  Dude.

P.S.  For Father’s Day, Gregor got socks and Cream Soda.



I tried to upload a new picture of the book I’m reading and this is the message I got:

We’re sorry, but you have exceeded your photo upload quota. For more information, check out this Blogger help page.

Blogger help page tells me I can pay for more space.  Really?

Is this a new thing or has this quota always been in place and I just didn’t know about it?

Do I start deleting posts?

Make a blurb book, delete my blog, and start over?

Take a blogging break?

Stop blogging?

Have you had this problem and know of a quick fix?



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. 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.