Friday, April 18, 2014

four eighteen fourteen

another friday, friends. are you ready for easter? i'm not, at all. we have no plans and no family close by so that makes it a bit easy.

how cute are those 2 little faces? ohhh how i love them both. this was from #tbt (throwback thursday) last week. hayden is my bff amanda's little boy. those 2 are 11 and 10 now. not so little anymore. they're both such awesome kids. i can't wait to see them again, hopefully this summer we can make a trip to tennessee or meet halfway. these two, amanda and i have grand plans of them marrying one day. #wishfulthinking 
national sibling day was april 10th. i participated by sharing this photo (that I took) of my sister caryn and brother in law carlos. i miss them so much and to know that the next time i see them will probably not be for another 3 years just breaks my heart. :(
saturday morning we loaded up and made our way to chicago for the weekend. cowboy hat and all. 
the four of us spent a fabulous day at the brookfield zoo. the weather was beautiful, warm and the kids were happy. there was no arguing, no complaining, no fighting. it was a perfect day.
after the zoo we went out for pizza. because when in chicago you've GOT to have some deep dish. yum. lou malnati's is our favorite! and that girl, she's my favorite too.

after dinner the kids spent some time in the hotel's swimming pool. they loved that, after such a long cold winter! and, we all had our very first milkshakes from steak & shake. yum, we were impressed. milkshakes in bed, while watching happy feet.. spring break!
remember that auction i mentioned last week? and that my cousin krysten was selling cupcakes to raise money to buy supplies for children who lost everything in the super typhoon in the philippines. i hosted an auction on instagram last week with the help of lots of blog friends and we were able to raise another $250 for krysten to use toward supplies for the kids. my aunt & krysten were blown away by everyone's kindness! as was i. thank you all, so very much!
so this week my krysten, my aunt cecille and brian (krysten's brother, my other cousin) are IN the philippines and they delivered supplies by hand to children! krysten (and brian) were both interviewed (along with my aunts sister, marides- who lives in the philippines) on a morning show in the philippines, their version of "good morning" america. the day before that? the president of the philippines met with and personally thanked krysten for all of her efforts. how amazing is that? i have said it a million times.. i am SO proud of the young lady she has become. that girl is going to move mountains! love her and miss her! you can see the interview here
a playdate for cohen = crafting time for mama! cohen was happy playing with his sweet friend lindsay and so i got some crafting in this week. i made the blanket, burp cloth and washcloths below, a wreath for brookelyn's room, and draft guards for our bedroom doors! so much, in one day. it's been a long time since i've gotten that much craftiness finished up. it felt good!
so we've had a busy, fun week. not the spring break we'd imagined, because the weather has been crap. but, we've had some great family time together and are looking forward to more this weekend. 

what are your weekend plans? do you go all out and have a fancy easter, or a simple laid back one?

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

kids and social media

can we talk about kids and social media today? it's become something that i feel so passionately about. being a blogger obviously means that i use social media on a daily basis. having a pre-teen is a big, scary job, made even bigger and scarier by the presence of social media. 

Kids and Social Media: rules, contracts, etiquette and apps to stay away from. #kidsandsocialmedia #kidsusingtheinternet #internetsafety
we monitor brookelyn's use very closely. probably more closely than most parents and some would even venture to say that we monitor it too closely. better safe than sorry though, right? and the great thing is that she doesn't fight us on it. she knows that having an iPod and using social media (instagram is the ONLY social media she's allowed to use) is a huge privilege and responsibility. she also knows that she's never to use it in a negative way. 

it seems that so many kids are given an iPod, iPad, cell phone, etc and there are no expectations from parents, no rules, no guidelines, no warnings.. they're just given the freedom to do what they will. but, here's the thing. most apps that kids are using have age requirements. some are 13 and some are 17 & 18. even instagram's age is 13, so to sign brookelyn up for her account, i had to put in my age. you might ask why we'd even allow her to have an instagram account then, if she's not technically old enough. my answer is simple, because we monitor the heck out of it. she has strict rules as to what type of photos she can & can't post, who she can & can't post photos of, and how many "selfies" she's allowed to post in a certain period of time. 

see, super strict. and we do monitor, often. very, often. especially when she's been using her iPod a lot. and it's really not just her account that we're monitoring. we often scroll through photos that her friends are posting, to make sure that things stay appropriate for our liking. obviously, every parent has their set of rules (or lack thereof) and we're not going to parent any other children, but we can keep our daughter from seeing photos that we're not ok with. we can unfollow her friends if necessary. and, i'm not going to lie and say that i haven't reported people or photos. i have, numerous times. because, if there isn't an adult looking out for the child and monitoring their use, then somebody needs to stand up for them and show what is right and what is wrong. if that means that i have to simply click a button to let instagram know they might want to check this out.. then so be it. 

matt and i want our daughter to stay safe while she's using social media and not just her, but her friends. we want them to be safe and smart, to make good decisions. using social media is a big deal and gives everyone a voice. if you're not using your voice in a positive way, then the old saying "if you don't have something nice to say, then don't say anything at all" comes into play.

electronic devices such as iPads, iPods, and smart phones open up a huge can of worms for our kids. there really are some awesome apps that (when used properly) are great fun for our kids, like instagram, google earth, educational apps, etc. but there are some that are downright scary. and, in my opinion there is absolutely, 100% NO reason that any child under the age of 16-18 should have them on their phone. your opinion might be different, and that's ok. but my children will never be allowed to have any of the following apps, for various reason (listed below). 

Apps to stay away from!
snap chat- parents can't go back and look at their kids' activity to be sure it's appropriate. photos can still be screen shot or another phone or camera can be used to take a photo of the photo. 

kik- is really popular with the younger kids, ages 11-15. reason being, it's impossible to verify identity. so, while your child could be innocently chatting with their best friend down the block. it's also possible that they're chatting with some random stranger, a pedophile or some teenage kid. not cool. and, if you go and check out the reviews, they read like an online dating classified section. most looking to "chat", etc.

omegle- another app that lets you log on anonymously. just click the button, no need for an email address or even a name. as with any anonymous app, you have no idea who you're chatting with. you're virtually asking to talk to strangers. it's one thing for an adult to make a decision like that, but for kids to be using an app like that is nothing but dangerous. 

yik yak- this one is so scary and could be so dangerous. text only "yaks" up to 200 characters in length. thanks (or no thanks) to GPS yakkers can see messages from the 500 yakkers closest to them. so if you post any personal info, it's automatically available to the 500 people who are using yik yak and nearest to you. there seems to be a lot of explicit content, personal attacks, and foul language going around. not something that any pre-teen or teen needs to be seeing or participating in. not to mention the ease of a pedophile getting a hold of personal info! and that's not to mention the problems with cyber bullying and school bomb threats that have gone on via yik yak. 

chat roulette, tinder, and tango are a couple of other apps that are bad news. if you ask me, any app that offers an option to easily find local people based on location is one to stay away from. and, talk to your kids. be open with them and accept nothing less than them being open about their activity on social media, with you. owning a device that costs 100+ and participating in social media are big responsibilities and with any responsibility there should be consequences. if you don't know what an app is all about, you should research it before letting your kids use. download it to your own device, play around with it. 

give your kids rules. they need them, they need boundaries and guidelines, it's how they learn. things are so different now than they were just 16+ years ago when we were teenagers. we didn't have cell phones or iPods, we barely had email! there are all of these added layers to the complexity of parenting now. keep communication open, talk and most of all listen. be there and let them know that you're setting boundaries because you care.

previous posts about kids and social media:
kids and instagram
iPod & cell phone contracts and rules for kids

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

first flight

have you ever thought about the amazing way that the world works? maybe i'm just cheesy, but i often make comments and think about how VERY cool it is that we can pick up a phone and call anywhere in the world and actually speak, in real time to the person on the other end. or, that a HUGE airplane can fly so high in the sky for so long. of course, there is all the technical stuff behind why it works, but still it's just mind blowing to me. 

oftentimes i'll talk to matt about how i can't believe that we live in a world where even our young kids have technological devices and yet there are kids out there who live with dirt floors, have to hike miles (barefoot no less) just to retrieve fresh water, etc. it makes me sad. and then, there are the amish and mennonites who chose to live so simply even though so much is right at their fingertips. 

with all of that in mind, it makes me thankful that i can wake up in the morning & easily brew a hot cup of coffee, hop on the laptop to say hi to friends & family, view pictures and videos of my niece and nephew who live across the country, drive a car around town and on and on and on. technology is amazing and a little bit scary all at the same time. 

this morning a friend posted this video from on her facebook page and as soon as i saw the still shot of the 2 old ladies, i knew i had to watch. nine minutes later, i was laughing and had tears of joy streaming down my face. it is truly amazing that in such an advanced world, there are still so many people out there (whether it be due to old age, illness, poverty, religion, etc) who have yet to experience some of the exciting things that most of us take for granted on a daily basis. 
you've got to watch the whole thing. i promise that it's totally worth the ten minutes. after all, i loved it so much that i was inspired to blog about it. has done something so amazing for these two ladies. you just can't watch the video and walk away not loving an & ria! 

it's videos like this and stories about all of the topics i mentioned earlier that make me wonder what life would be like if we stepped away from our tv's, iPods, iPads, laptops, etc a little more often. what would it be like to live a little more simple? i've gone as far as to consider a full week without technology (accept for keeping our phones on and only using the phone function, because we don't have a house phone- and i'd hate for there to be an emergency). honestly, i'm not sure i could do it. i could live without the tv. but, my phone and laptop.. i'm just not sure. i am a blogger after all. ;)

did you watch the video? what did you think? 
do you ever wish you lived a simple life?

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Friday, April 11, 2014

four eleven fourteen

today is not only friday, but also the beginning of our spring break. i am so excited to have a week off with the kids. we've got some fun things planned. and, i'll be sharing those with you on monday!

last friday i shared four of my favorite ladies to follow on instagram. this is going to be a new thing for me. i'll share 4 more, every friday. and, i'm hoping to always share a couple of ladies who are trying to grow their blogs, following, etc. but, i'll also keep things genuine and only post about feeds that i truly love. last week was karri, amanda, courtney and ayşegül. go check them out!
our local pizza place just down the street from our home is fabulous. i've talked about it plenty of times before here on the blog. the kids begged and so we caved. it was nice to take a little walk in the evening and not freeze to death too.
meet ali & brian. i've mentioned their story a lot around here. my sister caryn was their surrogate and gave birth to a precious baby boy late last week. oliver is so loved already! we are so happy for ali & brian and SO proud of my sister for helping them to create the family they've always dreamed of. 
this week i joined the fiestaware club, thanks to some about to expire in an hour so i better hurry up and order something kohl's cash. i've been wanting to start a collection for years and have always found something else to spend my money on. until this week that is. my first piece is a this large white oval platter and i love it. i can't wait to add more pieces and LOTS of color!
i finally climbed out of the whole i was in and began reading divergent. and, why did i wait so long? it's fabulous. can't wait to read the whole trilogy and to see the movie. also, book 5 in my #14booksin2014.
you might remember my posts about our struggles with cohen's behavior lately. i'm happy to report that this week has been awesome. he has been quite a bit better and i'd like to think that it has to do with the talk i had with him one day last week. maybe? fingers crossed. it's been a week, so i know that he could easily fall back into that awful behavior. but, we're still working on things, talking with his school psychologist who will be talking with him soon. and his teacher has been great at working with us to reward good behavior. i love that boy and his silly sleeping habits, so much more than he'll ever know!
speaking of that funny boy above. i just love seeing his writing and 'stories'. so.. what do you think, does the lady bug have six legs or sex lag? hysterical, right? 
my kids might be true wisconsinite children now. maybe? or, they're just totally crazy. both of them begged to wear shorts because the high was supposed to be 60'. in california we would have thrown on jeans and light jackets, but here in wisconsin 60' to my kids meant breaking out the shorts. i warned them.. and at least they both wore a light jacket. crazy kids!

we are crazy excited for a fun weekend and some time exploring more of our city next week while the kids are on break from school. be sure to come back monday to find out what we're up to and see our spring break bucket list. 

happy weekend! what are your plans?
linking up with jeannett as always, for instafriday.

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