4 Mar
2015

Quality Time with Skype (sponsored)

In an age when it seems like not just anything but everything is possible, I make a point to regularly rage, rage against the dying of wonder. The technology we have now is the stuff of dreams, and to keep myself from becoming immune to the marvels of everyday modern living, I frequently remind myself to step back from the screen(s) and acknowledge that we are living in an era of miracles.

I do this most often in moments of tech-induced stress: when I’m on a work deadline and the Internet is running like cold molasses, or when my phone won’t fully load a video of a cat playing the glockenspiel whilst wearing a tiny bowler hat. You know, important things. Necessary things. Things that weren’t even possible a generation ago: when the popular media’s vision of our future was a landscape of flying cars and robot maids instead of a panorama of invisible data signals shooting back and forth between space and our faces, all lit by tiny super-powered computers a person may carry in a fashionable tote or even her back pocket (and sometimes both).

It’s magic is what it is.

My kids are growing up surrounded by high-powered consumer technology, and they never think twice about it until I get all wide-eyed and hand-flappy and point out, “You guys! You’re using a video phone! A video phone! The future is now!” They look at me like I’m insane and then turn back to their conversation with Skype Gramma (this is what they actually call my mother-in-law), who sometimes rings us up in the evenings simply because she wants to read the kids a bedtime story or sing them a lullaby or twenty.

It took some time for me to stop thinking of Skype as the equivalent of the expensive, low-quality, special-occasion-only long-distance phone calls from my own childhood (“Everybody shhhhh! Jessie’s calling all the way from South Carolina!”), and to start applying it to everyday uses. My mother-in-law combines long-distance with the everyday beautifully (she uses Skype every Sunday to just “hang out” with her grandkids in England), and the way she’s embraced the technology has changed the way I use it too.

Think about it: You can use Skype from the dressing room to get a second opinion on clothes you’re trying on. You can use it to make sure your husband’s getting the exact right kind of deodorant for you at the grocery store. You can use it to say goodnight to your kids on days you’re stuck late at the office. Skype closes gaps both large and small.

Here’s my kid showing off his face paint at a birthday party I had to miss for work last month. Sure, I was going to see him in person an hour later, but the way he was working on that sucker told me his makeup wouldn’t survive intact, and Skype let me be there when I couldn’t be there there.

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As parents we hear a lot about the dangers of too much technology, and it’s my hope that as my kids grow up in the digital age, and as I watch technology weave itself into the very fabric of their lives, I can teach them how to use it wisely. I want to be sure they know that its greatest use is not to disconnect us from the real world but to help us connect to each other, whether it’s across long distances or short, or for deeply meaningful reasons vs. simply ensuring my teenagers are at the library instead of the movies.

I picture my kids one day having kids of their own, and I wonder if they’ll call me Skype Gramma.

Yes, the future is now, but the future future will be here before you know it.

How do you use Skype to stay connected?

(Download the app and check out Skype on Facebook and Twitter!)

13 Feb
2015
Posted in: Photos, Regular Entries
By    3 Comments

My Other Half

Photo(5)

A few weeks ago we were hanging out with a group of newish friends, and I was reminded of the importance of having newish friends as I listened to Simon describe the general character of our relationship–a thing that doesn’t often happen with oldish friends, who have seen the relationship in action enough they’ve no need for the soundbite version, a sad thing indeed when your favorite thing to talk about is yourself (hello blog! I’ve missed you!)). “I think our relationship works,” he said, “because I’m completely predictable and she’s a total mystery. I seriously can’t figure her out, and I don’t think I ever will.”

Although Simon is an oldish part of my life, this was a newish thing for him to say, and that was kind of amazing considering how perfectly the thought encapsulated both (a) our personalities and (b) the mechanics of our connection. We are complementary in the most geometric sense of the word (together we make a right [angle]), but I’d never thought about that particular aspect of how our edges line up. I, a person who hates surprises and prefers everything to be “just so,” had found someone so steady and dependable that I never need worry what he’s going to think or say or do next because I know him, and he, a person who’s game for anything and rock-and-rolls with the punches and always lets the waiter pick his food for him (my god, you could not pay me enough to play that roulette), had found someone who, apparently, keeps him on his toes, always guessing, ever curious about what will happen next.

(As someone convinced she’s mostly boring and thoroughly WYSIWYG, I won’t pretend I’m not flattered that he thinks I’m mysterious! Picture me wearing a black hat with a large brim that comes down over one eye and contrasts perfectly with my platinum Hollywood waves.)

(Alas, I’m afraid that, knowing myself as I do, he doesn’t mean “mysterious” so much as “complicated, confounding, and often quite maddening in many ways.”)

Anyway, as I was thinking about what Simon had said, it reminded me of something our wedding officiant said that was equally on-the-nose. I was sure I’d blogged about it at some point between then and now, but it turns out I only mentioned it in a draft of a post that was never published. It was fun for me to go back and read those words–from September 14, 2012, when Fox was eight weeks old and Wombat was almost four and Simon and I were still newly marveling at what we had managed to forge in the fire of our mismatched togetherness–and I thought it might be fun for you to read that stuff too. Here it is:

Read more >>

2 Feb
2015

Goodness on the Go with GoGo squeez (sponsored + sweepstakes)

Never do I feel like a more competent mother than when I can produce from my purse just the right thing at just the right moment. Got a boo-boo? I have a selection of whimsical bandages at your disposal. Need to jot down a note? Take your pick of regular pencil, red pencil, pen (colors vary), marker, and random crayon of the month. Thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty!

As for snacks, I fancy myself a one-woman traveling smorgasbord of healthy, kid-friendly nibbles, and when I’m on my game, it’s a truly glorious thing. I suppose Mary Poppins could pull a full-fledged apple orchard from her carpetbag the moment she senses a child’s tummy is about to rumble, but no one likes a show-off, and besides, I’ve tried carrying apples in my purse, and the result, to put it in one word, is supercalifragilisticexpialigross

With two working parents, a kid in school, and another in daycare (plus swimming lessons and playdates and last-minute trips to the grocery store), we’re always on the go, and that means sometimes eating in locales so exclusive you’ll never see them written up in the guidebooks (because the world is not invited to stop in for a bite in the back seat of my car as I chauffeur my children all about the town). I never (literally never) leave home without healthy snacks in my purse, even if I’m just going out for a quick errand. Ever the consummate worst-case scenarist, I’d hate to risk any of us having low blood sugar when the zombie apocalypse begins.

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Among our favorite go-to on-the-go snacks are “pouches,” a.k.a. GoGo squeeZ re-sealable applesauce pouches, a.k.a. one of the greatest achievements of our time.

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They’re healthy, delicious, good for every single member of the family, and you can throw a handful of them in your purse and they never get squashed or crumpled or forgotten. They’re 100 percent fresh fruit without the risk of bruised bananas, accidentally-juiced oranges, or apples that rolled to freedom, magnificent freedom! only to be found a month later, shriveled and petrified, under the passenger seat of my car. Not that that’s ever happened.

The kids love them because they’re kids, and all kids like applesauce–it’s written right there in the rulebook. When I asked Wombat if he had anything to say about pouches, he said, “They’re tasty and yummy” (italics indicate he flashed me the Crazy Eyes™), and then he added, “Mom, do a lot of exclamations. A LOT.” Then he got up and came across the room to make sure I did it, so here: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He says that will suffice.

There’s really nothing not to love. They’re delicious, they’re all-natural, and they’re gluten-, dairy-, and nut-free. Buy them in bulk (we like the variety pack with four different fruit flavors, including AppleStrawberry) and use them for lunches, picnics, post-workout snacks, and between-meal lifesavers. They’re the practically perfect product to keep stashed in your car, your purse, and your magic carpetbag.

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Now, for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card, leave a comment answering this question: What on-the-go activities are you and/or your kids looking forward to this year? (I’m thinking Fox might be the kind of kid who needs to start soccer lessons as soon as possible. Aiee.)

For more information you can go to the GoGo squeeZ website!

Entry Instructions:

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You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “”#gogogiveaway” and #SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 2/2/2015 to 3/31/2015.

Be sure to visit the GoGo squeeZ brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!