Thursday, May 21, 2009

05.21.2009 -- You've got to be Kidding

More than two weeks has passed since I posted anything? Strange. It feels as if nothing's been going on. A quick mental run through has me reconsidering, though.

Let's see.... Play dates, pre-school, dinner parties, absorbing furniture from my sister's house, rearranging furniture, furniture shopping and deliveries, trying to pull the house together, more shopping--more returns, 20 tons of stone on the curb, taking photos for family, editing photos for family, doctor's visit, trip east, and getting back into the swing of things after rearranging half of the house and then leaving town for a long weekend. So THAT's why I haven't posted...

Listing it like that actually makes me feel a little better. I had been wondering where all of my time went. Now I look around and remember. This month has been a big creativity month for me. I'm trying to shape our home into something more homey and I got to take a zillion (well okay, 1,600-it was an experiment) photos of family. If you don't see the creativity in that, then we need to have a chat.

The home part is coming along. It feels different in a good way. Photos are fun. Always fun. This ends up being a mixed bag for me... I LOVE the opportunity to make new things--or tweak them--to be creative. It engages me like few things do.

The other side of that is that I can get too focused at times for my family's good. When I start a new project, I can get so absorbed that doing it literally all day long is absolutely possible. I have to interrupt myself and remind myself of priorities, ie. Lucy and Gabe and laundry......

I've always loved the idea of making living spaces smart and beautiful and comfortable. I came up with some out-of-the-box ways to make my bedroom closer to what I wanted when I was a kid. It's fun to be able to do that on a bigger scale at home. That's a bit of a jump, from being a kid to married 10 years in a HOUSE. But we never really tried to pull it all together before. This is definitely a first time endeavor. We're still being patient, but there has been a lot of progress this month in the pulling-together of our home.

Taking pictures? I have been taking pictures (mostly of people) since 1994, when I splurged on a real camera for myself when I didn't even have a car. I should be a lot better than I am--with roughly 15 years of experience, hmm.

Why do I love taking pictures of people? I think it's because it gives me a chance to capture the beauty I see in them. I consider myself lucky when I get photos that really capture this, because I am in no way a professional. It's a hobby.

The most time-consuming part for me taking pictures, of course, is the editing. This is fortunately something I completely enjoy, so it's not a bad thing. It is tricky, however, to carve out time from running the house and being a good mother to do that. In a perfect world, I would have all the resources I want in a timeless space where I could function simultaneously as an artist and stay-at-home-mother. Or maybe this IS the perfect world and I just don[t know it. In any case: this is not that world. I shorted myself of sleep substantially before our weekend trip, then missed more sleep traveling. I'm slowly getting it back. It's all good though. I love that these photos may still be around when these kids are grandparents. It makes me smile.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

05.05.2008 -- The Future is Here

In case you haven't noticed, the future is here.

I know, I know. To say "the future is here," it's all a little cliche now, but think about it. We are surrounded by AMAZING. Skype, iChat, video conferencing...texting, streaming video...all the things our phones can do...

(I just nounified amazing.)

Here's a confession: I didn't want an iPhone. I thought it was a little hyped up. I put on a good face when Brian got me one for Valentine's Day, but truly, in my head the dialogue went something like this: "How much did this thing cost? And my other phone was still working. He spoils me! I really don't need this...but oh well. I've got one now. Smile! and...sigh."

Now, I truly do appreciate the phone. It is amazing. The best thing about the iPhone? the apps. Oh, and the combination of the phone and the iPod. This allows me to listen to podcasts or music or audiobooks through headphones and my phone just comes through if someone calls me. Genius!

A lot of the apps available are just games. Some are very cool games, don't get me wrong. But some apps are absolutely useful.

Take some of the toddler apps that I've installed. There's one called Cute Math that allows Lucy to play at subtraction, addition, etc. She's a little early for that one, but not for the counting game on the same app. There are toddler flashcards, and a Sightwords application that speaks the word on the screen when the correct button is touched. None of these will step into my role as Lucy's main teacher, but they're fun supplements. And they're with me whenever I have my phone.
Some of the other apps that I like are the Classics reading app, a Scriptures app, Lose it, Zeer Food Reviews, the Maps app, and of course the Safari Web Browser. With Classics, I've got more than a dozen books--good ones--at my fingertips which are automatically bookmarked. In my phone. Is it not amazing?

If someone had described this to me when I was a kid, it would've blown my mind. I would've automatically thought of Star Trek. (Because I'm cool like that.) The Scripture app lets me read and cross reference scriptures and a ton of supplemental texts whenever I want without flipping through all those books. Lose it lets me track calories to lose weight. Zeer pulls information from the website to let me search the Zeer database to see if anyone had any comments about a specific grocery item. The Maps app is my own GPS/Mapquest. And the ability to access the web when I want is unspeakably handy--mostly just for my email.

Some of these things are what they are. The Classics app may get more books and maybe a few more bells and whistles. Maybe it will get an option to have the text read aloud(!). Some of these other apps may change a lot. I think that many of them have potential to really change how we do things.

One thing I hadn't thought much until recently was the potential for review/information sharing websites and applications to improve commerce by empowering consumers. These days, it's rare that I don't check or to see if anyone has something interesting to say about a product before I buy it. A lot of times, I'll just do a search for "item" and "review."

This has proven to be incredibly useful. I've researched end-user comments about everything from board games to eyeliner. Here's the caveat: it doesn't work if people like you and me don't take the time to build the resource.

Here are a few sites with consumer reviews that I make use of regularly to try to find out about products before I buy them. To me, contributing and using consumer reviews is something that makes the world a little better that is easy to do. If I buy something on a whim and end up throwing it away, it's not only a waste of money, but of resources, not only in the product but in energy for shipping. All of these sites give you free access to information from real people:

Amazon - reviews on tons of goods, movies, music, books - again, tons of goods, with an emphasis on reviews (obviously) - food you buy at the grocery store--and did I mention that my brother is the founder? - clothes, furniture, etc. -- all at a discount - beauty supplies

I haven't contributed reviews to all of them, but I am making a goal to do at least a few (more) reviews on each in the next month.

Whenever I think of reviewing products online, I think of a time about five years ago when I bought a lot of store brand beef stew at Target because it was on sale. I hated it. I ended up giving it all to the food bank. Good for the food bank, frustrating for me.

If only I'd had my iPhone with my Zeer food reviews app. If some good soul had taken the time to write that the beef stew was thick like a brick and smelled like dog food, well then, I would have saved a few dollars and the food bank wouldn't have received nasty stew.

Monday, May 4, 2009

05.04.2009 -- Gabe and Lucy Update

Hold me (I want to bite you)!

Gabe is sitting reliably now. And biting. He's still happy as ever, as long as he's being held. Which is more than usual at the moment. He must be hurting from teething or growing. Did I mention he likes to bite? It's pretty bad. When I hold him, he's almost always biting me or wanting to eat. And when I say biting, I mean, get a hunk of mom's hand between gums and teeth and clamp down! He likes the feel of tendons moving in his mouth, I guess. Needless to say, I am searching for a hand/tendon/arm/bone replacement. So far, a hard silicone hot pad holds the most promise. Teethers just aren't too popular with the boy. As for crawling, he's got it, but only 10% of the time. Mostly he just gets on hands and knees and thrusts himself forward. He can control this, though.

Lucy is VERY dramatic. And sweet. And very dramatic. She's slowly working "other" into her vocabulary to replace "wuduh." She loves riding her "two-wheeler," dancing in "'nastics" outfits, playing with friends, telling dramatic stories, and taking care of Gabe. When she's tired, it's as if her ears really don't connect with her brain. She is impossible to reason with. (Although I've found some repeated success with the following technique: if I know we'll be leaving people that Lucy loves, I identify a portable item that Lucy likes a lot. It has to be in-hand. Even if it's a minute away, if she can't see it, it may as well not exist. For example, last night at the hospital visiting babies, we had leftover carrot cake with frosting. When it was time to go, I called Lucy's attention to the cake and told her that if she would like to take the cake with us, she would need to "behave nicely." If she threw a fit, I said, then we'd have to leave the cake at the hospital. Good as gold. This does not work without said desirable object. Without bait, Lucy LOSES it most of the time. This leaves me with a small dilemma. Do I take something to bait Lucy with everywhere I go? Actually, I think that I'm slowly coming to terms with the possibility that I may need to monitor her level of fatigue and plan activities accordingly.