Archives for category: cell phones

While the real saying or cliche is “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” I have discovered that it should actually be “the more things change, the more expensive they are.”
Technology is a part of our everyday life. Whereas my grandparents were excited to have a television set and my parents a video cassette recorder, my generation (I’m a Gen Xer) has witnessed the rise of cable TV, satellite TV, and now the internet. I remember the first time we had cable TV and what a stir HBO caused in our household. Now the internet with You Tube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other outlets provide us with access to more television shows than we have time to watch.
As a parent, I see the differences in the wallet with all the new technological fads as well. I remember shopping with my parents for the new Atari 400. What my parents discovered was that it wasn’t necessarily the price of the unit that was overwhelming, it was the price of each cartridge that added up quickly. We had PacMan, Basic Programming, Asteroids, States and Capitals and Centipede. Those five cartridges cost a lot of money back then, but I think my parents got off rather cheaply as compared to now.
Our house has three cell phones, one iPad, one computer, one working laptop and one working not so well laptop that is on its last legs and so on. (I don’t want to make our house super attractive to any burglars who may be reading this; may I add that our super aggressive dog is known throughout our neighborhood as the barking dog and she is feisty.) My two year old daughter, Cupcake, can already navigate my iPad. She knows what to touch to make PBS Kids appear and how to make it turn on Sesame Street and The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That. She knows how to get the pictures to show a slideshow. She is especially fond of the song “Better Days” as the background song. Cupcake can also operate a VCR; yes, our household still has that somewhat outdated technological device. Her pronunciation of Netflix is getting better as it now sounds more like Net-flicks rather than Neck-lace. She also knows about websites. One of her favorites is koko.org which features the detailed life of Koko the Gorilla. She loves to get whoever is at the computer to stop what they are doing and type in koko.org so she can see the video footage of Koko’s birthday. All of this before her third birthday.
Cupcake’s twin, Chunk, is more into food so he wants to increase his understanding of how to cook food. He is starting to figure out the microwave. He keeps bringing me popcorn bags so I can pop them in the microwave. Even so, he still likes looking at my iPad. He likes the slideshow also, but he is not a fan of “Better Days” and constantly asks me to turn off the music when Cupcake has the iPad in her lap watching 1000 pictures of her and her family over the past three years.
MJ also has grasped the media technology that rules our household. He is especially fond of Wii and the internet. The good news is that he is enamored of several math educational sites right now and is trying to outscore other members of his class. The bad news is that the Wii cartridges he tends to want for his birthday or Christmas tend to cost around $50.00 a piece. We carefully budget and save for whatever technological item we bring into our house. As much as I would love certain new devices, I don’t want to owe money on them and my wonderful hubby would like to retire someday. As a result, we have plain everyday cell phones that are mainly used for emergencies rather than the SmartPhones that supposedly organize your life but do not vacuum or dust.
Kath did receive a laptop as a middle school graduation present, but that was solely because she needs one for high school and I use the word need there on purpose rather than want. Yes, she likes Facebook and “wants” her Facebook account, but many of her teachers require homework to be done on the computer. Her lit teacher has assignments that are handed in via one website rather than on paper. She has a school e-mail address. So as much as I would have loved to use the money for something else, she really did need this in order to write compositions, send photo files to her teacher (her lit teacher had people send her pictures of each student reading a book to her e-mail), and use online textbooks. Technology isn’t cheap, but sometimes it is necessary for today’s society.
From my Atari 400 to our family’s technological devices, I’ve seen quite an evolution in the cost of these items, but as a family, we are drawing some lines. We don’t need fancy phones when we have laptops and a computer. I also draw the line at paying for Sirius Radio (although I lament the loss of my favorite radio station which is changing format to an all sports radio station) and I draw the line at contractual fees for cell phone service. I also draw the line at new Wii games except if a child earns the money himself or herself or receives a game as a gift for Christmas or birthday and even then it is one new game. Same thing goes for the handheld game devices. Not in my house and the only exception is if you earn all the money yourself and it is not to be a gift. MJ knows he can’t get a Nintendo DS as a gift, but he knows he can earn the money by doing chores or asking grandparents for chores (and I would check to make sure they paid a fair rate and not extra and did not give him extra).
And so the technology bugs have hit our house and bite even the youngest of occupants. We try to manage to keep the expenses of the different gadgets to a minimum, but it is hard. That’s when I pull out Zooreka or Star Wars Monopoly or even a puzzle. Our Thanksgivings are always marked with a puzzle that we try to shield from the twins’ destructive forces. So hopefully I will learn to balance fun activities that do not require electricity just as my parents had to remind me there was more to life than scoring the high score on PacMan and just as my grandparents had to remind my mother there was more to life than listening to the same Beatle record over and over and just as my great grandparents had to remind my grandmother that there was more to life than going to see the new Roy Rogers movie over and over and over. I say maybe as I am sitting here trying to figure out how to blog. Now if I could just figure out how to upload pictures, maybe I just need to get Cupcake to do that for me.

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What expression does your child show when you give your significant other a PDA? Some of you might be thinking that you are fortunate that your precious bundle of joy is asleep in his or her crib and cannot show negative emotions yet let alone when you give your significant other a smooch. Some of you, however, may have children who are old enough to hope they were conceived in a petri dish because they can’t stand to see their parents publicly showing PDAs to the other parent (although they may secretly be slightly relieved because they know deep down that means their parents love each other). Regardless of the child’s age, however, most balk at the sight of parents getting ready for date night. Whether it’s separation anxiety or “eww that’s gross” anxiety, most kids would prefer their parents to stay home with them and cater to their every whim. I think it’s very important for parents to have that one on one time out with each other. It’s very important to have dates with your significant other.
I’m very fortunate and blessed to have met my wonderful hubby in college. Dates were relatively cheap, which was a good thing because neither of us had much money to spend on dates. We were members of our campus’s film club so we got into movies for free. We were able to go to a local ice cream shop that sold ice cream cones for 25 cents each (yes you read that right-one quarter bought a full size one scoop ice cream cone and I graduated college in the 90s). Life was good.
We married while we were in college and continued to go on dates, although now they often revolved around my burning the dinner or not following the recipe properly for a Crockpot meal.
We graduated and for a little while, we were extravagant. We went to a full price movie in the middle of the week. Let’s hear those oohs and ahhs. Yes, we paid full price to see Michael, Phenomenon and As Good As It Gets. We would also splurge on restaurants every once in a while. (Hey, we had student loans and made it a priority to pay them back).
Then we had children. Our first daughter, Kath, was born in 1998. Both sets of grandparents lived nearby and this was both set’s first grandchild. We went out to dinner at least once a month and yes, I worried over that first dinner date. Someone once told me you shouldn’t discuss your children at all during a date. We tried that and it worked for the first couple, but then we slid a little and never looked back.
Our first son, MJ, was born in 2003. It became a little trickier. We didn’t realize how lucky we were to have occasional weekends to ourselves including one trip to North Carolina and one trip to Charleston until after MJ was born. By then, he was one of five grandchildren on one side and let’s just write that my parents were divorced in 2005. It became harder to find babysitters who would be able to deal with a relatively wide age gap (5 years) and who didn’t charge a fortune. We started lunch dates where we could drop off MJ at wonderful hubby’s mother’s house and Kath was in school. We continued our lunch dates throughout MJ’s time in preschool.
Then along came Cupcake and Chunk, my twins. If we thought it was hard to get a babysitter for two kids, imagine trying to find one for four, although our oldest doesn’t need a babysitter. Good luck on that one. Now my oldest is old enough to babysit, but Kath and MJ make the Hatfield-McCoy feud look mild in comparison to their squabbles.
But it is very important to continue going on dates so proceed with plans we must. I am finally getting to the point of this blog. We have been fortunate to have two dates in the past two months. We are on a tight budget now that there are six people in our family so the dates were extra special treats. On the first of these two dates, my dad and stepmother stepped up to the plate. Now if you have read any of my previous blogs, you know my kids become Tasmanian devils around my dad. I don’t understand it. They are normal, active kids, but whenever I’m on the phone with him, they become banshees. Fortunately, my stepmother is a former Marine (I’ve learned there is no such thing as an ex-Marine) and she keeps them lovingly in order. So I felt no qualms about leaving the four of them in very capable and caring hands. Since they were doing it gratis, my wonderful hubby and I decided to splurge a little and go to a Japanese restaurant. I love hibachi style cooking, both the food as well as the show.
My wonderful hubby and I arrive and are seated in a big room with two hibachi grills. The other table’s show is almost finished, but we are able to witness the “Japanese” volcano with the onions stacked in a ring. I’m excited now: I get to hold hands with my wonderfully hubby, I get to see the end of one hibachi grill show as well as our entire meal being prepared in front of us, and I get to eat the food. What else could there possibly to write? In this case, plenty. When we were seated, we were placed at a table with a mom and her two daughters, one of whom was about 13 or 14 and the other about 9 or 10. The older daughter was texting throughout the whole meal. The mom was talking on the phone the whole time except when she was interrupted by the waiter who was there to take her order. The younger daughter was even in on the texting bit. Come on! You’re at a Japanese restaurant. You’re with your family. Give up the cell phone for a couple of minutes. Leave them in the car. Enjoy each other’s company. What is so important on Facebook that you can’t wait half an hour? When the salads came, the mom put her hand over the cell phone to complain that she had ordered the dressing on the side. Really, are you sure? She had been talking and texting throughout the entire ordering process so how could she be sure what she said to the waitress? There was another mom and daughter seated at the table after we were seated. This daughter was younger, probably about 6 or 7. The hibachi chef teased her with just the right amount of tongue in cheek. He did a great job because you could tell the texting was bothering him a bit as well.
I learned two lessons that night: one was that it is important to squeeze out a little money out of our budget to go on dates and the other was how important it is to enjoy dinner with your family as a family. If you’re on a transplant list, yes, you absolutely have to keep your cell phone with you at dinnertime. Otherwise, as parents, I think it’s important for family members to communicate with each other and break bread with each other. Put down the cell phones and enjoy each other’s company. I enjoy my wonderful hubby’s company and look forward to a lot more dates with him. And yes, all four can be embarrassed by the PDAs. That’s just fine with me.