Thursday, October 31, 2013
And then I bought him another one--they totally go on sale if you wait long enough. I only spent about $10 per costume if you average them out. Which is to say, I spent more than $20 on Halloween costumes for my dog.
Who am I?!
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
At Sylvan Learning's Mom-Minded blog I shared a bunch of fun ideas for adding excitement and science to your party with dry ice.
I also posted on ideas to add STEAM (STEM + Arts) to your celebration with a few simple activities.
And look, I finally made something! A DIY Meme-friendly Portable Photobooth! )That's Veronica from Viva La Feminista and her "partner in mime" below.)
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
|BlogHer13. All that and more.|
But I will offer a few excuses. First I was catching up from the conference, then my mom had a medical mishap and then as memory of this post, put in draft on 7/27, began to fade my dad had knee replacement followed by a few eventful weeks in a rehab facility where he died and was brought back to life (but the staff later decided maybe he just fainted and they kinda rubbed his chest instead of doing full-on CPR to revive him) and then I was madly preparing for one of the best vacations of my life, then I took that vacation, caught up from that and now I don't have any more excuses.
So here are my hits and misses of BlogHer13 as first recorded on July 27, 2013 in a rather loose manner.
I was invited to an official pre-conference event from Wilton. It was a fun day and I will write about that soon.
Misses. The big miss was my friends! A lot of them skipped this year. However, it was wonderful seeing the friends that were at the conference.
I attended a lovely brand lunch with US Cellular featuring a panel with Melisa Wells, Donna Mills and Jenna Hatfield where we talking about cell phones and technology bringing families together.
I was part of a private dinner with Boks, a before-school program designed to gets kids physically active and get their bodies and brains ready for a day of learning.
It was disappointing walking the expo floor with most brand reps looking at me blankly when I said that I mainly blog about STEM or science and technology for families. 0_0
However, a man at the canned food booth mentioned that one of his agency's other clients might be a fit for me. So then I was all, hey everyone go to the Cans Get You Cooking booth to get your face on a can. It was a cute promo. My promo can is still sitting on my window sill. (Note to self: it probably needs to be dusted at this point.)
The two brands I was most looking forward to meeting, Intel and Petsmart, both listed on the BlogHer sponsor page (also both brands I tweeted to prior to the event who never responded to me), hosted private events and had no presence at the expo.
Note to BlogHer: it's great that companies are officially partnering with you for these special events, but please let attendees know not to expect them at the expo. "Meh, it's not like they were giving out computers," said one friend of Intel. I don't need any more computers, I just wanted to talk about #STEMchat or maybe connect with some people to interview for my video series when Geeks Grow Up.
As for Petsmart, well, I've spent a fortune for puppy toys that sometimes last for as few as 15 minutes (true story), so yeah, I was just grasping fro bones there.
Big time miss: Who thought it would be a good idea to include approximately 5 pounds of liquid products in the swag bag? No really, who?
Admittedly, my memory is a bit fuzzy on some of this, but the full-value coupon from Kozy Shack was pure awesome, even the cashier commented on it when I redeemed it. We still use the mug from that brand, too and miraculously we can still locate the accompanying little spoon and it's in one piece.
My memory needs to be jogged on the other stuff. (I'm trying to forget the Jockey Bra fitting thing. I know they must've focus-grouped the hell out of that thing before bringing it to market but no. Just no. My friend Jen sums it up.). July feels like it was so long ago.
And that's why you don't wait three months to recap a conference.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
|Capitol Reef National Park on 10/1. We we up earlier than the ranger.|
Goblin Valley State Park is a showcase of geologic history. Exposed cliffs reveal parallel layers of rock bared by erosion. Because of the uneven hardness of sandstone, some patches resist erosion much better than others. The softer material is removed by wind and water, leaving thousands of unique, geologic goblins. Water erosion and the smoothing action of windblown dust work together to shape the goblins.
Bedrock is exposed because of the thin soil and lack of vegetation. When rain does fall, there are few plant roots and little soil to capture and hold the water, which quickly disappears, in muddy streams without penetrating the bedrock.
And again, trouncing over delicate formations hardly fits into BOA's Leave No Trace philosophy.
Mr. Hayes, your own park literature noted that you are examining the long-term effect of visitors on these natural wonders. I feel like you have your answer now and it's an unfortunate one.
I sense that you'll be reigning in the crowds at Goblin Valley now. Hopefully they won't be confined to viewing the crazy hoodoos from the parking lot with a pair of binoculars, but maybe the valley needs to be set up more like an art museum than a school playground. It stinks when the whole class loses recess privileges because a student or two can't play nicely. The well behaved among us want to play in the state parks.
Thanks again for an amazing park system. Utah is full of natural wonders, plenty of which can be experienced outside the national parksl.
I wish you patience and wisdom in your quest to preserve and protect some truly special areas of your state.
Friday, October 18, 2013
|Don't be fooled by his innocent look.|
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Parenting babies and toddlers is hard work. Man, I get tired just thinking about those early years. But that saying, "little people have little problems and big people have big problems" is true. It's not that my boys didn't get into trouble or have problems when they were younger, it's just that as they gain independence and near adulthood, the stakes are higher, the consequences graver. Parenting teens is not for the faint of heart.
Moving into the high school years, your former little people change. Whereas physical development occurs in a linear fashion (they get taller for example), their emotional growth is more like a roller coaster. There is a whole lot going on in their brains. Indeed, brain studies indicate that the frontal cortex, the part of the brain that helps us think before we act, may not mature until the mid-twenties.
Heaven help us parents of teens.
This roller coaster of emotional growth and developing decision-making skills can lead to experimentation in everything from hairstyles to dress to drugs. Thanks to Miley Cyrus a lot of us old fogies recently learned about molly, a dangerous new form of ecstasy. And, of course, most parents are aware of alcohol and drugs like marijuana. However, most of us don't give a second thought to things like prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs sitting around our house, but those can be a danger as well.
Teens abusing cough medicine is a thing. Yeah, about 1 in 3 teens knows someone who has abused cough medicine, with about 1 in 20 teens report abusing cough medicine to get high through the ingredient DXM or dextromethorphan. ("Dextromethorphan? What's that?" you think if you're older enough to recall circa 1978 commercial.) DXM is a cough suppressant found in many OTC cough medicines. Though safe under normal, recommended use, when abused DXM can lead to side effects like vomiting, stomach pain, slurred speech distortions of color and sound, hallucinations, and loss of motor control.
The Stop Medicine Abuse website shares additional information like slang terms for DXM (robo, skittling, velvet syrup, to name a few), and helpful resources for parents. It'd good to be aware of warning signs like finding empty cough medicine boxes or bottles in your child's backpack, the trash, or for those with sneakier children, just sitting in the medicine cabinet. Some warning signs are trickier. For example, "hostile or uncooperative attitude" is part of the daily existence of many teens I know.
Communication is key when it comes to preventing any kind of drug abuse. Part of that communication include the talk, sitting down with your kids to see what they know or are hearing from their peers and sharing information and your concerns despite their eye rolls. Seriously, research indicates that teens who learn about the risks of drug use from their parents are 50% less likely to use drugs.
But ongoing conversation is also key. Open communication can be tricky with teens when a lot of conversation is brief and to the point, centering around the teen's needs (like more money, a ride to the movies or the mall) and your teen's attention span moves as quickly as his fingers do when he texts his friends.
Dear parents, persevere!
Whether it's insisting on a technology-free family meal a few times a week, arranging 1:1 time with your child, or sharing a hobby (or trying to), taking time to connect and create a space for conversation is key even if the conversation doesn't go as planned. Keep in mind that the big conversations are going to happen with they're ready, not when you hope to have them.
The really cool thing about raising teens is that every now and then you get glimpses of the fabulous, sharp young adults they're becoming and as a parent, you know you want to do your best to get them there.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
|Oh, the wide open spaces!|
Erm, sort of. You've probably heard that on October 1, major components of the federal government, including the national parks, shut down. So although my general outlook remains cynical, that didn't stop me, us, from having a fantastic time in Utah. It was an amazing trip and thanks to the state park system and other federally managed lands that didn't lock their doors (though they did lock their bathrooms) we got up close and personal with a variety of the Utah's geological gems, just not on the grand scale of the national parks.
It's no surprise that Utah's state parks have been hosting record crowds since the federal government closed. In fact, I just read that they will currently honor national park passes, though their typical state park entry fee is only $6 per car.
The government shutdown stinks on so many levels. I'm not going to get into here, but I will say that there are thousands and thousands of international tourists who come to see the area stretching from the Grand Canyon in Arizona to Arches National Park up in Utah. We were disappointed after traveling just a few hundred miles. Can you imagine booking a two to three week trip from halfway around the world only to find out your tour was cancelled? We talked with a handful of such tourists, apologizing for and embarrassed by our government.
We also talked with locals concerned about what the shutdown means for an area thick with services catering to such tourists, not to mention the number of folks who work directly with the federal lands in some capacity. We're talking rural towns too small for stoplights in some cases, let alone a McDonald's or Starbucks. (We saw more stoplights than fast food joints, for the record.) These communities lost on out the last weeks of their big tourist season and they're hurting.
On a related note, if you're planning on touring this area of the country either make sure you have Verizon phone service or a plan that includes roaming allowances. Out in the country, our Sprint phones wavered between roaming service and no. service. at. all. It was kinda nice in some ways, but I did miss texting my boys, which I couldn't do in roaming mode (thank goodness we didn't bring the children with us; can you imagine the horror of no texting to internet service?).
I did grab some photos on my phone, though, so it had some use. DH got some shots on his, too, and we brought a camera, but I don't have access to those photos right now. Still, this gives you a taste of the trip.
We arrived at Capitol Reef National Park around 4:40 PM on 9/30/13. We didn't realize we'd lose an hour driving from Nevada. We stopped in the visitors center where rangers warned us about the likely shut down. We had about 15 minutes to explore the exhibits before the park center closed its doors OR to run down the park's scenic road to the Gifford Homestead and grab some pie. Pie from the homestead was on my bucket list of this bucket-list trip. It's a testimony of my husband's love that we hurried into the car to pick up a pastry.
Only two or three pies from the day's supply remained when we got there. I bought a small pumpkin pie and, honestly, it wasn't spectacular, but the view while eating it couldn't be beat. We drove along the scenic route during sundown as the light reflected beautifully on the walls of the water pocket fold.
Indeed, on October 1, the pie shop, the visitor's center and the scenic drive were all closed. However, an early morning drive indicated that some of the hiking trails off the state highway remained open. DH and I pulled into the Chimney Rock Trail parking lot around 8:15 AM and hoped that the rumor we'd heard about trails near public roads staying open would be true. Alas, from our view atop Chimney Rock, we saw a park ranger blockading the parking lot.
The folks at La Quinta preempted their guests' disappointment over the park closure by handing out a list of alternate hikes just outside of Zion. We took an old wagon route near a 19th century cemetery. The printed information we were given said the trail has not been maintained for nearly a century. The trail was so rocky and steep, it was hard to believe an wooden-wheeled wagon powered by a team of mules or horses could possibly navigate the route. Or maybe we took a wrong turn? It was another fairly isolated hike, with the only glimpse of other people being a group up on the mesa. That said, the route is known as one of the premiere area trails for technical mountain biking and we saw plenty of tire tracks (400 or more vertical feet up on the trail!) to prove it. I'm pretty sure that sport is more dangerous than skydiving.
Our last stop in Utah was Snow Canyon State Park on the outskirts of St. George, near the Arizona border. We visited on a Sunday and it was quite crowded, at least compared to our earlier hikes. Snow Canyon has it all- volcanic rocks (which we also saw on our drive out to Cedar Breaks), red hoodoos and spires, pink sand, scenic view points, and a couple of slot canyons, to boot. What the park lacked in isolation, it made up for in variety.
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
I'm on a social media hiatus for the next week(ish), so I'm bringing in one of the loves of my life to entertain you with his skills on the bongo drums. My husband bought me these for my birthday (on request) a long, long time ago. I still haven't gotten around to taking lessons. But I'm hoping that by immersing myself in the present in real life (which sounds more pleasant and less zombie-like than, say, the flesh and bones world), I can think a bit more about my plans and goals instead of getting distracted by emails, tweets and status updates.
What a concept.
Maybe I'll finally sign up for bongo drum lessons or the yoga class I planned to take the year I turned 40, a number that is now a distant memory, or get organized because I'll be able to reflect without the many and constant distractions that are always just a tempting click away.
Wish me luck.
In the meantime, enjoy the crazy cool beats.