Tag Archives: Fun

amyl_text_message

I’m Ready to Learn how to Text

I think my older boys (age 12) have wanted a cell phone for 5 years already. Most of their friends carry phones, and I hear about that fact often. I’m happy to provide a phone when they need one, but I’ve resisted all these years because of expense, the fact that it’s not a need, and a bit of concern over all those reports that the radiation from cell phones may be harmful especially to younger humans.

It’s not like the boys talk on the regular phone. I think they’ve called a friend to chat all of one time in their lives. They occasionally talk to grandparents, and they’ll answer when I call if I’m out. But that’s about it. Why should we add two (and eventually 4) more phones to the bill? I’ve been very content with keeping the bill as low as possible, and have thus far stuck with a simple phone that could take and receive calls. I’ve sent a text message or two, but only because I absolutely had to. Because we don’t have a text option on the cell phone plan-see above note about me wanting to keep things simple and cheap-we have to pay quite a bit per text.

Now that the older boys are playing on sports teams that travel and practice further from home, Hubby and I agreed that providing a phone was a good plan. I found one on sale and gave it to them for Christmas. The Mercenary also took advantage of holiday deals to buy himself an ipod, and quickly got himself a Skype account and taught himself how to thumb type.

At Hubby’s insistence I upgraded to a smartphone last month. It has already been proven useful in several cases; whether it was communicating easily on the road or digging up information online or keeping up with various notifications, I’m enjoying the phone. I still hadn’t texted though.

Then last week I was driving home when my phone chirped. Surprised, I found that my boy had sent a text message from his ipod. I stopped to read the message. It was long, cheerful, and he’d taken the time to type it all out for me. How cool was that?? It may be silly that a little message warmed my heart so much, but that’s okay. Having your kid take the time to think about you and send a little cheery note is a big deal.

I want more. I told Hubby that we have to add text messaging to our cell phone plan. He was pretty surprised to hear that from me of all people. Don’t tell my boys, but I’ll happily pay money to communicate with them so easily.

Now I’m going to have to figure out how to send texts on my phone. 6UXA8SFT3RWT

by AmyL


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Photo graciously provided by Skokie Public Library, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Graph Paper Pictures

a graph paper picture from a kidThe younger boys celebrated their 8th birthday this weekend, and each received his very own Etch-A-Sketch toy. They got up this morning and boy did the creativity abound! I think they spent two hours making pictures together before they even wanted breakfast. Captain Earthquake brought his over to show me an abstraction that he’d made where all the edges looked like cubes. We laughed over some possible descriptions. I thought it looked like buildings reflected on a river or a maze while he said it was a road leading into a city or perhaps a Robloxian.

It occurred to me that doing a drawing on graph paper and coloring in the sections with different colors would be really fun. So we dug out the colored pencils and graph paper and went crazy. It was fun! After a few minutes of coloring in random blocks, we started drawing pictures. The rule was that you had to stick to the lines of the graph paper (we eventually broke that rule too, when the mood struck).

If you have some graph paper and a half-hour, try this with your kids. Let them decide on the rules (and let them change the rules if they want – half the fun is hearing your parent say “Do it however YOU want”). We enjoyed some time together and I got to talk about some drawing techniques without being threatening or sounding like I was correcting their efforts. Each boy did something different and all of us had something to be proud of when we were done.

The picture above is the one I did. The boys laughed at the scale of my pink flower, then they decided that it should be a TV flower because it was square. When I attempted a bird in the tree, the Captain informed me that I had drawn a penguin. So I announced that my penguin knew how to jump into trees. After we abandoned the “draw on the lines” rule, the hammock and table were added. I coulda done a much better bird if the rules had allowed curves. But that challenge made the whole thing so much more fun. I’m glad we drew together.

by AmyL


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Photo graciously provided by jurvetson, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

I'm Adding "Hmm" to My Vocabulary

man holding sign that says HMMI’ve long been fond of the Love and Logic approach to parenting, mainly because of its focus on putting responsibility on children instead of the parents. By that I mean that children get to learn naturally from their mistakes at a young age. One of the keys to success in this approach is for the parent to not get into power struggles or long arguments with children. In other words, the saying “less is more” applies here.

I happen to be pretty good with words, but this often translates into my saying waaaaay too much instead of letting the boys figure things out on their own. I’m working on it.

I’ve got a long way to go.

One of the key rules of the method is to have a catch word or phrase that you use when situations go awry. When your child gets himself into difficulty, you say something like “Bummer” or “Oh dear” or whatever works for you. I’ve tried different words over the years but nothing really fit me without sounding a little insincere. Lately though, the word “Hmm” delivered with a cheerful yet detached tone has been working.

I knew it was a good fit when it popped out of my mouth this afternoon naturally. Last week for some reason the older boys were ALL OVER the younger ones with bossiness. A friend of mine who is pretty darn wise suggested that if the older boys correct the younger boys while I’m in charge (if they’re officially babysitting, then that’s a different story), that then there will be no further consequences for younger ones. I can just say, “Hm. Well, I guess you already took care of that.” and wander away.

I tried out a modified version of that today. I had just asked TechnoBoy to stop playing on the computer and go outside to play when he said, “Well Captain Earthquake and The Manager have to go too” in a rather snippy tone. So I said, “Hmm. You just earned them an extra 5 minutes of screen time. Parenting is my job.”

That was kind of fun. (insert evil laugh here) Hopefully I get to do that again.

by AmyL


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Photo graciously provided by striatic, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Camping Trip

tent and picnic table near riverThis past weekend we took our daughters on their first camping trip. It has been a few years since my husband and I have been camping, and doing so with children added a necessity to be prepared for everything. A few weeks ago we purchased them hot pink sleeping bags. I didn’t think they would be terribly excited about sleeping bags, but they have been playing in them for a couple of weeks now.

Our girls have been looking forward to going camping, even though they had no idea exactly what camping was. Instead of hearing, “Are we there yet?” we heard “How much longer until we get to the camp site.” Which, thankfully, wasn’t nearly as annoying.

When we arrived at the camp ground we drove around checking out the open camp sites. When we made a second round to grab the site we liked best they were very confused. Both my husband and I thought it was going to be a long two days when our girls told us they were bored while we were setting up the tent. But once the tent was setup it was a different story. The tent became a play house and a full 2 days of entertainment.

Around 4 a.m. it started raining. There was a little thunder and some lightning. It woke all of us up. Around 5:30 a.m. everyone woke up again to more rain. We all fell back asleep only to wake up to more rain. We were in a new tent and not sure how good the rain tarp was going to hold up. I have to say that Coleman (TM) makes a great product.

We had breakfast in the tent. Our girls played and played. We kept busy with The Old Maid and Go Fish too. Around lunchtime we decided to break up the monotony of hanging out in a tent in the rain and went to lunch in the nearest city. It was still raining when we finished lunch. We made a side trip then headed back to the tent to wait for the rain to end. And after 12 hours the rain finally stopped.

We considered packing up the camp site, but neither my husband or I wanted to do so in the rain. Our girls were having a great time playing in the tent so we waited it out. Really the only person who got bored was my hubby.

Even after endless rain, our daughters have said that they want to go camping again. Their favorite part was sleeping in their sleeping bags. One of our girls told her grandmother her “sleeping bag was so comfortable.” We hope to take another camping trip before the weather gets too cold. Hopefully we will have as much fun in the sunny weather (this of course is wishful thinking as it seems to always rain when I go camping) than we did in the rain.

by Kelly Damron

Photo graciously provided by _Wiedz, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

A Sense of Occasion

star shaped multi-color pinata on groundAs I was listening to the radio today and skimming magazine covers, it struck me how many stories were about “Summer Reading!”  “Summer Food!”  Despite the fact that summer is a three month period of time, the “sell” point in these articles and stories was turning on summer as having a magical quality to it.

For kids, I agree summer can have a sense of magic.  There’s no school, so for most purposes, they are on holiday.  There’s no program, and often you are meeting and playing with kids who you don’t see during the school year itself.  For example, my twelve year old has some school buddies on his swim team, but there are tons of kids who go to different schools, are older and younger than he is, giving him a totally different peer group than at other times during the year.  It lets them explore who they are a bit more, as well as exercise the ability to make new friends, which they often don’t have to do very much when the kids in their school are the same ones year after year.

While I’ve written about summer and schedules and the like before, what I really wanted to talk about is why we don’t bring the same sort of joy and sense of specialness and occasion to other parts of the year.  We make holidays special of course, but what would happen if we made a rainy Saturday afternoon a family holiday?  What if we decided to bake cookies, or throw a mini party with the friends we only see at certain times of the year for no special reason, or do something unusual and crazy that gave us that same sense of inner joy that we can get from summer or any other calendar holiday?

Breaking out of our own rut is important.  The change up of seasons and with traditional holidays always causes a mixed bag of joy and stress, as we think of all the stiff we’re supposed to do and all the people we need to see, whether we really want to or not.  What would happen if we created our own sense of occasion, our own personal holiday, that wasn’t laden with the “have to’s” and “shoulds” and years of tradition?

I haven’t tried this yet, but I think the key to having fun sometimes is to make the ordinary extraordinary.   Longwood Gardens, a botanical gardens near where we live, has fireworks a few times a year, beyond just July 4th, and creates a sense of specialness surrounding the presentation.  While not every occasion requires something like fireworks, I think if we bring more sense of specialness and occasion into our regular lives- occasion that is not so pre-loaded with expectation, but with fun, we’d all be a little more happy.

by Whitney Hoffman

Photo graciously provided by garlandcannon, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved