Tag Archives: Will

There’s No Such Thing as Taking Too Many Pictures of Your Kids

cell phone

“Put the phone down.”
“You’re taking too many pictures of your kids.”
“Your eyes are the best camera.”

If you’re a parent with Internet access of any kind, you know how controversial a topic phones are in relation to your children. You can’t whip out a soon-to-be-outdated phablet without hitting some parenting “expert” or “guru” telling you what a materialistic and superficial jerk you are for posing your kids in a pumpkin patch or posting a selfie with the kids to Instagram during Touch-a-Truck.

I’m pretty confident in my parenting, but after reading so many of these articles talking about how I’m not actually enjoying life because I’m living it through my cell phone camera lens, I started to worry maybe they were right.

So one day I left the camera in the car.

I took Will and Sam on a hike through some local conservation land, and it was gorgeous. It was hot out, but felt 10 degrees cooler when we entered the forest and walked beneath the canopy of towering maple trees. The pine needles padded our steps and my boys bounded forward with youthful zeal, as slits of sunlight periodically found them and dotted their backs.

We explored the forest and inspected downed trees while wondering if a giant blew them over in a fit. We climbed rock formations and claimed them as newly discovered lands (Willtopia, SamLand, and Dada’s Village if you must know). We ran to the next trail map and studied it forcefully, as if it alone held the key to our ultimate survival.

And then we saw the butterfly.

A Monarch butterfly, you know the type. Wings a deep Halloween orange with jet black lines that made it look like an ornate stained glass window. Little white circles dot the tips of the wings and its head, as it rests on some grass seemingly weightless. It was totally still, and so were my boys. Enraptured. Until…

“Dada,” Sam whispered excitedly. “Take picture of butterfly!”

Crap.

“Sammy, I can’t. I didn’t bring my phone with me,” I said with fear rising in my throat. “But that’s OK, wanna know why? Because we have something better than a camera — our eyes. Let’s look at the butterfly and study it really hard, and we’ll take a mental snapshot so we’ll always have the butterfly in our memory.”

I even did that thing where you make a camera out of your hands, hold it up to your eye and snap a “mental picture.” And I immediately recoiled in horror and felt an unyielding desire to kick my own ass.

He knew it was bullshit. I knew it was bullshit. Sam flipped out and started crying, because — well, that’s what almost 3-year-olds do. The unphotographed butterfly must have also sensed the bullshit level rise to dangerous levels, and with his moment of zen interrupted by shrieking, flew off for parts unknown.

In a desperate attempt to stop Sam’s meltdown, Will had a phenomenal idea. He reminded Sam about our geocaching adventures, and started talking about finding hidden treasure. This idea pleased Sam greatly as his sobs subsided and excitement took over as both boys turned to me for the coordinates to our next find.

Coordinates I didn’t have, because I didn’t have my phone with me.

Taking an excessive amount of pictures of your children and adventures is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing. Committing things to memory and looking at the world absent a lens is overrated garbage, mainly because 1) taking pictures doesn’t always take you out of the moment, and 2) my memory sucks.

I’m a working dad. I’m up at 5:30 am, I work all day, I come home to parent, I do some more work, I go to bed. My mind is a ball of mush. It takes me at least two tries to get my kids’ names right, I poured my beer into a sippy cup last week, and the only things I truly remember are random ’90s song lyrics. So while it’s a noble thing to live in the moment and try to commit to memory the look on my sons’ faces when faced with the unparalleled wonder of a Monarch butterfly, I’d rather have my camera so I can have it forever and share it with the people I love who weren’t there.

Cell phone cameras are incredible and allow me to relive moments from years ago whenever I want. You’d be surprised how much I revisit them, especially now with Facebook’s “On This Day” feature that allows you to relive memories from years ago.

Excess can be a real problem in so many areas, but when it comes to pictures of the people and places I love most, there’s no such thing as too much. So have fun being “in the moment” and thinking you’re superior because you left your cell phone in the car. I’ll be busy happily recording memories and avoiding toddler meltdowns.

Just think, if I listened to the know-it-alls and didn’t have my phone with me, I’d miss moments like this.

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My Son Learned It On Netflix

Home- Adventures with Tip & Oh

I don’t think TV should be a child’s only teacher. But the fact remains, there are some damn good shows out there that have taught my 8-year-old a lot.

This isn’t a license for you to plop your kid down in the living room and let your TV do all of your parenting tasks for you. But it is an acknowledgement that a lot of the shows you can find on Netflix are really fantastic for teaching facts, history, science, and some really important lessons about life, love, friendship, and morality.

I sat down with my 8-year-old son, Will, and interviewed him about some of the shows on Netflix that have taught him valuable lessons. Here’s the scoop, right from the mouths of babes.

4. DinoTrux
This show isn’t just an entertaining romp through a made up world of prehistoric vehicles and creatures, it’s filled with valuable lessons about teamwork and getting along.

Will says: “The T-trux and the Reptools didn’t like each other at first, but that’s because they didn’t talk to each other. They learned to always work together when they had a problem, because you friends can have really good ideas you didn’t think of.”

3. Home
Adults know this movie (which was turned into a subsequent Netflix Original series) as the alien with Sheldon Cooper’s voice. But kids actually took some valuable lessons from the adventures of Oh and Tip.

Will says: “It taught me to never give up on my dreams, even when there’s a lot of trouble. Oh and Tip were looking for Tip’s mom and they never gave up even though it seemed impossible.”

2. Charlotte’s Web
A timeless classic I watched as a kid, that is apparently still just as relevant today. My son had a simple yet poignant reaction.

Will says: “Always be kind to your friends.”

1. Sofia the First
Despite initially battling the stigma of Sofia being a “show for girls,” Will really grew to like this one. And so did I, because I love how Sofia battles with coming into money and privilege while trying to stay true to who she really is and her roots.

Will says: “Just because you’re royalty doesn’t mean you can stop being nice. You should always be kind to other people even if you’re rich.”

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I was compensated by Netflix for writing this post. Although I did not receive monetary compensation, I received free Netflix for a year and a smart TV. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own. 

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Review and Giveway: The Vectu On-demand Personal GPS Locator

Safewise-Reviews-Vectu

My oldest son is eight. A few months ago he asked if he could earn more money in his allowance by taking on additional tasks – specifically, walking the dog. The only problem is I’d lose sight of him if he walked our dog down the nearby dirt road, so my wife and I regrettably said no.

But after receiving the Vectu On-demand Personal GPS Locator and reviewing it for Safewise.com, we can say yes. And do one less chore in the process.

So what is this thing? In a nutshell, it’s a portable device a little smaller than my wallet which you can put in a backpack, someone’s pocket, your car, or a suitcase and know where it is when you want to check. It costs $99, has a $36 annual fee, and you can download the free myAspenta app on iOS and Android, or on the web at myAspenta.com.

But the million dollar question is does it work?

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE AND ENTER TO WIN A GPS LOCATOR!

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There’s a Ep(isode) for That on Netflix

vintageTVWhile I don’t use TV as a babysitter, it does help me parent from time to time.

I know, I know. Blasphemy, right? The current thinking is NO TV UNTIL 2 BECAUSE SCREEN TIME IS THE DEVIL!!!!! I just don’t buy it. Maybe it’s because I love TV and I want my kids to love it too, but I’ve found the things they watch often have life lessons that sink in better than when I try to impart them. Does that sting admitting Netflix can reach my kids better than I can at times? A little. But you know what? If it gets the job done and the message across, I’m OK with whatever works.

The truth is, Netflix has some great shows with ever better messages. I’m not saying let Netflix do all the work, but use these episodes as conversation starters that plant seeds of discussion. For example:

sofia1st

Sofia from the show Sofia the First is on the left. She’s Princess Sofia now, but before her days of wearing tiaras she and her mom were just regular, common folks. With common friends. But in Season 1, Episode 2 when she invites her common friends to a sleepover in the castle, Sofia’s snotty new sister, Princess Amber, doesn’t approve of the girls who were plucked from poverty. Not wanting to rock the boat, Sofia asks her old friends to conform to her sister’s snotty ways.

I showed Will this episode when he said one of his first friends at kindergarten didn’t like new friends he had made. While it’s important to make new friends, I told Will it’s important not to forget about your old friends, and never exclude them or ask them to be who they’re not just because it’s inconvenient for you.

dragons_snowwraithstill

In Season 1, Episode 7 of Dragons: Race to the Edge, my kids learned an even more important lesson — sometimes your friends act like idiots. When Ruffnut & Tuffnut find out they are the owners of the Dragon Riders’ island, they become — well, jerks. They’re arrogant and bossy and they treat their friends like crap. And they don’t realize how awful they were being until it’s almost too late.

I tell Will sometimes he’ll have to deal with friends like this, and sometimes HE’LL be the one doing this. That’s why it’s important to always think of how your words and actions are affecting the people around you.

dinotruxmain

One of my new favorite shows since last year is DinoTrux. Mainly because it has a lesson in every episode for younger kids.

I’ve started showing this one to Sam, almost 3, because it stresses teamwork constantly. As a rambunctious almost-3-year-old who doesn’t exactly like to share or play nice with his brothers, I’m letting Ty the T-Trucks and Revvit the Reptool show him things always work better when you team up with friends. Like in Season 1, Episode 4 when Scraptors take Ton-Ton and the group can only save him if they work together to come up with a plan.

Don’t get me wrong, you still have to parent. But thanks to some great shows on Netflix, you don’t have to do it alone.

***I am part of the Netflix Stream Team and received free Netflix and a SmartTV for my work. As always, all opinions are my own.

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The In-Between

samwill

Will is 8. Sam is 2. They don’t share very much in common and the things that do overlap seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate.

The 8-year-old is proving to be the toughest to gauge right now. I watch with a mixture of amusement, admiration, pity, and sadness as he fluctuates between little kid and young adult. He wants so badly to be grown up some days, but at the same time he’s only 8. He is in that No Man’s Land of wanting more responsibility, but immediately reverting back to being a little kid when it proves too much for him to handle. He rushes boldly out into the land of big kids, only to retreat to shelter of childhood when that older world leaves him longing for the innocence back where he came from.

All of that means it’s been an especially rough time trying to get Will to play nice with Sam.

Will is too cool to play with “babies” most days. He wants to ride his motor scooter, his bike, and practice his Taekwondo. When we ask him to play with his little brother we’re most often met with eye rolls I thought wouldn’t start until he was a tween, and sarcastic remarks that sound disturbingly familiar (the apple didn’t fall far from the tree in that regard).

I know the age difference (5.5 years) is going to make that kind of thing inevitable, but I also want my kids to find more common ground. So how do we accomplish that?

By watching TV.

I know that’s not the new age, popular answer. I know I’m suppose to preach screen-free child-rearing and start opining on how technology and electronics are ruining our kids and blah blah blah. Well I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it.

Our Netflix sessions routinely bridge the gap between Will and Sam right now. Obviously I can’t watch The Avengers with Sam like I can with Will, but thanks to the broad array of programming on Netflix I am able to find things we can all watch as a family.

If you have kids with a fairly big age gap, consider these titles to satisfy both of them.

oscaroasis

Will stumbled on this kooky cartoon a few years ago and he still loves it. Even better, he’s passed that love on to Sam, who also can’t get enough of Oscar, Harchi, Buck, and Popy. It’s a nonverbal cartoon and I can hear the hysterical laughter from upstairs as they happily watch it together.

wildkratts

All kids love animals no matter their age, and my kids are no exception. Martin and Chris Kratt, the two zoologists featured in this show, have taught my children an AMAZING amount about animals. We went to the zoo recently and I was reading from one of the signs near the exhibit, and Will said, “Dad, I know this already. It was on Wild Kratts.”

princessbride

Yeah yeah, I know. Some of you think the Princess Bride is too inappropriate for my 8-year-old, nevermind my 2-year-old. Well you know what? Pipe down and keep your judgment to yourself. This is one of my favorite movies and it is awesome for everyone. It’s fun, adventurous, filled with memorable lines, and hasn’t stopped being entertaining after all these years. It also keeps both of my boys entertained at the same time, even if we do have to skip by the ROUS (Rodent of Unusual Size). So yes, I will have fun storming the castle thankyouverymuch.

What movies/shows do you use to bridge the gap between your kids?

StreamTeamBadgeI was compensated by Netflix for writing this post. Although I did not receive monetary compensation, I received free Netflix for a year and an smart TV. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own. Check out Netflix on Facebook.

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