May 16, 2018

The New Big Threat to Our Children

Hi Friends!
I GOT PAID TO WRITE SOMETHING!!!
Actually, three somethings.

I've just published my third post on HowDoesShe.com.

The first two were related to Emergency Preparedness. I felt pretty passionate about my topic when I wrote them. I feel even MORE passionate about this topic...

This one is called "The New Big Threat to Our Children" and it talks about raising babies and kids in a tech saturated world. I really hope you will go over there and read it and I would LOOOOOOOVE it if you left a comment on the post over there and then went and shared it on Facebook and with every mom of little kids you know! Otherwise it will die a sad death in Internet obscurity.

Pretty please with sugar on top??

I really appreciate it!!

Here's the link:
The New Big Threat to Our Children

Thanks again,
Emily

May 15, 2018

85 Ideas for Screen-Free Summer Fun

{I've revised this a little so I am reposting but leaving the old post where it is! I started with 50 ideas. Now I'm up to closer to 85/90! I've also added links to a few articles for parents at the end about why we need to get our kids outside. Oh, and I posted the directions for Kick-the-Can, Four-Square, and Hop Scotch one post back!}

It's almost summer time!!! And if you are anything like me, you feel an equal mixture of glee at "No more lunch packing or homework!!" and abject terror at the thought of hearing "I'm BORED" and "I'm STARVING is it breakfast/lunch/dinner time yet?" on repeat all.day.long.


For me, my goal, every summer, is exactly the same. To get my kids to do a little work in the  morning, (Summer Skills books {like the Star Wars ones}, scriptures, practice piano, make bed, unload dishes, etc...) and then to play happily and peacefully all afternoon. (Yes I know. I’m a little delusional.)


Yes, we might participate in some camps and will probably have trips to the library/beach/pool/ice cream parlor--just not every day!! And if I make a Summer Bucket List and post it on the wall, you’d better believe they are going to bug me for Ice Cream every.single.day.


Last year, if they got their “stuff” done, I was happy to let them chill on iPads, or play video games, or watch t.v. in the late afternoon. But this summer I’m not so sure. You see, our elementary school here gives each child a school-issued iPad to use for the entire school year. And quite frankly, I am sick of it. I am super sick of watching my kids grow more and more dependent on screens. So I’ve been cutting back on my own personal phone use and social media dependence, and removing screens from them. The iPads are out of circulation (until the next road trip.) Fortnite has been banished. The Minivan DVD player is turned off, and my phone no longer has any games on it. My husband is not ready to rid the house entirely of T.V.’s or the stupid X-Box, but you better believe they will be turned off most of the time if I can help it.


I want my kids to experience something closer to what I experienced as a kid: playing with friends or siblings for an entire day. Preferably outside. (I’m sorry for what you go through Arizona. No judgments if your let your kids veg all day. I get it.)


Two years ago I started this list and hung it on the wall, but it had one fatal flaw.
One of the items was...
"Make a Lego stop-motion video."


This was the ONLY item on the list that in any way involved electronics, so naturally, it was the only thing anyone ever wanted to do. Such is the addictive nature of technology. "Mom, can you unlock the iPad so I can make a Lego stop-motion video??" That only worked like the first 23 times, and then I cottoned on.


Obviously, it has been dashed from the list.


In the meantime, as people give me more ideas, I add them.


I recommend copying and pasting this list into a new document and customizing it to fit your kids, your interests, your games, and the play structures you have available!

It might even be helpful to get really specific. “Take a walk” might turn into “Take a walk to Aunt Betty’s house for a cookie” ;) These are kids who have become dependent on screens and tech to entertain them and do their thinking for them. They may need a little help re-awakening their creativity at first.
Here's to hoping this helps! Good luck to all of us!!!


Time for SUMMER FUN !


Take a walk
Ride bikes
Ride a scooter up the hill and back down
Go for a nature walk and collect sticks, leaves and cool rocks (but leave them outside.)
Climb a tree
Play Hide and Seek
Play Sardines
Play Kick Ball
Play Red-Rover
Put on a Puppet Show
Write a play and act it out with siblings (Jane Austen style)
Play Basketball
How many free throws can you make? (100=$1 from Mom)
     Knock out
Horse
      Pig
Jump on the Trampoline
     Dead Man
Poison
    Practice your flips
     Freeze Tag!
Read a book
     In your room
     Outside on a blanket
     In a blanket fort!
Play in the Playroom
     Stuffed animals
     Blocks
     Legos
     Trains
Play a board game or card game with a younger sibling
Uno
Skip Bo
Monopoly
Exploding Kittens
Rat a Tat Cat
Play 9
Play with Play-Doh (outside with permission and you have to clean up after.)
Jump rope (set a new record for consecutive jumps!)
Cut shapes for a picture and glue together Leo Lionni style
Make a collage with pics cut from a magazine
Do Origami
Play Kickball
Play Wiffle Ball
Play Softball or Baseball
Play Badminton
Play Frisbee
Play Soccer
Play Frisbee or Ultimate Frisbee
Play Croquet
Play Bocce
Play Volleyball
Play Handball/Wallball
Keep an Art or Nature journal of your summer
Make mud pies
Build with Legos
    Make a Lego village outside
    Make a Lego zip-line
    Make a Lego universe
Make a Fairy House or Fairy Garden in the corner of the yard
(Or because I have 5 boys: A Magical Forest with dragons and castles and knights.)
Build a fort (EVERYTHING needs to be put away after)
Eat lunch outside on a blanket
Press summer flowers for an art project later
Run through the sprinklers
Have a water gun or water balloon fight
Blow bubbles
Draw pictures with chalk outside
Memorize a scripture and earn $1
Read 10 stories to little sibling and earn $1
Do 10 extra chores to earn Special Time (art/cooking/clay) with Mom
Do a secret service for someone
Write someone an anonymous love note!
Draw a picture
Paint (with permission)
Paint beach rocks (with permission)
Make a panorama in a shoe box-but only if you can find your own shoe box. (Do not ask Mom to find you a shoe-box.)
Write and illustrate a story. Bind with yarn.
Write in your journal
Write to the missionaries
Open and use one of the many How To {craft/draw/experiment} Books Mom has bought for you!
Draw an imaginary creature and write a story about it
Make dinner for your family with Mom's approval.
Go to bed and stay in your bed until 7 am tomorrow ;)
Get extra practice on your instrument so you’ll be extra AMAZING
Don’t veg away your summer! Fill it with FUN ACTIVITIES!!!
Have a FABULOUS and FUN DAY!!!


Additional Reading For Parents/Caregivers:
“[The] first-person shooter game, Call of Duty has been played for 25 billion total hours, which adds up to 2.85 million years—longer than the course of human existence!”


‘“I just want him to be happy” is a low bar. You can do better. Your son can do better. No child is born wanting to be a great scientist, or composer, or teacher, or entrepreneur. They have to learn something of the scope of human possibility beyond what they see in a cartoon video game like Fortnite. In other words: it is your job, as the parent, to educate desire: to instill a longing for something better, more lasting, than video games.”


The average American child is said to spend 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen.”


P.S. What did I miss? Do you have any brilliant summer time activities your kids love? Let me know in the comments!!

Summer Games to Play Outside

SUMMER IS COMING!!! (Cue ominous music.)
My goal this year, like every year, is to get my kids outside as much as possible. I've revised and updated my list of Screen Free Summer Fun, but realized there are a few suggestions on there that the boys legitimately can't follow. For example, they have never played Kick-the-Can and although I played it a lot as a kid, the actual rules were kinda hazy when I thought about it.
I tried to find a super cute one-page printable on Pinterest, but I couldn't. So I made a really boring but serviceable one. If only I had finished that Desktop Publishing degree--regrets--sigh.
I found these directions on WikiHow and modified them to make them more concise and printable. Not entirely sure they make total sense, but your kid can probably get the gist.
In addition to Kick the Can, we have rules for Hopscotch, Four-Square, and Ghost in the Graveyard.

Here ya go:



How to Play Kick the Can
  1. Gather a group of 3 or more people.
  2. Find a can or plastic bottle to use.
  3. Designate playing boundaries. Play in an area with plenty of hiding places. Playgrounds, parks, and cul-de-sacs work great.
  4. Designate a jail area. The jail is where players go when they’re caught by the seeker. Your jail should have clearly defined boundaries. The jail needs to fit all the players playing. (We had to sit on the curb of our cul-de-sac when we played as kids.) Other un-tagged hiders can free you from jail by tagging you, but they risk being caught by the seeker.
  5. Pick the seeker and agree on a count time. Use rock, paper, scissors to select or use whatever method you prefer.
  6. Set up the can. Place in a central location that is wide open and difficult to sneak up on. You may want to locate your can close to your jail. This way, if the can is kicked, the seeker will have to run towards the jail while jailed players are running away.
  7. Hide while the seeker counts with their eyes closed
  8. Go to jail when caught by the seeker. For the seeker to catch someone, they have to call out the hider’s name and hiding spot. Then the hider and seeker race pack to the can. If the seeker arrives first or tags you first, you go to jail. If you get to the can first, you must kick the can before being tagged.
  9. Reset the game when the can is kicked. After the can is kicked, the hider runs to find a new hiding place while the seeker gets the can and places it back where it was. All jailed player are freed when a hider kicks the can.
  10. Play until only one hider remains. The last hider is the winner.
Variations:


* Add more seekers to your game. But no babysitting the can.
* Play in the dark with flashlights.

Alternate version of the rules here!

How to Play Hop-Scotch


  1. Draw a Hop-Scotch Design on the ground with chalk
  2. Throw a flat stone or small object into square one. It has to be all the way inside the square and can't be touching the line. If you miss, you lose your turn. (Did you know there is an official Hop-Scotch Hoppy Taw game marker? I had one as a kid!)
  3. Hop through the squares, skipping the one you have your marker on.  Each square gets one foot. Which foot you start with is up to you. You can't have more than one foot on the ground at a time, unless there are two number squares right next to each other. In that case, you can put down both feet simultaneously (one in each square). Always keep your feet inside the appropriate square(s); if you step on a line, hop on the wrong square, or step out of the square, you lose your turn.
  4. Pick up the marker on your way back. When you get to the last number, turn around (remaining on one foot) and hop your way back in reverse order. While you're on the square right before the one with your marker, lean down (probably on one foot still!) and pick it up. Then, skip over that square and finish up.
  5. Pass the marker on to the next person. If you completed the course with your marker on square one (and without losing your turn), then throw your marker onto square two on your next turn. Your goal is to complete the course with the marker on each square. The first person to do this wins the game!
How to Play Four-Square


Another classic: Ghost in the Graveyard



What are some games you played as a child that you would like to reintroduce to your kids? Let me know in the comments. Maybe I can add the rules to this post!

Dec 4, 2017

When You Have Feelings and You Need to Feel Your Feelings--With Music

On our way home from Utah after Thanksgiving, I had lots of time in the car and not a lot to do so I started messing around with playlists on Spotify.

I'll confess, I'm very new to Spotify. Max has it and one day asked me for the name of a song he wanted to add to one of his playlists.
I promptly stole his phone and started making this super kick-butt 80's playlist for him. I may or may not have been a master of the mix tape back in the day. But that's neither here nor there. Over the next few days, I kept adding to "Max's Rad 80's".

And then he was like:
"Mom, give me my phone back and make your own Spotify account. Also, can you get us premium?"
And I was like:
"Whatevs. You are welcome for the best music you've ever heard!! Top 40 sucks and Hip Hop is for losers! Tell your friends! And NO, we're not getting premium."

Or something.

Anyway, I got cut off from my rad playlist and decided I would just go ahead and make my own Spotify account-- like he said-- even though I *mostly* almost always categorically disapprove of anything I...
a) hear about from a teenager first and/or
b) am told to do by a teenager

But then we're all stuck in the car and we have 10 billion more hours and Doug wants some music on and Max wants me to pick one of his Spotify playlists....
Which reminds me that his taste in music is questionable and mine is amazing......
So I play my Rad 80's mix and then start working on a NEW list. This time in my very own account.

Turns out I was in a mood and wanted some music to match my mood.
I wanted to feel some feelings. Not necessarily sad or mad or angry feelings. Just *deep* feelings. The feelings that make you cry a little on the inside.

I started creating a playlist titled--for lack of a more clever name:
"Angsty"

I got a few songs on it and thought it would be fun to ask Facebook for suggestions. I even tagged a few people who I happen to know have strong feelings about music--and also similar taste to mine.

Aaaaaaaannnnnnndddddd....it was a really good decision.

I don't want to over-sell it or anything, buuuuuuuuuuuuuut...
this playlist may just be my gift to humanity.
My legacy. The best thing I've ever created.
(Except for, ya know, my kids and whatnot.)

So anyway, if you want you can "Follow" my "Angsty" playlist on Spotify.
If you need help, ask your kids to 'teen-splain' it to you. (FYI, Teensplaining--which I just coined--is 10,000 X more obnoxious than Mansplaining so prepare yourself for some serious condescendtion from your adorable child.)

(If you want to avoid all that you can listen from the link in the side bar over there in the right side bar.)

I've been listening to this play list for a few days and I have to say it's almost perfect. If I were currently taking Zoloft, I would be increasing my dose. But in a good way, ya know??

Anyway...enjoy!

And let me know if you have any suggestions!




My Spotify User Name is: Emilydeon and the playlist is "Angsty".

Enjoy!


Oct 9, 2017

Quick, Easy, and Cheap Emergency Preparedness

The multiple natural disasters happening near and far have me, as usual, thinking back to our time in Japan after the 3/11/11 Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear Meltdown.
I still remember a week or two after it happened, I logged in to Facebook one day to send out an update and there was the rest of the world: blithely going about their lives. It was a very odd when we felt like we were living in a nightmare.

I remember in the weeks and months after the quake, we would be talking about our experiences, mention preparedness or 72 hour kits, and our friends and family would nonchalantly (or sheepishly) mention "Yeah, I guess I should get something just in case..."

I kept thinking "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!? THE BAD STUFF DOESN'T JUST HAPPEN OVER-SEAS! WHAT ABOUT KATRINA? BAD STUFF CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE!!!"

(Sometimes I get a little vehement. Usually I keep said vehemence to myself. The rest of the time, I blog about it or yell it at bad drivers.)

I feel incredibly heart sick for those affected by natural disasters, (AND man-made disasters like Vegas). Heart sick and anxious and fearful and helpless. But those feelings don't help anyone. Talking about those feelings on-line probably won't help anyone. But maybe writing about preparedness WILL help someone. I don't really wanna be a preparedness blogger. But here we all are.

We can't prepare for everything. We can't prevent all bad things from happening. But we can take some basic steps to bring a little peace into our lives.

I know "Emergency Preparedness" can be daunting. To some it just seems like an overwhelming chore.
Some don't want to spend a lot of money and try to DIY it. 
After all, you might think, "I just need to print a list from Pinterest, take it to two or three stores, buy every supply on the list {times number of family members,} take items home, assemble in appropriate carrying aparatus, and then find a place to store it all!"
I'm here to tell you it does not need to be that hard.

Here's the deal though: It does cost a little money. But you can get a good start for around $40-$50.

Maybe you are completely broke. Maybe buying one or two emergency supplies is your only option. If that's the case, you can make it work. Get a list, and get a few things when you can afford them. (Start with a case of bottled water, next add emergency food bars, and go from there.) THAT IS BETTER THAN NOTHING!


(Also, tell your parents that you would LOVE a 72-hour kit for Christmas. They might just be THRILLED to hook you up!)

For the rest of you, please listen closely to my words:
Think about your budget. Think about the things you spend money on every single month. Think about some of the things you buy that are WANTS and not absolute needs.
 Most of us have SOMETHING in our budget that isn't strictly  necessary to keep us alive. Most of us have SOMETHING we can sacrifice for a good cause. THIS IS THAT CAUSE.

In case you're wondering, I speak from experience. We purchased our 2-Backpack-72-hour-kit-for-Four-People when we were broke and living on student loans during UCSF Dental School. Our expenses (living in San Francisco) were high, and our budget was tiny. But we were counseled by church leaders to be prepared. 
We immediately bought what we needed and started saving a little cash to keep on hand. I had those same emergency 72-hour kits a few years later on 3/11/11, and a tiny "can" safe full of $800/cash we had slowly saved over time.

{With the power out, and ATM's, cash registers and credit card machines not working, guess what I used to buy extra diapers with after the quake? Cash from my tiny safe.}

So here's my advice, once you've determined that you're going to skip dinner out for a few weeks, and turn off your cable for a month, or disconnect your ungrateful teens cell coverage for three months, (just to keep them humble), you can start the lengthy, tedious, difficult process to becoming prepared.

First, get on-line
Second, buy a pre-made 72-hour kit. 

That's it.

I just looked on Amazon. They have a 72-hour-kit for FOUR people on-sale for $139.95. That is actually pretty darn cheap. If that is still too rich for your blood, get a one person kit for around $50. (I picked one up at Home Depot once for around $35!)
A ONE person 72-hour kit could also be a THREE person 24-hour kit. In other words, it's better than nothing.
Look at Amazon, Costco.com, BePrepared.com, or any other site of your choice. Give yourself 30-40 minutes to shop around and find the best bargain, and THEN JUST BUY ONE!!!

(You just might be so proud of yourself that next month you go back and buy another one!)

It doesn't actually have to be a long painful process. I ain't got time for that. YOU ain't got time for that.

Even IF you want to DIY it, I STILL recommend buying your first fully assembled kit. Here's why: you will instantly have a whole bunch of emergency stuff.
All at once.
All in one place.
All packed neatly.
All well thought out.
You will immediately feel a little better at the thought that you are not COMPLETELY unprepared for a disaster.

After that, you can TOTALLY bargain shop and add to it until it meets the needs of your entire family.

If you do want to outfit your family all at once, don't buy individual one-person packs or a lot of the items will be needlessly duplicated. If you can afford it, buy a pack built for 2 or 4.
That way, you aren't paying for 4 emergency hand crank radios but you're still getting 4 emergency whistles and rain coats and the right amount of food and water.

It's been a few years since Doug and I have made any significant updates to our stock of survival gear, and it's been at least a year since we rotated the food and clothes in our 72-hour-kits. (The food bricks last a long time, the snack-y stuff needs to be rotated.)

But we are now to the point we have everything we need and plenty of luxury items.
Some of those "luxury" items aren't all that fancy, like:
Snack food and candy in addition to emergency protein bars.
Mountain Home just-add-water meals
*Card games and small toys and comfort items for kids
A spare set of clothes for each person
Plus a few high tech gadgets like a solar phone charger

If we have to shelter in place, we can survive with enough food and water for a loooong time. If we have to evacuate, we have enough food and shelter and water and warmth for 72 hours for all seven of us. We didn't buy everything all at once. But we started with a basic kit for the four (at the time) members of our family, and built from there.

I KNOW this is not what most people want to spend money on--something you will stick in a closet and may never need. But I am here to tell you that preparedness FEELS GOOD! It alleviates stress and anxiety! It is calming! It is proactive! And it is something we can all accomplish if we want to!!

Please search the archives if you want posts written by me and by my friends on what we had and what we wished we had had in our preparedness supplies in the aftermath of the Tohoku quake. (Search for Preparedness or Misawa Monday Preparedness Perspective.)
And please ask if you have any questions. I'm happy to help!

Haven't got a single thing yet except a full HydroFlask by the kitchen sink?? 
Let me know when you've successfully hit the "Buy Now" button on your first 72-hour kit. I'll be here cheering for you. 
Somewhere in the middle? 
What are you still missing?
If you are already completely prepared, tell me where you got your stuff and what you are super happy to have!

Remember: "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear."

Sincerely,

Emily



*From my friend Kellie in Houston:
We didn't need to evacuate but were stuck at home for multiple days in a row with 7 kids... separate from the 72 hour kits, have a rubbermaid filled with glow sticks, Play-doh, a few new games or craft items.  I thought about it and purchased a few days before the storm hit and I am soooo glad I did, seriously saved our week.  I am now thinking about setting aside a permanent "emergency fun kit"

SHE WAS PREPARED!!! It was a rotten situation but I can guarantee her preparedness made it easier! Great job Kellie!!

Why I'm passionate about preparedness: Surviving the Earthquake in Japan

We have every reason to be optimistic in this world. Tragedy is around, yes. Problems everywhere, yes. But … you can’t, you don’t, build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen.
— Gordon B. Hinckley