Sunday, September 30, 2012

Down the shore

My paternal Grandparents rent a house on the bay in Ocean City, NJ every fall, and this year we decided to crash their quiet little party for a couple days.  It had been a couple of years since we had been down the shore at all so the kids were really excited.  We love it down there in the off-season, and even though it is a little chilly the lack of crowds makes it worth it. 

All Claire wanted to do was eat the sand, so we dug her a nice little hole to keep her contained. She was quite content in there watching the ocean and everyone play.
Breakfast at Brown's.
Oh yes he ate all that, and then some.  And hence the reason it takes a long time to save up enough in the budget to take these kids out to eat! 
"Are you kidding me?  I don't get a donut?"

Warm, cinnamon sugar donuts from Brown's are the BEST!
 Canoeing in the bay.
Chinese Checkers with great Grandmom.
And a good time was had by all, as they say.  At least it was by us.  Frank and Norma are probably glad for some peace and quiet again though.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Morris Arboretum

Tuesday we went down to Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia with my parents, my sister Dawn and her daughter, and my sister Amy and her three kids.  We had been there several times before, but it has been a number of years for us even though Christian makes it down there more often for classes.  I had forgotten how lovely it was.  Aiden kept walking around saying, "I love it here, it's so pretty!"
Maybe it was the cost.  It is a little pricy when you are taking a gaggle of kids.  Thankfully my sister is a super duper deal finder and managed to get all of us except one in for free.  New Jersey libraries let members check out museum passes to various museums in the area and she used two library cards to check out two passes.  She is awesome and saved just us $48!  I'm also thinking PA needs to get in on that action.
Since the last time we were there they installed this canopy walk through the trees and the birds nest that you see in the distance here.
How could the kids not love this?
Then we all completed a scavenger hunt with the kids in which they needed to get their passbook stamped at different stations around the arboretum.  That was a lot of fun and helped give us some focus.  :)
We would really like to get back there in the spring, and while a membership is tempting I think we will wait until Dawn can check out those passes again in 6 months.  :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why I gave up Facebook

Could the fact that I don't want to look like this when I communicate with people be a good enough reason in and of itself?
"Napoleon, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day." ~Kip

I've have had this like/hate relationship with Facebook and have gone back and forth with activating and deactivating my account for a while, but I needed some good reasons to permanently delete my Facebook account,  so I started doing some research, and what I found convinced me 100% that this was the right decision.  Some of these things I already knew, but some of them were new to me.   I really don't care what you personally choose to do, but since I have been asked why I made this decision a few times now I thought I would post this.

Here they are in no particular order, 9 reasons why I gave up Facebook.

1.  Facebook debates.
This is a big one. You have to know what I'm talking about.  I really do love a good debate.  I think healthy debate is a good way to test out our ideas and help us become more firm in our convictions when we are challenged.  Unfortunately other people don't always look at it like that and many of us get highly offended when we see someone posting something that we disagree with.  You see, Facebook is not really the right platform for a debate.  Without body language, tone and an actual physical person in front of us we tend to say things we never would in person.  The debates go on and on ad nauseum until everyone ends up mad at each other, yet in real life we pretend that nothing ever happened.  It's odd, it's not normal, and it can't be healthy.  As much as we want to say we are going to stay out of it, I dare say that most of us have succumbed to the temptation to just "just say this one thing".  I really think that if we can't say whatever we are saying on Facebook in person, then we shouldn't be saying it at all.

2.  False sense of reality
Do I really want to be defined by what I put on my Facebook profile?  Do I really want to define others by their Facebook profiles?  We can spend a lot of time grooming our Facebook profiles to make ourselves look cool and likeable, smart and witty, fun and sociable.  Is what we write a true representation of who we are?  I suppose some of it is, but I personally am tired of the "performance" mentality.   I'm tired of having to "feed and water" my Facebook account so I look just right.   

3.  Time waster.
Did you know the average user spends at least an hour a day on the site?  48% of 18-34 year olds check Facebook when they wake up, with 28% doing so before even getting out of bed!  I don't know about you, but to me that is just slightly disturbing.  We all could use some extra time in our day and here is an easy way to get some.

4.  It makes you feel worse about yourself
 Most women already struggle with feelings of inadequacy in "real life" situations.  So how can I possibly compare myself to everyone's happy snappy instagram life?

Researcher  Cecilie Shous Andreassen states, "We have also found that people who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face."   Anxious and insecure?  Facebook isn't going to help.

In one interesting Stanford study, researchers found that their test subjects repeatedly underestimated how many "negative experiences" their peers were having and overestimated "how much fun" their peers were having.  While it looks like everyone is having more fun than you it just isn't true.

5.  Fosters loneliness
The more time we spend online the less time to develop real in person relationships on the phone or in person.  While making us think we are "connected" to up to hundreds of friends at the click of a mouse, the research shows that the more time spent online the lonelier a person feels. 

6. Prevents or hinders true friendships
We are human and humans need physical touch, human voice and presence.  When we spend much of our time connecting online we don't feel the need to pick up the phone or get together with people in real life.  Maybe others don't see the problem with this, but I do.  My sister was at a baseball game recently and said she was sickened by the number of people on their smartphones.  Most people were looking at their phones rather than watching the game, taking pictures and sending them to their Facebook accounts, tweeting about it, and responding to those comments and updates.  You want to scream, "Snap out of it people!  Enjoy where you are for what it is and not for the cool status or pictures it gives you!  Stop living in cyberland and be in the moment!"

7.  Narcissism and other psychological problems
Narcissism is a preoccupation with oneself that often leads us to relate to others as objects instead of as equals.
A study showed that:
 • Teens who use Facebook more often show more narcissistic tendencies, while young adults who have a strong Facebook presence show more signs of other psychological disorders, including antisocial behaviors, mania and aggressive tendencies.
• Daily overuse of media and technology has a negative effect on the health of all children, preteens and teenagers by making them more prone to anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders, as well as by making them more susceptible to future health problems.
Another article stated that people with high levels of narcissism and low levels of self-esteem spend more than an hour a day on Facebook.

8. It's addictive
This was a hard one to admit but now that I am on the other side I would have to say that yes, I was addicted.  It took about two weeks to stop thinking random daily happenings would make good status updates and just enjoy said happening for what it was.
Want to know if you are addicted?  Check out the The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale

9.  My kids
My kids need my full presence as much as I can give without my tendency to be distracted by what my "friends" are doing.  Do I really want their memories of me to be of me sitting in front of the computer scrolling my Facebook news feed looking at what everyone else is doing?  What about me mom?  What about what I am doing?  Isn't it important to you?
20-30 years ago it was soap operas for stay at home moms.  10 years ago it was Oprah.  Today it's Facebook and social networking, but it's all the same thing.  I recently read my friend's blog in which she lamented the hours wasted on Facebook now that she lost her daughter to cancer.  Thankfully she chose to stay off of it for the last year of her daughter's life, but she can never get back those wasted days.

Do I think that the blog can cause the same problems since it is still a technological way of communicating?  Yes, I suppose it can in some ways and maybe someday this too will have to go as well.  It can create a false sense of reality if we only post about all the wonderful parts of our lives and are not honest.  However, I also feel that in many ways it's a lot different.   It takes a whole lot more thought to put together a blog post than it does to blurt out a Facebook status.  For instance, it took me over a month to finish writing this post whereas I could have taken two seconds to post "Facebook is a waste of time" as a status update.  I also hope to post things here that are helpful in some way to other people while using it as a journal of sorts that will be fun to look back on.  Also, if you don't like what I post, you don't have to read it!  With Facebook you are "forced" to look at a lot of stuff that you really wouldn't have if your "friend" hadn't put it on there.

Join me if you wish.  Feel the freedom!

Further Reading:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

We're back!

After thinking that we were going to have to stay another night, the ended up releasing us last night, for which I was so extremely thankful.  Since we weren't on the ICU we had to share a room, and there was a baby in that room that was fussy and kept us from getting much needed sleep.   Not to mention that we didn't even get to the room until 2am after 6 hours in the ER.  I really do love the people there at CHOP but it takes forever get things moving there sometimes! 

Claire has a bladder infection.  That is what her doctor here originally thought but they were not able to do the test here (for reasons I don't want to say) or at the local hospitals so that is why she sent us to the city.  Of course once down there they started thinking it could be all these other infectious diseases, even though she had no other symptoms.  It's frustrating but when you go to the hospital and you tell them that your child is not vaccinated they automatically start thinking it is polio or diphtheria or meningitis or whatnot.  It's slightly annoying.  Especially when it's all said and done and they say "yup, classic bladder infection".

So anyway, we're back and Claire is feeling much better after even just two doses of antibiotics.  Now to catch up on some sleep.......

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sick Claire

We are down at CHOP with Claire and have been since last night.  She has had an unexplained fever since Monday and they can't figure out what it is.  Everytime they think they figure it out the test comes back negative.  Certain counts in her blood work however indicate serious infection and inflammation.   They are running more tests today and hope to find something soon.  It looks like we will be here another night, but hopefully they figure out something soon do we can go home.  Sharing a room with another fussy baby is no fun and we could all use some sleep.  Please pray.  Thanks.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Academy of Natural Sciences

We spent Labor Day down in Philly at the Academy of Natural Sciences.  I was a little apprehensive that it would be crowded since it was a holiday and because our visit to the Franklin Institute the Friday after Christmas ended up being the busiest day of the year (scary!).  Thankfully I thought to call ahead this time to ask if they were typically busy on Labor Day, to which the answer was, thankfully "no".
(FYI my parents were at the Franklin Institute the same day and they reported that it was crowded)

We have a membership to our local science museum and it includes reciprocal membership at all the local science museums including the Academy of Natural Sciences.  It's really such a great deal and we got our money's worth many times over this year.  Our membership was running out though so I really wanted to get down there before the end of the month, and Christian really wanted to go too because this stuff is right up his alley so we were happy that it worked out.
I must say that we liked this museum a lot better than Franklin Institute.  It isn't as huge, meaning you can basically see everything in one day, and it isn't as crowded.  Kids also seem to find natural science more interesting than the electricity, physics, chemistry and such that you will find at Franklin.
They had this fun excavation simulation where the kids could pretend to be archeologists and try to dig up dinosaur bones.
I just want to give a shout out to our friends in Argentina!  Apparently it's a major spot to find dinosaur bones.
They had all these really cool dioramas of scenes from Africa, Asia and North America. The kids said these were their favorite thing about the museum.  I only have two pictures here but there were 37 dioramas in all.
There was also a great exhibit called "Outside In" that was more geared to younger children, and was filled with insects, turtles, small mammals and lots of other hands on things to explore.
(Red Kneed Tarantula)
(Honeybee hive)
(Panning for shark teeth)

One of the major reasons we wanted to visit was to see their indoor butterfly exhibit.  There were species of butterflies from all over the world in there and you could get so close to observe them.  While you were not allowed to touch them, if you were lucky, one could land on you.
We also enjoyed this room with specimens collected from all over the world.  Shells, butterflies, a meteorite, birds, insects, fish, bones, plants and on and on.  It was all so interesting and fun to look at.  The kids could not stop saying "oooh mommy, daddy, come look quick!"
There was also a live animal section where we got to observe this guy taking a snooze.  Unfortunately the camera could not seem to capture his iridescent scales that looked so beautiful in the light.

We had such a fabulous time that we decided this was one membership we needed to renew for the coming year.  It also happened to have the best gift shop of any museum ever.  O.k. maybe I tend to be a little extreme sometimes, but it really was pretty cool.  Even Christian managed to stay in there for more than ten minutes and that says a lot.  :)

Hopefully we will be heading back soon!
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