Cell Phone Coma

Children using smartphonesCountdown has begun. In 30 seconds a major asteroid will collide with Earth!  JJ Watt called and wants to practice some football drills with you.  You’ve won a million dollars and a trip to Disney World!  No response.  My kid’s head is down and he is intently watching a small, rectangular device in his hand.  The only signs of life I can detect are his diaphragm moving slowly up and down, and the thumbs and index fingers seem to be moving on their own.  Eyes are fixated and pupils appear dialated.  There is absolutely no response to any of my attempts at verbal communication.

Sound familiar?  The image can only be something that every parent of a pre-teen or “tween” is learning to deal with.  While our kids have no cell phones of their own, they use ours frequently to play games and see what their friends are doing on social media.  This is learned behavior by the way.  Humans aren’t born with an innate sense of pushing buttons.  But from the looks of things, this generation will never know that concept.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s where board games were cool, and Battleship was the closest thing to being “tech savvy”.  By the time the Atari game system launched in the 80s, with the game Pac Man following soon after, we thought as kids that this was the biggest invention ever!

Arcades were the rage then too with pin ball machines and their fancy, bright lights.  Going to the pizza parlor were you could play games AND eat pizza with a big mouse called Chuck E. seemed like heaven.  Your parents yelled your name out to come sit down when the food was ready, and everyone would sit, eat, and talk.  Now most likely a parent will text their kids to come to the table, everyone will sit down, phones are out on the table while the family is eating, and an occasional word will be spoken.

It’s an addiction.  It’s everywhere.  Go to any public gathering and you’ll see adults doing the same thing; heads down with thumbs and index fingers moving like crazy.  In a few years I predict the physical therapists will have an epidemic on their hands from strained necks and over usage of thumbs.  And plastic surgeons will be working on the “turkey necks” that adults are giving themselves by looking down so continuously.  (Gobble gobble!)

I am preaching to myself here.  How many times I find myself getting caught up with what someone is doing. “Oh you’re eating that for dinner?  Yummy!” or where someone is vacationing, “Third cruise this year?  Jealous!”  Actually I’m nauseated.  Why is this so perpetual?  I love being connected but where to strike a balance is tricky.  I’m “pinning” recipes and DIY projects that I will never to get to try because I’m on my phone!  And the Word Crack game has the word “crack” in it for obvious reasons.  We just can’t seem to put these things down and walk away.

I hate to miss a birthday or anniversary.  I love seeing baby pictures posted by my friends.  Vacation photos?  Bring them on!  I can dream about where I would love to go.  But when we as a family and society begin to withdraw from each other, that’s when you realize enough is enough.  So my husband and I have come up with a few rules to help ourselves and our family:

  1. At the dinner table, no cell phones are allowed.
  2. Posting photos of each other are ok as long as I’m in good lighting and my husband has his Giants hat on.
  3. No posting about being out of town on vacation while we’re actually away.  We don’t want our Facebook Friends and Family breaking and entering. (You can thank us later from saving you from a life of crime.)
  4. Kids are not allowed to have cell phones until we as parents feel they are responsible enough to own one.  At this point, 19 years old seems pretty reasonable.
  5. When someone doesn’t seem to be responding to anything that my husband and I are saying (see the beginning of this blog), it’s definitely time to provide CPR because the Cell Phone Coma has commenced.

So look up and around.  Enjoy the view.  Save your neck from future plastic surgery.  More importantly save yourself and your loved ones from Cell Phone Coma.

“T minus 10, 9, 8 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, the Asteroid!”  I yell out.  “What?”  I hear from the patient.  It seems he has finally awakened from his coma…for now.

Trusting God With Your Children

cross I can remember dressing both my babies in their Sunday best for baby dedication.  Both Protestant and Catholic churches have their customs for bringing their children before the church.  Some call it baptism or christening, and we call ours dedication.  It comes from the verse in I Samuel 1:11, where Hannah had pleaded with God to give her a child since she was barren.  If God fulfilled her prayer, she promised to dedicate her son, Samuel, to God. It’s also found in Luke 2:22 with Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to the synagogue 40 days after his birth and dedicating him as the custom allowed.

Standing before the church, our minister asked us if we would do our part in rearing our children in a godly home.  At the time the answer seemed easy and of course we agreed.  Now, as I parent a preteen and an elementary aged child, I see how much our world has changed and the challenges and dangers it presents.

In this day and age of online predators, international terrorists, school shootings, cyber bullying along with so much more, raising kids in this generation is tremendously difficult.  I often watch the evening news and wonder what will their world be like when they’re adults?  What will our economy be like?  What will our environment be like?  I hear the broadcaster announce, “nuclear deal reached”.  Hard to imagine a peaceful existence for their future.

The hardest part for me as a Mom is not worrying about my kids.  I don’t think it ever changes.  I know moms whose children are now parents themselves well into their forties.  These moms still worry about their adult children.  Yet there comes a point when you can’t control everything and have to hand it over to God.  Trusting Him with your child.  How?  When?

Trusting Him to place my child with the right teachers.  Trusting Him to guide them in making the right friends.  Trusting Him to help them catch that fly ball at the baseball tryout, or nail that tumbling sequence at a dance recital (yes I prayed really hard for that one, because how horrible to fall in a dance recital!).

There are always going to be big and small decisions concerning our children. I have learned that when I start to worry or fret,  it’s time to stop and pray.  When I do, I can hear that still, small voice say “Trust Me”.  And why wouldn’t I?  We can run around frantic and concerned, or stop and remember that the very one who knew us while we were being formed in our own mother’s wombs (Jeremiah 1:5), knows our children just as well and has a plan for their lives.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lords, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

My children have a future in Him.  I have reminded them that there are people who will try to convince them to follow other beliefs, pursue other interests, and take other’s advice, but to follow Him is what I agreed to help them do as infants.  Continuing that promise is something I can’t falter on.

I remember a song I learned as a child, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”  It may not seem like it with the chaotic worldwide headlines, but He does have it.  He has our family.  He has my children.  And I am so thankful to have HIM.

Grocery Store Dread

Dread is defined as “to anticipate with great apprehension or fear; to be afraid of, worry about, be anxious or have forebodings, unease or angst”.  For example, “Jane was dreading to visit her in-laws”, or “The thought of a cramped elevator filled Bob with dread.”  For me personally, the idea, the very notion, and the ever gnawing feeling of hunger is prompting me to do the one thing I really dread…going to the grocery store with my kids!

Yes it’s summertime and all but inevitable that they will have to accompany me to the store.  Normally, when school is in session, I have time to work around their schedules and mine to make a quick trip without having two voices constantly interrupting my train of thought.  When I go to the store alone I have my routine down pat.  I enter and grab a disinfectant wipe and wipe down that disgusting cart.  Did you know that grocery store carts and movie theater seats are some of the worse carriers of germs?  Anyway, disinfect first and then I make my way.  I go through the produce first, quickly scanning for deals and avoiding the unfortunate mark up of organic.  I wind through the seafood section glancing at the lobsters and wondering who pays for these things?  I do, but not at $15 a pound!  Then it’s through the deli section and through the meat and chicken.  I dodge through processed food aisles with cereal and snacks which I try to avoid (except for the occasional box of Lucky Charms, because they really are “magically delicious”).  I continue to make my way, check items off my list, quickly charge through the frozen foods because it’s always too darn cold, and make way back up to the checkout lanes.  If I’m organized and stick to my list, I can easily make it in and out in less than an hour.

Yesterday was a different story.

I had to go to the store.  The shelves in our pantry were slowly diminishing to down to cornstarch and a can of pumpkin.  Sigh.  The kids were coming with me.

Now at the store I’m trying to stick to my plan but I have two little beings who are constantly pumping me with questions.  “What are we eating for dinner tonight?”, and “Will you buy me candy if I’m really good?” I always laugh at that one.  Trying to work my way through produce, one of my munchkins insist on picking out their own fruit and weighing it, while the other one is whining about me not letting him push the cart.  I remind him that I would like to keep my achilles in tact and at the rate he clips the back of my feet, I’m going to lose.

As we wander through the aisles I feel defeat approaching.  My plan is starting to unravel.  I pass other moms in the aisles with the same looks on their faces.  We’re not enjoying these trips to the store.  We’re trying to survive like POWs;  prisoners of war whose grocery carts are like work wagons that we’re pushing.  Once in a while I will bump into a mom I know and we exchange the look.  The look that says, “How did we get here?  It feels like yesterday that we were celebrating 21.”  I hear a cry that jolts me back to present time.  My kids are fighting over which brand of macaroni to buy.

Each aisle produces new sorts of questions and ideas.  “Let’s buy lemonade and do a lemonade stand!”, and “Yes, and let’s get cookies and brownies too and we can have a bake sale.”  In 95 degree heat and humidity that feels like a hot, wet blanket?  Think again kiddos.

Finally, I’m beginning to see a light.  It’s the frozen food section and I realize I’m almost home free!  A few quick passes grabbing milk, and ice cream, I begin to make my way to the checkout lanes.  I hear voices behind beginning to cry about why we’re not stopping to try sausage samples, or why am I not buying the dog more dog treats, but I AM NOT STOPPING!  I quickly search for a couple of checkers that I know are fast or don’t do the “small talk”.  You know those who always ask annoying questions like “How is your day going?” and “Did you find everything you needed?”  I usually say “fine” but I really want to respond with “How do you think it’s going?  My kids won’t stop talking and asking my to buy things”, and “The only thing I need is a pina colada and a nice quiet beach to enjoy.  Does your store carry that?”

I see my old friend, “what’s his name”, and he quickly checks us out.  He’s retired and has zero patience with kids and he sees I want out quickly.  No coupons, no ice, no help out to my car…just give me my receipt!

He tears off the receipt and I go for the exit.  The glass doors slide open, the sun beats down its warmth on my face and FREEDOM!  We’re done.  We made it.  Groceries are loaded, kids are in the seats with belts attached, air conditioning is blasting, and we head home.  Pulling into the driveway it feels good to finally be over with it.

Sigh…now time to unload.

Run!

In Pamplona, Spain today the Festival of San Fermin, also known as the Running of the Bulls, had its first day of what else…running!  For the next several days people will allow themselves to run along side massive animals with the possibility of being trampled or gorged to death.  Ernest Hemingway’s novel, “The Sun Also Rises”, brought even more notoriety to the event, and people continue to flock annually to Pamplona from around the globe.

Watching the live coverage today reminded me of a trip my mother and I made to Spain several years ago.  The Spanish lifestyle was something we had to get accustomed to you on our ten day voyage.  By day eight we were still trying to figure out exactly what time Spaniards ate dinner and when they went to sleep.

Here in the States our routines are more regimented.  Most people work from 8 to 5 with a one hour lunch.  Typically an American worker has two to three weeks of vacation.  There is a rush hour in most major cities in the morning and evening, and people work this routine Monday through Friday, week after week, months on end.

In Spain, however, work is treated in a more carefree, spirited fashion.  Businesses open later in the morning, they close for a couple of hours in the afternoon, and then reopen in the evening before closing much later than our accustomed 5:00 p.m. closing time. The Spanish don’t seem to let time control them but rather the other way around.  They enjoy their time with family and friends with late, evening dinners and frequent tapas bars.

In a tapas bar you let the waiter know what items should be brought to the table, or bar if you prefer to stand, along with a bottle of wine or sangria. Everyone shares the food and drink and pays little attention to the time.  The Spanish simply enjoy life.  They have a passion for food, wine, and people.  The laid back atmosphere on that trip inspired me to do the following: find a great tapas restaurant in Houston (Mi Luna is a great one – see milunahouston.com), learn to make sangria, and slow down to enjoy life.

I would love to go back to Spain someday but not to run with the bulls; instead run with a passion for living and back for another glass of that Blog photosangria!

 

Memorial Day 2015

Better late than never I thought as I began setting up this blog.  Do people even read these anymore?  It’s been over a decade since blogging started.  I still read them here and there, so why now should I start one?

Perhaps it’s because my children are growing up just as fast as I was warned they would.  I want to be able to chronicle our lives in the frenzy of living, so that someday we can go back and read over our family experiences. Holding them as babies, the days seemed long and tiresome.  But now my first baby is approaching the “tween” years and asking me for a phone on a daily basis.  Since when did a baby need a phone?

Perhaps it’s also due to the fact that there is a lot happening around me, in our community, and in our world that I have opinions about.  The time and place to express those thoughts and feelings doesn’t always present itself in this busy life I lead.  Herein is the beauty of blogging; to write what I want when I want.

I tend to express my views and will welcome others.  I will unashamedly discuss my faith as it remains the one thing in my life that still mystifies and solidifies me at the same time.  And there’s plenty to discuss when it comes to parenting, food, shopping and traveling.  Looking forward to blogging about it all!

Thank you for reading.

Laura