Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Entry 4: In which I ponder my relationship with the internet.

Yesterday I went book shopping.
A friend had recommended a specific book on children's health, and I really wanted to read it, so I searched for it at every local library branch. None of them had it. I decided to buy it. I found it at several different stores. I compared prices and quality; I looked at several similar books on the subject; I ended up buying a large number of books including the original one I searched for-- all from different stores, all for the best price, some used, some new. While I was at it, I also finished buying my daughter's birthday presents, including a Disney movie that is currently "in the vault."
I did all of this without leaving my home-- in fact, without leaving my desk.
I'm trying to imagine how many days this whole process would have taken, and how much it would have cost me, without the internet. Would I even have been able to find those books? Especially used? I know I wouldn't have been able to find the Disney movie anywhere, especially for that price. Now I get to wait comfortably while they are all delivered right to my home.
Today I've already communicated with several friends, all of whom live at least 50 miles away. I've RSVPed to weddings, graduations, and charity parties. I've conducted business, and checked off the RSVPs for my daughter's birthday party. I've checked the bank account, the credit card statement, and paid some bills. All that took me, I don't know, maybe half an hour to forty-five minutes? And cost me absolutely nothing. (Well, OK, I had to use money to pay the bills, but I didn't have to use a stamp, an envelope, or a check...)
I have to admit, when I hear people maligning the internet, I can't relate. As the mother of two small children with no car of my own and a TV whose antenna has apparently failed to find any local channels, when I think of life without the internet, it might as well be life in Rapunzel's tower. Without the internet I would never know what world events were happening, what tomorrow's weather forecast was, or where any of my friends and family were or what was happening in their lives. Many people who don't like the internet accuse it of destroying face-to-face friendships and local-based community. This is a big debate to which I can't do justice in this post, but I will probably write a follow-up entry addressing it. For now I would simply argue that, if it weren't for the internet, I would have no friendships or community at all (or at least they would be EXTREMELY limited), and some is better than none, right?
But what about phone calls? you might ask. I get my phone statements, pay my phone bill, and monitor my cell phone minutes (to make sure I don't go over) online, so no internet, no phone.
What about letters? None of them would even have my mailing address if I hadn't e-mailed it to them, and besides, if I had to pay nearly half a dollar every time I wanted to contact anyone, I'd be broke pretty quickly. (Did you hear the USPS is raising postage... again?!) Also, since I rarely have time or transportation to stop by the post office, I've often used the internet to calculate and buy postage when I do send something postal.
Basically, the internet is an integral part of my life. Without it, everything would stop, and I would probably go crazy...
Earlier this month I started planning my daughter's birthday party. Knowing the themes I wanted would probably be impossible to find locally, I bought most of the party things online: plates, party favors, craft materials to use in our party activities. However, I chose to wait and buy some things at a local store. "Surely," I thought, "Wal-Mart has crepe and balloons for a lower price, and I wouldn't have to pay shipping."
Unfortunately, local stores don't come with search engines. It took me half an hour just to find the place where the crepe and balloons should be, and then, of course, Wal-Mart had every color of crepe and balloon except the two colors that I needed.
Next time I'll just buy everything on the internet.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Entry 3: In which I demonstrate what a clever mother I am.

Actually, I don't think I'm that clever of a mother. If I were, I probably would have figured this out years ago, but as it is, I'm glad I figured it out today.
Anyone who's been following my facebook recently knows that I have been rejoicing in the fact that my 2-year-old and 1-year-old have been taking simultaneous naps for the past two weeks or so. This allows for the kind of freedom that a mom like myself has only been able to dream of for some time.
Today, that almost fell apart. For whatever reason, my son (the youngest) was deciding that, once again, he simply could not wait for community nap time (which comes after lunch, usually around 12:30 pm). By 10 am, he was wailing and throwing himself on the floor. His eyes were red and swollen, and any discomfort was a cause for utter desolation. In other words, he was the typical tired toddler. But, what to do? I had just promised my daughter we could go on a long walk outside! Maybe, I thought, the walk itself would wake him up, if I could just get him to last that long...
But no! He would have none of it. As long as I wasn't holding him (and I couldn't hold him while I made vital preparations for the walk, such as dressing myself), he was thrashing and shrieking. So, into his crib he went.
He was asleep instantly.
I finished my preparations; now what? I almost chose to take my daughter outside and leave him, and just not stray too far from the house. But that meant that later, when my daughter napped, he would be ready to wake up! I was not about to lose my precious and newfound freedom!
So, I decided to experiment. He had been asleep about 10 minutes. If I woke him and took him on the walk, would he then be awake enough to play outside and eat his lunch, but still tired enough to nap directly afterwards?
It worked like a dream. When I picked him up, he groaned, but by the time we were outside, he was ready to go. He and my daughter had a great time, ate a wonderful healthy lunch (note to self, another thing I learned today: children eat better after playing outside!), and then both went down for nap around 12:30 without a single hitch!
He is now just waking up, after I enjoyed 3 hours of beautiful freedom.
I feel powerful now, completely in control! Who decides when my children nap? I do! (OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little... but I do feel a gratifying sense of triumph!)
Now if only I could figure out as clever a trick for potty-training my daughter...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Labeling leads to libeling...

Recently a friend of mine wrote something about someone I knew that was simply untrue. I think the root of the problem was labeling. My friend categorized the person and then judged the person by that category, not realizing that person didn't fit into that category quite as precisely as one would expect.
Labeling leads to libeling (say that 5 times fast!).
Why do we label people? Well, we usually have good reason. Categorizing is something our minds do all on their own; without that kind of organization, we would probably go crazy. This person goes under the family file, this person is a sort-of friend, this person is a close friend. This person is a literature geek, this person loves fashion, this person is married, this person is single.
What bothers me is that, to the world at large, certain labels have certain subtitles that somehow get generally associated with them: This person is a literature geek (therefore he would rather be bitten by a real vampire than read Twilight), this person loves fashion (therefore she is shallow and has no brain), this person is married (therefore she is miserable), this person is single (therefore he is miserable). Why do we make assumptions based on people's labels? Especially assumptions that are rarely true?
I am a Christian. That does not mean I am a Bible-thumper-- whatever that even means. (Actually, though, thumping a Bible, or any other heavy book, with one's hand can be very fun, especially if done to a rhythm. I suggest you try it. Thumping someone else on the head with a Bible or another heavy book can also be fun, but not for the someone else, so I don't suggest you try that, unless they really need it, of course.)
Politically, I tend to be conservative (actually, I'm more libertarian, but I'll try not to get too deep in the politics right now). However, I also care--deeply-- about poor people (GASP!). I also write poetry, play the guitar, wear 60's-style clothes, eat organic food, and drive a Subaru. Yeah, I guess I'm just really undercover...
I'm married, but I'm deeply in love.
I'm a mom, but I like to do things without my kids and can talk about things other than my kids. (Or, conversely, I'm a mom, but I enjoy being with my kids and love my life!)
I was home-schooled, but I had a social life.
The list goes on and on.
What do you feel your labels are, and how do you think they libel you? Is there a "subtitle" or "fine print" that you feel people automatically apply to you when you say, "Well, I'm a middle child..." whether it's true or not?
If so, what do you think should be done about it? I find that just telling people not to label, stereotype, or make generalizations, doesn't work. Like I said earlier, I think our minds are hardwired that way. But having people automatically judge you by an imaginary connection to your category can, at best, annoy, and at worst, destroy your relationship. So, how do you keep the label from becoming libel?
I have my own way of dealing with it (most people do), but I'm not sure it's the best. I'd like to hear what my readers (if anyone's reading this) have to say.

So, I finally have a blog...

Will anyone read it? Probably not. I just got tired of trying to post notes on facebook. It didn't feel very creative.
It probably won't be very interesting... just an amalgamation of thoughts on my life, thoughts on the world, funny things my kids have said or done, and movie/book/tv series reviews. Maybe, hopefully, it will also sometimes involve thoughts on God and what he has done in my life. We can always hope for the best. :)