Friday, February 7, 2014

technically speaking, part 2

My laptop is still on the fritz, and the part Nelson ordered for it hasn't come yet.  Stealing time on the iPad is something of an iffy proposition, because I share it with the girls and they use it for school a fair amount.  This adds up to not getting as much writing done as I'd like this week.

But an interesting thing happened yesterday.  Although I still use and swear by a paper planner (much to my techie husband's chagrin), I do all of my writing on a computer.  I have since college.  Even before the the technology snafus of the previous post, I was in a bit of a writing slump.  Call it writer's block or whatever, but nothing was flowing all that well.  I was stuck. 

Writing gurus often recommend mixing things up to get the juices flowing again.  Sometimes that might include a change of scenery, but for me a change of medium did the trick.  Since I was on the outs with technology, I went old-school and grabbed pen and paper.  

And I became unblocked.  I wrote a quick blurb for pay for Textbroker, which I typed up this morning.  I outlined an idea that I might pitch to Relevant.  And I got some work done on my fiction.  

Apparently technology isn't always all that's it cracked up to be.  I'll still probably do most of my writing on the computer once everything's working again, but I'm definitely open to changing it up more often.  
Getting unstuck is nice.

And pen and paper doesn't quit working on me.  

Friday, January 31, 2014

technically speaking

We all depend on technology, even though we really shouldn't.  We all know how fickle and unreliable it is.  We even joke: "Technology is great--when it works!"

Given that difficulties are just the nature of the technological beast, I usually laugh them off.  A quick eye roll, a message to Nelson if I can't fix it myself--no big deal.  

But the past 24 hours have piled frustration on top of frustration.  I am about to the point of chucking every last piece of tech we own right out the door.  

It started with school yesterday morning.  The printer wouldn't print Natalie's activity.  First it just sat silently.  Then it made grinding noises.  But nothing actually printed.

Still, it turned out there was just paper jammed in it, so--no big deal, right? 

Then one of Sarah's school lessons was on a website that used Java.  The most recent Java update apparently has the interwebs in full freak out mode.  Firefox wouldn't let the plug-in work--at all.  We tried I.E. (and I haven't used I.E. in years)--still no go.  Finally we managed to get I.E. to make an exception and run the plug-in for that website.  Fine.  Until the same problem arose on another website in a later lesson.  I.E. had a fit again.

Grumble, grumble. 

Then I sat down to write last night--and my laptop died completely.  Either the power cord or the power socket has given up the ghost.  

My phone needed more minutes, so Nelson said he would add them to my account for me.  But when I turned on my phone this morning, it still showed no minutes.  Figuring that maybe Nelson had just forgotten, I went to the website to take care of it myself.  But the website wouldn't let me, and it showed that my account HAD been updated with new minutes.  I tried resetting the phone again--nope, still nothing.  Back to the website--still showing minutes.   

Are you kidding me?  

To top things off, Natalie dropped the iPad on my nose this morning.  It hurts.

I'm thinking I might become a Luddite.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

battle of the bulge

First of all, I hope everyone had a joyful Advent and a merry Christmas.  I wish you a happy New Year.  Still in kind of a post-holiday fog here--exhausted but in a good way.  

Over the next few days, we'll be doing some shopping with gift cards we received.  I always enjoy that.  :) 

But none of that is the point of this post.  

Many bemoan holiday weight gain.  Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year all come relatively close togeher.  All involve lots of festivities and food.  Putting on a few pounds seems almost inevitable.

Strangely enough, I avoided it this year.  And then some.  

Rewind back several months.  I had gone for ages with ill-fitting clothes.  My pants especially just did not fit.  They were way too tight, and buttoning them was an unpleasant experience.  To say the least.  

I spent ages trying to shed a few pounds, with the goal of being able to actually breathe comfortably in my pants.  No go.  

Then a friend of mine gave me some clothes she didn't need anymore.  Ah, blessed relief!  The pants fit!  I could exhale and everything!  Shortly after that, two more generous friends took me shopping as a birthday gift.  Even more pants that fit (plus some tops to boot).  Problem solved.

Irony is a cruel thing sometimes.  Or maybe it's more of a joke played by Murphy himself.  But now, when I finally have larger pants, I start to lose weight.  And my lovely new pants aren't fitting as well anymore.  

They're getting too loose.

I know, I know--I shouldn't complain.  I get that.  And it's nice to see the weight starting to budge--really.  It's just frustrating that after all that time of trying to get my other pants to fit, I start losing now.

So if you're looking for weight loss tips, here's one--buy new pants.  Apparently that's what does it.  


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sarah's iPhone

Sarah wants a phone.  She isn't getting one anytime soon, so she made her own.  Out of paper.

Her screen, with all of its apps.


The Apple logo.  
 

She carries this with her.  She talks to imaginary friends on it.  And she's learning phone etiquette!  She silenced it during school yesterday and checked for voicemails when her work was done.  We ended up grabbing fast food one night this week, and she commented that she probably ought to leave the phone in the car during supper so she wasn't tempted to use it at the table.  I agreed. 

She says it's an iPhone 5S.  I confess I don't even know what that means, I'm so far removed from the world of smart phones--me and my $20 phone with its $30 monthly plan.  I probably wouldn't know what to do with an iPhone if I had one. 

But apparently Sarah could help me.  ;)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

my own Marie Antoinette

The other day we saw a man standing on the side of the road with a sign saying he was hungry and needed help.  Unfortunately, we were not in a place to stop then and we had no food with us.  But we discussed ideas of what we could take back to him later.  Both girls tossed out suggestions from what we had in our pantry.

But then Natalie came up with a different solution.  She decided that the man should get married.  

Why?  Is she expecting a wife to cook for him?

Nope.  When questioned about how marriage would solve the man's problems, she responded in exasperation, "At weddings, there's cake!"  

So there you have it.  If someone is hungry, let him eat cake.  Wedding cake. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Review--Time4Learning

We got an opportunity to "test drive" Time4Learning for a month.  I'd seen the site advertised, so I was excited to see if it delivered on its promises.  Both Sarah and Natalie got accounts set up, and both used the site frequently.  Here are our thoughts.

Pros: 
1. The girls loved it.  They were eager to go to the site, and they liked the activities.  Natalie is still asking about it, even though our trial period has ended.  
2. Variety of activities.  Each girl had a wide range of subjects and games from which to choose.  
3. I could log in as a parent to check Sarah's scores, progress, etc.  The information was already there and organized--no extra record keeping on my part.
4. The parents' area also had forums to check in with other parents for tips and advice.  I didn't actually use this feature, but it was nice to know it was there if needed.
5. Although each child's account was set up for a particular grade level (3rd grade for Sarah, preschool for Natalie), they could bump up or down a grade if they wanted or needed to.  I like that it could be customized that way.
6. I could get PDFs for things like spelling lists or science supplies--very easy to print for reference.

Cons:
1. Cost.  I do think the program is good, but I don't have the money to pay for it each month--especially for both girls.  
2. There were no records for Natalie.  Don't get me wrong--we do preschool in a very laid-back fashion around here.  I'm not even keeping official records for her yet--she's only four!  But I would have liked to have known more about what activities she did and what she knew and didn't know, just for my own information.  
3. It is computer-based.  We end up spending a fair amount of time on the computer for school anyway.  Adding even more screen time to our day didn't exactly thrill me.  I think most children today need less time in front of a screen and more time in the "real world."

I think this site could be great for public school kids who are behind in an area or two--it could provide a fun way for them to catch up on skills in those subjects.  Homeschool families might like to fill in "gaps" or subjects they feel they neglect.  It's also nice as a supplement to enhance what you're already doing.  We like history here, and Sarah especially enjoyed Time4Learning's timeline activities.  That was a nice way to add to what we were already doing.  Finally, if a parent just wanted a fun way to help students keep learning over the summer, this would be a good option for that.  

Even though we won't be continuing with Time4Learning right now, I do think it's a great site with many benefits.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Natalieisms

Yes, she's at it again.  :). 

Apparently Natalie pays more attention to Sarah's schoolwork than you'd think.  Sarah's grammar curriculum uses a particular pattern to analyze sentences.  Natalie knows this pattern--better than I realized.  

Today Natalie was looking at the Jesus Storybook Bible.  The story of God parting the Red Sea had pictures of horses and chariots.  Naturally, my horse-loving girl zeroed on those horses.  She recited, "Horses neighed.  What neighed?  Horses.  Subject noun."  

Maybe she'll grow up to be a grammar nerd like her mother.  ;)

Yesterday's Natalieism demonstrated four-year-old theology and moral structure.

She asked why God hadn't married Mary.