25 Things About Me

I’m flashing back today, looking back over some of the old notes I wrote on Facebook before I started blogging.  Found this list of 25 things about me and got a kick out of re-reading it and thought I would share with updates where necessary.

1.  Like my friend Eve who tagged me in this note, I have a genius IQ, but I knew it when I was a kid and resented the pressure to be an overachiever.
2.  I like beans….and I make a yummy bean salad.  Whatever I cook if I can throw in some beans I will. (Update-I no longer eat beans!  I’ve been following a mostly paleo diet since August (no grains, no dairy, no beans/legumes, no refined salt, sugars, or oils). 
3. I like to cook, and I am obsessed with eating healthy food like lean meats, lots of fruits and veggies, and whole grains. (Update-no more whole grains!  Was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity (click here to read the entry I wrote about it) in May and have been off most grains (except a little rice since August).
4.  I always wanted to be a wife and mother and never really knew what career to pursue when I was growing up.  Click here to read why.
5.  Because of #4, I went to three colleges, took two years off (one to work for GP and do a NOLS semester (click here to read about it) and the other to work as a cook and live in Telluride, CO), and changed my major twice (#1 French #2 Philosphy/Religion #3 Environmental Studies)….didn’t graduate until I was 25.

Telluride, CO from a gondola.

Telluride, CO from a gondola. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6.  My first ‘career’ was an environmental activist for Greenpeace in Washington DC.

Washington DC

Washington DC (Photo credit: eGuide Travel)

7.  I got my master’s degree in Education and became a teacher after my GP job got moved to Amsterdam;  I was a single mom so I didn’t want to go.
8.  When I was a teacher, I discovered a passion for math, and now that I am a stay home mom I love tutoring math because I can help students learn to love math.  Click here to read about my love affair with math.

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik

Dansk: Dedikeret til matematik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9.  I love to sleep and will sleep until noon if nobody wakes me up.  I also love being pampered like getting massages.
10.  I met my husband, Joe, at the gym when he was working there and going to school and I was his 12:30 appointment for personal training.  We started running together and the rest is history.  Even though he is a lawyer now, we still go to the gym every weekend and love exercising together.

11.  I am lactose intolerant (like most Asian Americans).
12.  I am an extrovert and love to get together with friends, pot-luck style, with good food, drinks and conversation.
13. When I go out, my drink of choice is gin and tonic (Bombay Sapphire) and my favorite shots are Jaegermeister and Tequila. (Update-no more gin or jaegermeister due to food allergies.  The only liquor I drink is Patron silver tequila).
14.  I drink wine (chardonnay) when I’m cooking and with dinner.
15. I am kind of a control freak and always am trying to avert danger and/or accidents, especially with my kids. Like we don’t let them play outside in the front yard without an adult and don’t even get me started on how hard it is to have a 15 yr. old who is about to date and drive etc. (Update-since I wrote this post, I wrote nineteen episodes of fiction. I realized this theme came up in my fiction writing. Click here to read my fiction episodes).
16.  I like heights and exposure, hence my affinity for climbing trees as a kid, my love for rock climbing and high mountains where the earth meets the sky.  When I stand on a cliff or overlook I get the urge to fly like a bird, but of course I don’t have wings so maybe I should take up hang gliding or something?


Split Rock, WY 1989

17.  On the flip side, I am claustrophobic and I would really hate to go scuba diving or caving or anything like that.
18.  I am a big flirt, always have been, in fact I won ‘biggest flirt’ in 8th grade with Bill Schraa who ironically was also voted ‘best couple’ with his girlfriend.
19.  When I go shopping I am all about the sales and hardly ever will pay retail price.
20.  I manage all the money in our household and am good about paying our bills on time or early.
21. I correct people when they use bad grammar (I know that is annoying, but I can’t help it).
22.  When I am going through a hard time, I make music mixes full of songs that reflect whatever it is that’s going on.  Before CD‘s I made mixed tapes.
23.  I always try to complement people and tell them what I like about them (something I learned as a teacher when conferencing with parents).  There is always something nice you can say, no matter who it is.
24.  I spend alot of time on the computer.
25.  I give my kids ‘mommy homework’ if they don’t have any from school and make them do reading, writing, and math all summer (for about an hour a day, it’s not so bad) to keep them challenged.  Click here to read about summer learning.


Teenagers and Technology

Teenagers and techonology, what’s your take? For every positive thing I can think of on the topic, I can think of its negative counterpart. It’s no secret that technology is changing our lives, both adults and kids. The question is how do we use technology in positive ways while downplaying its negative effects?

How do we keep it all in check? I ask these questions both to myself as an adult and a parent, and I’ve worked for years on balancing my addiction to my iPhone with attentiveness to the present moment.

As an adult, I know how hard it is to step away from the phone, so I know it must be even harder for teenagers. They don’t have brains that consider and accept consequences of their actions. They’ve grown up with smartphones. It feels like an entitlement to them. Everybody has smartphones, and everybody has all the apps. So there is pressure on young people to keep up with their peers.
My oldest daughter (20) didn’t get a smartphone until she was in high school, and even then we were not big fans of texting or paying for the data plan, so we made her split the cost with us. My middle child and younger daughter (13) has had an iPhone for a few years now. In fact, she has the iPhone 5s while I only have the 4s. Yes her phone is better than mine, but that is just because of our upgrades. I’m due for the next upgrade, although to tell the truth, I am perfectly happy with the phone I have and don’t need more. Our son (8) has a phone, but it’s not a smartphone. He just has it because he walks home from school, and we feel better knowing he has a way of contacting us just in case something goes wrong. I wrote about fear yesterday, and of course, my kids being alone is one of my big fears.

I’m a pretty structured parent, strict in some ways and easy-going in others. Based on my experience as a classroom teacher, I use behavior contracts at home as well to reinforce expectations. It’s a simple idea based on Lee Canter’s Assertive Discipline. First, state some basic expectations in the positive tone. Then assign both positive and negative consequences. The child learns to take responsibility for choices they make, and they learn accountability for their actions.

Here are the stated rules and consequences on our contract, signed by all members of the family:

1. Follow directions.
2. Tell the truth.
3. Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t want your parents/teachers/employers to see.
4. Be kind and help each other.
5. Respect personal space.
6. Mind your own business

Positive consequences include:
*technology (TV, phones, devices, computers, XBOX, Wii etc.)
*personal items
*time with friends
*car keys (for our older daughter )
*going out

Negative consequences include loss of any or all positive consequences.

We even went so far as to write a separate contract for Acceptable Use of Technology: including cell phones and internet behavior. Failure to meet expectations results in loss of technology.

Internet Rules:
1. Do not share personal information online.
2. Stay clear of strangers.
3. Don’t post/follow anything you wouldn’t want your parents or teachers to see.
4. Be honest.
5. Do not give your location.
6. No deleting without permission.
7. Academic purposes only during school (no social media during school).
8. Use after 9m only with permission.

Cell Phone Rules:
1. Use phones with friends and family only.
2. Be honest.
3. Don’t text things you wouldn’t want your parents or teachers to see.
4. No deleting without permission.
5. Phone stays downstairs at all times.
6. Texting with family only during school.
7. Use after 9pm only with permission.

We all signed the contracts, and they hang on our refrigerator so there is never any confusion. The kids agreed these are fair expectations and to abide by them. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask. However, every time I spot check a teenager’s phone in this house, I inevitably find something on it that breaks at least one of the above rules. Perhaps they need help understanding the expectations better, so every time there is an infraction, I keep the phone for a while to make a point. What is my point? That having a cell phone and access to the internet are privileges, not entitlements.

When I told my teenager that “when and if she gets her phone back…” I couldn’t believe her response. “If? You mean I might not get it back?” It was 9/11, and the most serious thing going on in her thirteen year old life was the fact she didn’t have a cell phone to take to school with her.

Why does she need one?
She doesn’t.
Why does she have one?
Because she takes the bus home sometimes, so we want her to have a phone just in case something happens.
Why don’t I just meet her at the bus stop or pick her every up every day?
I could. And I do pick her up several days a week to get her to the dance studio on time.
Aren’t there already phones at school she could use in the case of an emergency?
Yes, there are.
Didn’t we grow up without cell phones while we were at school?
Yes, we did. Imagine that.

Why does she want it during school? For entertainment. For connection and communication with her friends. So she can send a million selfies back and forth to her group text with dance friends. So she can be distracted during the school day by all the teenage drama. So she can listen to music in class when she’s finished with her work (even though I’ve told her I don’t support that even if the teacher allows it.)

Those are really not the reasons we provide a cell phone for her. And all those things are not where want our kids’ focus to be during the school day.

Social media is another issue here. Kids these days are defined by the bios in their profiles and how many likes and comments they get on their posts. They are buying followers and following people they don’t even know just because they think they are cool or just because someone else they know might know them. Teens post the best parts of their lives, not all the messy and boring stuff, and it leads to comparisons and envy. Some teens act out online just to get attention or to create a reputation for themselves. It’s the same with adults, but teenagers are less likely to think ahead to the consequences of their words and actions And they are less likely to take precautions to avoid dangers inherent in the online world. Teens are much less likely to think twice before saying something or posting something online.

When are they going to realize it’s not safe to talk to strangers? When are they going to realize that what they say online is out there for the whole world to see? When are they going to realize that things they say or post create an image of themselves, sometimes in a negative light, giving bad impressions and complicating relationships and friendships?

When are they going to be ok for one day without access to a cell phone or the internet?

I’m addicted too, so I truly get it. I understand it’s human nature now to have a mobile device and to share life with the world on the internet.

My teenager has her phone back today in an effort to build trust. Wish us luck.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!