Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Overuse of Technology

One of the core values of our household is the overuse of technology. We have various desktop and laptop computers with terabytes of harddrive space. We have an excessive number of TiVos (notice I didn't enumerate them, I lost track of the count a bit ago). We have had a SlingBox since 2004. We are connected to our iPhones and believe that every conversation with a question should end with a concrete answer provided by Wikipanion.

Of course, as Dan and I get older, we have started to realize that we are losing our edge in the realm of early adoption of technology. For example, we are committed to the un-jailbreaked version of our iPhones and didn't even really consider taking time to acquire and make the most of the google phone.

However, one of the advantages of being parents is that we can make our children pick up where we leave off in the area of technology adoption. We started to realize this when we acquired Will's laptop. Yes, Will has a laptop. Why? Simply because he needed one. Yes, he needed one.

As you may know, Will is 3 1/2 years old. We got him the laptop shortly before he turned 3. What were our motivations?

  • Will has his own MP3s - I didn't want "The Wheels on the Bus" on my laptop / iPod. In addition to your typical kid's songs, he also has my favorite kids' songs. Specifically, "Beep, Beep" about satellites and "Friction." They can be found at Singing Science Records website. They were actually from old records, so be careful when you let your kids learn about the planets and Pluto is still listed. Perhaps you should get this shirt, just to make sure you have a way to explain the whole planetoid phenomenon to your kids.
  • Given that Will has his own MP3s, he has his own MP3 player. It's one of those SANSA kids' players that you can shake to change the music. So it made sense to have a laptop. MP3 Player + music = need place to store MP3s for transfer to MP3 Player.
  • Digital Photos - As his digital camera does not have a lot of space on it's memory card, Will needed somewhere to store his digital photos. Enter need for laptop. Yes, Will has one of those Fisher Price digital cameras. You know, the ones with the picture on the package of the camera bouncing down the stairs. He loves to take pictures of his stuffed animals, his brother, his books, and, yes, pictures of his parents. All pictures have the perspective of a person who is 3 feet tall. Will got his camera back in November of 2008 and even has some of his pictures printed and framed for the wall in his bedroom.
  • Computer Games - Who among us doesn't like computer games. Will has a few that we got him back in last December. We haven't quite figured out how to set him up to play them on his laptop as he has a netbook without a CD-ROM drive, but that will come. Until then, internet games from kids' web sites work well.
  • Video Conferencing - Will likes to video conference with grandpa. With the built in web cam in his laptop and the use of ovoo software, he is ready and able.
  • You Tube - Will loves YouTube, especially the video of the cat batting at the printer with the shotgun sound effects. He also likes LED Sheep. But oddly, his favorite is a video about Solid State Drives that Samsung makes. He will watch it 10 times in a row if we let him.
  • Movies and TV Shows - Even though it doesn't have a DVD drive, we are still able to transfer over movies and TV shows. Enter the magic of TiVo and video encoding. Dan does this part and it was quite useful on our road trip last spring to Baseball Spring Training in Arizona.
So, what kind of computer did we get? Originally we thought, we have tons of computer parts in the garage, including two bins labeled, "computer guts," why don't we build Will a computer? Then we realized that we would have to acquire a stable, non-flat screen monitor and find a location for the bulky computer. And let's face it, Will doesn't need his own home office... yet. So we went for the netbook. Given the choice between two different kinds that Dan was researching, we went with the one that was more "sturdy."

What crazy overuse of technology is next for our kids? Well, Alex will probably not end up with a laptop, or if he does, he will get Will's old one when Will gets an iPod touch. Hopefully not anytime soon. :) Until then, perhaps we will get them a theremin to develop their muiscal talent.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cooking Kids
(Product Placement Post)

The kids love to cook. It is calming to them, it seems. What do they cook? Here, they use an apple bread mix from Trader Joe's.

Mixing Apple Bread

It worked out really well. Since one box makes about 12 muffins, I didn't want to make 2 batches, one for each kid. Instead, I split the box between the two guys. We easily separated the milk and melted butter into two parts, plus, the recipe called for 2 eggs, one for each bowl! As with most quick breads, this one warned against over mixing, but the kids love mixing and thoroughly mixed the top layer of their batter. They even paid attention when I told them the melted butter was hot and almost completely complied with the 'don't eat raw eggs' instruction.

After the kids were done mixing, Dan took the two bowls away to combine them and make sure there wasn't any dry mix in the bottom while the kids put cupcake papers in the muffin pan. Then Dan demonstrated how to fill the papers. The oven temp and cooking time need to be adjusted a bit for muffins as compared to the instructions on the bread loaf box. they turned out a little dark. However, we will do this again after our next trip to Trader Joe's. The muffins are good for dessert and breakfast the next day!

What else do the kids cook? Well, since Alex has decided the correct answer to "What do you want for dinner?" is "PIZZA!" we have tried making our own starting with some Boboli pizza crust. Here he is with his own creation:

Yummy! Even Uncooked

Ok, so most of the pepperoni and some of the crust bypassed the pizza on the way to Alex's tummy, but he basically got the idea about putting ingrediants on the crust. Here you can see two kinds of cheese and some brocolli. I like brocolli pizza, so that's what the kids get.

Will has also cooked cupcakes in the past and apple pie. What should we try to cook next?