Aargh! Social Media

We recently had a huge discussion on social media in my neighborhood. There was a group of speakers who came and presented a lot of information regarding it. I listen and read a lot about technology, even though I’m mega old school when it comes to using it, and I’m always interested in hearing how it affects us. Humans are social animals and having healthy social relationships within your family and community is a huge factor of your health. Eat well and exercise but don’t have good relationships? You can see how that’s a recipe for failure. Social media is using our need for social connections against us. The natural dopamine rush we get when someone we like waves at us or we have a discussion with someone we care about is an important part of our biology, psychology, and physiology. But when that dopamine is manipulated by how many likes we get, and the likes we get are programmatically shown to us to keep us coming back, we get short spurts of dopamine that don’t last and then we want more of it. We become addicted. And we start comparing our photos and our likes to other people we follow. Then we start following people we don’t even know. We forget to spend time on real relationships. We don’t make eye contact with real people hardly ever and our health takes a big hit. 

Kids are given phones at age 12 and I’m thinking, what? My 12 year old self could hardly keep up with all the friend stuff going on.  Imagine social media being thrown into that preteen, trying to figure it out, puberty phase? Teen suicide rates are higher than ever. Kids don’t want their driver’s license; instead, they prefer to hang out at home and be on the phone all night. Sounds so lame to me. And unhealthy. 

The professionals at the meeting highlighted things a child needs to feel loved and balanced so they can survive the ups and downs of life. Nature. Music. Hugs. A listening ear. An opportunity to fail and see that they can recover from it. Some of these things seem so intuitive, but why aren’t they being done more often?

During the Q&A, a father stood up and mentioned that his sons were 18 and 20 and suffering from most of the problems caused by social media: lack of independence, depression, and porn addiction. He asked the professionals, what now?  For those of us with young children, take heed. Myself completely and totally included. 


London time

When Jess mentioned that he was going to Dublin and London for business travel, I couldn’t pass up the chance to join him. And since Oliver has been asking to go on an international trip since before Ian was born, we had to take him with us. I had grand plans to take Ansel and Ian too, but when I considered the time change and the 10 hour flight, I thought it better we let them stay home. 

We had a wonderful time and saw so many things, yet, we felt like we only scratched the surface of what the city has to offer. Some pictures with explanations below:

When we arrived in London we were pumped! Then we got in the customs line and it was a 2+ hour wait due to people entering the country to see the Royal Wedding. Luckily, a nice border patrol guy bumped us up in line since Ollie’s a kid and then it only took about 1 hour 15 minutes. 

We met up with Jess and stopped at Selfridges (ever watch the show on Masterpiece?), where Oliver got the most expensive hot dog known to mankind (£11.95). Haha! Then we stopped at Hyde Park with a friend from home (she was in London at the same time!) and she took this pic of us by Marble Arch. Do Ollie and I look tired? Jet lag was in full swing. 

As we walked through London, Ollie asked to take this photo of us with the London dragon. We were off to the Tower of London. 

We walked past the Ghirken and Ollie took pictures. What a skyscraper!
We spent pretty much all day at the Tower of London going on a tour with a Beefeater and enjoying all of the museums.  We saw the crown jewels and visited the Tower ravens.  It was a nice time.

We watched the Tower Bridge open from the Tower of London. This doesn't happen very often, so it was neat to watch.  Afterward, we went on a walk over the Tower Bridge which was a lot of fun.  

We finished the day off with dinner along the Thames and found out, via a magazine given out on the streets, that we were invited to the Royal Wedding the next day. Haha!

We woke up to watch some of the Royal Wedding festivities, although we didn't go to Windsor Castle.  Instead, we went to St James’s Park. Here Oliver and Jess are looking at the swans with their babies swim under the bridge.  This park was beautiful and so full of birds! In the back, you can see Buckingham Palace. We made a short stop there too.  

Some kind Brits gave Ollie some peanuts to feed the birds and the pigeons were eating them right out of his hands!

The three pelicans were fun to spot. We have tons of bird pictures from this stop, I mean a lot. This park is known for it's birds and keeps a bird keeper on staff.

We walked across the street and visited Churchill’s War Rooms underneath Whitehall. This visit was fascinating! We watched The Darkest Hour on the plane ride which was perfect prep for this visit. 

We then walked a bit to find that Big Ben had scaffolding on it. That’s why you see faces of disappointment. Oh well. 

We had dinner at Covent Garden and enjoyed the wonderful weather. 

The next day we went to church at the Hyde Park Ward then visited Kensington Gardens. This Italian garden was beautiful. We met a nice family from Israel who’s kids shared bird food with Ollie together they fed the birds. 

Jess and Oliver were willing to do afternoon tea with me at the Orangery at Kensington Palace. Again, the weather was perfect and tea was just right!

We finished the day off with a church service at Westminster Abbey. Jess and I missed going in when we were younger, so this was a highlight for us.

Here we are walking the streets of London. This very thing is great to do in London.  

The next day we traveled to the countryside. We ate at a pub and Ollie tried (and enjoyed) the classic fish n’ chips.

We walked along this beautiful trail and through a gate that looked like every country gate I’ve seen in every British show I’ve watched. The day was perfect!

We saw cows and sheep along the trail. These baby cows were curious about us.

Then we got up to view the Seven Sisters. What a sight!

We went down to the beach and found shells, wildlife, and neat rocks. 
Jess re-enacted a scene from one of his favorite childhood movies. Remember when Kevin Kostner arrives home in the beginning of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves? It was filmed here, so we couldn’t leave without some drama. 

The next day we stopped at the Bristish Museum. We thought we’d spend half a day here. We were there until closing time. The place is never ending! It reminded me of the Louvre in it’s enormity. 

A neat mosaic and a kind person willing to take our photo. 

Oliver loving the clock exhibit. 

8- (nearly 9-) year old humor among the antiquities.

Jess and I making the same face at the Easter Island statue. And how do you like my red jacket/skirt? It had a kangaroo pouch in the front and so I used it to carry all our stuff (seeing as I failed to bring a small backpack). Highly fashionable, right?

Our last stop was a church that was partially destroyed in the bombings of WWII and now served as a park. It was in the heart of the city and many buildings had been built up around it. Crazy to think how the area has changed in ~75 years. 

We walked back to the Tube to get to our hotel and took one last pic with the Shard in the back as we crossed the Thames.

It was a wonderful time. We did so many things but there is so much more! We got back about a week ago and just last night Oliver said to us, “So when should we go on our next international trip?” Hopefully soon!


Birthday kid

This wonderful kid had a birthday recently. We had cake and blew out candles with our little cousin with whom he shares a birthday month. 

Oliver is creative, smart, funny, and kind. He’s into drawing, Harry Potter, the quirkology videos, clever jokes, and swimming.  The kid can play sudoku better than me and plays the piano even though he very much dislikes to practice. He’s nine and getting taller by the minute. He’s a terrific lad!


What’s the magic word?

Today Ansel finished his last day of preschool off with a magic show. It’s quite a fun way to wrap up the end of the year. At one point the magician said, “Now every body, what is the magic word?” Ansel yelled out, “Please!” to which the magician replied, “Ha! Now that’s one polite kid!” I think the word he was looking for was “Abracadabra,” but for as long as I can remember my mom always said “Please” was the magic word and I’ve passed that onto my kids. It was too cute and funny! Here he is with his preschool teacher, Ms Lisa. She was so great with the kids. 

And just last night Ansel shyly said to me, “Mom, I think I have a crush on you.” Ahhh, be still my heart. He also mentioned today that I will definitely be invited to his wedding. Oh, I just love this five year old and his kind soul. 


Mother’s Day, belated

I can’t let May pass without a note about mothers. Mine was wonderful. My husband’s is superb. Then their are the many other mothers I watch and learn from, my sisters included. 

All of these women, super human. The more I mother, the more I realize their super powers. Patience, independence, creativity, trust in God, the ability to worry without showing it, the need to work beyond exhaustion, kindness and understanding, and love. 

I’ve got a group of boys under my purview that require all of the things I’ve mentioned above but which I’m still working on. Except for love. I’ve got the love thing down. 



These spring days have been perfect for doing anything outside. We had some rain while Oliver was at school and the younger boys were loving it. Ian got soaked. 

Ansel started whistling and singing “I’m singing in the rain!” I couldn’t believe he knew all the words.  Turns out, Ansel had just come home from practicing his preschool program and that number was a big part of it. 

This guy did great at his program. The whistling, the singing. The best!

We went on a hike one Sunday afternoon. We saw lots of beetles. 

And threw rocks in the creek. It was a beautiful day.  This kid walked most of the way. I was impressed.

Can’t get enough of these days!