The Computer Room and Our Early Tech

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My current computer.

When we moved into our house in the fall of 1992, I was running a public relations and advertising business from home. My workhorse was the Macintosh IIci computer and the Apple LaserWriter IIf—my first of many Apple computers. There was a fairly new invention called desktop publishing that I thought was so exciting.

I used a modem to send files to a business that turned my computer files into film that would go to a local printer for newsletters, brochures and print ads. My home office was in what is now our guest room. Back then we called it “the computer room,” because unlike today, where I work mostly on a laptop wherever I feel like it — all my work had to be done in that room on the computer.

When I was ready to send a file, I called the business and let them know I was ready to send it. Then we’d both start up our dial-up modems. The file transfer would tie up my computer and could take up to eight hours! So, I’d make the call in the evening when I was done with work and the file transfer would happen overnight.

What seemed so high tech at the time, is ancient by today’s standards. The dial-up modem was pre-internet. I remember visiting a friend who was the first person I knew who used the internet. He was working on creating a website for people to locate and get information about his business. I thought to myself, who on earth is going to their computer to look up a business? What a waste of time! After all, we had phone books and yellow pages for that.

Years later, after there was no computer in the guest room, we still called it the “computer room.” It turned into a TV room and our kids and their friends would hang out there watching a big bulky TV and VCR. Eventually, when the kids got older and I saw my daughter’s friends a little too cozy and flirtatious with my son’s friends, we bought a big screen TV and put it smack in the center of the living room. My kids told me this week that they thought they were responsible for us getting the big flat screen TV. One of them had unplugged the cable from the TV and told us it wouldn’t work anymore!

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My first computer and printer.

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What do you remember about your first technology? How did we work without the internet? 

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Where did the year go?

I woke up thinking “it’s June first and where did my year go?” Mostly nowhere is where my year went thanks to falling on the slopes January 2nd. It’s been a long five months of being injured, having surgery and slowly recovering. I looked back at what I was going last year at this time and it was all about being together as a family. 

Here’s my story from one year ago today:

18920581_10213697294890444_4649514921325596156_nThis past weekend, I was in mom heaven. My daughter was at a swim meet an hour away from where my son now lives. We didn’t do anything that special, we got to hang out together. It was one of my favorite weekends in recent memory.

At first, I was worried about how my daughter was going to do at the meet. She had already told us that due to other things going on in her life, her last few weeks of practice were not consistent at all.

I told her, “You can still get a best time and swim well.” 

She thought I was delirious. She was very realistic about what she could do at that point in time. I have to admit that after her first race, I got it. I relaxed about the times and understood that this meet was about being together as a family. It was a small slice of time where we could hang out and enjoy each other’s company. If I had been focused on her times and upset that she wasn’t at her peak fitness, I’d have been so disappointed. Instead, I reflected on being the mom of two almost grown kids that I’m so proud of. And, the fact that they enjoy being with me and each other.

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My daughter getting instructions from her coach.

While we were driving around town, the kids were in the back seat pretending to be little kids elbowing each other. I turned around from the front passenger seat and said, “Children, there’s an imaginary line going down the middle of the car. You can’t cross that line!”

My daughter immediately yelled out, “Mom, Robert crossed the line!”

Later, after fits of laughter, we hung out together in a park, lying on the grass and staring at the green leaves and blue sky.

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The park by the Santa Clara pool.

We shared books, ideas and meals. My son’s vocabulary had us looking up new words and trying to memorize and pronounce them, like “primogeniture.” One of my kids favorite things to do was to copy our faces. My son does an imitation of me, while Kat has perfected her dad’s scowl. It always ended in a burst of laughter and fits of giggles.

The swim meet was exciting with a who’s who in the swimming world in the final heats. I witnessed amazing races and the international flavor was so hopeful and invigorating with countries in attendance including Argentina, Mexico, Japan and China.

It may be the last time we’ll be staying in a hotel with our daughter at a meet. Ever. Her final college season is ahead this fall and she’ll be with her team, not us. I was a little teary-eyed when the weekend flew by and it was time for me to return again to my empty nest.

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My super heroes at the Winchester Mystery House.

What were you doing one year ago today?

5 Must-See Movies for Easter

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I posted this Easter week in 2014. Are there any new movies that have come out since then that you’d add to the list? Or maybe some classics that I missed?

When I was a kid, the major three TV networks aired Holiday Specials. My mom would make popcorn in a big pot on the stove, or if we were lucky, my brother and I’d get to shake the aluminum-foil bursting “Jiffy Pop” right on the electric burner. We’d gather on the sofa or in chairs to watch — get this — as a family – the “Holiday Special.”

Around Halloween, it was Wizard of Oz and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Christmas had a bunch of great ones. My favorite was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but we also watched A Charlie Brown Christmas, and my Mom and Dad’s favorite — It’s a Wonderful Life.

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This Easter, I’d love to rekindle the tradition of sitting down with family to watch holiday movies together. Unfortunately, my son’s having a riotous good time at UCSB and my daughter will be off to see Lorde, Lana Del Rey, Beck and Arcade Fire. Yes, she’s going to Coachella!

imgres-13If I can convince my husband, or maybe alone, I’m going to check out Netflix, Apple TV, or Google Movies to watch my list of must-see Easter movies:

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1. The Robe. Starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons,  and Victor Mature. 1953. Won 2 Oscars.imgres-10
2. The Ten Commandments.  Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter. 1956.  Won 1 Oscar.imgres-14
3. Ben Hur.  Charlton Heston. 1959.  Won 11 oscars.imgres-12
4. Passion of the Christ.  Mel Gibson director. 2004. Not for the faint of heart!imgres-15
and at theaters:

5. God Is Not Dead.  I’m going to see this sometime this week. It’s made my list based on a friend’s recommendation.images-9

Do you have other movies to add to my top five picks? Have you seen all five of these movies?

Adventuring Into the New Year: Day One

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I’m pup-sitting this good boy.

Now that the busy family days of Christmas are behind us, filled with sweet memories and fun, I’m off on an adventure of my own making. I’m house and puppy-sitting for my daughter. For a few days, I have family and friends with me and I’m going to attempt to ski after too many years away from it.

We used to be a ski family before swimming took over our lives. My husband and I would trek up to Big Bear more than once a week (before kids) and ski with a group of friends who lived next to the slopes. Those are some of the special New Year’s Day memories of waking up early and being the first to arrive on the slopes with our friends. We tear across the mountain from one side to the other. We’d end the day with big family dinners in our friend’s home and New Year’s Eve was always lobster flown in from Maine.  After kids, we’d put the kids in ski school for a few hours so we could get some good runs in. We spent several holidays in Colorado skiing with my brother’s family.

Then swimming happened and we no longer had time for the mountains. For non-swimmers, the sport is literally 50 weeks a year, 6 days per week training plus weekend meets that can last one day to five. Once the kids are serious, there’s no skipping workouts and skiing became an afterthought.

So what’s my adventure today? I’m going to hit the slopes. My son and his girlfriend want to ski too (it will be her first time ever). Plus our good friends who survived the Thompson fire have joined us as well. Yesterday was a travel day and it was exhausting for everyone. After a good night’s sleep, we’re all ready to ski, although there’s not much snow. I’ll be honest that I’m apprehensive after not skiing for a decade or so. We may try cross-country skiing today which is something I’ve never done. But we will be making memories.

 

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At one point, the pool took over our lives and we quit being a ski family. Now it’s time to return back to earlier days and hit the slopes.

What adventures do you have planned for the New Year?

 

Are your kids ready for #adulting?

 

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Where we went with our kids for summer vacations.

One of the side effects of doing everything for our kids is they won’t know how to do anything on their own. We’re setting them up for a big fail if we send them to college without basic life skills. In addition to the amazing grades, high SATs and sports achievements, they need to learn how to take care of their health, money, car and clothes.

I remember when I was 16, I took one of my best friends on a family vacation on our boat in British Columbia. One day we docked in Campbell River B.C. and my mom and dad divided up the chores we needed to get done while we were ashore. My dad went to the Marine supply store, mom to groceries, I went for bait and fishing gear. My friend was sent to the laundromat. A little while later, my parents met up at the laundromat and were shocked my friend had no idea how to do laundry!

I had done laundry since I was a little kid. My mom went back to college while I was in first and second grades. My brother and I were latchkey kids and we walked home from school to a daily list of chores. How we hated mom’s slanted handwriting that filled an entire sheet of yellow legal-sized paper. I understand now that she was keeping us busy and out of trouble by giving us a list of chores that we would never ever be able to finish. Either that or she was a slave driver. I prefer to think it was the former.

In any case at the age of seven, I could bake cakes, vacuum the house, sort laundry, weed the garden, mow the lawn, make my own lunch and do the dishes. I wonder how many high school seniors today do those chores? I know my kids could—but not often. I didn’t make them. It was easier for me to do it myself. My daughter came up with the best excuse ever–a unique mystery illness. While we were on summer vacations at the beach, we’d rent a cottage that didn’t have a dishwasher. She literally would break out in a rash on her legs and arms when it was her turn to do the dishes! Maybe it was an allergy to the latex gloves, but it looked awful enough for her to get out of washing dishes. Then, how could I make my son do them if she didn’t?

 

 

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Angus wasn’t allowed inside the beach cottage, but he sure wanted to be.

 

In the Montgomery Advertiser, Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman wrote “Parenting: Adulting goals for teens.” They have a one-hour syndicated talk radio show and give parenting advice. In their article, they list a bunch of things that our kids need to learn—before they leave for high school. I’ve also written about what our kids need to learn before they leave home for SwimSwam and here.

Here’s an excerpt from the “Adulting goals for teens article:”

Do our kids understand the basic principles of healthy eating? Do they know the difference between fats, carbohydrates and proteins, and do they know which foods are the best sources for each? Do they know that they need omega 3 fatty acids but should avoid trans fats? Are they familiar with which foods contain each?

Can they cook? Do they know the difference between a paring knife and a chef’s knife and why they would need to use one or the other? Do they know how to carve a bird or thicken a sauce or caramelize onions?

Can our teens self diagnose common illnesses? Do they know the difference between flu symptoms and the common cold, and can they treat either one with over the counter medicines or natural remedies? Do they know basic first aid and have they taken a CPR class?

Do our high schoolers know the difference between municipal, state and federal agencies? Do they know who to call if a stop sign is knocked down or what steps to take if they have a fender bender?

Can they change a tire, replace their windshield wipers and check their oil? Do they understand the difference between liability insurance and collision coverage?

The questions could go on and on, and of course, there’s no way to prepare our kids for every situation they could possibly encounter, but if we set a goal to help our teens learn the basics of adulting, we can be pretty confident that by the time they venture out on their own, they will know enough to do well and be able to find the answers when they are unsure.

 

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The cottage we rented every summer for years.

How prepared are your kids for living away from home? Did you have more life skills then your children at the same age?

 

David Cassidy “I think I love you”

Every Labor Day Weekend, Mom drove us “downtown” for back-to-school shopping at Frederick & Nelson’s — a massive department store with everything from Steuben glass to rows and rows of different colored threads and Simplicity patterns — and to shop at the Bon Marche´ and Nordstrom.  It was a 45-minute drive from our little town Snohomish to the big city of Seattle.

One year, 1970 to be exact, there was a promotion near the Girls’ clothing department to watch the screening of a TV pilot. Mom and I took a break from trying on dresses, and we sat in a dark empty room with a large screen.Soon, I was to watching in complete fascination about a family singing in their garage who recorded a top 40 hit! Yes, it was the Partridge Family with heart-throb David Cassidy! My mom liked the show too, because of Shirley Jones, who starred in the musicals Oklahoma and Carousel.Once school started, I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about the cool new show that was going to be on TV in a few weeks! But, everyone already knew about it. David Cassidy was on the cover of magazines my friends read, but my mom didn’t allow —  like Tiger Beat, and 16. At my best friend’s house, we practiced singing along to “I Think I Love You” for hours on end. (Click on the title, to hear that phenomenal song!) We turned her fireplace hearth into our mini stage, with toy guitars and a tambourine, and we dressed in white blouses, maroon cords or velvet bell bottoms. We were the Partridge Family! Now that was a TV show. Click to listen to the original happy song —
“C’mon Get Happy!”

RIP David Cassidy. You made an impact on an entire generation of young women. I miss those days of innocence and I’ll miss you and the joy you brought so many.

When parents are outraged over rain

b24f893efc1d9a60a00927af88b8d070--rubber-rain-boots-vintage-bootsI saw a story that I found interesting about parents being outraged because their kids were forced to play outside in the rain at school. I remember playing outside in the rain a lot growing up in a small town in Washington. Rain was part of our daily life. I now live where the sun shines on a daily basis and we look forward to rain like it’s a special treat.

In “Parents’ fury as primary school toughens up pupils with play in the rain” Camilla Turner, education editor for The Telegraph, a UK publication, says this:

“A school’s attempt to toughen up the ‘snowflake’ generation by forcing them to play outside in the rain has met with a backlash from furious parents.

“The head of Piper’s Vale Primary Academy in Ipswich has insisted that playing in the rain is a ‘normal’ part of children’s development but parents said they are ‘disgusted’ by the new policy.

“Ben Carter, the school’s executive principal, apologised to parents for not communicating the change in policy to them but urged them to send their children to school with “suitable footwear and a winter coat or jacket.”

“He defended the ‘wet play’ approach, saying: “Compared with previous generations, children today spend a lot of their time looking at screens and staying indoors. Many have relatively sedentary lifestyles.

“Paradigm Trust academies place great value on outdoor play and exercise as part of children’s education and wellbeing. This is why we encourage our pupils to make the most of their time outside during lunch and breaks, even in damp conditions. 

“This type of wet play is part of children’s normal development. However, in adverse conditions, we will, of course, provide options for pupils to play and be supervised indoors.”

I agree with the school that playing outside is healthy and rain won’t hurt children. I also believe there was a lack of communication and if the parents didn’t know about the new policy, their kids might not have had the right shoes or coats and could have gotten drenched.

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I had a yellow rubber raincoat that I hated.

 

When I was growing up, we had these clumsy rubber boots that went over our shoes. Also, ugly yellow rubber coats that I couldn’t stand. I hated to wear those things, but my mom made me. At Emerson Elementary School, we had space to hang up all our wet rain gear and remove our boots. I was jealous of my best friend’s “bubble umbrella” that was clear plastic. Mine was a normal shape and you couldn’t see through it.

There were plenty of days where we were forced to play inside. When I was in first and second grades, we played on a cement floor in a huge room with a tin roof, in a building that was nothing more than a big garage. I loved the sound of rain on the tin roof when we could hear it above the noise of the kids playing. It’s where we lined up after school to leave the school. The games we played were square ball and keep away.

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My best friend had a cool bubble umbrella like this.

Once I reached the third grade, we got to play in the gym/cafeteria where we hot lunch were served on sectioned plastic trays. After we finished our lunches, which we ate in our classrooms, we lined up and walked single file into the gym without saying a peep. Once in the gym, we rolled around on little square scooters, a few inches off the floor or played a rough game of dodgeball. I don’t envy whoever was assigned lunch recess duty on the inside rainy days!

When I was in college at the University of Washington in Seattle, I don’t remember rain ever slowing us down. My best friend and I would ride bikes or run around Green Lake rain or shine. I do remember hating walking across campus when the rain was coming down sideways and my jeans would get soaked.

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A view of the Cascade Mountains from my little town.

 

Do you think schools should make kids play outside in the rain or in bad weather? What do your kids do when it’s raining outside? When you were growing up what memories do you have of playing in the rain?