Books and such...

Two of latest books I read dealt with technology and our relationship to it.

The first book I picked up off the library shelf solely based on it's cover...

It was shockingly good. The author is smart and thought-provoking - I felt like she wrote what I was trying to say in this post but much more eloquently and not quite so alarmist. Unlike me, the author lives most of her life online (I did not know about 90% of the internet culture references in the book). She is a successful journalist, who thanks to her time at Yahoo! News, knows all the ins-and-outs of clickbait... but even with all the internet has given to her (success, fame, money) she can still see that something about it is bristling. I would re-read paragraphs just because they were so beautifully written. And then have to re-re-read them out loud to Blake.  And just because I can't get them out of my head - I will re-re-re-read them here.

My favorite quote from the whole book - found in the preface. 

A large section of the book dealt with hyperlexia. A term she uses to describe what is happening to our culture as we risk traffic accidents in order to scroll Instagram at red lights. I loved all she had to say on this. Especially that we should never be deceived - we are not reading the internet, it is reading us.  Once again she was calm and matter-of-fact about this  - she never weighed in on if this was bad or good just presented both sides (the magic and the loss) and let you choose. I liked this paragraph on it:

And because I am a sucker for the visual arrangement of words on a page this resonated with me.

She had expansive sections of video, music, and design - but now I can see that all the quotes I chose were from her section on text. I guess my true love is the written word and worry that when it comes to books vs. Facebook - books are losing, which kind of breaks my heart. The fact is that we are buying books (digital and hard copy) that we will never read.  She likens this to the American way of food overconsumption and I found it point on.

The last chapter brought in religion and I am still confused by it... I couldn't find the connection she was trying to make. She meanders through her personal non-beliefs but never gives any solid statement about her spirituality or exactly what this had to do with the rest of the book. Maybe she is like me and stinks at conclusions - I don't know.  But this line came from one of her philosophy professors and I am trying to live by it... 

The internet has upped the ante on making our public lives appear beautiful but sometimes I think that comes at a cost to our private lives. This professor puts it back in the right order and I like that.

The book stayed in the cute/clean/viral side of the internet - I wish she would have commented on the web in it's entirety because we all know killer guitar solos on YouTube aren't the only thing racking up pageviews. I would have found her thoughts on the darker side of online usage to be interesting and more comprehensive.

The second book was quite the opposite of the first. Everything about this cover screams alarmist and a lot in the book did too.

 But I don't know I guess I am there - I see what portable electronics have done for my generation; it's only been a short five years and we are hopelessly lost to the lure of our smartphones. Now this tech in being put in front of a developing brain and I just don't see a positive outcome.

And the science is there - studies have been done - scholars in their respective fields are reporting. We are losing our ability to focus, we are desensitized to violence, we are sitting far more than any generation has ever sat before, and all this "connectivity" is making us feel more and more isolated.

Unlike the first author, I did not enjoy his writing style - he liked to toot his own horn and there was too much doom-and-gloom. But I found the research interesting. Like this part - I always wondered what it was about the internet that kept us coming back for more. Now I know.

And I found this part fascinating especially as they went on to talk about how nature, books, and even Mr. Rogers Neighborhood do not hold any power over children anymore.  Unless there is a "brutal thrill" our brains don't register it which makes ordinary life seem just too ordinary... and why stay in that when you could be anything you want to be online.

And last one... I hate the tech in my kid's school classrooms. It distracts from actual learning. I can't tell you how many minutes I have spent watching the teachers try to connect to their Promethean Boards (think wall-sized iPads) to pull up the interactive word game when they could have just wrote the words on the blackboard and had the kids copy them 5 times. Kids don't need to be entertained to learn (at least not entertained with jumping frogs and digital toadstool words). And kids don't need to learn tech - it will come just like it came to us who went to class solely armed with pencil and paper. Let them learn how to sit and take notes and be bored... that will pay off way more in the future than any scrolling on screens.

And this book gave me my million dollar idea - open a non-tech school. They are all the rage in Silicon Valley (ironic?) and I just know they will continue to gain an appeal... 

Or at least to me they will.

Anyways, read the first - skim the second (I only ended up reading 80 percent of it).

 And recognize in all the magic of it there is some loss.


Graham cracker houses...

Had the Cox Family over to help us decorate our candy houses. The kids vetoed me hot gluing the houses so most the time was spent reassembling fallen crackers. I will be hot gluing again next year - way better for little hands to work with.

Cosie and Addie.

Daisy and Paisley.

Jed and Fielding.

 They smashed theirs.

In fact by the end of the night I think there was only one house still standing... but I am way okay with disposable houses. And the chickens loved their graham cracker feast today. And we loved letting the kids run hog wild through the house while we caught up on the Cox's adventures which included that their house is haunted and burning a 40 foot silo full of old garbage. Talking to Kim and Dusty is never boring plus I got to hold their squishy little baby.


Tree Expedition 2016...

We really did not have time to go get our tree yesterday, but all the rest of our Saturdays are shaping up to be just as crazy - so we squeezed it in by making an early morning run to Idaho City. And at 7pm when I was still trying to get the beast decorated and I came to the realization that we had been working on "get the tree set-up" since 7am that morning, I kind of wanted to throw in the towel on this tradition. But then this morning, I awoke and plugged her in and instantly forgave her for the pine needle trail from my minivan to the living room and the sap that I am still scrubbing at on my hands and the mountain of damp snow clothes in the hamper. I love our tree. I love that it looks like something you would just happen to stumble upon in the mountains that fairy tale squirrels and birds had made a collective effort to decorate. I love that someday my child will respond to the question, "What were your childhood holiday traditions?" with, "Every year we would go get our tree from the mountains." 

...and they will smile as they say it as they remember how crazy it always was...

Little ones crying.
Boots falling off in the snow.
No traditional Christmas trees in sight.
Dad carrying the beast on his back (sometimes with a baby under the other arm).
Cold to the bone hands.
Hot chocolate that was always too hot or too cold.
Winding car sick roads.
Dad hacking the tree apart just to get it in the house.
The tree never fitting in the base.
The tree falling over.
Mom getting shocked by the faulty lights.
The tree falling over again.
The rope in the back tied to weights to keep it from tipping.

And all the other perfectly imperfect traits that come along with it.


12 things on the first day of the 12th month...

12. Luna looks just like Fielding... especially in his police suit.

11. The trip laundry is everywhere... still.

10. My Christmas shopping is done - best feeling ever. Thank you Amazon and throughout-the-year thrift store finds.

9. Yesterday we had our first snow. It didn't stick but made the kids super giddy regardless. (If you look closely you can see a few flakes against Fielding's already snow white hair.)

8. I just found a sucker stuck to the back of my shirt.

7. Fielding learned how to collage.

6. Tried a new breakfast recipe - yummy but did not make enough... even with the recipe doubled. Be warned if you click that link you are going to the land of annoying food blogs where newsletter pop-ups and side-bar videos make it near impossible to view the actual recipe.

5. Perry and I built Robot 6.0.

4. Don't tell the big kids but while they are away at school, I let her touch all the things that they tell me not to let her.

3. Blake is a great dad. I am not a fan of all the repercussions of modern parenting, but an increase in father involvement is not a bad thing.

2. I ordered our Christmas cards - coming to a mailbox near you soon.

1. She is just plain adorable.

So excited for this month and all the traditions and goodies and music and magic... us Taylors are ready to get our Christmas on!


All the fun we had #3...

Vancouver, WA

We arrived late late late Monday to Washington. So Tuesday we took it way easy - the kids played, we scrounged through the neighbor's junk that he was having my dad haul to Goodwill, and ate hot cookies for breakfast because Kara doesn't like to disappoint. Wednesday, we went to Costco along with half of the population of Washington... That store - I am about ready to blog about it again. Don't people know they are paying to shop there?!? We had a cousin party at Burger King to visit Uncle Larry for lunch then took the little ones home for a nap. While the older kids played with cousins/harassed Grandma and Grandpa, I got to work painting my mom's old makeup vanity because I was having chalk paint withdraws. More cousins came over that evening and Fielding finally got to have a sleepover with Baker (something he has spent the last year talking about). 

On Thursday, a group of us took off to run the rainiest Turkey Trot known to man.

Blake won the 10k while Kara and I coaxed Paisley, Cosette, Fielding, and Breeana across the finish line on the 5k.

At the end of the race, they always do a pinata - this year the rain scared all but about 6 kids away (3 of them were mine). There was so much candy - Fielding stuffed his pockets to the brim. The only time I have ever seen pinata candy not all be picked up.

 We went home and all fought over the hot shower. Then mom cooked us a true Thanksgiving feast - chili dogs!!!

Due to work schedules, we had real Thanksgiving on Friday. So we took advantage of all the Thanksgiving day sales and went shopping! I let the kids run wild through the empty mall since only Penneys was open and then we hit up Wal-mart for our annual Lego accumulation. 

On Friday, the sun finally came out so the kids and I hit the park while Blake hit the road for a pre-pie run.

Waiting for dinner.

Gratitude poster.

Then came the main event.

The kid table.

The other kid table.

The mature ones.

And the serious ones.

The grub.

The pies.

The cutest.

The lone turkey.

And the rest of it...

Saturday, Dad and I got in a nice run through the endless neighborhoods that Vancouver has to offer. Then I had a few of my high school friends come over so we could catch up and let our kids destroy my mom's house. The three of them together have 5 which makes me laugh seeing that I have 5.

My kids were being the orneriest of the group so after these guys took off - we did a quick clean up, helped Grandpa set up his bears, then headed out of there. 

We were ready to get home - unfortunately there was still 7 hours of driving to do to complete our loop. We got it done thanks to ice cream and smoothies and made it home to our own beds - HOORAY!!!

I would call it our most successful road trip to date. It gave me a boost in confidence on how far we can drive with these kiddos. I think more beach adventures are in our future!