Monday, April 24, 2017

Is it "Pokemon Go" or "Pokemon No?"

My son, like most boys in his class, is really into Pokemon right now. They don't play the card game (they don't know how), but they enjoy collecting and trading the cards and memorizing lots (LOTS) of information about each character. Side note: Later on in life when he is complaining about having to memorize information to pass a history test, I will remind him about all the memorizing he has done for Pokemon - for fun.

I don't want or have much knowledge about Pokemon, but I have found it to be a useful distraction: For example, when he had a bloody nose, I asked him a series of questions of who would win between two characters to prevent him from fixating on the issue at hand. He instantly calmed down to consider who would win in a battle against Squirtle.

So, we don't play Pokemon Go, as it goes against both my principles of increased screentime and time that I would spend having to know about the Pokemon realm.

But, I have to admit that families who do engage in that game see the benefits of additional time spent together as well as much-needed exercise. I like both of those things.

So now, I am torn.

Maybe someone needs to come up with an augmented screen game that gets us outside and doesn't involve characters I can't stand. Or, maybe, we should just put down our phones and go on a hike and scavenger hunt.

Do you play Pokemon Go? Why do you like it? Tell me just a little bit about it in the comments.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Where to save money on your vacation

I had an amazing time with my family on vacation last week: We had periods of adventurous fun and some downtime to just read and relax. It was a mix of everything to appeal to everyone. Some of our time was spent on paid excursions, and I didn't wonder at any point if they were worth the money: They were all super fun and I loved doing them.

But, then I got home and read this study in which scientists attached brain wave monitors to a family on vacation and found that they had just as much fun doing the free activities (walking in a park or exploring a market) as the ones they paid for.

I have so many questions.

First of all, they just covered one family. And we all know that some families are more easily entertained than others. I am not sure that all families would be entertained by the same things.

Also: Would you sign up to go on vacation with a brain wave monitor on your head? I am not sure I would.

I have reached a baseline with most of the vacations that I take these days: I expect to have some fun and some relaxation. And that's it. I don't try to build them up or look forward too much or dissect them afterward, as I find that if the baseline expectations I have are met, then everything on top of that brings me extra joy.

Do you prefer adventure-based or low-key vacations? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Another reason why I miss our cats

I really, really miss our cats. They have both moved on from us, and I still find myself missing their presence in our lives. I know my son misses them (well, the one he can remember), as he occasionally sings me a song about her and how sweet she was.

I'm not sure if his memories of the cats are legitimate, as he is reaching the age in which he is starting to lose his memories. But, I have told him that having a pet was good for him - even before he was born. Studies (like the one on the link) have found a relationship between family pets and the presence of a specific type of bacteria that decreases the likelihood of obesity and asthma.

Add to that all the benefits you've read about family pets a hundred times before: Stress reduction, lowered blood pressure and (for children who are allowed to help out), a sense of responsibility. Pets are good for us.

So, what I am saying is: I miss my cats.

Do you have any beloved family pets that pre-date your children? Tell me all about them in the comments.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The truth about teen driving skills

We were on vacation last week. (Did you miss me? I missed you.) On the long way home, my son came up with a plan after he saw my husband and I switch places in the driver's seat. He thought it would be a great idea for all of us to take turns driving, as he was fairly certain that he could sit on my lap (since he can't reach the pedals) and steer.

Hahahahahahahaha. No.

(That was my reaction.)

He wasn't phased, however, and reminded me that he would be "driving before I knew it."

That got me to stop laughing.

I know that when the time comes for my son to start driving, I will have to check myself to make sure that my reactions (ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod) don't negatively impact his confidence. I'll also have to make sure that I try to assess his skills accurately.

This small study points out that many parents rate their children's driving skills based solely off their results on the driving test and their basic vehicle knowledge, but they forget to assess other skills that aren't tested to get a driver's license: risk management, visual awareness and anticipation of other drivers.

So then the question becomes how do you help your child practice those skills? If you have any ideas, I'd love to see them in the comments.