Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Call me, maybe

I promise this isn’t about the most beloved pop song of 2012. I just couldn’t resist that headline.

No, today I’m sharing with the world that, after several good years with my Blackberry and Android phones, I ordered the iPhone 5 yesterday. I no longer want to be upstaged by my two-year-old nephew who also can navigate the iPhone.

While I’m looking forward to getting the phone, I did wonder yesterday if it’s possible to have an interaction with a cell phone service provider without getting severely annoyed. While I got a “new every two [years]” upgrade discount of $50, I was also informed of a new $30 upgrade fee. When I explained to the friendly customer service rep that it would be easier to just say I only get a $20 discount, he seemed confused. This marks at least the second time my math skills have been put to good use in a customer service setting.

I’m also now paying a dollar more per month for my “new” 2GB data plan than I was paying for my unlimited data plan before. So you’ll forgive me if I’m not feeling the love right now for a company that may or may not rhyme with horizon.

All bitterness aside, we’ve come a long way when it comes to communication and I do enjoy being a smartphone user. Usually. (I did, however, text my boyfriend from across the table at dinner the other night while he was engrossed in some app on his phone.) Communication has certainly changed!

So iPhone users, what apps do you find most useful? What can’t you live without? Which ones should I avoid ever using because of their addictive nature and time-sucking qualities?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Show me love...toddler style

With a now nearly two year old, I’m regularly getting to see things through a child’s eyes, and everything old is new again. Suddenly, the same old State Fair is cool because they have big tractors. The zoo is brand new because my little Connor saw a live bear for the first time. And these days, I rarely fail to notice when a school bus or semi truck drives by thanks to an excited toddler in the back seat. Because every day is new and exciting for him, I get to see the world and life in a new way and learn from it. And I think I need that.

One of my favorite recent experiences has been watching my son learn to love. Clearly, this kid gets lots of hugs and kisses, and he’s now practicing what he sees…perhaps to an extreme. At his daycare he started what my husband calls  the “big hug revolution.” When it’s time to go home, Connor announces that he has to give “big hugs” to each child and his teacher. At first, a few of the kids didn’t care for it—some even pushed him away. I tried to tell my son it was OK to just wave, but he wouldn’t have it. He would rather topple an unstable baby over than deny that child a big hug. And now, it’s routine for everyone at the end of the day to hug each other good bye. I’m amazed at what he started. Even the other parents get a kick out of it and remind Connor to give their child a hug before taking their kid home.

And while I’m not encouraging materialism (I hope), he seems to equally show love to his toys. It started with hugging stuffed animals, but has progressed from there. A couple days ago before bedtime I was trying to get him to pick up his toys. I was rushing him to close a closet door when I realized that he had stopped to give kisses to two of his favorite toys.

As I personally work on trying to take time daily for gratitude and thanksgiving, it’s my 22 month old who shows me how it’s done—always willing to take the time to appreciate the people and things around him. I can only imagine what he’ll teach me next!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Minnesota's got talent

I concluded my Labor Day weekend Sunday night with a visit to the Minnesota State Fair. While I enjoyed my annual menu of cheese curds, Pronto Pup, ice cream and Sweet Martha's cookies, I also enjoyed a new fair tradition of sorts. For the second year in a row, I attended the finals of the amateur talent competition.

For some reason, this talent show—particularly the pre-teen and teen categories—is nostalgic for me. When I was the age of these competitors, I may not have had quite the singing, dancing, piano playing or yo-yo tossing skills they have, but I had a huge desire to be a performer. And perform I did! It might have started in second grade when Jen and I, along with another friend, did a dance “recital” to Sandi Patty songs. (God bless our parents and our Sunday School teacher for suffering through that performance in my parents’ basement!)

What followed was several more years of grade-school talent show performances including dances to songs by Tiffany, New Kids on the Block and Madonna. And I put my vocal skills on display through numerous performances in church musicals, summer camp talent shows and school choir. Some of these performances were darn good! All of my rehearsing with friends in front of the bathroom mirror with hairbrush microphones really paid off! And I did join some girlfriends in a quartet for a lesser-known State Fair talent competition sponsored by the old Crossroads Chapel in high school where we took second place.

As I drove home from the fair late Sunday night, I found myself singing (loudly) in my car that very song that we performed at the State Fair 16 years ago. And I was so pumped that I actually remembered my part! I belted out harmonies to Point of Grace’s The Great Divide and let my mind wander to many of these other performances from over the years.

Dare I ask what talent you would perform if participating in a talent show today? What's your claim to fame? Your stupid human trick? Or, what do you wish you could do?

Enjoying others' good talent and good food was a great way to enjoy part of my holiday weekend. I hope you’re also enjoying these waning days of summer!