Please Save Me (Reprinted from the Metro Spirit 11-29-12)
This week we find our hero crouching quietly underneath his desk. Usually the sounds of the pre-bedtime household originate from clanking dishes set to the monotone of Shepard Smith. Or possibly a ruckus from the kids as they pretend to do their homework while watching Phineas & Ferb. But no, tonight is different. Tonight brings only misery and damnation. For tonight, the evil hounds of hell rise up and consume the last bit of life and passion that remains in a man’s soul. Your hero closes his eyes. Quietly, he lets out his last breath as the call reaches his ears…
“Honey, it’s Cyber Monday…there’s some great sales! Come downstairs and pick out some pants.”
OMG – Clothes shopping over the Internet. If there is a more painful and emotionally draining online consumer activity, I do not know what it is.
Maybe it’s different for gals. Pinterest is loaded with outfit clippings – cute to elegant, casual to couture. It doesn’t take long to realize that women’s clothing is more art than practicality. Clothing connoisseurs (such as my 9-year old) look past the material to see beauty, creativity and inspiration. The outfit accentuates one’s inner passion and shouts to the world, “I am here. I cannot be ignored.”
But shopping for guys? Come on…it’s pants, for crying out loud!
But, alas, our hero does need pants. With every ounce of courage he can mustard, he pulls himself from his sanctuary and calls to his impending doom.
“Be right down, sweetie!”
Kiddie Time – Other than the shopping, holidays are a great time to spend with family. The past Thanksgiving weekend, I was able to sit down with my girls and let them show me their favorite Internet sites. (Note: my girls are 3rd graders, and all these sites are very family friendly. My wife and I keep a very close watch on what sites they visit, and I strongly recommend anyone with kids do the same.)
- Animal Jam (http://animaljam.com) – This site is created by National Geographic to help kids learn about animals and nature. Kids become an animal and explore different regions of the world. They can build dens and customize the look of their animal. The basic site is free, but you get members only animals and dens with a membership. A social aspect is also added with membership, specifically a controlled-chat capability that allows parents to control their social group and the vocabulary of their chat. (For example, you can only chat using pre-defined phrases such as “Hello” and “Thank you”.)
- American Girl (http://americangirl.com) – Our American Girl dolls are one of my daughters most prized toys, and it’s not difficult to understand why. The American Girl experience provides a positive role model, and that experience carried through to their website. Your kids can play games, download activities and learn more about their favorite Girl of the Year. The basic site is free, but a special InnerStar University is available for girls that purchase a Just Like Me doll.
- IXL (http://ixl.com) – IXL is an engaging site focused on helping kids learn math. The site provides practice math problems for elementary and middle school aged kids. The math problems are grouped by specific math skills such as multiplication tables, patterns and number sequences. The site tracks the amount of time spent practicing and provides the kids medals for mastering skills. The family membership for the site is $9.95/mo, although check with you school system for classroom or school memberships.
- Sheppard Software (http://sheppardsoftware.com) – Sheppard Software is another educational site with a wide assortment of games and activities. While math is included, activities also include geography, science, and numerous puzzles. The site is paid for with advertising, so it’s free to the user. You can purchase an ad free version for $36/year.
Until next time, I’m off the grid. @gregory_a_baker