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Tips To Use Tech (&Low Tech) For Homework Humor

It all started out of my desperation to inspire my teen son to do his homework, without a battle. That journey led me to creating my own 5 ways to use Humor as Incentive for Homework, which I wrote about for a Mashable post. The post shares my tips – along with a very surprising use of the song “Gangnam Style” by Psy (satire of the Gangham district of South Korea which is compared to Beverly Hills in LA).




My journey also took to Kimberley Clayton Blaine (TheGoToMom), who is a Therapist. Her video called –  “Be A Funny Family: Why Kids Need Laughter” taught me that laughter is key for positive parenting:




Having access to watch this video (and others like it) was a good way to arm me with ideas for using humor.


My humor post at Mashable also mentioned tips I learned from Mary Kay Morrison, an independent consultant who works in the field of humor studies and brain health has a book: Using Humor to Maximize Learning and Using Humor to Maximize Living. and website: Quest For Humor. Here are more details from Mary Kay Morrison about using humor for homework:


  • “Create positive communication between parent and child before homework time by telling riddles, or funny stories as a practice before beginning. Make it a point to engage in mutual laughter as part of the homework routine.
    Create a homework environment of fun. Movement is critical for learning, so encourage frequent movement. Let the child sit on a  yoga ball, give them a squishy ball to use when stressed, or a tennis ball bouncing break every so often. A great break is a laughter break. Laughter yoga is a great way to relax and get oxygen flowing to the brain. Just stand take deep breaths and laugh.”
  • “Set a timer with a reasonable amount of time allowed to complete the work. Let the child know that at the end of this period there will be a surprise. Examples of the surprise would depend on the age of the child, but can include time together reading a joke book. I avoid food as a reward, except on rare occasions, making sure the snack is healthy.”
  • “Be creative. For younger kids, give the child a flashlight, darken the room and have her spell the words on the ceiling with the flashlight. For older kids, do math homework while riding bikes together.”
  • “Have fun with assignments. Without telling them, put sticky notes with quotes, jokes or “I love you” notes inside the book or chapter that they need to read. Use a “hunt for the cards” idea for rote math practice like multiplication. Find weird places in your house and place the flash cards there.”



Do you use humor as an incentive for your kids to do homework – or humor in other ways? I always love learning new ways to bring (age appropriate) humor into our family.  Beyond Family Guy – which makes my boys laugh – but as the Common Sense Media site says — Family Guy is rated for 14 and above!.



Photo credit NickS




Low Tech July 4th: Snow Cones and TNT Pop-its

We are getting ready for July 4th, and part of that prep was thinking about some fun and safe activities my kids and their could do together.


Target has a display with snow cone machines, flavors and cups. We decided to buy a set not only to use on July 4th, but also to use for the kids to set up a stand of their own sometime. Snow Cone stands are a good first business for kids to start because of the low cost of capital and yummy, easy to make product.. There are plenty of good electric ice shaving machines under $30, so no need to buy anything fancy. We purchased an electric ice shaver for $20.

We looked all over for sparkers so the kids can have their own little light display when it gets dark tonight, but realized that in my area you can only get them online or at specialty stores. So instead, we again went over to our friendly Target and purchased TNT Pop-Its. These are little caps that make a noise when stepped on or thrown against the sidewalk. The package says “flammable” which is true, so parents need to be involved and packages should be handled with care (the package has all the safety information).

I found an About.comarticle that explained how Pop-Its work “The rock is rock or sand that has been soaked in silver fulminate. Silver fulminate (like mercury fuliminate, which would be toxic) is explosive. However, the quantity of fulminate in Pop Its is very small so the little exploding rocks are safe.”

I wonder what other fun “low tech” activities families are doing this July 4th.


Mother’s Day: Low Tech and High Tech Adventures


Last night we realized that we did not send Mother’s Day cards to our out of town Grandmoms. So this morning I picked 2 digital pictures of my boys and created a Hallmark photo card and then we are going to finish that off with a fun audio card using Fotobabble.


This morning I had the fun of my three sons busting in the room to give me their homemade gifts. For Mother’s Day, I always ask for something homemade.  One of my twin 7 year olds twin sons (J) made this framed card.   My other twin 7 year old son (D) made a paper card that said “I Love You”.

My tween son B played me a song on his guitar. His brother’s J&D were dancing in the background. I see a brother’s band coming up in the near future..

We missed our Grandmoms from far away – but had the fun of lunch with our local Grandmom. Dad cooked a vegetable and tofu stir fry inspired by Jamie Oliver for dinner. All the boys enjoyed it, mom was happy her boys were eating their veggies.

A perfect Mother’s Day for me is a combination of low tech handmade gifts from my boys and some easy high tech ways to send cards to their grandmoms.

Being a mom is so yummy!


Low Tech Fun: Iron Chef – Boys Edition

After watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and my husband watching Iron Chef of America we decided that cooking healthy food and food competition should be a family event. Luckily my husband is not only a successful businessman but also enjoys cooking himself (listen up dads – be a role model to your boys!). I am proud to say that my husband is a better cook then I am, even though we make a great cooking team. Putting kids on the road to eating healthy also means that they not only experience different foods but also learn how to cook so they don’t get to college and resort to eating pizza every day.

Yesterday we had the joy of doing our first Iron Chef competition for dinnertime fun. I had my boys write down what ingredients they wanted and then I bought them. Our main ingredient was “oranges” so I had fun buying fresh oranges, orange jelly, mandarin oranges, orange juice and even blood orange sherbet. To my surprise (high marks for healthy) – Team Orange Knife which was made up of my 11 year son and his 7year old brother decided to make a fruit salad, drink and dessert. Team Orange Rocket which was made up of my other 7 year old twin son and his wonderful dad decided to make a salad with lots of moms favorite ingredients (tomatoes, walnuts, feta, cucumbers, oranges, peppers, apples).

All the boys went to work preparing their dishes and I got to judge the final result. I took pictures as all the boys prepared the dishes. They all were winners in my eyes – we decided to do this event as a weekly fun dinnertime activity.

TEAM ORANGE KNIFE: Fruit Salad, Orange & Bubbly water drink and melted Fudge Popsicle with orange for desert.

TEAM ORANGE ROCKET: Orange Feta/Vegetable/Walnut Salad and Bubbly Water Drink with Blood Orange Sherbet.


Paper Vs. Smartphone? Paper Reigns

 I have written posts, articles and given lots of advice on how to sync calenders to your computer and smartphone. I have all the equipment, cables and more to make it happen. But there is a secret I must admit – I STILL USER PAPER.. Infact, my todo list for today is on (yikes) PAPER.

Why would a Techmama end up in this situation?

Syncing my BlackBerry to my PC Outlook schedule is all dependent on a cable. I happen to have lost that cable (or my sons used it for some type of experiment/art project). I then happened to get really busy and had no time to buy a new sync cable. Which then lead to my BlackBerry calender being out of sync with my PC Outlook calender. This lead to (another yikes) me to use paper in the interim.

Until I can "wirelessly" sync my smartphone to my PC outlook calender – I will need to now and then rely on good old paper. I was thrilled to see an article in the Google Blog from Techmeme titled "Tasks: Paper vs. iPhone" and the term "paper reigns".

If you ask the general mom population what they use for todo's and calenders I would say that many would say they still use paper. There are many moms who are early adopters on online calendering systems – and there are great online alternatives available.

The iPhone users I talk to say they enjoy the iPhone calender system, which has seamless syncing. But they have not found a comfortable solution for todo lists on the iPhone. BlackBerry and select Window's based smartphone users are happy with the calender and the ability to create todo lists, but are not as happy with the syncing process. There is "middleware" that enable wireless syncing, but who wants to buy something called middleware? Some carriers offer wireless syncing options, but that may be hard to keep track of.

So for now, many moms are walking around either going full on paper for their calendering system or using a hybrid approach. I know that keeping track of my family calender from PC to smartphone would be so much easier if it was all "wireless".


Learning To Tell Time – With A Swatch

Swatch3_2After trying workbooks, flash cards, big toy teaching clocks and sessions with the clock on a wall, I had almost given up on teaching my son to tell time. He was just not engaged, and even responded with a somewhat smarty response:

"But mom, can’t I just use a digital clock instead?".

Yeah, I am sure his teacher would love to hear that…

In the end, what made it happen was taking him to the Swatch store and buying him a swatch that had the hours and minutes listed on the face. Swatches are more of an investment then other watches, but the salespeople will give your child a mini-lesson in using the watch and TELLING TIME (yes, my son would rather learn to tell time from the Swatch salesperson)… Anyway, if I add up all the teaching gadgets I purchased, it would have been cheaper just to go straight to the Swatch…

Swatch watches are water-resistant to at least 20 meters/65 feet as well as being shock proof. The Flik Flak line is made especially to help kids learn to tell time:

"First launched in 1987, Flik Flak watches have become a familiar part of many children’s learning and playing environment. Based on a concept developed by educators and psychologists, these intentionally designed watches make it easier for children to tell the time. Flik Flak watches are a fun way of mastering the mysteries of time." 


TechMama’s Holiday And Overall Cool Technology Gift Guide For Families

While my other blogger friends were busy putting their holiday guides out before Thanksgiving, I was busy making my garage into a playroom to get ready for the winter. Well, the good news is that our garage is now a playroom – but the bad news is that my holiday guide is out very close to "the" holidays. So I am going to call this the TechMama Holiday/Last Minute Shopping/Overall Cool Technology to Buy Guide. The other good news is that after holiday sales are coming soon…

First I will provide a summary (the lowdown for mom gadgets and more..) and then below I discuss some of my favorite family
technology picks
. There has been so much debate about kids and technology use, but my final word is wait until your child shows an interest, set up limits on screen time, take time to educate yourself and your child on the technology/ internet safety issues – then HAVE SOME FUN (click here to see my full post on this topic)!

This is a time where elementary school students are social networking online with Webkinz and using technology at school every day, tweens have their own blogs and highschool students are starting to use Facebook.  Just check out this post from Mashable (Oct. 2007) that lists 350+ social networking sites available. While I am against baby computer toys, I do feel that parents need to get on board with technology and become part of the education process (technology safety is the new "birds & bees" talk).  Especially with online privacy.  I don’t suggest buying all sorts of gadgets, as I said above – wait until they show an interest and then invest in the right technology. The holidays (and after holiday sales) are the perfect time to buy technology for families.

Here is the summary (or lowdown):

Continue reading


I Am A Mom Who Has Run Out Of RAM…

Lately I have been busy scanning for CyberMonday deals, looking for cool gadgets to include in my Techmamas holiday gift guide, doing other blogging tasks, getting ready for the holidays, getting winter clothes out, volunteering at my kids schools and keeping my wonderfully energetic three boys on the move… But today I had this feeling that my mind just can not manage anything else, and I realized that I had run out of RAM… Just like RAM is used to process all the applications running on a computer at one time, a mom must constantly manage multiple tasks throughout her day.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we can just upgrade our RAM so we could add more tasks to our day. Like finally volunteering for more school events – updating the family calender to keep all the activities straight – calling my mom friends to organize that moms night out – clearing out the toy closet – doing the filing instead of putting it in a "to file" box!, getting rid of all the old socks that my boys have, making my own doctor appointments, getting to the health club more, more, more…..  I recommend 2GB RAM for computers, so why can’t I upgrade my own?.

For now, I found a low-tech solution. Even though I have a BlackBerry to manage my life, I decided that writing my to-do list on a paper notepad will help me transfer some of the tasks overloading my RAM – to a notebook. Any other hints??

NaBloPoMo Day 17