Sunday, September 25, 2016

Happy Birthday, Oliver!!!

Our little Oliver is ONE today! To say this year flew by would be a serious understatement and I cannot begin to explain the amazing experience his first year has been for our family. 
When I found out I was pregnant with Oliver, all I did was cry.. I literally cried for half the pregnancy.. I felt lost, overwhelmed, shocked and a whole bunch of other things that weren't all that great. After a while (long while!) I started to feel the good stuff, the gooey, sappy feelings that come with the prospect of having a squishy baby. I was convinced that if God was sending us this gift, it HAD to be for a good reason, it HAD to be for the good of our family and it HAD to be because there was a HUGE purpose for this little person that would join our family. And boy was I right..oh so right! He quickly became the light of our lives...
In a short year, Oliver has rocked our world in ways we never expected; he has completed our family and is the piece to our puzzle we didn't even know was missing. He's the perfect addition to our family and despite all the challenges this year has brought (sleepless nights, endless exhaustion, change in family dynamics, etc!), I wouldn't change our life for anything in this world! I cannot express how thankful I am to God for sending us this beautiful and perfect little boy!
Oliver is quite the little baby (toddler?); he LOVES music, dancing and anything noisy. He is incredibly active and even though he doesn't walk yet, he can get around with his super fast crawling and smart cruising. He's into balls, figurines with big heads that he can bite off, wooden puzzles, remote controls, cell phones and pill bottles. He has a huge appetite and is addicted to yogurt, chicken and pasta..all kinds! We're also STILL breastfeeding and he's the epitome of a boob-a-holic! ;)
Oliver really enjoys attention and likes people to play with him, especially if those people are his beloved sisters, their bond is incredible and it's one of the most heart warming things of my days. He's such a loving little boy and I love his kisses and smooches; I really hope he's this cuddly when he's a teenager...

Here's a picture of the birthday boy with his cute little hat... 

For his birthday celebration, we had a small BBQ at home with our family and a few close friends. He was completely mesmerized by the birthday song and really loved being the center of attention. Here's a family picture!

Here's a collage of his monthly pictures that shows how much he grew and changed through the months...

...and here's a little stats poster I made for him.. basically a snapshot of his first year!

Happy 1st birthday Oliver! We hope you enjoyed your day. We LOVE you so so so so much!

Monday, September 19, 2016

App Alert: "Our Pact"

A couple of weeks ago, there was an article making its rounds on Facebook about the dangers of increased exposure to "screen time" in children.  The said article was titled "It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies" (if you haven't done so, you can read it here.  I will admit to rolling my eyes a lot a little while reading the article because, honestly, in this day and age, you can't possible keep the children away from electronic devices, especially considering that most schools seem to be going the "iPads instead of books" route and kids are inevitably exposed to a screen at some point during their day. I personally thought the article exaggerated the issue a bit and found the said "research" and "evidence" to be a bit bogus...
There was also another article, which refuted the "digital heroin" one; this one was titled "Why calling screen time 'digital heroin' is digital garbage" (you can read that one here). While I seemed to agree with the rebuttal article a little more, I do think that everything in excess can be harmful and I strongly believe that kids shouldn't be glued to a screen 24/7 because such behavior simply limits their ability to socialize as well as shortening their time to be outside doing something more productive.
In my humble opinion, moderation is key so I encourage my kids to be as diverse as possible with their daily activities and I also promote the learning and use of technology to simplify life in general.
But how can we control the exposure to the "evil" screen? How can we make sure that moderation is in place when the kids are using their iPads or whatever electronic they favor?
During a casual conversation on the subject, a friend of mine suggested I check out an app called "OurPact", a parental control app that is designed to assist parents in limiting/controlling the time their kids spend glued to the screen.  This app allows the parents to pair their phones with their child's device and set up schedules. What's wonderful about the app is that once the device(s) is paired, the parent is able to block the iPad from his/her phone either according to a previously set schedule or whenever they wish. Once the iPad is blocked, all apps disappear and the kid can no longer use any of them; so even if they get a hold of the device, it's basically useless while it's blocked.
Once the device is unblocked and use is granted again, all apps reappear  and the iPad is back to normal.  The app is free and very user friendly and it has allowed us to have set times for electronics without any discussions.  The only down side is that the apps/icons on the iPad get disorganized every time access is blocked/granted, but there is an option for an in-app purchase which is a feature that keeps the apps arranged as you have them; so if you're OCD about how the apps/icons are arranged on the iPad, you may want to invest on this little feature.
I love the ease of use of OurPact and I also love that it teaches boundaries and self-control to my children when it comes to the use of electronics and exposure to the screen.  It also minimizes any arguments or meltdowns because the schedule is simply non-negotiable.
I strongly recommend this app to any parent looking to moderate/control electronic use and screen exposure.  Thanks to my friend Mary for recommending this gem!