Talking Toys

Learning toyAs Christmas approaches, Dede & I have been talking quite a bit about toys for our new tot.   And I was further prompted to ponder on this by a blog post by Bob over at every, every minute.   A few main topics surfaced as we reflected back on our childhood toys…

Maybe Less Is More

Both of our families were of meager incomes when we were kids, so birthday & Christmas gifts were sparse.   And yet, we’ve decided that because we weren’t showered with dozens of toys the way kids are now, the toys we did receive were more meaningful, more special, and certainly more treasured…   I’d be very interested to hear your views on this — does anyone else think that, in an an unconscious effort to show our love for our kids, we shower them with far too many gifts & toys?

Favorite Toys

So maybe it’s precisely because we had a limited number of toys that some of those really stand out for us even today.   For me, these were:

  • My first bicycle — It took awhile, but once I learned to ride a bike, it was more than transport, it was sweet freedom on swift wheels!   (Thank you Thomas Latham, wherever you are!)
  • Legos — One of those odd skills that I possess is a keen knack for spatial relationships. I can often rearrange the furniture in a room mentally and know whether it’s going to fit before ever lifting a thing.   And I’m a packing guru — Dede just sets out what she wants packed & stands back.   A great deal of this, I attribute to Legos & other "building" toys.
  • G.I. Joes — the classic 12" dudes, with Kung-Fu grip, of course!

For Dede, the standout toys included:

  • Easy Bake Oven — Those little cakes were so awesome, but I always got so frustrated waiting on them to finish cooking (and cooling) so the door would unlock!
  • Bicycle — the ultimate Christmas gift, so huge it wouldn’t even fit under the tree, and it magically appeared in the middle of the night.
  • Baby First Step — she graciously volunteered to be the guinea pig for (and put a quick end to) my dreams of becoming a hairdresser.

Tots Don’t Need Tech

A subject I revisit frequently is how much technology should we introduce to young children.   As a parent-to-be, I fully identify with those who want their kids to have the educational advantages of computers & techie stuff, but I’m .   I’ve yet to see any real proof that today’s teched-out kids are any better-equipped for their future than kids were 10 years ago when there wasn’t all of this pressure to teach computers to little children.   Now, I’m not suggesting we should deprive our little ones the chance to build computer-use skills — only that we resist the temptation to make that a primary educational focus.   I’m convinced that tactile toys are still far more mind-expanding than technological ones.

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving — a day for giving thanks — sounds so simple but sometimes we get so preoccupied that we let the opportunity for showing our appreciation for what we have pass us by.   Well, not this time.   No sir, not when we have even more blessings to be grateful for now than ever before.   Just this week has brought about not one, but two blessings…

Heading For Moscow

First & foremost, I’m thankful – overjoyed beyond words really – that we’re finally set to make our first of two trips to Moscow to meet our child-to-be. We received word on Monday that we’re to fly out on Dec. 1st.   Dede’s already covered this over on our Russian Adoption Journal, but news this big is worth repeating!

I’m thankful that our new adoption agency, Catholic Social Services of North Carolina, came along at just the right time.   Certainly, it’s a testament to their willingness & dedication that we accomplished more with them in just 2 months than we had with our old agency in 2 years.

And of course, I’m thankful for Dede’s incredible diligence & meticulous handling of the mountains of paperwork.   We would never have made such strides without her tireless handling of the dizzying details involved in this process.   If U.T. ever builds a Masters-level course on form-filling & FedEx shipping, she could teach the classes!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention how thankful Dede & I both are for the endless encouragement & support from you, our multitude of friends, coworkers, & fellow, during this whole adoption saga.   The idea that people – some who barely even know us – are keeping us in their daily prayers is overwhelming and humbling.

A New Job

The second big-ticket item on my "Things To Be Thankful For" list:   I got a new job!
I start my new journey at MCH as a Clinical Systems Analyst on Dec. 10th – our first day back from Russia.   On the outside, this might seem like a minor interdepartmental shift but it’s actually a tremendous opportunity.   And it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

So, what’s on your list of things to be thankful for?   Post a comment & share the wealth!

Discover Green Deals Daily

Given the ever-increasing emphasis on environmental issues, you may have been inspired to start doing whatever you can to "green" up your life a little.   Problem is, until recently that’s been a bit of an expensive choice to make.   But now eco-friendly options don’t necessarily have to be more costly, thanks to…

GreenDeals Daily logo

GreenDeals Daily (which is sort of what you’d get if you mixed one part eco-blog with two parts Dealcatcher) helps you find bargains on environmentally-friendly products & services and provides information & tips for ways you can save both money and the environment at the same time.   What’s more, the site owner, Jean-Paul Davidson, donates 5% of the revenue from advertising & affiliate links to Carbonfund to help defray the global warming impact of their servers & web surfers.

Save the Cheerleader, Save the Whales

Hayden PanettiereHayden Panettiere a.k.a. "Claire" from one of our favorite TV series Heroes, was on Ellen this past week.   She talked about her recent trip to Taiji Japan to help stop the largest & cruelest slaughter of dolphins in the world.

According to the Save the Whales Again website — an initiative led by Pierce Brosnan and his wife, Keely Shaye Smith — Japanese fishermen will slaughter more than 25,000 dolphins & porpoises from October to April, as part of their annual hunt.   Hayden & other celebrities paddled out on surfboards to the Taiji dolphin-killing cove to try to form a memorial circle around the dolphins trapped in the nets.   Unfortunately, the celebrities were forced away by angry fisherman jabbing at them with hooks — and the dolphin killing continued.

Dolphins & whales targeted in this annual hunt include bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales & striped dolphins.   Several of the species are considered to be threatened with extinction.   Although some of the dolphins are simply captured for sale to marine swim parks, the majority of the dolphins & whales are killed for their meat.   Some of the dolphin meat has in Japan markets has been found to contain high levels of mercury & toxic pollutants.

But there’s still a little glimmer of hope…   International outrage over the hunt is beginning to intensify pressure to cease this brutal massacre.   You can help to encourage the Japanese government to put a stop to the senseless slaughter and ban the sell of dolphin meat by submitting a letter to their emabassy via the Oceana Action Center.   Or you can make an online contribution to the environmental activist organizations listed at the Save Taiji Dolphins Campaign site.   Your support will help keep conservationists in place in Taiji to monitor, witness, investigate, educate, & continue to push for the dolphin slaughter to end.

Put It On My Tab

Google Analytics browser statsI love pouring through Google Analytics stats!   There’s just a wealth of interesting data that’s mined from your website once you’ve implemented this free tool.   One of the trends I’ve been watching over the past several months is the web browser software that people use when visiting 2Dolphins.

You’ll note from the stats graphic on the right (Click the image for a larger, easier to read version) that less than a year ago, the predominant web browser was still Microsoft’s Internet Explorer v6.   So, Dede & I have been tailoring our blog posts for that older browser   Namely, we’ve resisted the urge to assume that visitors are using a tab-enabled browser, so we’ve continued to code off-site hyperlinks to open in a new browser window.   We felt that this makes it easier to keep your place while reading posts on this site but also still check out all of the links we post here.

But maybe the time’s coming to rethink that.   Internet Explorer is still the most common web browser to hit this site – by a very slim margin – but increasingly, visitors are using the tab-enabled IE v7.   And a significant number of visitors are now Firefox users, with almost all of them being on the tab-enabled v2.x.

Admittedly, I was especially hesitant to move to a newer browser at first.   Even with the razzing I got at work (yes, that means you, Eric & Martin!), I stood firm, proclaiming, "My current web browser does everthing I need, so why bother?"

Well, how wrong I was!   Tab-enabled browsing is worth upgrading for.

If you’ve resisted Microsoft’s pressure to upgrade to IE v8, the even greater pressure from the Internet-savvy crowd at large to move entirely over to Firefox, or the itch to try Google or Apple’s hot new entries in the market, this is a great time to give in.   They all work very similarly and by far, my favorite feature of the newer browsers is that you can wheel-click (with the scroll wheel on your mouse) links to force them to open in a new tab.   Which to choose?   I’m holding loyal to the Redmond gang because there are still some websites that specifically written to work with Microsoft’s browser, so I err on the side of caution.

Regardless of which software you go with, you’re going to be shocked by how quickly you become hooked on tabbed browsing.   Ready to try it for yourself?   Get the latest versions of the apps here:

   Arrow icon Microsoft Internet Explorer 8

   Arrow icon Firefox 3

   Arrow icon Google Chrome

   Arrow icon Apple Safari 4