Of Bounce Houses and Ballpits...

On my way into work the other day I noticed that one of my neighbors has a Christmas bounce house in their front yard. I have to admit a part of me wants to stick it with a pin.

I know, kinda Scroogish, eh? Grinchish if you prefer even. At least that's what folks on Facebook & Twitter said when I asked about it.

Really though, there is a reason I have issues with bounce houses, and ball pits, trampolines, and even Christmas & New Years. (What? I had to stick to all inanimate objects?) It's pretty simple really.

I think they're all over-hyped things that end up, (with few exceptions) being HUGE disappointments. Dreams unrequited. Bitter tear-stained lists never completed. Injury upon injury. Crushing blow upon crushing blow...

Okay, maybe that's a little too dramatic. Let's break this down...

The first time I went into a bounce house I got stuck in a corner, couldn't get out and eventually had to actually be rescued feet first. The second time - an overcrowded mess. Nobody could jump.

But the third time... I had the bounce house all to myself. I could bounce to my heart's content. It was mine, all mine. Mwahahahahahaha!

Wait a minute:

Who wants to go in a bounce house alone?


Pretty similar experience with the ballpit. Only if you dive head first into the ballpit, and it's not really "full" enough as it were... Did you know that you could hit your head and maybe cause permanent brain damage?!!???!! Okay, maybe not permanent. (Would explain a lot though, eh? ;-)

Trampolines? Well, I ask you - How could anyone who has seen the movie Big ever think any ordinary trampoline could ever be worth their while?!? (And, oh by the way, why can't I find that scene on YouTube?) If you don't know the scene I'm talking about - go out and rent the movie.


You still here?

Moving on - Christmas? New Years? No, no. I don't have any detailed lists or stories. I've talked before about my issues with Christmas and New Years, and I think it's pretty clear that while I do have issues with certain areas of these two holidays, I also have come to terms with finding my own way to deal with them.


Here's what I'm getting at.

If my 40th year was my year of inventory, then my 41st year has been my year of recognition. And the thing I've recognized the most is this:

Life is what you make of it.

You may have noticed I've been away from the blog and only found intermittently in the usual spots online in the past month or so. There's a few reasons for that, a few I'd rather not discuss, and a few I'm sure I'll discuss in the coming year. We're just gonna leave it at that for now.

As I review 2009, I'm recognizing that my life is a bit cyclical. Parts of that cycle are good. Parts of that cycle need to be changed. I need to make more of an effort to do that. So, that's where I'm going from here.

I need to find a way to adjust, to accept, to enjoy the bounce house and the ballpit, very much like I've come to terms with Christmas and New Years, and I cannot do it alone.

Wanna come with me?

What are you up to Jimmer?

Last week, very late Wednesday night I did something I have never done before. I asked specific people to go comment on my blog. Today, I want to thank everyone and explain my thought process a little bit.

Last Monday, I met with my friend Nate Riggs to talk about his affiliation with TeamBuilder Search. I am considering different career directions and I was intrigued by the possibilities there might be for me to work with Nate as part of his new endeavor. I also really wanted to talk to Nate because I think he's super smart, and has great ideas about taking advantage of our individual strengths.

During our discussion Nate and I started talking about Internet presence and I mentioned that I posted my girls' blogs to my network and community whenever they wrote something new. Nate gave me big props for that (Thanks, Nate!), and then an idea was born. (Thank you Nate for that too!)

I'm beginning work on building a base of information, outlines, something like that to use to present as a curriculum of sorts for kids' responsible use of the social web in particular. As this evolves I hope to find a way to share this information with kids and help them safely find their way through the maze of tools available. I love kids. I love to coach. I love to use social media. Why not coach kids in the best, and more importantly, the safest ways to use social media? Right?

On Monday, I put up a post talking about this new idea, and the feedback both public and private (from parents who didn't want to embarrass their kids or post too much about them in a public forum), was nothing but positive.

As the next step, I thought it would be a good idea to share this project with my family. I asked Netter and the girls to work on guest posts to talk about their thoughts on the subject. The girls are still working on their posts, but Netter finished hers, and I couldn't have been more thrilled. It was a perfect piece to kick off my project. Much better than anything I could have written, and exactly where I wanted to start things. I couldn't help but think: "More people have got to read this. This is really an important topic. I need to start a little buzz."

So, as Chris Brogan might say, I decided to spend a little social media capital and ask some folks to take a look. Thank you to everyone who took the time.

Now just to clear up a few questions folks may have:
  • No, if this had been my post about my project I would not have done this.
  • No, my blog will not become all about this one topic. There will still be plenty of stories about families, and IGs, and all the other things my brain rambles around all the time.
  • No, I did not just ask the heavy hitters / rock stars of the Social Media community to take a look. I didn't even ask them all. I asked folks that I had interacted with in the last week or two using the tools I am discussing, and Netter was addressing.
  • No, I will not be soliciting comments for every post on this topic. I put it out there and let folks know what I am talking about here from time to time. If they are interested, I trust that they'll come back. If they're not, that's okay too. I'm not really good at blowing my own horn so I don't anticipate I'll be beating my chest here or anywhere else anytime soon.
  • Yes, I like the word "folks."
  • Yes, I think you should check out Nate Riggs' work and follow his blog.
  • Yes, I think NetterB is an awesome writer who should write more often.
  • Yes, I am grateful I have such a great network and community of friends.
You're all rock stars! Thanks for stopping by.

Right Tool for the Job - A Guest Post from NetterB

Netter graciously shares her thoughts on Internet Responsibility with us today as a part of my new project. Give her a visit sometime at Practically Netter. In the interim we're lucky to have her here today.

Welcome Honey!

How many dangers do our kids face each day? The world is constantly evolving and is pretty scary when you think about it.

For example, something as simple as a paring knife can be used as a weapon or a tool – it all depends. A knife is sharp and has the potential to harm. It depends on the intent on how it is used. It could be used for bad purposes - to deface something or to harm someone. But it also depends on training. As parents, we train our kids in knife skills so they don’t cut themselves.

The same can be said for the internet and social media. It is a powerful tool, but danger lurks everywhere online. Any online interaction with the wrong intent poses a threat to our kids. Training and parental supervision are of the utmost importance.

My kids are digital natives. They are comfortable in this electronic world. They’ve grown up in the midst of it, using computers is second-nature and their cell phones have almost become another appendage.

I, on the other hand, am not a native. I’ll admit it, electronic gadgets and gizmos can be frustrating, confusing and intimidating. But I’d like to think I have become a digital immigrant. Some people may choose not to actively participate in online communities, but I feel as a parent of teenage daughters, it isn’t a choice for me. I am active in various social media communities and keep a close eye on what my girls are up to.

There are some who would say to just not let your children have access to the internet, or limit it through filters. Sort of like not letting them use a paring knife because they might cut themselves. I think this is unreasonable and more of a disservice to the youngsters. It’s more important to teach them the right and wrong than to try to shield them from it completely.

We can’t protect our kids from the dangers they will encounter in the world, online or virtual. We can only try to give them the tools they’ll need to be successful and prepare them for what they might face to help them make good decisions and choices.