Throwback Thursday: The tunes they are a changin'

Throwback Thursday: The tunes they are a changin'

This #TBT piece by Lisa Carpenter originally published March 24, 2011 on Grandma's Briefs.

I'm proud to say my family is musical. We dabble in playing — a guitar and piano here, a recorder and ukulele there — but it's in the listening to music that we really excel. As a whole, our hearts, minds and ears are open to myriad genres, everything from classical to Christian, country to show tunes, hard rock to soft rock and many that aren't really rock at all. We even have our family favorites in the rap genre. (I must admit, though, jazz and easy listening rarely pass notes in our homes, our cars, our iPods, or Spotify queue.)

Music plays a prodigious and powerful role in our family, which is why...

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Four fun, free apps for transforming seasonal snapshots

Four fun, free apps for transforming seasonal snapshots

The merry and bright holiday music makers are right: It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.

It's also, for many grandmothers and others, the time of year we take more photos than ever of friends and family who are near and dear and gathered together for holiday happenings. Hundreds and hundreds of photos in the case of some snap-happy family photographers. (Or so I hear. Ahem.)

What to do with all those festive faces and places often kept captive in computers and cameras of smart and sundry sorts once the holidays have come and gone? Here are four of my favorite free apps for transforming at least a few of the seasonal snapshots into delightful — or daffy, depending — remembrances to enjoy year 'round.

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Introducing my real grandsons

When I first bandied about the idea of blogging about being a grandma in 2009, my one and only grandson was one year old. As he'd be the star of the show, I asked my middle daughter — Megan, mother to my grandboy — if I could post photos of him and stories about him... as long as I didn't use his real name, didn't reveal where he lived. For safety reasons.

Megan not only gave me permission to share stories and such about my grandson with the world, she allowed me to use his nickname, too, in place of his real name. Thus Bubby made his debut on Gramma's blog, on Grandma's Briefs.

Three years later came grandson No. 2. I initially dubbed him Birdya nickname Megan hated and had no qualms about telling me so. Just call him Mac because it's kinda sorta like his name, she urged. Mac it was!

Three years after Mac came another grandson. I nicknamed him Jak. Which had absolutely nothing to do with his real name, but it rolled off the tongue (and blog posts) when naming the three boys: Bubby, Mac, and Jak.

I've been quite diligent about using those nicknames for my grandsons. At times I'd have to scurry to the computer hours after a post had been published when upon rereading, I'd notice I screwed up and used one or more boys' real name and needed to quickly correct it. If photos of the boys included a name on a T-shirt, artwork, awards, gift tags or such, I blurred them out with photo editing software of some sort.

I was determined to never reveal the reality of my grandsons' long deliberated over names. Adorable one carefully chosen according to Megan's parameters that demanded her kids' names have two syllables, like Mom's and Dad's names, and ended with the same sound, like Mom's and Dad's names. (Which will make sense once you see their names.)

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a writer for Upworthy.com. She wanted to interview me about how I stay connected with my long-distance dearies using techy sorts of stuff. And she wanted to use the real names of those dearies with whom I connect in the article.

Names I'd never shared online. Gah!

I asked Megan if that might be okay. It was more than okay, she expressed. In fact, Preston couldn't stand the nicknames I used for his sons, she revealed, and would be pleased as punch if I'd just use their real names in everything published about them. Including my blog posts.

So I provided the real names for that article. Which you can read by clicking the title below — after reading the rest of this post, of course:

One grandmother has found a way to help her daughter out from miles away

Upworthy article on grandmother

Well, now that the real names...

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Text to Gramma: Jak and the Lord

I used to visit my three grandsons in the desert far more often than I have recently. Preston, the boys' dad, used to regularly attend work-related conferences, and Megan usually joined him. Which meant Gramma (that would be me) was flown to the desert to babysit the boys while Mom and Dad were away.

Add in a desert visit initiated by myself — sometimes with PawDad (that would be Jim) in tow — and the time between hugs and face-to-face fun were rather short. Which was fabulous for being aware and awed but not shocked by the growth of Bubby and Mac between visits.

That's not the case with Jak, who is now nearly 2 1/2 years old. Preston attends fewer conferences of late for various reasons; I haven't had the time or money to schedule many trips to see the boys myself. So I don't see Jak as often as I did his brothers during the toddler years.

Because of the limited in-person connecting with Jak, I'm regularly flabbergasted by how much he grows between Facetimes and photos and phone calls. He never fails to advance by leaps and bounds physically, socially, verbally, developmentally in myriad and magical ways.

A text from Megan on Monday demonstrated...

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Saturday movie review: Cyber-Seniors

I do most of my connecting with my grandsons and their mama (my daughter) in various long-distance manners, most of which are online or via FaceTime. So I fully understand the value of being online and the importance of helping seniors get online.

Which is why I believe the documentary CYBER-SENIORS should be viewed by anyone who has an elderly parent or other loved one who could connect with friends and family online but has been hesitant to learn how to do it.

Today, though, I'm actually with my grandsons and their mama—visiting them in the desert rather than seeing pictures online or chit-chatting over FaceTime—so this movie review must be quick...so I can get on with the visiting. Here goes:

Cyber-Seniors documentary

Bare bones, bottom line: CYBER-SENIORS is super! And the poignant...

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Three cheers for three years

My second grandson will turn three years old in a couple weeks.

Because I'm unable to attend Mac's birthday party or see him that day — par for the course for a long-distance grandma — I was delighted to have a chance to throw a mini celebration after dinner last night in honor of his birthday No. 3.

three year old

Even PawDad joined us from more than 800 miles away, thanks to Skype.

Three cheers for unexpected desert visits — and technology — for making it possible for PawDad and me to mark the milestone with Mac.

Today's question:

Whose birthday is next on the calendar in your family?

Our first family computer, 1994

Throw Back Thursday

It was 1994 — nearly 20 years ago — that Jim managed to land a used computer from work, one to bring home for the family to marvel over and use on a daily basis.

Andrea plays solitaire like a modern girl, Sept. 1994We felt so modern, so plugged in — literally plugged in, with a dial-up modem and all. And oh, the options! We had not only the ability to use 5-1/4-inch floppy disks, our high-tech hand-me-down featured the more up-to-date drive for the not-quite-as-floppy 3-1/2-inch disks, too.

At the start we could access only the public library. Even then, though — months before we signed up for Prodigy — the FTP access to more information than I ever imagined possible absolutely blew. my. mind.

No more Smith Corona word processor for me. I had a computer!

Today's question:

When did you get your first computer and what was your first Internet service?

What I learned this week: Google+ hates me

The last couple of weeks, I've been spending much time and energy trying to better figure out Google+. Most specifically, I'm working on getting the hang of Google+ hangouts. Google+ hangouts are quite similar to Skyping, only it's super simple to have a large number of people join you. They're a fantastic way to participate in (or just watch) online interviews and information sessions on a variety of topics, as well as visit with friends and family.

Chloe from GenerationFabulous.com has been instrumental in encouraging all the Generation Fabulous members — of which I'm one — to hop aboard the Google+ train, and she led the first Google+ hangout I've joined. It was an opportunity for those of us who have never hanged out (or whatever the grammatically correct term might be) to try it in a low-stress atmosphere.

During that first hangout, Chloe taught me and some other newbies a thing or two, such as how to make our names show up during a hangout — especially handy for those of us who want to look professional when getting interviewed online. I've never been interviewed online (nor am I ready to be) but I followed her directions and now come across quite professional looking in a Google+ hangout. Well, at least the label does.

google hangout(The picture of Jim is there because I did this practice one with Jim to get shots for this post; hangouts require you to, well, hang out with someone. He didn't use video, so just his profile photo shows up.)

Chloe also showed us how to access nifty tools that make us look the opposite of professional. They're fun things that enhance the experience when participating in a hangout with grandkids, which is one of the more awesome reasons to figure out Google+ hangouts, if you ask me.

google hangout fun

I'd also like to figure out the hangouts so I can hang out with friends who are scattered across the country. I'd be happy to wear a crown or smiley face then, too.

There also are some fun sounds to make grandkids (and big kids) chuckle while hanging out:

google hangout sound effects

Also cool for hangouts with grandkids: The storytime feature in which you can choose a book from the bookshelf and read it aloud to kiddos watching and listening from their end.

google hangout story time

That's just a small snippet of Google+ hangouts and why I think they're pretty darn cool.

So why do I say Google+ hates me?

Well, because with all the cool things I could do with Google+ hangouts, my microphone doesn't work most of the time. I can Skype just dandy in the morning, but when I attempt a hangout in the afternoon, I sound like I'm underwater. Or I can't be heard at all.

I first thought it was a problem with my computer and my microphone, but it's not. Like I said, my mic works fine for Skype. It does not work fine for Google+ hangouts. And yes, I do have all the settings set correctly (I've checked... about 316 times). I've also replaced the audio drivers on my computer just in case... and my mic still doesn't work for Google hangouts. At least not most of the time.

I've searched and searched and searched for an answer online. Only to find a large group of equally unhappy folks with equally distressing problems when it comes to Google+ hangouts. It's not us, it's them. Meaning it's Google+.

Google+ hates us. For some unknown reason.

And that just plain stinks because I want so badly to play in Google+ hangouts. I so want to wear a pirate hat and patch while reading a story to Bubby and Mac. Or while enjoying a drink and some girl talk with faraway friends.

But I can't. Because Google+ hates me.

And that, unfortunately, is what I learned this week.

(I'm hoping what I learn by this time next week, though, is how to make my mic always work in the hangouts. I'm not giving in to the Google+ hate that easily. Stay tuned.)

Today's question:

What did you learn this week?