Here's an idea that kind of rocked my world. A few weeks ago, my friend Bridget posted this on Facebook:

Isn't that brilliant?! It feels satisfyingly rebellious to wrest technology into using it the way WE want to use it. When I asked her more about it, she said it's been working really well--keeping up on details, sharing celebrations, revealing daily worries and joys--basically using the technology to help feel closer as a family. She said, "I figure that's what social media should really be for anyway--keeping in touch with those you truly, deeply care about. And who more important than family ties?"

So now I'm curious. Here we are on the other side of the world from extended family and I'd love to minimize the distance and be better at being a part of each other's lives in real ways. (This is why I started blogging in the first place, to provide distant family with a portal into each other's worlds.) What other creative/rogue/connecting ideas am I missing out on? Do you use social media to keep in touch with family? How do you connect across the miles and generations?

Harrowing tales of adventure


I wouldn't necessarily say that it's easier to find things to do with my girls, but they will watch Steel Magnolias with me as many times as I want. And then we quote the movie together -- because we are Southern women and snarky-ness is embedded deep within our souls.

Lately, however, Parker and I have been having a great time watching a new-to-us series on Netflix called I Shouldn't Be Alive.  These human survival stories are all about fighting natural elements, persevering through hardship, and glorying in the triumph of the human spirit. Aside from being an interesting watch, they have sparked a number of conversations about what we would do in similar situations (which is a nice break from how we would prepare for the zombie apocalypse). Recently we've seen "Nightmare on the Mountain," which follows an 18-year-old boy who is attacked by a grizzly bear while hunting, and "Boys Adrift" -- an excruciating story of two teenage boys stuck at sea for six days in a tiny rowboat. The episodes do contain a bit of gore (okay, a lot in the case of the grizzly bear), and one of the boys in the boat contemplates suicide -- so exercise some caution with younger kids. But overall, they are good, clean fun. Well, fun and sorta stressful.

What about you guys? Any boy-ish shows you can recommend?

Parker also was really affected by Blackfish, a documentary on the captivity of killer whales. He swears he will never visit Seaworld (or a zoo) again.

The Brothers Green

If you have teenagers, chances are you've heard about the Green brothers, John and Hank.  After all, they do have over 500,000,000 (yes, that's 500 million) combined views on their projects so even my shoddy statistical reasoning leads me to think some (or most?) of you have probably come under the Green spell. But if not, you're in for a treat for you and your kids. 

John Green is a popular YA author whose most recent book, The Fault in Our Stars, was both a critical and popular cross-over hit that is being made into a movie. (I think Maddy just read it again for the third time, actually; we suggest it for 15+ since it has some mature themes and a bit of language.) 

Hank Green is an entrepreneur, musician, and vlogger who created the Lizzie Bennet Diaries series, a modern-day adaptation of Pride & Prejudice we mentioned in our weekly Gems a few months back (and it went on to win an Emmy, you guys!).

Now he's back with a new interactive series called Emma Approved based on, you guessed it, Jane Austen's Emma with the modern-day Emma re-imagined as a "bold, smart, idealistic, and audacious young female entrepreneur in life coaching and matchmaking." There's a youtube channel that airs the video episodes and Emma also tweets, has a Facebook page, and a Tumblr. Here's the first episode:

The two brothers also have a hilarious Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube where they leave video messages to each other several times a week and entertain the rest of us in the meantime with their smart, nerdy-cool, fast-paced dialogue on whatever they're thinking about at the time--science, health insurance, maps, animals who stopped sporting events, jokes, etc. For your Monday entertainment,  please enjoy one of Hank's joke challenges:

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