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Kidding Around

Parenting in the Twin Cities.

In the aftermath of Ashley Madison hack, reconsidering what we share on the internet

Let me start by saying that I am NOT on the Ashley Madison database. But this article, written by an old blogging friend of mine, really, really made me think.

I've had a website on the internet for 10 years. And in those 10 years I have written countless stories and shared my opinion and quipped and quoted back and forth with friends and family, strangers and, yes, a few trolls and haters. (It comes with the territory, unfortunately.)
Each day, I share at least one personal photo, sometimes two, on social networks such as Instagram and Facebook.
As my kids get older, I've definitely become more guarded and cautious. I don't share daily details of their lives as I did when they were babies. I make sure the photos and stories I share won't embarrass them. I am all about "keeping it real" but I am also about making sure my kids don't hate me someday.
As I read Jennifer Jeanne Patterson's words on Monday, my gut heart hurt. 
Jennifer's article got me thinking about the digital footprint we're leaving for our kids, too. I mean, I love getting to see my friends' newborn babies and graduation photos and first lost teeth. I think we all relate with "why won't my child take a nap?" posts and stories about the chaotic days of parenting. But what is the threshold between sharing and oversharing, between giving a glimpse and creating an online identity your child may not like in 10 or 20 years?
There are lots of things I've said and done online that didn't need to be said and done. 
There are opinions I shared that I don't necessarily still have anymore and realizations made over time.
There are photos shared that probably didn't need to be shared.
But as we all know the internet never forgets. The internet lives forever.
But what’s worse for me, a mother, is that in light of the Ashley Madison leak what I regret most isn’t what I’ve written about me, but what I’ve written about my kids. Simple things like e-mails to teachers, school records, texts I sent to friends, or even notes taken by doctors. Because this most recent data leak isn’t about exposing cheaters in my mind, it’s about the digital trail we’ve all created that could be exposed at any moment, one that can be hugely misinterpreted. {excerpt}
So when I wrote that I didn't understand parents who co-sleep, and then found myself sleeping upside-down sandwiched between two littles in my queen-size bed, I realized I was just a stitch wrong.
Hypothetically speaking, that is.
I'm not only dwelling on the things we post and share, but also on private electronic communications.
This Ashley Madison hack may be funny and disheartening but it's truly showing us that there is no such thing as privacy. Who's to say your email log from 2004 doesn't get drudged up -- with all those emails you wrote making fun of your boss and his turtlenecks? Or what about the texts between friends? 
So where is the balance? How can we live authentic lives online while respecting our children's future online lives? (I mean, honestly, Instagram Chatbooks are pretty much the only photos my kids SEE printed these days.) And why are we all gloating and laughing about this leak and all those "cheaters" who are being caught when the next data leak may expose us in a different way? 

5 things to do with your kids at the Minnesota State Fair



Confession: We don't take our kids to the State Fair. It's like breaking all of the rules of being a Minnesotan, but my kids are convinced the fair is just for grown-ups. The other day our 9-year-old asked for us to please bring him some Sweet Martha's Cookies when we go to the fair? Consider it done, kid.

So while I don't bring my kids to the fair, I know plenty of people who do. And if you're one of them, I've got three things you're going to want to do with your kids this year.

1. Slather on that sunscreen (free this year at the fair!) and ID your kids. New this year at the fair you can go to any guest services booth and they will provide identification bracelets for kids. There will be lots and lots of people at the fair and this is just one way to help your child if they get seperated or lost from you. It happens. 



2. Math on a Stick and/ or Alphabet Forest. Alphabet Forest has been around for a few years and parents have raved about how fun it is for kids to make their name into a necklace, or work on letter identification and reading. But new this year is Math on a Stick, which is a similar program. Making math and number identification at the fair fun.

3. Little Farm Hands. This is a totally free hands-on exploratory agricultural exhibit at the fair. Your kids will have the opportunity to try out being a little farm hand and earn "cash" they can spend in the Little Farm Hands store on things like apples, milk, cereal.

4. Create a tradition by going on the Giant Slide ($2.50/person) or taking the Sky Ride across the fair grounds ($4/rider).



5. Try a new food. There are lots of new foods being debuted at the fair this year but my top two recommedations are the Totcho's, which are available at Boulevard Grill at the west end of the Coliseum, and the brand-new Salted Carmel Puff malt at the Dairy Barn. Both of these are things you can share with the whole family.



Most of all plan ahead. Buy your tickets and the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book at participating Cub Foods stores a head of time to save on admission. You can also download the State Fair's interactive app to make plans as you go and here are a few local bloggers who have ideas and suggestions of things to do at the fair too:

Family Fun Twin Cities

Twin Cities Kids Club

Minnemama Adventures

Dining with Alice

Do you take your kids to the fair? What is your must do activity?

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