Monday, January 28, 2013

Reflections on an unplugged weekend

I think it's fair to say that I've been rather disgusted by the overuse of social media and the personal devices that make it so easy to have everything we "need" right at our fingertips. From play dates where I had to compete for attention with someone's smart phone, to holiday gatherings where everyone was so plugged into their own little world, to this:

Really? And maybe this photo was doctored up, but the fact is that I don't think it would surprise anyone to see that the entire first family was on their phones during the inauguration. 

And then I came across this blog and these two posts in particular:

And while I'm not personally convicted by these posts, they do make me really sad. Because I see it, too. And it's not just the parents who are plugged in. It's the kids sitting at the restaurant (or the checkout lane at Target or the doctor's office waiting room), playing on their parents' (or even worse, their own) iPad or smart phone. 

Now, don't get me wrong. Plenty of the apps on our iPad and Dan's iPhone are games for the kids (and some are even educational--bonus). Not to mention the access to Netflix. But we definitely limit the amount of screen time that the kids get everyday. And we certainly aren't taking these devices out of the house in a regular basis. But both kids are quick to ask, "Can I play the iPad?" if they are even approaching "bored" territory in their day. And the answer is usually "No," or "Okay, but just for 5 minutes."

But then I got thinking. Are our (general American family "our") kids programmed to be entertained by something or someone every moment of the day? Yes, they are. I notice it when Jack has more than a couple of days off of school. He's not used to the lack of constant classroom stimulation. And just the fact that my kids alone are so quick to ask for something to play with/on before they even begin to try to entertain themselves with something else was eye-opening.

So, I proposed a weekend of technology detox.

And the best part is that my family didn't freak out at the idea. They actually welcomed it. And I secretly thought that they were in for a rude awakening. :) After chatting with my husband, we decided on this past weekend--Friday night through Sunday night. And while I didn't want it to feel like a structured "thing," these were our basic ground rules:

Both laptops and the iPad were turned off and put away in our bedroom. 

Since we don't have a landline, our cell phones were placed on the counter in case we needed to be reached and were taken with us if we left the house--but only to be used for answering the phone.

Our only television time would be two designated movie times, with all of us watching the same thing together. 

Thank you, redbox.

And that's it. We started when Dan came home from work on Friday. And we survived! In fact, it didn't feel THAT different from a normal weekend. Here are some thoughts/highlights.

Both kids (okay, mostly Leah) would ask to watch something or to play with the iPad, but as soon as I said, "No, we're not doing that this weekend," they said, "Okay," and moved on.

A lot of the things we did instead of relying on devices are things we do all the time anyway: we ate every meal together, we read, we cleaned, we played with Legos, we did homework, we colored, we did laundry, etc. Getting rid of the devices didn't open up this whole world of, "Oh my word, look at all the stuff I have time to do now that I'm not tied to my smart phone!" And for that I am grateful. It let me know that maybe our "plugged in-ness" is at a reasonable, moderate level.

It was so quiet. Sometimes I'll turn the TV on to watch the news and realize a couple of hours later that I never turned it off, and we just get used to that noise in the background. But the quiet is so amazing. Even constant music via iTunes or Pandora can make me crazy after a while. I just need to hear nothing. Except for the owl that lives in a tall tree somewhere in our backyard. So awesome. :)

Jackson did two things that made me smile. After already getting his allotted 30 minutes of reading done on Sunday, he grabbed another book and said, "Could you set the timer for 15 minutes? I'm going to keep reading." :) Then out of nowhere in the car, he said, "I think we should unplug every weekend." I said, "I like the way you think!"

Logging back on last night was most disappointing! As I scrolled through my newsfeed, I thought, "Seriously? This is what I missed?" You all could have been much more interesting! ;)

So, there you have it. Am I leaving facebook or swearing off the use of devices? No. Although I don't know that I'll ever have the desire to move on from my basic non-smart phone. The break was nice, and I'm sure  we'll do it again once in a while. But I am also coming away from the weekend knowing that we have our priorities pretty well lined-up. There's obviously always room for improvement, and some days and weeks are harder than others in this area.

I'd love to challenge you to try an unplugged weekend. And I'd love to hear how it goes!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Liebster Award

Sweet RaeAnne has nominated me for a Liebster Award!

This blog award is granted to up and coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers who deserve some recognition and support to keep on blogging. What is a Liebster? Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

RaeAnne has asked 11 questions for the 11 people she nominated for the award. Here are my answers. :)

1. What do you love most about your baby/ies?
I have four babies. Jackson is almost 7, and he's the baby who made me a mom. :) My favorite thing about Jack is his heart. He is so kind and tenderhearted. Leah is my first girl and is 3 1/2. As my husband says, God literally put a ray of sunshine in Leah when He made her. And it's true--she just radiates joy. My third baby is Hannah, and my favorite thing about her is how much she has enriched our lives, even though she died before she was even born. She brought life through her death. My fourth baby is Charlie, and I love that I knew he was a boy. It is a small thing, but after two losses and questioning how much I actually knew my  body and the things going on inside it, I was thrilled to learn that my mother's intuition had been right. :)

2. What character from a book would you like to meet (even fictional ones)? Why?
Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. It's a story I've loved for so long, and I'm re-reading the books right now. And they're just so fun. Anne is just so unique and amazing. And Gilbert is the quintessential literary gentleman.

3. If someone could bring you a meal right now, what would it be?
Soup! I am all about soup right now, especially with these sub-zero temps we've been gifted with in mid-January Minnesota. Brrr. I love a good tomato soup. Or chicken noodle. I actually have two soups that I found on Pinterest on my menu for next week--potato soup and tortellini soup. Looking forward to those dinners!

4. What is the best thing someone has said to you after your loss?
I can't think of a specific thing, but just acknowledging the loss and not trying to explain it. Saying something is important--staying silent is painful. And trying to explain it is ridiculous and usually results in something hurtful.

5. What reminds you of your babies the most?
Footprints remind me of Hannah. Even when Leah sees footprints, she calls them "Hannah footprints." :) I don't have a specific thing that reminds me of Charlie. Definitely seeing their names or initials in other places.

6. What's your favorite song/book/movie?
Song: Wow, this is hard! I feel like I have to pick one out of a billion good ones. :) In regards to grief, I really love the Steven Curtis Chapman song "Not Home Yet." Just a great reminder that as painful as life on this earth without our babies is, it's a drop in the pond of the eternity we'll get to spend with them. THIS isn't home.
Book: To Kill a Mockingbird. It's the first book I remember reading for school and not hating. :) And it's just amazing.
Movie: The Sound of Music. Classic. I've probably seen it a hundred times, and it never gets old.

7. Who do you admire most?
Oof, another impossible question. I'm going to have to pick more than one. :) First, my mom. She's one of my best friends and there are many things I love about her, but I admire her for how she faced cancer. It's been almost 9 years since her diagnosis and she faced it with confidence and grace. And survived, so that's awesome too. :)
I also admire my husband for breaking free from generational crap, for lack of a better word, and being an amazing and present husband and father.

8. What's one thing you wish people knew about you?
Hmmm. I don't think there's much that people don't know! I'm an open book. ;)

9. If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go and what would you do?
Either Hawaii or the UK. Our honeymoon was in northern MN in July, so I've always wanted to take a tropical trip with Dan. We'd do absolutely nothing but lay in the sun and relax. :) And Dan went to England and Scottland when he was in college and has always wanted to return. So I think that would be another fun trip.

10. What's the best date night you and your spouse ever had?
Our anniversaries are always pretty awesome date nights. It usually involves a restaurant that we'd deem too expensive any other night of the year. :) Last year was our 10th anniversary and we had dinner at Fogo de Chao (which rocked) and then went to Comedy Sportz (a local improv group that we also saw on our first date). It was a pretty fun night!

11. If you could redo your wedding day, what would you change/what would you keep?
There isn't much I'd change. If anything, I'd choose a different season. We got married on the hottest day of the summer--the dew point was literally over 80 degrees (making the heat index like 115 or something). It was insane. I would have much preferred spring or fall, but since I was still in school, it was much easier to do it in the summer.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

For Ellen

One of my favorite famous people is Ellen DeGeneres. Her birthday is in January, and after a random viewer sent in a duct tape likeness of Ellen, Ellen decided to allow others to send in handmade "Ellens."

Well, how could I say no to that?

Meet crocheted Ellen.

Isn't she just irresistible? I know the skirt and the bow in her hair are a little far fetched, but I think the tennis shoes make up for it. And the hair was just plain ugly without the bow. :)

I'm also enclosing gifts for her nieces: an elephant for Eva and a pig for Perry.

Hehe! :)

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Time stands still

While running some errands with the kids last night, Jackson told me, "We're making a star at school, and we have to write five things that we remember about 2012. I wanted to write 'My mom lost a baby,' but my teacher said it had to be stuff about me."

I said, "Well, I bet we can think of some other things to put on it. But that was sweet of you to remember Charlie."

"No, I meant Hannah and Charlie."

"Well, we lost Charlie in 2012. Hannah was actually in 2011."

"Wow, it's been a long time. It doesn't feel like it."

Tell me about it, kid!

Sometimes the fact that it's been over a year since Hannah was stillborn makes my head spin. And now that we're past the six-month mark of losing Charlie, it's even crazier. And it doesn't always hit me just how much life has been lived in the last 14 months. Sometimes grief feels all-consuming.

But then we have an amazing breakfast date with friends. Or I get to snuggle with my newly non-napping Leah or listen to Jack, my budding reader, read me a book. And I remember that we have experienced a lot in the last year+. A lot of pain, but a lot of life. A lot of life.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Happy New Year!

I remember exactly what I said on Facebook on December 31, 2011. That 2011 had kicked my butt and I was looking forward to 2012 with hope and peace.

And then 2012 sort of kicked my butt too. Crap.

So now we're entering yet another year. 2013. And what am I?

Glad for a fresh start.

I'm trying really hard not to brace myself for another butt-kicking. It might come, but I'd rather trust that God will carry us through whatever he has for us, just as He has so faithfully the last year+.