Monday, January 28, 2013

7 Day Media Fast: The Final Day

Yesterday was Sunday, the last day of our family's 7 Day Media Fast. I kind of didn't want it to end, which is surprising given the inner resistance I felt when my fella first suggested this a few weeks ago. In fact, here I sit, the fast has been over for more than 12 hours, and I still don't know the password to my Facebook account. My fella offered to log me in last night, but I was just too tired, and he left for work without giving it to me this morning. The truth is, I don't really mind. I know that when I do log on later today I am going to have nine-zillion notifications to do something about, and the difficult process of balancing my time and priorities will begin.
The past week has given me so many insights into myself, my family, my marriage, and the world we live in. Of all of the things I have pondered, it all basically boils down to one concept: time. 
All of the media outlets that we fasted from have their pros and cons. I could talk all day about the negative aspects of television, social media, and gaming. In the end, though, the biggest and most widespread issue with all of these things is that they steal our time. 
Time, the resource we can never get back. 
As I log on to Pinterest, I feel like I can hear the Wicked Witch cackling with hourglass in hand! (Okay, so maybe not that bad, but you get it.)
Last night, as we reflected on what we have learned this week, we discussed as a family the things we will change permanently. We started the conversation with Man-Cub, who suggested that he watch only one show per day. We were surprised that his input was about his own television consumption and that he was so strict on himself, but we agreed it was a good idea. The fella suggested that we make the time between his arrival home from work and dinner a "Zero Media Time." That means television off and no computers, tablet or games of any kind. We will use this time to connect as a family and finish it with an after-dinner discipleship time as a family. As for myself, I decided to start timing myself while using my preferred time stealers. Not just a mental "I'm going to hop on Facebook for a minute" but an actual timer, allowing me to actually spend just a few moments here or there. For television, I am not much of a tv watcher during the day (there is never anything on!) , but my plan is to just turn it off and keep it off after Man-Cub watches his one show daily. 
In a few weeks I will update everyone on how our new found resolutions are working out. Meanwhile, I am pleased to report that this morning after "The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That" finished, Man-Cub happily announced, "My show is over! Turn off the tv!"

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

7 Day Media Fast: Day 6

Day six. The next-to-last day before the end of our 7 day media fast. 
You would think that I would be eager, even anxious, to get make to "normal."
The thing is, "normal" isn't quite so appealing.
For 6 days my family has felt so much more tight knit. My kids spend all day playing [mostly] gleefully. My fella and I have talked as much as when we were first dating.

 I haven't said one 
"Can you believe what _____ said on Facebook today?"
"I saw this thing on Pinterest..." 
"I can't right now, I'm watching _____." 

Nor have I heard any 
"Mom! I can't hear the tv!" 
"In a minute honey, I want to finish this level." 
It has been awesome, truly.

On the eve of the end of the fast, I feel like I am about to leap off of a cliff, plummeting into a sea of distractions and disconnectedness. 

So what am I going to do about it? Check back in tomorrow to hear about the permanent changes I have decided to make in regards to media.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

7 Day Media Fast: Day 5

All of our modern technology is supposed to make life faster, easier, and more enjoyable. Facebook has revolutionized the way that we communicate with friends and family all over the world. Television allows entertainment to enter our living rooms at the push of a button. Pinterest is heralded (even by me) as the best thing to happen to stay-at-home-moms since the washing machine. Pinterest is the subject of my musings for the day (and today, finally, I had time for some distraction-free musing).

I recently had a discussion with a friend about how Pinterest has changed my life. I have heard it said that the pristinely organized laundry rooms and elaborate children's parties pinned and repinned make some mothers feel inadequate. I have heard talk of Pinterest-related self-esteem issues welling up in otherwise confident women. That is simply not the case for me. I delight at the recipes and party ideas and crafting inspiration. After all, I love to cook, host parties, and craft. And when it comes to the pins that relate to areas I am not gifted in, I just scroll right on by and don't have another thought about that alphabetized spice rack or whatever other maniacally organized thing is pictured.

Pinterest, I said, changed how I cooked for my family. It gave me a whole new avenue in which to find new and usually highly recommended meal ideas. Twice per month, I used to sit on the floor in front of a cabinet containing all of my cookbooks and magazines and spend hours seeking out varied and interesting things to put on the menu for the following two weeks. But, with Pinterest, I could pin yummy looking things all month long and just quickly scroll through and choose my meals when it came time to make my shopping list. Truly, all of those meal ideas and links to recipes being in one place has changed dinnertime for my family, and many others I would bet. However, taking a break from my beloved Pinterest has brought me to this realization:
I spend more time looking at recipes on Pinterest than I spend actually cooking for my family.
And that is a problem, people. It might only be me, but I am going to take a leap here and say that there are some other mommies out there with this same dilemma. That is not to say that I am going to rid my life of Pinterest forever, but I do feel convicted to make some changes and place some limits on myself. Anything that eats away that much time from my days and ultimately my life is just not okay. A friend once told me that she had her husband change her Facebook password so that she could not log in during the day while she was home alone, when she would be likely to waste the most time. I am thinking of something along to same lines for my self-diagnosed Pinterest addiction. If the fella has the only password, then I will only be logging in when he is home. If he is home, I am much less likely to sit for hours looking at everything from homemade hand sanitizer to funny quotes. I am much more likely to log in for a short while to look for ideas for an upcoming birthday party or plan the next week's meals. 

My final update for the day is this: I have read 2 books start-to-finish in five days, just in the amount of time that the fella and I would usually watch tv after the little ones go to bed. I have "pinned" to my Pinterest account using the Pinmarklet installed in my tool bar. (My fella was in on that one, we were looking at baby stuff and furniture online and wanted to make sure we could find it again when we are ready to purchase.) Man-Cub is still asking about Super Mario Brothers, but has not asked for tv, movies, or any of his other games. Our family feels closer and our home feels more orderly and peaceful. Day 5=still loving it!

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Friday, January 25, 2013

7 Day Media Fast: Day 4

Yesterday was Day 4 in our 7 Day Media Fast. To check out our reasons and a list of what exactly we have eliminated this week, read Day One.

Yesterday was also the day that investigators from both the Health Department and the Fire Marshal's Office came to inspect and approve our home for foster/adopt placement. On top of the anxiety that surrounded that, I began to feel sick. Not just the typical first trimester queasiness either. I had a splitting headache, mild fever, body aches and was as fatigued as if I had run a marathon before breakfast. I took some Tylenol and tried to choke down some coffee and prayed that the inspectors would arrive early so that I could curl into a ball in my bed. Since I could hardly get off the couch, a friend took Man-Cub to my mother's house so that I only had one little one to keep up with while I waited.

The first to arrive was the Health Department inspector. This was the visit I had been most nervous about. I had no idea what exactly she would be checking. The only guidance that I was given was that they would check for "sanitation and safety." While I think I have a pretty sanitary and safe home, I wasn't sure exactly what her standards would be, and that led to some maniacal cleaning and organizing the day before (see Days 2 & 3). First, she checked the temperature of our hot water to insure that it did not get to scalding levels. Then she looked over my dog's vet record to confirm recent rabies vaccinations. After that, she just asked to be shown around the house. During the tour she just stepped into the doorway of each room and peaked in. All those closets I organized? Never were opened. The inspector was very nice and friendly and the visit was very quick. She wrote out her report stating that we were approved and went on her way.

The Fire Marshal was equally easy. The inspector was also friendly and she quickly moved through the home, measuring our windows and checking that the smoke detectors in each bedroom worked correctly. She looked briefly at our fire escape plans that are posted in the children's bedrooms and checked our dryer vent and breaker box. After writing up a quick report, she too was on her way.

Thankfully, everything was done by about 11:30am, and I was able to rest for most of the day. When the fella came home he occupied the children so I could nap on the couch. He made them macaroni and cheese for dinner before he headed out for a student ministry meeting. I was able to put them to bed right at 7pm and took myself to bed not long after. That was the first time all week that I really, really wanted to turn on the tv and just veg out. I was too tired to read and I missed The Big Band Theory and my other Thursday night go-to shows.

Still, Man-Cub has not asked about his shows or games. He has asked when he can play Super Mario on Wii again, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that he was restricted from it for a week before the fast started, so now it has been a 4-year-old's eternity. Kids are so quickly adaptable and I am seeing that we are too. I thought that I would be counting the days until I could Facebook or Pinterest or watch tv, but really, I'm in no hurry....except for a boring Thursday night with a case of the possible flu that is.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

7 Day Media Fast: Days 2 and 3

You might think that a media fast would put so much time on my hands that finding time to blog would not be a problem. But this week, that is just not the case. So, alas, I am a day behind in my documentation of this 7 days of fasting. To read our reasons and a list of what we are fasting from, see Day One.

On Day 2 of the fast I spent the majority of the day on social endeavors, something that I haven't done nearly enough of since the holidays. I met two pregnant friends and their children at Monkey Joe's where our children bounced and ran and sustained minor injuries while we discussed all things pregnancy (pregnant women love to talk about being pregnant at every opportunity, you know). Then we headed over to CiCi's Pizza for an impossibly inexpensive, carb-filled lunch. By the time I got home, put the kids down to nap and took a short snooze myself, the fella was arriving home from work. Not my most productive day, but it definitely was a lot of fun. We finished the day with our church small group and both a family and couples devotional time. Busy and fun and still not missing the television or internet, except for when it came time to do some follow up to our small group lesson and I realized that I communicate with the majority of the group via Facebook. But, we figured it all out and got on with our lives.

Day 3 (Wednesday) I worked in my home all day long. It was intense, and it gave me an even greater appreciation for mothers in the Amish community that work that way every single day (more on that in a minute). I was preparing our home to be inspected by the Fire Marshal and the Health Department for our adoption certification. I got to work at about 7:30am and cleaned and scrubbed and washed every surface of my home until I collapsed on the bed at about 4:30pm, directing the fella how to finish up where I just could not go on. I can tell you that the last time my house was this clean was the day we moved in. Everything from my cabinets to my baseboards to my switch plates got a thorough wipe down, every closet was organized, and every stitch of laundry in the house was washed and later graciously folded and put up by the fella. Preparing for a home inspection is the adoption equivalent to the nesting instinct that soon-to-deliver mamas experience. That day I was much less thankful for the media fast, as I would have loved to distract my little ones with some sort of tv show or game. But we made it through, and I know that I, personally, couldn't have done what I did if I had slowed to watch this or that program or check my Facebook or browse Pinterest "for just a second."

My biggest observation on Day One was about the quality of family time when you remove all of the distractions of modern life. On Days 2 and 3, I was so thankful for the quiet. With no tv and other electronic sounds in the background, my home has had such a blissful tranquility about it. Children and pets make noise, that is a given. But without all of the background noise, they are somewhat quieter too. I guess they don't have anything to be heard over.

I keep thinking about the Amish. For almost two years I have been fascinated (read: obsessed) with the Amish lifestyle. The simplicity, the family-centeredness, the self-reliance, the community, the all seems so beautiful and joyful and peaceful to me. And this week I get to see a glimpse of that come to life within my home. Obviously I am still enjoying many modern conveniences, but in the absence of just a few of those conveniences and technologies, I am basking in the family time, the relative quiet, and the ability to work diligently and joyfully without distraction.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

7 Day Media Fast: Day 1

Last week, my fella had the idea and conviction that we should fast from all of the media we are so dependent upon for seven days. I have to admit that at first I was resistant to the idea. I mean, I use Facebook to do the majority of my ministry-related communication, as well as to keep up with many family members that I do not have contact with otherwise. And Man-Cub gets a lot from all of the educational programming that he watches. But, while those are the most noble of our media uses, they are not the only ones. In truth, I waste a great deal of time watching television, lurking around Facebook and obsessing over Pinterest. Faced with the prospect of getting more done around the house and reconnecting with my family, I was all in. It is time to hit "reset" and get back to my most heartfelt priorities.

Just so we are all on the same page, this is what we are fasting from:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • All television (including movies and the DVD system in our van)
  • All games (computer, tablet, cell phone, Wii, Leapster and LeapPad)
  • All blogs (except my own, so I could update this series)
We have not cut out all internet (obviously) and we are checking our email accounts twice daily for work and/or church related communications. All person-to-person communication with friends and family is limited to phone or text. We explained this whole thing ahead of time to Man-Cub, who will be fasting with us. We explained what a fast is and why we think this is important, and he was very receptive.

Day One (Monday) was amazing. Although the morning was oddly quiet without Robin Meade's Morning Express accompanying our coffee, we enjoyed the time to talk and plan our day's activities. We had quite a lot to accomplish, given that it was the fella's last day off before two important home inspections for our adoption. This is what we did on day one of our media fast:

  • Fixed a broken window
  • Cleaned out and organized our garage
  • Went out for a family lunch date
  • Took a van-load of items to Goodwill
  • Cleaned our backyard
  • Mowed the backyard
  • Installed child-proof latches on all cabinets in the house
  • Installed wall-mounted fire extinguisher
  • Bathed and flea-treated dogs
  • Thoroughly vacuumed all carpets and furniture
  • Washed all bedding
  • Made homemade chicken and dumplings
  • Had a dance party with our kids while dinner cooked
  • Enjoyed a peaceful family dinner
  • Fella and Man-Cub had first father-son devotional time
  • Bathed children
  • Had Bible time and story time and tucked in children
  • Had couple's devotional time leading to long, meaningful conversation
  • Read some good books side-by-side
  • Went peacefully to sleep
Our greatest observations of the day were about how much we were able to accomplish without so many distractions. We took several breaks during the hard work, and had we clicked on the tv or grabbed the tablet or laptop to check Facebook, those breaks would have been much longer. Not only did we get an incredible amount of needed work done, we had leftover time to spend with our kids and one another. And without the distractions of tv and video games, they wanted to spend it with us too! For the first time in a long time I went to bed feeling like everything I needed to do was done, like everyone in my home had received a fair amount of my attention and to tell you the truth, I wasn't even as exhausted as it sounds like I would be. Instead, I was energized from all of the uninterrupted time with my fella and children, something that is hard to come by when you spend your "family time" watching a show together. It's just not the same. Oh, and in case you are wondering, Man-Cub never once asked to watch tv or play a game.

Day One=Complete Success

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

The 1st Trimester (A Survival Story)

Yes, I have been absent from the world of blogs since just before Christmas. Holiday activity and travel coupled with a severe case of writer's block are not the only reasons for my absence. For those of you that do not know me personally, there is another (quite large) bit of information: I am expecting my 3rd biological child! 
My fella and I are very excited about this baby and, yes, we are still getting certified to adopt from the Department of Social Services. We don't know what all of that looks like yet, but we do know that we are at the center of God's will for our lives, and there is absolutely no safer place to be!
Right now I am about 10 weeks along and feeling much better than I ever did during my previous 2 pregnancies. They say that the Lord only gives us what we can handle, and I truly believe this. I don't know that I could experience the same severe nausea/vomiting/fatigue that I did in the past and simultaneously care for my one and four year old children, our home, pets, and prepare our lives and homes for the adoption and related inspections! 
While I am much for functional this time around, I am certainly not experiencing one of  those symptom-free pregnancies that participants of "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" describe. And as a third-timer, I have come up with some 1st trimester survival rules that I live by, and encourage others walking in my shoes to live by as well.
  1. Sleep: Often and deeply. Go to bed early and stay in bed late (assuming there is not a hungry toddler or a cranky boss demanding your attention in the a.m.). Take naps and make them long ones. You are neither lazy nor narcoleptic. You are growing a person and this 1st trimester is the time during which your baby does her most rapid growth and development. If performing all of that within the confines of your uterus doesn't warrant some extra zzz's, I don't know what does.
  2. Buy Febreeze Air Effects: Everything in your world will begin to smell strange. I once threw up in my kitchen sink at the scent of oatmeal that my fella made an hour prior. Having a bottle of this magical stuff around will clear the air of whatever it is that is making your eyes water and your gag reflex spasm. I have found the Gain scented variety to be the least offensive and the most fresh smelling, because, yes, you may even find the smell of air freshener to be disgusting.
  3. Eat Whatever Sounds Good: In your second and third trimesters, I would not recommend giving in to every craving unless you happen to be craving leafy greens and lean protein. But, the rules are different while trying to survive these first twelve weeks. If it sounds appealing, chances are good that you will be able to get it down and keep it down. As an add-on to this rule, do not eat anything that does not sound/smell appetizing. Trying to choke down that grilled tilapia and steamed veggies in order to have a nice, healthful meal may end in disaster if it didn't seem appealing in the first place. Take your vitamins and make up the rest by making good choices once the queasiness has eased up a bit.
  4. Drink Tons of Water: I have always been exceptionally thirsty during pregnancy, but even if you are not, you will be amazed at the difference that extra water makes in how you feel! I have found that all of my 1st trimester crampiness and abdominal aches could be resolved by drinking a big 24 oz. cup of water. Drinking lots of water also helps you avoid retaining water and bloating and can prevent constipation. You will be amazed by the amount of water that you can consume during pregnancy, and how much you feel you need. During my first pregnancy my provider told me to fill up a gallon sized jug in the morning and make sure it was gone before bedtime. I could easily get that down as well as a cup or two of milk and orange juice. And if you drink a caffeinated beverage, drink enough water to equal it in addition to your regular water intake (ex. if you have a 20 oz. Coke, drink an additional 20 oz. of water.) This all may seem impossible, but trust me, you will feel so much better when you are getting enough water!
  5. Use That Pregnancy Card While You Can: If this is your first pregnancy, your partner will probably gladly fetch you another glass of water or that corn dog you've been craving. He will not allow you to carry in the groceries or help with yard work. By your second or subsequent pregnancy, the appeal will likely have worn off. Use it while you can, first timers. The world in general will be kinder to you during pregnancy too, especially with your first! It's funny how a first time mom with a cutely round baby bump gets the door held for her and help to her car with her two bags of groceries. Yet, when you are bloated, achy, 9 months pregnant and attempting to buy a cart-full of groceries with two children in tow, people just shake their heads and comment "You sure have your hands full!" or "So that's your last one, right?" Again, enjoy it while you can :)
Pregnancy flies by. It really does! Before you know it, I will be blogging about my 5 month ultrasound, then my birth plan, and one day my birth story will pop up and you will say to yourself "Wow! It seems like I just read that she was pregnant!" In this house, we are not just surviving, we are thriving! 2013 will likely be our most memorable year yet! We cannot wait to see where this journey takes us and we covet your prayers in the process.

Thanks for reading! I promise more regular blogging now that my writer's block is broken. If you like the blog, please click the link below to vote for me. One click is one vote, that is all you have to do! It's a single step!

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