Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Results from the No Screen Month Test

As it is the last day of February and our family's experiment of no screens, I want to share the observations we have made throughout the testing phase.

I secretly dreaded this month because I like my TV shows. Also I felt like there were going to be lots of meltdown times when I would just really NEED Little Bear to help me cope. I was very surprised at how much easier this month has been than I thought it would be. I only really felt like I needed Little Bear once! I mean ONCE!

I didn't turn him on so I guess I really didn't NEED him. It just would have been easier than dealing with the tantrum. But being as I am a mom I guess I should be dealing with the child having the tantrum, not the TV dealing with it. This goes back to my last post about not doing things the easiest way. Sometimes, we learn more and get better outcomes when we do things the harder less efficient way. But I digress...

So this week I have been asking the kids, "I know that this no screen month has been boring at times, especially on the weekends when none of your friends can play. But I want to know if you have seen any good things that have come out of it?"

Here are some of their responses: Our home is more calm. I got to know my little brothers better because I spent more time with them. There is more peace in our home. I feel more love in our home. We had less fighting. Mom put us to bed more. Mom yelled less. We spent more time together.

My response was that there is a significant peace in our home with the quiet on no screen and no mom yelling to turn off screen or having to repeat directions several times because someone was too absorbed in a screen to pay attention. I also noticed more time spent as a family. More Dad and kid interaction, more Mom and kid interaction and more siblings playing together.

Jon noticed a shift in our children as they seemed less affected by the "Hollywood" propaganda machine.

All these are very wonderful outcomes and the far surpass my expectations of this experiment. Really I can't even say how much more powerfully I feel a sense of peace and order in our home.

Nevertheless, the weekends have been hard with no TV. So we are going to try to keep the good stuff and ease up to alleviate the bad part of boring weekends. We will see how this balance goes. For now we are going to start doing "No Screens Monday - Thursday and then allow screens after school on Friday and all day Saturday. Sundays we allow screens but only to watch or view church related programing (, which means we hardly ever have TV on and the kids play some games from HERE.

Now we of course will make some exceptions now and then. Like this last weekend when I was so sick I couldn't get out of bed and my husband was out of town. I turned the TV on for Noble so I could lay down and sleep while the baby slept. Certain circumstances call for an exception. The trick is keeping the "exceptions" to a minimum to keep the strength of the rule.

I hope we will still see that peace and calm and love in our home like we have this month. If not we may have to revisit a new solution. It will be harder for me than for the kids really. I am the one home all day with one kid napping and one kid to entertain. It would be easier to just watch TV. But life isn't about going the easy route I am learning.

Next month is "no getting angry" month. I feel much more able to tackle that after such a good February. I just have to fine tune a few times when my instructions to kids have gone unheeded after several repeats. Deep Breaths here I come.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Deep Thought

I have had a deep thought percolating in my mind of late. I thought I would share it. It is along the same lines as the idea that "life is more about the journey than the destination." I have been realizing that life is less about what the beauty and wonder of our creations here on earth and more about us learning to become creators.

We do wonderful things here on earth. We create art, we create clean spaces, we create children and families and relationships and work projects and inventions and a million other little things. We like to make these things look beautiful and strive for some degree of "perfection" in these things we create.

But the reality is that often the things we create or are creating are no where close to "perfect." The house is often messy and the relationships can be messy too sometimes. Even when we feel we get something just the way we want it, life can suddenly turn it upside down and "mess it up."

By nature, I am a woman who looks for the straightest line between two points. The one point is where I am and the other is where I want to be. I am a doer. I want to check it off my list and I want it to stay checked. :) I want to drive the shortest, and fastest way to the store or the school. I want to order my life so that it works at maximum efficiency.

So this realization that has been coming to me has really shaken my paradigm. I am seeing that sometimes it is better for me to get up and walk upstairs to get something up there I need rather than ask my husband to bring it down with him when he comes. Why? Because I get the exercise of climbing the stairs and strengthening my muscles.

I am seeing that the purpose of picking up the toys may not be about getting the house clean but it may be about making me a better worker. Perhaps it is better to cook whatever I eat because the work of it will make me stronger and healthier than doing the easy thing or eating out or picking up fast food.

It has made me think about the Karate Kid movie (the original) where Mr. Miagi makes the kid do all those random chores. Maybe he didn't really need his fence painted or his car washed. The whole point was to build the kids muscles in the right movements.

It is okay if my kids are not perfect. They are in training. It is okay if I am not perfect. I am also in training. I succeed when I keep training. There is no "finish" to this work. I am in school. I am learning - often one mistake at a time.

I don't have to create perfection. I just have to grow and learn as I create.

This thought has made my house cleaning and cooking and mothering seem so much more purposeful and hopeful and positive. I hope it helps anyone else out there as much as it has helped me. Anyone get thoughts to add to this?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Best Valentine's Day Ever

Yes. That is right. Today has been my favorite Valentine's Day ever. First off, it being a Tuesday and all I really had no expectations for the day. I mean I had to do my big cook for my dinner group and Jon had work so ...

Then last night my sweet hubby came out of his office with a bow on his head and a piece of paper taped to his chest. The paper had a poem written on it telling me that his Valentine's gift to me was a day with him home with me all day.

I read it and a big smile spread across my face. "You mean no going to work? No working from home? No doing any accounting or checking up on things by phone? A whole day where you are all mine???" I asked. He nodded and said he had told everyone at work not to bug him. :)

You see usually when Jon doesn't have to work, he has other things he wants to do. But today he did whatever I wanted to do. It was the best day ever. First we woke up together early and made a special Valentine's day breakfast for the girls. I made a Dutch baby and cut out pieces of it with a heart shaped cookie cutter. He went with me to take the kids to school.

Then he watched the boys while I attempted to make treats for some friends. It didn't work out like I had hoped so I threw it away. Next we went to Ethel M's chocolate factory and picked out a big box of chocolates together. Yummm! Then we went to lunch together at Heidi's Deli. It was great. He has been telling me about it for weeks and I finally got to go with him. We stopped by the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for "plan B" treats for friends. He drove the boys around in the car cart. I never get that one because it so cumbersome. He made it go all over the place and the boys loved it.

We came back home to give the boys a nap and Jon worked out while I made my "plan B" treats - Oreo Truffles - a sure fire hit. We played some scrabble and when the boys woke up and the girls came home he watched the boys while I cooked some Filet Mignon and Top Sirloin steaks and fingerling potatoes and a green salad.

Now we have cleaned up and bathed and bedded the boys and it is time to go hot tubbing with the girls before bedtime. :) Not too out of the ordinary of a day, except being with my Jonathan makes my regular boring day so much better. I just REALLY love spending time with my honey. Hope your Valentine's day was as great as mine.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Blog Post by Annie

Annie wanted to start her own blog today. I started a private one for her and she wrote her first post. I thought maybe you all would enjoy reading it so I am re posting it here. Her blog is called "My Awesome Childhood," and considering who is living it, I have no doubt it will be "awesome." Here is Annie's blog, in her own words:

One day my mom and dad gave a talk in church on the same day. I am going to talk about my mom's talk. My mom went first. She talked about how we can do things that we really don't want to do. She said we should do it because we should love the person that asked us to do it. She said that when someone asks her to do something that she really doesn't want to do, she thinks about the Savior because He did something that He didn't want to do, but He did it anyway because He loved us. So she would think about that and she would do that thing that they asked her to do as long as she knew the Lord wanted her to do it.

She also talked about losing her baby daughter was an experience for her because many other people had been through the same thing. She also said that their were two roads. One road was where there were people who were angry at the Lord and bitter for having him making their babies die. The other road had people who weren't angry at the Lord and who were humble and going to church and didn't complain about it because they knew that the Lord needed their babies in heaven for some reason. 

She talked about her grandmother who was as strong as an ox. She had 4 girls and 2 boys. She would always say that to my mom. Then my mom had 4 girls and 2 boys. It made my mom grow closer to her grandmother because she had experienced what her grandmother had experienced. What she is saying is that when we suffer, we are growing closer to the Lord because we are doing the same thing that our Savior did. 

Everybody said that they loved my mom's talk. I loved it the most because I am her number one fan. I look up to my mom because she does great things. She chooses the right.  But if my mother goes astray, I am likely to just follow the prophet. But I am pretty sure my mom's not going to go astray. But if she does, well I'm not following you anymore, mom! But I hope she doesn't, because I love my mother.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Refinishing Furniture

My friend Catherine came over the other day to help me learn how to refinish furniture. I have always admired how she just jumps in and does things. She isn't afraid to get into a project even if her boys are with her. She is a doer. I love that about her.

She gave me the courage and push to get this project done that I have been putting on the back burner for over a year. She brought her boys over and our boys played while we turned this old outdated bureau:

 (You can't see it in this picture but it was chipping and peeling on the top.)

Into THIS:

I think it looks amazing and am so excited about how doable it was. I mean it was a little crazy with our boys all wanting to help and I was glad there were two of us so we could take turns tending the boys when they needed entertaining, but still ... 4 hours and a can of paint and primer and WhaLaa! I love how it looks with the black frames on the wall above. 

Now I have another dresser I want to paint white and antique afterwards. With the courage and knowledge Catherine gave me I think I can do it by myself!  Thanks Catherine! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

No Screens -- so far

We have been very good about not using screens for entertainment so far this month. It has been an interesting family experiment. I am interested to see how much lower our electric bill will be :). I have found that not having screens on has had both positive and negative effects on me so far. But I am going to stick with it the rest of the month to see if the pros outweigh the cons in the end.

On the pro side, I have gotten more done than I normally would. I have felt a greater peace in our home. I have found myself cleaning more often (thought to look at my house right this minute you would think I was lying on that one.) I read the news more so I am better informed on current events. I have been in bed MUCH earlier (though not asleep till about the same time.) My kids have had much more interaction with their Dad. They have been playing lots of chess.

On the con side, I have been eating more when I have been bored (not good.) I have had a few times when I have felt overwhelmed and really could have used a bit of Little Bear to settle the kids down so I could regroup. I have found I still need some "down time." I have been playing Sodoku.

I guess we will see how the rest of the month goes.