Sunday

My Spirited Crystal Wonder Girl - Part:1

I am the mother of a Spirited Child. She was brought here to take me on a journey to find myself, to better myself and to change who I am. I am exhausted. I feel like a failure most of the time because what works today will most likely not work tomorrow. I feel like I'm lost in the woods without any markers to get me home. I feel like a horse that is refusing to be broken...but knows I should be because then life will be a lot easier. You see, I too am a Spirited Child, so I'm stubborn. I too am strong willed, demanding, persistent, have big dreams and am far too observant for my liking... I too seek to change the world and demand greatness from others, especially when they are not living their true passions. I am the mother of a Spirited Child and these are my observations.

Part 1: A Rough Draft.

Her energy is unmatched and refuses to be harnessed. Her laugh can be heard miles away, her cries break the sound barrier, and the term, "Daredevil" doesn't even begin to describe it.

All things nature course through her veins and she is truly at peace when digging in the mud, building castles of sand, inspecting insects hiding in the grass, studying animals in the wild or holding a red wiggler from her worm compost bin.

She talks to animals...I mean she actually communicates with them. They trust her, they flock to her and they are comforted by her.  Butterflies have landed on her shoulder. Cats run to her from out of nowhere and fall at her feet. Lizards and grasshoppers have walked out of the bushes across the concrete into her open palm - on more than one occasion. Lady bugs crawl the length of her body until the wind finally carries them away several minutes later. A dragonfly landed on her arm and stayed there long enough for her to show it off to her nature school classmates. Bees like to be near her as she whispers songs to them and asks if she can pick their lavender - and I have never seen so many hummingbirds in my life like I have seen in her presence.

The rain calls to her and she must run through it and catch it in buckets and marvel at the waterfall gushing off of her umbrella as she is standing under a rain gutter.

She appears to be almost reborn in very windy weather and she loves to embrace it face on, laughing wildly, eyes twinkling, arms outstretched as if she were hugging the universe.

If she could dine alfresco under our Paris patio lights every single day of the year she'd be a happy girl.

She cares deeply for her baby brother and is so in-tune with him she could tell me what he was thinking and successfully predicted what he was going to do as a baby from the day he was born.  She also knew he was going to be a boy way before he was born and never once wavered on her "guess."  She was two years old when she made her accurate prediction.  She gave him his nick name when he was one week old and over two years later she still calls him, Bay (short for Baby.)

Although she is her mother's daughter, I am clearly no match for the extreme changes in mood and full throttle pace she insists on living her daily life. There are times where I feel as if I'm dealing with a seasoned hostage negotiator, or a powerful lawyer arguing a high profile case. And don't let her age fool you, she's been able to McGuyver her way out of any sticky situation since she could walk. Many times I have become tangled in the intricate booby-trap of string, ribbon and dangling toys tied to the door handles, light fixtures and bedposts in her room.  We're still trying to figure out who taught her how to tie double knots.

The words, "You can't" are an invitation to prove you wrong.
The word, "No" is merely a stepping stone to the word, "yes."
The words, "Not now" are just road blocks that she crashes through on her way to, "how about now?"
The words, "You CAN do it" will be met with, "But I caaaaaan't"as she flings her body onto the floor to claim her position...unless it was her idea.

She is the princess in the top of the tower because she scaled it's walls and climbed up there herself. However, there is no need to rescue her because she'll either repel down in her make-shift harness or she'll fly down with wings she's fashioned from an old sheet, a hair clip and a belt.

She is the knight and the dragon fighting to the death in the same battle.

She is the life of the party, the party promoter, the party crasher, the party pooper and the cops busting it up - all in the same night.

She is my little Jane Goodall fully immersed in the animal kingdom.

She is my joy, she is my tears, she is my frustration, she is my reflection, she is my laughter, she is my anger, she is my hope, she is my treasure, she is my exhaustion, she is my pride beaming from my chest and the burning lump in my throat as I choke back tears of happiness when I watch her accomplishments and she is the one who will keep me on my toes for the rest of my days.

She is the baby girl who was determined to survive and thrive during a very bad illness I contracted when I was 7 weeks pregnant with her that had us very worried. She is the baby girl who bruised my ribs from the inside from kicking me so hard for weeks on end when I was pregnant with her. She was the baby girl who demanded a grand entrance at birth and came when she was darn good and ready - 5 days late. She is the baby girl who reached up and touched my face within seconds of being born and held it there for the longest time while we both cried looking into each others eyes.

She is my wild horse running free through the morning mist along the sand.
She is the unyielding waves crashing against the rocky shore taking pieces of it with them.
She is my colorful bird soaring high above the earth and then diving straight down into the ocean without a splash.
She is my sea otter pup surfing the waves without any fear.
She is my puppy dog running down the street who broke free from the gate, tongue wagging in the wind, looking back with laughter in her eyes because she knows she'll never be caught and has no plans to return on "The Man's" schedule.

She is the quiet drifting of the clouds in the sky and the thunder rolling in for an unexpected storm all in the same afternoon.


My darling daughter,
Your smile has the wattage of 1000 suns
You have the power of the ocean pumping through your body the entire time you are awake.
The dreams you speak of sound like magical fairy lands with winged unicorns soaring through purple skies and dragons and butterflies all talking to you - the stuff found only in the movies.

You are my dream and my reality. My bright sun and my full moon. My gray skies and my pouring rain, my mud puddles and my rainbow. The sand beneath my feet and the cool waves trickling past my toes. You are my tiger and my lamb. You are the laughter in my ear as you move the hair away from my eyes and the tiny lego I step on at 2am while walking to the bathroom in the dark.

You are my sweet, fiery girl and I love you with every single fiber of my being. Thank you for choosing me to be your mother and for teaching me patience and understanding and how to look at the world through different eyes.


Love,
Mommy








"The best thing you've ever done for me is to help me take my life less seriously. 
It's only life after all."
-Indigo Girls

Tuesday

The Battle of Nigh-Nigh: Getting Our Spirited Child To Sleep.

When you were born and we finally got you to go down after many dances with daddy listening to soft music, you slept like a baby - you woke every two hours all throughout the night to nurse.  In between those hours you snuggled sweetly between daddy and I, swaddled in your baby blanket, or sometimes in your bassinet that was pushed right up against my body, not moving a muscle, your eyes closed tightly off in a baby wonderland.

As a one year old we were living in the land of the "Sleepy Drive."  This drive was our night time routine and it was carried out faithfully for God only knows how long. It actually started before you were a year old because we'd make the drive down to Poipu Beach when we were living on Kauai. But daddy and I actually enjoyed many of those quiet starlit evenings driving around in the dark through fields of tall cane grass until you drifted off to sleep. Once in bed however,  you woke every 45 minutes all throughout the night to nurse and nurse and nurse and nurse and nurse. I don't think you actually ever "slept."  Or I should say I never slept. During the minutes where you'd finally break your latch, roll over and drift off to a light slumber - my "exhale moment", you thrashed your tiny body around the bed between daddy and I like crashing waves on the rocks. Your arms and legs kicking wildly as if you were swimming to shore through the raging water. It was a good night if we only got kicked in the eye or punched in the jugular a few times. You might have been "sleeping" but your body never stopped moving. Never. As a baby daddy would say you are "full throttle til you run out of gas." Truer words were never spoken.

As a two year old (who had even more energy if you can imagine that) you had a very, very, very long nigh-nigh routine that lasted hours. "No way!"  "Yes way!"  It consisted of a pre-tub sprint around the circle of our house, a long leisurely bubble tub that would make a Greek Goddess jealous, several books, as well as a verbal story, followed by a made up song, a slow dance and then a rock in the chair til you finally drifted off. I'm exhausted just writing it. Daddy and I took shifts in the beginning. This is how it all went down. After a very long dinner we come to Part One: The Running Of The Babies. It was just as hectic as The Running Of The Bulls in Spain. Something I'm sure you'll partake in someday. We called this the "Naked Baby Chase" and you wore us both out after several laps. The house we were living in at the time had a complete circle through the house. It connected the kitchen to the hall, a bedroom, another hall near the bathroom, through the living room and dining room and back to the kitchen. This was your track and you were training for a marathon. Like any top athlete, you took your training very seriously. You just kept running and running and running and running at full speed ahead, laughing like a hyena, eyes flashing with electricity every time you passed us on the side lines cheering you on trying to pinch your booty. You were a tiny, battery charged Forrest Gump. Then there was the tub portion of the evening - when we finally got you in there that is. This lasted a good 45 minutes to an hour and a half. The water was cold after several attempts to drain some of the cold and add more hot, swish it around to warm it up - repeat. Tub time ended when there was no more hot water to be had in the entire house. It did not end happily, let me tell you, even after an hour and a half. Then we come to the routine of drying you off. The made-up song I had to sing to dry your hair because you HATED for me to dry your hair and the song helped somewhat. I had to use a towel because you HATED the sound of a blow dryer. Even in a public restroom. I didn't blame you though. It's very loud. I can only imagine how loud it must sound to very sensitive two year old ears. Then the picking of the jammies. They had to be the right ones. Not too scratchy, no tags in our way, nothing itchy, not too hot, not too cold. Sometimes there would be several changes until we got it just right and even then more times than not we'd end up sleeping in only our diaper all night long anyway. As any parent with a Spirited Child will agree, any break in the routine or any attempts to speed it up only ended in heartbreak - for daddy and I. I'd like to remind you that mommy was pregnant with Baby #2 and tired. Oh-so-very-tired during this two year old stretch of wild animal life. We haven't really even gotten to the meat of our night time routine yet and it's been close to 2 hours. Add on the evenings festivities of books and entertainment provided by the "parent du jour" and we've got another hour plus. Now it's time for lights out. She knew it was coming, we knew it was coming and every one of us knew it wasn't going to be pretty and it wasn't going down without a fight. Kisses and loves, lights off and out the door closing it behind me only to find my darling cherub turning the doorknob ever so slowly to poke her smiling face out of the door about 22 seconds later. Anticipating her arrival I stood in the hallway (faithfully doing my deep prenatal yoga squats and various Bradley Method exercises) until she came to the door. I'd then usher her back in there along with some tears, more kisses and I love you's and sweet dreams wishes, shampoo-rinse-repeat for a good 45 minutes or so and sometimes yes sometimes it even ended with a sleepy drive - even after all that! Those were on the nights where our patience was non-existent and that was our last resort. Our gas budget had required us to use this as a last resort after a few years of nightly 20+ minute drives in very large circles at night. However, after all those hours spent squatting in the hallway I was extremely fit and limber and ready for Baby #2 to come along since I had so much time to prep my joints and muscles every night for most of my pregnancy. Once Baby #2 came along though, daddy was permanently up at bat in the nightly game of nigh-nigh so it took on a new form. One that he molded into what worked for them. Daddy recalls standing outside your door as well counting the seconds to see how long it would take til you popped out and needed to be ushered back in. "One hundred and one, one hundred and two..." He said if he was able to get to 200 then you were most likely asleep. Sometimes he'd only get to "one hundred and seven" before you poked your sweet lil face through the crack of the door. Prior to the hallway counting there was a lot of holding and swaying to one of daddy's famous made up songs. Something a very pregnant mama could no longer do. Even in a rocking chair. It just wasn't comfortable anymore which is very bittersweet to be honest. The end of an era spent with just me and Baby Girl rocking for hours and hours in that pink rocking chair.

As a three year old it was much of the same as when you were two except for adding Baby #2 in the mix of dinner time, bathtub time, jammies time, book reading time on top of you - the three year old trying to get more mileage out of the whole nigh-nigh routine. How can you possibly add more time to that you ask?  It's possible. We fondly referred to you as the "Dilly Dally Queen" on occasion. However, at three "we" were way more vocal, way more savvy and knew exactly how to work the system. We'd pick at our meal during dinner time only to try to finagle eating a full "4th meal" after bath time. Because we didn't want her to go to bed hungry we'd let her eat a snack. She snacked all day so she wouldn't actually be hungry but in the off chance she was hungry in the middle of the night it only caused US pain in the long run if we didn't let her snack on 4th meal. And before you think what you might be thinking, there was never any circumstances of "she'll learn her lesson if she - this or that..." with this child. This is not how she's hard wired. This is not how she operates and us "teaching her a lesson" out of hostility and our lack of patience is not how we try to parent. We're not perfect, we get worn out and at times just want results like any other parent but we shoot for patience the majority of the time. And believe me our patience was running thin. But our time spent helping our Spirited Child grow in the world as a toddler was not about us "winning the battle" and her "losing the battle" and us "breaking her down" in order to make her bend at our will. I believe she was brought to us to teach us patience and it's a lesson we're still learning and it's been a long bumpy road, but we're getting there.  A few times a week you'd creep out into the living room and we'd have to usher you back a few times. You'd want a little something as a snack. You became very fond of a glass of warm milk which I was more than happy to oblige since it meant you'd most likely stay in your room. And most of those times you just really wanted some extra snuggles from daddy. I don't blame you. Daddy is a good snuggler. Mama was chopped liver from most of 2 to the end of 3-ish. I can understand. Baby Brother was nursing and Big Sissy had already weaned and wasn't the least bit interested in nursing anyway aside from right after baby was born to see what all of the fuss was about. Your thoughts: not interested. Special attention from Daddy: Bring it!

As a four year old we got to the point of you knowing exactly what your night time routine looked like because we basically did the same thing night after night after looooooooong night since you were a wee lass. You were sharp as a whip so we'd talk you through the evening. "In 5 more minutes we're going to do this -" and we got to the point of shaving off some serious time on our nigh-nigh routine. Because if you remember, Baby Brother was now in the mix as an 18+ month old dragging out his very own nigh-nigh routine.  "Please pick your jammies and get dressed." "You pick some books and look through them while I get Baby Brother's jammies on", etc. We were very independent and liked the authority over our own agenda.  As pre-written as it may have been. She still took the reins on a lot of it from picking her jammies to picking her books to picking her clothes for preschool the next day. Spirited Children thrive on control. This was control I was more than happy to let go of.

At four something magical happened...

Something that almost brings tears to my eyes just typing all of this up. We'd do our extremely trimmed down version of "night-night" ("only babies say nigh-nigh"), we'd prep you that it was "last book," we'd kiss all of your animal lovies, sing a made-up song by request, we'd turn off your light, close your door and before we'd make it to the living room you were pretty much asleep!  No walking out into the living room 10 minutes later needing - something, no Sleepy Drive, no requests for 4th meal. You were just....asleep. Sometimes you'd sleep til morning, sometimes you'd have a bad dream and call out for one of us. Sometimes we'd find you snuggled in our bed at 3am or 5am. But 4 years old was when we no longer dreaded the infamous Battle of Nigh-Nigh.  We all won the battle - together. The only time we need a sleepy drive is when our evening has been thrown out of whack and we are at the point of no return. Like with having dinner guests, over night guests, a long day at Disneyland (the drive home is the sleepy drive thank the sweet lord!), birthday cake, Christmas Eve - you name it. But it doesn't take too many streets and you're out like a light. Baby Brother is another situation when it comes to sleepy drives. It tends to work the opposite with him!

Tonight you are 5. At 5 we are seeing a very worn out lil Miss who plays hard all day long at preschool, who's no longer napping (haven't seen regular naps since 3 1/2 anyway) and at 5 we are seeing the earliest bedtimes we've ever seen in your lifetime. The bedtimes everyone as well as every parenting book always told us you should have and no matter what we ever tried to do we never, ever, ever accomplished it. "Just give her a short nap."  Nope. "Just wake her early in the morning."  Uh-uh. "Just wake her early from her afternoon nap."  Umm...do you poke a sleeping bear just before spring?  I don't either. "Just cut her naps completely and keep her up all day long." Major back fire explosion.  The word "just" that began everyone's sentences of helping us fix our sleepy time issues implied it was an extremely easy fix. I'm assuming none of those people had a Spirited Child. There is no "just do" anything with a Spirited Child. There just isn't. Tonight we took an early tub, had a pretty early dinner and you powered through your meal and told us you were full. Jammies were already on and we decided to snuggle with daddy on the couch. You, 2 year old Baby Brother and daddy. You all started to drift off to sleepy land (Daddy's favorite thing to do at about 6:30pm - heehee!) and suddenly you got up and ran down the hallway.  We both assumed you were going to the bathroom and you'd be back for more snuggles or demand to break up the slug fest and get down to business of reading a bunch of books. A few minutes went by and no return. Baby Brother had drifted off to sleep in what was to be the easiest, most effortless nigh-nigh we've had in a very long time. I decided to go check on you and I found you in your bed, covers tucked up all around you (something you used to fight with me about that you'd never be able to do yourself), your lovie firmly in place "full body hug style," your night light on as well as SeaSea: your glowlight/soothing musical seahorse lovie - a throw back from your infant days illuminating your angelic face peacefully asleep. Not a word was spoken to complete this mission. It was carried out 100% by you - our five year old!

I'd like a moment of silence to let the full weight of this monumental moment sink in fully. 


Exhale.... 

Hello 5. We've been waiting for you. It's so wonderful to see you. However, if we're being honest, your friends ages 4, 3, 2, 1 and newbie are missed. Even the hardest of times, they are missed. For we can't fully appreciate where we are today without you and your grueling all-night moments.  But for now I'm happy missing those times as opposed to still living them. We did it together, kid. You, me and daddy - we did it together.

Love you forever and ever and always,
Mommy

Now go to bed.  ;-)

Sunday

Screen-Free Week April 30 - May 5, 2013 - Days 4, 5, 6, Updates

1 question: Why is Screen Free Week only 6 days long?  Typo?

To Be Continued...

Come back soon for recaps from Screen Free Week. As for now I'm closing the lap top for the next few days and heading outdoors to play and to discover more adventures. This no TV, no iPad, no Facebook, no internet thing is really working for us.

Start here to read about our adventure from the beginning.

Screen-Free Week April 30 - May 5, 2013 - Day 3: Recap - Keep Calm and Carry On.




Day 3: Keep Calm and Carry On.  This is todays mantra.  

Day 3 of hardly any TV/iPad/internet was the first time I've felt some clarity and calmness in a very long time. True calmness felt deep down in my soul that wasn't going to be easily shaken by a toddler wobbler, a random car cutting me off, a mid-day traffic jam or two fighting kids while I'm trying to get dinner on the table. My breath matched my heart beat as I cleaned the kitchen and put away the dishes lost in my own thoughts of writing projects and how to fix our little world. Slow, steady, easy. I throughly enjoyed the sounds of my kids playing together, sharing, chatting with each other, teaching, learning and making big plans of what to do next. 

My thoughts were not preoccupied with something negative I had just read online or with something negative someone wrote on a message board or put as their facebook status. Negative words read somewhere carry over into our daily lives long after they were written or even read. There have been many times I'll be lost in thought doing some mundane mom task like folding tiny kid socks, washing out pots and pans or looking for that darn puzzle piece and my mind is racing with thoughts of negative words and images that are swirling around in my head taking up precious positive energy. 

It's hard to stay positive sometimes as a mom of little ones. Our days do not really belong to us anymore. Our time is not our own and a free minute is few and far between. So when I do have a few minutes where my brain can shut off to wash dishes while hubby is giving the kids a bath, or do some laundry while they are all outside playing, it's frustrating that my mind can sometimes fixate on something negative I read online. Sometimes I'm thinking of what I'm going to say as a response or a defense to a comment I made or a comment someone else made or sometimes I'm just replaying information and images over and over again of some terrible thing that is going on in our world like the recent Boston Bombings and the need for the media as well as everyday people to share every single detail about it regardless of how disturbing the image is or how disrespectful it might be to the victims and loved ones involved. 

I am and have been since the day I was born a sensitive person. This has worked both in my favor as a compassionate human being as well as been an inconvenience during other times in my life. But this is who I am and despite my best efforts to "not let things bother me so much" (something I've heard my whole life that is quite annoying) there is a part of that I can't really control. It's in my DNA. So for me I'm torn because I love how facebook keeps us in constant contact with friends and family but the flip side is also that it keeps us in constant contact with friends and family... and sometimes it's too much like I mentioned in the Day 2 Recap. Especially around voting time or anytime there is a lot of political stuff swirling around - you're going to see heated conversations and rude behavior and comments made that show someone's character way too much and sometimes you wish you really didn't know that much about that person.  And these are the people you know and consider friends and some you even love!  LOL! Don't even get me started on how absolutely rude, judgmental and cut throat some mothers can be towards one another on a mom's message board full of strangers debating hot button issues like: labor/birthing choices, breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, letting baby cry it out vs. rocking to sleep/co-sleeping, circumcision vs. keeping the child in tact, home birth vs. hospital birth,  cloth vs. disposable diapers, vax vs. no vax, homeschool vs. traditional school, even organic vs. non-organic food we buy! It's absurd! 

Anyway, I'm going off on a terrible tangent and getting way off track. 


The bottom line:

Since I'm not going on the internet right now to read any of this useless, negative crap, my mind was free to wander about different writing projects I wanted to start, vacations we want to take, friends I want to get together with, things I want to do with the kids, seeds I want to plant in our farm, projects to do on the house, family I want to try to go see, recipes I want to try, and as always various charities I want to start. Someday I'll do them!

It was a calm, beautiful and magical day spent with family completely submerged in nature and then off to a yummy lunch. We went to our morning class at the nature center and sat on a bench and enjoyed the bustling stillness of dragon flies, hummingbirds, butterflies, birds and our own quiet thoughts. For a few minutes anyway. I do have a 2 year old after all. So he was off and running the entire length of the 1/4 mile walking trail and stopped long enough to squish some bugs with his feet. Shhhhhh...don't tell Lil Miss Nature Girl that her Baby Brother was squishing bugs! She'd never forgive him. 

I only got one request all day long to turn the TV on at 3:36pm during our funky, end-of-the-day transition time where mommy needs to make dinner and the kids need to start picking up their toys. But once I reminded her of our "no TV/no iPad challenge" she quickly forgot she even asked me to watch something and was off on another adventure to discover some long lost toy in the toy room. Huge change from the funky, end-of-the-day transition time of Day 1 of Screen-Free Week

We ended the day with a quiet dinner for 4 at the dinner table that was completely cleared off as opposed to other times where half of it is littered with crafting stuff and papers to go through/bills to write, etc., that have just been pushed to the side to make room for dinner. Also the dishes and pans from making dinner were already done before dinner and cleaned up and put in the dishwasher making after dinner clean up a snap.

After dinner we went for a walk around our neighborhood meeting new cats, collecting sticks, flower pedals and tiny rocks and we even met a little girl down the street the same age who will be joining us at our new school very soon. Plus she has a baby sister the same age as baby brother! Had we been in the house preoccupied with the TV and games on the iPad we would not have met our new friends. 

Oh and did I mention that the kids really didn't fight today?  

First of all we were out and about for most of the day which always helps and when we were home they played as opposed to fighting over who gets to choose the next show or iPad game. And yes, we play educational games and watch educational shows and Getting Ready For Preschool and Kindergarden type of DVD's too and those have their place for sure. My preschooler was counting by 10's up to 100 the other day and didn't miss one and I have to say I was completely shocked because we haven't really been covering that lately. I asked her if dada had been teaching her that and she said, "No, I learned how to do that by myself from my Getting Ready For kindergarden DVD." It's always awesome when the TV is a positive influence on your child every once in a while. We try to encourage those DVD's most of the time but even I need a break from a heavy documentary every once in a while to watch some mindless reality TV show like The Bachelor or something. I don't expect my kids to be any different. 

But today we didn't have any fights. Score!! We did have one electronic game though. At 2:30pm on our 30 minute car drive home I glanced in the kid mirror and noticed my preschooler starting to drift off for a nap and I was going to try anything within my power to stop it short of pulling over for frozen yogurt!  I grabbed my smart phone and said, "here you go Birdie. Wanna play Rocket Bird?"  "YES!  Woo Hoo!! This is AWESOME!! YEA!!!"  You would've thought by the way she was celebrating that I gave her the keys to Disneyland and told her that we had the park to ourselves and that she could go on all of her favorite rides without waiting in a single line. (How cool would that be btw?!) She was great when we pulled in the driveway and I told her Rocket Bird was done. She let him crash and she said, "Bonk! I crashed" and laughed and gave me the phone back no questions asked. Shocked. 

Another plus today, hubby told me it seemed like I was in a better spot and for the first time in a long time I am. 


Day 3 Screen Free Detox complete without a scratch. Looking forward to tomorrow's adventure!


Every step of the journey is the journey.  - Zen saying

Saturday

Screen-Free Week April 30 - May 5, 2013 - Day 2: "Mommy, What's a Hypocrite?"



DISCLAIMER: This is a potty mouth post. If you read my other stuff you will know that this is not my norm. But I'm detoxing (or trying to anyway) from all things internet/TV/iPad games/Facebook/Twitter...and it's not easy. This post kind of goes off the rails there at the end. 
So there you go.

Day 2. Hmmmm how do I word this so I don't sound like a terrible mother. ?  I can't really think of a clever way so I'll just tell ya how it all went down.


Early Morning on Day 2 of Screen Free Week:

"Kids, mommy is really tired because I didn't get enough sleep last night so I'm feeling pretty fussy and sleepy (Side note: I had the most wicked insomnia last night. It's like I'm pregnant or something.) I'd love to sleep a bit more so I don't have a tantrum. If you please stay in here and snuggle in bed with me you can watch Disney Junior on the iPad for a bit while mommy closes my eyes for a bit longer. Sound good?"  

"Awesome!  We get to watch the iPad???!!!"

"Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz..."

Win Win.  

(...but is it really?)

So there's that. On Day 2. Of Screen Free WEEK - meaning a whole 7 days in a row without any screen time....and on Day 2 the kids started the day off with screen time.

*Sigh*

Oh and then there was the time where I played the game of "do as I say, not as I do." Yea, that always goes over well. Kinda like when this happens:

Mommy: "Kids, it's important to eat something healthy for breakfast to start the day off right. Have some scrambled organic kale with melted kale and a side of kale. Drink up your kale kids, it's time to go to school." 

Kids: "Uhhh...Mommy, are you having cold pizza and ice cream in your coffee for breakfast?"

Mommy: "We ran out of eggs and creamer.....??????"

Busted.  

So yes, as you've read I told my kids they can't watch TV or play the iPad because we're taking a break from it for the Screen Free Week Challenge. However, MOMMY was going to blog about our suffering the whole week.  On top of that, I was blogging some paragraphs and notes for future Screen Free Week blog posts while the kids were waiting for me to get off the computer to go outside and do something fun.  Nice.

Total Hypocrite Mom Fail.

So after I made myself a mid-morning cappuccino and cleared the fog from my brain I packed the kids up and we all piled in the car with our sand toys and bathing suits and beach towels and headed to the ocean for some very much needed fresh air.  It was on our drive to the beach that I thought, "What the hell am I doooooing??!!  I'm totally, 100% completely missing the boat here on what Screen Free Week even means.  Blogging everyday for the whole- for what?  For who?!  No one is even online reading this right now because everyone is doing the Screen Free Week Challenge!...right?"

Maybe it was Miss Preschooler calling me out saying, "Mommy, we've been waiting for you!" to bang the final shitty nail into the shitty coffin of my shitty "screen time" guilt that did it. Maybe it was the need for other things to change and detox and get better in my life (like my overall health and well being) to make me realize we REALLY need to do this as a family and we need to do it right. It's not just the kids who need a TV/iPad/Netflix detox. It's mommy who needs a facebook detox. If all I did was blog, that would be great because at least I'd be creating something. But that is not all I'm doing. I'm wasting so much fucking time on facebook it's not even funny. Free time. Precious free time that mom's of little ones have so little of and how do I spend it?  Scrolling through the facebook news feed. Now with a smart phone that has alerts and dings and buzzers and notifications you are constantly updated 24/7 to everyone in your friends list as well as all of the pages you "like" all hours of the day. "So and so just passed gas. Here's a link." As I'm sure you know since all anyone has to do is go to the park and check out the parents sitting on the benches with their heads bent over a cell phone to see that everyone has a smart phone now.

Realization: My house is suffering for it, my health is suffering for it. So basically, (and honestly) my life is suffering for it. It's time for me to look this square in the eye and face the facts about it. The hard cold, punch you across the mouth facts about it and stop trying to stay in denial because that isn't helping anyone. It's hurting in fact. Hurting a lot in many different ways. Mommy's not perfect kids - far from it and I'm sorry that I have let this stupid social networking site become the sun that we all revolve around, however I may try to justify it to myself. It needs to stop. I have to be honest with myself, evaluate this whole thing, weigh the pros and cons of being plugged in 24/7 and really admit some shit to myself, get real and look at what is happening and how it's crumbling. I know it's not just me. I know it's most of the free world that is feeling this way. I think many of us feel the walls closing in around us in some way while we try to hold on to some shred of privacy.

Reality: When you make the minute-by-minute decision to live your daily life online, there is no such thing as privacy.

Reflection: Is it worth it?  Is this totally connected yet very disconnected life we've created for ourselves working in our benefit?  Am I the only one who finds a conversation (in person) a bit awkward when it's with someone who in real life is just an acquaintance but on facebook is the exact same as everyone else on your profile from your spouse, and siblings, blood relatives, college friends, friends from childhood, work friends, former co-workers down to the friend of a friend's friend you just met at a party - these are all considered your "facebook friends" - it can be a bit strained and awkward though, no? I mean, you don't really even know this person, yet you know intimate things about them - and they know intimate things about you too. Most likely you've viewed about 1000 of their photos from the intimate childbirth photos to the drunken Halloween party with the girls in Vegas photos, you know that they just got promoted, you know that their child has been potty training and had an accident in the isle at Target, you know their grandpa just died and their car broke down, their 10th anniversary was last week and their sitter cancelled so they ordered take out. On top of that you know every single detail of their religious and political views whether you want that information or not  - all via facebook status updates and pictures they've willing shared and posted- yet in person we all pretend we never saw it when they mention it in conversation to avoid seeming like a total stalker. Or maybe we were just an insomniac lurker at 2:30am combing through facebook profiles and never actually "liked" or commented on anything so we don't want them to know we already know!  But you know that they know that we know. Everybody knows.

OK, I'll try to pull the nose up on this one.

So I've made some small steps towards change that I'm hoping will turn into a bigger impact over all in my life.

Taking Small Steps To Change: I've disabled all notifications and alerts and dings and buzzers on my smart phone. When I "wake it up" to see the date/time, that is all I see. So it's easy to shut it back off and put it in my pocket. I no longer see that someone updated their profile pic or that someone commented on something or "liked" a new page or whatever else is going on in the world that never sleeps - aka The Internet. In the past seeing 5-8 notifications on my very first screen of my phone could have very easily added a good 10-15+ minutes on to whatever task I was right in the middle of when the dings chimed to alert me to something someone did on facebook.

I love you, but I do not need this much information about you.

I'm looking forward to more small steps in the coming week of Screen Free Week. And who knows, I might just be brave and add a few days on the back end to make up for my stellar performance in Screen Free Week thus far.



Please Share!  Misery Loves Company!!

Are you doing this thing too?  How is it going for you and your family?  Let me know I'm not the only one out there having a hard time but who's still trying to plug away at it. 

Here's to celebrating the baby steps I've made the past 2 days and for trying to change my all-or-nothing way of thinking. 

Hang in there!



Wednesday

Screen-Free Week April 30 - May 5, 2013 - Day 1: Recap




Day 1 Recap:

Ummm.... well.....hmmmmm....Day 1 - Where do I begin exactly? -


The fact that my preschooler had a full on WWIII, 4-Alarm melt down that lasted about an hour when I told her, "The iPad was taking a vacation and we couldn't watch it/play a game and needed to find something else to do" made me really realize two things:


  1. This was going to be harder than I thought - A LOT HARDER - for both of us.
  2. My family NEEDS this week of no screen time more than I realized.


The day started off fine (in regards to no TV/iPad that is) because we were off and running early in the morning to take everyone to their little classes. My preschooler takes a class by herself at the nature center where she can be one with nature and all of the bugs. So no iPad there and no TV either. Ever. I've never even see one of the workers or volunteers there even holding a cell phone much less actually using one. It seems pretty taboo there. I like that.

My little guy and I take a mommy and me pre-preschool class together and I had signed up for snack so we had to leave extra early to set up, so no time in the morning for any of our shows. No big deal. We don't usually watch TV before school anyway. No TV in the morning. Check.

Went to a special lunch at a restaurant with Nana - no media devices there ever so no big deal. Check.

Went to grammy's to chill for a bit after and we decided to leave the TV off. That was good and it was no big deal. It did take my preschooler a little bit to settle in and find something to do that didn't involve media - but she didn't even ask for it. Finally when we were just about to get ready to leave she brought out all of these paints and started to paint. She usually takes a while to settle in anyway, so this was the norm. But it's not as noticeable when Micky Mouse Club House is on.

Drive home - no media devices in the car allowed ever unless we are in the car for several hours on a family road trip so that wasn't a big deal. Car drive with no iPad. Check.

Both kids drifted off for a nap in the car at like 3pm. Not fun for bed time btw. So waking up groggy from a late nap about 45 minutes later and then transitioning to being home when it's time to start winding down from the busy day - "but we just woke up from a nap! It's playtime!" - it's confusing and frustrating and they wanted to go off on another adventure and not come in and prep for dinner and bed time and do some chores. Understandable. During dinner prep is usually the time where they are allowed to play games on the iPad or watch something on Disney Junior like Jake and The Neverland Pirates, Doc Mc Stuffins, Little Einstein's, etc.. I don't have a problem with those shows, but for the sake of going Screen-Free for the week they were banned. So it was during this funky transition time where the monumental melt down occurred. I don't really blame them. Transitions are hard for kids under normal circumstances and old habits are even harder when you are expected to break them.

"Now what are we supposed to dooooooo?!"

I get it. I really do. Trust me, I too missed them being preoccupied during that time so I could cook dinner and not have to break up fights every few seconds because they were two very unhappy little creatures of habit wanting their shows. I've given up caffeine and chocolate before. Oh how I understand their anger.

When I told hubby we were going to try to go Screen-Free for the week his eyes got as big as saucers and he was in denial about the fact that he was a part of we.  

SorryBabeLoveYou!

After the kids went to bed I settled on the couch to chill out and I read a book instead of searching through Netflix. When hubby came in to settle on the couch with me we decided to chat as opposed to surf the net on our phones or turn on the TV.

However, we do have a DVD that arrived and we do plan to watch it this week so we can send it back and get another one. But so far the progress has already been positive because the thought of "doing something other than the internet/TV" is now in our brains and there is an effort being made to turn them off.

Recap:

I'm figuring days 1, 2 and possibly part of 3 are going to be heavy duty detox days where we need to be a little easy on ourselves and ease into it for lack of a better word. We're going to try our best and do what we can. We were consuming A LOT of TV and iPad apparently. I knew this and there were times where I felt guilty about it because during some of those times the sun was shining and we should've been outside, but we were in the house watching Jake And The Neverland Pirates. "Arrr, it be a bad choice we made! Yar!" 

A lot of our current media addictions stemmed from the several weeks at the beginning of the year where someone in our house had the stomach flu. I'm talking the bad, projectile barfing kind coupled with explosive diarrhea and we all had it at different times. So yes, we watched A LOT of movies and TV shows and various DVD's and games on the iPad as well as other things that don't involve electronics like coloring just to get through the days. The days where it was my turn to run into the bathroom every 22 minutes was the worst in regards of media consumption (and snacks for meals) because the kids felt pretty good and very well could've gone out to play but I was sick as a dog and didn't have the energy for anything that involved being a mother. Or a human for that matter. So all of those bad habits from our Typhoid Mary days need to be broken.

So that was Day 1 of our Screen-Free Week detox plan and we got through it. How did yours go?


Oh...and I sprayed this aromatherapy stuff yesterday...A LOT!!

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