Sunday, April 28, 2013

Screen Time... Or Lack Thereof

This week we did a little screen time "fast". Fast, as in, abstain or refrain. Not, hurry up and watch the screen. Ha! It was good, for all of us. See my friends and I are doing a little challenge (more on this later) and this week I decided my kids should join in on the challenge.

Let me be honest with you. We don't have cable. We have an antennae in our window that picks up some channels for us. Let's say, maybe, 12 channels. And we love chanel 7 (PBS kids!) and channel 34 (qubo). Qubo, is a 24-hour cartoon channel and I'd say there is probably only one show on it that we don't let our kids watch and it's on at like 2am. It's He-man. And honestly I'm not sure exactly why we wouldn't let our kids watch it since Ben and I grew up watching it and we turned out ok...but it's on at an unordinary time anyway so mostly our kids could watch Qubo any hour of the DAY and be ok. Therefore... sometimes they watch it a little too much. What's too much you ask? Well, one of Titus' first words was "show" - I think that might indicate the amount of watching. So, yeah, during the winter I pretty much forget the whole rule about screen time that and suggest. But with spring just popping it's head into our neck of the woods, I thought to myself, "Self, this is a great time to do a family screen time challenge."

Monday, here's how things started:

Me - Hey kids, we are going to do a challenge. We are not going to have any screen time for a whole week.
Kids - (silence, looking at me like I'm an alien)
Me - Yeah, it'll be so good for us! We'll get fresh air, play lots of games and yeah, woo hoo!
Kids - Like video games?
Me - No, like board games and stuff. This is going to be great!
Kids - Ok, so can we play our DS's?
Me - Nope
Kids - Hmmmm, do we get to watch cartoons in the morning?
Me - Nope
Kids - Are you and dad doing it too? No computers or phones for you guys too?
Me - Yep
Kids - Ok, we are in!! (high-fives around the table)
Me - (silence, looking at them like they have just told me a truth about myself that is not so pretty)
Kids - Maybe we could celebrate at the end of the week with family movie night.
Me - Totally, that would be so fun.
Kids - With popcorn and candy and ice cream?
Me - Yep, let's do this.
Titus - Show?

So reality slapped me hard in the face. And here I am reflecting on it. We do so much on our electronics, it's just crazy! For me my grocery list, to-do list, procrastination tools games, work schedules, email, calendar, weather report, news, music, running log, coupons...all these things are on my PHONE. So I am constantly looking at it. Luckily, a month ago I clued into taking facebook OFF my phone, at least then it's not as easily accessible to, once again, take my eyes off of the kids and onto my phone. But there is still so much to look at on my phone. It's becoming ridiculous.

My kids have noticed.

Thus the fast. The abstaining. The refrain.

I still had to use my phone this week. But it's been much less. And honestly Titus and Alena did watch 40 minutes of Sound of Music so I could run on the treadmill (at someone else's house, so really it was my only choice of entertainment)... but Ben and I have not been on the computer nearly as much and none of us have watched any TV or played any games on the Wii or DS. Amazing. (I found out on Friday night that someone did cheat BEN! and played a half of a game once this week.... geez what do I have to do to get some loyalty around here....kidding babe)

Below is a list of things that we DID do. SOME of the things would have happened with or without 'the fast', but most of them happened when we would have normally been watching TV, a movie, or I would have been doing FB or some other non-necessary thing on my phone/computer. I love this list and will treasure it for a long time. We just might do this fast thing monthly....or maybe quarterly :)

Read books
Pet the dog
Went to bed early
Made actual phone calls (instead of texts)
Watched soccer practice
Took bubble baths (the kids and me too!)
Looked in real cookbooks
Cleaned the boys' nasty bathroom
Pet the cat
Made cookies
Got caught up on laundry and organized the laundry room (!!)
Wrote actual emails (instead of texts)
Said "no" to Titus a bazillion times when he said "show?"
Read the news
Looked at a magazine (this was FOR work, not necessarily enjoyment)
Played board games
Pulled "weeds" out of the flower garden (I couldn't use the internet to find out if they were weeds or not so I just pulled out all the ugly stuff)
Made earrings and bracelets with Alena

On Saturday night we took the kids to an actual movie at a theater. Don't mind doing the math for how much it costs to take 6 people to the movie, we recognize we probably could have paid off all our college debt, but we spoiled our kids instead and it was SO fun! We even took them out to dinner afterward! It was such a great family time - and get this.... No one wanted to watch cartoons this morning! Well, except Titus. But we'll work on that.

Try a media fast, it's good for the brain and for the soul.

~Ms. Simplicity


Sunday, April 14, 2013


The boys turned 9 about 2 months ago.

I forgot to blog about it.

I'm not a bad mom, just a little....slow.

I do have to say that I realized this is the last year before they turn double digits. So it could be one of the last times I can actually blog about their birthday and post all the pictures online without them being slightly embarrassed. They still let me kiss their cheeks at school for now too.

 We went to Tacoma for their birthday and then did a small dinner here with two of their friends.

The boys soooo enjoyed seeing their old friends:

Boy Power!

Get food fast...

eat food...

with friends...

awesome time!
Alena also got friend time:

Jubilee is teaching Alena how to read
I only lost Titus once while we were in Tacoma. I won't tell you exactly how and where because you might turn me in to CPS, but thank goodness for Jakey-bee saving the day!

Ruby and Titus always get along
And I got a dose of this cutie pa-tootie:


All in all, the boys so enjoyed playing baseball with their friends and turning nine with just a few presents and a lot of driving :) Somehow old friends AND new friends bring comfort -- that is a wonderful thing. And, it is worth celebrating.

Life moves on, quickly, and yet, there are some things that stay seared in our minds always ~ Friendship is one of them. ~Ms. Simplicity

Nate and Reed (Spokane dinner)

Adam and Caleb (Spokane dinner)

Happy Birthday my big boys! Your mama loves you from your hearts, to the moon, and back.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Being Real

If you haven't read Heart Challenge, maybe do that first before reading this blog post.

I just want to be real.

Loving the poor is hard work. I think in my last post I made it sound like it was going to be easy. And yet, I have been scared, worried, and frankly sorrowful this month. It's SUPER EASY to buy the granola bars. But it is scary and anxiety-producing and hard to actually give them away. It is a little easier when it's just me. It becomes a bit harder to do WITH the kids. Why?

Example : Alena sees the man on the corner of the street. I ask her if we should give him a granola bar. She says yes. We pull over into a parking lot. She doesn't want to get out of the car. I am nervous. She is scared. I wonder if I should make her get out. Or do I, again, go hand the granola bar to the man by myself. See, it's a little easier to walk over and do it on my own. It's a bit harder to take a child who is scared.

And the debate becomes, do I help her heart break through and DO it? Or do I let the Lord bring her to a place of that in His timing? .... I don't know the right answer. But I made her get out and walk with me. She saw him, she wanted him to have a granola bar, so I made her come. ... Have we passed the people on the corner one too many times in her 6 years of life? I don't know, but we held hands and did not pass him up this time. We were both nervous and scared but we did it. Oh Lord, give me the strength and boldness to always proclaim your love, and not miss opportunities, open my eyes!

In other news, the boys' penny drive was a HUGE success! Their class got second place in the whole school!!! They get a Krispy Kreme party this Friday to celebrate! So amazing!! And yet, I do have this ache in my heart, that kids get cancer, and we can pray that those pennies do all they can to further what is needed to help kids not get cancer. But kids get cancer. Help us to raise kids who want to help other kids. Always. Even when they don't win donuts.

So life - it proves difficult, when I want it to be easy. And sometimes this is because we have to choose to break through and sometimes it is our own trials that become a block. But trials, they are tricky things. They mold us into who God wants us to be. I am learning we must embrace the trial. Embrace the circumstances and ASK God what He is trying to do in our life. I don't want trial, I don't want pain, but I believe the biblical equation goes something like this:

Suffering = Perseverance, Character and Hope

And Romans 8:18 says "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

So Lord, help me reach into other people's sufferings and not be afraid of what I might see, be exposed to, or how I might be affected. Give me wisdom to allow my kids to reach in too and help pull people out of their fires. Allow me to see that perseverance, character and hope come from suffering and that there is an eternal glory to be revealed that compares to NOTHING ON THIS EARTH. And let me show others this eternal glory and hope that there is in Christ alone.

On this journey together ~~~ Ms. Simplicity