Monday, July 17, 2017

Three weeks with limited screentime

Whew. We did three weeks with no movies, tv, youtube clips, video games, facebook, instagram, online shopping or online "research".  The goal was simple.  No screens except for work, managing our life, texting/facebook messenger and email.



I learned a lot, still trying to figure out some.  So first off, I had several days of withdrawal.  For real.  It was a little odd how much I had gotten used to having a kindle or phone in my hand. Go to the bathroom?  Where's the phone.  Nurse the baby, where's the kindle? Eating food? I'm not hungry until I something with a touchscreen in my hand.  It felt so empty, so unsettling, so odd to do something empty handed.  It's funny, because I only caved to switching to owning smartphone in January, and it didn't take long for me to start using it habitually. 

It's odd, because I both liked and disliked the ease of being able to share on social media with a smart phone.  It takes less time to post because it's so easy to do - snap, edit and it's uploaded.  But then I do it more frequently, and think about it more often.  All and all, the experience was a little conflicting, more than I thought it would be for myself, and social media has me very conflicted.  So why if I'm just coming of a screen free purge, do I spend my first morning blogging?  Well, writing down my thoughts seemed like a good place to start.

The Good

I had so much more free time.  It seemed like such an alarming amount of freetime, I couldn't believe I spent that much time with media on a regular basis.  So I used it for good.  I was still allowed to use the computer to 'adult', so I actually had time to 'adult'.  Our bills were all paid.  I listed and sold about most the things I tried to on Craigslist.  I was able to work on and finish several house projects.  I actually completed what I would consider a real book (one I hadn't read before, not an audiobook, fiction & written for adults - Ie, not Harry Potter again).  We went to the library more often, and our kids spent a somewhat disturbing amount of time reading quietly.  We did play more board games, but not as much as I thought we would.  It didn't suddenly make everything I wanted get done suddenly get done, but it did give me a lot more peace and less stress.

I didn't have to spend my evenings catching up on some series I got roped into watching.  Not every night had to be some sort of movie night.  Jon and I didn't sit on the couch "together", but really looking at phones.  

I didn't have to know everything about everything, and I could make most decisions without looking anything up online.  It was so simple.

One big thing I haven't really touched on, was the amount of time I was spending shopping online for things we don't have or researching things we likely will never need to know.  It was a big switch from "planning" all the time to "doing" all the time.  It's one I will have to balance, as we have been catching up on big purchases lately.  Though we were successfully able to buy a deep freezer with very little research.  Basically, does Best Buy have a deep freezer in stock and are they open. (Okay, I also made sure it had more than a 3 star review.  Hey, I didn't want to waste money! But, I didn't even read the reviews, cause it was like 4.5 stars).

We went camping based on a few books recommendations.  I didn't have to spend a whole lot of time looking it up, which was great.  Just tried to wing it.  Worked out well, but that may have just been luck.

My kids didn't ask for screen time the entire time.  No nagging, no whining.  Honestly, they did great.  They seemed less stuck to screens than I thought. 

The Okay

I did cheat a little bit.  When I wanted to know if there were fireworks, we thought, great, we should get a paper... and we didn't go out in time to get one.  So I just checked on my phone.  At one point I went on facebook to give condolences to someone who's sister had just passed (my sister had told me).  I did the reservations for our campsite online.

I started some sewing of a character in a video game, and looking online wasn't giving many results for the look, so I just turned on the Switch to be able to rotate the character in the outfit.


Sometimes, I had that early 2000's desire to go rent a movie and have a family movie night, but that was not allowed.  Online streaming had ruined that feeling, and I the opportunity to really enjoy a family movie night has past.

The Bad

Honestly, not that much about dropping screens was bad.

Sometimes I was felt isolated from people.  I'm never going to be super social in real life, and not being on facebook made me feel disconnected from people.  It make me a false sense of connection, but it still fulfills a desire I have to connect.

Sometimes I really wanted to know what was going on in our town ("Why is that road closed"  "Surprise - our road it being paved."), but it didn't kill me not to know.

My sister said she missed seeing pictures of our family online, and I imagine most of our family did as well, as only my Mom and one uncle live near us... thought I did send some to my sister via messenger.

I did miss a few appointments or forget to look at the weather soon enough when planning activities.  Also, because I was waiting to pick a campsite when the kids weren't around to see us on a screen, I missed having more of selection for campsites (it didn't truly matter though).

I missed playing Breath of the Wild.  It's one of the best games since Tony Hawk pro skater, and I like it for almost the same reason.  It emulates the outdoorsy, survivalist, adventurous feeling I like to have in real life.

My sister and I both signed up for an online exercise course.  I bought it when it went on sale ( it only happens once a year) and I've been waiting a few weeks to try it... so putting exercise on hold seems a little odd.

Jon's birthday present for me was a DVD of our kids, and I haven't been able to watch it yet!

What's my conclusion?

Kids Kindle keep the same - Because of freetime time limits, I have found this to a be a great solution to give our kids a little modern tech access(15 minutes a day) with no whining, complaining or management

One Note keep the same - Using this app on my phone & computer has been very helpful for me to organize what needs to be done and give me one place to store notes, lists and to dos.  I'm not changing a thing about it.

Instagram keep the same - I haven't really found it an issue.  I do like posting little pictures to look at, but I don't spend much time on there.

Video Games keep the same - I play it for a few hours once a week, and I'm pretty happy with that pace.  It's a game that brings a lot of enjoyment to my life, and something I can share with my family.

My kids use a point system for rewards, and our most used reward is for video games.  I think we need to somehow make this easier to give and remove points, because we don't always keep track as well as we should, but the amount they play doesn't seem excessive.

Online Research/Shopping tone it down, a lot - It's really just a needless pastime that takes away from the things I can take satisfaction from in real life.

TV/Youtube tone it down - I usually have an up/down cycle with netflix (winter I subscribe, spring I unsubscribe), but this year it was harder to disconnect from it. Thanks to the is purge, I have no desire to watch TV for a while.  Hopefully this is a clear cut resolution for me.

Facebook tone it down - Oh, facebook. I spend is so much time scrolling to just find those three elusive posts that actually make me feel connected to people.  Plus, being free of politics and opinions for the last 3 weeks was so refreshing I didn't even notice how much it stinks to be on facebook until I went online this morning.  Ignorance is bliss.

Also, I seem to be wanting to post to no one, yet somehow to everyone.  It's odd.  There are the posts where I just want to save the images somewhere I can look back at them, almost like a photobook or journal of what we've been doing as a family, like all the images and details of our camping trip. Yet, those images I want to save for myself are being broadcasted to everyone on facebook.

I love getting likes on them, even if they're for me.  I would start trending towards living my life and snapping photos in a way that makes more people impressed by what I do and how I do it.  Does that mean I should change how I live my life?  So I get more likes?  I don't want to live like that.

And on the other hand then there are one-off there posts of cute pictures of my kids, like my daughter decked out in her 4th of July clothes.  And then there are cute phrases and sayings the  that I want to record, so I put them on facebook.  Those are things I just want to show off, to share and make someone's day a little happier.

Facebook knows it's power.  It's even started counting my likes, is just trying to play on how much I'm liked, which is alarming, because they're in it for the money.

So here's my resolution, only put up fewer photos and one off images of the kids (essentially, like instagram).  I'm still figuring out how to resolve the time I spend on facebook.  Have Jon change the password?  Have a time limit?  Leave it entirely again?

Movies bring it up, a little - bring back family movie or date nights.  It was fun to look forward to something special, not plop on the couch and search for something.

Blogging bring it up, a little - we'll see how this goes, as blogging is very time consuming, and I'm trying to cut down on screen time... but I'm going to try to replace what I've been doing on facebook with blog posts.

Reading books/magazines bring it up - I'm going to fill my downtime with more reading.  There are times I want to fill idle time, and a book can be nice and relaxing... and fairly easy to put down, unlike a phone.

Whew.  Ironic that I just spent over an hour on the computer, writing about how I want to be off of screens more often, but at least I feel like I understand my thoughts now.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hello? Is this thing on?

Wow.  It's been a while.  I can't say this hasn't happened before... say, after every baby I've had. I guess it can't be helped.  

We've been rolling through house projects, at a much slower pace than before.  I've wanted more time with baby Autumn, more time with the big kids, and more time to relax.


Not that we haven't been pushing through projects...  just now I spent some down time while I'm sick making pocket diapers for my almost one year old.

Two down, eight to go!
About 5 minutes later.  She really needs these diapers!

So, what has happened in the last few 9+ months? Ready for a photo dump recap?  Great, lets go!

Well, we wrapped up our last year homeschooling (for now, at least )and the kids have started up public school.
It's quite the task with 5 bags to pack for work + school
Eli snuck a kiss just as the bus was pulling up. 
Bye boys!

We went camping for the first time ever.  We picked a spot at Meacham Lake, NY that was more like backpacking than camping, and I loved it 100%. 
View from our campsite
Getting ready to make dinner
Hike up a mountain next to the campsite
SOOOO proud, 7.2 miles (round trip).  Some of the steepest climbs I've done too!
I got a hammock for the trip, but loved it so much, we made a home for it at our house.



I've met my challenge to get outside more! After some trial and error, we found the Deuter II hiking backpack is the perfect fit for both Jon and myself, enabling us to hike a few bigger mountains. (Kelty wouldn't fit him, Osprey wouldn't fit me).
The mei tai worked great, but made me nervous I would fall forward climbing up the mountain.
Love this back carrier
Mount Major was nothing after the 7 mile hike!
Gollum crossing the brook up Mount Major!
Short little hike up a local mountain
Whinne the Pooh Trail

York Beach, ME
State Park for my birthday
 We got to hang out with a lot of family this summer, seeing just about 90% of most every one we're close to on both sides.

Impromptu crashing at grandma's house
Forth of July fireworks!
My Grandpa!

Reading together has been amazing now that the big kids are at a great age.  I started reading Harry Potter to the kids, and currently reading the beginning of book three.  We even made wands :)

Jon finished reading them the hobbit as well as the adventures of Huck Finn.  As a family we clocked 13 hours of Adventures in Odyssey while traveling, as well as the books 2-4 of Laura Inglis Wilder on audiobook.

Farmer Boy Farm tour.  The house in the background is the original house.
This tree watched farmer boy grow up!

In the spring, I was able to take the kids biking/running a lot the afternoons Jon was a teaching at a local college.
Baby on board

 In the beginning of spring, we took our kids out snowboarding, and snuck in a couple of days sliding on our pond.
Picked up skates at a garage sale last year!



At the end of winter, we took our first real vacation ever to Disney.  My Mom, step dad, sister brother-in-law and their kids were planning for a while before we decided it was something we could do.  It was actually that my husband was able to work both semesters to both pay for the trip and cover the time off from work for me.  Plus, since we were renting a house for all of us and it had an extra bed, we invited Jon's Mom to come too.  Thanks to winning $1000 in a raffle after, her tickets and plane ticket were covered.
All thirteen of us!

I love this one.  Jon is staged, but Eve and I are authentically scared.

....Around the house we have done a few things too.

Isaac got a new Link costume, as he wore a big hole in his old one.

Sniff, my little toon Link is all grown up!  (Age 3 on left, age 6 on right)



Having a baby was the motivation needed to clean out half of our room and make it a nursery.

Way back when the kids helped me assemble the new changing table/dresser.  There was sorting from every move for the last 3-7 years in there, and it took a while.



This side still needs a bit of work, but we're getting there.
This side's not too bad.  The birth center bag ready to go.
Post Baby - Trofast helped... kick that junk back in the center of the room.
Hung up some storage bins
Finally, all settled in
A nice elclectic mix of things that make me happy. The kids old TROFAST shelf lives here now.
Not too shabby
The kids finally got a sandbox!  We decided under the playset was best, as we no longer have to clear out the weeds under there. Also, we decided to muck up our lawn a little bit and bury a few tires to jump around on.


We waited too long to get our pool going, since we knew we had to drain it, and ended up with, no joke, about 4000 tadpoles in it. Once we got those guys transferred to our pond, we moved our pool pump and filled er' back up!
We're not kidding. 1000's.  This is why you start your pool, even if you're planning on draining it.
New outlets are in on the far side of the pool!

I built a big table and benches for our deck, and moved the picnic table to the firepit..

Our firepit is thriving, with some comfy new chairs, the newly painted picnic table, and lots of love and s'mores.


Jon chopped down some more trees, dug up some roots and we've reclaimed some of our lawn burning some of the old brush that fell a few years ago.
The compost bin is built and doing its thing outside.


Rats (yes, rats!) tore up the garbage temporary bag lid, so that side needs painting.
We finally had enough funds to pay for an electrician to upgrade our electrical panel.  Turns out there was a potential fatal mistake they had made when they built the house (!!), but it's all fixed now.


I made a second garden bed to match the first, but because of the drought, only got a few sad green beans from either.... but our neglected grapes thrived this year!


We revamped the sun room, inheriting my mom's old couch, getting some new TROFAST shelves that fit the room better, and painting the walls white.


Our entry way got a little perk with some new wall cubbies and a new color for the front door.


This one has been on my list for so long.  We finally painted the bathroom (the half I hadn't done when pregnant).

We gutted our basement of mold and drywalled it and installed a garage door opener.  That project is still is the works.


We repaired the threshold to the basement, hopefully sealing out mice and the elements.

We had to tear out much of the walkway we put in (whomp whomp) because it shifted so much over the winter.  Also still in the works.