Screen Free Week Prep 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

National Screen Free week is nearly here (next week!) and I have been busy thinking and preparing for the week ahead with no screens for my family.  We participated last year and I was so worried before we began that the kids would be out of control and the week would be horribly long and difficult.  And then we did it and I was surprised to find that the kids hardly noticed and I was the one that struggled the most with screen free week.

Here's the cold, hard truth:  as a stay at home Mum with very young kids, there are large parts of the day that are unbearably boring.  Don't get my wrong, there are parts of the day that I delight in the kids sharing or playing some amazing imaginative scenario.  Other parts of the day, I'm cooking, cleaning, organizing, and planning.  And definitely parts when I'm part of the play too; reading, participating, and helping.  But there are also staggering moments that are endlessly mind-numbing.  Like when I've watched this child do the same flip off of the same couch armrest 36 times already and yet still I get, "Mum, watch this."  Oh, I know, I know.  Someday I will miss their constant need for my attention, alas, that fact does not decrease the mundane-ness of the moment right now.  So, in these moments of sheer boredom, Mumma scrolls.  She scrolls through facebook, instagram, pinterest, and other blogs.  I just need a distraction.  Isn't that the sum of life these days?  Distraction.

I'm not saying I'm proud of this - I ain't.  like at all.  But I'm just coming clean here and giving some more background for why we participate in Screen Free Week in the first place.  It's less about them right now (especially since they're too young to care about texting/facebook/instagram, etc).  My kids miss Netflix movies and tv shows during the week - and they forget about caring about that after Day1.  Mum on the other hand, my screen free week is a wake-up call just to how much of my life is distracted by screens because it's easy, it's available, and it's distracting.

So, going into our second year of Screen Free Week, instead of scared, I am excited!  Not only for myself but for the kids too.  I know this week means earlier bedtimes as the kids are more tired, I know it means more creative juice pumping in my own brain, and I know that being severely conscious of my own screen distractions makes for many more moments of awareness and intention in my day.

I am probably most excited at my book list I have organized for myself to read during the week.  I have been shamefully out of reading on a regular basis (except reading The Fault in Our Stars in a single day - this is why I can't read fiction outside of vacation!  I become consumed.)

I have lined up some books that I've been reading the past few weeks: Same Kind of Different As Me  and The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business  And my new reads: Thinking, Fast and Slow and Bossypants. And I also am awaiting to arrive in the mail: Cold in July which will be out in movie theaters this summer.  My Dad said he'd read it after me and we'll go see the movie together.

I got the kids some new books too. Rosie Revere, Engineer and The Tiger Who Came to Tea for Gemmi and some new chapter books to read to Grey during Gemmi's naptime:
My Father's Dragon: The Bestselling Children Story , Anna Hibiscus, and SuperDuper Teddy .

I've also mapped out in my planner to make an effort to focus on different parts of the Earth during the week.  Mostly because the kids are just interested in all things earth related these days.  So we'll be talking about the ocean, the rainforest, trees, bugs, and the weather for the week.  I'm using my current screentime to look up science and craft projects that align to those topics as back ups for the week if anyone gets bored (ahem, Me).  And we'll be having no lights at night - something the kids like doing anyway that makes evening and bedtime more fun; using candles instead of lights.

I recently read this quote from Kim John Payne (Author of Simplicity Parenting) that inspires me for both my kids' and my creative process in the upcoming Screen Free Week (and beyond?):
"What our kids see on a screen is someone else's creativity.  It is not their own.  Our children are growing up into a world where they will more than ever need to be innovative, adaptable, and above all, creative.  Having the courage to question the new normal of screen saturation in our kids' lives and allowing our homes to be low or no screen environments will give them the hugest advantage in their lives to come - because it gives them the space and time to transform passive consuming into active creativity."  
To get the kids talking about Screen Free Week, we created this list together of things we can do instead of TV/Movies next week.

If you're asking yourself, "Geez, Tab, if you love Screen Free week so much, why don't you marry it?"  (haha, or do it all the time, rather).  The answer is that we need to start somewhere.  I do love a week of recognizing our screen dependence and how it impacts our life.  We learned last year, for example, that if the kids don't watch tv after 5:30pm daily, bedtime is easier and we've repeatedly implemented that in our regular life through the year.  We are anxious to see what we learn this year and hopefully move toward a more creative and less passive screen consuming life little by little.

Are you planning on going Screen Free next week too?  What will you be doing?  Do you already live a low screen lifestyle at your home?  Any tips?

I've actually never...

Monday, April 21, 2014

taking a cue cue from Chantelle over at Fat Mum Slim, I've decided to write today about some things I've never done  - some of them yets and some of them probably never wills.
for more ridiculous, unflattering selfies - please be my friend on RunKeeper - HAH

Actually, I've never...

I've never liked pepperoni, even though I've really really tried to eat it and act like I don't mind it.  I've never cooked lamb, and I've never tried escargot.

I've never been arrested, never been in a fist fight, never got a speeding ticket, and never tried pot.

I've never pulled an all-nighter; I think I might be physically incapable of it.  The closest I've ever come was in middle school at a sleepover when we stayed up until 4:30am watching Dirty Dancing over and over and then all passed out until like noon.

I've never had braces, never dyed my hair blue or green, and never been very good at plucking my eyebrows.

I've never traveled to Europe (!!) although I have aspirations to.  I do however feel a stronger sense of desire to see more of South America and Asia.

I've never been allergic to anything, never been hungry or homeless, and never have I been held at gunpoint.

I've never pierced anything more than my original two holes in my ears from when I was a child and even in those I really only wear earrings on special occasions.

I've never scuba dived, ran a half marathon (let alone a full marathon), bungee jumped, or jumped out of an airplane.

I've never seen Star Wars all the way through, never learned to play poker, and never had a pizza I didn't like.

Does this list prove that I'm really boring, really lucky, or really average?
What have you actually never done?

thank YOU Thursday: a friend who has gone the distance

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dear JP,

I don't remember much of what came before the note; how we met in seventh grade and what led up to the point of us actually becoming friends.  When I think back on the start of our friendship, it is always at the starting place of "Will you be my best friend?  Circle Yes or No."  That was almost 20 years ago. 

Seventh grade was really our very best and closest time in our friendship.  Does a more awkward phase of anyone's life exist more so than seventh grade?  I tend to believe that year is the epitome of weird and honestly, I am so glad that we went through it as official "Best Friends," (somewhere there is paperwork and necklaces to prove it).

In seventh grade, I mainly cared about laughing and having a best friend.  There wasn't much concern yet about being cool (that just didn't appear to even be an option yet) and sure, we had crushes on boys (there is also paperwork to prove that entitled "The Love Book" by Jess & Tab), but mostly that year was about figuring out what I thought was funny or interesting and who had the same weirdo humor as me.  Turns out, it was you.

That year was full of passing notes, making up knicknames for everything, melting cheese onto paper (honestly, why?), and sleepovers.  We'd call each other the moment we got home from school despite the fact that we had just spent the entire day talking to each other.  My favorite moment, especially now as a mum to a future teenage girl, was when we thought we were so daring and rebellious for going to the mall and buying make-up compacts without telling our parents.  How I hope and pray that is as wild as our daughters will be at that age.

After that year, we remained close friends, but lots of other things started to become more important in our lives as teenagers.  Being cool was a viable choice we had, boyfriends became real instead of just names doodled in hearts, other friends moved into the 'best friend' slot for a short time depending on sport/activity season, classes, or summer vacation.  But all along, we were friends...and nearly 20 years later, we still are.  

We get together much less often than I'd like; living three hours from each other and having husbands, children, and friends of our own.  But I appreciate so much that when we are together it is in comfortable ease that we play catch up, and recount stories, and laugh.  

Because when it comes down to it, it was you that was there for the 'one hand in my pocket and the other one giving a peace sign,' and you were there for the Birds video, the American flag bathing suits (matching might I add), Merrill Bainbridge, and so much more that is cringe worthy now but only warranted hysterical, unabashed giggling back then.  

Thank you Jess for being my friend through so much of my life; all of high school, through college, weddings, moving, babies and motherhood.  

But even more so, thank you for being my Best Friend during the year that maybe mattered the most.  The year that is painfully awkward and that maybe if I didn't have you as a best friend I would have turned out less confident or somehow less myself.  Your friendship back then helped me feel comfortable with the me I was turning out to be.  

I hope so much that my kids have a Best Friend like you when seventh grade and all of its awkward glory rolls around.

Love forever, 


The distribution of energy

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The distribution of energy in our home is grossly imbalanced, especially in the last 16 weeks as my energy has been mostly consumed by growing our third Studerbaby.

only 16 weeks, but my bump suggests 20+.  bleh, #thirdpregnancyproblems

Maybe it's been the dramatically shifting weather these past two weeks, but the distribution has seemed even more unfair - today especially.  I have been meaning to go through the kids' shoes for weeks now as Gem still has 2 sizes too small shoes out and about down here dining room table hasn't seen the light of day in weeks (..months maybe!?) covered in random items of things that belong upstairs or in the garage or have yet to have a home yet.

...and this past Friday while I was hurrying out the door with the two kids in tow to pick up a couple things at the store, I thankfully caught sight of myself in the mirror and audibly gasped.  "When was the last time I had a proper shower?"  Oh God, seriously, when?  There was no explaining to the kids at that point that we couldn't leave the house as they were already wearing shoes and trying to put their coats on.  Ugh, that last stretch to get out the door is some of the worst parts of the day - there was no turning back now.  And I kid you not, my friends, in that moment I was grateful for Walmart because at that moment - with two cranky kids and greasy hair, and yoga pants - I knew I would be accepted without a second glance.  It was not one of my finest moments.

Bud leaves in the early morning for work all day, I spend my day chasing these two among other tasks that allow us to maintain health, financial legality, and ya know, general living.  B gets home from work - we smile and speak in glances while we endure a dinner of unbelievable noise - how does so much noise and sounds come from two small humans? - and then say goodnight to each other as we each put a child to bed.  Because do you know what happens at 9pm?  WE FALL ASLEEP before the kids in their rooms.  For probably a solid 2 months, this has been happening.  Whoever wakes up at approximately 1am, will rouse the other and drag their nearly lifeless body into our own bed until we wake up to do it again.

It is the blur.  We are so deep in the blur; it's not even funny.

they're everywhere.  and with more mess usually.
There are good times too, obviously - moments of beautiful love.  Flickers of amazing, magical strings of light.

And then most of the rest of the day; we're trying to STAY AWAKE and remember what the hell it was that we were just doing.  And also trying to talk ourselves into completing a scarily daunting task, like I don't know, say vacuuming the upstairs or baking Easter cookies.

Let's get back to that energy distribution though, eh?
Mathematically and scientifically speaking - taking my very best guess and looking at all the observable data - I'm figuring the distribution of wealth energy (although same difference at this point) to look something like this:

Human Energy Distribution at Team Studer:
Greyson:  45%
Gemma:   35%
StuderBaby #3 (sucking from mother):  10%
Daddy: 6%
Mumma:  a measly 4%

This is currently what is happening right now:

lava floor and couch cushions as it's only 35 degrees outside.
But why don't I just turn on a movie, right?  As tempting as that is right now, I know that if they don't have tv after 5pm it means less difficult and earlier bedtimes.  And right now, sanity feels less important than putting the kids to bed and spending time with Brandon in silence and non-moving distractions.

If only I could guarantee I'll be awake for it tonight.
it's not looking so good, friends.

We make this world

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Another terrible thing has happened today.  Just a little ways a way, actually - in a town we just passed through on Monday night while traveling to see friends only an hour and a half away.

My heart aches for the parents and students that were terrified, worried, and afraid.

My first thought is never, 'What is this world coming to?'
Because this is not a question that moves us forward in times of sadness or fear.
Nor is it the answer to blame the world; or others.

I see myself in the parents of the kids hurt.
I see myself in the parents of the suspect.
I see myself in the teachers and staff.
I see myself as me; someone who learns about the incident only through the soundbites and snapshots that made it through the media.
I see myself as me; someone who will look my own children in the eyes everyday and say honestly and with hope, 'yes, this is a place that is beautiful and magical and kind.'

Because I know one thing is true:
WE are the ones that make this world.

WE create the world by the choices that we make that influence, affect, or impact anyone that comes in contact with us.  When in the presence of others; strangers or familiar - do we choose to react with patience at an inconvenience?  Do we respond with gratitude and kindness?  Do we leave people feeling refreshed, energized, and inspired?

and in today's world, that also means the contact that we have with others virtually.  Do we post and like and share things that lift people up?  Do we choose to ignore hate, fear-mongering, or gossip spreading? Or do we choose to ignite it?

So, the kids and I talked about bullies and standing up for others today, as we frequently do.  We talk about choices and use various words for the feelings that we have.  We look at characters on shows and movies and talk about aloud how we think they might be feeling and why.  We talk about what makes a bully, processing feelings of embarrassment and moving forward despite difficulties, and ways we can step in as  bystander for someone in trouble.  Each day we attempt to actively works towards being kind, compassionate, and patient.
Because we create the world today and will again tomorrow.

If interested, I find these very insightful and helpful when reflecting in moments like this:
Testing how a small acts of kindness create ripples
Yes, You can teach compassion to your son (and yourself)
My Kid would never do that:  bullying (Dateline video)

What I guess I want to say is; if we want the world to be a more beautiful, caring, and safe place, then we need to look to ourselves for the state of the world.

I am small, but even a grain of sand dropped in water will make a ripple.

Greyson at four is

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Greyson at four is 
wild, unrelenting energy that bubbles out through wild swinging motions and loud outbursts coupled with fits of giggles.  It's endless jumping, climbing, dancing, sliding, and running.  Always running.

Greyson at four is
questions asked for real understanding.  No more endless, meaningless "Why?  Why? Why?" following every statement.  Rather, questions asked without warning and with surprising ranges of maturity and honest curiosity.  "What does tornado mean?"..."Why do you tell everyone we will be tired in the summer?  Does it never get dark and we won't sleep?"..."When will I be 14?"..."When Bullet and Trixie get dead will they go to our heaven too?"

Greyson at four is
a newly discovered gentleness to his baby sister and animals.  Always the first (and the most patient) to pet and snuggle up to our dogs.  It's asking for a new puppy for his birthday and a baby chick and white mouse for Easter.  It's helping his sister get dressed and playing "Daddy" when they pretend she is a baby or a dog.  These moments are in stark contrast to the normal pace of wild and they baffle me each time.

Greyson at four is
leaps and bounds in learning.  Recognizing letters, much improved fine motor skills, an ability to decipher first letter sounds in words, understanding numbers and value, hitting a pitched baseball, use of vocabulary words that were never there before.  Long gone are the days of getting something by him, he is listening and paying attention to every action, word, and reaction.  

Greyson at four
is my first child caught between baby and boy.   It's wondering aloud in disbelief (the both of us) how no one ever grows smaller; only bigger.  He wants to both be a 'baby in my belly again' but also be as big as Daddy's basketball players.  He wants carried to the house from the car when sleepy and also refuses to hold my hand unless we are in a parking lot.  He wants to do everything by himself, but also states that some things he will do when he 'gets a little bigger.  Maybe when I'm five."

Happy birthday to our first baby.
Each year seems impossibly too long and too fast at the same time.
You herald us into each new age and stage like a fearless leader, my darling.
The first one; the one who made us parents.
Thank you for your effortless, hilarious wisdom.
You are so wonderful, baby.

I love you forever and ever.
even when you get so big.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

We try to be very conscious in the way that we speak about life and the words we use to describe it.  I've talked about it before both at 12MonthsofKindness and we've practiced being better about it when using our Tacky Box.  There are things that we just don't say (tacky words) like:  stupid, idiot, dumb, or shut-up.  

There is one word, though, that we do say, and a lot.  That word is fancy.

Fancy is our response to how the kids look when they get dressed in nice clothes.  As an outdoor family and all-around rough&tumble crew, we are more likely found in what we call 'play clothes,' than anything that is fashionable or currently 'in style.' Play clothes are those that can be stained, dirtied, or torn and it won't matter much.  But when we put on 'nice clothes' or get dressed up, we call that fancy.

We tell our kids they are beautiful and handsome too - but that is never because they got fancy.  When we wipe their faces clean, we say, "I think my beautiful girl is under there somewhere!  Where is that beautiful face?"  Or when they wake up, we grab them up for hugs and say, "Good morning, handsome boy!"  Other adjectives are used to describe them all day too (kind, generous, 'good' big bro/little sis, etc).

But when we want to let our kids know that we appreciate how they look when they get dressed up, it is always by saying they look fancy.  We hope to ingrain in them that beauty is not something you get from better looking clothes, or make-up, or accessories, or a hair style.  You can dress up and be fancy for a little while - but you will always be beautiful no matter what you change to your appearance.

And there is no better compliment to me, when I get dressed up and my little Gemmi who has yet to be able to pronounce the /f/ sound; runs her hand down my clothes and says, "You look sancy, Mommy."  She's only two, but she's getting it.

Dear Gemmi,
You are beautiful because of who you are, never because of what you put on or take off.  Never because of the way your hair is styled or how expensive anything you carry might be.  You are beautiful because of all the things that make you, you.  Like how you care for anyone you think is sad or hurt and how you hold hands with those you love.  You are beautiful because of your smart, sneaky brain and your silly, nonsensical humor.  You are beautiful with your hair every which way when you wake up and with cheeto mess all over your cheeks.  You can dress up and be a fancy girl whenever you like, but know that your beauty has nothing to do with how fancy you are.  You are beautiful because you are you.

Love you forever and ever
even when you get so big,