Screen Free???

I’ve been noticing lately how much time my child spends either asking to watch a movie/Netflix, or actually watching a movie/Netflix. You want to know what I found out? Here’s a hint…it’s more than I would said if you had asked a few weeks ago.

How much more?? A LOT! (Today a drawer got stuck and she asked if it had run out of batteries. :/ )

I’ve been working on writing, crafting, sewing, and so forth…and time slips away from me. Which is not excuse, I agree. When I tell her she can watch ONE EPISODE I need to pay attention and turn it off as soon as the credits roll. Sometimes, even when I’ve been sitting with her for the entire show, I don’t even realize that the episode has tolled over into the next. My focus isn’t just split, it’s almost completely gone.

The bottom line is, I need to do a better job. I watch where she’s at and make sure she isn’t playing near or with anything that could injure her. Now I need to make sure she isn’t just on the television all the time. In order to do that, I need to set a better example.

I’m rarely watching shows at the moment. Usually when I watch a show, I’m crafting or writing at the same time. It’s background for me, and often includes an element that I’m writing about. But she’s just almost 3 and, while whip-smart and gorgeous (she takes after he mother!), she isn’t mature enough (at all) to understand that Mommy’s job is to be on technology, but hers it to play.

How do I fix that? Well, Mommy’s job is to write and to craft and to PLAY WITH HER MONKEY! All things I can do without the computer or the television.

I thought there might be another parent or two (or auntie, uncle, grandparent, etc) out there that could be struggling with this same issue. No matter the child’s age, you can find non-tech things to do with them. In that spirit, here is a list of things to do with your children that does not involve staring at technology.

Quick Note: Please don’t be afraid! I promise that public places, sunlight, fresh air, real honest to goodness hold in your hands physical toys and books, glue, glitter, paper, etc are all fairly safe for your family. In fact, before the past 20 or so years happened, they were ALL THE RAGE for hundreds of years!

Screen Free Activities:

1) Pull out that old CD player (or if you’re lucky enough, tape/8-track/vinyl record player), blow the dust off the old cases, and have a ‘retro’ dance party! Kids from 0-Adult will pretend to be disgusted and embarrassed, and then will begin to emulate your moves.

2) Play dress up! Get out your old clothes, silly party favor wiggly headbands, etc. and dress up. OR Pick out outfits for each other and then have a fashion show.

3) Take the kid(s) thrift shopping, downtown to the cute local stores shopping, or to some other area of shops you have either always wanted to check out or have enjoyed without the little whirlwinds. Make sure its not a china shop, and go for it! Thrift shops are a great source for dress up items and cool painting projects! Combine #1-3 for an EPIC DAY that will have everyone forgetting their lack of screens.

4) Find nearby museums, petting zoos, kid zones, etc. There are more than you think and they often go unnoticed in our day to day existences. Search them out, drag the kids, and watch the fun happen. They won’t even realize they learned something in the process.

5) Art projects: This can be as simple as grabbing a few large sheets of paper, several colors of whatever drawing utensil you prefer (i.e. crayon, colored pencil, marker, finger paints), and the kids. Lay out on the floor, and CREATE! Add glitter, cut and paste objects, etc to create something unique and special. Then either frame them or just tape them up in a display area. Make a habit of it, change the artwork out, and save what you take down to either make a memory book from, or have screen printed on material for quilts etc. Or just, you know, use material to begin with.

6) Purchase plain material, fabric markers or paints, and embellishments. Have everyone take a piece or a section of the material, and let them decorate! The material can then be made into whatever you want it to be.

7) Story Time: Make up stories, write stories, read your books. Take a huge bag of books, some water bottles, a few apples (or snacks), and a big blanket. Sit outside and read together. Read to each other, read to the wind, read to yourselves, but read together.

8) Make a blanket fort. read in there. Play board games in the fort. Sleep in the fort.

9) WATER BALLOON FIGHT!!!!!!! (’nuff said)

10) I don’t care how old the kids are…go play at the park. Seriously, Go. Now. Play. SLIDE

11) Go to the Lake. Build a fire. Eat S’mores. Crack Jokes. Sing Songs. LIVE

12) Learn how to turn a cartwheel. Think you still know how? Try. Now raise your hand if your kid needs to re-teach you when they can stop laughing and breath again.

13) Cook together. I know, I know. I can hear the toddler moms and the parents of teenage boys all lamenting about messes and knives. Here’s the deal…if I pick up after her, my Monkey forgets that she needs to pick up after herself pretty quickly. But the days I make her help me clean, she loves playing the cleaning games and she remembers how to put things away for a while afterwards. And the mixing, measuring, spooning, baking parts of how the mess got made? “Forget about it!” She created a baking song that she now sings when in her play kitchen. It goes something like “Mix, mix, mix, mix, OH I’M SO HAPPY! MOMMY AND ME MIX MIX BECAUSE I’M SO HAPPY! Mix, mix, mix, mix, mix, mix” (she also begged until someone got her one of those little miniature wire whisks. She has to be able to mix in her mini-bowls you know!) Go, cook with them, teach them, learn from them. Make your own pizza and put down that take-out menu!

There are hundreds of ideas out there for things to do without using screens. I’m not saying you can’t ever watch anything again. Please, I’m on the computer, looking at the screen while I type this! Just watch what you’re doing, see how many hours you are ok’ing for your family. Make sure they (and you) know what the most important things are in life. Because I promise you, the screen can be replaced if it breaks. It’s probably going to be a lot more difficult to replace the bridges we burned while everyone concentrated on the smart phone, tablet, laptop, and television instead of on their family.

May your life be blessed and full of love. May your inspiration never run dry, and your bridges stay firm.

I look forward to hearing from you all!

From the Mouth…

Hello All! I just wanted to pop by and leave a giggle for your Sunday afternoon…

Today at lunch my daughter had finished eating and was trying to watch Netflix on the iPad while we finished up and got ready for devotional (our church does Class/Morning Services/Lunch/Afternoon Devotional…out for the day by 2).

As she was watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates, it froze and the spinning wheel of death didn’t come up. When asked if she had paused her show, Monkey stated that “No, it stopped because Hook was BAD!”

Look what you did Captain Hook…you stalled the entire process out by being naughty! No park for you today! 😉

May you all have a fun and frolic-y Sunday afternoon!

Toddler Quotes

There are many lovely things that happen with the “terrible” two era. One of those things, at least in my house, happens to be a plethora of quotables to keep my daughter embarrassed well through her teens and beyond.

Here, for your reading pleasure, are the contenders for this week’s top spot:

1) on the occasion of explaining a red mark on her neck
Monkey – “Jesse hit me”
Me (Mom) – “why?”
Monkey – “I don’t know. Jesse hit me.”
Gaga (grandma) – “what did you do to Jesse?”
Monkey (exaggerated and very Southern) – OH NO! MY PONY FALLED DOWN!”

2) when choosing a cd in the car
I hold up Jimmy Buffett and Taylor Swift. She almost always wants Taylor Swift. Not this time! The reason? Jimmy Buffett’s case is yellow with red writing which, according to Monkey, makes it Curious George and The Man’s favorite cd. Or in her words “Jooge and the Hat’s music”

And

3) Gaga – “which button is the mute?”
Monkey – “the one that says MUTANT!”

Bonus – uh oh wait Mommy the monsters are coming…THE MONSTERS! (FYI-she’s talkin Monsters Inc. and we have to let them catch up most of the time. Though she randomly decides to play scared…I guess of Randal)

Do you have a favorite toddler saying? Want to vote on one of these? Just wanted to stop by and say hello? Leave a comment and let me know!

Have a blessed week!IMG_0934.JPG

A Writer’s Day Off – OR – Camel Kisses

I have a very creative toddler who loves animals more than just about anything (except for her grandparents…I WISH she would beg for a zebra as much as she asks where her Papa is!) This morning she informed me she wanted to pet a zebra, so we did just that.

After spending most of the week cooped up in the house, I decided to take my daughter to play. There is a sweet little place a few miles outside of town, run by old school mates of mine (as most places in small towns seem to be) and we were feeling adventurous so we headed out there with thoughts of stripes dancing in her head.

OH! What fun was had! There have been several baby goats, and one cute little sheep, birthed in the past few weeks and not only were we allowed to pet them…we got to hold one! My little ‘Monkey’ kissed a Zebra, got kissed by Zebras, Llamas, and a Camel, AND got to climb up and slide down a hay slide. Did I mention the small pen she got to play in with the baby pot-bellied pigs? (Or the rabbits, ducks, chickens, etc.) For myself, I got to take a selfie with the camel…I feel COOL!

I had to move quickly and missed getting her face in the picture 😦 But the Zebras were both nuzzling her at the same time! 😀

 

Me and Dylan just chillin’

 

However, I often laugh at myself because of my ‘writerly’ tendencies and today was no different. On the way out to the Menagerie I found myself mentally writing a blog post about driving with toddlers (I should write that sometime!). As we pulled in and parked I looked around the well-kept grounds and saw our first glimpses of the penned animals and began to tell Monkey little pieces of ideas for children’s books with those animals as characters (A potbellied piglet named Pauline who likes to sing anybody??). After we got into the area and began walking around, I caught myself mentally converting what I was seeing into words and then taking those words and building descriptive sentences.

I tried to stop, I really did. I mean honestly, I am pouring my heart into The Stone Dragon Saga and the only animal they have in common with the petting zoo is Passiona’s pet goat (although she did have babies recently…hmm.) Do I have the time between writing book 4 (Dragons in the Deep) while utilizing Camp NaNoWriMo, writing articles for Yahoo! Contributor’s Network, blogging, and playing with Monkey to start working on something else, even something as short as Children’s Picture Book stories? The short answer: No. The answer I’m giving…mmmmaaaayyyybbbeee. I mean, I write a short story once a week for the blog anyway, right? *Insert crazy grin here*. We shall see what happens.

In any case, whether or not I ever get around to writing those stories, I got kissed by a camel, a goat, a zebu, and a donkey AND I hand fed an Emu..that’s right, AN EMU. (And I didn’t scream when that beak came down, snaps for Beth.)

As I watch my daughter grow and change, these small moments when I pushed the characters aside and focused on fun with her will be ever more important. I may definitely be a writer for life, but for an hour or two today, I was a mommy living life…and it felt good.

 

 

 

 

Vegan Butter

Have you ever wondered about people who choose to be vegan, or vegetarian? Have you ever looked at the ever growing popularity of those two life choices, and their corresponding menu options, and thought to yourself, “These people are crazy!”? I have, a lot.

As it turns out, I am learning more about plant based proteins, and fake meat, than I ever would have imagined I would need to know. You see, my mother has, among other things, a medical condition that causes her to have…shall we say, issues digesting meat proteins. It can get pretty ugly. So over the past few years, we have slowly found substitute meals that can provide the right balance of vitamins and proteins, without driving the rest of the meat eating lot (namely, my dad and I) to crazy run out in the street and bite random living things drastic measures. Basically, we cook a lot of soy and bean based things for her.

I have said all of that, to tell you a story RIPPED from the headlines of my life. Dateline: This Morning:

First, soy plants grow like this:

(http://naturescrusaders.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/mono-culturebig-farm-vs-organicrotational-the-rising-war/soybeansf/)

Then, soy beans are harvested and look like this:

(www.harvesttotable.com)

Then, the harvested soy beans go through all kinds of processes etc to be turned into ingredients for things like this:

(http://www.misssweetnothings.com/2010/04/earth-balance-buttery-spread.html)

All so that when my 18 month old decides to run into the kitchen, I can ask a series of questions that go like this:
“Are you in dog’s water?”

“no”

“Don’t get in the cabinet. Are in the Cabinet?”

“no”

“Are you pulling things off of the shelves?”

“No”

“What are you doing?”

“yummy, um um um”

My daughter, who is entirely too tall and prone to curiosity (I stupidly encouraged the Curious George phase, which is going on about 18 months now. Silly Monkey), has found the vegan butter in whichever stack of things we had it stashed. In the minute or less that it took for me to get across the room and into the kitchen, she had pulled the lid off of the butter and was, you guessed it, licking her butter dipped fingers. The good news is that it really does actually taste like a butter spread. The bad news is that my kid got the butter on my glasses trying to fight to grab the container back from me.

The finger raked box o’ butter is in the refrigerator.