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!

Writing in Summer?

I don’t know about you, but my most prolific writing sessions seem to happen in the Spring/Fall and November (which I’m told is part of Winter…I don’t know, I’m from the South). Summertime, which seems like it should be the best candidate for long periods of writing, does not typically afford me enough time to really sink into the stories I’m trying to work on.

As I was thinking about this earlier, I came up with 3 reasons why that might be the case:

1) School is out. Even if you don’t have school aged children at home with you, the change is evident when you walk outside and there are children running around, riding their bikes through town, etc. Their voices ring out down the street and remind you that Summer has come. This then distracts you from your writing.

2) “Nicer” weather. Now I actually do know several people who prefer the cold of winter to the blaring heat of summer; however, for the most Summer is considered to have better weather affords people more opportunities to go to the lake, the amusement park, etc. This mentality leads to more people making trips (day or longer) throughout these few warmer months. Plenty of inspiration can come from these trips and from the nicer weather, but lazy cloud watching doesn’t lend itself to rolling over and writing.

3) Different Schedules. We’ve touched on this is the last two reasons. With summer comes a different schedule. Vacations are taken, day care hours are cut, visits are made, cookouts are had…etc etc etc During the rest of the year (discounting the Holidays of course) there are usually many less obligatory things for us to deal with. Schedules are much more easily set and you get used to writing for an hour in the evenings or right after breakfast. Then summer shows up…breakfast at the lake would be a perfect time to write if you go alone; otherwise, your pages are just likely to get a little wet.

Do you have other reasons why it might be more difficult to get work done during the summer? Is it easier for you to work during the summer?? Let me know! I always look forward to hearing from you!

National Hangover Day

Today is the day my friends and I affectionately dubbed “National Hangover Day.” The day after the sanctioned fireworks and beer celebrations that sweep the United States. Even with all of the political issues happening across the nation this year, there were people in the houses surrounding mine, popping fireworks, listening to loud (clashing) music, and drinking alcoholic beverages until well after midnight.

Which brings us to today. Today many of those same people who were so LOUD and ‘WOOHOO’ey last night will be absolutely, perfectly cocooned in silence today. The thump of a foot on hardwood will make them cringe as they try to remember exactly what they did and why. I won’t say I don’t enjoy it; but…

If you know someone who needs help coming back to life and getting over their good ol’ hangover, American made or otherwise, here are a few ideas to move them along:

1) Go to their house, bedroom, or bathroom door (whatever makes more sense), softly call through the door “ARE YOU OK IN THERE???” and knock ever so gently with one balled up fist. If you are an advanced fist knocker, two alternating fists may be used. This is a judgement call.

2) Wear a pair of hard sole shoes, preferably ones with clackity heels on them. Then pace back and forth in front of your hungover friend on hardwood, tiles, or cement. Remember to speak softly, as their head is likely hurting now.

3) Be a good friend and make them breakfast. A great hangover remedy is a spicy egg omelet with sausage and bacon, the greasier the better. Maybe add a little enchilada sauce and perhaps some salsa. Be sure to give them a big glass of Milk to go with this fine meal you’ve made. They’ll really appreciate you!

4) While they’re eating this amazing breakfast, they will probably need to be sitting up in a soft and cozy place. Put up a tray and set the television to their favorite action movie or show. Comment on all the stunts.

5) Finally, they will probably need a lot of rest. Make sure that they have nice soft pillows to sink into, a fan and a blanket so the hot/cold feelings are taken care of, a bowl or a trash can next to them “just in case”, and some soothing music to lull them to sleep. I prefer Tans-Siberian Orchestra, Classic Rock, or Red Dirt for this part.

I hope these suggestions will help everyone to have a Happy Hangover Day! Remember, those words they’re yelling at you are just endearments.

Top 5 Things…

You them all over the place, lists of the Top 5 Reasons/Things/ETC. Here is my contribution to the madness…

The Top 5 Things that I love the MOST in my life!

1) My God.

                   Without sounding too preachy here, there were a lot of times in my past that I felt alone, unwanted, useless, etc. My God helped me deal, carried me through, and brought me to where I am now.

2) My Daughter.

I will admit that I started out on this path scared senseless and it hasn’t gotten much better. I mean, raising a child ‘on my own’ (without a partner anyway) was a daunting, frightening, and sad thought. Now, I adore my Monkey and couldn’t imagine a life without her, or sometimes even with a partner. Someday I hope to find the man God wants us to have. Until then, she’s my one and only and I couldn’t be more blessed!

3) My Family

I cannot begin to describe the amazing family that I’ve been given. My parents go above and beyond what even some of my friends’ parents would do. They are the embodiment of good role models and Christian teachers and having them here in our lives is amazing. My grandparents, both sets, are interesting and love my daughter to pieces and all of the aunts and uncles are completely amazing to us. We are surrounded by love, laughter, and light.

4) Writing

For as long as I can remember, I have been telling stories. Characters, lines, themes, and settings swirl through my brain like food in a processor. Their voices and images interrupt everything I do and I am (usually) happy to oblige their insistence. Happily, I seem to have been blessed with a bit of talent to go with the drive.

5) My Friends

To be honest with you, I almost put nature(i.e. the BEACH) in this spot. I have very few friends at this point in my life and the ones I do still have are more family than anything else. However, I am blessed with some amazing people in my life. People that have been with my since early childhood, elementary school, high school, college, and now work friends. Though there are only three or less from each category that I speak to anymore, I know that I am loved, accepted, and put up with no matter what! That is at least as good as the ocean…Ok, it may be even better.

What are your top 5 things? Is there another list you would like me to make? I can’t wait to hear from you!

Things I love...A blank page, Nature, and the time to fill the two with my inner ramblings!

Things I love…A blank page, Nature, and the time to fill the two with my inner ramblings!

Reading Wednesday

I honestly don’t know what it is about Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief that causes me to be so slow in reading it. For some reason, I just can’t seem to make myself sit down and dive in. I am enjoying the odd narration style and the plotline, however, and hope to wade in a bit more deeply over the next few days.

Also on the docket this week is City of Glass, the third book in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. Having read the first two (City of Bones and City of Ashes) I am crossing my fingers that this book will help me sort out my feelings toward the characters.

I do have several other books in line, vying for my attention, but those two are my only ‘firm’ choices for the moment.

So what is on your list? Are you currently reading something that has you on the edge of your seat? Do you have a novel that is giving you trouble? Or perhaps some articles you just can’t seem to quit scrolling? I love to hear from you all so please comment below!

Organizing the Blog (Yeah Right!)

IN an attempt to keep myself a little more on the ball, and a lot less scatter brained, when it comes to this site, I have written out a schedule for types of blog posts. I thought that I would list that schedule here today and ask for opinions and/or suggestions for making this more appealing to my readers.

Thank you in advance for any ideas or suggestions you swing my way, I will take them all into consideration! Have a Blessed Day!

Blog Schedule for 2014:

Sunday – Short Story Sunday

I have challenged myself to write one short story each week this year. Every Sunday I will share either the entire story from the previous week, or my favorite bits out of it if I’ve written a real stinker!

Monday – Free Writing (Whatever has caught my fancy)

Tuesday – Book Review or Suggestions

Once a month I will be doing an in depth review of a piece of literature. If it is not that time, then Tuesdays will be for reading suggestions…if you haven’t noticed, I am an author of YA and Children’s stories, I have a degree/certification in Elementary Education, and I have a 16 month old daughter so most suggestions will probably be for YA or below books. If you would like to see something else, or not see suggestions, please let me know!

Wednesday – Who are You Reading Wednesday (a short discussion on who we are reading, with links to other blogs or authors you might entertaining)

Thursday – Free Writing

Friday – Tyree Tomes Updates

My father and I joined forces to publicize our written works on a Facebook page entitled Tyree Tomes. This year we are hoping to branch out from that page.