Sunday, November 29, 2015

Turkey Day Dish

We are wrapping up a lovely holiday break.  The house is an utter disaster, four out of four kids have been in tears in the last hour, tonight's dinner is a compilation of air popped popcorn salted and buttered and reheated whatever catches your fancy from the fridge.

These rainy family filled days have been full of all of the good things of life: naps, board games, football games, fun dips and drinks, long hours lounging in bed with the lamps on and a good book in my hand, staying up too late, sleeping too late, pumpkin pie, Piecaken, Turducken, you get the idea.

In about an hour we'll put the exhausted kids to bed and I will go from room to room fluffing and tidying so that the morning will greet me with a smile, but there is something that I read recently that has changed me in so many ways and I wanted to share it with you.

I'm not sure one sentence from a book has ever stayed with me like this one four word sentence.  I may not even be quoting it verbatim, but in my mind this is how I remember the words.  As soon as I read this sentence, I had to put the book down and process for a day or so.

It is the application of these four words that infused my holiday with peace that in turn filled me with joy.  So, here you have it.  Eat more chicken.  OK, really, here you go...

Rest begins with acceptance.

I imagine the freedom that comes from understanding this concept will play out differently between you and me.

There are so darn many things we don't have control over.  We can fuss and get all worked up but at the end of the day nothing has changed.  Could taking steps toward happiness begin with accepting what is?  I'm saying, YES it can.  Change what you can, pray over the stuff bugging you, and then try accepting what is, and then step back and see if your perspective doesn't begin to change.

One of the hardest things for me to accept was that my family hated the "Family Fun Christmas Shopping Day" experience I tried to create for us several years in a row.  Bunch of freaks.  They went postal on me every year I tried to implement the new "fun" tradition.  After year three ending in shambles I raised my white flag and ditched the tradition.  (I wanted us to get dressed up cute, go shop for gifts all afternoon, end at a restaurant with a good dinner, the kind where you can order a Coke and an appetizer if you want, and then come home to watch Elf and eat Candy Cane cookies by the fire)  Turns out, all my peeps hate shopping.  Long story short, I accepted the fact that I live with mentally strange people and now I just shop and eat alone and it rocks.

This year I accepted that my high need for order and the fact that I live in a house with other people who make messes ev-ah-reeeeeee-where often clash.  Somehow I was able to accept that the Mickey Mouse, blanket, sweater, orphan sock, and dancing Santa on the floor don't have to derail me.  Might've been a Christmas Miracle, but I'm going back to my earlier statement that accepting what is might just be the ticket to living in rest.

In the midst of stuff littering every surface, I put into action what I could control.  I lit my candles and tree.  I drank fun drinks.  Every day I napped.  I read a book and played games with my kids.  Most nights we restored the order before bed so we could start again the next day.  It makes me think of Nester when she says it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.  Being able to accept reality brings rest.  None of it has to be perfect.  Change what you can, pray about what you need to, and accept the rest (no pun intended).

(awesome quote taken from Sarah MacKenzie's book, Teaching From Rest)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Day 8 Unplugged

Long story short the house is louder, messier and happier with the absence of TV.

We had a busy weekend at church and so the plan this week was to have a movie night Saturday.  Y'all.  It was the best movie night ever.  After a week of no TV we all had the jitters.

The ol' Pizza Hut special supplied our dinner and then we piled into our bed to watch Inside Out (cutest movie ever).

And then Saturday turned into Sunday with all of its football game glory and here we are to today, Monday, and this is where I am at a crossroads.  Here is the deal.  I have eight kids at the house today.  And our routine is to let them chill in front of a movie in the afternoon during rest time.  Don't hate me, but I think I'm going to let them watch a movie today.

In the meantime, the TV is OFF and they are playing, drawing, and running around with screaming giggles playing chase.

If this is what balance could look like then I like it.  Solid times of play and an occasional window for TV watching.  Not even every day, but during special times.

Yesterday afternoon we came home from church and I loved what happened.  Some kids were on the couch with their journals.  Some were at the table doing things.  Everyone found what they wanted to do and got to it with little to no direction from us.  They are figuring out how to do things in their free time.  This holds immense value.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Day 3 Unplugged

Monday morning I woke up to the sight of Shane carrying our big screens to the closet.

We are unplugging from TV and video games this month, except for an occasional football game perhaps.

I have a love/hate relationship with the idea of unplugging.

Why are we unplugging?

Heck if I know.


Well, it's because we are super-spiritual parents.

(insert laughter here)


In all seriousness there are several reasons, and they all boil down to this:

We want to reprogram. 

I can tell you this about my experience regarding the effect of TV.  Whenever we get around cable, it only takes one short day for the bad attitudes to start taking over.  The switch is nearly instant.

The first two mornings this week the poor children sat around twiddling their thumbs not sure what to do.  It took a couple days for the creative juices to start flowing again.

Last night they played board games with Shane.  They went to bed early and asked to have time to draw with their little lights on.  Today they've been creating smoothie recipes.  They are playing games.  They are creating new games. 

Here is something else that has been happening.  The boys are singing.  For some reason this has surprised me.  But they seem happier and I guess when you are feeling settled on the inside, sometimes it just comes right on out in song.  How does it go?  For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

It is like an atmosphere of joy has invaded our home.
I'm not telling you that three screen free days have morphed my kids into perfect creatures. What I am telling you is that the atmosphere has quickly changed for the better and the change has been pretty drastic.

I'll be real honest.  I use screen time every day in my household and while I'm pouring my guts out now is probably a good time to remind you that we also eat sugared cereal. 

The books say to have quiet time in the afternoon and give the kids a choice to read or rest. 

Confession: my version of that is Wii or a movie.

I can't say for sure what has stopped me from enforcing the reading and resting.  Probably because Wii is easier.  There is no backlash from that so I suppose I just choose the easy road by default.

I'm pretty sure we'll reintroduce Wii/TV back into our home.  I can't imagine not having any of that stuff and I like the idea of learning balance.  But these short three days have fascinated me and I thought you might be interested.