Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I gave up Facebook for Lent and this is what happened...

Absolutely Nothing!

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha... no seriously. I probably did miss an engagement announcement or some really cute baby photos, but mostly, I didn't miss Facebook at all. In fact, I would give it up altogether, except for a few connection on there that are precious and important to me - like other adoptive moms, and some far away friends whom I don't get to see in real life.

I don't know about yours, but for the last 6 months my Facebook "newsfeed" has looked something like this:

baby photo

No matter what new sophisticated emoticons FB puts next to the "life" button, a newsfeed full of negativity and politics was really stressing me out. I found I was dreading opening it up, but that I also was addicted to looking at it every day. Facebook was sucking up a lot of my precious time, and making me stressed out and disconnected.

So when the Lenten season came along, even though I'm not Catholic, I decided to give up this stressful habit for a while and see what happened.

I was surprised by how easy it was. I'm not the best at will power (ask my too tight pants), but I was never really tempted to cheat. I made it easy for myself: I deleted the app from my phone and i-pad, and I erased my browser history so Facebook wouldn't pop up. Still, I could have easily peeked, and I wasn't tempted.

So Lent is almost over... now what? I've been thinking about that quite a bit. Do I quit altogether? Limit my "friends" list? Try to monitor how much time I'm on it? I decided to copy my screen limits for my kids and make Facebook a weekend-only thing. Last Sunday I tiptoed back online and peeked- first at the Ethiopian adoption pages I'd actually missed, and then at my friends list and privacy settings. Finally I started scrolling through my newsfeed again... sure enough, all the passionate posts about Bernie had not changed the election, and all the passionate diatribes against Trump had not stopped him. Sigh.
you know, just checking my likes...

How do you manage Facebook in your life? Or have you left the book?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Trusting my mom-stincts

little ones

I remember about 3 days after our children came home from Ethiopia with us an acquaintance at the playground said (to my terrified, jet lagged, overwhelmed self) "Don't worry. Your instincts will kick in."

Well, it took a while, but they did. Five years later I can say that I've finally learned to trust my mom-instincts. ("mom-stincts"! ha! Do I live with a 9 year old boy? Yes, yes I do.)  At first I didn't trust myself- I was too busy drowning. Becoming a first time parent to two children, ages 1 and 5, from another country overnight was a little hard. It's still hard.

But I've learned to trust myself. Which is why when this morning, after Daniel said for the 2nd day in a row that he didn't feel well, we went to the pediatrician. Daniel has been sick exactly once in 5 years. In Kindergarten he had a mild fever for one day. All the flus, stomach bugs, coughs, and respiratory infections his sister and his poor parents get every year? Pass him by. He gets a stuffy nose about once every winter.  At 5 years old his body fought off, permanently, a virulent case of Hep-C. He is a tough kid.

So after watching him spend a day laying on the couch, we went to the doctor.  Sure enough, he's got strep throat. (And he still doesn't have a fever or sore throat - his symptoms were: tired with a mild stomachache.)  I knew he must be really sick. Mom-stincts for the win!

I still make plenty of mistakes as a parent. Just ask my kids! They would give you an earful about my yelling, my arbitrary rule creations, my crazy obsession with limiting their screen time. I make plenty of errors due to crankiness and exhaustion. Most of the bigger mistakes, however, are when I don't trust myself. When I take advice from others instead of trusting what I know is best for my family. When I follow our cultural parenting rule book instead of my gut.

So my friend in the park was right- my instincts did kick in. And then I had to learn to trust them.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Baking with children

This post is dedicated to my mom...

Happy Pi Day! (Or, as I learned from the silly radio station we listen to on our way to school - Happy Potato Chip Day! And Happy Napping Day! - Who comes up with (and is probably paid good money for) these ridiculous celebrations of the mundane?! And more importantly, how can I get in on that gig!?)

Anyway, it's March 14th and Daniel recently discovered a love for apple pie. I'm happy to encourage any habit or interest that ends up with sweet deliciousness.

So this weekend I ended up with both children in the kitchen, baking.

I have some very sweet memories of baking with my mother in our little kitchen. My sister and I stood on either side of her as she guided us through baking bread or cookies or cutting out pastries. None of those memories include the amount of yelling, destruction or chaos that my own children experienced with me yesterday. I also don't remember my mom needing to pour herself a stiff drink afterwards, but perhaps she did...

Baking with children is one of those things that SOUNDS like a great idea, and will probably create the kind of sweetly scented memories we will cherish 25 years from now... but in the moment it's all:

Don't touch that!
No, NOT the salt! The sugar!
Put that down!
Don't use the knife to smash eggs!

But in the end, we did create a pie. A lopsided,  funky looking, unevenly moist, over sugared, but still delicious pie. The kids were thrilled. Actually, Daniel was thrilled. Lily wouldn't touch it, preferring her vanilla ice cream plain.
(Lily loves the idea of dessert, and always requests elaborate birthday cakes, but never eats a bite!)

Baking with children: not for the faint of heart. Just like parenting:messy, exhausting, surprising, and in the end, delicious.

Happy Pi Day!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Tidying Up: Kondo style

You've heard of this book, right? (If you haven't- beware, hours of internet rabbit holes await you...) 

Anyway, I read it this winter, and her second one, "Sparking Joy".  And yes, it changed my life, as promised.

Okay, I'm half- joking, but only half.  I really did appreciate Marie Kondo's perspective on our belongings, and on how we engage with them.  She begins by asking the reader to deeply imagine how she would like her home to be. I immediately thought "Peace. Quiet." Then I remembered that I have two young LOUD children. So I edited to peaceful-ish.

So far on our decluttering journey we've gone through all of our clothes, all of our books, our art supplies, our kitchen supplies, our papers (so. many. papers!) our shoes, toiletries and outerwear.  We still need to go through our photos (digital + old-fashioned) and our momentos. (There are several boxes of my college notebooks lurking somewhere in our basement.) Those I think we will need to wait until this summer to tackle.

The most astounding thing about this process is that it forces you to confront the shear amount of stuff you own. Here are my clothes, all seasons, all sizes... waiting to "spark joy", or not. 

It can be hard to tell just how many 1/2 used-up art supplies you have scattered about your house. until you gather them all up into a giant heap. Then it's just embarrassing.

Those are some un-finished and un-sent Thank You cards from last year. Whoops.

But I did find some treasure:

I think this says, "Mommy look we don't like this juice. It tastes horrible. Sorry Mommy. I love you." Straight into the treasure box!   

Clothes that didn't spark joy: 2 huge bags. This left me with a rather sad, small wardrobe and the realization that yes, I had been wearing the same 4 things over and over again. So I went shopping, which I'm sure was not what Marie would recommend...

The kids both discarded about 1/2 their wardrobes, and Andrew moved his old size smalls to our son's closet. (My 9 year old is about to outgrow the children's department. Sob.)

This is our basement library/games shelf before.

And here is is after. We ended up keeping a large number of books, mostly because we want to have a home library for the kids to access as they grow older. So probably 1/2 the books are children's novels, comics and classics. Still not sorted out: the 4 binders of CDs and movies. 

So, have I mastered the Kondo folding style? (All clothes are rolled and folded to be laid out horizontally in the drawers, not vertically.) Yes, but the drawers are still a bit too messy for a photo-op.

Is our home more peaceful? Yes, definitely, if only because I don't spend precious hours searching for items all over the house.

Have you "Kondo-ed" your home!?