Friday, December 28, 2012

Parenting In A Digital Age

There is a part of me lately that wishes I could take my whole family to a cabin somewhere and live unplugged entirely.  Ironically that leades me to the notion that I'd like to rewatch that PBS series Frontier House where they had families do just that.  The irony is that I want to use my TV to watch it.  I want to watch someone else do what I cannot do.
(Warning: high levels of ramble ahead)

See, we were watching the Piolot episode for Star Trek last night (further irony gaining insight from TV) and though it was a load of old television cheese, it was actually quite good.  The aliens though were talking something about creating mental escapes instead of living in the reality.  To the point where that would be preferred   I think that describes our highly plugged in and wireless society.  It describes me, it describes my children.

I grew up in the country.  I was allowed one movie a week after we finally got a tv and then, WHAT!? ..a VCR when I was ten.  Of course I whined about not getting to watch more than that but the answer was no and somehow I'd amuse myself outside or heaven help me, do chores.  We ourselves have had less TV for our kids available than most. The two times we got cable none of us really could pull ourselves away from it.  Rick could watch History all day, I could watch cooking and decor shows, and Nickelodeon was like a suction cup on our kids faces!  We always felt led to get rid of it.  However, the visual means of escape have changed dramatically even in the last two years.  It started with more of the computer issue than the TV.  Now, however they have iPods and the Wii which gives means to games, and apps like Netflix and Hulu.  It almost makes me wish it was TV where you get one episode of what you like and come back later another day or week for the next one.  NOW, we don't have to wait for anything!  Even us last night purposefully vegging streamed four episodes of Star Trek.  Emma was in her room streaming Dr. Who one after the other, and Victoria was texting her brains out over her phone while checking facebook in between.  She has a new boyfriend and I'm actually thrilled he comes from a huge family that lives in the country and has not internet.  He also has no phone so she cannot be obsessed with "talking" to him.  Quite honestly  it's a great way to limit her exposure to him and I think that's good no matter how great he is.

We've become sucked into big and little boxes!  Don't get me wrong, I love my iPhone.   I love that we finally have a humble flat screen, and I love that we can mack-out on what we want to watch now and then.  With these digital blessings though comes the drug of escape and I struggle to know how to navigate myself let alone my children through it.  I truly believe that it leads to depression.

The reason I think it does this is that it goes against all our bodies were created to do.  They were created to work for one.  Work has for sure been tainted by the fall and has become drudgery for us in many ways.  After the Fall, Adam had to pull weeds and till hard ground.  Yet, before it, he still took care of the garden and we get a much more delightful picture of enjoyable work.  Still, it's purposeful, and it feeds our bodies and brains with stuff we need.  Greater still than this though I believe is the need for expanse.  Wide open places, glorious views and breathtaking wonders of nature be they big or small.  Tolkien must have somehow seen this world coming when he started to highlight the simple charms and fulfilling of the simple Hobbit life.  He defiantly paints a picture of simply working to enjoy the simple things like a good meal and pipe.  His distaste for industry is evident in the stories as well.  We have moved even beyond where he could have seen, from industry to technology.  We gift ourselves while we loose ourselves.  The description of Hobbit life makes me crave for that simplicity.  Perhaps if written now, there would not only be industrial nemesis but a crazy tech bad guy as well. lol.

We also have too much of each other and yet less relationship.  I don't know how we have managed it, but it's true.  We are completely socially overexposed.  For someone like me who loves to relate to people this can be disastrous   It is for me at times.  For really, when would you ever sit in a room full of people, or talk one on one to one person have them just silently stare back at you.  No, you would relate. You would converse and share. Somehow, this world of conversing with the option of responding or not is really not how we are meant to relate to one another.  Not that I'll leave it, and not that it is all bad, it's just another weird side effect of this technological age. It's another love/hate issue.

Yet, what are we to do?  There is so much of our world going in this direction   My kids have little to do in their small neighborhoods where they can't wonder very far.  We've made the world unsafe for children to play and the only option seems to be escaping through electronics.

What I'm getting at I suppose is the realization that I can't have the all or nothing cure I want.  I can't just unplug the world they live in.  So, the only other option is intentional planning to control it.  I don't like that thought, it's much harder.  For us being in a place where they can't roam it's going to mean planning hikes and outings more.  Places where they can see the skyline and be awed by something bigger than themselves that feeds their souls.  Something money can't buy and an app can't accomplish.  Today we are limited by money as to how much of the world our kids can get out and see.  I feel that way at times.  Then I ask myself though if I'm doing enough to get them out and see all that they can where they are.  It takes effort and planning and me pushing myself when I'd rather crash as well.

All I know is they are growing up in a world where they may soon forget the adrenaline of a good mountain top view.  They may forget how it feels to have their lungs full of fresh air.  They may get sucked in and never come out of these technological escapes.  I feel called to remind them what they were really made for. If technology increases we may all forget creation all together.  I want them to remember so they can feel the urge to fight it off in their own lives.  I can't even begin to imagine how lost they all may be in a virtual world someday.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Breaking Size Barriers In Fashion

I'm wanting to do more fashion posts in the new year.  I've had lot's of comments lately on my outfits.  I don't consider myself a diva or anything but I've started to love this new hobby.  It is really just artistic expression. I don't have a lot of money to spend on clothes and accessories though and I know a lot of people don't these days so I want to share what I pull off on a very frugal budget.  Years of little kids and just avoiding a run to the store with burp up on me are over now and I'm actually realizing I'm more of a girlie girl than I thought.
I want to share tips like this one I'll share today:

Don't get stuck in your size!!!

When shopping don't always go for your size category   Let the clothes speak to you.  Now, of course some things don't go over your hips and that is that.  Still, other possibilities are out there!  Especially if you are bargain shopping at places like Ross or clearance shopping and especially thrift shopping. I was recently at a thrift store and snagged one sweater I was thinking I'd give to my teen daughter because it was a small small but I was sad because it was an awesome Guess sweater.  I paid $3 for it.  I got home and thought, well, I try it on.  She has a ton of clothes and a new fur lined nice sweatshirt she is attached to.  So, I put it on and it was snug in the arms but it looked great!  Many times sweaters can be used as coverings that remain open and therefore you can wear a size or two smaller and you will get an even better fitted look on the top.  If the buttons do go over your bust, don't freak out!  If it's a style and color you love and it's a frugal find, use it open with things.

This is another great example.  I apologize for the bad picture.  I had no one to take a full picture of me.  This top spoke to me.  It said "I am awesome, I'm so pretty!  I'm only 16 bucks and on you, I'm a dress!"  See, it's a size 2X.  It is from Forever 21 Plus and I found it at Ross.  It is not my size.  However, the top has small shoulders and an elastic neckline that can stretch for some larger lovely lady or scrunch up for me or frankly even someone smaller.  Which hopefully will be me too at some point! lol  I do try to think ahead to fluxing sizes as we women experience this wonderful phenomena.  The arms are mid length and made with a widening flap that just looks flow-y on me.  It is made to scrunch at the waist with lots of room in the tummy for a larger gal.  For me it made a tube dress.  I paired it with capri brown leggings from Forever 21 for five bucks and my all time favorite winter boots that I wear almost every day in the fall and winter.  I found those at the goodwill.

Cheap accessories (or some nice special ones on occasion) are the other have to.  I have a simple long necklace from Forever 21 that cost $4 and a ring I found there on clearance recently for $3.  A long necklace and a big middle finger ring can really add a punch to your outfit.  I love it anyway.

Of course a nice gold holiday polish doesn't hurt either.  :)

So, come back in the new year if you want to get some frugal ideas.  We all have our own style for sure but I do think some of the tips I've learned can be carried over to what speaks to you.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Empty Box Gift: A Proposal For a New Demonstration of Understanding Grace For My Kids This Year

I was discussing with a friend the topic of whether to reward children at Christmas if they really have not been good.  Especially on an ongoing "in a rut" sort of basis.  It just really got me thinking about something I want to do this year when we all gather around the tree to open gifts.  I'm not sure if I'm right in this, it's just where my thoughts are.

I want to give them a wrapped empty box.

I want them to feel it's emptiness for a moment.

Then I want to tell them my thoughts.

For when we think of gifting as rewards, as all good Santa stories tell, I think we miss one big point at Christmas.  Christ came for the naughty list.  

Luke 5:32
"I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repent"

I'm not saying that we should promote a boat load of naughtiness ..that's not where I'm going.  I do think it's SUCH an opportunity to talk about the state we are all in.  Whether we have stressed our naughty meeter, or we are "doing good" all the day long.

We all needed HIM. 

We all were VOID.

We were all on the naughty list.

That is why He came.

That is Christmas.

Romans 6:23
"For the wages of sin is death, but THE GIFT of God is eternal life through JESUS CHRIST our LORD"

We are the empty box, we are the void.

He is the gift we did not deserve.

The almighty God coming down to give us HIMSELF, knowing full well it was exactly what we needed.

I think I will read them this while they hold their emptiness:
Ephesians 2:1-10

In the past you were spiritually dead because of your sins and the things you did against God. Yes, in the past your lives were full of those sins. You lived the way the world lives, following the ruler of the evil powers that are above the earth. That same spirit is now working in those who refuse to obey God. In the past all of us lived like that, trying to please our sinful selves. We did all the things our bodies and minds wanted. Like everyone else in the world, we deserved to suffer God’s anger just because of the way we were.
4 But God is rich in mercy, and he loved us very much. We were spiritually dead because of all we had done against him. But he gave us new life together with Christ. (You have been saved by God’s grace.) Yes, it is because we are a part of Christ Jesus that God raised us from death and seated us together with him in the heavenly places. God did this so that his kindness to us who belong to Christ Jesus would clearly show for all time to come the amazing richness of his grace.
I mean that you have been saved by grace because you believed. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.You are not saved by the things you have done, so there is nothing to boast about. 10 God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things he had already planned for us to do.










Then I will read this: 

Ephesians 1:7

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,..."

Riches of GRACE...

Children are going to get that feeling of riches on Christmas morning.  That feeling of overwhelming goodness.  We know it's temporary but it reflects a bigger picture.  

We were empty...

We were void...

Grace came...

And made us rich...

So, maybe we are missing the whole point with the "be good or else" thing.  What an opportunity to demonstrate that God wanted to come and give what we surely, intensely, did NOT deserve. 

I just think it's something to think about.  Santa rewards the good kids, Jesus offers reward for sinners.  

Just blows my mind.