Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Life without television.

So, in this new life, there is no television. Literally. No tv in this house.

You would be surprised (ok, maybe not, but I am) at how shocked people are to learn this fact. I get so many questions.

"What do you do?"
"What do the girls do?"
"How do you entertain yourself?"

Now all three of the girls have lived the majority of their life without cable tv. Where they have always been able to watch PBS, seeing Nickelodeon or the Disney channel has been a treat for grandparents houses of at friends homes. And I have rarely had cable tv since I moved out of my parents house nearly 20 years ago.

So, this is not that far fetched for us. And I LOVE it!

There is no constant droning of some useless voice in the background of my home. Instead, there is a constant melody of music. I like music. The girls like music. Music makes us happy. Music makes us dance... and sing.  4 rooms of this house have iPad/iPhone docks so that no matter where we are, the music follows.

So... what do we do?

Well, we do a lot. We craft.

We spend time outdoors. (Although this weeks below zero temps in New England have really derailed that fun.)

We play A LOT of games. Board games, multiplayer iPad games, puzzles... etc.

We read. I have read more in the past two months than I have in forever.

We clean. My house stays pretty darn neat. You'd be surprised at how much you can get done when there is not some screen compelling you to come sit in front of it for hours. (To be clear, I clean... the girls are not necessarily enticed to clean more, but the will keep me company and talk to me while I am puttering around and picking up.)

We talk. We learn about eachother. I talk to my guests and learn about them. I have a great stash of conversation starter books that I pull out when I have friends over or when the girls and I sit down to dinner. I feel like talking (and more importantly, listening) is a lost pastime that could really use a reincarnation.

In today's world, after dance, gymnastics, math meets, student council meetings, piano lessons... there really is not a ton of time left for simple 'down' time. So, no, we never get bored. We do not run out of things to do. The girls are certainly not deprived since they are with Daddy half the time and get their fill of TV there.

I do want to be clear that I am not all holier-than-thou about electronics, tv and screen time. Between my iPad, my laptop, Ariana's iPad and the girls' Nook, they are still exposed to screen entertainment here. We stream Netflix, Hulu and other media. We also have a small collection of DVD's for them to choose from. And I am not at all opposed to cuddling up on a Friday night in Mommy's bed with a big bowl of popcorn and our favorite blankies to enjoy a movie together. I just do not want that huge, imposing, ever accessible box hanging on a wall in my living space that will be a constant draw for my girls... and a constant argument from me: "Will you just SHUT THAT THING OFF!"

Am I depriving my children? Will they grow resentful because they can't talk to their friends about what Justin Bieber is up to or what's going on with Demi Lovato?

Friday, January 25, 2013

5 Things Friday

I so admire this Jersey family who took a year off the grid to live in the Maine woods.

As a lifelong fan of Drew Barrymore, I am interested in her new beauty line. (Disappointed it's only available at Walmart though.)

Crap, just realized I need to start creating some Valentines! Where the heck does the time go?

These Pinterest fails make me feel much better about my own attempts.

21 habits of happy people.

Happy Weekend!!! Find the Live Simply Mommy on Facebook!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Favorite Photo Printing App

Sooo, on a lighter note....

I love my iPhonography. I take dozens of photos every day. Mostly children... lots of scenery... funny things that strike my momentary fancy.

And although a lof of my friends and family either follow me on Instagram or see the corresponding posts on Facebook, I still love to find ways to display my photos in my home. Oddly, as popular as square photos are, a lot of the photo printing services do not offer square prints! It's so freaking frustrating.

And so I have discovered my new favorite app on my iPhone: FreePrints by Photo Affections.com. (Just search FreePrints and it should pop right up.)

This app allows me to upload right from my phone, or from other sources like Picasa, Facebook, Flickr or Instagram. And they offer square prints! 5"x5" glossy prints for 49¢. I wish there were a matte option but the quality is great.

Another bonus? They offer you up to 85 free 4x6 prints per month! For real. All you pay is shipping. Of course you can order anything else from 8x10 up to 20"x30" as well, but I have not seen the quality of those photos.

And then I can either display them in my photo frame that I created, or on my new metal sculpture that I got for a steal at TJ Maxx. The photos are simply hung with small magnets so that I can switch them out whenever I feel like new scenery. 

It really is a great app for you Instagram enthusiasts. Do you have a photo printing app that you prefer?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Diverging Paths

Just to expand a bit on my post regarding my new life... I have been asked  a few questions on more specifics.

Why did I leave my perfectly wonderful husband and father of my children. How could I ruin my "white picket fence life"? (Somebody actually used those words.) We did not fight, we live in an adorable house with no big money worries. We are pretty kick-ass at parenting our children together (if I may say so myself.)

What could have possibly have been the catalyst? Did somebody cheat? Was there abuse? Was there a drug or alcohol problem?

No. No. And no.

This is simply a story of growth and change. A story of two paths taking different directions.

You might remember that one and a half years ago my father passed away. I sat with him as he slowly died and the life slipped from his body. That changed me. Changed my life forever.

When you watch the process of death, there is a realization that the time you have in this body, on this earth is finite. For me, this caused a lot of introspection. Was I living my life in a manner that was 100% what I dreamed of and wanted for myself and my daughters?

The honest answer was no. I have been trying for many years to live a more simple life, to live more sustainably,  to live with intention, and to instill these values in my daughters. I would rather rather live in a small cabin in the woods or in a farmhouse in rural America. My husband? Not so much. He wants luxury, toys, a big new house with an 80" television and 200 channels of cable to choose from. I want my clothes dried on the line... he'd prefer his fluffy and Downy-fresh from a dryer. I want all my food GMO and high-fructose free... he likes KFC. My dream vacation is taking the girls on amazing outdoor adventure... he prefers Disney World.

And this is where our paths diverge. Does this make one (or both) of us bad people? No. It makes us different people. Can people with differing views have a successful marriage? Of course. At what point are you no longer compromising but simply giving up on things that really are important to you in this short life?

He and I are in agreement that his way of life is certainly more of the social norm. I am absolutely the person asking for things that are harder for an entire family to acquiesce to... but it is what I want for myself and our daughters. And his way of life is what he wants for himself and our daughters. It is what he works longs days for... it is what he has been continuing his education for the past decade for.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no happy medium. I have spent the last year reading sooo many books, articles, posts... trying to figure some resolution. Should I live my life in a manner I do not agree with? Can I force myself to be content in that life? Is it fair for my daughters to see me changing my core values? What does that teach them?

And, so, here I am. Today. In my very simple and quiet apartment. No television. Few material possessions. A sense of calm on the path to where I want to ultimately be. I live in the moment, for the moments. As I play board games with the girls or paint pictures with our favorite music playing in the background, I am at peace where I am and where they are. And when they are with Daddy, I am still at peace. Because he is a great father. They are experiencing two ways of life and someday they will choose their own path.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A new year and many reasons to be grateful.

Here I am... getting back in the saddle again.

2012 was quite a year for me... for my family. In June 2012 I celebrated 10 years of marriage and then in October of 2012 I left the home that we worked 7 years to create together. Needless to say, the past few months have been quite a change for me, my life, my children's lives. New home, new routines, new compromises, new ways to build ideas on what the 'norms' are for our family.

Obviously, it will take more than this one quick blog post to explain myself, but I did not want to go on this meandering, extended blog post that would try to explain everything all at once... that would just get boring.

So, I am starting simple (as you know I like to do) with 3 things I am grateful for today... right now... Inspired by The Dame.

1. The simply amazing, kind, generous, sweet people that I choose to surround myself with at this point in my life. Please note that this includes the man I chose to be father of my children, his entire family, our shared friends and my own family and friends. They are all so supportive and loving, myself and my daughters are very lucky to have them all with us.

2. A warm, cozy, and simple place to call home. The hours already spent with my girls here in our new humble abode playing games, singing, playing... just enjoying each other's company have already created memories and smiles for us all to last a lifetime.

3. A new sense of myself. With that comes a sense of peace, calm and contentment. And along with this, the ability to provide my girls with a much more unruffled mother.

Obviously there is way more to my story. My take on socializing after a breakup, co-parenting, 'single' motherhood... all to be explored in the future... in my own life as well as on this blog.