Monday, October 31, 2016

My Social Media Diet

Lauren jokes that I've gone Amish on her. Several months ago, I deleted my Facebook account and never turned back. I haven't missed it at all-it's like leaving a lame party and wondering why I stayed so long. A few weeks ago, I wanted another push. I thought about shutting down my blog and deleting my Instagram. John suggested taking a break from Instagram but keeping my blog, and that's what I did. 

It sounds like such a small move, but it feels like a big life decision. TAKE A BREAK FROM INSTAGRAM? WHAT IF I MISS SOMETHING IMPORTANT? We all know that if it is "important" then the news will reach me. 

So why did I do all this? Several exhausting reasons:

1. It was boring but still a distraction. Facebook with its articles and links and advice and boring parts of people's lives...Instagram with pictures of every little cute moments of people's lives. Once I stepped away, then back in, my first thought was, "wow this is all really not that interesting." Why did I spend so much time keeping tabs with so many people? 

2. It was unnecessary white noise. Here's some honest truth: what I saw on social media and what I thought about posting became a quiet but constant noise in my head. When it comes to people and religion, I've learned that I stir those things over and over in my head. Politics, for example, goes in one ear and out the other for the most part. When it comes to people, I think and think and think about them and what I've experienced (even if it's a picture on Instagram). 

3. I became nostalgic for my pre-social media life. I don't know what it is about this point, but I wanted to live freely. While my blog feels different, maybe more thoughtful, my social media pictures feel over saturated. It felt almost like the fun stuff was only fun because I could share it on Instagram. I wanted to see if I could do fun stuff without ending it in a post to share. 

4. All the cool kids are doing it. We all have those unicorn friends who are off of social media (like my husband) and they seem cooler, above it all. I often wondered, "how do they breathe without that social oxygen?'

So far, it's a great decision. Without the presence of social media, I've realized that I have a friend-void. I need more face-to-face adult interaction, so that's a top priority now. When I get that face to face time, then it's more fun, exciting, and important. I could almost, *almost* say that my life is richer, but that would be too strong. A rich life is not my life's goal, at all. I don't mind being simple, and I think there's a good value in it. However, social media was taking too much away from real life and giving me too much of a foggy life. 

From here, I will keep posting on my blog. I have a teeny tiny readership (hi to my dad and mother-in-law, my most loyal readers!), so it feels small like it's just for me. I will keep my Instagram account. It's off my phone and I won't be checking it regularly. I will definitely be pursuing friend dates more often, and I'll be free of that unnecessary white noise that social media created in my head. Most importantly, I won't take myself too seriously. Hopefully. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Netflix & Camping

Before I get into my peace-love-happiness chant about our great our time in the woods was, I don't want to forget two poignant stories: 

First, there was a night that Burl stayed up a little later than the rest of the kids. He sat with the adults, poking the fire with a stick (his new favorite camping activity). He said something along the lines of, "I love it here. I wish we could live here and this could be our house." Cue Mama patting herself on the back for giving her kids the real kind of experience. Then he added, "all we need is our TV and I could sit by the fire and watch movies." 

The next morning, I was in the fallen trees near our campsite with the boys. The kids have named it their clubhouse. Ridge was picking off bark on one of the trees, and I had another prideful moment. I thought, "see. Kids don't need a lot of STUFF. Ridge is perfectly content playing with bark!" He sat down in a pile of leaves and played with wood-sy stuff. Then, he picked up a big chunk of bark and put it to his ear and said "ello" like it was a iPhone. 

While we like being outside and most of our best memories happen there, we can't call ourselves outdoorsy. That label is beyond us, because we like Netflix, iPhones, disposable diapers, and regular bathing. For this weekend, we gave up most of those and had another fun time. 

I planned this trip one day longer than we usually do and it still wasn't long enough for Burl and Fern, who went four days without going indoors. Ridge and I skipped the first day, because I'm 6 months pregnant and I played that card. On Friday, we joined John and the big kids and another sweet family came with us too!

This is our second time camping with friends, and I don't think we will ever go back! When I tell older adults about these camping trips, I get knowing smiles and "Oh man! Some of our best family memories are camping with friends!" That's all the fuel I need to my mom-fire to put in the work to pull these weekends off. 

Our kids got along amazingly! These are our "we should get together more often friends" but we usually don't make it happen. Watching our kids together was so sweet-the girls would sneak off to the tent for "private drawing time" and we could find the boys in the hammocks laughing about poop jokes or climbing trees in their faux clubhouse. 

Ridge cautiously roamed the campsite and thankfully had a healthy respect for the fire ring. Praise Jesus for one son who is aware of his surroundings. 

My mom asked what exactly we did on these trips for the whole weekend. Anyone who camps knows that it's a lot of campsite tinkering for adults and kids alike. There's sitting around the fire trading stories, campsite nesting, exploring the campground, and of course, HIKING!

The last day, we met my dad at the inn restaurant as usual, looking tired and dirty. We told him about the deer that ran past our campsite, about Fern falling and hitting her head, about how great our other friends were, about the hammocks, and about poking the fire. 

When we got home, we were exhausted and eager for showers, but we were happy. John and I were talking about the weekend as we went to bed-the weekends often feel too short when we're at home. It's different when we're camping. They feel long and full, like we really had a good, extended time together, so we did what we always do. We started planning the next one...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Wooden's Tradition

Last Monday, as part of our fall break fun, my mom treated us to lunch, apple slushies, and candy at Wooden's farm. They specialize in apples but grow a bit more than that. 

The kids enjoyed the grandmother spoils (especially since Burl and Fern came from a sleepover with John's parents and enjoyed their spoils). Sugar and kiss overload. 

It's a great place to buy apples, get stuffed on southern food, and take some pictures. However, I have to work hard to crop out all the extras. There aren't open fields to run and play. 

Apparently they don't want people in their orchards, but when they are right beside the parking lot and Marmee is there, we have to snag the free photo opp. 

We used some of the apples to make the best apple dessert I've had (and I'm not usually a fan because I like my apples raw and crispy, thankyouverymuch). It was a fun midday trip and one of the many perks of living in Chattanooga and being surrounded by farmland. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pops 6th Pikeville Party

This was our sixth year celebrating my dad's birthday by spending the day at his farm. We've made trips beyond that for fun visits, but we always find a day that my brothers can join us too (and possibly some extra friends). 

When people learn that we make frequent visits to my dad's farm, their eyes tend to glaze over and they envision what I used to envision: simple farm house with a wide, sweeping porch; hanging baskets on farm posts, fluffy-fured animals, well-maintained gravel paths and manicured fields. To be blunt: there ain't nothing well-maintained and manicured about it. There's a camo winnabego on posts, tarps for curtains, and my dad yelling at any of the five dogs for jumping on someone. It's like a Julia Roberts movie set. Not.

The key to its appeal is space to roam and new things to explore. Find some chicken eggs. Throw food to the chickens. Drive on 4-wheelers. Walk around freely. Touch a toad. 

That's a few of the things that we did this time. My pregnancy aches and pains had me benched for most of the time, so my pictures are incomplete. Out of most of my pictures, Ridge was featured in the majority. Oh that precious boy! This was his first time at the farm where he was free to roam and he felt so big going wherever he wanted to go (and ride on the 4-wheeler). 

Sweet little Ridge did whatever the big kids did. I loved watching them each do their own things. Burl and Fern operated more freely while we're there. They knew the ropes. Ridge had confidence that didn't come from experience. 

It was a great 6th Farm Birthday Party-thanks Pops for cleaning a spot on the porch for us! Things have changed since we started going in 2010!
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