Monday, February 10, 2014

Just saying "no" to facebook (for 3 weeks)

I've been realizing for quite awhile that I've been spending entirely too much time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and to a lesser extent, Twitter. However, after we moved to California, my habit got worse. Facebook was a life line back to KY. We had no connections to the Bay Area other than a few people Jeremy had met through Twitter. Facebook really helped me cope by allowing me to post fun photos of the family in a completely new "vacation-like" setting. Then, I could look forward to reading many affirming, positive comments from our friends and family back home. Our closest friends and family were wondering how we were doing and this was an easy, convenient way to communicate. No problem with that at all--in moderation.

Fast forward to six months later and now we have built up a community of people from church, preschool, MOPS, neighbors, etc. Our relationships are still in the early stages, but it's not like we are completely alone out here anymore. However, the Facebook habit is a difficult one to shed. If I have a free moment, a waiting moment, a dull moment, or just want to finish reading the latest and greatest "shared" on-line article, it is all too easy to pick up my phone and do it. I really have no idea how many times I quickly checked my phone a day. Dozens, I'm sure. I didn't know how to limit myself. Check it once an hour? Once or twice a day? But what about when I'm just bored and waiting in-line somewhere? Was there anything wrong with that? I didn't have an answer and I didn't have the desire to do an "intervention" for myself.

During the last couple of weeks at church, Pastor Ryan encouraged us to devote the next three weeks to focused prayer for the church. (Nothing bad is going on. In fact, it is an exciting time in the life of our church.) He encouraged us to pray and fast. Fasting could be a literal fasting as in giving up food in some way or it could be fasting from something that is taking up too much of our time or having a negative influence in our lives. (Aha moment.) Facebook would be the perfect thing for me to give up for a time. Even knowing that I needed a break, I still really had a hard time deciding what to do. Give up Facebook only? All social media? What about the internet? Well, I decided to fast just from Facebook and Twitter. I've allowed myself to continue using Instagram because it has not taken up much of my time. I have kept the number of people I follow on Instagram quite low so that I can scroll through single photo images in less than a minute. Also, I have found Instagram to be less negative to my psyche.

Here's the deal with how Facebook affects me at times. I often check Facebook when I'm at home and not doing anything special. So, when you're not doing anything, there's a pretty good chance that at least one of your hundreds of friends has something awesome to share. Maybe they are sharing the ubiquitous "Date night!" photo. Or maybe it's their latest vacation. Or the fabulous meal they are about to eat. Or the beautiful room they just redecorated. Or a photo or quote from their super smart, talented, cute kid.  Whatever it is, it often can hit you at a low moment and then make you feel, "less than." It is hard to put an emotion on how it can make me feel. I don't think it is envy. I am glad to see my friends and family happy and doing well. I don't begrudge them nice vacations or date nights or beautiful homes. I guess it can just make me ask, "Am I measuring up to my peers? Am I where I SHOULD be at this stage in my life? Am I living my life to the fullest?" Then, it can be hard to confront those answers. Some of the time I don't like where my thoughts drift. Then it is a short step away from DISCONTENTMENT.

And this my friends, is why I am giving up Facebook for the next three weeks. I do not want this tool of communication to breed discontentment in my life. I want to focus more on being grateful for what I have. The ironic thing is that many of my friends have commented about my life and that they love to see the "adventures" we are living. (Numerous people have actually said these exact words to me.) After these three weeks are over, I'm not sure how to put better limits on my use of social media. I hope that I can figure out a good plan because I do enjoy communicating and sharing with people, but there's a real negative side, too.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Christmas 2013

We spent the holidays in KY with our families for TWO whole weeks! (Dec. 18th-Jan. 2nd.) What a blessing! We are really enjoying Twitter's vacation policy.  Jeremy took about 2 1/2 weeks off at Christmas and it was no big deal (at least not this year.) He said most of his coworkers in the design dept. took off one week or more. We flew out of Oakland's airport which is only six miles from our house vs. flying out of San Francisco. We flew Southwest airlines from Oakland-Vegas-Louisville. Overall the flights went well and we had no problems with late flights, missing baggage, or anything like that. The flights were completely full. The airports were crowded. I can't imagine what it would be like even closer to Christmas! We elected to not buy Caleb his own seat. It actually worked out pretty well because then our whole family could take up a row of three together. Caleb is at the most challenging age ever for flying. It is very stressful and not fun. Of course we plan as much as we can to make things go smoothly, but it is still difficult with him. I do not feel that I can fly with both kids by myself yet. Of course, we had way more luggage and carry-ons for a Christmas trip home so it will be quite a bit easier to fly in the summer. Flying Southwest worked out very well for us since they are one of the few airlines that don't have baggage fees. We were able to check six bags at no cost (two per ticketed customer.) This came in really handy for Christmas. I checked a large foot locker filled with outgrown kids clothes to give to my sister-in-law and friend. On the return trip, I filled it with presents. Even then, we still mailed back two large packages. This year was a HUGE learning experience for how to do Christmas when flying in from out of state. Overall, things went very well, but I also learned a few things that will hopefully make it easier next time.  

Emily with Dinkney and Poppy after our night out to see The Nutcracker

We arrived in Louisville late Wednesday evening and spent a few days with Jeremy's family. Mom and Dad picked us up for a week long trip to Bowling Green and brought us back to spend the last days in Louisville. (Thanks for the van pick-up!) We were lucky to get to spend a week with each family.

My Dad and my boy

Celebrating my birthday Dec. 23rd with my favorite Christmas treat:
 a caramel popcorn Christmas wreath.
Camp Lee


Emily and Jeremy had fun roasting "marshies"

Rebecca, Maddie and I enjoying birthday treats

Matching Christmas PJs! Believe it or not, Becca and I did not coordinate this. Hilarious! Our PJs were a gift from Aunt Jen and she embroidered them herself! 

Love my photogenic Emmy

Handsome little boy

Santa always puts an orange at the bottom of their stockings.
Em does not look impressed! Don't worry. She got lots of other goodies she loved!

Christmas morning with baby boy.

Christmas morning TRYING to get a pic with the kiddos. Yeah, not happening!

Merry Christmas 2013!

We spent Christmas with my parents this year since we were with Jeremy's parents Christmas Day last year. Mom and Dad were kind and understanding to give us just enough personal space to enjoy our own little family's Christmas morning gift giving while still being present to enjoy the morning. Emily's favorite Santa gifts were her Calico Critters tree house and two-wheeled scooter. Caleb's favorite gifts were the dump truck and ball set (football, basketball, and soccer ball.) He got a cute Little People Barn and farm set which he likes OK, but not as much as his cars and balls! Jeremy and I allowed the kids to open one gift on Christmas Eve which was their gifts to one another. My siblings and I used to do this when we were little so I like the idea of carrying on this little tradition.

Trying out the present from Santa--a new Scooter! Cooper got one, too!

One of Em's favorite gifts from Nan.

Little guy checking out his present

Nan and Pop and the kiddos. 

Stephen, Becca, Maddie and Cooper on Christmas evening

The youngest littles

The Annual Lee Family Holiday Song!
We give Dad such good material to work with every year--ha!

LOVE this with my little nephew, Cooper.

Little guys playing together.

Getting down on the farm.



Saying "good-bye." :(

This year Don and Nancy completely refinished their basement. This was no small project! It was completely packed with storage and they started the project around Thanksgiving. It was amazing that it was about 95% completed in time for us to use. Don and Nancy were motivated by the fact that they would have not one, but TWO families staying with them over Christmas. Normally, it's just Jen and Ed coming in from out of town for a visit since we lived locally. This year, EVERYONE was out of town! The basement was quite spacious with a huge play area and a new bedroom and bathroom. The project put a lot of stress on Jeremy's parents at an already busy time of year. We were so thankful that they wanted to do this so everyone would be comfortable during our time together.

Jeremy and I planned ahead for several outings with friends--a date night with work friends in Louisville, a play date and lunch with Misty and her daughter, a breakfast with PT friends in Bowling Green, a lunch date with Eric and Misty, and of course lots of time with both of our immediate families. Still, there were several folks we were sad to miss on this trip. It is hard to find the right balance of rest, family time, friends time, personal time, etc. I was thankful for the "Date Night" with "Mr. Claus" at Toys R Us and a little appetizer/drinks afterwards. We get so little time out just the two of us since we moved. I really enjoyed the outing with Jeremy's parents and Emily to see the Nutcracker. She LOVED it and it was fun to enjoy this with our big girl and Dinkney and Poppy. (I especially love going for FREE--one of Poppy's perks with being a floor manager at the Kentucky Center.) I was thankful for opportunity to see extended family in Bowling Green on both sides of the family. 

Post-nap 'dos. LOVE!

Love the sleepy girls expressions and Caleb is just like, "What's up?"

Caleb cracks me up!

Poppy and Em 

Family picture at Reiss Christmas

Sis shares her new Raggedy Ann Doll with Caleb
(Thanks for the throw-back gift, Dinkney!)

Dinkney helping little Caleb with a big gift.

Ed, Jen, and Elizabeth at Reiss Christmas.
We were SO happy to have Ed with us this year since he was serving with the Army last year.

Dinkney and Poppy opening up a special gift from us.

Daddy and Caleb checking out a new book. 

After Christmas, Caleb caught a cold that led to an infection. We had several rough nights when he would not sleep unless we brought him to bed with us and held him. It was the first time Caleb had been sick in months and of course it had to be when we were on vacation. Luckily, we were able to see our old pediatrician before flying back. Other than Caleb's little illness, our Christmas vacation was fabulous! It had been nearly five months since we had seen our families (other than Mom during her brief trip to SF) so we were homesick. We decided not to take Emily back to see our old house. I drove by there one day while running an errand in the neighborhood. I cried and cried. I was pretty pitiful. :( It just represents the closing of a chapter in our lives that was so very sweet.

We are looking forward to hosting our parents at our home in California this spring!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Thanksgiving 2013--Still playing catch up

We celebrated Thanksgiving this year with the Yeiser family in San Carlos, CA (south of SF on the peninsula). Jeremy met David in Louisville awhile ago since they work in a similar profession. We got connected with them since they had just moved to CA about a year before us. Prior to Elizabeth and David's invitation to spend the day with them, I had no idea what we would do for Thanksgiving. It didn't make much sense to cook a huge meal for just the four of us, especially since my kids wouldn't even eat that much. However, I wanted to make the day special so we wouldn't be too sad about not being home during our first major holiday away. We debated about taking a small trip to take advantage of the four day weekend, but neither Jeremy nor I felt much like planning a trip or spending the money to get away. (We had just bought our airline tickets for KY.) We also wanted to get our house Christmas ready on Thanksgiving weekend since we would only have a little over two weeks to enjoy it before we flew back home to KY. So, it was wonderful when Elizabeth and David extended an invitation for dinner! Elizabeth and I worked together on the menu and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.

We didn't take very many photos that day because we spent the day playing, eating and socializing, but here's a few!

Prepping in the kitchen

David and Emmy did many activities together.
Here they are playing with sidewalk chalk.

A little outdoor play for the littles.

Winding down the evening with wine and conversation. Sorry this is so blurry. I'm not the photographer of the family.
David and Elizabeth moved back to KY in December. He was given an opportunity to work remotely for his CA employer. They are expecting the second born really soon. We are thankful that they will be reunited with family in KY, but we will definitely miss not having them in CA!