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I Screen, You Screen, We All Screen for Screen-Free Time

Screen-Free Song Lyric of the Day:

Hey / Put the cellphone down for a while / In the night there is something wild / Can you hear it breathing? / And hey / Put the laptop down for a while

Arcade Fire / “Deep Blue

A few months ago I instituted screen-free evenings at home. My goal was to spend focused quality time with my family without the distraction of screens. Also, having struggled with popcorn brain for some time now and working all day on a computer, detoxing from screens is something I feel I occasionally need to do.

I let Rich and Coraline know a few days in advance that I’d like for us to designate a particular evening as screen-free so they both have time to think about or plan what we can do on those nights. We usually end up playing board games (Cora’s getting quite good at Clue Junior) or enjoying family coloring time, or a mix of both. And now that Coraline is a big reader, we also enjoy time where we’re all just reading our respective books; this either requires Sebastian be in a good mood and playing with some toys or him going to bed early if he is, shall we say, not in an agreeable mood.

On screen-free nights, we also try to be as device-free as possible. Which means no music streaming from Alexa or even the CD player. Quiet time means quiet time. As Rich and I both always have our phones on us (bad, I know), we silence them and leave them in a room we are not going to be hanging out in. The thing I miss most about not having my phone on screen-free evenings is not being able to immediately Google things that come up in our discussions. It’s not like we have a set of encyclopedias sitting around, waiting to be cracked open. Also, it turns out I rely on Google A LOT.

Our pets also benefit from screen-free evenings. Troubadour and Capone are always game for a neighborhood walk, while Buster has his choice of laps if we’re all sitting around reading. It’s a win-win for all of us.

When we first started having screen-free nights, I think we were all a bit hesitant to dive in. As I mentioned, Rich and I are pretty attached to our phones (so bad). And Cora and I like to watch a bit of Psych together (we’re almost done with season five), so that’s out on screen-free nights. Sebastian is not screen-addicted yet, but he’s definitely very screen-interested. It’s an active battle with him to keep him away from screens as we’re still trying to limit his exposure. We’re not doing as good a job as we did with Cora at the same age, but we do try. Although sometimes to buy myself a few minutes of relative peace, I’ll pull up the PBS Kids app on the Roku and put on Sesame Street. Sebastian LOVES it (“Street!”) and I feel a bit less guilty for letting him watch a few minutes of TV because it’s educational. Educational TV makes it OK, right?

I’d like to make screen-free time at least a weekly thing for us. Now that school has started again, that’ll help us get into a routine again, so we can designate a certain day as screen free. It’s validating to know Coraline likes it — she actually asks if we can have a screen-free evening or if we can designate a few hours on the weekend. So at least I’m doing one thing right. Right?

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Glad to Get Over the Hump

Song Lyric of the Day:

If the children don’t grow up / Our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up / We’re just a million little gods causin’ rain storms turnin’ every good thing to rust

Arcade Fire / “Wake Up”

The week is now officially more than half over. And there was much rejoicing..

I met Samantha for lunch at Chick-Fil-A t
oday so I could give her her wedding dress (she needs it for alterations tomorrow; it had been residing in my guest bedroom closet for safekeeping). While there we noticed a beautiful baby girl who is likely Zahara Jolie-Pitt’s missing twin. Seated in her high chair at the end of her family’s table, we watched as she held her hands out for hand sanitizer and then thoroughly cleaned her hands. In that moment, I could completely visualize how germphobic Samantha’s potential offspring will be. I thought I saw a tear in the corner of Sam’s eye, she was so moved by the baby’s commitment to hygiene. There’s a reason I call her Howardina Hughes, you know.

I ran to the Apple store at West Town Mall after work to pick up the student and teacher edition of Office for my Mac. Why the student and teacher edition? Because it’s a lot cheaper than the professional version, that’s why. So now that I have my official, licensed edition of Word, I can once again print and send email Word attachments with impunity. Huzzah!

I then went to Fort Sanders to resume my workout schedule. Due to overexertion on the calf raise machine last week, I was essentially crippled the whole weekend, unable to straighten my left leg, much less walk on it. What did I learn from that? One, that doing calf raises while holding dumbbells in the comfort of my own home is a whole lot different from using a machine at the gym that pushes down on your shoulders and creates resistance. Two, next time my
body screams in agony for me to stop doing the fucking exercise!!!, I’ll listen. I used the calf raise machine with trepidation tonight, but (fingers crossed) I’m pretty sure I didn’t overdo it. Less weight combined with fewer reps will hopefully keep my left leg charlie horse-free tomorrow and in the days to follow. Although if I end up having to walk with a cane, I’ll just say I’m a huge House fan.

Once home, I treated myself to a Netflix movie I’ve had sitting around for several days now, Dear Frankie. This movie is a real gem, thanks in no small part to the stars, Emily Mortimer, Jack McElhone, and Gerard Butler (whatever is in the water over there in Scotland, it’s fantastic). I really need to get back to writing reviews for the movies I watch. I’ll try to post one for Dear Frankie in the next couple of days. It’s definitely one worth watching.


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