"Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you..." (Deuteronomy 6:14)

Do you remember the update that I posted back in September, when I began blogging again? The one where I talked about watching the documentary Captivated and how convicting it was? That documentary (and the Holy Spirit) inspired some major changes in my life.

I was - and am - seeking freedom from media-captivation. I finally faced the fact that I was addicted to cable TV, Facebook, texting, media multi-tasking, computer and phone games. To be honest, I still am. I cut way way way back... for a while.

I actually did pretty well until Christmas break and the death of my aunt. Then I found myself with a much quieter schedule and a higher level of stress, so I allowed myself to numb my brain a bit. Then, school started back up and I found it very difficult to quit.

It only got worse during Doug's recent business trip. I was using TV as a replacement for human companionship in the evenings. Again, once he got home, I found it very difficult to quit. I don't like where all of this is going.

I think it's time to remind myself of my resolutions and renew my prayer and efforts toward change. I liked the freedom I felt when I was sticking to these restrictions and I want it back.

1. I talked before about wanting to cancel our AT&T U-verse subscription. I honestly don't remember whether I talked to Doug about it or not. Either way, I will bring it up again. The idea makes me kind of squirmy and uncomfortable, but those hundreds of channels are just a temptation that I don't need.

I still plan to keep Netflix and watch TV shows that way (and online, if I really feel that I must).

2. I haven't gotten too loose with Facebook (with the exception of Doug's trip, when I needed the instant gratification of comments and 'Like's). Still, I am looking at it more than my goal of only once per day, in the evening.

I've decided that I will keep going with Instagram. It doesn't take up much of my time anyway. I do, however, need to take the time to use our real camera more often. I've been using photos from Doug's business trip for the past several updates because I haven't taken any pictures myself.

3. Here's a really tough one. Back in September, I said, "I will not text, play phone games, or play computer games when there is another human in the room with me." . . . [shifty eyes] . . . I'monlevel221ofCandyCrush!

Gonna have to take a hard line on this one again. It seems to be my weakest area.

4. Now, I also vowed to use only one type of media at a time. No playing phone games - or computer games, or reading email - while watching TV. I had a tough time with this one, right from the start. Intellectually speaking, it makes sense.

Practically speaking, I like to have busy hands! Also, if I'm not using my phone (other than phone calls) when there are other humans in the room... that kind of leaves only one time to play them - during rest time. I use the kids' rest time to watch one episode of whatever show I'm making my way through on Netflix.

I think I'm just going to compromise with myself. I can play Candy Crush (Let's be honest. That's what we're talking about here.) while watching TV during rest time. In the evenings, when watching my one episode of something-or-other with Doug, I will stretch my ability to focus only on one thing.

Wow. That sounds kind of pathetic. For one thing, I watch two episodes of tv during the day, and that's still cutting back. For another, how wasted is my brain if I have a hard time paying attention to one thing for 45 consecutive minutes?!?

5. I did follow through with my previous idea of switching from a digital newspaper subscription to getting the real paper thing. That has resulted in less time spent staring at a screen. An even more satisfying result has been seeing Lila pick up the newspaper and scan it.

The only thing she's really interested in is the weather chart on the back page of the main section, but that's a start! And it's fun that she's so interested in the weather chart. Ooh! She would probably love it if I gave her the paper first every morning and asked her to tell us what the weather will be like!

So, those are my renewed resolutions. Making them public should be a good motivator for sticking to them!



“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ― Augustine of Hippo

My proposed solution to the problem of cedar trees.
Well, I'm still not happy about Doug's upcoming business trip, but I'm through complaining about it (for now).

For the past few days, I've been much more occupied with trying get well and stay well. These weather swings are messing with my body. Highs in the 70s one day and in the 40s the next day. Three days later, we're back to the 70s.

I think I'm just in the February slump. After the excitement of fall and the winter holidays, January feels like a nice slowing-down time. A return to normal. By the time February rolls around, I'm ready for a change again.

Spring is drawing near, which means birthdays and warmer weather and everything turning the most beautiful shades of green. But for now, it's just school and work and cleaning and hardly a hint of green to be seen.

Except for the cedar trees, of course. They stay green and spew their deadly poison pollen all winter! Have you ever seen a cedar tree put out a cloud of pollen? It looks, quite literally, like the tree is smoking. The first time I saw it, I was waiting for the tree to spontaneously combust.

'Cause that's how my mind works.

This is the same mind that saw smoke coming from the top of a house, back at the beginning of fall, and thought, "Oh, no! That house is on fire!" I felt like a total dork once I realized they were just using their fireplace.

(To be fair, we don't see a lot of chimney use in central Texas.)

Anyway, cedar trees. Always green. Frequently smoking. And, with the help of the neighborhood squirrels, they drop these little indigo-colored berries all over. This year has been out of control. We all have cedar berries permanently adhered to the bottoms of our shoes.

Going outside without shoes on is out of the question, even when it's warm. I swept them off the front walk a couple of weeks ago, but that didn't last long. I should take a photo, so you can see what I mean. I dare you to find a square inch of clear pavement on my property!



"If you don't place your foot on the rope, you'll never cross the chasm." -- Liz Smith

At least he's not going someplace that I desperately want to
visit this time.
I found out today that Doug is going on another business trip in May.

So. Frustrating.

This is one thing that he and I have never agreed on. He feels that it's perfectly okay to fly off to other countries every few months, leaving his family behind for a week or two. I disagree.

Some of my objections are completely irrational. Others are not.

I used to think that Dell was the enemy, sending my husband off on trips against his will. Then I found out that he wanted to go. Clearly, I can't view my husband as the enemy. Since none of my arguments against these trips were changing Doug's mind, I decided to be as supportive as possible.

Complaining will not keep him from going; it will only add stress to his mind. If there's anything I hate, it's being a nag. So I don't lie about my feelings, but - since he already knows - I don't bring it up.

When the trips are only once or twice per year, it's not so bad. When I start hearing about the next trip less than two weeks after he returns from the last one...

Well, I'm not a very cheerful person today.

I'm sure we'll talk about it, once the kids are in bed. I'll give all the reasons why I dislike these trips. He'll listen patiently and then go anyway.

At least I'll feel that I've been heard.



"A stone is heavy and sand, a burden, but aggravation from a fool outweighs them both." (Proverbs 27:3)

Gee, do you think Eli's excited?
Here's another amusing conversation with my daughter (who happens to be too smart for my her own good).

Doug gave the kids this bouquet of kittens for Valentine's Day (which I had no part in selecting). Doug gave me roses, dark chocolates from Copenhagen, and a necklace from Edinburgh. I gave Doug two lottery tickets and a card with a giant conversation heart that says, "Did U Fart?" * I didn't get anything for the kids, but I did buy half-price Cherry Limeades for them earlier in the day.

Lila and I were walking down the stairs a little later and...

Lila: "What did you get us for Valentine's Day?"
Me: (evasively) "You got a bouquet of kittens!"
Lila: "Did you help Dad pick that out?"
Me: " . . . No."

Then I said the lamest thing I've ever said to my child.

"I got you Cherry Limeades for Valentine's Day!"

* With gift-giving holidays, Doug and I are sometimes sweet and sentimental, sometimes goofy and/or irreverent. Sometimes it will be a pricy gift and sometimes something homemade or very inexpensive. Since we never have discussions about our plan ahead of time, we nearly always take opposite routes. Thankfully, we both find it amusing and no one is offended.



"Roll on, deep and dark blue ocean, roll. Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain. Man marks the earth with ruin, but his control stops with the shore." -- Lord Byron

Saturday's big gorgeous moon.
I just don't have an appropriate camera for taking moon shots.
The kids and I are in the midst of a 4-day weekend and the weather has been perfect! Lila and Eli are spending hours outside every day and I've got all the windows open. One of my favorite things is having the windows open, some favorite music going, and the sound of my children playing together in the background.

Honestly, I'm pretty tired and I don't have much to say. I will share an amusing story though.

The four of us saw the Lego Movie on Saturday evening. (It's hilarious! You should go, even if you don't have kids.) For those of you who haven't seen it yet, I'm sorry. This won't be as funny for you.

We have a chalkboard at the top of our stairs. After the kids were in bed on Saturday night, I wrote "LORD BUSINESS WAS HERE!" on the chalkboard. After breakfast the next morning, I said,

"I think Lord Business was here last night. . . . Go check the chalkboard upstairs."

Both kids went thundering up the stairs. I heard some murmuring and then they headed back down.

Lila: "Mom, that was just you."
Me: "What?!? It says, 'Lord Business was here,' not 'Mom was here.'"
Lila: "We know you wrote it."
Me: "What makes you think that?"
Lila: "MOM! I know your handwriting!"

Smarty pants.

I noticed later that the message had changed to: I WAS HERE AGAIN.



"'Tis one thing to be tempted, another thing to fall." -- William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

I want to go to there.
(Bonus points if you can identify that quote.)
Doug is home from his business trip and life is finally getting back to normal. I just finished looking through some of his photos from the trip and I'm kind of hating him. He simply cannot go to Edinburgh without me again. I won't allow it!

Since Doug got home on Tuesday evening, all I've wanted to do is not a bloody thing! I've had to force myself to get out of bed, go to the gym, educate my children, clean my children, feed my children... The house cleaning has suffered the most.

I managed to be fairly productive today, but there are still bathrooms that need to be swished & swiped, laundry that needs to be done, not to mention the ever-advancing tide of toys that need to be torched thrown away put away.

All that aside, I'm in a pretty happy place at the moment. Doug came home to 4 nearly-bad bananas (lila and i will only eat them if they're still slightly green), so he made a banana bread this evening. The house smells like heaven.

The longer Doug was gone, the more craptastic my eating habits got. I'm trying to recover from that too. I've done a good job (today) of not eating obscene amounts of tortilla chips or finding an excuse to eat out. Now I have to resist the siren call of the banana bread.

It will taste better tomorrow anyway. It smells freaking awesome when it's hot, but the flavor is best after it has cooled completely. Plus, very few things can pull me away from my evening snack addiction of pretzels and hummus.

Confession: Doug recently caught me licking an empty container of hummus.