Have you seen the latest episode of Important Condescending Celebrity Chef??

No, I haven't seen it.  We don't have cable TV.  (Cue the screeching brakes. mothers shielding their children's faces in horror, people running down the streets screaming.......) Wha....What?  How do you keep up with what happening in the world?

I totally made that show up, there is no show called " Important Condescending Celebrity Chef"......yet.  And yep, we do not have cable.  I bet I know exactly what you are thinking, too....."I can't live without TV".  Really we don't live without, we still have a TV, we just do not have cable hooked up to it.

We have been cable TV free for over 6 months now and really we don't feel like we are missing out on very much. Something we had on just to have noise.  Our reasons for getting rid of the TV was mainly because we would sit mesmerized in front of the TV. The TV, for us, was a time suck. It kept us quiet and our brains from being stimulated. I wanted to find a way to spend more time actively together. Another reason is that the cost of having cable kept going up and up and the quality kept going down.  900+ channels and there was nothing on, in my opinion, what a waste.

My kids are now my laugh track and life is the only reality TV I follow. Our family together time has improved tremendously since we ditched the cable.  I am able to monitor what the kids watch and the amount of time they are sitting in front of the tube.  We also found that we are doing more things together as a family now that our time is not dictated by what program comes on next.  Now watching TV has become we do interactively as a family and not just something that is there and available 24/7.

We hear about current events from the radio and internet.  I love reading other blogs to get information and opinions on the things I am interested in.  Every once in a while we will pick up the newspaper but not that often.  I do have to say I feel a little behind on some of the stuff going on but not enough to go and get cable again. If it is something that we must know right now I kind of rely on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.  Word gets around very quickly on these sites.

I noticed that having little access to TV has fostered imaginative play with all my kids.  They love going outside and we are lucky enough to live in an area where they can play in our yard without a ton of supervision.  I am a big fan of playing outside all day long!!  Anything long and stick like becomes swords, princesses only live in the grandest castles with the tallest towers, and the trampoline is the moon and the center of many made up games.  We have paired down the playroom and got rid of most of the toys that talk.  Mainly they are annoying after about five minutes out of the box but they do not require a lot of imagination on the child's part. Imagination fosters creativity and allows children to experience the world around them in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

Music has become a favorite thing to listen to.  Radio stations up our way do not come in clearly enough to have a wide selection but that's where the ipod is handy.  I have a radio that I am able to dock my ipod to and we constantly update our music choices.  We have a lot of dance parties/contests in the living room on the weekends.  I rely on Pandora to give me some alternative music choices.

We have a ton of books, the Hubs could start his own Library of Congress with the amount of books he owns.  He reads mostly non-fiction and biographies. I love reference books or books that I can learn something from.  We have read to the girls since they were little.  Peanut enjoys fiction books like Harry Potter.  The two little ones love listening to short stories and we have just begun introducing them to chapter books.  I think it keeps their interest peaked and their minds wondering what is going to happen next.  Some of their favorites are Charlotte's Web and Little House on the Prairie.  We just started utilizing the local library and I plan to take the girls at least once a week.

Board games are also a life saver and the girls and I play many, many games. We like playing card games like Old Maid and Crazy Eights.  They are simple for the little ones to learn and a blast to play!  We have some games that we only take out once in a while because they are fussy and have complicated rules of play.  Maybe when the kids are a little older.

We have video games.  The same rules apply though.  They are a treat and the kids only get to play them once in a great while and if the Hubs feels the need to play, he has to wait until after the kids are in bed.  The Hubs has his own console, which the kids are not allowed to play because the games are generally too violent for them.  We also have a Wii, I do like the fact that the Wii games are more family friendly.

I don't really miss the TV (the Hubs would beg to differ).  Most of the time I find that people are receptive to the fact that we don't have the TV but would not be willing to commit to it. And I know it's not for everyone. I personally feel this free time better spent with my family.

I challenge you this week to turn off the TV for an evening or even an hour, spend that time together and see how it goes.  You may be pleasantly surprised!

I am willing to bet that the punch lines are a thousand times funnier too!!


2012 Goals

Happy New Year everyone......I hope it started out well for everyone!    

I have been busy, busy, busy this week making my goals for the year.  As it stands right now I have about three quarters of a legal pad full of goals, I am fairly confident I will fill the page by the end of the week.  All of these goals are short term. They include everything from home organization projects to self improvement to being greener.  Some are broken down by month, some are broken down by season, some by half year, etc. Want to know what they are?  Okay, here are a small sample from my list .......

Spend more time together
Plan date night for once a month
Go to cloth in the kitchen. ie. no more paper products
Buy microfiber cloths for cleaning
Throw out any petroleum based cleaners in the house and research alternatives
Research greener health and beauty products.
Make our own cleaning solutions- window and all purpose cleaner
Getting rid of unnecessary or excess items- one room at a time using the ten day approach*
Pair down all the clothing we have- store or donate clothing that we no longer use/need
Revisit our finances- what is working, what is not
Plan the garden
Order seeds
Find a spot for the seedlings
Clean the garage
Have a yard sale
Use our calendars more
Research meat chickens
Contact a few farms to get pricing and schedules for processing the chickens
More raised beds for strawberries
Move the strawberries
Give some strawberry plants to friends
Go camping a few weekends this spring
Make ahead a few meals and freeze them for later use
Get some breakfast items made and in the freezer
Take inventory of the deep freezer and refrigerator in the garage
Take out the other closet by the back door and make into coat lockers with storage and bench

There are many, many more on this list but I won't bore you with the entire list.  

This year for me is all about taking baby steps.  I like breaking things down into easy to do steps.  I also like creating goals and planning for the future.  Whether they are long term, short term, personal, or professional, goals are important in keeping your life on track and where you want see yourself in the future.  Goals, I feel, beg to be broken down into little baby steps making them more obtainable.  Here are 6 super easy baby steps to making goals that are easy to stick with.

BRAINSTORM.......Don't just write down things like "Start Gardening".  Be specific and ask yourself things like what kind of a garden do I want to plant?  What materials do I need to make this type of garden?  What is the cost? When do I need to order things like seeds or plants?  It will help you in the long run plan a better garden and keep you from getting discouraged.  But don't get too caught up in the details.

BREAK IT DOWN INTO BABY STEPS........Let's say you want to start a small salad garden in a raised bed.  From conception to finished product how long will this project take?  It could take about 9 or 10 months.  But if you break it down, planning, buying seeds and starting those seeds may only be a few hours each, spaced out over the planned period of time.  Each one of those little baby steps can be a goal for their respective months/time periods.  I know breaking things down makes me feel more confident that I will reach my goal than if I just haphazardly went along.  

START SMALL  If one of your goals is to keep chickens, then by all means please do it!  But don't go out and buy fifty chickens to start, only to find out that it is completely overwhelming both in cost and time.  Start with six, then you will be less likely to give up.  

TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION OUTSIDE FACTORS......For example, maybe you work full time or have kids.  You know that both of these can factor greatly into the amount of free time you have.  Adjust the "get it done" mindset.  Give yourself a little bit more time than you think you need to complete projects, you will feel better if you complete the task sooner than you planned!

BARTER.......Don't know how to garden?  Maybe a friend does but she wants to learn to sew, which is something you know how to do.  Sometimes bartering can be a very valuable tool.  

IF YOU FAIL, SHRUG IT OFF AND TRY AGAIN......Maybe your garden withered and died.  Don't give up on gardening just because you failed.  Make it a goal to research the different methods of gardening.  Or maybe you didn't reach your goal in the time frame you wanted.  Look at the factors that caused you to fail.  

*If you are wondering about the ten day approach please read Tsh Oxenreider's Organized Simplicity for more details.