Saturday, March 5, 2011

We did it!!

Erika here...

Well, we actually did it.  A family with 3 addicted television watchers was able to kick the habit for one whole year.  It wasn't easy, but it was more than worth it.  So, you ask... what's next?  Will we go back to our old ways?  Will we keep up this new lifestyle?

Ummm.... yes to both??

We definitely don't want to go back to having the television on at all moments of the day, but we do want to be able to watch it when we like.  However, I do worry about our addictive tv personalities coming back to haunt us.  So, we have decided on some television methodone. 

Our version of methodone is a combination of Apple TV, Netflix, and a television running just off an antenna.  We will not bring back our cable box for fear that the number of channels will offer too many temptations.  Netflix streams to our television via the internet and provides us with movies and a selection of television shows.  Apple TV offers new releases on movies and individual television shows for a price.  Therefore, if we really want to watch something that is new, we have to pay for it and watch it within 24 hours.  Hopefully, this will keep us on our toes.  The reason we decided to have some live television options with an antenna is primarily for sporting events.  It killed Steve that we couldn't watch the Super Bowl (about as much as it killed me that we couldn't watch the Oscars).  So, our antenna allows us to see only a few channels (CBS, NBC, ABC, WGN, PBS and FOX).  

As much as I feel that this does limit our options, it really does open us up to a whole lot of temptation to spend our down time in front of the tube.  I honestly hope though that this year has provided us with a new and healthy perspective to television watching.

For example, just this morning, I turned on our tv (so weird to say that, btw) and noticed that there was absolutely nothing on (unless you enjoy gymnastics, motivational speakers or japanimation).  My reaction was just to turn the tv off.  A year ago, I would have probably threw in the towel by resigning myself to watch the motivational speaker only to realize an hour later that I lost my morning. 

Is there a part of me that thinks the tv will be on a lot over the next few weeks only because it CAN be on?  Yes.  Definitely.  However, I hope we will find a happy medium.  I enjoy the quiet in my house.  I can't get over playing with my son for hours on end.  And, I love having my family together without an electronic device competing for our attention.

So, here we are.  Adjusting to our new life as best as we can. 

When asked if I would do it all over again.  Without hesitation, I say, "Of course!"  In fact, I encourage you to do the same.  You don't have to make a year long commitment like we did.  But, try it for a weekend, a week, maybe a month.  Your kids will get over it in a few days and adapt (at least we hope, right?).  You can even feel free to make me your sponsor.  I'll talk you through your cravings and keep you on the wagon.  No worries there. 

If I can do it, you can do it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No TV for 2 more days??!!

We've had this little countdown ticker on this blog since the start.  The numbers always seemed to be so big - almost infinitesimal - like when you try and comprehend the number of galaxies in the universe or something.   To look at it today and see the number 2 - as in 2 more days until the countdown is over is...just... truly unbelievable. 

Have there been hiccups along the way?  Of course. This incident comes to mind.  We've also become a bit more lax over the last months.  Netflix streaming with hundreds of movies has led us to watch more than just 1 movie a week.  But, it is winter in Chicago and we are cooped up inside.  Not that I feel the need to defend my actions. 

Let me put it this way... without television we have done the following:

  • I mustered up the moxie to leave the safety of a job and start my own business.  Huzzah!
  • Steve has discovered he is a brewmaster by making some delish beers.  One even had pomegranate juice and seeds in it. 
  • Beckett can take any normal household item and turn it into something superhero related to add to his extensive and ultra imaginative story lines he's developed in his little brain over the past year.
  • Beckett and I have become really creative to fill our time together without television.  I even started a blog to share our ideas with other moms out there.  I really consider that blog a continuation of this one because it's the real chronicle of what my son and I actually did over the past year. 
  • We did not watch the American Idol finale.
  • We did not watch the Super Bowl.
  • We did not watch the 2010 or 2011 Oscars. 
We definitely wanted to blog more, but as we got into this we realized that there is only so much you can say about not watching tv before it becomes mundane.  "Today, I read a book."  "Today, I checked facebook 80 million times."  "Today, I went to work, came home and raced cars up and down the hallway with my son."  "Today, I listened to music while playing Scrabble."  You get what I mean?

I'll post again in a couple days to let you know our new plans when this self-imposed television ban has been lifted.  But, until then, 2 MORE DAYS!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The joy of an evening of music

It is Erika, here.

So, this no tv thing has really brought out my creativity, as I hoped it would. With so much time to twiddle your thumbs, you have to fill it with something. As you know, I went out on my own and started my own little business. With this business, I began another blog - A Passion for Play- this one caters to parents, their children and finding ways to spend time together. Trying to think up new things to post has not only kept me busy, but Beckett, too since we have to try everything out together first.

I think the best part of this creative-boost has been that I have reawakened my love of writing. The feedback I have received from my friends and family has been wonderful and really encouraged me to keep at it.

There was a particular incident this week that really made me think, "Oh! I have to write about this!" Steve bought us tickets to see Andrew Bird for our anniversary. We have been listening to so much music and have been exposed to so much new music since the big switcharoo, but Andrew Bird has been part of our musical venacular for a few years now. The details of this concert I just have to share:

This was the end of Bird's tour and Chicago is his hometown, so he chose to do something a little different. Instead of playing at the Riv or the Aragon, he chose the 4th Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue. You know that huge gothic church from My Best Friend's Wedding? Yep, that one.

Fourth Presbyterian Church

The evening was a "Gezziligheid" a dutch word that translates to "social cozy."   Instead of playing a variety of songs from his new and old albums, Bird wanted to be "cozy" with the audience and just play whatever his mood suggested.  In his words, "I have a pretty cool audience that lets me do what I want." 

He played without a band - just him, his violin, guitar, xylophone, his lovely voice and his haunting whistle.  Bird looked like a University of Chicago classics professor with his tweed overcoat and tie.  I didn't doubt that he was sporting argyle socks in his loafers.  The stage was framed by twenty or so 3 foot high vitrolla horns with four 7 foot tall ones standing at attention like golden daffodil trumpets on either side of Bird.  (You can see them in the picture above.)

He had this knack for orchestrating and recording his own sounds to layer behind him as he played the melodies.  At times, Bird looked like a one-man band ala Burt from Mary Poppins.  He had a Les Paul-esque guitar on his back and a violin under his chin which he played while singing or matching the tone of his xylophone to the tone of the whistling coming from his lips.  His voice often was reminscent of Jeff Buckley without the ridiculously high falsetto.  His whistling is what has always attracted me to Bird.  (If you know me, you know I love whistling and when people clap in their songs.  Bird does both.)  He whistles with such ease - it sounds like a mix of the whistling heard in a Morricone western and when someone plays a saw.  Awesome.

Seeing Bird just standing up there in front of us experimenting with his plethora of instruments was awe-inspiring.   He not only played his music, but he moved with his music.  I guarantee he can't cut a rug (he moves in that uncoordinated, nerdy white guy way), but you don't really care because he felt his music like a whirling dervish - head shaking, hair messing and hand wagging.

The previews of his new songs make me incredibly anxious for the new release.  Two songs stood out: Breeding Desperation - the lyrics were "Without bees - breeding desperation - stealing respiration from the tender trees"
Lazy Projector which is about how our subconscious picks and chooses our memories - it is a "forgetting, embellishing, lying machine."

The venue made the experience all the more special.  The acoustics were incredible and hardly anyone stood up the entire performance.  I have to say that my bum was especially thankful he hadn't chosen a Catholic church because the Presbyterians know how to cushion a pew!

You may think I'm nuts for going on and on about this concert, but I don't really care.  It was a night that I enjoyed just for the sake of music.  It's something that television could never have offered.

(This pic is from last year's concert.  Couldn't find a shot from this year's.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The No-TV Bliss Effect

Best part of no television right now?


I am sure all you tv watchers are jealous that I have not seen ONE political ad for this round of elections.

One less big annoyance I have curtailed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The tortoise always beats the hare

A miraculous thing happened yesterday.

I stopped moving.

I guess I did even more than that.

I stopped moving and had an acute awareness of what was happening around me.

I was playing outside and in the midst of play had to fall down onto my back in the grass. It was then that I looked up to see the most amazing blue sky, long white clouds gliding swiftly by, branches full of autumn colors and leaves gently falling down with the wind.

It was literally breathtaking. I may have even let out an audible, "Oh."

And, it was in that moment that I thought, "I should really slow down more often."

Now that I have stepped away from that moment, I suddenly began having these realizations that lack of television has sped us up in many ways. We, obviously, don't really stop and sit down for hours at a time watching something. I find myself on days when I am home with Beckett needing to go out and do something so that we don't get bored. I try to make it more than just running errands - we have a plan for some sort of adventure.

Now, I will get all philosophical on you. By speeding up our lives to fill the time haven't we really just provided ourselves with the opportunity to slow down and enjoy one another? I would answer that with a resounding, "YES!"

I offer concrete proof of our mutual enjoyment:

Many, many trips to the zoo.

Trips on the train... just because trains are incredible to a 3 year old.

Letting a 3 year old make a bed on the kitchen floor.

Catching a cicada in fake teeth.

Due to my old pal, Darcy's suggestion, becoming a nature explorer.

Nurturing our home-grown superhero.

Honestly, I don't know if it is lack of television that has provided me the opportunity to open my eyes and absorb the flora, fauna and familial fabulosity (A+ in alliteration, btw) or if it is just being a parent to a child who is taking it all in for the first time, but... wow... it is glorious.

So, please, go outside, lay down in the grass and look up. Bring your kids.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The party question

"How is life without tv going?" Steve and I are asked this as we begin almost every conversation with friends and family that we haven't seen in a while. Most often, we answer, "Great! We've just gotten so used to it, that we hardly even think about television anymore." But, for those of you who want the more personal answer...

It's... just... okay.

There. I said it.

Sometimes, it's boring.

There. Now I really said it.

There are some weeks when Steve and I watch more than one movie in a week. We have Netflix streaming through our Wii, so we have a plethora of movies at our fingertips whenever we feel the urge. This is dangerous. Especially now that it's getting colder outside.

We also allow Becks to watch shows on the computer in the morning so we can get ready for work, get the house in order, etc. Do I feel guilty about this? Well, yes, actually. I know that a 20 minute episode of Yo Gabba Gabba isn't harming him. But, it's more the feeling that we need this "thing" to occupy our son so that our lives are easier for those 20 minutes. Let me be honest here. I understand that I am being unduly hard on myself. He is spending way less time with his virtual friends than he used to, but I guess all moms in this day and age suffer from what I can refer to as a "Mommy Complex." This feeling that we need to have a successful career and then when we are not working, we have to then entertain, teach and engage our children for the rest of our waking hours. It's exhausting. And, frankly...

Sometimes, I'm just tired. And, that's okay.

But, we are trucking along. I am filling hours upon hours of time with work for the new biz. Beckett and I are finding new adventures every week to consume our extra hours together now that I am setting my own schedule. And, I'd be happy to tell you what Steve has been up to, but, he has stopped blogging!!! I am asking all loyal followers to beg him to get back on it! I love seeing his posts, and would love for all of you to get a load of his intelligent and witty perspective on life.

In the meantime, I'll be back soon with some pictures and tales.

And, we'll only watch one movie this week.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Television free is good for me!

Howdy trusty followers - it's Erika.
I remember when we started this blog, and I had a goal to blog at least once a week. Well, once a month is looking to be what is possible at this point. However, it is with good reason. That reason is...

(drum roll, please)

I have started my OWN business!!!!!!!!

Yes! Larson Learning and Play, LLC is a reality! I have been planning for quite some time now, but couldn't release all details due to my previous work commitments. But, I have, with a very heavy heart, left my previous place of employment and am now out there on my own. I have an intense passion for the work I do and being able to move forward without boundaries while being able to make a direct impact by making use of all my energy and creativity is...just... wow.

I have many people to thank for making this dream a reality - Steve, my utterly supportive and dear husband - and also my parents... particularly Dad.

In addition, I do have one thing to thank. My television. My quiet, dark and unalluring television. This may sound insane, but I don't think I would have had the impetus to make all of this happen while watching television. It took up too much of my time and energy. For the past 4 months, I have spent countless evenings working to get everything in order. When television was in my life, my evenings were dedicated to my shows - not ideas - not imagination - and definitley not entrepreneurship. No tv has also helped me to not stay up late watching silly reality shows, so I have the energy to handle the stress of leaving a fantastic job of the past 6 years, as well as the stress of being a business owner. Don't get me wrong, I've had my meltdowns. But, I like to think that they would have been worse if I had been tired.

So, here I am. Doing what I love. Helping children and families whom I love. Loving my husband and my almost-preschooler (2 more days!). And loving that I listened to Chopin this morning instead of Meet the Press.