a hippie's guide to technology ~ part 3

*part 1 is here*
*part 2 is here*

This post is long.  I debated turning into two more posts but decided just to finish it up, so bear with me!

It only took a few days before I checked out facebook on my Kindle and even figured out how to use it to blog.  Not having to get up and go to the computer every time I went online was kind of nice and finding free Kindle books that we wanted was more than nice.  I had to admit to my family that I actually was enjoying having it.  My kids all started to use it too.  They were reading Henty and Dickens and Tom Swift.  We had to take turns passing the thing around.

Christmas was four months later and it became obvious to James and I that we would be getting three Kindles, one for each of the three oldest kids.  Only for books of course.  Only for books.  They loved them and they used them, but a few times I had to remind them to stop looking at apps and games. 

It was about this time that my thinking was being challenged.  One of the main things to consider was something that I had been fighting against so strongly... this is the way the world was going.  Despite all of my desires and hopes for a world {or at least my children's world} focused outside and on the natural, the beautiful, the simple, there was no way to keep the technological influence from them.  Even if my children experienced their entire childhood free from tv, video games and computers, they were still part of a society that embraced and used technology.  Did I really want to handicap them and force them to have to catch up later on in life?

This realization absolutely petrified me.  I didn't want to admit that my ideals were going to fall short and there was nothing I could do about it.  Yes, I could live a screen free life but the rest of the world wasn't going to and I had no idea what roles my children would play in the rest of the world.  I had to finally admit that I was scared.  I was scared and my fear was driving me to selfishness.  And so I started to let go.  Very slowly.

I told the older kids that they could use their Kindles for games and other things if they wanted to.  Josiah asked for Minecraft pocket edition almost immediately.   I searched for sites online that I thought might interest my kids and showed them.  Layla fell in love with Kahn Academy and has taught herself every math they have and is now doing physics.  I showed my littles Starfall and let them play on it.  I bought a few Dr. Panda games on my Kindle for them and they loved it.

At first I would let them take turns and set timers and then tell them to go do something else, something "better."  It caused chaos, tears, a whole lot of boredom.  They didn't want to do the things they once loved because they were always wondering when they were going to get another turn.  Again, I was challenged.  By creating artificial time limits and rules around technology, I was setting these activities up as more exciting than others.  Kind of like when you hold a candy bar in front of a child and say, "you can only have one little bite then eat your veggies. You might get more later."  Um, yeah.  They're not going to want those veggies.  They are going to sit and brood and wait for more candy.

And so again, I began to let go.  I said yes when they asked to use the computer, the Kindle, watch tv.  I let them play or explore or watch until they were done.  I was so scared.  I imagined everything I had instilled in them over the years disappearing.  I had nightmares of a home with no more books, no one playing outside, everyone isolated in front of screens.  I wanted so desperately to pull the plug and say just kidding, we are done with this stuff!  But I held back.  I decided to give it a bit of time, just wait it out for a little while.

 image credit: Jenna Boring

Turns out my fears were completely unfounded.  When my kids realized that these activities were not going to be taken away from them, they didn't covet them as much.  They will sit down and play on the Kindle or the computer for awhile and then they move on to something else.  Josiah is 10.  He played Minecraft on the laptop for two hours one day and then turned it off saying, "That gave me a headache.  I'm not going to use the computer for that long again."  Then he went outside for the rest of the day.

Giving them freedom has helped them to learn their own limitations.  It has helped with their relationships.  My kids are much better at sharing with each other now because they are not trying to hoard time.  Ruth can hand the Kindle over to Hannah happily because she knows she can just have a turn later.  And has it made them hate books?  Stop going outside?  Become isolated?  Actually, the exact opposite.

Watching tv has helped to kindle the love of reading in my twins.  We watched the Harry Potter series and now Hannah is reading them.  We love Frozen and after I told the twins that it was based on a fairy tale they pulled out our Hans Christian Andersen collection and have read The Snow Queen over and over.  The kids are kind of like I am when I spend time on the computer.  After about a half hour I need fresh air.  They use electronics for a bit and then they spend hours running around outside.  They play games together.  They love showing each other things.  The various games have just made their play more creative.  The twins and Josiah love to play "real Minecraft."  They go outside and build shelters, go "hunting," collect eggs.  Their usage of technology has only served to draw them deeper into the things that they love and their relationships with each other.

It has honestly been a beautiful thing and I don't regret it.  I had to get past my fears.  I considered my values; love, peace and freedom.  Realizing that my fear and selfishness did not fully allow for the fruition of those values in my children's life has been life changing.  Candidly?  I could still do without most electronics.  I would be more than happy to live my life on a little farm or in the mountains with books, nature and my family.  Maybe some of my kids will choose to live with minimal technology and maybe they won't.  But the choice needs to be theirs to make.  And I will support them, no matter what they choose.

oh, and?  I finally got my own iPhone.


a hippie's guide to technology~ part 2

*If you missed part one of a hippie's guide to technology, read it here first.*

So my husband, James, was buying an iPhone.  He tried to convince me to get one but I wouldn't hear it.  I told him I wanted a phone that you could talk on and that was it.  He spent $1 on the fancy iPhone while I had to pay $65 to walk away with a basic ghetto flip phone.  While we were checking out, the lady ringing us up asked who was getting the iPhone.  I pointed at my husband and the checker jokingly asked him, "What?  Why do you get the special phone?"  I let her know it was my choice.  "I don't need the internet everywhere I go.  When I leave the house I want to be away from that garbage."  Still being friendly, she said, "Yeah, but you can get angry birds for the kids and other fun stuff," to which I looked her in the eye and said, "My kids like to go outside and watch real birds.  They don't need fake birds on a screen." {yep, I said that.  Not one of my finest moments.} 

My husband made a light hearted comment about me being anti-technology and then looked at me and mouthed for me to please go wait in the car.  I did exactly as he asked, knowing I had crossed the line.  When he returned he looked at me and just had this sorrowful look of disappointment.  "That was so rude.  I am completely disgusted with the way you acted in there.  I understand your views and I respect them but you will not go around judging others and acting superior.  You made that lady feel terrible.  No one will ever hear you if talk to them like that; not about technology and definitely not about God.  That was your representation of Christ.  Good job."

I knew I deserved his words.  I knew he was right.  I didn't argue, I just apologized and then kept my mouth shut.  We got home and he played around with his iPhone and I set my new phone down.  Still incredibly frustrated that Apple and their products were invading my home, I bit my tongue, knowing this was not the time.  Before bed that night my husband asked me if I had thought about my view on technology after what had happened in the store.  Not understanding, I asked him to explain.  "Your fears.  Have you realized that you are possibly afraid of technology and you are fighting so hard against it, to the point that you insult complete strangers, in order to justify your position?"  I was totally shocked.  Deep down I knew he was right but I was nowhere near ready to admit it.  "That's absurd!  I am not afraid of technology, I just know it's screwing up the world! It's making everything impersonal, everything too fast, information too available, people not care enough about what is real!"  He looked at me and gently said, "How are those things not fear?"

Things got back to normal after that, our nearly no tv/ no video games/no computers for kids life.  My husband had an iPhone, but that was it.  Sometimes he would sit down after work and play a game on his phone, the kids would crowd around to watch and I would have to remind them, "kids, stop watching that.  We don't play or watch video games."  Unintentionally, I was making their daddy a bad guy.  There was a "bad" activity that we didn't participate in but daddy did.  And I was making my kids feel like they were bad for being interested.   But I didn't see it that way at the time; all I saw was my family {mostly} safe from the technological pulls of our society. 

Then came my birthday.  My husband approached me and asked me if I would like a Kindle.  I scoffed at him and then said, "Of course not!  You know me and books, I need the paper, I need the book in my hand.  I might as well not be reading if I'm doing it on a screen!"  He kind of frowned, "Well, that's why I asked.  I didn't want to get you one if you would hate it."  We went to visit my mama and she handed me the gift she had gotten me.  I unwrapped it and took a deep breath; yep, she bought me a Kindle Fire. 

Everyone laughed about it on the way home.  I told my husband and my kids, "Well, I'll get some cheap books or something.  And I can probably get some great free books on it for the kids.  But I will never use it for anything else."  Famous last words.

*Part 3 here*


a hippie's guide to technology part 1

When I was a kid, everyone had a microwave.  I would go over to friend's houses and they would stick a snack in, push some buttons, and we would have something warm in seconds.  Not at my house.  My step-dad was not into up and coming technology.  He saw no purpose in microwaves and so we didn't have one.  Until finally my mom convinced him.  I was in high school when we bought our first microwave and though I was excited to have the same convenience that all of my friends had for years, I felt my first technological jab.  I found myself thinking, this thing is so unnecessary, why did we have to give in?

Next came DVD players.  My step-dad didn't want one and my parents didn't buy one until after I had moved out.  Everyone else was getting them but they never bought one when I was at home and I got married with this sort of smug superiority, we were not giving in.  We would use a VCR.  This was the cause of our first marital strife.  We went shopping and he wanted a DVD player and I would have none of it.  We left the store that day with a VCR.  The employees tried to convince us otherwise; they were weeding VHS tapes out, why would we spend the money on something that would be useless in a couple of years?  My husband tried to reason with me.  But no, I was stubborn and he loved me and we bought a VCR.  (He bought a DVD player a year later with quite a bit of complaining by me).

My husband began calling me technologically stubborn.  No, I wouldn't get a cell phone.  No, we would not get Ian an iPod for Christmas.  No, we didn't need a tv.  We went through periods where we didn't watch tv at all, to storing the tv in a closet and only bringing it out for a family movie.  We had a Wii, but with no tv readily accessible, it was never played.  In my mind, modern technologies were a downfall, serving to draw people further away from God, nature and each other.  I was determined that my family would be different.  We would be free from the evils and temptations of technology.  We would all follow in my own hippie footsteps, bird watching instead of tv watching and playing with ropes and trees instead of video games.

And it was working.  Mostly.  Except that Ian really wanted that iPod and my husband saw no reason to keep it from him.  It caused a lot of turmoil and eventually I gave in.  Because it wasn't worth it.  It was just one iPod anyway, that didn't mean we were becoming a technological family.  But the rest of the kids... I had convinced them well enough that television was bad and they never asked to watch it.  They never asked to play video games.  We all read and spent hours outside and knit and everything was just how I wanted it to be.

And then the cell phone that my husband insisted I had broke.  We went to get a new one and my husband found out he was up for an upgrade.  And then he gave me the news that momentarily broke my heart... he was going to get an iPhone.  And he told me straight up that he wouldn't hear any arguments against it.

*part 2 is here*


to go outside

i grow restless from too much time indoors,
too much focus on plaster walls and ceilings blocking my view of blue sky.
with a desperation to be surrounded by nature and be able to breathe,
i am constantly bringing outside in.
i can't help it.  it is air to me.

if i could,
i would live outside, roaming barefoot, sleeping under majestic, starry skies.
my children would roam free.
we would sit by fire every night, telling stories, praying, singing.
God would hang out and we would feel His presence in the cool night air.

yet we live under roofs and sleep in warm cozy beds,
quilts pulled up to our chins and pillows to soften our heads.
storms rage and we are kept separate, hearing only the repetitive tapping on the roof or
the wind howling something fierce.
and God does hang out, here in these walls, and we feel His presence as sunlight streams
in windows and children pile on the couch to listen to a book.

so either way, it's good.
but my heart beats for the call of the wild,
the embrace of creation.
and so we must get out, must breathe fresh air, must spend hours free of
we find peace, we breathe, we know God's love in
the crashing of waves and
sand between toes and
smell of fresh pines and
towering redwoods and
oceans of trees and
clear, starry nights and
air that chills bones and
butterflies dance and
song of the sparrow and
mountains for days.
we must go out.
i think we humans were made to know nature.
i think without it,
we kind of fade away.

what about you?  do you have a need to be outside, to breathe fresh air?  or is it just me?


to be enough

Hey mama...

just wanted to pop in here today to remind you....




Because I needed that reminder, I needed those words.
And I thought you might need them too.
So I'm going to whisper them to myself and go live.
I'm going to write them in my journal and go snuggle my babies.
I'm going to sing them as I hang diapers on the line,
while the little ones chase butterflies and the big ones plan grand adventures.
I'm enough.
You are enough.

Got it? Go live it.