Sunday, November 23, 2014

Living Life versus Recording Life

I think it is a modern day problem of having to actively choose to live life versus recording life.

When I was growing up, there were of course the video camera and the cameras with film that needed to be developed, but they were both limited. You could record a video, but if you recorded too much "fluff" you might not have space for the big moments. I remember being very aware of just how many pictures were on my disposable camera on field trips or family trips, and wanting to save them for the "best" moments, and the rest of the day I just enjoyed my trip.

But now, my phone is my camera, both video and still pictures, and is always with me. I happen to think (as hopefully all parents do at times) that my kids are adorable, and there are times that I feel like I could be constantly documenting all of the cute things they say and do, and sharing all of their moments on a blog or facebook or instagram or one of the other many social media outlets.

However, it comes at a cost. For one thing, even though both kids are still so young, they are very aware of when I am using my phone, and really want to see what I am doing, or see the pictures after I take them, or watch the video if I recorded one. In practice, this means that if my kids are both doing a great job playing with each other and I go to take a picture of them, suddenly, they aren't playing together any more, but are looking at my phone, wanting to see what I am doing. I lose the precious moment by documenting it.

Part of it too, is simply logistics. Grace's birthday party went great, and I think it was a success... but I didn't take a single picture the whole time. I think some other people got pictures... but not me. I was too busy running it! I was organizing the games, making sure the food was out, helping her open presents, and being a completely, involved, hands-on mama, which meant that I didn't even have a moment to think about my camera until the event was over and everyone was leaving. Oh well. It wasn't an active choice, but I probably would have done the same if it was. Same with her first Thanksgiving party at school. I was there, I was making sure she got food, making sure Remington didn't get into trouble... and not taking pictures.

As far as this blog goes, back before kids, there was a lot of time available where I could spend time with Blake, watching TV together or playing a computer game together etc. and still have time left over to do computer stuff or read. But now, each blog comes at a cost as well.

Blake and my time together without kids is limited to the few hours between their bedtime and my bedtime. I generally don't want to take much, if any of that precious time, doing something as solo as a blog post. So the other option is doing it while the kids are around. They tend to get into trouble if I do much on the computer while they play nearby if there isn't someone watching them. So blogs are now a very conscious choice made on a weekend afternoon, when Blake can watch the kids ( like now).

Most of the time, again, I have been choosing to live life with the kids instead of spending even part of it behind the computer, but at the same time, as I have said before, I like this blog as a record, and I know of people who only really get to follow my kids growing up on my blog (as they aren't on facebook and don't see them in real life often).  So, today, I am carving out that time.

(This blog turned into more of a commentary on life and documenting life, so I am actually going to do the Grace birthday post on a separate post. )

 I do think that in general, we, this generation of moms, need to be more willing to put down the phones, and live life with our kids without the need to document every cute thing they do. I even remember learning about a study where you remember things less well that you take pictures of, because you at least subconsciously trust the picture to help you remember it, so you don't actually remember those moments as much.

It makes me sad how often I see (and I am guilty of this as well) parents focused on their phones instead of their kids. I recognize that there are times we need to do something on them, or even relax with facebook, but we also are sending a message that the kids are less important than our phones at that moment. I am trying to more actively limit my phone time around the kids, and I hope I can encourage others to do the same as well.

Grace's birthday

Grace's 3rd Birthday

Grace's third birthday was a Doc McStuffins theme, which is a TV show which she likes, featuring a little black girl who takes care of her toys, and fixes them with her very similar to real doctor tools, and her cute little diagnosis of their problems. On a side note, I actually really like the show, as there is usually a great real life application to each of the toy problems. For example, one episode has a soccer ball who is afraid to be re inflated because he is afraid of the needle.

Grace dressed up like Doc Mcstuffins complete with her very own real stethoscope. One game was the kids diagnosing the problems with toys, and then working together to fix it, while drawing the problems in their "Big Book of Boo Boos." They also played "Doctor Says" which was basically Simon Says but instead reinforces how it is important to do what the doctor says. The final game was the classic "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" idea, except the poster was another character from the show who needed a bandaid on his ouch.

Grace really seemed to have a great time, and I think the party was a huge success. 

Family Disney Trip

Unlike her un-photographed birthday party, I remembered to take lots of pictures of our family trip to Disneyland which we did on her actual third birthday (Blake even took a day off work).

For the sake of time, it will be a lot of pictures and just a few stories.

Couple stories of the day:

The roller coaster was the big favorite of the day. She saw it when we were in toon town and she she barely made the requirements. I knew she had never experienced that kind of a fast ride before, and I had no idea of what to expect.

The ride starts and she is immediately terrified. Screaming, but not in the fun way, like in the same way that she does when she has to get a blood draw. Holding onto me, crying, "Mama," the whole thing. I think to myself... okay, so not ready for this... good thing it is a quick ride.

Then the ride ends. I ask if it was scary, and she said yes.. and then she says the craziest thing, "Again?"

I was confused, I thought she couldn't possibly be asking to go again... oh yes, she was, very emphatically, and to that end, she didn't even want to get out! I convinced her we had to go through the (thankfully short) line again, so we went again.

The crazy screaming was back, but slightly less... and she wanted to go again! In total, she went four times with me, and twice with Blake, and he reported that the last time she went, there was no crying, just excited laughing the whole time. She probably would have just kept going ALL DAY but the line was getting longer, and we wanted to do some other rides!

Meeting Tigger and characters is another story where she started with fear. She wasn't interested in the princesses at all, but Tigger caught her eye, as a big favorite for a long time (though out of vogue in our house more recently). She wanted to meet him, but she was scared, so first we just watched him meet other kids for a while till she finally decided that she did want to meet him (even though it meant waiting in line). She was still fairly fearful as she met him, but then she was less afraid with Eeyore, and then totally excited to meet Pooh.

The last two pictures were of us watching a parade, which Remington was excited about, but Grace was very tired by this point, as we were seeing if she could go without a nap. Moments before the last picture above, she said she wasn't tired, and didn't need a nap... and then sitting on dad's lap after a long day, she just totally crashed. Extra funny (in retrospect), is that she ended up peeing while she slept... all over Blake (glad it wasn't me). But it was okay, because we knew our day was almost over anyways.

It was actually a fantastic Disney day. Temperatures were not too hot, not too cold, she loved going on rides, and the lines weren't too bad throughout the park (on a random Monday in October).

As for Remington, he probably would have been equally happy with a day at the park, as the rides were less impressive to him than the swings or slide are on a typical park day, and while he didn't mind them, he wasn't really smiling or laughing on them either. But as we expected, at three, Grace was the perfect age to appreciate all the fun Disneyland can bring.