We decided to get away for a little vacation the week before Christmas (and before the government shutdown meaning we have no idea when Jamie’s going to get paid for the work he’s been doing as he’s essential). We took the little guys and headed to Corpus Christi. We had a fabulous time!
We went on a tour of a CBP location Jamie’s done work at in the past.
They boys requested a hotel with an indoor pool so they could do lots of swimming.
We went to the Texas State Aquarium.
We toured the USS Lexington.
We went to the beach at Port A. This man was there making some incredible sand sculptures.
Jamie and the boys went swimming in the Gulf (it was only in the 60s – they are crazy!).
I taught Fritz how to successfully get the basketball in the basket most of the times he tried.
On the way home, the boys were fascinated by the rest stop we stopped at. Adrian found a compass on the floor and just had to stand on it and point toward the north.
Like we do every December, we counted down to Christmas doing random acts of kindness each day. Here’s a few of the things we did.
We volunteered handing out blessing (food) boxes and organizing donated clothes at a community center downtown.
We fed the birds.
We left little gifts at our neighbors’ doors.
We taped change to a vending machine.
We left happy notes in books at the library.
We made homeless packs to give out to people who need them.
We left microwave popcorn on Redbox machines.
We donated toys to be given to refugee children in our area.
We picked up trash along the road near our neighborhood.
We brought in our neighbors’ cans and left candy canes on them.
We candy cane bombed a parking lot.
We donated blood.
We cleaned our cars really well.
We paid for someone else’s meal.
We wrote our testimonies in copies of the Book of Mormon and gave them to the missionaries to give out.
1. Participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other negative or impure media
2. Read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year
3. Establish a pattern of regular temple attendance
4. Participate fully in Relief Society
So, to complete number one, the evening of Sunday, October 7th, I deleted all my links on my computer to social media and deleted the apps off my phone. The exception was Instagram. I have one account for pictures of Rae and I follow lots of conure and other bird accounts and those pictures make me very happy. On my personal account, which I mainly use to post pictures of what we did in school each day, I started following a whole bunch of church-related accounts that post things like a scripture or temple picture each day (I didn’t realize just how beautiful the Tucson AZ temple is!). As for number two, I was already up to 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon so that’s totally doable. Numbers three and four I’ll have to think a bit about.
The first day was Columbus Day so Jamie was off work and we didn’t have school. That probably made it a lot easier. I had put off sweeping and mopping most of the rooms in the house the previous week (I sweep weekly and also mop monthly) so I did all of that over the course of the day. I caught up on some blog posts I’d half done. I did some laundry from putting it in the washer to putting it away all nice and folded. But, most importantly, for the first time in weeks I didn’t feel like my insides were vibrating. I felt comfortable. I already know a few of the more contentious and/or whiny people that I will unfriend or unfollow when I return to social media. By the way, I feel way better when my house is clean. So starting out with all the sweeping and mopping, while a lot of work, definitely helped contribute to the calm, peaceful feeling I had by the middle of the day.
The second day actually went quite easily. I don’t miss Facebook or Twitter at all which is weird since the new iOS tells me I’m on them for hours every day. And that doesn’t count the time I spend on them on my computer. That’s a lot of hours a day I’m reclaiming. Also, I am mentally present for these amazing guys and that’s the most important thing of all. Usually I mindlessly check social media throughout the day and I realized that even though I’m there, I’m not there. Today I sat and watched some episodes of Mind Field (Vsauce on YouTube) with them. They were fascinating and we all learned some stuff. This morning, Cameron made a pancake creation. It was a stack of regular size pancakes surrounded with overlapping upright small pancakes with a giant pancake on top. He wouldn’t let us eat any pancakes until he finished his creation. I commented that I didn’t take a picture before we started eating it and Fritz said isn’t that the point of making stuff like that (as my best friend said, that was the most 2018 thing ever). Cameron told him he did it just for the personal satisfaction. But I started thinking. What are my actions teaching Fritz?
I am fascinated by how much I am getting done. I’m getting all the school stuff graded and put away soon after the boys complete it. I sweep whichever floor is supposed to be swept that day pretty early in the day rather than putting it off until late when I just don’t feel like doing it and end up not getting it done at all. I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon every morning rather than scrolling through social media and that’s been a really nice start to my day. Today I was a little concerned about what I would do when I went to pick Cameron up from instructor training. I forgot to bring my Kindle and usually I sit and scroll through Facebook or Twitter while waiting for him to come out. I ended up spending the time adding today’s video clips and editing our weekly school video. It was such a great use of my time. It was something I needed to get done and I had nothing else to do while sitting in the car. So I guess this fast is teaching me to make better choices for what I am using my time for.
A really weird thing has happened. I love to read, but recently I’ve found myself reading a little bit at a time, more avoiding reading than actually reading. Reading a book takes a lot more focus than just scrolling through social media where things are in little, tiny bits. Since I started the social media fast, I’ve discovered that focusing on reading is easy again. Maybe it’s because I can’t use social media right now. Maybe it’s because I’m getting unused to tiny bits here and there. I don’t know. But for whatever reason I’m enjoying reading for long periods of time again.
Last night an indie author I like sent her most recent manuscript to me to Dragon Edit. I’ve been doing this for her for a while now. She dictates her books and as anyone who has used a dictating program knows, it doesn’t always understand her totally correctly. So she sends it to me and I go through it and fix it up into proper English and then send it back to her so she can edit it into a proper book. I really enjoy doing it (especially seeing how her books go from very rough draft to finished product). So, anyway, I spent the day Dragon Editing her next book, Forbidden Knowledge. Usually, I go back and forth doing a page or two and then checking Facebook or Twitter. This time I just did the editing. And it made it way easier, actually. Because I was actually focused on the job I was doing. That was nice.
This morning we had to get up and pretty much right away go over to the church to help clean the building. This threw off my new routine. Before this social media fast, when I woke up in the morning I’d lay in bed and scroll through Facebook and Twitter before getting up. Since I started it, I’ve been reading at least one chapter in the Book of Mormon instead. I didn’t have time to do that this morning and I really, really missed it. It’s such an amazing way to start my day. I still read my three chapters at some point during the day, but it was different from reading first thing in the morning. That’s definitely a habit I want to keep after this 10-day fast is over! (By the way, my arm hurts. We got our flu shots this afternoon. I spent the time waiting for them to call us in reading in the Book of Mormon. I always feel calm reading it, so I’d say I made a very good choice in reading it before getting a shot.)
The new iOS tells you every week how much you’ve been using your phone. It’s pretty crazy to see all the hours added up by category at the end of the week. No surprise that my usage went down a lot over the previous week since my social media fast started on Monday. The majority of my time on my phone this week was actually reading scriptures. Kindle + Gospel Library app was almost 7 hours. I read scriptures on the Gospel Library app and the guidebook I’m using to study the Book of Mormon is in the Kindle app. The next highest app use was messages. The majority of that time was texting back and forth with my daughter. The previous seven days the majority of my phone time was on Facebook and Twitter. I’m actually considering not putting those apps back on my phone later this week at the end of the 10 day fast.
I thought this social media fast would be hard. I really did. But it hasn’t been. In fact, it’s been fantastic. I don’t want it to end. I’ve wondered how a few people who post on Facebook regularly were doing (so I know they will definitely stay on my friends list), but I haven’t missed the contention on there at all. I really haven’t missed the contention on Twitter. Whenever I leave the Temple, I feel totally calm, almost like my insides are vibrating in harmony with… something. Anyway, it’s a wonderful, peaceful feeling that lasts a few hours. Since I started this social media fast, that’s how I’ve felt most of the time. It’s been nice and is a feeling I definitely want to hold on to. (PS I finished reading 2 Nephi this morning.)
Last night I was thinking that I need to get to work figuring out how to implement numbers 3 and 4 on the list of things President Nelson asked us to do. I’m obviously almost done with number 1 and number 2 is going great. But I haven’t even started on the other two things yet. I’m thinking since we still have a few weeks until the temple reopens that I’ll do a search on LDS.org about the temple or read a book or something. Then after it reopens, I was thinking because we live so close to the temple, we can run up there for a little while on the Tuesdays that Adrian has Scouts after we drop the boys off at church (that’s twice a month). Participating fully in Relief Society is a little more complicated since I currently serve in Nursery. President Nelson said something about reading the Relief Society declaration, so I’ll do that. Our ward sends out an email saying what the next lesson will be, so I’ll read along. I figure I can know what they are talking about in class even if I can’t be in there with them on Sundays.
Check it out. I finished through Jacob this morning! Today is the last day of the social media fast. Tomorrow I can go back to using social media however I want. It’s funny, but I don’t really want to. In his talk where he invited the women to go on this 10-day social media fast, President Nelson said the following:
What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit? Is there a change in where you now want to spend your time and energy? Have any of your priorities shifted—even just a little?
I’ve noticed that I am calmer. I feel better. I’m more in tune with the Spirit. I’m a better mother. I’ve read more and enjoyed that reading more. My house is cleaner. I’m happier. School even has been going better. My little boys have been asking more Gospel questions and I’ve found that easy answers for them have just popped into my head. There is a definite change in where I now want to spend my time and energy. I’m not going to bother putting the Facebook and Twitter apps back on my phone. I’m going to dramatically cut down my membership in groups on Facebook and unfollow or unfriend many people on Facebook and Twitter. I might keep right on reading three chapters in the Book of Mormon every day because I’m really enjoying it. I’ve discovered I’m happiest when my time and energy are on my family and the Lord. Have my priorities shifted? Yeah. And maybe not just a little.
All my life I have found that when I follow the Prophet, I never go wrong. These four invitations by our dear President Nelson are no exception. They were the right things for me at the right time and I am grateful for his prophetic counsel. I am thankful that I immediately made a plan to follow what he asked. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but it kind of changed my life.
While Jamie and I were in Ireland, my dad redid the downstairs bathroom. I love how it turned out. The previous owners had put in bamboo flooring which is pretty dumb in a bathroom, and especially in a bathroom with young boys. So he took out the wood and put in tile I picked and bought before we left. He replaced the faucet in the sink and added a medicine cabinet, too. He finished it off by painting (I picked and bought the paint before we left as well). I absolutely love how clean and beautiful it turned out!
Monday was the first day of school for the local districts so, as usual, we had a fun final day off.
We started off with pineapple-kiwi-blueberry smoothie bowls for breakfast. The kids were less than impressed. I thought they were amazing.
Jamie and the boys played some Dungeons & Dragons before Cameron had to leave us for the Monday lunch meeting he goes to every week for work.
Jamie, the little guys, and I headed out to the Tower of the Americas.
We squished some pennies.
And tried to find our house using one of the pay viewer thingies up on the observation deck.
The view of San Antonio from the observation deck is pretty awesome. We live in a very beautiful city.
We watched three short 4D movies. It’s funny how getting sprayed with water from an ocean feels different from getting sprayed with water from a mammoth sneeze even though it’s really all the same water.
Adrian got a color change cup, Fritz got a long tube of pucker powder, and Jamie got a cattle brand from the gift shop.
We went to an Asian buffet for lunch. Adrian ate his favorite food (rice and cheese) and Fritz ate approximately his weight in rolls and sushi.
We went to a really amazing comic book store. Fritz spent lots of time studying the D&D books. Both boys got starter Pokemon card decks and Adrian got a Teen Titans Go! comic book set.
We finished off the day by going to Bubble Waffle Bar. Ani came with us (Cameron was at work). There’s not much there we can eat there, but what we ate was still really cool. The Dole Whip was pretty normal, but the cotton candy wrapped chocolate, coconut, and mint chocolate chip ice cream was unique and really good.
Check out previous years’ Not Back to School Days: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. (I missed blogging about Not Back to School Day in 2011 and they went to public school in 2013.)
Jamie and I went for a walk around the park at the town where his mum lives. It has the most adorable fairy village.
The walking path through the park is just beautiful.
After we finished at the park, we walked a ways into the town.
Everywhere you go, there are ice cream cone signs meaning there’s a soft serve machine inside. The Irish definitely love ice cream!
It was so nice to spend the two weeks with Jamie’s mum!
We checked in at the airport (one bag was 1/2 kg under the limit and the other was 2/10 over, but they didn’t charge us for being overweight). The Irish really do care about fresh breath. This vending machine was in the restroom.
We got on the plane and about 7 hours later…
…we were in New York. Our layover was about 7 hours long, but then our flight was delayed almost an hour and a half, but eventually we left the east coast.
We finally made it to Austin at 2am and got to our house in San Antonio at 3:30. Total travel time was just over 24 hours.
So that was Wednesday through Friday.
It was such a lovely, fun, wonderful trip!