Friday, April 15, 2011

Going Amish

I’m going Amish on Monday.

With National “Unplug Your TV” Week running from April 18-24, I’ve decided that we are going to pull the plug and see what happens. Or in my terms “Go Amish.”

I can say the Amish thing with good faith, as I grew up in a small Michigan town that had quite a large population. Luckily, no TV week is about as close as I will come to becoming Amish, other than wearing black and white a lot and baking my own bread.

It’s not that I think TV is evil or the demise of our civilization (although it could be). It’s more about the fact that I find it a bit embarrassing how much TV our family watches. Even more ridiculous is how much we watch in separate rooms.

I read something recently that said, “if you complain about not having enough time to do something, stop watching TV and now you have no excuses.” More than reclaiming my time, I want to reclaim my family’s attention. I want to spend evenings in leisurely conversation, to be able to look into each other’s faces, without the distraction of a screen, the noise of the Weather Channel or trying to cram a meaningful thought in between commercial breaks.

In my loftiest thought, I want to know deeply what’s on everyone’s hearts and how life’s going in their spirit. I’m sure that is a big goal and probably not accomplished in one week. But it’s a start. Maybe we’ll have great discussions, maybe we won’t. Perhaps we’ll simply watch one TV, but at least we'll be together.

Join me by hiding your remote control and flipping the breaker switch on your TV too. To find out more, visit

Also, if you want to be really scared about how much TV we watch, check out this video:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Real Windows to the World

“Birds are awesome,” according to my 9 year-old son.

Lately we have become amateur ornithologists – or people that study birds. There is something wonderful about bird watching. It started off simple in our family. I thought it would be fun to fill a feeder and see what happened.

Once we started getting a few visitors, it was easy to become greedy and want more. We then added suet cakes – a square of bird food that you hang like a popsicle in a tree. Next we wanted to find fancier bird food to see if we could get more exotic and varied guests. Then we got really crazy and got a bird identification card, a bird call book and spending more and more time discussing what we saw each day.

What I love about bird watching is that it slows me down. As I pass by the window that looks over the feeder, I can’t help but stop and see who is visiting. Usually there are Chick-a-dees, Grey Tufted Titmouses, a red Cardinal – but sometimes golden and red-breasted Finches and on the very special days, a Woodpecker.

One day, I was watching from the kitchen and discovered a brilliant red-bellied woodpecker visiting our feeder. It was a cold and gray day, but his tuxedo speckled jacket, white breast and dashing red head were stunning. It took my breath away and I uttered “awesome” out loud. Upstairs my son was watching too and heard me and answered, “I know mom, it is awesome.”

In our go-go, zoom-zoom media-rich life, it was such a refreshing moment to know that there is still wonder in the world. To remember beyond life in the tiny screens, we can still be captivated by the simplicity of nature outside. We can still treasure the real windows to our world.