a brief fling with television

The house we’re renting for our short time in Geraldton is furnished. Not one single item of furniture in the house is to my taste, but whatever hey? We’re only renting it for four months and two of them have passed fairly incredibly uneventfully already.

The house comes with television. Three of them actually.

This is the first time Bean and I have ever lived in a house with television. Neither of us owned a TV when we got together so we saw no good reason to change that once we started living together. Blissfully we’ve lived without TV, relying on our computers to view TV shows and movies online when we wanted.

Last year, while living through a wet Winter in the tiny shed, I introduced the sprogs to Playschool. When we needed a change of mood and heading outside or to another room (we didn’t have another room!) was out of the question I’d put an episode of Playschool on the computer, buying half an hour of mental space for me and entertainment for the sprogs. Before this they’d had very little exposure to screens, always at other people’s homes.

Moving to a house with TV was a bit weird for us, it gave us another thing to do, but it was a thing we’d actively chosen not to do before now.

The (only) thing I love about this house is the amount of storage space. We have such a small amount of stuff here with us that we can’t possibly fill all the cupboards with it so there was plenty of room to put the wall decorations* into an unused cupboard where I don’t have to look at them and there was room in the same cupboard for two of the televisions also. Brilliant!

The third, and (by far) the largest television was in the loungeroom. It took up about 2.5 square metres of floor space (at least a quarter of the available floor space), the chairs all faced it and it constantly demanded attention, whether it was on or not.

We got a little sucked in to it, what with having no friends locally and being tempted by it’s awesome time passing ablities.

The sprogs watched a bit of ABC for kids. It became a more dominant feature in our lives where our previous screen time experience  was all about watching an episode or two of a chosen show before continuing with other screen-less activities. The TV was turned on and they watched whatever was on. They watched TV to pass time, using it as a fast forward button on the day rather than as a tool to enjoy a specific program.

There were shows (always children’s shows) which scared the sprogs and caused nightmares later on, but Sprout would always get upset if I turned the show off. Moe never really got so sucked in, if the show didn’t interest him he’d walk away and find something else to do.

For Sprout though the TV became a bit like a drug. Understandably, she was (is!) bored, there’s little for them to do at this house between the times we’re out and she wanted to pass the time. She became aggressive and violent, particularly immediately after the TV was turned off. Her capacity to enjoy time spent doing other home based activities diminished, her desire to do anything other than watch TV diminished. She began pleading and bargaining for more TV time.

The final straw for me was when she hit Moe for standing in the way of the TV. I was worn down by all the begging, I was irritated and overstimulated by the overwhelming images flashing before our eyes, the loud noises, the silly voices – children’s television is a lot brighter, louder and more intense than it was when I was a child.

That night I asked Bean to help me move the TV into one of the storage spaces and move the sprogs toys into the loungeroom.

It seemed so silly that their toys were in the sleep out, farthest from the main living area than any other room in this little shack, with no heating and flimsy fibro walls while the massive eyesore of a TV was in the heated loungeroom.

In a short time we had the TV out of sight and the toys in its place. The sprogs were delighted the following morning to wake to their toys in an already warm room.

There have been some questions about the TV, but they were answered and we’ve moved on. We’re back to the occasional episode of Playschool or some other short children’s show on the computer, with Bee Movie** showing most days while I’ve been sick this past week.

There are certainly times I wish we did have the TV set up so I could turn it on to a channel designed for children and have some peace myself, but the reality is that the break isn’t worth the angst at the end of it, nor does it feel like a break when there’s irritating TV noise in the background.

I’m glad we had the brief fling with TV, it had been so long for either Bean or myself that we’d forgotten what we didn’t really like about TV before, so it was good to be reminded. It was good to see such a huge impact on Sprout’s behaviour, which we were able to discuss with her and she was eventually able to recognise in herself. I’m glad we can now say we know rather than merely suspect that selective viewing, rather than turning on a TV and watching whatever is available at the time, works far better for our family.


*Wall decorations that made me cringe were not to my taste.

**The only children’s movie the sprogs aren’t frightened by.

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switch off & reconnect – emu point

Image by Liam Wilde

We took the sprogs to Emu Point for a swim Sunday morning before I holed myself up indoors and did some work on assignments. I’m so glad we took that time together before I spent the next two days studying! They had a glorious time in the cold, calm water and I didn’t mind it so much either… once I got used to being so cold!

Image by Liam Wilde


What do you do to switch off & reconnect with yourself & people you love?


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switch off & reconnect – waterfall beach

We went to Two People’s Bay for a BBQ lunch Saturday just gone. We went to the picnic area and cooked up some fresh organic beef steaks and made steak sandwiches with ingredients that all came from the morning’s Farmer’s Market haul. The meat, the eggs, the bread, the salad… fantastic.

After lunch we went to Little Beach where there were a few other groups of people, walked across it and over the headland to Waterfall Beach which we had to ourselves.

Little Beach


We played in the waterfall stream and swam in the much warmer sea water for an hour or so before clambering up the steep path back to Little Beach and back to our car.

I’ll be sure to leave my maxi dress at home next time I go to Two People’s Bay, and I’ll be sure to ignore Bean’s assurances that we won’t be going anywhere we’ll need to scramble over rocks too! Getting to Waterfall Beach in a maxi dress is a bit of a challenge…


It was my first swim in the ocean this Summer season. Bean and the sprogs had already had a dip at the main beach in town the week before. It was so gloriously refreshing to dip myself in the cool, clear water of an empty beach.

We then went to the visitor centre where we learned just why Two People’s Bay is so special to conservationists. There are a few species of native fauna living in the national park that were believed to be extinct, including the Gilbert’s Potoroo which hadn’t been recorded for over 120 years!

Once again, I felt blessed to live so near to such beautiful natural places.


What do you do to switch off & reconnect with yourself & people you love?


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switch off & reconnect – canasta

Last night saw Bean and I crack out the cards and play canasta for the first time in several years*. We play Bolivia canasta, it’s a variation of regular canasta that requires three decks of cards, rather than two. The basics of the game are the same, but there are some twists which make it a more complex game that takes longer to play than regular canasta. We tend to finish the whole game in two hands, sometimes three. We used to play most evenings when we first got together, back when I didn’t own a computer at all and when online social networking wasn’t such a big deal. After having Sprout we played a bit less, but we still played, then we both got a laptop and we both got fakebook accounts and it was all over for the canasta nights. The cards got packed up and we rarely pulled them out anymore.

I don’t know what inspired me to suggest a game of canasta last night. I know that after a lovely day of farmer’s market shopping and pram shopping** I didn’t want the connection we’d established throughout the day to fizzle away as we sat on our computers ignoring each other. It’s such a terrible pattern we’ve established in recent years. One we’re really trying to change.

It’s tough, trying to break a compulsion to screen escapism. Especially this year, with so many sources of stress and frustration that we desperately want to escape from. It’s so easy to sit in front of the computer and spend waste an evening. We go to bed, knowing we’ve made it to the end of the day, but not really feeling richer for it. That’s not to say I see no value in the computer, or the internet… I do keep this blog and read several others, after all. I just see no value in staying on the computer after I have achieved what I turned it on for in the first place. I don’t see value in using it to escape the dullness of my daily life, instead of making my daily life less dull! I suppose that’s what this switch off & reconnect endeavour is about. Connecting with my daily life, with myself, with my family, with my local area – creating connection here in my local, real life community instead of searching for it online every time I crave it.

The connection continued today, we played, we were silly, we walked outside in the short breaks between the rain, I made some biscuits with Sprout, then we went to the museum to spend the rainy afternoon.

A good real life is slowly coming together, here on the south coast, so I’m feeling less compulsion to sit on the computer endlessly flicking from page to page without a clear aim***. I’m enjoying discovering new people and places here, and relishing the fact that glorious people we know from past periods of our life are either living down here already or coming down here soon.

Yes, life is getting better every day, and so the computer is becoming redundant as a prominent feature in my days. How utterly fabulous this is.



*In case you’re wondering… I won! Bean won the first hand, but after a good looking start for him in the second hand I cleaned up and scored high enough to win the game too.

**We’ve put a pram on layby so I can walk Dave longer distances. Sprout and Moe can’t walk as far as Dave needs to walk to use up his abundant kelpie puppy energy, so they’ll be able to sit in the pram while I walk far and fast with the pooch.

***Surfing the internerd is great fun, but it’s just one of so many things that are great fun and it seems to (sadly) dominate my spare time so much because it tends to require less effort than other great fun pastimes.



What do you do to switch off & reconnect with yourself & people you love?


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switch off & reconnect – productive

Today we had a switch off & reconnect day. Bean made some pancakes while I had a blissful sleep in, then after breakfast Sprout dressed herself and announced that she was ready to go out, so we went to the beach.

We drove a little way out to a beach that we could have to ourselves. We’re so lucky to be near so many lovely beaches in this part of the world.

Bean took some photos for a project he’s currently working on, and we spent a good amount of time picking up tiny shells, marvelling at their beauty and perfection.

On the way home we decided to buy a couple of noodle boxes to share for lunch because Sprout was getting very hungry and we wanted to feed her sooner than later.

Then we got stuck in to gardening for the afternoon.

The council green waste bin was already full so I asked Bean to ask his folks if they’d be able to borrow one of their neighbours bins to fill with weeds. I really dig the greenwaste collection thing this council has going on. Normally we’d compost the weeds but we’ve only got two small compost bins in this yard and there were so many weeds (we filled one and a half wheely bins!) we didn’t have anywhere to put them all. It’s all good though, because the council composts the contents of everyone’s green bins and then sells it back to all the people who were too lazy to compost it themselves. It’s brilliant, I tell you! I love weeding. Really, I do. It’s so wonderful to see where you’ve been working. Especially after this perfect weed growing weather – rain showers, warm sun, rain showers, warm sun, rain showers… repeat.

Sprout and I planted some ornamental flowers in the spaces where the weeds had been. There’s NO flowers in this yard at all, so I’m hoping to attract some bees with the flowers. It’s a bonus that they look sweet too. Sprout loved helping, and I thought again how much I’d love her to grow up on an organic herb farm. Growing stuff is awesome, don’t you think?!

While I planted and weeded with Sprout, Bean did some rust work on Brigit the kombi. He attacked the surface rust that’s shown up since we’ve moved here to rainyville with an angle grinder and some primer. Brigit’s second in line for the full restoration because Van Halen is closer to finished. Once Van Halen is done Brigit will be taken off the road, stripped to an empty shell then fully restored inside and out. Van Halen’s nearly rust free now, and so nearly ready for a respray. When he’s resprayed, which Bean will be doing himself (maybe I’ll be able to drag myself away from my limpets sproggets long enough to do a bit of it as well?!), we’ll build a rock & roll bed and make up new door cards. He’s so close to being finished I can almost see myself driving around in Bean’s flash looking restored kombi! Anyhow, I digress… don’t ask me about the kombis, I always go on too much once I start! Now, back to today…

While we were in the yard the sprogs (and Dave) met some children over the fence. They don’t live next door, that yard is often empty of people and full of weeds, so it was a lovely surprise for the sprogs to find friends at the fence.

After a chat it was decided that they’d play together on the same side of the fence. Bean opened the gate at the bottom of the yard and watched them play together at the front of the block (near his parents house) while I made some mayonaise (which was AMAZING, by the way).

Once the sprogs were in bed Bean and I folded two baskets full of clean laundry then went outside to weed a bit more by the light of a headlamp. It’s verrry additcive, that weeding.

It was a wonderfully productive and connecting day for us all. Once again, I’m left thinking that we should switch off & reconnect more often!


All photos by www.liamwilde.com


What do you do to switch off & reconnect with yourself & people you love?



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switch off & reconnect – mud face

As part of our new “switch off & reconnect” endeavour, Bean & I turned off our computers & had a little bonding session one night last week. No, it’s not going to be TMI, I promise!

We shut our computers, then I made a clay face masque* & we sat together with brown mud drying on our faces, trying not to talk or grin too much lest the clay crack & crumble off our faces. When the clay was dry we washed it off & gave each other relaxing aromatherapy massages, then drank tea!

I highly recommend trying something similar with your partner if you have one. It was a fabulous way to connect!

Photo by www.liamwilde.com

The camera was set to take 10 photos in quick succession, these expressions were accompanied by the following conversation,

“Bean, how many photos is that thing taking?”

“I don’t know, it’s quite a lot, isn’t it?”


What do you do to switch off & reconnect with yourself & people you love?


*this masque was made with:
2 Tbs pink French clay
2 Tbs yellow French clay
1 Tbs almond oil
2 Tbs liquorice, lemongrass & fennel tea
2 drops clary sage oil
2 drops lavender oil
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switch off & reconnect: porongorup national park

We use our computers a lot, and because we’re trying to fill a social void here in this town that was not part of our original plan, this town where we know so few people so far, we use them to excess now. Escapism. Time killing. Disonnecting. We have begun to lose sight of each other, we’ve begun to lose sight of how short these intense years with young children are. In an effort to inspire some connection as a family, we have decided to spend one day per week “switched off”. Screen free (computers, we don’t have a television anyway) & mobile phone free*.

We don’t have a formula for how these days will go. We don’t even have a set day, just a day that Bean is not working (which usually limits us to Saturday or Sunday), so we can spend the whole day switched off. We might spend the day away from home, or we might spend it pottering about the garden, we might spend it playing card games…


Our first weekly switch off was yesterday, Sunday. We took a drive to the beautiful Porongorup National Park, where we ate a picnic lunch, then did part of the Nancy Peak Walk at Sprout’s suggestion. As we left Albany it began to rain, quite heavily, we wondered whether it would be worth even attempting a bush walk. Upon arriving at Poronorup we were greeted with blue skies & white, fluffy clouds.

This is a huge karri tree growing in an equally huge granite boulder. It’s just spectacular. This marks the beginning of the Nancy Peak Walk.


We walked until Sprout felt ready to turn back. Moe spent most of the walk on Bean’s back after a spectacular display of almost-two-year-old-ness because the path was quite steep and he stumbled while trying to keep up with Sprout.

Bean took him out of the ergo each time we stopped for a closer look at something, and when the path was more flat and less rocky.

We’re probably the 15 billionth people to take photos of ourselves in this tree…

When Sprout decided she’d had enough of walking we turned to walk back down the hill. We got back to the kombi in perfect time, the sky opened up & rain bucketed down just as we were buckling up seat belts.


*We don’t have a landline & we’re far from all of my family so we keep the phone switched on in case we receive an urgent call, we just don’t play with it or make calls.

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