happy birthday, we are mid-30s now

Happy Birthday to my favorite man. He is as kind and generous as he is handsome and patient. I love that he chose to spend his life with me, and gave me awesome kids to boot. Ps- We have been together for 17 years, and are in the middle of our 30s now. Mind-blown.


5 benefits of living without a smart phone

I will admit, the first month  without my iPhone was tough, tough, tough. I second guessed my choice several times, I mourned, I was angry, I bargained, I was in denial. All of it.

After a month things started to get better and better, and they just haven't stopped. I knew I had a lot of addictive behaviors when it came to my phone, namely INSTAGRAM, pinterest and TEXTING. But I never realized that life was moving faster than I could keep up. Which kept me in a constant flustered state. Like a camera that can never focus until you slow down, that was my daily life.

I've had some time to reflect and I would say the top 5 bonuses of not having a smart phone are these:

1. BETTER MEMORY. my memory is getting better. appointments, phone numbers, dates. no joke, after several weeks the digital cobwebs are clearing and i feel more present every day. my brain clouded with social media in my pocket all the time and my face in my phone. now i feel the temperature of the room differently, the sunset, my children's faces, people's voices, my clothes, even reading is different.

2. SLEEP. I sleep  sounder. I wake up more alert. I am less cranky. What's not to love about that?

3. TIME. I have SO MUCH FLIPPING TIME ON MY HANDS. I'm not even joking. Laundry? Yes, I have time to fold and put away. Talk on the phone with a good friend? Yup, I have time for that and can fold the laundry at the same time. Manage emails, write on the blog? Yes and yes. I would say without my smart phone I have at least 1-2 extra hours a day. Yikes. I'm reading about a book a week holla! That makes my heart so happy.
some of my favorite reads lately, obviously in a self help phase.

4. FREEDOM. I am not a slave to technology. I can run errands, drive on vacation, watch a movie with my kids, take a walk, go on a dinner date without thinking about posting it, or thinking about what other people are doing. Is that a cute photo? I hardly ever think that anymore.  Selfies? No more my friends. Just doesn't work with a nikon lol. But guess what? More people died this year from SELFIES than from SHARK ATTACKS. When will we wake up? Sharks, that eat small dolphins for snacks are SAFER THAN SELFIES. What the hell is happening to our society?

5. Real Relationships, Real Conversations. I am a better mom without my iPhone. I am a more present companion to my husband. I would say 99% of the people reading this have a smart phone, but I have to be honest. Who I care about talking to and spending my time with has decreased dramatically. And in all full disclosure honesty, most of my friends' social media accounts I want to drown in diesel gasoline. They irritate me, I feel insecure, unhappy with what I have, unhappy with my daughter's hair, unhappy with my couch throw pillows, or lack thereof. But those same friends in real life? I LOVE talking to. I love hearing about their REAL lives and their kids and homes. I value every one on one conversation i have with them.   Now I am happy if I bump into someone, I'm happy to catch up with them (because I truly don't know what's going on with them). No judging someone because I know where they've been (or what or what they haven't been) doing.

* Today I actually  had my first non-smart phone downfall today, I couldn't download a coupon at a store I wasn't planning on going to. Boo-hoo. I think I'll live. And this music video my beautiful cousin posted on Facebook (yes, I still visit social media when I have time to) is stuck in my head. It is so scary what digital social media relationships are doing to us, and now to our children. Likes, follows, comments, all wrapped up into one strange and lonely virtual world. http://youtu.be/UKftOH54iNU


song lyrics and unripe nectarines

these were the fluffiest marshmallow clouds against a pure blue sky,
a pure maynard dixon painting

a few weeks ago i was rushing through walmart (ugh) and as i ran past the produce i saw an entire crate full of nectarines.  walmart produce has yet to impress me over the last decade, but during summer i can not, will not, pass up peaches or nectarines. the fruit of the gods i tell you what. none of them smelled or felt ripe at all, but our kitchen warms up quite nicely in the summer and is the perfect fruit ripener if you know what i mean. i brought home a bag bursting full of them. in the next few days most were gobbled up, one by one, leaving trails of yellowy orange sticky juice around the tables and chairs and countertops.

after the best ones were devoured, one of the little ones would bring me the same rock hard nectarine and ask if it was ripe. day after day the same answer, "nope, not yet". the funny thing is, it never ripened. after an entire week had passed, which was ample enough time on our fruit platter to turn a green peach into the juiciest one you have ever eaten, this nectarine still felt like a baseball. i let a few more days go past, and a small outer layer, almost 1/4 inch thick softened. but the insides? bedrock. 

i imagined this to be much like life. sometimes we jump the gun, we rush towards what we want and how we want it. instead of waiting and ripening our talents, knowledge, mind and heart, we let circumstances pluck us off weeks, months, years too early. we never use the god-like attribute of patience, i hardly know if any children even know what patience means now. we rush, run, collide, drop and push to what we want and when we want it. and when that happens, the fruit of our labor never quite ripens. it doesn't make that sweet heavenly aroma, it doesn't slightly give when you squeeze it, it isn't full of the most perfect potential. it doesn't burst with delicious fruity flesh juice as you devour it. it gets a little ripe, but the center of it, the real meat of it, is hard and stale and worthless and inedible.

on the other hand, for the majority of the time we don't wait long enough for a project or undertaking to fully ripen. we bail because it is just taking too long and seems like it will never work out. we quit because, heaven forbid, it is too hard. we want the easy route. we want to fit in, we don't want to stick out holding on and working on to something that is different, undesirable by the masses or doesn't even look like fruit at all.

 i might be the only person alive who understands this analogy, but it is truth for many things in my life over the years. i'm thinking a lot more about patience today and developing my spirit, mind, body and heart, and letting time ripen everything till it is right. even if i don't enjoy being patient.

in other random news, i sat in church yesterday and thought a lot about songs that i love now that i absolutely hated as a child. the slow songs in the musical that i would just skip right over. yawnfest, every single one of them. you know what the funny part is? I will tell you. now those are all of my favorite songs. so of course, i made a little mental note of a few so i could remember:

climb every mountain- sound of music 
sunrise, sunset- fiddler on the roof 

There's a place for us, 
Somewhere a place for us. 
Peace and quiet and open air 
Wait for us 

There's a time for us, 
Some day a time for us, 
Time together with time spare, 
Time to learn, time to care, 
Some day! 

We'll find a new way of living, 
We'll find a way of forgiving 
Somewhere . . . 

There's a place for us, 
A time and place for us. 
Hold my hand and we're halfway there. 
Hold my hand and I'll take you there 
Some day, 


leavitt camping trip 2015

 For a weekend in August we went with all of Ty's immediate family camping by Pony Springs Nevada. Last year it was cool and even a little rainy, this year it was...hot. Annie no likey hot and sweaty camping.

It was still a great trip for the kids. I didn't get any good photos of the camping spot or going to Cave lake (which was sweltering by the way) or their off road trip, but the highlight for our kids and what they can't stop talking about was riding on the steam engine train in Ely, Nevada (again...HOT). We meandered throughout the HOT museum and then rode the train for a little over an hour. The kids loved it, especially the open air car with benches. Ty's favorite part was the 2 bucks they saw, I think that was Grandpa Rod's favorite part too. Here are some photos I snapped along the way:

 One of the train worker's sons saw Ty and Rodney ogling the engine and invited them up inside! Ty said it was really cool to watch them stoke the furnace and work the machinery, oh and it was HOT. I don't think they will ever forget being able to do that.


 It is strange getting used to getting out the camera and waiting a few seconds for it to turn on, unlike my swift iPhone. But as I sat on the train ride and watched a mom absolutely gluuuued to her phone, I had no regrets. I'm not joking, she probably looked up and talked to her kids/husband three times the entire trip. Obviously I am much more attentive now without my phone around all the time. And I am trying to be positive, but it was such a sad, sad sight.

I thought Ely was fascinating. I had only visited before for high school soccer games, seeing the older parts of town and the train row houses was fun. We even spied a few brothels (go nevada!). The train passes by many old mines (Ely was a mining town) and one where it collapsed and around 100 chinese migrant workers were lost and never found. Apparently Stephen King was doing a cross country Nevada motorcycle trip and was fascinated so much that he filmed and based his book "Desperation" on. Interesting factoids like that totally excited me. Thanks mom.


first day of school 2015

We have 3 little crazy monkeys attending school this year.

No morning of photos because I couldn't find the camera. haha, thanks dumb phone!

it was a rough wait for afternoon kindergarten to begin. we love Mrs. H and Phoebe had a perfect day.
 no complaining from brother that everyone was out of the house. hmm.
 cousin lyla was all smiles too.
 front of the line. nobody puts my baby in a corner.
 i let her pick her own outfit. it was painful.

 3rd grade, Kindergarten and 5th grade

 obligatory awkward mom photo, i'm officially a taxi now and raising real children.
mind boggling.
i love summer with my kids. but this summer was a little more rough, the heat always gets to me by July and I want to run away in August. the first day of school here in town is absolutely crazy. i drove to the school 3 times today. i never really get emotional but i know i will when the last one goes, that will be kind of crazy.

 but we are excited for order and routine and to start ballet next WEEK. gahhhh.


Guatemala Dental Mission news

*Here is a letter my mom had made to show the LDS dental convention this summer. I think it's a great summary of what they do and why.

Serving in the Guatemala Dental Clinic as a Senior Missionary has been a rare privilege.  It is the best of times and also provides many growing experiences.
  We have the opportunity to provide needed dental care to Future Missionaries, who travel by bus or car for their care.  Some come in groups, others alone.  Some have travelled as long as ten hours to receive treatment.
We also provide oral exams to native missionaries who arrive at the CCM every other week.  Generally, 25-40% of these missionaries will need care.  Last week, 17 wisdom teeth were extracted on ten missionaries.  We provide the following procedures: wisdom teeth and other extractions, fillings, cleanings and root canal therapy. We occasionally provide retainers, night guards and partials.  The goal is to have them dentally healthy for their term of missionary service. 
We also provide dental care for missionaries currently serving in the Guatemala area.  This includes  senior missionaries.  Last year, as their Christmas present, we provided cleanings for all of the senior missionaries, which also included our temple missionaries.
In addition, we are blessed to serve eight orphanages in Guatemala City.  The childrens ages range from 2 to 23.  You will never work on more grateful or more happy children.  Their dental needs are endless.
The days might be longer than you planned.  They might include challenges but the opportunity to serve all of these choice young people leaves one with such a feeling of satisfaction.  One feels grateful for such an opportunity to care for the Lords children.    Daily, you witness the Lords watchful  hand over  this program.
The weather is truly “eternal spring”.  The other senior missionaries become dear friends.  The opportunity to contribute to others lives leaves one with a very softened heart.
Jim and Carol Curtis

My mom has always been an office manager if she is at Dad's office, so it's fun seeing her assist.

Future Missionaries. They travelled 10 hours from Belize for their dental exams.
These orphans all had extractions but were brave  little patients.
We do onsite dental exams in some of the orphanages and schools

These future missionaries travelled together from Quetzaltenango

These are CCM missionaries who just received needed dental care before they leave for their assignments
Providing oral dental exams at the CCM for newly arrived native missionaries
*I'm very proud of my parents for their sacrifices and dedication to serve the Lord where they were needed. I know it has not been easy for me (or them) to be so far away and hard to contact. I know we are blessed because of their selflessness.

this photo makes me cry every.time.


i gave away my iPhone

disgust, shock and confusion. those are the universal looks i receive when i tell people that i am no longer a smart phone owner. yes, i did it. something i have been contemplating since the first initial "high" of having my iPhone wore off, and i realized what had changed in my life, and i wanted my old life back. just thinking about writing down all of my thoughts and emotions like this has been a little daunting, so i am just going to vomit it all out in one quick post.

a little over two weeks ago, i finally went in for my long overdue upgrade at verizon. the line was quite long, so i meandered and perused all of the options. i already knew i was getting the iphone6, but it was fun to check everything else out. some other people wanted to touch and ogle the iPhones so i scooted over to the iPads, which were directly across from the basic phones aka dumb phones. when the sales associate started talking, i asked him to price out the iPhone 6 as an option, or the iPad mini and a basic phone. i thought 'what the heck, i'm going to do it'. i've wanted to get rid of my smart phone for years. i love it dearly, but it has complete control over me. i can pick it up to answer a text and 15 minutes later pull my head out of trivia crack or pinterest. i had tried and tried to be the "master" of my phone, and not the other way around, and yet...i always lost the battle. over and over and over again.

i am starting to teach ballet again this year, and i knew that i need to be more organized and efficient at home. i don't have the spare time to meander all over every app and check fb twenty times a day. i want to dedicate my family time to family, my home time to my home and work to work. drastic measure were needed. i had a lump in my throat, and as my stomach flipped and flopped i stood there and purchased a basic phone and an iPad and watched them take my little iPhone away. and i was devastated.

my iPhone was amazing. i might be a little biased, since purchasing my first cute turquoise mac for college (and not one university class program was formatted for anything other than pcs by the way, i just want the young hip college kids to understand the struggle for Mac lovers in 2000). the design is minimal, sleek, genius, beautiful. apple products understand me, it's always been a symbiotic relationship.

but here are a few things i noticed about my relationship with my phone, and the things that i could still have on my iPad. considering i spend about 90% of my time at home i really didn't need a portable smart phone. i would have the iPad.

  1. the calendar kept me organized...yet i still would forget or confuse birthdays and appointment times and dates. guess what, my iPad has this.
  2. my menstrual calendar helped me understand my food cravings and sudden disgust with all of humanity, including my beautiful children and handsome husband. it also helped me diagnose my ectopic pregnancy, very grateful for that. again, iPad.
  3. texting! TEXTING! so fun and easy to text. i could keep in touch with friends and siblings with a quick touch of my fingers. enter picture messages and emoticons and i was in heaven. i also would ignore my kids and to-do list to endlessly gossip on my phone. and did i mention my husband doesn't text...at all? my iPad has iMessage, but it is infinitely less alluring and fun than on my iPhone.
  4. INSTAGRAM. beautiful beautiful instagram. pictures in my palm of friends, family, strangers. instagram helped me find my favorite trainer/friend Marisa! She saved me after my ectopic pregnancy, I can always be grateful for instagram. i count the DAYS of time added up spending time stalking people on instagram...and judging them. same thing with the iPad, instagram has completely lost its allure. i check every few days on friends and family, but it is just not the same as on a smart phone.
  5. email. my iPad is much easier for email actually. i have a little keyboard, and when ty and i watch tv at night i can catch up on everything quick and simply.
  6. camera, oh. i will miss that camera. so easy to take pics, videos and send and share to everyone. guess what though? no more temptation to take a selfie lol. iPad selfie, bwahahahaha. i have a brand new nikon and i took it on our vacation, and compared to everyone else snapping away with their cute smart phones, i felt like a polygamist with full on tidal wave bangs and leggings and reeboks poking out under my tarp dress.
BUT BUT BUT! my basic phone has bluetooth (I know right?) so my phone calls come easily into our car for hands free driving.

My basic phone only needs to be charged about once a WEEK. Read that again. No more frantically looking for outlets or car chargers my friends.

my basic phone has texting, and it is LABORIOUS. click, click, click, click. ugh ugh ugh. it drives me crazy. but i remember what texting used to be, it was a quick form of sending important information. and if it was a long list of things you would email them. and guess what? email is on my computer and iPad for when i have "time" to check and respond. did you catch that? i don't have to reply at the whim of every person who assaults me with a text (because that's how it feels now). i can read important emails when i have some time, and quickly and efficiently and effectively reply with full thought. can i mention here that i probably gossip and waste time talking about stupid stuff approximately 80% less now that texting isn't fun? seriously, it isn't fun. texting on the iPhone is a beautiful thing. the colored text so you know who is talking. the little talk bubbles. the emoticons. laugh if you want, but for me it was a visceral experience.

now my phone is a...phone. you can call me! i know right? crazy. and if i don't have time to talk, i won't answer. if it's a quick text, that doesn't bother me at all. but long ones? forget about it. it feels like a complete waste of my time. things that felt essential before now are frivolous and giant time sucks. 

my biggest revelation from giving away my iPhone? taking a critical look at what was motivating me. taking pictures? my main motivation was catching something cute for isntagram or Facebook...other people. was it to capture a picture to have in a book or album to look at later? nope. since i got my iPhone i have printed out or organized approximately ONE BOOK, that was 20 pages long. 2 1/2 years, one book. that is despicable. i'm about 6,900 pictures behind to catch up on getting memories off our computer. 

now, pulling out my nikon and capturing a few and fun family moments, that i have to put onto my computer *gasp* and send to costco or chatbooks. do i really need dozens of photos every day? no. but honestly, not having the camera is probably the biggest downfall to not having my iPhone anymore. 

but...we just had a family camping trip with all of the Leavitts, and i'm not joking, everything was brighter. i feel like my senses are awakened with the absence of distraction. because that is what my iPhone was, a distraction. i enjoyed the car drive, talking with my kids, gazing at stars, listening to conversations, feeling the wind on my face, and get this....reading a book. will i ever regret reading in my spare time? NEVER. will i regret perusing Facebook and other apps? absolutely. without a doubt. no question.

also, watching other people with their faces stuck in their phones and texting 24/7 now is almost laughable. it just seems crazy. to me it feels like when coca-cola still had cocaine in it, and nobody knew. i bet the whistle blower on that one made hundreds of friends...not.

hahahaha, um...yeah. all humor aside, i still have so many other emotions and revelations about this switch, and i still question it every day. i've currently experienced every grieving emotion over 50 times. up and down and all around just like a roller coaster:


all more proof that i was truly addicted to my phone. i'm sad right now just writing about it. do i think this is for everyone to do? absolutely not. am i glad that i switched, yes... most of the time.

but the real clincher that this was the right decision for me happened on the drive home from verizon. the girls were chatting in the back seat about my "new, weird phone" that you can't push the screen and one of them said, "I'm so glad mom gave away her old phone, she never listened to us when she had it".

you can pull and twist that knife out of my heart right about...now. 

am i more present now? yes.
 am i happier? yes. 
do i feel completely out of place and a loner? yes.

just look at those sentences and i think you will agree with me that the important things that matter are there. so yes, i'm happy with the switch, but please don't send me long texts with emoticons! unless you are on iMessage, then send away to anniecleavitt@gmail.com and i will get back to you when i have time. 

If you are interested in reading more about smart phone addiction, here are a few articles: 

and one of my favorite clips on technology and unhappiness:


summer trip 2015 part I

sarah flew into las vegas on a wednesday night and we straight up partied like crazy mormons for two weeks! this looks a lot like, playing board games, making food, watching chick flicks, swimming with the kids, talking...talking...talking! it was so great to see her, it's been hard not living close anymore. shopping with her is more fun, eating out with her is more fun, laughing about how dumb I can be is more fun with her.

we loaded up the kids and drove down to see Aunt Danna, Uncle Guy and Spencer and Tyler. They moved to a new cute little home in Riverside, California and the kids had a total blast. Lots of tackling and mangling their dog and cat for 4 days. haha.

our first gorge fest was at Farrell's ice cream parlor! Holy experience!!

our first big outing was to the BEACH! We hadn't gone as sisters in two years, and we hit up corona del mar again and it was heaven. we ended up staying for 7 hours. what? a world record in our book. no one was in diapers. or needed a nap. it was crazy easy! not to mention Rodney is deathly afraid of the ocean, so no need to worry about him at all. he happily played in the sand and chased seagulls all day (and ate).
rodney decided he HATES the ocean after this and just played in the waves.

the girls decided to pull in this massive pile of kelp and even recruited a new friend to help. i just sat and watched, it took them a good 20 minutes to get it onto shore. hehehe.
i love how adventurous the girls are, they just played and played and played and explored.
aunt sarah played with them ALL DAY LONG!
we took a selfie here two years ago

very happy girl

very happy girl

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