When we jumped to the country eight years ago and bought an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere with a creek and a pond and acres of land to run and play in….

….never did I envision a house full of children staring at screens.

Not my children.




Video games?

Why?  Why would they ever need any of those?  They had blue skies and green grass and crickets and land to run….

….so why would technology ever be a part of the equation?

back yard

So imagine my surprise when I walked into the living room yesterday to see four heads bent over screens.

I sighed loudly with great emphasis.

No one noticed.

I banged some dishes putting them into the dishwasher.

No one even moved.

I stood on my head and sang Uptown Funk with choreography to see if anyone would pay attention.


Just the sound of endless typing and brain cells going to sleep.


That was it.

“Enough,” I said in a very loud voice that someone else might have mistaken for yelling.  “Outside.  Go forth and run,” I declared as I pointed with dramatic emphasis toward the back door.

And slowly, at the speed of a sloth, they reluctantly and begrudgingly put down their i-whatevers and with drooping shoulders topped off with extra eye rolls….

…..headed outside to run.

Oh the injustice of it all.

Back Porch Decorated For Summer

And run they did.

And run and run and ruuuuuuun.

They climbed trees and played hide-and-go-seek in the wet grass and explored the creek and watched rabbits hop and stared at the clouds and tried to make each other laugh and they ran through the back field and played a million and one games of made-up basketball.

And the hours passed.

Back Porch Seating Area

I watched as they ran through the front door to the back door to stop and grab a drink of water or a snack.

I kept waiting for them to slow down.

But they never did.

Constant blurs of motion with endless energy.

The Best Day Ever

And at the end of the day, they finally stopped and came in to rest.

They stood in the middle of the kitchen.





And smiles as big as the state of Kentucky.

“Mom,” they said grinning and laughing and giggling, telling me about the afternoon with the words tumbling out over and over.  “That was the best day ever.”


The best day ever.

A summer day in the middle of the country, where blue skies and green grass and endless games of made-up basketball reigned…..

…..and technology left the building.

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  1. Image for Terri Terri

    AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!........ Put down the "I whatever" .... look up .. and look around you!!!! :) .... LOVE LOVE THIS POST!!! ( okay ... yes I am taking advantage of technology as I type.. BUT.... "moderation" is the key!! Right?? ) I love the new commercials about "Silent Sunday" .... don't even know who puts them out ... but it's a great message..... (BTW ..ummm.... why didn't you video your dance routine??? ) lololol

  2. Image for Nan, Odessa, DE Nan, Odessa, DE

    I remember the day!!!! I was alone on a farm. Loved hop scotch. Also was happiest when company arrived that had children. The more the better These were the days before tv and the kids where told to stay outside, stop running in and out. The parents sit on the porch and visited. Imagine, people actually communicated. We caught lighting bugs, played hide and seek, dodge ball, etc. Thanks for bringing back the memories! Tell me about the basket on the table on your deck?

  3. Image for Patricia Patricia

    My mom was always telling me to "get your nose out of that book and go play outside". I was a reader ... still am! What were the small town suburbs compared to the grassy plains of "Little House on the Prairie" or the jungles of "Tarzan" or the whimsical charm of the Plaza Hotel of "Eloise"? But I'd get up and join the bunch of kids my age and play games till the cow bells called me home to dinner (we had big yards back then and each mom had her own signal). And then, after I'd cleared the table, back to my books.

  4. Image for Peg Peg

    This brings back memories of teaching my daughter, who was bored one hot summer day, to make mud pies!! Love, love! : )

  5. Image for Carol Lander Carol Lander

    Best ever. That's how we grew up and my kids grew up - sort of. We could be gone all day with only a "be home before dark." My kids were young in the infancy of technology. We had PacMan for about one minute and I got rid of it. Thankfully, even today, they are not addicted to their IPhones, IPads or PC's. Those are tools, not their friends. I hope your kids will always run and run and run. They are so lucky to have green grass, blue sky, and a mom like you.

  6. Image for Colleen@Lilacdrivedesigns Colleen@Lilacdrivedesigns

    As it should be my friend! I'm glad they embraced it and had such a great day! I remember being much younger than your girls are now and playing outside all day! Making mud pies, playing in the dirt, catching much fun!

  7. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    Amen to that! When my adult sons...sigh...were little did not exist. Oh...those were happy days indeed. I don't know how parents today cope with all the i-distractions available today. Hats off to you! ;)

  8. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Sometimes we just have to get the courage to take the bull by the horns or girls by their pigtails and boys by their ball caps and kick them out the door. Yes indeed!! I believe waves from the i-whatevers are filtering into the brains of our kids and sucking out all ambition and motivation. Did they come in and say "You are the best mom, EVER!!" And you are -- you know when to make the tough decisions. Good job!! ( I know, I know -- I'm using exclamation points, again!!)

  9. Image for Sheila Sheila

    What a great post. I am forever trying to get my kids to put down those time stealers. My boy doesn't mind playing outdoors so he's less reluctant but my girl, she's 19 and will NOT put down the phone. Sigh! What's a mom to do?

  10. Image for Jeanie Dancer Jeanie Dancer

    Your girls are beautiful and I'm drooling over your home. You take the best photos. Thank you for writing this blog. I look forward to reading it every day.

  11. Image for Design Chic Design Chic

    Now that's what summer is all about, KariAnne!! I was in a yogurt store yesterday and four teenagers were sitting at a table together and all texting on their phones…definitely a different world…

  12. Image for Lealie Lealie

    This one made this Kentucky girl happy!❤️ The memories of this day will stand the test of time!!! Far longer than a tech day!! Welcome to the country mini-thistles!!

  13. Image for Jere Jere

    Oh wouldst all the children experience a "best day ever". Hopefully the day will spark more best days. Good memories to add..and you have photo proof to remind them. How lucky can they be to have you for a Mom? Jere

  14. Image for Linda Linda

    Good for you KariAnne!! More mothers should do that! These kids spend all summer staring at their phones...they have friends over and stare at their phones! Theydon't talk! It's not only are the best decorator/blogger, you are a fantastic Mom! love, Linda

  15. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Good for YOU, Mom......this is a good thing, as Martha Stewart would proudly proclaim! And just look at how much they've grown.....hardly recognize them....almost too big to be a "mini" thistle, Miz karianne......LOL

  16. Image for Mary Mary

    This was great on so many levels. Good for you - sometimes they need to be prodded... a little. More proof that Mom is always right!

  17. Image for lela lela

    I loved reading this so much. These days, kids aren't used to having to go outside and play every day like we did when we were kids. They groan and complain about it. Then hours later they are still outside having a blast. Love that picture at the end of the big smiles and dirty clothes. Good read, for sure. Have a great weekend!

  18. Image for claudia claudia

    Favorite post so far! Keep encouraging them to go outside the gadgets will be there when they get done but seasons change.

  19. Image for ananda ananda

    wow they are such beautiful mini versions of YOU! =) and so true nature is so important yet so easily forgotten when we are lost in our gadgets! looking at photos of your stunning home gives me goosebumps! we are on the verge of jumping off a cliff, well, leaving the big city and buying our rolling acres, and your house reflects all that i dream of - majestic trees, more trees, bay windows, more bay windows .... xoxo

  20. Image for Belinda Belinda

    Ohhh those mini-thistles! Aren't they adorable!?! A couple of days ago, in Oeensboro, Ky we also were tech free. There was an outage covering a large area. It's amazing how quickly we become dependent on our I-things. It was awful-haha!

  21. Image for Susan Susan

    Now I can really understand why so many people refer to your twins as the "mini-Thistles"...they are the spitting image of Mama Thistle...sooooooooo very beautiful! I wish more parents would encourage their children to create a day of amusement for themselves who are stuck staring at a screen all day are missing out on some very important lessons not to mention missing out on a lot of fun! Heck, I think many adults could use a little more time doing stuff outside, too...I know that I really cherish my outdoor time and it elevates my mood significantly. Brava to you for doing right by your children and bravo to your children for making the most of their day! May there be many more such days for all of you!

  22. Image for Betty Betty

    Good Job! I'm so sorry the young moms today need to remind their children there is more to life than an electronic thing a ma jig...Keep teaching and keep writing these wonderful stories. Joyously, Betty

  23. Image for Liz Thomas Liz Thomas

    Nan, Odessa, DE, took the words right out of my mouth!!!! LOL, I remember like it was yesterday and reading your blog brought back so many memories as a kid growing up on a farm in NJ. Good on you to chase em out of the house, they will remember these days and chase their own kids outside..... one of these days WAY off in the future.

  24. Image for Angie M Angie M

    I love this post! Those smiles say it all. I remember being outside all the time as a kid. I'd LOVE to have that energy again.

  25. Image for Cheryl @ Artzzle Cheryl @ Artzzle

    Yep . . . good job. Sometimes ya just have to kick em out to wake em up! I know someone who has a big basket deliberately placed at the front door. ALL who enter . . . grown kids or grands . . . must deposit all their "gadgets" there, before entering! Whew! If I did that, everyone would just turn around and leave.

  26. Image for Mary Mary

    I grew up with 7 siblings. 6 older brothers and a younger sister. There were times where we didn't even have tv and we never ran out of things to do. We entertained one another, played outside all day, and it was the best. When we were stuck inside because of weather we did art. My mother was an artist who encouraged our creative side as much as she could. I will never forget how good that was for me. I hope I can do the same with my children when I have them one day. Good job getting them to put the technology away to enjoy the day!!!!

  27. Image for Amy Amy

    oh, how timely....our internet was out for 24 hours last week and my middle child was having an absolute fit, positively apoplectic. He didn't know how he would survive the night let alone waiting until we had a service man here the next day late in the afternoon. Survive he did. ps...I change the wifi periodically to manipulate, ahem, get them to do things like walk away from the tech for a couple of hours.

  28. Image for Marijean Marijean

    How sweet it is ! My grandkids have I-pads and love technology, however they love to be outside running around ( and running me ragged at times ) , playing basketball and baseball, as much if not more than technology. Takes me back to the good ole days, lol ! Thanks for the enjoyable post. Those two girls sure resemble you ! Have a fantastic day friend !

  29. Image for Sue B. Sue B.

    Technology left the building, your kids had a great time playing, running outside plus they provided the inspiration for you to post another awesome blog; win, win all the way around.

  30. Image for Cindy Cindy

    A www:) Good for you! You should most definitely pat yourself on the back! I'm afraid that's the problem with our young generation much technology that most of them don't even want to think anymore. And their social skills....Whoa. When I was a kid, we played kick ball, hide-n-seek, went swimming, and I was too busy cleaning stalls because I showed horses! You're awesome Mama Thistle;)

  31. Image for Emily Emily

    I wish I could let my Littles out for the entire day. Most of the summer I worry about overheating. Is it hot there?

  32. Image for Teddee Grace Teddee Grace

    Playing house inside the willow tree by the creek that had put up shoots, probably a hundred years before, that had become thick trunks that created an enclosure and between which we could wedge boards for shelves; "borrowing" eggs from the hen house to put in our mud pies, which made them shiny, the perfect backdrop for weed seed garnishes; making lath-cross dolls as tall as we were topped with faces colored on and cut out of the back side of cereal boxes and topped with corn silk hair that we rolled in pin curls, washed under the rain gushing from the eavestrough and dried with air pushed out of a beach ball; creating hollyhock dolls in antebellum skirts that reposed on milkweed-bloom tuffets between dances with their beaus whose pants were withered blooms on their last legs; "walking" on milk cans turned on their sides, rolling them around the yard, reversing and turning with amazing dexterity; and "skinning the cat" and hanging by our knees like the lady in the circus on a crowbar my Dad had tied across the ropes of our swing. What fun my sister and I had during those summers. Your daughters will remember this day.

  33. Image for Carol Carol

    You are the best mother ever. Many years ago before electronic "stuff" a program was set up in our community to entertain the children and I wouldn't let my children participate. I really was considered a bad mother, but I told them we had trees to climb, a pond to swim and boat in and they needed to learn how to make full for themselves. Maybe we can start a movement to get the children away from their electronics.

  34. Image for Rita Rita

    Just like your children we adults need to bust through the screen door...muddy, grass stained, sweaty, technology free and declaring "That was the best day ever"!

  35. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Perfect! The girls are so cute posing with the evidence of fun had outside...but where are the boys? Camera shy? :-) We always had a blast outside and were sad when Mom called us in. Kids need that nudge nowadays to get outside away from the screens.

  36. Image for Dale D. Dale D.

    So enjoyable to read about children doing free play instead of overwhelming schedules of organized sports, dance classes, or disengaged by all that is around them with their cell phones in hand. Love to see kids using their imagination, truly seeing their world, discovering, experiencing and just being face to face with their friends...talking. The pic of your girls made me smile and their mischievous smiles says it all..a mega FANTASTIC DAY. A truly dreamy farm house, both inside and out. Touched with talented hands, creative in mind and spirit, and the hardest but most rewarding.. PARENTHOOD! Not only a fab day for your mini-thistles, but for you as well. A toast to memorable summer days.

  37. Image for Leona Leona

    Best Mom kids still would have been bored outside. And you let them in the house with all that mud ???? Good thing their sneakers are clean. Your house would have talked back to you.

  38. Image for Ashley @ the handmade home Ashley @ the handmade home

    This brings tears to my eyes. I love love LOVE this. And you. Thank you for always being so amazingly therapeutic and real. You're my favorite. :)

  39. Image for Michelle Mortensen Michelle Mortensen

    That is so GREAT!!! Real, live FUN!!! I love that there is no Wi-Fi at our vacation home on Balboa Island. My kidsj actually play board games, spend time on the sand and in the sea, and talk/laugh. Sometimes, I just take all of the tech gadgets and they are forced to go to the pool or beach. They always protest - and they always love it. Hugs, Michelle from

  40. Image for Amber Amber

    Imagine me raising my hands in the air and saying "AMEN......HALLELUJER!!" If you can disengage their eyes from the screen, it almost instantly engages their imagination. Three cheers for muddy, wet, grass covered children!!

  41. Image for Michelle Rudis Michelle Rudis

    Good morning, Friend! Didn't have time to tell you this yesterday as I was (ironically) busy trying to download and then figure out my latest technology Microsoft 10 (that may take a while **ugh**) but I just loved this story and the pic of the twins! Took me back to my summers and put a great big smile on my face! We all need to put down the phone, the tablet, the 'whatever' and start living a little less virtually. Well done, Mamma!

  42. Image for Shelly@ConfettiStyle Shelly@ConfettiStyle

    Oh how I miss the joy of running bare foot in grass, looking up at the clouds and the sound of running water (that doesn't come from doing dishes). Thanks for sharing this wonderful story and for giving me a minute to close my eyes and feel the grass under my feet.

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