Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My love/hate relationship with homeschool & why I'll probably never do it.

There are so many things I didn't know I would be dealing with once I became a parent.  

In the beginning, it is breast or bottle? cloth or disposable? crib or co-sleeping?  The decisions I never knew I'd make just continue every single day.  Little things like, candy now, or wait til after dinner?... can the kids stay up a little later on a Friday?  Is it okay for my son to wear long sleeve shirts 365 days a year? AND, bigger things, like 

Where will my kid go to school? Is public school right for me? Who are the teachers?  What is the curriculum? Will my child be held back? Is he learning what he needs?  Is he bored? Is he learning at the right pace? Is he being held back? How do they discipline? Who are the other kids? Who are their parents?  What about standardized testing? What about recess? Should I be supplementing their education?  Can I do this better? What about unschooling? Freeschooling? Private school?  What about recess? What about extra curricular activities?  Will he like school? Is school even necessary?

Of course, these questions are just the beginning...

When it was time for my son to go to preschool/daycare, we first enrolled him at the local YMCA. He was only two then, and his enrollment there lasted less than a month.

We watched with anxiety on the "nanny cam" each day as my child cried and no one at that program attended to his needs.

It didn't take long for us to see he either wasn't ready or the YMCA was the completely wrong fit for him.

A year later my husband and I began to search for preschools yet again. We found a program through a friend's referral on Facebook. We went down to the school and I was instantly in love with their philosophies.

I was new to parenting and had never done much thinking about my child's education.

I was surprised to learn that the school participated something called un schooling--although at the time they weren't calling it that--it was child-led learning or something similar. It really was an excellent fit for him at the time--and I liked the families and the social interaction he was getting. But, it was pricey for the hours he was there & he HATED the naps so much he stopped wanting to go and would cry in the mornings when I dropped him off. In the end, I  did like a lot of what they were doing, but didn't like a lot of other things. The school wasn't the right for for him or us.

The pre-school has actually been building an elementary school based on unschooling philosophies and child directed learning with no boundaries and non-traditional curriculum.  I love the idea, but not the price tag.  So, now my son is in a regular private preschool with a small class size that is close to home. It's pretty traditional, and the curriculum isn't anything great, but he likes it, it gives the grandparents a break, and it's not too expensive. (Yes, at 4 years old, this is what we need) 

Anyway,  What the unschooling school did was make me more interested in researching different educational philosophies and to think more about what is right for our family and our son, and that really is unique to our situation as it is in this moment in life. One of the educational paths I have strongly considered is homeschooling.

I began reading homeschooling blogs like crazy and

immediately fell in love with the idea of homeschooling. 

Before I became a parent, and really started thinking about different ways to educate children, I never would have ever considered this.  I think a mix of unschooling and traditional education at home with a homesteading practice would be ideal.

I believe that traditional education is failing, and that children have the ability to learn anything because the internet is available to them and us as parents. It makes it much more simple to learn than it had been in the past, and allows children to excel in their own unique area of interest instead of core curriculum. 

My vision of a homeschool 
sometimes involves an organized drawer of worksheets, and books everywhere--on all of the subjects he loves the most. Other times it involves no books and tons of adventures.  I dream of field trips to the museum followed with reading books about the animals seen. I love the idea of a chicken coup and a garden in the backyard. 4h projects, and discovery units (I used to have a million Pinterest boards on these) that I could create and share with my son and daughter.  Teaching the value of looking things up and learning by watching educational films and shows on Netflix to our hearts content all while

protecting my son from the evils of the world, standardized testing, and conformism. (Is that even a word?) Can you feel my disdain towards the traditional schooling method? 

Well, schools in my area are horrible! 

I am so torn and frustrated about my options (and the lack thereof) for my son's education.  Also, I'm nearly confident that future success of my children will be dependent on vastly different things than they were in the past.  I doubt a college degree will be worth much and student loan debt will always be insurmountable. I am not confident that traditional, standardized education is the answer.  (Google and other companies don't care about your degree--they value entrepreneurship more than anything else).

The future is changing and the future can be made at home. 

Well, you may be asking, if you love it so much....

Now here's the why I'll never do it part--first, and most obviously, the economy sucks.  I need school for my kid so that I can work--yes, "school as the babysitter"--hate all you want, but I have accepted that reality.  I've thought about how to do full time work and homeschooling (many people out there do this and I am constantly amazed by how they juggle it all) but it seems like far too much planning and detail that I don't have the extra time or energy for at this point in my life when I have a full time job.  So, the what to do with the kids during the day phenomenon persists. So, in reality, supplementing their educations at home while they still do the traditional school thing can't hurt too much and sometimes requires just as much energy and planning as homeschooling.

Second, when I stayed home for my maternity leave (all 6 short weeks of it) I realized how hard it is to be "on" with my kids for that many hours a day--24 hours a day is tough.  Heck, sometimes the 4 waking hours I get with them is tough. When I was home, the house cleaning called, as did my blog, trying to exercise, piles of diapers, and ultimate exhaustion. I am just not the person that can entertain at the level necessary for engaged teaching and learning if I have to care for these kids 24 hours a day.  Plus, we all kinda went stir crazy some days, I realized above all--

we need to get out & we need to see other people. I value my time at work and interaction with adults and exercising my own mind in a challenging manner.

So, I think what I'll continue to do as an active, concerned, mother with an interest in my children's education is continue to supplement my children's education by constantly engaging them, doing activities, and teaching at home.  But during the day, I'll still send them away to school until I win the lottery.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Value of an Early Morning

My mother recently told me that I have always been one to need a lot of sleep.

I've always felt that way-- a 10 hour of sleep type of gal.  But as I've grown and my responsibilities have increased and now that I have children to care for 24 hours a day--its simply not an option to sleep! (I wish I was joking).

Lately, I've been waking when my husband leaves for work at about 5AM-- this gives me a chance to get myself up & alert and get myself ready before the hustle and bustle begins.  My morning routine involves pumping milk, taking a shower, putting on makeup & styling my hair, getting dressed (sometimes ironing is involved), eating breakfast, packing lunch for myself, packing lunch for Marley, getting all of our bags ready to go (milk for baby, water, lunch & school stuff for Marley), getting Marley up, getting him fed (if he'll eat), clothed, hair and teeth brushed,  getting Joe up, getting her fed, dressed & in her carseat (sometimes it also includes trying to keep her happy while doing all of the above)--then we have to do drop offs at Grandmas and sometimes at school too.  And I usually have to get out the door at either 7:15 or 8:30. Whew! I pretty much always forget SOMETHING and have to turn around and go back a lot of times.

In other words, mornings can be crazy.

And after the morning, comes the day where I work all day, pick up the kids and I don't rest til I fall into bed with my baby at 8:30-9:30.

Or, on rougher nights, I'm rocking her to sleep until 11:30.  It just depends.  She's up at least twice before 5AM, no matter what time she went to sleep.  She fusses, then eats, then easily goes back to sleep.  Sometimes my son wants me to come in his room at night too.  It's pretty exhausting.

That's why I really like that extra morning time--getting up and having just a little bit of time to myself!

After I'm ready to go, I have the rest of the time to do things I want to do--like write this blog, work on my scrapbook, or just mindlessly surf the internet.  I actually generally avoid doing housework at that time of day because I don't want to make noise clanking dishes around in the kitchen, and because I generally like to keep the house dark and quiet in the morning hours instead of moving around--in and out of everyone's rooms while they try to sleep.  

The morning is the only real "me" time I have left, and I don't even get it everyday (either I'm too tired, or the baby won't sleep, or my husband is home so I don't get up early). And because it really is "me" time, sometimes I use it to sleep (more times than not), but those days I get up early are truly invigorating, productive, and necessary. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

#TBT Easter 2013

The kids have grown so much in just one year! This is a great #TBT from 2013.
Digital Scrapbooking using Photoshop Elements on my Mac:
Kit: Honey Bunny, Designs By Danny, Sweetshoppe Designs.  
(Old, I can't find a link to where it can still be purchased):

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Kids Cowboy Bedroom

I've been wanting to share pics of Marley's bedroom ever since I posted pics of Joe's bedroom.  These pics are a little old.  Marley's room is still decorated in the same theme, but some of the stuff is missing now from a destructive 4 year old.  The furniture is moved around, but the idea is still the same.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

My mom found this piece (its a mirror inside) at a local art place that actually belonged to someone else before.  Isn't it cute!?

Close up of the pattern on his sheets/comforter.

Leftover bandanas from the cowboy birthday party!
bedding purchased online.  Letters and paint are from the nursery.  The banner and wall hangings are also left over from the birthday party!
I recovered some nursery picture frames with bandanas from the party using hotglue.

More party decorations!

The tree was originally in the nursery.  We simply added cowboy clothes (from a potato head) to the Monkey hangin around!

All the pics (also recycled from the party) are Marley doing some kind of cowboy thing (i.e. wearing cowboy clothes, riding horses, etc).

I'm happy to answer any questions.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up!

Happy Monday folks!  This weekend was great!

I'm so glad that I got this picture before we left the gate open and the flowers got attacked by the bunnies, or quails, or some other desert creature!

I took Friday off work since my son was out of school.  He was so happy to have a sleep-over with one of his buddies from school on Thursday night.  They had a great time! We had wonderful weather on Friday and the boys played outside all day.  I hung out with the boy's mom in the afternoon (love making new friends that also have kids Marley's age!) And we spent the evening with family from out of town!

We got a TON of cute pictures of this little cutie this weekend.  I love Spring and I have loved dressing my darling up so pretty each day!

Saturday was a day of egg painting and hanging with family and close friends!

Sunday was great.  Marley loved his Easter bunny loot and all the kids had a great time! We finally got some great family pics too!

The kids loved the egg hunt!

Until next year, I'm ready for Summer!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

2 months

I'm posting this a few days late as I'm having so much fun with this little gal, I haven't had time to sit down at the computer!  Isn't she a cutie pie?!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dairy free fast food & App Review

Eating with a food allergy has been very challenging.  Its only been three weeks and already there have been setbacks.  Until last Saturday, I had religiously been reading labels, especially knowing about all of the hidden ingredients that are actually dairy and soy products.  Throughout it all I have been shocked to find out what is in our food.  For example, why does my deli meat need lactic acid--derived from milk? Or why do the banana chips have a dairy product?  You can't trust anything.  Anyway, I went to a bachelorette party last Saturday and ate at a restaurant.  I ordered no milk, no cheese, no creamy products.  I'm assuming there was dairy or soy in the chips I ate because we've been seeing the negative effects of that exposure since then (although now it's improving).  This experience taught me very quickly that this is serious and even a small exposure will result in discomfort for everyone.  (No pressure or anything).

So this post is about how to eat out.  Big Shout out to In N Out.  I've eaten there three times in the last three weeks. My lunch order goes like this, "I have a dairy & soy allergy. I'd like a double meat no cheese protein style no sauce, ketchup instead. Fries & a large ice tea." After I repeat a few things, they type "dairy and soy allergy" into their computer.  This prompts the burger makers to clean a grill for your food preparation to avoid cross contamination.  This order is safe because they do not use soy oil for their fries.  Their buns have soy, but the meat does not.  Oh, and as an added benefit--it's only $6.42.  It's filling and satisfies my cravings for cheese and junk food.  I learned this trick through a google search.

Many restaurants have online allergen menus.  I was excited to find out I could eat at my favorite restaurant--Firehouse Subs, but not at Olive Garden (Score! my least favorite).  

I did buy this app:

and it's screen looks like this:

You can enter your allergens and view a menu showing only what you can eat.  There are a limited amount of restaurant options, but I've found the app overall to be much quicker than searching for menus online--especially when we're trying to decide where to go, it's a quick way to find out what's an absolute no (like the Olive Garden).  Worth $4.99?  No way, but if there were more restaurants added, I would find it more worth its sticker value in a world of free apps.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring garden update

Somehow, despite all of the crazy-tired-busy of the last month, I've managed to maintain the little garden that Marley and I started just before I went back to work. This is miraculous because each past attemp I've made has been feeble.

Today we picked some onions from the garden and ate them. I feel absolutely accomplished & like I want to add on!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Looking Back & Looking Forward

When I think back to just a few weeks ago as I looked forward at what my new life as a working mother of two would be like, I'm already laughing. I thought I'd be exercising, waking up early, eating healthy, and be completely full of energy.  Ha ha! What a joke that is now.

As I pull myself out of bed each morning, it's usually already pushing 7 AM (not the 5AM waking up and having productive mornings that I had dreamed of).  I drag through my morning all with that annoying pain in my back from sleeping at the very edge of the bed I share with my daughter.  I struggle with a four-year-old who sometimes doesn't want to put his clothes on, brush his hair, or brush his teeth. So far, we are just managing to get through it, but thus far I've managed not to be incredibly late to anything, I haven't shown up to work with spit up on my shirt, and I seem to have a daughter that adjusts incredibly well to change.   Yes, t's working out okay but its certainly not the supermom gig I envisioned.

For example, I have been taking the elevator (instead of the stairs) and I've only managed to make it to one yoga class.   While the vegetables in my garden are watered,  the trails in my yard have not been walked.  The energy I thought I'd have to do it all is simply not there.  Or maybe the energy is there--it's just used to walk a fussy baby up and down the hallways, or search for missing toys, or struggle through my clients' problems each day.

For now, I think it's best to be content with the realization that the life that I have the time and energy for doesn't really include training for a marathon, or even taking the stairs every day or working out at the gym. (Do you notice how weekly I cut more and more of my daily exercise aspirations out?!)

But the good thing is that all of this is okay with me.  I can only do so much and I can only handle putting so much pressure on myself.  And that is okay.

This week:

Reading: Make Every Second Count.

Listening to: Nothing--I seem to have lost my earbud.  This is creating a huge problem for audio-book listening.

Staying Busy With:  Work.  It's starting to go at a faster speed than I am comfortable with.

Worried About:  Our health--food allergies, styes, and skin rashes.  Trying to increase energy and productivity.

Looking Forward To: Easter this weekend.

Inspired By: The world around me.  The changing seasons and the hustle and bustle of downtown.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dairy-Free for the Baby

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, and who might have noticed from my hint in this post, I am now living Dairy & Soy Free.  I haven't really talked about the details of this yet because I have been so busy trying to make the change that I haven't had the chance to sit down and think/talk about it.

When Joe was born, she was wonderfully content.  This was a huge shift from my son, who, to the best of my recollection cried non-stop starting on night two at home until he was atleast 6 months old.  I digress, with Joe, However, after a week or so, she started getting fussy in the evenings---we'd have to constantly walk and rock her around the house, she would fuss at the breast (she'd seem hungry, but be angry at what was/wasn't coming), she'd pull away and squirm in discomfort.  Now, because my son cried all the time, I really thought that this was no big deal and that "she was just fussy at night."  Of course, I googled colic, supply issues, etc. and Google will tell you that everything is normal and that some babies are just fussy at night.

I happened to mention at her 2 week appointment that she had a weird green stool ONE TIME.  The Dr. started asking about her diapers, and it sounded like she might have been going too often.  She told me to keep an eye on it.  2 weeks later, the poop was getting worse, and so were our evenings.  I brought the diaper down to the Dr. and Joe was diagnosed Colitis with a potential dairy allergy after finding blood/mucous in the stool.  So, here I am, mom of the year, saying, "oh, she's just fussy!" and meanwhile, she's bleeding from the inside?! (I'm a little dramatic, but it's hard not to blame myself/freak out)

In any case, the Dr. told me to cut dairy and soy because 90% of the time, that resolves the issue.  So,  having consumed an entire soy latte earlier that day, I cut the two at that moment.  I went home, and I cried as I got rid of my milk stash from the first month of her life (traumatic!) and started a new lifestyle. Within a few days, she stopped being fussy at night & her stomach issues seem to be getting better (though not completely resolved (it's only been 2 weeks).

As an added benefit-- my skin seems to be getting better. My husband said "maybe those bumps on your arms are your allergy."   This is an issue that I have struggled with since at least high school, on and off.   I googled "Keratosis Pilaris Diet" and found out that sure enough it can be caused by food allergies.  My arms are miraculously getting better--but my legs not so much-- I'm planning on seeing a doc and finding out what's up!

The past week and a half have included a lot of money spent on specialty foods, a long time standing in grocery aisles reading labels, one trip to Trader Joes, at least 3 mishaps of eating what I shouldn't have, a lot of google searching, some major insight into what is really in the food we are eating, and quite a bit of frustration.  BUT I feel good, and I'm not hungry, and I am so grateful that my baby is feeling better.

Given that my skin seems to be improving, I just may continue this for the long-term.  I'm reading about Paleo and keeping my eyes and mind on my own body to see how I change through this lifestyle change as well.  I don't know if I can cut out Wheat too, but if it's going to make me feel and look better, than I just might.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Looking forward this week...

Going into the second week back at work, I did some of the same preparations I did for last week that helped out the working mom gig SO MUCH.

To avoid Morning Fashion Meltdowns:

Picked out matching outfits with the clothes I have that actually still fit. I ironed what needed to be ironed, so all Ill need to do is pick out shoes and accessories.

Food prep:

We went to both Trader Joes and the regular grocery store and I've found that reading every label is really hard & I've wasted a little too much by not reading thoroughly at the store & then seeing that the product really had soy or dairy. Nevertheless, I've got some good meals and snacks for the week.  I also informed my husband that it's back to his cooking from now on. (Yep, Susie Homemaker is only part-time these days).


My exercise plans have really come into perspective since back at work. I realize that time, money, and energy are real-life roadblocks to my fitness goals.  Some of these roadblocks I am prepared to hurdle or knock over, and some I just am not! There are things I'm willing to do and things I don't think I'll ever be willing to do.  I had to get realistic with myself about things that will probably never happen (like running a marathon)--but for reasons that I am happy with-- I'm totally ok with not being a runner even when it's the "in" thing to be. But there are things I certainly can (& will) do!

I'd rather stick to a fitness plan I enjoy--and for me that generally always means fitting fitness in here & there and not really going with an intense exercise plan. Of course, this doesn't really jive with my goals of becoming a bikini model-- but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. 

This week I need to make an effort to fit fitness in--by taking the stairs, walking, and escaping to a yoga class or two during my week. I also cannot neglect our newly improved yard and need to get outdoors with my son at least once or twice.


On my mind a lot this week was my older child and his adjustment to the new baby and my return to work. It really has been an adjustment to say the least and there have definitely been some struggles around here in the past week. I need to make efforts in my parenting to address the power struggles and emotional issues  that are occurring in our lives.  I don't know exactly how this is going to happen, but it is definitely on my mind and I need to figure out how to do best by my son.

Personal Development:
I'm currently listening to The Happiness Project and reading a book about growing a business out of a blog. I'm trying to eat healthier and stay moving during the day. I need to improve on my parenting, efficiency, and home keeping.  I need to gain perspective about what is important to me and what I need to let go.  For example, just this morning, my husband said, "I like a messy house--it means a family lives here."  Touche! I need to embrace that thinking more.

I know that this is only week 2 and we will all adjust in time, but time is such a precious thing and it seems a shame to waste any adjusting.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Weekend Reflection.

Whoa.  This week was pretty intense, to say the least.  Back to work, two kids out the door in the morning, two days of forgotten carseat switchoff, two days of drop off from mom, one from dad and one from grandpa, baby sleeping and eating, mom eating, pumping, and walking, (working somewhere in between), one yoga class, one garden tended to, one playground fight, one wardrobe fail, two doctors appointments, two failed dinners, no dairy, spoiled milk, almond milk, a new planner, thirty flights of stairs, five miles walked, and a lot of anxiety.


Reading: How to Blog for Profit (Without Selling Your Soul).
I abandoned Allegiant--I breezed through the first two books and lost interest about 1/2 way through the third in the series.
I'm also ditching Scrib.d-- although I like the idea of unlimited books, I just don't read enough and I seem to buy books on Amazon anyway.

Listening to: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (for the 2nd time).

Moving by: walking the 1/2 mile to my car and back everyday, taking the stairs, enjoying an hour-long yoga session (and aching from it).  I'm thinking about doing a couch to 5k program, but I am a chicken and find it hard to find a designated time for that!
  *Note to Self: Need to get out on our home trails this week!

Thinking About: Time management, finding my new self, losing that extra weight, what goes into my mouth, how to avoid being such a "bag lady."

I'm still daydreaming about a Dinosaur Party, thus, I died when I saw this party in my Feedly reader this week:

I'm dreaming about the growth of our little back yard & feeling inspired by this:

I'm also getting ready for Easter Breakfast and Gathering Simple Ideas, Using More Accessories, Putting more pen to paper, trying to open my mind up and let go of some of my issues (i.e. the want for a clean house--it's just not going to happen), I'm interested in Paleo and want to read up on it, I'm trying to talk less about being a milk cow and more about topics more relevant to people's lives.

I'm focusing on trying to be organized and optimize time management so I'm able to complete all of the things I need to get done and wasting less time on those I don't need--i.e. facebook, instagram, and pinterest!  I'm always brainstorming fun things to do with the family and currently trying to make myself a better person.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My easy go-to meal options

1. Eggs- egg on toast with veggies & cottage cheese. Scrambled egg sandwich (with mayo & cheese). Hard boiled with salt.  I don't really like hard boiled egg salad, but that's another easy option too. 

2. Oats- oatmeal- I make a few days worth at a time. I add stevia, brown sugar & raisens and just throw it in a Tupperware. When I'm ready to eat it, I scoop some out, leave it cold & pour almond milk over it. Sometimes I chop up a banana.

Another option: protein pancakes: blend up oats, an egg or two (and sometimes a banana) and make on the skill it like a pancake. Eat with sugar free maple syrup or peanut butter or Nutella. Cut up some banana on top. 

Third option: pour some oats right into your smoothies--I've had them at smoothie places and decided to try it at home. You won't even know  the oats are in there.

I also love granola cereals and granola bars. You can eat the cereals with milk (I use almond milk) or Greek yogurt.

3. Tuna-- I eat plain with relish of some kind. My husband makes a better tasting deluxe version with mayo & more chopped veggies, but if you are looking for quick and easy, just add relish (if you don't have any, try blending up a pickle!)
The best part about tuna is you can eat it plain, with crackers, as a salad, or on a sandwich.

Second option: Tuna patties. Simply crush up some ritz crackers, add an egg & make patties in a skillet on the stove. You can save these in the fridge and eat them again too. You can chop up spices and veggies for some added flavor in the mix--my husband likes them a lot better that way.  Eat plain, on a salad, or in Sandwich.

4. Fruit- I go through apples and bananas very quickly, and we always offer fruit to Marley when he is hungry.  We all like to eat it with peanut butter or Nutella. Grapes & strawberries left out for the taking also go super fast.

We also freeze fresh fruit to blend up in random smoothies--it is MUCH cheaper this way than buying the $10 bag of strawberries.

5.Chicken breast: Chicken salad, chicken sandwich or wrap, chicken with rice & veggies, chicken in a crockpot (with BBQ sauce or salsa or enchilada sauce). 

6. Ground turkey: sloppy joes, enchiladas, spaghetti-- all of these take about 30 mins and have very few ingredients.

7. Chopped steak- aka carne asada. Pick some up from a meat market pre-marinated. BBQ. Eat as tacos, taco salad, or nachos.

8. Veggies. Great for salads. I used to hate chopping veggies (I still do) so that's why I didn't cook too much. Now, I just deal with it and our salads usually consist of everything I can possibly find to throw in there.

***  Unfortunately, in the last week, I had to switch to a non-dairy/non-soy diet so some of these are no nos for me right now, but I still thought I would share! :-)