Halloween Mystery Menu

When I was a kid my mom would create a “mystery menu”  which consisted of strange named things and we would have to order off of this menu.  We never knew what exactly we were ordering but that was most of the fun.  We could end up with ketchup, ice cream, and a fork or water, a napkin and carrots.  To us as kids it was always a blast to do and to see what you would end up with.  When I became a parent, I decided I wanted to continue this tradition.  I decided at least initially that I would tie it in with Halloween.  Therefore my menu always has Halloween related items; such as witches tears, monster bites, bone chunks, etc.

Last year was the first year that I did this for my husband and daughter.  My husband had never done anything like this but thought it would be fun.  It was a lot of work but my husband and daughter absolutely loved it.  Now as I’m getting ready for year two I decided to share what I did last year.  I can’t share this year’s menu and key as I don’t want to give away the secrets yet.  If you have never done it I highly recommend it.  It is a blast for kids and adults alike.

Tips:  Block off your kitchen so they have no idea what you are making.  Plan in advance and have a key in the kitchen so you know what you are doing.  Maybe even have some of the items already dished out. 🙂

Halloween Mystery Menu

Mixed up menu (food key)

How do you decide to Home school and still support your family?

My daughter is currently in Kindergarten at a great school.  She is doing good, not above average but keeping up with everyone.  Her class size is 24 kids which seems like a lot.  Lately I have been looking into homeschooling and what you need to be able to do to home school your child.  There are many things that make me contemplate homeschooling from, being able to set your own schedule, not necessarily having a huge summer break, controlling what your kids are exposed to/learn, etc.

The major thing that holds me back though is, how do you afford it?  I have been home with my daughter for 3 years and its been surprisingly easier on our budget then expected but its still not as easy as when I was working.  I’m concerned as I know we have some major expenses coming up that I don’t want to just ignore and so I’m torn.  Do most home school parents find jobs in the evenings?  How do you do it?

Next concern what happens come high school/college time.  I have a 4 year degree in accounting but I don’t know if that means I can teach her well enough to get through High School.

How do I know homeschooling if the right choice?

Pregnant after 35 is it worth the risks?

So my husband and I continuously talk about whether or not to have a second child.  we were blessed 5 years ago with a wonderful little girl and even though I wasn’t sure about it at first I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Since then we have halfheartedly tried for a second child.  Never going over the top with all the extreme methods to conceive.  I am now 35 and to be honest overweight (even though I battle it and exercise daily 🙁 ).  We started seriously talking about the fact that we both wouldn’t mind a second child.  I have read about the risks associated with having a child after 35 especially if you are overweight of course if you are even lucky enough to conceive.  It sounds like everything is stacked against you.  Is it worth risking everything including the child’s life to do it?

Trying to figure out what to do next

Do you ever just feel lost?  Right now everything is changing around me and I’m feeling very lost as to what to do next.  My dad got a job in Oklahoma in July and so has been living down there but my mom has been living up here while trying to sell their house.  All of us knew selling their house would be a challenge as they living in a dying town of 500 people and their house was built in the 1800’s.  We all felt horrible that my mom was playing the visit my dad and then come back up here but yet my family enjoyed that she was still here.  With her being here she still played a major role in my daughters life and in mine.  She was around if we needed a babysitter, if we needed help with anything, or just when there was a concert or something that we wanted her to attend.  Yes we were selfish but with her being the last family of mine to still be in Minnesota I wanted someone here.  I wanted someone here for holidays, for summer outings, for shopping with.  I’m not one who goes out and socializes easily and family has always been extremely important to me so I enjoyed having my parents nearby.  So anyways in December, they got 2 offers on the house, one with an inspection and one without.  They jumped on the one without and are now officially planning on moving January 24th.  I spent my last night visiting their house last weekend.  It was hard.

Now of course this makes me question a few things, we have been talking of moving for a while but have unfortunately been stuck in a house that had been underwater (bought it and then the bubble burst).  Do we move?  My husband is fortunate enough that he can work wherever he wants to but he never moved in his life until he got to college and has definitely never lived outside of Minnesota.  I on the other hand had moved every three years until I was in High School.  To me moving is exciting and expected.  To him moving is scary and doesn’t necessarily need to happen.    Plus then there’s the fact that his family is still here.  Unfortunately with his family we aren’t as close to them.  We don’t see them as often and when we do its usually just a day trip here and there.

Next there is the fact that I’m supposed to be getting a job here this year.  This scares me to no end as I have been staying home with our daughter for the past 3 years.  It doesn’t help that now I look at my family spread all over and I think of all the vacation days that will be spent visiting family versus doing our own thing or spent on a sick child, or school closed now that we don’t have someone who can come up.  I loved staying home with our daughter and am very sad to be thinking about it ending.  I look into Homeschooling her as I thoroughly enjoyed doing her preschool at home but there are so many questions about this that make me worried.

So many questions about things lately and nothing being decided.  I’m one who has to plan things and knows where things are going to go.  Quitting my job to stay home with my daughter was the first thing I did without having a back up.  It scared me but was so worthwhile.

Stay at home to working mom

So for the past 3 years I have been blessed in the fact that I got to stay at home with my daughter.  It was a very tough decision to come to originally as I was working hard at being an accountant and was definitely rising to the top but the question I kept coming back to was at what cost.  I was working probably around 50-55 hours in a 4 day week plus driving 45 minutes each way to work.  By the time I got home at the end of the day after starting at 5 AM I was exhausted and not much good to my family.  On the weekends I would stress about trying to get done those things that had been missed and then start stressing about my upcoming week at work.

To say the least I wasn’t very happy.

Then work started making some changes which pushed me to realize I needed to make some changes in my life.  I did and became the stay at home mom that I am today.  It has been 3 years and I don’t regret much about it.  The biggest fear now is the day that its time to go back to work.

Now that my daughter is in Kindergarten I have decided that I need to start thinking about next steps in my life and probably get a job.  Can I just say this terrifies me on so many levels?

First off I keep thinking that I need to go back into accounting as I was obviously good at it but after being away for 3 years can I still do it?

Second its going to be a huge adjustment on our family in so many ways.  I currently plan all of the meals and home cook most of them, I am hear when our daughter is sick and can’t go to school, I clean the house thoroughly, I research and plan things to do, and I help my parents who are currently having issues selling their house.  If I go back to work how do I balance all of that and a job.

I have time before I have to go back but I’m using some of that time to actually research what is out there.  Ideally would be staying at home and working from home but I’m not sure how to find a legit opportunity.  Stress!:)

Kindergarten Expectations and Realizations

So my daughter started Kindergarten this year and let me tell you I was not expecting everything that came with it.  You try and prepare your child and ensure that they know their ABC’s, 123’s, address, phone number, writing (as best they can) and if you are able reading.  You don’t want them too far ahead as then they get bored and in some cases become problem children and you don’t want them too far behind as then they can’t keep up and get frustrated/sad.  It just amazes me about kindergarten now compared to 30 years ago.

The first difference which we were aware of going in was the class sizes.  My daughters class is 24 kids with 15 of them boys and 9 of them girls.  Her class is one of 5 classes this size and there are 4 elementary schools in our town (2 private and 2 public).  We knew going in that this was going to be a change for us as my husband and I grew up in small towns and the difference between small town and a suburb of a major cities means more kids.  I tell you though after volunteering a few days that I give the teacher kudos as there’s a lot of energy in that classroom.

The second difference was that every weekend they have homework.  Since when do they do homework in Kindergarten.  Oh yea and part of it is supposed to be done on an IPad.  What if you don’t have an IPad well too bad you better figure that out or find a way to practice some other way.  And its that hard line of kids spending too much screen time to trying to keep up with technology issues.  But back to the homework every weekend she comes home with 3-5 homework assignments although they do not have to turn them in.  Me being the parent that I am always makes sure that she does them.  But who knew there was homework in Kindergarten.

Next every night they are supposed to read for 15 minutes or have there parent read for 15 minutes.  That’s not a big deal for us as we read every night anyways.  Then besides that they are supposed to practice their numbers thru 20 or patterns every night also and document it so that they can win a coupon at the end of the month.  Trying to find a way to get your child to want to practice/work on things after spending all day in school is definitely a challenge some days.  I can only imagine parents who work.  I’m blessed that I get to stay home for this first year with her.

Another thing which we knew but didn’t know…. Sickness.  You all know that when your child gets in to school that they are exposed to more germs.  Our daughter has had a cold since the second week of September.  It comes and goes but never officially goes away.  We finally even got to the point of taking her in to the doctor pretty much to be told its just a cold.  Its hard though to have her always having a cold.

The last thing is the separation/mood adjustments.  Ever since she started kindergarten she has been having major mood swings it seems.  I’m sure that she is just trying to understand the actions/consequences of what she sees at school but let me tell you its not fun.  At times its I don’t want to have anything to do with you mom to the next day being why can’t I stay at home with you mom?

Kindergarten’s hard and don’t let anyone tell you differently.  Its good and our daughter loves it but its hard.

My little girl started Kindergarten

I can’t believe its been five years already but somehow it has and my one and only little girl started kindergarten on Wednesday.  We debated as she just turned 5 in August and as parents we weren’t ready to let her go but also as parents we knew she was ready.  The first day when we dropped her off was hard.  My husband didn’t want to leave her there…. he thought he should spend the day with her.  You would have thought it was the opposite as I stayed home with her for the last 2.5 years; but I knew if we were going to find out if she was ready for this then we had to drop her off and walk away.

Did she do fine on that first day?  Of course she did; she came home and couldn’t wait to go back the next day.  Now I’m finding myself with a lot of time to do things and also to think about things.  So many thoughts have come into mind about her:

  • Did we give her all the tools to be a leader and not a follower of the wrong crowd?
  • Did we teach her how to stand up to kids that aren’t very nice?
  • Did we teach her its OK to stand out from the crowd?
  • Did we give her enough hugs and tell her that we love her?
  • Did we teach her all the basics that she needed to know?
  • Is she ready?

So much more have crossed my mind also.  We debated so many times about the school system and whether to send her another year instead of now.  We debated about doing home-school, we debated waiting since we were talking about moving but now we just have to sit back and hope we did everything we needed as parents.

Its hard being the parent and wondering if she’s remembering her pleases and thank yous, her manners, to be nice to other kids, to not climb up the slide only down.  At the end of the day though you have to realize you did as best as you could and even though you aren’t there to remind them the still remember.  So the first week if you are like me you just try and keep busy, not think to much and give them a big hug when they come home at the end of the day!The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson.

Good Young Children Book Series

My daughter loves to be read to (still working on teaching her to read). We are always on the look at for good series and when we go to the library even though she’s only 4 we check out around 25-30 books at a time and make it through all of them probably in a two week time slot. As a parent reading books to my child I want them to be somewhat interesting to myself as well. I have found several series that she loves (most important) and I can tolerate:).

Jamie Lee Curtis’s books (some of our favorites listed below) :

Today I Feel Silly – This is a great way to discuss feelings/emotions with your child and I love the illustrations in the book.

I’m Gonna Like Me – I’m always on the look out for books that emphasize what we try and teach at home which is, I’m gonna like me no matter what anyone else says. I’m gonna wear what I want, eat what I want and say what I want. If I can pass this message on to my daughter and make her more confident then I am, then I have done my job.

Big Words for Little People – We bought this book on a garage sale and it was our first introduction to Jamie Lee Curtis’s books and it is still one of my and my daughters favorite books. We started reading it to her when she was about 2 and its a great/fun way to introduce some of the bigger words to a younger audience in a fun way.
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen
This is one of our absolute FAVORITE series unfortunately there is only six books in the series. Our whole family enjoyed reading about the adventures of the pig Mercy Watson and what would happen next.

Tiara Club by Vivian French
We started getting these from the library and my daughter loves reading them as the little girls are training to be princesses and encounter obstacles along the way mainly in the form of two mean girls. We have read every book at our library and even though there is a huge series they are hard to find. Our library only had a few and I wasn’t able to find them at Barnes and Noble. I know they are online but wish they were more easily accessible.

Rainbow Fairies by Daisy Meadows
My daughter is absolutely obsessed with this series. She constantly talks about the fairies, goblins and of course Jack Frost. Basically there are two girls who help the Rainbow Fairies as Jack Frost and his Goblins have done something mean to them (such as taking their tiaras which hold magical powers that affect the human and fairy world). I’m not as huge of a fan of these but my daughter absolutely eats them up and there is a huge selection of these easily found.

Some new series we have recently discovered are:

Never Girls
Ivy and Bean
Rescue Princesses

I will create another post about them when I have more information to write about.

Preschool at home- Not for the faint at heart

About a year ago this time, my husband and I decided that instead of sending our daughter to preschool in town that I would teach her from home. It was a very hard decision to come to as that meant all the pressure to have her ready for kindergarten rested on my shoulders. After much thought we decided it was best as that would still enable her to travel like we always do and experience real life learning that she wouldn’t get in a normal preschool setting.

Do I regret it? No. Is it easy? No. I am a person who considers this my job on top of the normal day to day such as budgeting, grocery shopping, household cleaning, etc. I sit down every week and try and figure out themes for the week, the letter of the week and activities, counting activities, shape activities among others. I gather most of my information from Pinterest and other websites. I spend a good chunk of time on the weekend researching, planning, printing, laminating, and cutting things out. There are times when I think why didn’t I pay someone else to do this? But then I see my daughter excited about a theme or an activity or proudly telling someone she does preschool at home and I have my reasons. She has learned so much in her time and I can proudly say I did that!

Now don’t get me wrong it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. She (and I if I’m honest) have those days where we don’t want to learn. Where I’m forcing her to sit and do something (such as practice writing right now) and it ends up in her melting down, but overall I would not change anything.

Every week we pick a theme and aim for 3-4 hours of preschool 4 days out of the week. We attend storytime at our library about every other week, do play dates, and are able to spend a week out of town without worrying about what she might be missing in school. I read somewhere that 75% of a child’s emotional well being is learned by the time they are 5. Do I want that taught by someone else or me?

Thanksgiving Turkey Shirts

A while back I was looking through pinterest, for ideas, when I stumbled upon this link: http://www.artsyfartsymama.com/2011/11/turkey-shirt.html.  I thought these shirts were adorable and decided since Thanksgiving was coming to attempt these (I’m not a great sewer, but I’m learning).  I decided to make one for my nephew Iestyn and one for my daughter, Lily.

I started out by trying to find brown shirts.  Do you know how hard it is to find plain brown shirts for a 9 month old and a 3 year old?  I finally found them at Wal-mart just plain brown turtlenecks for $3.88 not a bad deal.  I then basically followed the instructions on the link above with a few changes for my daughter, she had to have a purple feather as its her favorite color and the turkey needed a bow to identify itself as a girl:).  Total supplies cost under $20 for the two shirts together and it only took me less then 2 hours to complete both.  I have included my finalized shirts below.  Lily will be wearing hers on Thanksgiving with a purple tutu and Iestyn many miles away will also be wearing his.  I highly recommend this as it was so simple and the results are adorable.