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:  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.

Halloween themed week for my 3 year old

This year since I have been staying home with my daughter, whose 3, we decided to spend two weeks doing Halloween themed projects.  I gathered most of my ideas for Pinterest and added a few along the way of my own creations.

Snacks:We did Swampy sauce: Green jello with gummy worms, spider rings, and other creepy Halloween items.  We did Wormy apples, baked apples with a gummy worm sticking out of the top.  We did pumpkin seeds and we baked and froze a pumpkin with which we made pumpkin bread.

Allot of my ideas for projects during the two weeks came from here  I usually pick and choose what I want from her packet and then supplement with other ideas I find on Pinterest.  We made paper plate witches, paper plate pumpkins, Ghosts out of two liters, we played pin the mouth on the jack-o-lantern, paper plate ghosts, rice spider webs and tissue paper pumpkins to name a few.  We did sorting, color identification, practiced writing, worked on learning the letter P and number 3. We went to pumpkin story time at the library, and went trick or treating at several free places around town and the neighboring community.  We had a busy two weeks and Lily still thinks every day is Halloween.  Below are pictures and if you have questions about any of the ideas just let me know.


Mom to a 3 year old-Decisions/Struggles/Joys

So my daughter turned 3 in August and can I tell you I can’t believe how time flies.  It feels like it was just yesterday that I was holding her in my arms.  Now though I struggle with so many tough decisions.  Since she just turned 3 in August we decided to not send her to preschool yet.  She is ready but we decided that she would stay home with me at least until January as we were starting her in dance and a couple of other things.  We didn’t want to overwhelm her all at once.  I do wonder though if we made the right decision.  I don’t want her to fall behind developmentally.  I have decided that the internet in many ways is evil as you start looking at everything you read makes you wonder if you have already caused your child to be behind.

We have the firm belief that a child should enjoy their childhood and not be forced into learning at too early of an age.  That being said you read things online and everything I see is a child should be able to recognize every letter of the alphabet and numbers up to 20 by the time they turn 3.  First I must say my daughter was in daycare until last March and they exposed her to the alphabet but didn’t work on having to know it or teaching her cutting or any of those things.  We also exposed her to these at home but I can honestly say she doesn’t recognize all of her letters.  She knows the alphabet song, she recognizes a lot of the the letters and some of the numbers up to 10.  She can count to 20 and she knows how to spell her name (aloud), but doesn’t know how to write her name.  She knows her shapes and colors.  Is she behind, should she be in preschool to catch up?  I don’t know.

I do know that my daughter is a very loving, caring, smart little girl.  She loves to share, loves to read, loves to play games.  I do know that she has the most vivid imagination and creativity.  I do know that she loves being able to hang out with mommy, or yama.  She is learning more and more every day and she makes me learn something new every day or reminds me how to appreciate things a little more.  I do know that the internet is great in many respects such as getting good ideas of fun ways to teach the alphabet or numbers or creative crafts.  In the long run though you have to realize that they will learn at their own pace and that if a project doesn’t go as planned maybe that means today is a day to build a fort or play outside, you are still teaching them with everything you do.  So when I start beating myself up over something another kid is doing or something I read online, I just step back and remind myself that everyone matures differently and its about exposing your child to something as you never know when it might just stick:).

Green Tomato Cake

Fall is definitely in the air this week, as they are predicting highs of 55 degrees most of the days, which means the end of gardening for me.  This summer we were blessed to grow, sunflowers (got two bags full of sunflower seeds which my father loves), cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, radishes, and tomatoes.  Half of the tomato plants weren’t even planted they just came back from last years tomatoes and so we had tomatoes coming out of our ears:).  Not a bad problem to have as you can always can them or freeze them (we chose to freeze them) but what do you do with all the green tomatoes that are still on the plants?  We ended up with many green tomatoes because it was such a dry summer and due to the fact that fall came on so quickly this year.  We decided to try some recipes.  In the past we had made fried green tomatoes but I’m not a fan as I really don’t like to fry things in my house due to the smell that seems to permeate the house after frying.  We made green tomato crisp where instead of using apples you use green tomatoes.  We served it to my husband and father without telling them what was in it just telling them it was apple crisp.  They couldn’t tell it wasn’t apple crisp and loved it (course when they learned that it had green tomatoes in they weren’t as impressed).

This year we made Green Tomato Cake, it was amazing, so moist, tasted just like spice cake.  We put a cream cheese/sour cream/brown sugar frosting on top and once again served it to the guys (this time they were a little more leery) and they loved it again.  Course when we asked them if they wanted to know what was it in they immediately said no!

My mom is also going to try and make a green tomato strawberry freezer jam so we will see how that turns out.  Any green tomato recipes you love?


Ways to use low flavor cantaloupe

while grocery shopping my mom and I decided that we wanted to pick up some cantaloupe for a snack for either later that day or the next day.  So my mom tasked me with the job of picking out a cantaloupe.  She told my 3 year old to help me.  Most of you may know that three year old’s have short attention spans and picking out cantaloupe probably not their strongest suit.  She tapped it she smelled and and she decided that would be the cantaloupe that we got.  After shopping for several hours (and it being past nap time) I was not going to argue with her.

Unfortunately when we got home and cut up the cantaloupe we discovered that it looked good and had the right texture but it was extremely bland.  I don’t know about you but for me in general I have a hard time picking out a ‘good’ cantaloupe and feel I should eat it even if it doesn’t have much flavor since I spent the money on it.

We decided this time to see if there were any alternative ways to use the cantaloupe or ways to increase the flavor.  We went to our favorite recipe site, I was amazed at all the different ways to use cantaloupe, from smoothies, to breads, to cakes.  Who knew!  I had always just enjoyed cantaloupe fresh and never really thought it needed to be used other ways.  We decided to try two of the recipes (varying them slightly as we are never really ones to follow them exactly).

The first recipe that we tried was a cantaloupe smoothie.  We varied this up as we made it a cantaloupe/banana smoothie.  Some people may not like it if they aren’t a fan of bananas but we all thought it was very tasty.  My daughter in particular gave it two thumbs up:).

The second recipe that we tried was cantaloupe bread.  It tasted more like cake to me but was extremely moist.  My husband compared it to banana bread.  If you didn’t know it was cantaloupe bread you would never even know there was cantaloupe in there as there was no cantaloupe flavor.

Both of these were extremely good methods to use cantaloupe that doesn’t have much flavor.  Do you have other methods to use cantaloupe?  I would love to hear about them.


Learning to manage money on one income

Since becoming a one income family in early spring we have been watching money very tightly.  We were very fortunate before making the decision to just spend(within reason) and not worry too much about what was spent.  Luckily for us both of us have always been savers and very money frugal in general.  Saying that though we never had budgets and never really had a good understanding where our money went.

Things have changed since moving to a one income household.  Now using the help of and running my own spreadsheet I track every penny that we use and what it is used for.  I really like how works in most respects but do have some complaints:

1.  If you set up budgets and you have an expense happen that isn’t in your budget it lumps it into an other expense and doesn’t include that in your monthly total expenses/income. This is why I keep my own spreadsheet also.

2.  We have had several items that keep showing up as pending even though they aren’t pending in our accounts.  Mint’s solution to this just delete them.  Why should I have to where are these coming from are other items incorrect?

3.  Including credit cards in mint.  If you are like us and pay most things via online bill pay but would like to see the transactions that may not have been paid yet on your credit card.  Mint can do this but you have to be very careful to make sure you don’t double count them in your transactions.

Other things besides have been subscribing to coupon feeds such as, among others.  They alert you of deals at Walgreens, cvs, target, among others.

Overall it’s still something we are adjusting to but it has actually been a very beneficial lesson for us.

Life changes-from full time working mom to stay at home mom

In February, my husband and I made the decision to move from a two income family to a one income family.  After much deliberation we decided that I would stay home with her everyday.  It was a very tough decision as not only was there the money impact, there was the socialization impact for her and I, along with the thought of what the heck am I getting myself into.  I love my daughter dearly but I wasn’t sure if being home with her everyday would be the best plan for both of us.  In the end, I looked at the fact that I was working part time and still putting in 50-60 hours a week plus a round trip commute of 1.5 hours everyday and I just didn’t want to be away from our family that much.

So with much trepidation I made the leap into being a stay at home mom and I have to say I do not regret it.  I can’t say it’s always easy in fact some days I’m ready to pull my hair out by the end of the day but the time that I have got to spend with my daughter has been irreplaceable. Not everyone is as fortunate to have the option and I still don’t know how long we will do this for but I figure I got to enjhop the summer with her and am looking forward to spending the holidays not stressing about work on top of things.