Friday, February 6, 2015

How did you decide whether or not to homeschool your oldest child?

I'm at a crossroads: the memo came home from Stenni's preschool the other day, an official-looking memo about kindergarten sign-ups, complete with requests for vaccination records, birth certificates, sign-up dates and places in alphabetical order by last name, and all that jazz. Sign-ups are in less than a month. I still don't know if I want to send her to public school or not. I like the idea of homeschooling, but I don't know if I'm capable or organized (OR PATIENT) enough to really teach her everything she needs to know at home. I worry about her attention span. I worry that she won't listen to me. By all accounts, she is well-behaved at both school and Sunday school, but of course she's different at home with mom, which isn't to say that she's a terror or anything but we are both very strong willed and have been known to butt heads occasionally. So would she listen to me as a teacher or view me as an adversary? Who knows.
I'm not worried about socialization. For what we were paying for her preschool, I can send her to tumbling/dance once a week, plus all of the free events at the library and camp and VBS in the summer. But I'm really concerned that she will think that school at home is not serious enough and that I'll end up super frustrated. Also: I went to public school up til college. It wasn't super great for me, but I'm ok I guess, and nothing truly traumatic happened because of the school system. I'm not cool with common core or all of the testing, and I think it's a breeding ground for mediocrity because of the trend to teach toward the middle. Which is not the teachers' fault, they are only doing the best with the resources that they have, which are few and far between since people basically demonize them for the public. And to be honest Stenni is much more outgoing than I am, and infinitely better at making friends and making the best of a situation. She might just blossom in the school setting. Would it really be more for me than for her?
I imagine that a lot of moms have had these (and tons of other) issues in the past, so I could really use the wisdom of the world here. What was the deciding factor, or was it a more pros and cons thing? I know that some people feel super strongly one way or the other but really? I don't. I just really don't  know what would be better in the long run.
So other moms of the interwebs: How did you decide to homeschool (or not)? What were the deciding factors? Anybody else flying by the seat of their pants?
For our family, homeschooling isn't a religious thing, it's more that I feel like the classroom in general is more likely to kill creativity than nurture it, and might eventually squeeze all of the natural love of learning out of my Stenni. And that would be a tragedy, but of course it is also still a hypothetical at this point.
Can anybody offer any insight? Any great resources out there? Help!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dear Winter: I Hate You.

pic courtesy of bigfoto.com

I know that in the winter, I don't shut up about my seasonal affective disorder, or how much I just hate winter in general. Here in the northeast, it just seems to drag on forever (although I feel like the fleeting beauty of fall almost makes up for it, almost), and this past week or so has been the worst of the worst. There have been snow storms, ice storms, migraines, and (GAH) the super bowl to contend with. Gross. On top of that, Hubs has put in about 40 hours of OVERTIME in the past week or so which means, you guessed it, that I have here at home too. Being stuck in the house is no picnic, but board games and crafts (and Netflix) have made it ok, as well as knowing that even though it feels that way, this will not last forever! Also with Valentine's Day around the corner it is helping me to have something to focus on in the short-term. The days are only getting longer from here on out!
If you, like me, need a lift this winter, here are a few links to help you out:
  •  Over at Modern Mrs. Darcy, Anne blogs about the things that are saving her life right now (she is dealing with some seasonal bummer-tude too). For me? It is between spending the remainders of my Christmas Starbucks giftcards so I have a reason to leave the house, you know, besides grocery shopping and preschool drop-offs, and the coveted "Mom Time" when I get the house to myself for a few hours and turn my brain off. Oh, and doing bootleg Leslie Sansone walking videos from youtube in my living room *if* the kids decide to nap during the day. She's a guilty pleasure, and I know I can't really count it as a workout, but I love it. So what is saving you right now? It's a hell of a question to ponder.
  • Be glad you don't live near me. A town nearby is considering outlawing sledding. You heard that right. I don't really sled (part of the whole "avoiding the outdoors in winter" thing) but when I take the kids to the field by the legion to drag them around for a few minutes, I can't imagine being given a ticket for it! Instead, focus on the million reasons why you should never come to New Jersey (all sarcasm. It's gorgeous here, despite my seasonal hatred for everything).
  • Boardwalk Cats. Atlantic City has taken quite a beating lately with all of the casinos closing and the economy kind of tanking and though I would once have wandered around that town for days, now I wouldn't leave the relative safety of the boardwalk, because that's how bad it's getting down there. But you don't have to leave the boardwalk to make friends with these adorable felines, who live under the boards and are part of a trap-spay/neuter-return program there. I have personally befriended many a boardwalk cat and also considered taking them home in my purse but you know what's worse than driving 4 hours home with a feral cat in your car? Winter, but not much else.
  • The Walking Dead comes back this Sunday, so there's that to look forward to. Here's a link to the first two minutes of the mid-season premiere, courtesy of AMC. Poor Maggie. But Beth was not making for terribly riveting television. Now we know that they're heading somewhere outside Richmond, though, at least in theory.
Chew on that for a while. I'll be jacking up the heat and dreaming of Wildwood in the summer!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Beating the Winter Doldrums...Maybe?

In the winter, I try to do a lot to keep myself busy but really end up doing very little. Last weekend, the hubs and I made a gallery wall in our red room (which is not red, nor had it been for at least 4 years or so, but old habits die hard), and it came out alright despite me kind of flying by the seat of my pants and not making a plan at all. Well, that's not entirely true. My plan was to take pictures I had laying around and put them on the wall. So, success.
Also since the house is still up for sale, there's a ton cleaning and upkeep, besides just picking up the same toys for the 67th time in a day. But I'm trying to keep busy in other, more personally satisfying ways too. Here are a few:
Today is library day at our house, so I'm starting the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2025 Reading Challenge, and I encourage you to check it out as well. It's only 12 books total for the year. Totally do-able, right? There are 12 categories, and you just pick a book from each and read it. You don't have to do it in any order, and there's no book club, and no pressure. I'm psyched about the "Book by a Favorite Author" and "Book You Should Have Read in High School" categories, and not so much for the "Book Your Mom Loves" one...yeah, we have markedly different tastes, and our interests really no not intersect at all. Any time either of us has recommended a book to the other, we've both kind of regretted it. That said, January is almost done, so I'm a bit behind and I'm excited to go to the library and get started!
I'm also participating in Sarah Mae's 31 Days to Clean, cuz to be honest? The abode could use a little boost this time of year, and so could my spirits. It always helps me when I can look around and not feel like I'm living in the basement of a junk store. So I'm following her steps and hoping that at the end, I have a more comfortable space for everyone. Yesterday I started in the kitchen and today? I need to clean the fridge and the microwave. Just to let you know an embarrassing truth about myself: I store all kinds of crap in my microwave. We so rarely use it to just nuke anything, but I am forever putting open bags of popcorn and other junk in it. See?
Right now there's a bunch of leftover candy canes and Christmas stocking candy in a Halloween candy bin, because obviously that's how I do. Oh, and hot sauce popcorn. And a tin full of Hershey kisses, and about a thousand ring pops (why are ring pops so popular for little kids at Christmas? They drive me nuts). I'm embarrassed, but I'm so much more embarrassed of what the inside of my fridge looks like that I'm not even going to show it to you. It's that bad. I've got my work cut out for me!
Also, I'm trying to get out and walk or run a little more every day. Has it been working? NO. But do I feel better when I do it? Oh hell yes.
What do you do when it feels like winter is never going to end (and you're not even halfway through)? Help a sister out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What I've Been Doing Lately, and What I HAVEN'T been doing...

So you obviously already know that I haven't been posting...so what else haven't I been doing? Here's a non-exhaustive list:
  • running
  • Jazzercising
  • blogging
  • reading
  • baking
  • sleeping (for the most part until very recently)
  • dieting
And here, dear readers, are the things I have been doing:
  • hiking a TON, and trail running some
  • prepping the house for showings, yes again
  • hanging out with the kiddos
  • camping
  • travelling
  • enjoying October, my absolute favorite month
  • starting to get some sleep (when Cua sleeps)
  • catching up on fall TV shows...in the near future, expect super-nerdy and comic book-y reviews/critiques of Gotham and The Walking Dead, among others
So I haven't hit a ton of goals this year. I haven't really been editing, writing, blogging, crafting, baking, recipe-making, working towards my half-marathon, losing weight, or anything super-productive like that. I've been learning to take it slow with the kids after a very long time of not taking it slow at all and you know what? I like this pace in this season of my life. It just feels right.
You'll hear from me a little more now, because I feel like I finally found that balance I've been looking for for so long and maybe I can handle it a little better now! Hope you're enjoying your fall!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Do the things that frighten you (See also: Selfies on the Beach in February)

This past weekend, I finally did something that I had been wanting to do for some time: I participated in a polar bear plunge in Seaside Heights. Yes, one of those crazy events where a group of lunatics jumps into the ocean in February. And you know what? It was amazing! The weather was reasonably decent (50 or so degrees), exceptionally warm for February, and I had the support of my husband, kids, parents and grandparents, all of whom came down to spend the day at the shore and cheer me  on. My mom even decided at the last minute to take the plunge with me!
All of the money raised by donations went to the Special Olympics, and this one event managed to raise over a million dollars. Yes, the water was cold. But the experience overall was wonderful, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
I wish I had known to leave the house earlier, since we were stuck in traffic for an hour and a half. I wish I knew that this was the kind of thing where costumes are completely appropriate. In all fairness, hubs did tell me, but I thought he was making it up. I wish had spent more time on fundraising and raised more money. But overall? I just wish I'd done it sooner.
As a stay-at-home mom, I feel like I sometimes lose little bits of myself- pieces of my personality that are pushed into the background. When I had to give up the rollercoasters I always loved so much due to pregnancy and having very little ones, or had to pack up some of my bigger art supplies to make more room for baby stuff, or undertake fewer strenuous hikes or stopped doing really serious writing, I always felt like pieces of me went missing. Now slowly but surely I'm taking them back, by doing things that scare me in some way or another. Sometimes I'm scared I won't be able to follow through (as was the case this past weekend at the plunge) or that I won't finish a collage or poem, or I'm just scared of failure (I still haven't signed up for the half-marathon I've been training for since November, because I'm scared I won't be able to finish it, though I partially blame the weather). But pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to do the scary stuff is the one way I've found to take back those pieces of myself I thought I'd lost. 
This is my year to undertake all those monumental-seeming, somewhat intimidating tasks on my bucket list. Why? Because nothing is stopping me, and by taking care of myself physically (half-marathon training) and mentally (doing things that make me feel like a whole, brave person and not merely an extension of my children), I can be a better wife and mother and person in general. Also, it's giving me a sense if accomplishment that I thought I'd left in my office when I came home to take care of the kids. And some good stories, too.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Life: An Adventurous Few Months

Hi all! Bet you didn't think I'd be back, like, ever. It's been a crazy few months. I know that having a new baby is a big adjustment, but I was not expecting this caliber of crazy. Stenni was a terrible eater but a great sleeper. Cuatro? A great eater (well, sometimes too good...I can't possibly nurse him enough), and probably because he's such a good eater and wants at it round the clock, not such a wonderful sleeper. So our household, which was used to a bare minimum of a solid 8 hours of lights-out, lock-down, quiet time awesome sleep, has really taken a hit, this mama especially. I feel like my immune system's really taken a hit by the lack of sleep and the total lack of sunshine, and I've been sick off and on since the end of November, which kind of sucks when you're already a little beat as it is. We've gotten a ton of snow this year (y'know, being in the northeast and all) and winter feels never-ending, and there's really nowhere to get out and exercise, which is kind of another bummer especially in regards to the rapidly-approaching half-marathon I had planned to run at the end of April. All of these things are kind of tricky, but right now it feels like there is enough sweetness in my house to last me right through til all of this ridiculous snow melts and the sun comes back again (which I suspect will be some time around June).
I will be back very soon with the most delicious tea bread recipe that I've ever tasted, some fitness goals and updates, and a post about doing things that scare you, just because you can ( hint/teaser: I'm doing one of them tomorrow and I'm terrified/super-psyched).

Kiddos, cuddling. Is there anything sweeter than siblings who still get along?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bananas for sugar!

Hello everyone, hope all is well and settled down after the holidays. For those in the northeast, I know they have done anything but settle down what with the 20+ inches ya'll received over the last week or so. So for those of you reading this, hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow.

Anyways, it's been a while since there has been a post, for that I apologize. V is spending time loving up her new baby boy and I've been slacking on my guest blogs. BUT, I have two super easy Pinterest snack recipe finds to share with you guys, so I hope you'll enjoy as much as I did.

The first, a super delicious and fun snack for those of us trying to lose a few pounds but constantly being bombarded by our sweet tooth. Frozen banana bites. SO yummy, also they kind of taste like ice cream. These awesome snacks are an easy way to use up those ripe bananas and get a sweet and salty fix quick. They're just like the "Dole" brand frozen fruit products, only they were free, I already had all of this stuff in my pantry.



All you need for these are a few (however many you'd like to use) bananas, dark chocolate (or milk, but if you use dark chocolate you can get away with saying your getting antioxidants), and any kind of peanut butter you like. You can alter this recipe any way you want and maybe sprinkle some coconut for texture, or totally take out the peanut butter part, no matter what you do they're pretty good.

1. Slice the bananas into equal size slices and lay out on a plate covered in tinfoil or parchment paper. 
2. Spread a small amount of peanut butter on top of each slice
3. Melt small amount of chocolate chips in microwave safe dish 30-45 seconds
4. Either dip bananas or spread chocolate over bananas. You can cover the whole banana slice, or just cover the peanut butter on top.
5. Place the tray into the freezer for about 30 minutes, or long enough to set the chocolate.
6. Pop those babies out an enjoy!

*These will last a few days in your freezer so you can pop a few out whenever you get a craving. They don't, however, last that long once you take them out of the freezer. So if you want them to be creamy and delicious, just take out anything you'll eat in 20 minutes or so.



My final delicious snack is also a good way to use up ripe bananas. Three ingredient banana cookies. "Cookies" is a little misleading, perhaps granola bars would be more fitting? Super easy, super versatile. No flour, no sugar, just 2 ripe bananas, a cup of quick oats, and 1/4 cup of dried fruit. If your not into dried cranberries and such, you could also substitute for something a little sweeter like chocolate chips or caramel pieces (which is a new twist I took for the ones in the picture). 



All you do for this super easy recipe is:
1. Preheat your over to 350. Mash your ripe bananas until creamy
2. Add your 1 cup of quick oats and 1/4 cup of dried fruit or choco. chips. Here you can also add a little extra flavor if you so desire. I like to add a little cinnamon and vanilla for some umph. 
3. Mix until all of your ingredients are combined. 
4. Spoon balls of mixture onto greased cooking sheet
    * These cookies don't spread, they will maintain whatever shape you make them, so if you want them to  look like a cookie use the back of your spoon to smush them into shape. 
5. Place in oven and let cook 10-12 minutes. They will brown a little, but don't really crisp because of the banana. 
6. Let cool, and enjoy!

*These are best if enjoyed within a day or two of making, otherwise the banana will get stale and they wont taste as delicious.

My boyfriend really loves these cookies, they are soft and chewy, but also healthier so you don't have to feel so bad when you eat 5 of them in one sitting. 

Anyway, these are two of my new favorite snacks for the house because they are so easy and so scrumptious. I hope you guys like them, let me know!

~Shlee