Friday, October 24, 2014

Play at the Park

Today was a perfect fall day. A little windy, but nothing a nice sweatshirt couldn't handle. We added almost 2 hours to my 500 hour pledge bringing us up to 4 1/2 hours. The weekend looks gorgeous so hopefully we can keep it up.
I went for my morning walk/run, 40 minutes outside for me, while my girls get about 30 for recess ( I count the 30). We picked some carrots, composted some stuff and played outdoors a bit. We also went to the park for a while after school. I went to a different park today to meet a friend and am glad I did. My town's park, which is beautiful and new, is almost always empty. While sometimes I enjoy this so I can play and run around with my girls, other times I want to sit and relax and they want playmates. Its so sad to rarely see another kid at this park. I don't understand what does everyone do? My town doesn't have many neighborhoods so either the kids are on playdates, playing in their yards with siblings or alone, or doing after school activities. A neighboring town, which is really that, a nice little town, with houses close and a real neighborhood feel, is the park we went to today. There I saw children. A group of older boys playing football. Girls climbing on the monkey bars, kids swinging, running and having fun. An older girl pushed my youngest on the swings a bit while I chat with other moms. And no I don't feel one bit guilty about it. I love this town, to bad the taxes are outrageous. But it is the rare place I see kids playing, with no structure, no adults controlling the play. Just time to be a kid, like its the 70s. To not watch tv, no phones or ipads. Just actually free play. I love watching my daughter learn to navigate the kids and find her place playing. And how she keenly observes them to see how well they climb or jump. After some watching she tries to do it to. She's always been a watcher. Today she tried the monkey bars. She fell, poor kid has my upper body strength, or lack of. But practicing on those bars will get her there. And after seeing the other kids she was very determined to get right back up and try again. If we were alone at our town's park she wouldn't have tried. Thinking that's something big kids do, or not something she can do. Seeing her friends she knew she could. And she was right. I love watching her grow in her own right. Free to play, learn and grow

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 3

Okay so in day 2 and 3 we only brought our total to 2 1/2 hours. Rain, bitter rain, windy rain. Has kept us in. This weekend I will make up for it, I'm sure.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 1 500 Hour Outside Challenge

Well day one is here and with the sun setting it is almost gone. Today was,hmmm, trying to say the least. My 3 year old got my last nerve today. She was very trying all day and not listening. I lost my patience too much too. Not my best parenting day, but not my worst either. I got 1/2 hour during the day outside. Cleaning out the car, playing at the farm stand. My goal was another hour at the park which was cut to a short 1/2 hour (I'm counting the 1/2 hour or after today I will feel defeated before I even get going) due to my 3 year old refusing to wear shoes or a jacket in 50 degree weather. So we left the park. I was frustrated with repeating myself multiple times and wasn't going to let her run around in a t-shirt, capris and no shoes. With winter coming soon I need to set a precedent of weather appropriate clothes for outside. So total on day 1, 1 hour. Not great and with a few days of rain this total might not go up much. Looks like we will be making up for it this weekend. I hope. Side note I'm also wearing a pedometer to meet a daily goal of 10,000 steps. I am right at 9,000 and know I will rack up 1,000 more with after bedtime cleaning. So one goal met.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

500 Hours

500 hours outside, in the sun, rain, or snow. 500 hours, which is a little over an hour a day. It doesn't sound hard, but I know with my modern
indoor life it might be a little challenging, which is why I'm challenging myself and my family to it. I recently read a blog about a mom who pledged to get outside 1000 hours for the year. This is amazing, but she is a homeschooling mom, I am not. I don't think it would be possible to get out that much in a year. Maybe it is, I don't know, if I do well this year maybe I will up it for ourselves next year. I love being outside, but in my "old age" of in my mid 30s now I've become somewhat of a, hmm how should I put this nicely, another word for a cat. I dislike the cold and hot sun. I gripe about putting on layers for me, my 2 girls. I feel like in bad weather I spend more time putting on clothes then we spend outside.
Well no more. Fresh air solves so much, my vitamin D deficiency. It can help with cabin fever, get my in my garden more, help me move more to lose those last few pounds. Get my girls more active. Help us feel more connected to nature, less connected to the tv, facebook or online world. I'm very excited to give this a try, well not a try. I will do. I will log from tomorrow Oct 20 to the following Oct our outside time. I will only count my daughter outside 1/2 recess if I get out on my own and spend that time outside too. The log will be heavier somedays, light to nothing others, and that's okay. As long as come next October I will be outside for 500 hours. Children spend less than an average of 1/2 hour a day outdoors during the week and about 2 hours a day on weekends. This is about 208 hours outside on weekends and about 130 for the week. Well under my 500 goal. And this is from an older study from 2009, with the huge increase since then of smartphones and gadgets I would think those numbers are even lower today. There is a huge increase in ADHD, obesity, mental illness, social problems all since we have become a society who closes the door and stays inside. Study and study shows spending more time exercising and outdoors in nature, helps so many of our modern problems, especially with children. For myself I see this. Since I've graduated college and am not forced to walk a mile to and from classes in all weather I have noticed I get Seasonal affective disorder at times through out winter. Which with knowing I have low vitamin D this doesn't surprise me. I want to curl up in bed, watch tv all day or read. Okay so reading isn't bad. But getting outside is the number one suggestion for SADS and I just can't do it. Well no more. I will get us outside. I will turn off the tv. I will use our bodies and not let them become one with the couch. I will spend 500 hours outside.

Monday, April 21, 2014

DIY Shower Favors

It has been a busy few months for me. My sister is getting married in June, we (me and my little lovebugs) are all in the wedding party. Expenses add up quick for this, dresses, shoes, hair, gifts and then the shower. A very large shower too. Raising a family of 4 on one income, in a very expensive state, meant I had to do some DIYing for the favors. Even cheap favors of a few dollars a person would add up to $200 because of the amount of people coming. Plus I hate super cheapy favors. I personally would rather get nothing than something that will just get tossed when I get home. Its a waste of this planet's resources and being the hippy I am that doesn't fly with me. So, again being the hippy that I am ;) I decided to make little window sill gardens for the guests. Garden maybe be a stretch since its just one plant, but still its so nice to have some basil, cilantro, dill or chives growing in your kitchen. I thought it would be especially appreciated since many of the guests live in city areas so won't have a backyard to garden it. And it went well with our "April Showers bring Spring Flowers" theme. First I bought 60 or so little terra-cotta pots from Home Depot. I also bought a large bag of potting soil, chalk, 60 seed packets and chalkboard spray paint. Then the fun begins. There was a bit of a learning curve to get the spray paint not streaky. But with my trusty stick and spinning it like a wheel, it got the job done. I ended up using 3 cans of spray paint. They dried out in the sun on some broken up cardboard. The final product came out amazing. They were a big hit, people were excited to take them and fought over the basil, note to self, next time just do basil. Everyone loved them. I just love that its a favor everyone can actually use.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Safe Seeds

There is so much controversy surrounding seeds and Monsanto. GMO, organic or not, just a huge monopoly on seeds. Its really crazy how gardening has gotten to political. To garden is a political move. For health, for saving money and being thrifty, against big business, pesticides, mega farms and the hurtful environmental practices of them. Even if you aren't meaning a political statement it is there. One huge thing I believe in is growing from my own seeds. I know what variety I am growing, the soil it was grown in, and what company produced the seeds. Here is a list of safe seed companies to buy from according to the council for responsible genetics. But this list is not perfect and even some of the more popular seed companies on here have been under fire for not being as pure as they claim. One company I used sent me seeds I was excited to use, until I saw the seeds are copyrighted and I cannot legally save the seeds if I want. So buyer beware. There is still shady behaviors from the so-called good guys. To me this is totally against nature, morally how can someone own a seed? Can you own an oak tree? Maybe if that oak is on your property, but you can't claim all oaks are yours. I am hoping to save as many seeds as I can this year to be more independent and self-sufficient in my gardening. No buyer beware when I own the seeds. 13 more days until spring, counting down to a thaw so I can get in some dirt and start prepping

Monday, February 24, 2014

Thinking Spring

I am counting down the days to spring. Not just because I am sick of winter, this is true. But also this long winter has left me with extra time to read about gardening and I am getting excited to start planting. Last season was horrible. It was cold and frost warnings in May and then too much rain and not enough sun gave me a lack luster crop. This year I attended a Rutgers Masters Gardner Lecture. If they offer such lectures I highly suggest them. The lecture was specific to my location, not just New Jersey, but our North Jersey clay soil and what to do to get the most from our garden. I learned a lot and some things I have been doing wrong, well maybe not wrong, but not right either. Its too early to even start seedlings yet. I've started onions, my first time growing them, because they say 10-12 weeks. This week I will be planting eggplant and peppers so they are also slow starters and need a decent head start. My list this year is long and I'm hoping to yield some amazing fruit and veggies. Nothing like getting your hands in the dirt and feeling the sun on your back. Now if this snow will just melt I can get to cleaning up the garden and dreaming off tomato sandwiches, stuffed peppers, cucumber salads, fresh beans and eggplant parm. Oh zucchini bread, carrot and salad. Winter produce is the pits. Summer I can't wait!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Winter that Killed Moms

I've seen that post heading used several times this winter. Its been long, cold and snowy, which has kept up inside way too much. Normal I am not one to hide inside due to poor weather, but when the snow comes up to your hips (and I'm 5'7) with a layer of ice mixed in its not the best or safest idea to take a 2 year old or 4 year old out to play. We've had some rough days, filled with more tv than I prefere. I also struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder which makes it hard to motivate myself some days. Even worse with the ice there have been multiple stretches when we haven't left the house for several days in a row due to poor road conditions. So yes this has almost been to winter that killed mom. I've haven't been as nice and patient as I usually am, more yelling and more just feeling blah. We have been watching more tv and I've let go a little of that. At its worse its been almost 3 hours a day. But this was because I was shoveling snow outside for over an hour and tv is the only sure way I know they won't kill each other while I'm outside working. I've tried to think spring some days. We cut up this seasons seed catalogs and made collages of our favorite fruits, veggies and flowers. We've practiced our letters and made books. Liv drew a picture then wrote a sentence about the picture. They were basic like "the elephant is eating" and she needed help with the spelling and harder letters, but what an amazing practice for writing that was so much fun. We've had dance parties, baked Pinkilicious cupcakes, muffins, cookies. No wonder why my pants are tight! Playdates are rare since its hard to leave the house, but when we can I get out and try to get to a friends. This winter isn't over yet, and another Arctic air storm is moving in. This winter might still kill me yet, but I'm hoping to come out on top. Spring is almost here, but if winter doesn't end soon, I might go mad.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Learning to Read

Learning to read can be an overwhelming tasking, even for the parent. When to start? Phonics vs sight or whole language, what resources to use. As someone who has studied child development and still reads up on the topic the easiest and general rule is when your child starts to write letters it a great time to start learning to read. This is can be a long process so don't expect your child to be reading soon. Follow their lead, if they are writing at 4 introduce the letter sounds while they are learning to write. Do not push, some kids are not ready until they are closer to 6 and that is okay. Keep reading often to them and get them to love reading, don't make it a chore. I do short mini lessons with my daughter who is almost 4 1/2. We have been using some apps and the Finger Phonics series. We also on occasion read Bob books. Lessons are usually 5 minutes long and are done very relaxed. "Lets read this book together, do you want to play your phonics game on the kindle? Do you want to read a Bob book tonight?" I don't push, if she pushes back I stop. I've found short daily lessons are working for us. She now can read some simple words, cat, mat, sat, hen, pen. Working on rhyming words has helped a lot. We use letters from the fridge magnets or from a puzzle and will go through, m-at, r-at, f-at, c-at, s-at and so on. Liv is building confidence in her reading abilities, without pressure or fear of failure. I find the combination of sight and phonics is a great way to start and gets the best of both worlds. Here's to my little prereader

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Year New Us

2014, wow that came up quick. This year I have to much I want to do and so much coming up to do, weddings, deciding to homeschool or not, possibly moving, deciding on having a third. I also want to get more done, be more productive. I often find when I finally sit down at 8pm I realize I can't recall much of what I have done, or it sounds like stuff that should of filled 1 to 2 hours of my day. I recently read "Eat that Frog" now I'm working on reading "Getting things Done" This also means I'm using my planner more and trying to set up goals, with a deadline on them. That was the number one idea I got from "Eat That Frog" I've been working on organizing more, so I can spend less time wandering looking and less time cleaning. Both girls have gotten new bookshelves to help with their rooms and it has already made a big difference. I'm trying to work out consistently. Get back into my old clothes. Who knew weaning would bring on weight gain? Building back up muscle that I used to have. I'm trying to find more time for prayer, for Bible reading and for church. Hoping to spend less time online and more time with real life friends. I many ways I'm trying to make my home life run better, waste less time, and find more time to be healthier and happier. Hoping this fire in my belly keeps me going. Studies show if I can make it to February I should be in the clear. I want out of my Stay at home mom rut and to feel back as my old self, which is my exercise is a top priority on my list. Mentally, physically, I need the energy and I miss feeling strong, and I miss seeing my abs. I can do it, right? Yes, 2014 the year I got my life back and balanced kids, motherhood, being a wife and being me.