New to Homeschooling

We have begun to homeschool our 4 year old.

This has been a difficult journey for many reasons. For one, I think every parent but especially every homeschool parent feels they are never doing enough for his or her kid. Why we feel this inadequacy stems from our own childhood, what we think we were deprived of, what we wish we had known, and also the tendency to parent the way we were parented, for better or worse. My preschooler’s tantrums really bring out the angry mom in me. My mom was strict with me too and part of it is my personality.

The battle to face your weaknesses is magnified when you homeschool. I realize not all of you want to homeschool, but I think this post can be related to just parenting in general.

I want to share our why of homeschool and share some early challenges:

The Why’s

There are many, many reasons why we chose to homeschool; the essence of why we are homeschooling boils down our family priorities and flexibility or schedule. We want to spend time educating our children on things that are priorities in our family and we think are neglected or dismissed in the public schools. We want our kids to be as bilingual as possible; I know that even in the best immersion setting, kids will not maintain bilingualism unless there is a need to speak the language and a lot of exposure in the real world.  So we want to take our kids to Taiwan/China or even the local Chinese-owned stores and businesses to speak in the real-world, not just on Saturday school. We also want to be able to have a religious education element in our schooling. We also want to have our kids learn about entrepreneurship and true financial literacy; all these things are not taught in regular schools; too many kids are taught to get hired, not to create value out of ideas.

We also want the flexibility to design curriculum and a school schedule that meets our family’s needs. We do not want to get up at 7 am and be out the door by 7:30 am. We do not want to have “early out” days or have to deal with inclement weather days or PTA meetings or teacher conferences. We especially do not want our kids bored for 8 hours a day and on the opposite side, we especially don’t want them stressed out for 8 hours a day.

My husband is somewhat of a unschooler. He and I both attended public school and he reminds me all the time how much time is wasted on classroom management or “parties” or fundraisers or pep rallys. He honestly thinks that our kids will just learn by being with us, going on family outings and unstructured play.  He does not care if our kids go to college, as long as they learn a trade and are competitive in their chosen field. And I might add, he is an optometrist and has a doctorate degree. Of course, he knows college is a good route for those who need a degree like lawyers, doctors or teachers, but we’re talking about other professions that really do not need a college degree.  

As the English Teaching major, I have a different view. I think there are certain academics that need to be taught, like reading, writing and math. I love literature and school. I take a Charlotte Mason-unit study approach to many subjects. I would like to use Montessori and Waldorf elements to promote creativity in play. Basically I am eclectic and trying to stay minimalist, but it’s so hard, which takes me to my next topic: the challenges.

The First Challenge

The earliest challenge is determining the identity my home and homeschool will have, especially with our differing views. There are a ton of different philosophies of early childhood education and how that looks like in the homeschool setting. Luckily, we’re only doing preschool which is 20-40 minutes a day and only 4 days of school. Sometimes “school” is just art projects or reading. It’s chill now, but I want a long-term plan for the future and it feels like completely uncharted territory because we throw in things like foreign language and scripture study that others don’t. Do you know of any Chinese-speaking homeschoolers? The community is growing but it’s still incredibly small even in a place like Plano.

I think my biggest take-away right now is to succeed as a parent, you need to stay true to yourself and don’t be swayed by every little blog post, book list, toy list, Pinterest craft or Instagram feed out there. This overload of information is overwhelming and stressful and does not add to being a good parent.

I do think every parent can improve little by little. It is good to read up on child development and education, not leaving it up to others, which the study of homeschooling as done for me.

Recently I’ve been reading up on Montessori and Waldorf, specifically what kinds of toys and activities they use. (And remember, Montessori does offer day care and elementary school, so this is not just for homeschoolers.)

I stayed awake a couple nights ago thinking about how awful of a parent I’ve been for having toys with batteries in them, or for having plastic toys instead of wooden or wondering if I need to get rid of all the Disney, cartoon or pop culture toys in my house (which if you’ve read my Qiaohu posts, we have accumulated a ton of these!)

In efforts to improve, I even spent a ton of money on some homemade wood toys off Etsy (which I haven’t received yet, but I will review if they’re good) because I thought, “I’m really going to embrace this minimalist, natural and open-ended style.” I look forward to trying out a different style of toy for my kids, but in general, I need to avoid any extreme changes to be successful at child-rearing or homeschooling. I do not need to throw out all my kids’ toys right now because I have been attempting to be minimalist in the possessions we buy and have. I just need to improve the process moving forward and learn from my mistakes.

I’ve needed to step back and really think back to my “why’s”. Why do I emphasize certain ideals in my home over others? What has been successful  to excite my kids about learning? Yes, we use a lot of screen time learning Chinese; my son loves it and his Mandarin has improved so much. He has learned to recite a Tang dynasty poem and a handful of Chinese characters. Has it been done in a kind of plastic-toy cartoon-y commercialized kind of way? Yes, but who cares? He loves it. We really do not watch any other TV and he only has about three movies he gets to watch on special occasions.

We do have a lot of plastic toys. I try to buy quality over quantity, like play food and Duplo especially; but I also accept the gifts and hand-me-downs of others which has watered down my vision of our house’s toy stash.

Has it made my life a little crazy? I have tried to make good effort to buy more creative, inspiring and free-thinking toys. I do try to make an effort not to buy those so-called “educational” toys or toys that overstimulate.

I blogged once about used toys and clothes and I still think used and preowned are great options; however, after doing this research, I recently went to my local Once Upon a Child and realized that a majority of what is there is just that, junky electronic toys; not all of it, but most of it.

But then a family member buys a toy that sings and recites nursery rhymes. Another buys a plastic toy car with screws. (Don’t they know we have a ton of cars already? And aren’t plastic?) We have a lot of Pixar Cars and Hot Wheels and my son has played endlessly with them; have they opened his imagination? I think so. Should I feel guilty we have these mainstream-brand toys? I don’t think so.

I will post on some of the sites that have resonated with me, in hopes this will help you if you are doing some “school” time at home. My intent is not to give you pressure to be a certain type of mom but just to show you how you will know if a style of education excites you, then it is probably for you.

love you guys!

Cottage Door Press Board Book Review

Introducing chunky flaps! I have found some new favorite board books from Cottage Door Press, the Peek-a-Flap series and the Chunky Lift-a-Flap series. These are the perfect books for active toddlers who destroy everything. My firstborn was the perfect toddler, who never ripped or tore a book ever. He’s also mildly OCD so we have had our share of challenges.

My twins are much rougher with books. If I gave them my Usborne Peek Inside series (which I love and recommend as a must-have from Usborne), they would destroy or fold up the flaps in 30 seconds.

These flaps are durable, made of the same cardboard material as the book.

I found the Chunky Lift-a-Flap (Little Green Frog and others) at our local Barnes and Noble and I even let my twins try out the flaps and they did not destroy them! Usually I do not believe in using the bookstore like a library but in this case we were fine because the books went back on the shelf in perfect condition.

I like that the Peek-a-Flap combines a word book with flap books with informational text. This is age-appropriate for toddlers; babies might get easily bored with it, but you don’t even need to read every word; just talk about the illustrations.

I’m sure these will be dropped, worn and dented over time, but I am fairly confident the flaps will remain in tact.

For the younger babies, I liked the Chunky Lift-a-Flap series. I especially like Babies on the Farm and Little Green Frog.  I gifted Baby B with Babies on the Farm for Easter because spring and farm animals are so suitable for the season. I like that it uses vocabulary like goat kid, piglet and duckling instead of simplifying the words (like “baby duck”) as so many other baby books do.

Just based on my previews of the other board book series on their website, I was not as impressed with the other chunky flap books like First Word (called Babies ‚̧)  series or others, but I am judging them by their covers.  A lot of them seem cheaply done to me, however, these two series I’ve mentioned are fantastic and I highly recommend them for their illustrations and durability.

I own a lot of word and board books already and I’m trying to get the most bang out of my buck for each book I buy. I used to buy whatever was cheapest and I’m learning to stretch my dollars buy buying less but with more quality. I know there are a ton of choices out on the book market today, but these offerings are truly unique.

I would highly recommend Peek-a-Flap or the select few Chunky Lift-a-Flap for first-time parents. You will not be disappointed.

KonMari with Kids: Part 2 Organizing 

From the high of the discarding phase, I was hit with the reality of organizing.

My discard pile was one of the biggest in my life, but as I set out to organize, I could see now why my house always seemed cluttered. My house was severely disorganized. All this time I feigned organization and cleanliness, but I was letting areas of my house go to serious disarray.

Going through each category for the second time showed me where the problem areas were. First, I organized clothes, books, random stuff ¬†(you know, the tray you stash everything in because it’s the landing spot of whatever is in your pockets). They were all relatively easy to conquer.

Using Kondo’s shoebox trick, I used both halves of my Samsung Galaxy tablet box in my closet which has built in shelves and acts as my dresser, and it works like magic. Shallow and sturdy, it is perfect for seeing what you have. (Better go get some more tablets! Do you think Samsung will sell me just the box?)

But then it hit me, my kids’ toys, books and homeschool preschool “classroom” is what is truly troubling the house.

I set out to fix the problem, first by consolidating all things in one locale. This method shows how much of an item you have. Doing some toddler busy book games let my crafting supplies run crazy. It’s time to tame the pile into controllable and organized amounts.

Does everything have a place? That’s the question of the century. If it does not, then things are left to roam without a home. Our house is messy because our stuff is homeless.

I’m slightly crazy so I actually had already my kids’ toys inventoried on a my phone, just using OneNote. I placed all toys I wanted stored away in categories. Lego duplo, play food and cars were the largest categories that are untamed and not easily displayed (because they break apart, are not stationary or have a lot of pieces).

Reluctantly I’m going to have to give IKEA more money. If we do end up going the IKEA route, ¬†we’ll do a reveal.

I used to hate on IKEA but it works for kids. It’s inexpensive and simple. So the more kids I have the more IKEA our house has.

KonMari with Kids: Part 1 Discarding 

I just finished The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up book by Marie Kondo. Previously I had perused a copy at Costco when it was then new and cool. I dismissed the concept because she spoke about possessions like they were friends and thanking them before parting with them. It was just too much. Too crazy.

Years later, I read an excerpt from the illustrated companion volume Spark Joy about folding clothes found in the Reader’s Digest and it really was quite awesome. Especially after my LuLaRoe makeover, it felt like my new clothes were meant to be folded and stored upright. So I gave the book another chance and here’s some of my insights as I was discarding:

Day 1 Clothes

It actually started last night at like 11pm. I decided to do my clothes since I don’t own that much and sorted and discarded til 1 am. Yeah, I had to get up again at 7 am like I always do. But it felt great.

I am not a hoarder especially when it comes to clothing. I am pretty good about laying to rest old clothes and here in Texas, you can schedule a local charity truck to pick up the clothes and other small household items, to use for proceeds towards charitable causes. I usually support local organizations: the act of donating items to a charity instead of to the trash, helps dull the pain of the discarding phase.

The key to the KonMari method is letting go of emotion that bind us to material possessions that really don’t work for us. If the item sparks joy, then keep it. If not, then discard or donate.

I was finally able to let go of old clothing that I had saved to try to fit into again. I mean, maybe it’s all due to a matter of time, but I have accepted the fact that my last pregnancy has altered my body entirely (not just the little fat pouch, which I should work off, it will only take me like two years) as in new bra size (not cup), new shirt size, and new body shape.

The next day, I worked through my kids’ clothing, which I often do throughout the year but doing it all at once really felt effective. My kids didn’t seem to mind me sorting next to their play and they still napped well in the afternoon despite the indoor activity probably because it was so unorthodox of an after-lunch activity. This time I was finally willing to let go of some of the hand-me-down clothing I had received from other moms. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good hand-me-down just as much as the next mom, but there was so much I keep that was out of style, weirdly colored, or just ill-fitting. I mean, we’re talking clothes already 6 years old which my kids will not be able to fit into for another 3 years. It’s time for someone else to enjoy them.

It feels great. I know in the book, she says claims it will be life-changing, but to tell you the truth it is. It’s liberating.

It also makes me really evaluate my re-gifting of kids clothes that I did in the past to my brothers and in-laws. I am going to stop this practice mostly because I realize that I only kept a small amount of hand-me-downs due to geography. We all live in different climates and have different lifestyles. I don’t want them to have the burden or obligation to keep something. I would hope if I did ever send something to them that wasn’t suitable, that they’d be courageous enough to sell or donate it.

My Disagreements

There are, however, a few things in the book which are wrong, I mean, unrealistic for moms with kids. We use a ton of clear plastic bins in our house, the ones from Costco. Homes with children will need storage. I can’t start all over with new wardrobes with every child. I can’t throw away baby gear, even if it’s taking up a lot of space in my closet. The same thing goes with maternity clothes; perhaps she has never seen how expensive those clothes can be.

And some kids’ toys you can’t really get rid of. This falls under that gray area of others’ possessions and kids’ things. Yes, there are toys they don’t really play with and those will go bye-bye. But there are things that feel like clutter like random plastic containers, but they play with them all the time and would be a waste to throw away a cheap toy just because it looks like trash.

She says to stop the practice of packing away seasonal clothing but I still like wearing certain shades of colors for certain seasons. I do see how storing away clothes is a recipe for forgetting what you have in your closet. I need to change my shopping skills a bit though and stop buying clothes to last just for a season but to be worn throughout the year. We can wear the same shirts all year round here if I buy the right items.

Take all tags off clothes? I disagree. There have been so many articles of clothing that I returned because I simply changed my mind about how they looked on me after I returned home. I am so glad I didn’t take off the tags so I could return the item for a full refund. Keep in mind that I am one who does actually do returns within the time limit and I remember to keep receipts etc. For others, tag removal might be the necessary painful reminder to only buy what you love in the future in order to avoid buyer’s remorse.

Day 2 Books

I actually did a clean-out of my books years ago, so I only have 50 of my own books. What has grown is my children’s book collection, which I will not let go of yet, since my kids are still super young and need a good variety.

I did, however, let go of The Help, which was probably the last hard copy grown up book I bought.  And from the kids’ section, I sent packing a Nihao Kailan Look and See book since Qiaohu rules our Chinese library now.

I consider myself a pretty good declutterer. Cleaning a hoarder’s house, a pack rat’s house and living with my cluttered siblings is enough to change anyone’s life forever. This book was still relevant to me. What has helped me is the advice to discard by category instead of go from room to room. While this is kind of tedious work, it’s very dramatic and therefore memorable. It is true that you will not likely forget swimming in a pool of your own clothing, underwear and all.

Day 3 Papers

I used to do the binder method which I wrote about in this blog. I’m letting of the binder and I’m going to try out a simpler system of just using one folder or container.

I did a part with Baby B when she woke up from her nap. She loves playing with my checkbook and some coupons which expired months ago. Yes, paper trails are so easily created!

Day 4 Papers Again

She argues that eliminating what is unnecessary will help one determine what is most important to him or her and I agree. She also says it’s okay to donate or let go of gifts, as the gift giver already expressed love and care when the gift was initially given. If we hold onto gifts that are not used or enjoyed, we’re complicating our living spaces with things of little meaning and that was not the intention of our gift giver.

I also love that she sees right through people’s excuses when they claim they want to regift a possession or put it at a parent’s house for safe keeping: these actions are just delaying the thought of letting go. We need to love enough to let go and move on.

I have been working on papers for two days now. I’m finding it extremely difficult to let go of necessary documents because I was always taught to keep them for 7 years. I will simplify by trying to keep all paperwork in a single file cabinet instead of throughout the house and I did whittle down half of the existing paperwork.

I’m just having a hard time throwing away the paper trail. Medical documents, old tax forms and returns and some warranty information are all keepers but I can’t put them all into one file folder as she suggests. So I still have many folders, but instead of a ton of subcategories, I just have main ones: warranties, receipts, family history, kid’s medical and my medical. This is more my style.

I’m going to have to take some time to see what more can be reduced. I know it’s supposed to be a one-shot experience to discard, but on papers, I need some time.

Day 5, 6, and 7

So the last part is this vague conglomeration category called random objects and for this, I did do room by room mostly because of time and space and the kids. If I had things of a certain category spread throughout the house, like craft supplies, I did bring all items together to sort, but for example, bathroom stuff is only in the two bathrooms of my house and it is well-organized, so it didn’t make sense to take it all out.

On the last day and on days after this purge, I thought to myself, what more can I do? For days I didn’t know and that was because there was simply nothing else to do. Amazing.

Part of the magic is when you do it by category, your mind will take an inventory of all your belongings in the house. When you ask yourself, “Is this all my clothes?”, You’ll search for the random places you’ve stored all your clothing. When you’ve finished your mind feels at peace because it no longer has the burden of remembering where everything is, because if organized properly, anything will be easily located.

This does not mean my house is spotless clean and totally organized. I am still working on Part 2 Organizing.

You will still need to do actual cleaning every day but tidying up and decluttering are done long term. You will need to go through things again, like when you move or all the kids grow out of baby toys, etc. But it’s a rare event.

The results are fabulous. My closet looks awesome. I’ve started tracking down shoeboxes, her preferred storage container, for phase 2 and I am thrilled that we are donating 6 diaper boxes’ worth to the charity trucks.

The New Year So Far 

Last night as I crawled into bed at 1 am again, I thought, “Dang it, not even a month into the year, my resolution to go to bed earlier is so not working!” What can I say? I am a night owl and I am super productive at night after the kids go to bed. I clean, sometimes I cook when I’m up to it, and lately I’ve been discarding under the KonMari method so it’s taken up my nights (more on this to come).

I will do better. And I think I will sleep better when all is organized in my home. 

Then when I got into bed I compared this year so far to last year at this time.

Last year I had twin infants. I was recovering from a c-section. Luckily I had my mom with me, then my mother in law, then my mom again. So it was nice but not nice. (If you’ve ever had a mother in law, even the most angelic, you know what I mean.) All in the same month. 

I didn’t sleep more than two hours at a time. Sometimes I was nursing every hour with the two. We supplemented with ready-to-feed for a long time (and Baby B never got off formula.) So there was a lot of juggling back then. And I was truly on survival mode.

This year is already better and I’m trying to be grateful that it is better. 

Baby A has slept through the night since 5 months. Baby B whines a little at night but she’s okay, it just could use improvement. Both of them are well-mannered babies. Baby B just started whole milk. Baby A is still nursing to my dismay but it’s still early in the game and he likes it so it’s fine. 

The only horror now is they are both learning to walk and I can’t just plant them on the ground  anymore. Separation anxiety is starting to kick in. But things are so much better. 

I can actually wear regular clothes again instead of my pjs. I get six hours of sleep and even eight when I plan it right. I don’t have to have my nursing pads in and distract Toddler all the time because he’s better at playing independently. 

My goals this year center around helping others and doing more for other people including my kids who will be 4 and 1. Last year, I went a little crazy indulging myself when I could because I needed it: I heavily relied on Amazon shopping and bought things for me and the kids whenever we needed it; when I needed a new wardrobe, I bought it and then some. I bought rich food and desserts because I was nursing two for a time. And while some of this is justified, it can’t remain this way forever. 

This year we’re returning to the simple and beautiful ways. Come with me.

Toddler Busy Books and Activities 

I’ve sunk some good money into quiet activities for my kids since we go to church every week where quiet is desirable (but really hard for this age group). I think it’s worth investing in independent play that not only teaches academic concepts and fine motor skills but also teaches appropriate behavior by redirecting them to a hands on activity that does not require screens.

 Here’s a list of some of my favorite resources:

  • Magnets — my favorite activity is magnets because unlike velcro and zippers, magnets are relatively quiet. I like this set from Janod which are made from wood with a nice gloss finish. I bought them for about $8 from Zulily. Please note Zulily doesn’t offer returns, but if you know what you’re getting and will keep the items, it’s a good way to shop for a bargain.

    • File folders — this is an old school method used by a lot of mom friends. Finch Family Games is one of my favorites, they have some LDS and Bible themed, but there’s also plenty of secular themes. They’re styled similar to old school Carson-Dellosa classroom decor, which speaks straight to my teacher heart. Keep in mind the hard copy books offered are black and white (b/w). The digital downloads are available in color or b/w. We make our file folders to last using quality materials.We use this Scotch laminator from Wal-Mart. The laminating sheets are cheapest at Amazon where they do go on sale often, so wait for a good price and do some price history checks (camelcamelcamel and slickdeals.net are my go to for Amazon prices). We use plastic file folders from Staples, which we scored for about $4 with a coupon for $10 off $10 but we also used regular Scotch tape for the laminated sheet inside so we will be able to reuse the folder. I also splurged on 3M Dual Lock rounds to use in place of velcro, they’re available at Jet.com but you need to buy in bulk, $100’s worth. It’s quieter to pull off and adheres to the paper well. You can go the more budget-friendly way, which is to use plain file folders, use b/w copies, do the coloring yourself, use thinner lamination and clear velcro or alternatively, adhesive magnets which are cheap but don’t look as nice. 

      • Magnets part two with pom poms or other homemade magnets– I’ve also used a magnet board with pom poms; my first version was a simple cookie sheet from Walmart for 88c. But this was slightly bigger than a sheet of paper and kind of loud. So I updated to thinner and smaller, a 8×10 Loran magnet board from Joanns (with a 50% off coupon about $3.25), it’s used for needlework patterns. This requires smaller play mats than 8.5 x 11 but you can always adjust when you print. This slimmer piece of metal can be made safer with masking tape around the edges and then placed into a sheet protector with an adhesive magnet closure, so that metal sheet and laminated worksheets are kept in one pocket. You could do this with your own sheet metal as a more cost effective way but I didn’t want to go through that hassle or danger. Just fyi, my local Home Depot does not cut metal and I would have had to buy a large roll of sheet metal there for about 10 bucks to do the DIY method.
      • Check the One Spot Dollar section at Target. A friend of mine found these great felt busy books for $3. It pays to have mom friends looking out for you! Felt is a great option for a quiet book but takes a lot of time designing, cutting and gluing. It is probably the quietest of all quiet book materials. I’ve also purchased a nice magnetic scene board with transportation from there; since Preschooler loves cars, we got a lot of use out of it. 

        • Check the dollar store — craft supplies, toy cars, puzzles, are all worth buying at the dollar store. We had a dollar store puzzle made of erasers with a farmyard scene that kept my kid busy for 20 minutes. It was his first puzzle experience and now he loves them (but needed a lot of parent help at first)
        • Binder pouches with random distractions — once again, quiet is best. It’s best to find a binder pouch that is relatively quiet. Walmart used to carry these sturdy plastic ones with the slider zipper instead of the traditional zipper. It is very quiet and easy for kids to open by themselves. I definitely recommend these over the others with a regular closure. My crafty friend carries kid scissors, paperclips for making chains and Popsicle sticks for shape making. This is kind of like the restaurant kit people make with a makeup bag, only with 3 ring pouches, you can extend this to as many pockets as can fit in a D ring. Even my toddler twins love just holding the plastic and “flipping” through the pages.

        Materials needed:

        You need scissors, tape and hot glue and adhesive magnets and/or clear velcro fasteners are available at Home Depot (but 3M Dual Lock fasteners are recommended as an alternative to velcro) 

        If you choose to do the lamination yourself, you’ll need a Scotch laminator and pouches.

        A craft paper trimmer is optional but nice to have for straight lines

        Craft supplies are optional and vary based on project:pom poms, Popsicle sticks, neon binder pouches  (recommend Casemate binder pouches with black slider zipper or equivalent)
        Enjoy!

        Tale of the Fancy Dress

        ‚ÄčJust returned from a week with fam. It only takes a so-called vacation to remind me that being a mom is not glamorous. Let’s not ever be in denial about that fact.

        There was a lot of talk. Talk with the siblings (all of whom are or soon will be Parents) and their dream cars, dream phones, and dream houses. We all have plans and dreams for the future. But all these things paired with babies or children are completely impractical. 

        And these things don’t make our lives all that much better when we do have kids. Expensive stuff gets ruined with kids. Lavish vacations are just babysitting at a hotel instead of at home; we do get to enlist more baby holders when family or daddies take time off but Mom still does most of the work. We get to do some grown up things but it is all interrupted by naps and diaper changes.

        I’m not innocent either. I spent a ton on clothes this year including this past month, some nicer outfits, things I’d wear to a nice party. Simple Guy had a work party coming up and I figured I had an excuse to try out some fancy clothes. When was the last time I treated myself anyway? When the items arrived with all our held mail after vacation, I was pretty happy but in my vain heart, I knew deep down this was, plainly speaking, stupid. I don’t go to nice restaurants anymore. I don’t attend concerts, the ballet or the opera. I don’t attend holiday parties, unless they are kid birthday parties. So why did I pretend that I do? 

        Sometimes we parents need an escape from reality and I guess babysitters can help with that. Yeah, it is possible we will get that one night of elegance. One day. So I would wear the dress a grand total of one time. Hmm.

        I get that we mourn the loss of past freedom and independence we had as singles or married without kids. But it’s time to grow up, people. When all life stops for kids to be sick or dirty, let us realize there is more to life than just what we adults want. I know one day I will be able to leave all three kids with a babysitter. I know one day I will be able to have nice stuff. But I’m doing something eternally more important right now and luxury can wait. 

        We are doing a great work by raising the next generation. When we are parents we are more than just an individual or even a partnership. We are caregivers with power to influence generations. 

        The irony of it all is that the whole family got sick after the week of supposed vacation and we missed the work party, so I didn’t get to wear my fancy eveningwear. Luckily it was LuLaRoe holiday wear and doesn’t really break the bank, but it’s still kind of ridiculous to admit I own something that sparkly when I’m about to have two toddlers and a preschooler. Guess I will wear it on New Year’s after the kids all go to bed.

        Lesson: Don’t buy stuff that doesn’t go with your current phase of life. Got kids? Don’t buy a fancy car, dress, or house or furniture. Kids will destroy or spit up on it anyway. Don’t falsely assume that your kids are going to be somehow cleaner than the rest of their demographic. Even Preschooler is compulsive about cleanliness and he just transferred marinara from his pants to the carpet not even 12 hours from me writing this.

        Good for You

        Rant time. Hope you don’t mind.

        Since becoming a parent, I’ve encountered a lot of other parents with other styles, philosophies or priorities. Of course, to each their own. But today, could you hear me out?

        What’s good for adults (you parents out there) is not necessarily good for your kids.

        Example one: nutrition

        I have several friends and relatives who are kind of health nuts: love to exercise, eat healthy and do recreation all day long.

        While I of course support kids getting exercise and eating healthy, I do not understand why these friends push fad diets like vegetarianism and eating non dairy *without medical reasons* to do so.

        Pediatricians recommend whole milk for babies from age 1 to 2. Instead these little kids are drinking soy milk when they are not lactose intolerant.

        Doctors recommend a healthy amount of meat and other protein which is good for kids who grow rapidly compared to us adults. Instead these kids eat vegetables all day long and don’t ever get full. Or, get full on “snacks” perceived as healthy but not completely (granola, smoothies, (aka sugarrrrr!) or whole wheat crackers with a ton of sodium).

        These kids are not obese either. I could see why a kid with a weight issue would need to cut back on (but not entirely eliminate dairy) a little or eat a little less meat. But these kids are normal, in fact, if anything they’re underweight.

        Then these kids have serious behavior problems and are cranky all day and can’t control their emotions. I’m not talking about autistic kids or typical toddler tantrums, but consistent bad behavior which is not prevented by better well balanced nutrition and being well fed and is left unaddressed by poor parenting.

        Harsh words. I know. I love these parents but I can’t get why they do this to themselves.

        Read about CHILD nutrition. And don’t rely on blogs, fad diet books or holistic medicine. Be a good parent and support your kids’ growth to reach milestones. This isn’t complicated, people. Go do your research. Scientific peer reviewed would be your best option.

        To say that your dietary needs as an adult and the dietary needs of your child are the same, is to seriously neglect your child’s needs. Kids don’t eat that much. Make every bit count. Of course, seek to be well balanced.

        Example two: community

        Simple Guy and I have a deep connection to the Bay Area of California because of his family and my volunteer missionary work in Oakland. We always talk about if we didn’t have kids how we could live in the big city…’kay, we love our kids so much, but I think every parent naturally wonders what things they could do without kids. Exotic travel and fine dining comes to mind. Oh, yeah, and buying designer furniture!

        We choose to live where kids can grow and have a sense of community and wholesome activity. And I’m sorry, but the big city is not wholesome. It has a lot of fun. It’s great for travel. But it’s not an ideal place for people like me who 1) want to save money instead of pay rent and 2) believe in traditional values and family. I believe with all my heart there are good people in all places, for I’m now related to some big city dwellers and I lived in a pretty big city (Oakland). But the problem is the overall community.

        What does the community value? And will the community support your values?

        Those are the biggest questions. I respect all walks of life but I don’t necessarily want my kids in a culture of chaos, confusion and coldness, which is what is in all city life. Go ahead and prove me wrong.

        I know many suburb dwellers and small town people and we’re always complaining about how boring it is where we can’t do activities we once did, because now we have little kids. Get over it! Parenting is not glamorous!

        We live in one of the nicest suburbs, probably in the nation. It’s freaking awesome! It’s got good schools, good eats, and lots of walks of life. But we do it without being in a huge city where people have learned to only think of themselves. I’d love if all my friends lived here, but I know they can’t.

        They’re limited to jobs and family and a billion other factors. Some have to deal with the city issues to support their families. But these decisions are not just about you. Choose for your kids to be in a place where they can thrive and have a sense of community and where values are upheld.

        Example three: childbirth

        Okay, I know this is a tough subject, but I have to write this!

        It is wonderful if you or someone you know gives birth naturally, in a birthing center or in your home.

        But before recommending it to all your girlfriends, please, please know this. There are tons of things that can happen to women and their babies in a birthing situation.

        Several mom friends have described to me their birth stories: c-sections, vbacs, premature births, large babies, babies with respiratory issues. All these things are best treated by a doctor with medical experience and in a hospital with NICU and with licensed and trained professionals.

        Let us agree that there are many good ways and options to have babies. But not one fits the needs of all women.

        Do what’s good for your child.

        Recently a dear friend of mine debated on having her baby in a birthing center or hospital. Of course, I had my opinions but let her choose her way and would respect her decision.

        She told me, “I wanted to be in a birthing center because my first delivery was really painful and I wanted to have the extra support a birthing center would give me. But then I realized that I was only thinking of myself and what I wanted for my birth plan, without really thinking of the needs of my baby. So because of certain health issues I am concerned about, I sought out the best hospital in the area so in case I need the help it will be there. ” and she described to me this strong feeling she had to follow this impression.

        This was absolutely. brilliant.

        She is a great mother, thinking of the needs of her unborn child.

        Think of your baby. What does she need? As a c section mom, I realize that the baby only cares about coming to earth in a safe and healthy way, where her chance of survival is highest.

        Think that over, ladies.

        Love,

        SimpleGirl

        LuLaRoe Clothing Review Part 2

        As if my last post wasn’t long enough, here’s some more information for you if considering Lularoe clothing:

        I have purchased…a lot of clothing from shopping VIP groups and multi consultant sales. Don’t tell Simple Guy. Luckily for me I sold some big ticket items from my excess home goods (unwanted gifts and sale rack finds) on eBay for some supplemental income. I feel like a druggie selling my valuables for a dose.

        Realizations 

        1. I’m thrilled to report that LuLaRoe Clothing has helped me to be braver with trying out new prints and colors I didn’t try before. Colors like yellow and green I always assumed Asians couldn’t wear. But I learned that as skirts, you definitely can! And if you’re like me in skin tone, try these “taboo” colors in jewel tone rather than camouflage tone, it actually looks fabulous
          Love the variety of colors and patterns but had to sort through the ugly to get to this beauty.
        2. The clothing does seriously rock, but it is pricey. I made a spreadsheet of my purchases, because ahem, there are that many, and realized that my whole yearly budget for clothing is easily met by shopping Lularoe. With limited prints available in my specific sizes, shopping LLR has become borderline addiction for me. Having said that, I think there are some items really worth the price. The Amelia dress, Julia dress and Carly dress are my favorites and worth every penny to me. They have a great fit though the hemlines are longer for me, because I’m short. The Carly is more of a casual dress, so it’s more on the pricey side, but it’s also the latest thing. Another more pricey item that I love is the Maxi skirts. I love them because they feel effortless to me, yet make you feel elegant. I guess that’s the whole appeal of this clothing line. I also feel disappointed shopping on other sites now because it can be very challenging to find modest clothing that is also stylish and affordable. Whereas on LLR, I know everything will fit and be comfortable. For some reason the both stylish-and-modest apparel come at a price. Modcloth and Anthropology are such examples. So the word pricey is debatable.
        3. People are so obsessed with the leggings. Maybe it’s because I’m short and don’t want to draw attention to my legs and maybe because it’s still summer part 2 here in Texas, but the excitement for them wore off for me rather quickly. They are super comfortable. But they are quite warm and honestly, how many pairs do you need? I decided for the fall, that I’d have a few versatile pairs of solid and more unique but not crazy patterns. But then I realized that I shouldn’t keep shopping for leggings that are only worn a part of the year here. At $25, they’re a little steep.
          Yes, I actually commented sold first on this unicorn print of sleeping foxes set. Cute or crazy?
          Again, it’s because of the climate that my current focus of Lularoe Clothing is carly dresses and various skirts because they are short and airy and extremely versatile if carefully selected. If you live in a colder place than Texas you might get a lot of use out of leggings.
        4. Exchanges can be a bust. Most consultants have an exchange only policy which I kind of despise since they only have an online presence. I have loved most of the clothing but I have returned quite a few items for exchanges due to sizing or colors. The problem with exchanging is that the selection you have is limited to the seller only. Imagine buying an item in a store, only when you return the thing you fell out of love with, the store only has a few remnant pieces left of the clearance rack. That is kind of the feeling you get in this process. You shop a huge sale to find the one item you love, only to find out that consultant doesn’t have much else to exchange for. The best thing to do is wait, if you can, for new inventory to arrive, but depending on the exchange policy and your level of patience, you may not have much time to shop around. 
        5. Tees can potentially be a bust too, if ordinary, would be outrageously priced at $35. I admit I’ve bought a few tees which seemed at the time, the right price point because they’re so uniquely cut but beware, some of the plain ones made of recycled material feel cheap to me. The problem for me right now is finding a substitute for Lularoe tops, that cover the butt so they look good with leggings and still are modest with sleeves and high necklines. My usual favorites are failing me in this category. It is incredibly hard to find a similar product, so it’s outrageous in cost, but I guess we still buy them.

        I have a huge new stash of modest clothing that makes me feel great. I do still love this brand, the positive image for women and family. So the magical effect of the drug Lularoe has kind of worn off for me but I’m still not fully recovered because I’m still in a few Facebook groups waiting for some more fun and unique items to pop up. Can’t wait for the next sale.

        I mean, how can I resist a Carly in a floral?