Ugh, Finances

Here’s a shocking revelation: we are not rich.  In fact, we are far from it.  My husband and I never went on a honeymoon.  The only vacations we take are back home to visit family, or someplace within driving distance.  These aren’t complaints.  We just haven’t seen much any of the world, let alone the country.  We made a big decision at the beginning of the year that has improved our quality of life, but at the cost of, well, costing us.  We made a naive decision ten years ago to buy a home when we first moved to Jacksonville instead of waiting to understand the market (and Jacksonville’s neighborhood’s) better.  A decade later, we were still in what was supposed to be our “starter home”, perfect for a family of 2 20-somethings, not perfect for a growing family.  We did as much to it as we could to make the house work for us, but we knew any money we threw into it, we’d never see again.  The value dropped significantly about a year or two after we purchased it due to the market crash of 2007.  Additionally, the house is located in one of the least desirable neighborhood’s of Jacksonville.  Though we could afford our home, we couldn’t afford to sell, but we also knew we just couldn’t live there any longer.  It was not an ideal place to raise a family.  So we made the decision to rent out our home and rent a home in a new neighborhood, and in February we moved.

We are happier now where we are, but now we have to be a lot more aware of how and where we are spending our money.  I stopped working when I had Ellis, so we are living on one salary (though as a private school teacher, my salary was pretty dismal to begin with).  We now have not only a mortgage to pay but rent as well.  And I haven’t mentioned our debt from school loans.  Again, I was a dumb teenager making dumb decisions that would affect the rest of my life.  I just assumed everybody paid for college with FAFSA, and private college over a state school was a better choice.  We will not let Ellis make the same mistakes we did.

So what are we doing differently now than we have in the past?  Well, for one, we hardly ever go out.  Ellis has been really helpful with this.  Fridays and Saturdays are the same as every other day of the week.  Sunday is probably the most exciting because we get to dress up to go to church.

Food.  We eat at home.  Sometimes this makes me sad.  Cleaning my kitchen 3x a day and preparing a meal that often is not my ideal way of spending my day.  I try to look on the bright side. Eating out eats our budget and makes us fat.  So I like to think of eating at home as a diet for my waistline and pocketbook.  When we grocery shop or do eat out, we try to use coupons.  Depending on how hungry we are we might share a meal or skip the appetizer.  Leftovers never taste as good anyway.  Sometimes I just share Ellis’s meal because she only eats 1/4 of it anyway.  Do you feel sad now, too?

Shopping.  Currently we are in a period where Ellis has a full wardrobe of clothes that fit her in the appropriate season.  It should last hopefully another two months, although I just bought her new socks, and they are already too small.  That girl has big feet.  I challenged myself for the month of July to never step foot into a Target.  I’m going on two weeks here, and I’m feeling pretty good about myself.  I’ve been able to get what we need at the grocery store or the Dollar Tree.

Budgeting.  Trav and I enrolled in Financial Peace University about 5-6 weeks back.  I’ve been tracking our spending more closely and took over bill pay to have a better understanding of our debt and monthly expenses.  We’re doing our best to follow a lot of the advice of Dave Ramsay, and hopefully he will give us more tools in the upcoming classes that will help us make wiser financial decisions and investments in the future.  (Ahem, home buying.)

Ellis’s 2nd Birthday

You know, the only way Ellis could have been more spoiled this week for her birthday is if we had gotten her a pony.  That girl had a good week.  Trav’s parents drove in Monday evening, and my mom and Oma came over, so we had family dinner together.  On Thursday, Mom brought over her and my grandmother’s gift to Ellis, a play kitchen, and we she spent a total of 6 hours putting it together for her.  The plan was to put it together during her nap, but that turned out to be far too optimistic.  Ellis’s favorite baby sitter also came over to drop off a birthday gift.  But Ellis was far too interested in the kitchen her Noni was putting together to care about anything else.  She also received a gift from Teresa, Mom’s friend, who had come over as well.  It was finally put together around 6pm, the same time Trav got home from work.  We had dinner and sang Happy Birthday to Ellis because Mom wouldn’t be here for Ellis’s birthday or birthday party.

Friday, Ellis’s actual birthday, I took her to Krispy Kreme for a chocolate icing, rainbow sprinkles, glazed donut (her choice).  The rest of the day was spent making last minute preparations for her party.  We had family dinner again, and Ellis opened Trav’s and my gifts to her.  She had already gotten a tricycle, train table, and ride on car, so on her birthday we gave her a couple of doll clothes since she likes to give her dolls diaper changes, a pack n’ play for her dolls, a couple of water brush coloring books, and a kitchen apron/chef’s hat set that came with a spoon, spatula, oven mitt, and pot holder.

Saturday was party day.  We spent the morning cleaning house and getting ready for it.  After Ellis’s nap, she was ready to party.  We had a Curious George theme and a bounce house out back.  Guests arrived around 3, and the last ones left around 7:30.  Ellis had so much fun having so many kids to play with and being the center of attention.  It may have gone to her head a little bit.

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Toddler Discipline

Umm… what?  The last two years have been a lie?  Real parenting doesn’t start until now?  And I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.

Ellis is a normal toddler, and as such, sometimes she can be challenging, like when she death kicks me in the face while I’m trying to change her diaper and then laughs when she does it again after I tell her not to do it again.  Or when she keeps yanking on the dog and making him yelp after repeatedly being told she’s hurting him.  Or throwing her milk at me across the table when we’re out to eat.  Or absolutely refusing to even try a bite of the meal that was her favorite thing to eat two days ago.  “No, don’t like,” she says.  Again, all normal toddler behavior.  But how I react is what is going to make or break my relationship and my authority with my daughter.  And lately, I’ve just been staring dumbfounded asking myself, “Oh, crap.  What do I do?”

So I bought a book.  I didn’t do any research.  I didn’t read any reviews to see what was popular out there.  I browsed the parenting section of Barnes & Noble for 5 minutes (or what I like to call a vacation these days) and found what I thought sounded promising, but also to the point – John Rosemond’s Making the “Terrible” Twos Terrific!

I read the first chapter last night, and while the core of what he was saying made sense, he also has a very old school mentality that sounds much like “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”  I knew I would need to read some reviews to make sure I wasn’t accidentally getting advice from Parenting Hitler.  I’m going to go forward with this book because I think the core of what he is advising is helpful, even though he is delusional in thinking that parenting in the 1950s was perfect, and we’ve been screwing up our kids ever since.

What I agree with:

  • The Seasons of Parenthood – The first two years of a child’s life are child centered, and it is the parents’ (though he expressly states mothers have the greatest parenting responsibility) job to meet the needs of their child and provide a secure, loving environment.  Between ages 2-13, parents should become an authority figure.  The attention should be centered on the parents, not the child, and it’s the child’s job to please his parents and learn to self-govern, or do things for himself.  And the final season of parenting (though, to editorialize, we parent until we’re dead really) is where the parent becomes a mentor to the child in helping him to finally be “emancipated” or an adult who can go out into the world on his own with all the good character traits instilled in him by his parents.  I mean that’s our goal as parents, right?  To provide the world with remarkable, good human beings?  Rosemond emphasizes the focus on the character of the person we want our children to be, not their accomplishments.

What I have issues with:

  • Rosemond believes the father plays a supporting role in parenting, and it is really the mother’s job to get it right in effectively disciplining and raising her children.
  • Paying less attention to our children makes them better people.  I don’t believe in helicopter-parenting or doing my child’s homework for her, but parents do have be involved in what their children are doing.  There has to be involvement.  I might be misunderstanding him, but he makes it sound like now that my daughter is two, she should be dressing, entertaining, and feeding herself by now while I watch TV on the couch undisturbed.  I should probably be smoking a cigarette, too, while running my feet through thick shag carpet.

I’ve only read the first chapter, and haven’t gotten through the Q and A at the end of it.  I plan to write more reflections as I continue through the book.  Also, have you parented a toddler?  Are you doing so right now?  What has worked/is working for you?  Any other good book recommendations, podcasts, parenting websites you’d recommend for navigating the year ahead?  

A Case of the Mondays

June 15th, 2015

Please let this morning go more smoothly than the last two Mondays!

June 8th, 2015

It’s 10:30, and I’m exhausted already.

I woke up at a quarter to 4 this morning and willed myself to stay in bed as long as I could, but by 5:30, I gave up and came downstairs for coffee and internet.  Yesterday it dawned on me that Ellis’s birthday is less than a month away, and I really haven’t done any planning or pre-planning.  Last year, I started Pinning 1st birthday ideas months in advance.  This year, I am a complete slacker.

Somehow I managed to find myself on Craigslist looking for used, but acceptable and affordable, birthday gifts.  In between my two cups of coffee, I shot out a few emails to see what might still be available and made up a batch of cinnamon rolls for breakfast because I was starving.

I got replies from a couple of things, including a $15 train table.  Yep, $15.  But he needed me to pick it up ASAP.  Ellis was awake, but I hadn’t gotten her up yet, let alone brush my teeth.  So, I scrambled to get her fed and get us out the door for a 30 minute drive and a meeting time of 8:30.  I was feeling a little apprehensive for my and my daughter’s safety, so I let the Facebook world know where I was going in case the worst should happen.

Turned out he wasn’t a scary murderer and was extremely helpful in helping load the hulking table into my car.  I hadn’t even thought about the fact that it might not fit with Ellis in the backseat.  I had to move her car seat, but it all worked out.

We headed back to our side of town and were only 10 minutes late for My Gym.  I should probably also mention that Ellis was still in her pajamas.  But at least she got to burn off some energy after having been in a car the first hour of her morning.

I spent the rest of the morning cleaning up our kitchen, cleaning up after/taking care of Trav who was sick, and cleaning up after our dog who is just a turd.

June 1, 2015

This morning at My Gym, Ellis was jumping on the trampoline with another little girl.  They were holding hands and hugging while they were jumping up and down.  Inevitably, they knocked into one another – Ellis’s head and the little girl’s mouth.  Ellis was fine, but the girl cut her lip.  She took it like a champ, but I felt horrible being part of the reason a little girl was bleeding.

Ellis doesn’t like “separation time” there any more, but as long as the toys they bring out are interesting enough, they’ll hold her attention for a while.  Some other kids hate separation time even more.  It was another little girl’s first class this morning, and one of the coaches was holding her because she was screaming her head off.  Apparently, she’s one of those who makes herself sick when she gets upset, and she upchucked all over the poor coach and the carpet.  Fortunately, most of the kids were playing puzzles nowhere near where she got sick.  The commotion knocked Ellis out of her puzzle trance, and she came running to find me.  At that point, there was no point in getting her to try to stay through the end of class.  The smell of the vomit alone was making me want to dry heave.  Am I not a mom?  Am I not supposed to be used to gross bodily fluids?  Nope.  We were out of there.

Weekend Fun

It’s usually the mundane weekends that I always end up recapping; this one is no different.

Saturday morning we had signed up for a parenting seminar at our church from 9-11.  The bulletin wasn’t very detailed about what would be discussed, but I signed us up anyway.  Any parenting tools I can get I’ll take.  Turned out this seminar was probably more appropriate for parents of the tween/teen set, but we gleaned a few pieces of wisdom from it.

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Pancakes made and served before 7 am. Who am I?

 

After the seminar, we had lunch and put Ellis down for a nap, and then napped ourselves.  I never nap, but it sounded like a great idea that day.  After everyone was up again, we played a little with Ellis and were starting a game of pool when somehow the idea to get Ellis a bike/tricycle came up.  We finished our game and headed to Target because sometimes we can be very impulsive.  We didn’t do any research, and we didn’t shop around save for stopping at Play It Again Sports where they did NOT have any tricycles.

We ended up going with the Radio Flyer tricycle in pink.  Also not a financially sound choice if ever we have a boy in our future.  But we got her a helmet and a cute basket to hang on the front of her trike, and it just looks adorable.  Ellis has been obsessed with bicycles for a while now, and I’m not sure where or how it started.  She just always wants to climb on them when she sees them.  We’ve got a little over a month before her birthday, but decided to go ahead and get her a gift early.  The weather was beautiful this weekend, so it was the perfect time to spend outdoors.

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Helping her daddy put it together.

On Sunday, Ellis fell asleep in the nursery during service at church.  This is extremely unusual, but she also has been having a couple of middle of the night wakings where she wants someone to come in and rock with her for a while.  Not sure what’s going on there, but the fact that she fell asleep in a noisy and brightly lit nursery is almost unbelievable.  Of course, once we got her, she woke right up and wanted to play in the playground.

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When we finally tore her away, we headed home, and Trav took her out on her bike again while I got lunch ready.  Then it was nap time, but I spent nap time cleaning and organizing our pantry.  I can’t stand disorganization, even though I’m always in a state of it.  I like being able to look into my pantry, see everything easily and know what we’ve got.  It was therapeutic, and I felt like I finally got something accomplished.  I was able to read two more chapters in the book I’m reading before Ellis woke up from her hour nap (since she slept at church).  I had also meal-planned and written out a grocery list during her nap (Yay for being productive!), so Trav took Ellis with him to grocery shop.  I took a trip of my own to The Dollar Store and Michaels.

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My next big task was to get Ellis’s playroom organized.  She has two toy bins, but things get lost when they’re just thrown in there, even if I try to separate the toys by type.  Plus, Ellis can’t reach far into them, so she has trouble getting things out.  She enjoys helping to clean up, so I wanted to actually have a clean, organized room for her to be able to clean up when she’s done playing to help her with this skill.  I was also looking for something to contain Ellis’s bath toys that end up littering the bottom of the tub, or more annoying the foam letters that are scattered all over the shower floor.  She used to have a toy scoop that hung on the back of our shower wall, but when we moved, we didn’t bring the piece that attached to the wall.  Also, it was kind of gaudy and bulky to be used in our bathroom.  I found two bins at The Dollar Store that have holes on the bottom as well as the sides so that water can easily drain out of them, one for the shower and one for the tub.

As I was looking at containers, I remembered I had about 10 plastic shoe bins that I used to keep my less-worn shoes in.  I decided to use those to help separate her smaller toys and then sorted them in the bigger toy bin.  Finally, I could see her floor again!

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5 Ways I Fail as a Mom

As Mother’s Day approaches, I think about how much I deserve to be celebrated on this day.  Last year I thought, Oh, heck yes.  I carried a baby for 10 months, pushed her out of me, and balanced on the edge of insanity keeping her alive for almost a year. I deserve to be celebrated.

This year, I’m kind of drawing a blank as to why anyone should celebrate my mothering skills.  I’m severely lacking in most life skills, and now I’m responsible for a human being.  What comes easy to most people is a huge undertaking for me, like changing a light bulb, mailing packages, or returning phone calls and text messages in a timely manner.

When Ellis was immobile and less aware, I had lots of time to read up on baby care, weekly development, and mom tips.  Today, I’m faced with numerous questions but no time to look into them, so I’m just shooting blindly into the dark and hope I’m on the right track.  So for Mother’s Day, I’m listing all the ways I am failing as a mom, and to not beat myself up too much, my successes.

1.  I’m not a good cook.

My daughter isn’t really a picky eater.  Generally, if it tastes good to her, she’ll eat it.  The problem is, what I prepare for her doesn’t always taste that great.  And cooking stresses me out.  Also, I’m terrible about meal planning and meal prep, so I’m usually rushing to throw something together for her to eat at last minute.

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It took me three days to make enchiladas, and they tasted terrible.

 

2.  Cleaning is not my strong suit either.

The kitchen, the laundry, and vacuuming the floors.  That’s basically all I manage to accomplish.  My house is always a mess.  I don’t know how to organize all of our stuff/junk, because once it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, so everything clutters our counter tops which ironically stresses me out.  I can’t stand clutter, but I don’t know how to make it go away.  I don’t know how to treat stains, so basically if my daughter gets food on an outfit, it’s there for life.  I can’t keep up with the bathrooms or changing out the sheets on our bed on a weekly basis.  And did I mention our house is always a mess?

3.  Crafting.

No.

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I hate you, Michaels and Pinterest, and all of your lies.

 

4.  I have very little patience.

The smallest things can set me off.  I’m like the Incredible Hulk with uncontrollable rage at the slightest provocation.  This doesn’t pair well with me being bad at life in general when I am easily frustrated.

5.  I let my daughter eat sweets and watch too much TV.

Two things I would NEVER do last year, and now they are daily occurrences.  Trying to find a balance between being too uptight and too liberal is an everyday struggle.

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Feet on the table. Giant green flip flop cookie from Panera crumbled all over the seat and floor. We’ll never be allowed back.

 

And one thing I do right…

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Happy, confident kid

Something.  I look at her and know I’m doing something right.  Sometimes I think she could thrive even more with a more competent set of parents, but I don’t think we’re failing her completely.  Every day I love her, I worry for her, and I try for her.  That’s gotta be something, right?

Try Again

***I wrote this post a while ago, but only felt comfortable enough now to share it.  And now that life is “slowing down” and getting back to normal, I can hopefully get back to my regular updates.***

The weird part is that I feel like I shouldn’t be upset.  That this was no big deal and happens to lots of women, many who don’t even know it happened to them.  But it’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, not knowing whether or not I was pregnant.

Trav and I have been trying for a little while now.  A few weeks ago I was feeling a little more run down.  My stomach got upset easily, and I was getting headaches every day.  I never have headaches.  So I took a test, and it was positive, but the second line was only barely visible.  So I took a second test the next day, and the next day, and one more.  The line kept getting more and more prominent.  But something else was becoming more prominent, too.  I was having lots of minor cramping and bleeding.  I told my husband the exciting news over dinner on his birthday date night, then I made an appointment the following Monday to see the Ob.

The Ob confirmed my pregnancy, but the ARNP was concerned about the bleeding, so I had a blood draw that morning and scheduled to have it drawn again two days later.  They wanted to test that my hCG levels were at least doubling.  That week, the bleeding and cramping continued, and my pregnancy symptoms were beginning to disappear.  Someone online mentioned she bleed throughout the first three months of her pregnancy and went on to have a healthy baby, so I was still holding on to some hope, but I kind of also just knew something wasn’t right, and it wasn’t going to happen for me.  The afternoon after my second blood draw I spent trying to get ahold of someone who could tell me my results.  I had gotten a call the previous day that Tuesday’s levels were 77.  I wanted a definitive answer, but the nurse told me Thursday’s levels were 144.  My levels went up but not drastically.  By then, I wasn’t cramping anymore, but I was still bleeding.  They set up a sono appointment for me 2.5 weeks out.  I bled the entire weekend and on Monday called to tell them that I was still bleeding and wasn’t experiencing any pregnancy symptoms.

They brought me in for a sono that afternoon.  Couldn’t find anything.  The doctor decided to run another pregnancy test.  It came back negative.  So there you go.  In the span of less than one week, I went from officially being pregnant to not.  I have to go in for one more blood draw to make sure my hCG levels have evaporated, and then we’ll have to wait at least a month before we can try again.

This part was easy to write, but the emotions involved are harder to explain.  I had all the normal, crazy thoughts running through my head when I first took that positive home pregnancy test.  “Oh, here we go again!”  “Is this really happening?”  “Life is about to change.”  “Am I ready to do this again, with a toddler?”  And then there was the confusion of not knowing whether or not my pregnancy was failing.  I just wanted an answer, yes or no, this is happening, this isn’t happening.  I didn’t want to wait 4 weeks or 2 weeks to hear the answer I was pretty sure I already knew.   My doctor made a comment that most women don’t even know they’re having a miscarriage when it’s this early on in the pregnancy.  Most just assume they’re having a heavy period.  (Actually, she kept using the word “mensies,” and I kept thinking, “Is that an actual medical term, or is she trying to sound young and hip because she thinks I’m either of those two?”)  But I’m not sure how someone can bleed for two weeks straight and not think something’s up.

And then there are those other questions.  Did I cause this?  I start going through my timeline and picking out everything that could have been a cause.  I taught Sh’bam that one night and remember my stomach hurting.  I drank three cups of coffee that one morning.  I had wine.  Could too much intercourse have caused this?

Maybe something I did caused it, maybe not.  I’m okay now.*  Well, I’m relieved to know.  As a planner and a neurotic person in general, I just needed to know.  And now that I do, I can move forward.  Enjoy my birthday plans with my girlfriends.  Enjoy a mini-vacation with my family in May.  Have some Mimosas with my mom and grandmother on Mother’s Day.  Enjoy a little more time not being pregnant.  And then I’ll try again.  And maybe the next time will be the one.

*The loss is still hard.  Not as hard as someone who got to hear a heartbeat or see a little peanut on an ultrasound.  That would be even more devastating.  But I still feel the loss.  My joy was taken away quickly, so I should be thankful that I didn’t have a chance to get too invested.  I’m disappointed.  I’m sad at times.  But I’m okay.  And I’m grateful for everything that I already have.

SAHMs for Target

Remember when I said that I was turning over a new leaf and REALLY going to try to grow a nice wardrobe and stop buying all my clothes at Target?  Well, for the most part, I have been working hard on it.  In fact, I’ve got four items I’m picking up from the tailor tomorrow.  Wahoo!

But I must admit that I went on a little shopping spree at Target.  I didn’t mean to.  I just had a little bit of toddler-free time on my hands, so I decided to go out on a limb and try some things on, and doggone it if they didn’t all fit and look really, really good on!  I never have that kind of luck anywhere.  I thought maybe I was hormonal or hallucinating because no way could everything fit me, including a maxi dress.  My mother later pointed out that it’s probably a regular length dress but just looks like a maxi dress on me.  Either way, I rocked it, so I bought it.

I’m sorry to all the people who were disappointed with the Lilly Pulitzer for Target letdown this past weekend, but I think these finds are just as incredible.

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If you look in my closet, you will basically see black, white, and gray.  I’m so excited to have some bright and feminine color in my wardrobe.

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This light knit top hits just above the waist.  It’s perfect for spring and summer on days I find myself inside with the chilly a/c like church or the grocery store.

I also picked up some casual wear, because sometimes I just need to look presentable enough to take my daughter for a walk through our neighborhood or into a grocery store.

 

IMG_9783They had some really cute and flattering athletic wear, including these shorts.  I picked up a pair in another color, as well as these, thigh thinning leggings, two sports bras, and a black tank.  I still haven’t mustered up the insanity to buy LuLuLemon.  I have a couple of things from Athleta, but nothing that’s made me a convert to overpriced workout gear.

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People, THIS is an improvement.

 

Playful Learning: Colors

Does anyone remember the great dress debate of late February 2015?  Yeah, that rocked me to my core.  Because I know my colors, and I know that my husband is supposed to be the one that’s colorblind.  Yet, he saw blue and black, and I saw white and gold.  So how am I supposed to teach my daughter colors if I’m not sure she’s seeing what I’m seeing?

We’ve already had some arguments.

Ellis:  “Orange!”

Me:  “That’s red, honey.”

Ellis:  “No, orange!”

Replace the words orange and red in that conversation with the words black and blue, black and purple, blue and green, and repeat.  And the colors in Ellis’s Color Wonders collection are all variations of shades, so sometimes I’m like, “Is that red or is it orange?”  Teaching basic facts to a toddler is not as simple as it seems, and sometimes I concede to her.  “Okay, honey, it’s orange.”

We’ve been working on identifying and naming colors for a couple of months now.  The first color that stuck with Ellis was orange.  It is now her favorite color and the one she is most excited to point out and identify.  She can correctly name black, white, brown, orange, blue, pink, and peach.  Yes, I told her about peach once because I had no other name for that Color Wonder marker that came in her Hello Kitty pack.  It only took me telling her once to get it.  Now green, red, purple, and yellow on the other hand are works in progress.  She can correctly identify or pick out those colors most of the time, but she has a hard time naming them if we ask her.  I think part of it is that they are harder to say, but other than that, I’m stumped.  Trav and I joke that she is going to be able to identify colors like crimson and chartreuse before she gets red and yellow.  All the same, we’re working on it.

Of course, we color every day.  She has those triangle-shaped crayons, but they’re still easily breakable, and sometimes she sneaks away with one and uses it in a place she shouldn’t (read: the ceiling of my car, our love seat, the carpet?).  Crayon easily comes off walls and solid surfaces with a Magic Eraser, but fabric?  If someone can tell me how to get it out, I’d appreciate it.  Luckily, the blue she used on the loveseat blends well with the blue floral pattern, so it’s not easily noticeable.  That being said, crayons are often the enemy as are all writing tools, but I LOVE the Color Wonders markers from Crayola.  We still correct her if she tries to use them on anything but her coloring books, but it’s nice to not have to watch her like a hawk with them.

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Coloring in a laundry basket because why not?

 

Read or Don’t:

Here are some great books to reinforce color identification:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle

She didn’t like this book when she was younger, but now she can practically recite it, and often does when she’s playing or riding around in the back seat of the car.  In our copy, the blue horse is actually blue and purple, so that can be confusing, and again, makes me question my own sight. Also, she sounds super cute pronouncing teacher and children.

Pantone: Colors by Pantone

Yes, Pinterest says you can go to the hardware store, pick up some paint swatches, and create a book of colors for your toddler, but this is much better because someone’s already done it for you and better than you.  It’s cute, simple, and the size and way it lays flat makes it great for activities.  I picked my copy up from the library, but I’m thinking about buying a copy of our own.

 

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

A cute little story to teach primary and secondary colors.  Ellis requests this book at every story time.  I think the concept of mixing colors to create new ones is a little over her head, but she likes yelling out the colors the mice jump in and the color of puddles the mice make, and she gives a cute little hip shake when the mice dance in the puddles.

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet

This book is like magic to a 21 month old.  It’s interactive where you tap on dots, shake the book, squeeze it closed, and use your fingers to mix colors.  Basically, it’s finger painting without the mess.  Her favorite thing to do is place her hand on the page and count to five, though sometimes she only counts to three or four, depending on her mood.

Try or Don’t:

My attempt at a “learning activity” to teach Ellis yellow since she has a hard time identifying and naming it.  First, we went on a scavenger hunt to find items of Ellis’s that were yellow.  When I say we, I mean I went on a scavenger hunt and located the items.

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Next, I pulled out some paper and let her color with her yellow marker and crayons.  Because it’s fun to draw with only one color, right?  We stepped it up and did some finger painting outside with the yellow paint.  She’s not a big fan of paint on her hands at this point.

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I even put her in a yellow shirt!

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This is what Ellis thought of my “learning activity.”

She still can’t name yellow.

 

Any other good ideas that have worked for teaching colors to your tots?  Share them with me in the comments below.

Moderately Extreme Makeover: Closet Edition

I treated becoming a mom as an excuse to stop caring about myself.  As long as the baby is happy, healthy, and dressed impeccably, who cares about the disaster of a woman holding her hand, right?  I’m not sure what has changed recently, but I think I just got tired of looking and feeling awful.  We go to a toddler gym, and while that’s a safe place to be dressed like a tired house mom, their walls are covered floor to ceiling in mirrors to remind me that I look like a tired house mom.  Even when I would get a chance to go on a date with my husband, many times I would not have found the time to wash my hair and so taking a date-selfie and sharing it with the cyber world was out of the question.

I see moms around me everywhere who are pulled together, and I’ve decided that part of my happiness has always been feeling great about myself.  So, I am giving myself a makeover, much like that awful reality show several years ago called “The Swan” where they did extreme makeovers on women.  I’m not going so far as plastic surgery, but I can definitely improve everywhere else.

First thing’s first.  My wardrobe.

There’s this thing going around the internet mostly on lifestyle blogs and YouTube called a “closet detox,” where women are going through their overly-cluttered closets and cleaning them out. I find it slightly annoying they call it a “detox” instead of what it really is – cleaning and organizing.  I also am annoyed when people say they like things to happen organically.  Stop it.

I watch these videos and I’m like, “Whuh?”  My closet needs to eat a sandwich, not go on a juice cleanse, if you know what I mean.  Long ago, I had a pretty decent closet, but it was mostly work clothes – business pants and so. many. cardigans.  Then I got preggers, and the majority of my wardrobe was maternity wear or clothes 2 sizes larger than I normally wear.  Then I had a baby and couldn’t care less about my clothes, and that’s really where things began to fall apart.  The only new clothes I would buy came from Target when I was on another diaper run, and I only bought things that were both cheap and nursing-friendly.  Also, loose and comfortable were major criteria.

Now it’s almost 2 years later, and I have no excuses.  As I was starting to organize my new closet, I realized I had a healthy collection of sweaters, jackets, cocktail dresses (from days of yore), and fall pieces, but no clothes for warmer months.  I live in Florida.  How is that possible???  I remember.  I lived in my gym clothes (still do), whether I was working out or not (usually not).

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The entirety of my spring/summer wardrobe. I don’t even know what to say about this. Did I just never leave the house last year???

We’re in a new house with a closet that can actually fit a decent wardrobe.  I want to collect a few key pieces:  casual, daily wear; family dates; hubby dates; and Sunday church attire.  So, I’ve been doing some research on what people are actually wearing these days and getting ideas for things that I’ll actually enjoy wearing.  I’ve been subscribing to mommy and petite fashion blogs; I follow liketoknow.it; and I watch YouTube videos.  I did a YouTube search for “cute mom outfits,” and in one of the videos I watched, the woman actually said my entire wardrobe cannot be from Target.  Bummer.

To help me along, I’ve also decided to do two things that I have never done before:

1.  If I like it, buy it.  At a store or online, I am weird about not wanting to buy a single item.  If I see one cute shirt but nothing else, I’ll put it back because I need at least 2 items to make the transaction worthwhile.  I really can’t explain it.  It doesn’t make sense, but I am breaking that habit.

2.  If it doesn’t quite fit, get it tailored.  I am 5’1″.  I qualify as petite which means nothing fits me right.  Everything is big in the sleeves and chest and too long for my short legs.  I’ve decided I’m not going to let ill-fitting clothes  deter me.  This is really the only way I’m ever going to have clothes that fit my body.  Yes, I’m 33 years old, and I am just now figuring this out.

So, here goes nothing.  I’ve already placed some orders and got a little pile ready to get altered.  I’ll let you know how it goes and share my wardrobe as it grows.  And one day I hope I can be cute enough to take selfies with my adorable toddler again!