Thursday, September 2, 2010


I'm amazed at how thankful I am for the status quo in our lives. I look at what's going on around me, mainly the economy still trudging along, and it helps me be so grateful for my husband's employment, a roof over our heads, our health. I think when we're standing on the edge of a cliff really seeing the uncertainty of life we can either take a deep breath and try to look at the good we have or continually worry about falling off that cliff.

We just moved from a 2 bedroom townhouse/apartment into a 4 bedroom house with a large backyard. Square footage wise we only gained about 400 square feet but it is amazing the difference this place makes for my family of 5 going on 6. As soon as my middle boy is up from his nap, my two eldest are in the backyard until I call them into bathe so they can eat dinner. Yes, they get that dirty but they have so much fun. I didn't truly understand how cramped and hard it was to be in the apartment. It was a newer, energy efficient place in a beautiful neighborhood where I could run my air conditioning to keep the house at 78 and have an electric bill under $100. Now we're in an older, completely not energy efficient house where I don't even turn on the AC until it is 84 or so in the house knowing that by doing that I'll probably have an even higher electric bill, but we couldn't be happier.

My eldest started Kindergarten. In the end, we enrolled him in the local public school but so far I'm so happy with our decision. He is flourishing and doing really well. The school is high rated, his teacher has been teaching for 34 years and there's a ton of parent involvement. I don't think we could have asked for a better situation with the options we had.

I just am amazed at my contentment with life. I am hoping I can maintain a thankful attitude and realize all that God is doing for us. We truly are blessed to still have employment. Where we live the construction industry is awful and the unemployment rate is 15%. So while my husband brings home the bacon, I am looking forward to a Fall of baking, finding new, healthy and fresh recipes to make and getting ready for baby #4. As we settle into our new place and into our new routines I can't help but smile on how good life is.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Got it

I finally get it. I finally get those "crazy" people who buy a few acres of land in the middle of nowhere, build their house, plant their food, have a few animals that they will raise and use for milk and possibly meat. Some of them become quite extreme and this is where I veer off but I finally get this desire to go move to some plot of land not surrounded by suburbia where I can grow what I eat.

I think the internet is a wonderful tool and has helped us become so educated. We can research anything and get so much information. It's hard to say how accurate all the information is but it is right here at our fingertips.

The internet has provided me with tons of information about our food. I think I've become so dependent on my trust in government agencies that I hadn't put much thought into what I was putting into my mouth. I figured buying produce and meat at the grocery store is just fine and couldn't have dire consequences. Then I read this article and think WHY IS IT OKAY for these to be sold if they're warning us not to buy them unless they're organic?

So I get this desire to have property where I can plant and grow all my own produce. I would have the control in how my food was treated and not have to worry. I could have my own chicken coop where I could harvest my own eggs and know what my chickens ate. I could have cows whom I could milk and possibly slaughter eventually. I could make my own butter and cheese from the milk.

So much has changed since we started mass producing our food and as we get better educated it doesn't seem that it has changed for the better. So maybe one day I will be able to buy some property and have more control over my food. But as for now I need to be pickier and smarter about where and how I shop.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Grays of Parenting

I am on my 3rd or 4th rendition of this blog post. I keep reading it and think it ends up sounding condescending and that I have THE opinion. My goal is to share my opinion and have it be just that, my opinion. Up until I hit motherhood, life was pretty black and white to me. There was right and wrong and not much in between. My mother in law will tell you how annoying I was. :) And then I became pregnant with my first son and realized there is a lot of gray in life, especially parenting. There are the extreme BADS in parenting, e.g. verbal, physical or sexual abuse and neglect or on the other side not parenting, meaning not having rules and standards for your child to abide by.

Overall, though, the majority of parents see a path with many different forks we can travel that aren't bad. And we begin to realize even if we start down a path it may fork in a direction we never intended; it was out of our control. A mom can be adamant that she is going to breastfeed for the first year and have her milk dry up at 5 months. A dad could be convinced his kid is going to play hockey or the guitar and his child can have two left feet or be tone deaf. Parents have done everything right and have had a kid turn out horribly and other parents barely do it right and have their kids turn out to be wonderful.

As a parent, I do have strong opinions about certain things and feel more ambivalent in other areas. My opinions on education were in the middle. A couple of my best friends are teachers and I think they are wonderful to teach. It is amazing to me that teachers can and do put up with all of the crap that society reigns down on them. Our government is again discussing education reform, and I feel they are looking at it the wrong way. They want to put more and more on the teachers when a lot of the learning and schooling should start with the parents at home. Parents need to instill character and morality in their children. Parents need to sit down with their children after school and spend time with them both by helping them with their homework and just by giving them attention. If our government needs to do anything, I think it's to provide educational classes for parents. Teachers all ready have our children 7 hours a day and their function is to set an educational foundation for the children that is nurtured in the home and in their daily life.

Up until 6 weeks ago, I was going to send my kids to either a local charter school or to our public elementary school. My thought was as long as I live in a safe area with a school that has awesome test scores my kids are going there, period. Then I sent my son to a 3 hour, 3 day a week pre-Kindergarten class and realized it wasn't that simple. It is that simple for some but it isn't for me. I realized sending my 5 year old off for 5 days a week to have a stranger teach my child wasn't optimal. As I began to research my options and began to learn about different education philosophies, I also realized the mentality of the public school system did not align with my philosophy.

I am a product of the public school system and turned out just fine. I got good grades, I passed 7 AP courses in high school and feel I had a solid education. In saying that, the majority of my education was not done in the public school system in the state I live in and I think things have changed even since I was in school. I am not anti-public school and I do have this internal battle of am I just being unreasonable?

But as I have read about Classic education, I have fallen in love. Classical education is new to me but in society it is very old. Up until 100 years ago, kids were taught classically. This education philosophy clicked with me. And now my husband and I are discussing how do we teach our children this way? If my eldest son gets into one of the local Charter schools, they teach classically. There is another charter school that has a half home school, half in school Classical type education. My second concern though is teaching my child about God while he learns about grammar, writing, science, math, history and everything else. So then begs the question do we just homeschool or do we start a school that shares this combined belief of a school that teaches Classically and about God? Or a third option, do I send my child to a public charter school and fill in the gaps at home? This is where I am at right now, researching, reading and praying about a path. I struggle with feeling too uneducated to do anything.

I don't think I'm making something that should be easy hard. There is a reason why 5% of parents are homeschooling and why private schools exist and are being started. As I said teachers are amazing to me. The majority of teachers are incredible and they love education and children. I don't think the teachers are broken but I think (and the government thinks) our educational system is broken but I don't foresee them as fixing the real problem. There is so much emphasis put on passing the state standardized tests that we miss the point. Our administrations and government are focused on how to get the lowest ranking schools to have more of their kids pass the tests so it has become about teaching the kids specifically to pass these tests. I saw something amazing when I visited this school that is located in the best school district in San Diego county and it made me think that WE need to re-think this focus on the tests.

Cambridge teaches classically and they don't even have their kids take practice exams. When the public school district officials came to rank this school and to make sure they were teaching these children enough to where they could pass the state tests they found that these students test 2 years above where the students in this school district test. This shows me that it shouldn't be about the tests, this change should be about either reducing class sizes or having the student/teacher ratio be lower. So when kids excel there is someone to motivate them to shoot even higher. And when kids are struggling there is someone who can focus on helping them. But now when kids struggle the kids who are excelling take a back seat to those who struggle because the teacher has to get her/his kids to pass. I just hope that as we all consider the changes needed in our public schools that we fight for smaller classes and chances for those who are average and who excel to be challenged also.

I know I can teach my children about religion at home. I don't need to hide them from the world and people in it. Reality shows me that in 13 1/2 years my first kid will be out of the house and on his own. He needs to know how to function in that world and to be strong in his convictions. But as I think of education I don't think I'm ready to throw him into that world of 25+ Kindergartners in a class. And so I struggle daily with my thoughts of what do I do then? Hopefully, soon, I'll share with you what we decide and feel free to share your thoughts and opinions because maybe you think I have this all wrong. ;)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


It's amazing how much television dominates MY life! I have a DVR and you should see my TV show line up. When I don't have time to watch TV and start to see those shows add up I begin to realize it's a little ridiculous. Then I started thinking about how when my middle son wakes up, we go down stairs and I turn on Playhouse Disney. He sits on the couch, asks for cereal and a drink and then proceeds to watch whatever show is on. I start to catch up with whatever I didn't finish the night before. I will do the dishes, make breakfast for everyone, make my mocha and then shower. By the time I've gotten all of this done including some computer time up to 2 hours and 4 shows have passed!

Yesterday I decided to go radical. I have so much going on in my life right now, I have my eldest getting close to starting Kindergarten, I have a middle son who is in the "terrific" threes and a baby who still wakes up every couple to few hours to eat all night long. With just those three kids I shouldn't have time to even think about TV. They are all in different phases and have minds that move a million miles a second. They are little sponges who want to learn and explore and while the shows they watch tend to teach things such as numbers, letters, colors, etc. there are so many other, more exciting ways to learn those things. And so we're cutting it out. We're going cold turkey the TV is off for the next little while.

I am not anti TV I think it's an okay pass time. My problem with it is it becomes so much more than a pass time. We start to ignore each other in order to watch a show, we use it as an electronic babysitter because mostly you can stick a kid in front of it and they'll be mesmerized for at least a little while. I don't see a problem with doing that some times but my problem was it was all the time. My kids should be able to find other ways to entertain themselves when I have something to do and I sometimes need to let things go to just entertain my kids.

And it's not just a problem with kids/parents, it's a way for spouses/significant others to not have to interact too! My husband works a lot and our time together is limited during the week. My husband can take or leave the TV which I think is great. He isn't one to come home, turn on sports and proceed to ignore what's going on around him. I am more the one who has the problem! But I think he and I could be playing games or reading books together after the kids go to bed instead of being planted in front of the TV. Although I know sometimes, especially for my husband, he gets home and he's done. He's worked a 14 or 16 hour day and he does need to just eat dinner, watch something mind numbing and then go to bed and I see nothing wrong with that but over all on good nights when he's had a more normal day I don't want to go to bed wondering how we missed having any sort of conversation with each other.

I want days or weeks to go by and realize we were able to entertain ourselves so much with non-electric items that we haven't even turned the TV on. Of course in this day and age I might pass out if someone told me I had to give up my internet access! And my eldest son is still playing his learning games on his V-Tech (which time with that will be cut back too, but one media device at a time). But in this day and age how can we totally remove ourselves from electronic devices? I don't know that we can or should have to but I do think they can be all consuming, life draining forces. So my goal is to control myself and my time on my media outlets whether it be TV, Facebook, internet searching or whatever so that I'm enjoying my kids, my husband and the great outdoors more!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Advocates and the Government

As I read articles such as this one and this one, I am left to wonder where should the government step in and where does it leave us alone to make decisions, good or bad? We live in a free democracy which to me would technically mean the government should never step in unless asked. So then who is allowed to ask the government to step in.

As with the situation with Daniel Hauser the hospital stepped in on behalf of the boy. Is this okay? If both parents are willing to make an extreme decision to take their child off of Chemo and try alternative routes should the hospital be able to act as an advocate for a child who is on board with their parents? I understand if mom is for something and dad against needing an advocate but where does government take it too far? If parents accept that their decision may kill their kid and they are OK with that then should the hospital let them have their way? I honestly am not sure to the answer of that question. I think for me it really depends. If Chemo has a low chance of healing a person then I understand wanting to use that time to look into alternatives. But if Chemo is almost guaranteed to cure the patient and the alternative medicines are an untested unknown and parents still want to take their child off of the known and try an unknown then I'm not upset that a judge made a decision in this case. It's a slippery slope though.

This article is what made me again start thinking of this whole situation. When is the government taking their power too far? If the government is going to have a hand in fighting childhood obesity and fixing that problem I think it should begin and end with educating the parents and the kids. Re-write Health Education curriculum and instead of having health class as a 1 semester high school class, have there be a health class every year or incorporate it into an existing class.

But to rezone where fast food restaurants can build and to tax unhealthy foods is taking it too far for me. It's the same with this recommendation to redesign hot dogs. At what point do we as a society let parents be stupid and at what point do we let government step in? Some would say these are elected officials who represent what Americans want. So I ask you, if you voted for Obama did you really want him to start passing laws that tax foods you eat because he deems them unhealthy? Where does it end?

So I leave you asking if a parent just doesn't care what his/her child puts in their mouth and they lead their child down a path of obesity, childhood type 2 diabetes, etc. do we want a complete overhaul of eating and fast food as we know it? Do we want advocates to step in on a case by case basis? Or do we just let parents do that to their kids?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Food, To Go or To Not Go the Organic Way

In life, I think we tend to go in wide loops as a society. Sometimes we veer off of those loops and maybe start on a new one. An example of this would be, in my grandparents' generation a lot of them smoked and drank through out their pregnancies and it seems most of our parents turned out just fine but the industries realized that there were detrimental side effects and started a trend to removing those two habits from a pregnant woman. A second example, would be when my kids' doctor first started practicing medicine (30+ years ago) it was okay to start feeding a baby rice cereal at 2 weeks of age! They found, though, that the feeding of rice cereal early on could cause digestive issues so they moved it to the age we know now, 4 months.

I was blessed and had a mom who stayed home with us. She cooked us dinner every night. We ate tacos, spaghetti and a lot of times our normal meal was some sort of meat, a starch, a veggie and a salad. My husband ate similarly to this. His mom worked a little more than my mom did outside of the house but she was there to make dinners at night as well. I was able to help peel potatoes, throw a salad together, make my own tacos, etc while I was growing up. I had a mom who taught me the basics of cooking.

But as in anything our society started its way down a loop. This loop began in the 60s with the movement that women were equal to men and could do what a man did. There have been a lot of positives and negatives that have come out of this movement but one thing that came out of it was homes where both parents worked.

As we looped into this 2 parents out of the house cycle the food industry came through for us! They made so many items that are boxed, canned and frozen where if you just add water or stick in the microwave or oven after a set period of time you have a whole meal. How wonderful was that and still is for these people who work 40+ hours a week and then have to go home and think about dinner. When I worked 2 days a week, with my husband working 60 hours a week and having 2 small children those were the nights we tended to grab a pizza or find something easy. Thankfully I am blessed in another way where I have a husband who cooks as well! So if he had energy he would make dinner. Even while I was working we never ate boxed anything but we would go the frozen route some. I think when you're used to making items from scratch, especially potato items, you never go backwards to boxed. It's just NOT the same! Anyway I'm getting off on a tangent.

Now we're seeing a new trend. Or at least in my circle I am seeing a new trend. Most of my female friends are stay at home moms too. I think this tends to happen we hang out with people who are in similar circumstances to ourselves but because of my Facebook world, I see a lot of everything in my friends on there. Friends who stay at home, friends who are single parents, friends who work but in a lot of those friends I am seeing a trend towards organic, vegetarian, and other healthy diets that do not come from boxed or frozen foods. So as we start to trend to a society who is realizing that processed sugar really isn't that great for us we are seeing changes.

Trans fat is being removed from a lot of foods, we are going from white flour to whole wheat. So the industry is all ready starting to make some positive trend changes. We still have Doritos and Chipsahoy cookies that are readily available to consume. But since we are a nation founded on the principals that we are free then people get to decide how healthy or unhealthy they want to be. I do believe that people need to educate themselves and make decisions on what they learn. If they decide to eat a diet riddled in processed, fatty, sugary food that is their prerogative.

I think sometimes it's easy to think that THEY want us to be fat and eating whatever THEY put in front of us. I then wonder who THEY are. My opinion is THEY move slowly but THEY move in the directions we move. And some of us are moving in a direction where we want fruits and vegetables free from pesticides, we want meat free from hormones and antibiotics. I know some people will say look at the meat industry, it took the book, The Jungle, to make some changes but really the meat industry hasn't progressed too well. And I don't disagree with that sentiment. I'm not sure that that particular industry has a lot of interest in changing. Thankfully, though, we have options, people choose to go vegetarian and others can choose to buy meat from stores that only sell organic, hormone/antibiotic free meat. We pay more for it and may always pay more for it but we have the options. But I see the food industry as a whole, as an industry who is giant and slow moving but that it does follow in the direction that the majority of us are going.

I think buying and going organic is pricey and not always an option for everyone. But I do think even if a household has 2 parents who work out of the house that you can make decisions on how to eat better. People can cook a bunch of meals over the weekend and freeze them or people can choose easy meals to make. Eating well and from scratch only has to be complicated if you want to make it complicated. Throwing a fresh salad together with rice and a meat, if you eat it, is easy and doesn't take long. Costco sells 1 pound of organic salad for $3.69 here and it can last a whole week for a family. It is yummy, high quality lettuce and costs less than 2 of the bagged pre-made salads the grocery store sells.

I know I have been putting a lot more thought into what I'm putting in my mouth. Some days I just don't care that I'm not eating as well as I could. I will buy that bag of Doritos or make those chocolate chip cookies. But overall, my family is eating yummy meals that I or my husband put together. And it's making me more picky and it's easier to put those Doritos down if they don't taste good. So my hope is that as a society, we are on a loop towards health and knowledge and that it will help our kids not become obese with type 2 diabetes. And it will help those who are obese have hope that they can live a better, more healthy life and get some of that weight off! I don't want to be known as the most fat nation there's nothing positive in that.

And remember as I write this I am an over weight person so I'm not judging. I struggle daily with what I'm putting in my mouth. I struggle to get myself and kids outside to get some exercise and fresh air. I am down 9 pounds this year and am excited about that so I am looking to give and receive encouragement to continue to live a healthier life style.

Friday, February 26, 2010


I have 3 kids. My eldest is the pickiest creature I have ever met, my middle one will eat anything sometimes he just needs a little persuasion and my youngest is breastfeeding so we haven't come to food battles yet.

I know my eldest needs to change his eating habits. He eats fruit and maybe a dozen variations of meals. But as he gets older instead of opening and expanding his horizons he's getting worse. An example, he now won't eat the eggs I make him because they have white in them. He has cut cheese out of a lot of food ie no cheese in a burrito and when he would eat eggs, no cheese in it. I am TIRED of making a meal for my husband and myself and then either a variation of that meal or a second meal for my kids. Even though my middle child will eat what we eat if he sees his brother eating something else he wants what his brother has.

Before I decide how to go about changing my eldest's eating style, I am getting him checked for allergies. According to my doctor, friend, and other doctors, sometimes when kids are picky it is actually for a reason not just for obstinate sake. It could mean they have an allergy. Kids are sensitive and they may start to correlate not feeling well with a food and so they remove it from their diet by refusing to eat it. This next week we'll get his blood drawn and a few days after that I'll have an idea on if there are any internal issues going on.

If not, at that point, I'm going to ask for ideas on how to get kids to expand food horizons! Part of why I chose to not push it earlier on was he is incredibly stubborn and it was a horrible battle. I don't want to dislike my child and I just saw that coming with how much he dug in and refused to eat what I was serving. On the other hand, if there are no allergies, it may have to come to that point. So I'll research and take suggestions because I want my kid to be healthier and have a more well rounded diet. And I want to cook what I want to cook and know he'll at least try it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Daily Routine

Another thing that has been on our mind is the schedule! I have realized there is a significant difference between Jonathan and myself. Jonathan could play Legos for hours growing up. He would get lost in his room and build magnificent structures. He has thousands of Legos. When Jonathan is at home he can spend so much time sitting on the boys' floor putting together their Geo Trax train or building a castle with their blocks.

And then there is me. I would probably have been labeled with ADD if not ADHD as a child because unless I was sitting down reading or watching tv I had to be on the go. I would be at the grocery store with my mom as a small child and she would say can't you stand still for at least a few seconds? I am someone who likes to go! And as a parent of small children you would think I would be entertained by running around after them. It isn't that I'm not it's just I'm not entertained by building a train or putting Legos together. And I think maybe entertained isn't the right word. I feel like I don't have that piece Jonathan has where he can visualize this whole creation and then do it. He loves to buy more and more tracks to the Geotrax because Jonathan can build it bigger and bigger. When I start to build it, I always end up with the track not meeting up or my eldest son telling me I'm not doing it right.

Lately as we're trying to reduce our grocery budget and get a better handle on life, spirituality, budgeting, health, etc. I've realized that if we don't have a playdate or something then in the morning the boys tend to be in front of the tv and me in front of the computer. I am trying so hard to be more active outside BUT (and I find this amazing) if I don't get us out on a walk then I take us all to a store because of a need to get out of the house. And really it is so much easier to go on a walk, I mean who wants to drag 3 kids into a store? That is a recipe for annoyance and disaster but instead of getting my boys on their bikes and my daughter into the stroller I drag them across town to Target to buy those 2 things I forgot but then end up adding 8 more things to the cart and before you know it I've spent too much and have kids who are whining and annoyed.

I'm finding that getting into a good regimented routine is not an easy task when you're a stay at home parent. When the kids get up at 6:30 or 7, it's easy to just turn on the TV so that I can do e-mail, make breakfast, shower. Then I realize it's 9 or so and they've been parked in front of the TV for two hours. So I'm looking for recommendations on what non-TV watching parents do with their kids. How they keep them entertained in the AM.

I am hoping to have my days work like this:

Get up - maybe have the TV on for 1 or 2 Disney AM shows while I wake up, make them breakfast and shower but I want to reduce my waking up time so that it is 8ish when I'm ready to go!

Then go out for a walk, I feel unless it is raining or we have somewhere to be we need to be out taking advantage of our CA sunshine for at least an hour or 2. We moved to this big community that has 2 parks within walking distance. We can get in a good 2 mile bike ride/walk and play at one of the parks.

Come home and some days try to have some pre-planned thing for the boys to do either an art project, coloring, drawing etc and then on the other days even though I feel like I'm next to useless at it, help them put together their train or help them build a Lego structure.

Then lunch....

Then nap/quiet time so I can have a little bit of me time.

The later afternoons are hard because my eldest doesn't nap but my middle son and daughter do. So my eldest is by that point getting pretty tired/cranky and my middle son is rearing to go! I need again to figure out something that burns some of middle son's steam without feeling like I'm over exhausting my eldest. I would love ideas! We don't have a backyard at the moment but we have a nice organized garage so I will move the car out so the boys can ride their bikes or kick around a soccer ball in there.

Whoever thinks parenting and being a stay at home parent is easy or just a cake job has obviously never done it!

I know if I want to even consider any sort of homeschooling program I have to be on the ball more. I have plenty of excuses to why I'm not, I do have a 5 month old who thinks waking up every 2 or so hours at night is exciting so I'm sleep deprived and it's easy to use that as a crutch. But if I want my life to really head in the direction I see, I need to get over it! Easier said then done but mind over matter right?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I am contemplating homeschooling and feeling very weird about it. I have a 4 1/2 year old boy, a 3 year old boy and a 5 month old girl. I just put my 4 1/2 year old into a 3 hour 3 times a week preschool/pre Kindergarten class in January. All ready I'm not liking the attitude changes I'm seeing in him. I NEVER thought I would consider homeschooling and I know we should never say never. Life throws us curve balls all of the time therefore saying never can just make you feel silly later on!

I know part of my problem is the natural hardness of this transition. Most parents put their kids into public or private school and I'm sure this transition can be naturally difficult. For the last year I've been a full time stay at home mom and before that I was a part time stay at home mom. I would think for parents who have a stay at home parent sending your kid off to school is hard. Suddenly the control you had is out of your hands and into a stranger's hands for 6+ hours a day. And with the current state of a lot of our school systems, not only is your child with the teacher but 20 to 30 other kids are too! I'm having a hard time accepting this as something I want for my kids. I want them to have someone who cares about them individually. Now before I go on I want to say 2 things. I don't think just because a household has both parents who work that it means there isn't a hard transition for those parents having their children start school. Secondly, I have nothing but respect for teachers. I think they are underpaid and under appreciated. They do so much for all of us. All of us have had teachers and I am amazed at my friends who have the patience to be teachers also. My problem is more specific to the fact that our schools are over crowded and underfunded and unless my son gets into a Charter program I don't know that I want to deal with the public school system.

So here I am ruminating. It amazes me how many of my friends do homeschool but on the other hand I have a lot of friends who send their kids off to school and have no issues. I know it's a very individual and personal decision making but I think opinions from others are always helpful. To know others' experiences can give you an idea of what you're own may look like. But everyone's kids are so different and my temperament is different from others so I think you don't know until you try. As I think about this feel free to share your thoughts, I would appreciate them!