Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Preschool/daycare advice?

I'm looking for opinions friends, so if you have one, please speak up. I'm in the gathering data stage.

Princeton has this cool program that if both parents are working at least 20 hours a week, then the university will reimburse $5,000 per kid a year in daycare cost. We qualify for it since I watch Baby X. The nice thing about it is that "daycare" is pretty much anyone that isn't you watching your kid.

That means that the $5,000 could go towards paying another stay-at-home mom to watch Madeleine a few hours a week, which is what several moms in the neighborhood do. It can also go towards really incredibly expensive pre-k programs.

Last year after debating a bit, I opted out of putting Madeleine last year. She was so little still and I didn't think it was worth the driving time. This year though she'll be almost 3, and I'm already being asking what program I'm sticking her into.

I'm not against sticking her in a school. In fact, if I could find a good match, I think she would love it. But here are the two that people keep suggesting and that I have looked into a lot myself.

My dream would be to stick in her a very well organized and run Montessori program three times a week. Montessori's main program is for 3-6 year olds, and it is one of the core methods that I use with her at home. I would love to have an outside person that she trusts to reinforce the ideas and rules we use at home and for her to start learning in a classroom situation. One of the things I love about the Montessori method is that kids learn from kids, and I think Madeleine would respond really well to this. It's also a child-led program. Madeleine can do what she wants within the rules that the teacher has set. I really like that. 

The problem is we don't want to pay for it. For Madeleine to go three times a week for 2 1/2 hours cost a little over $9,000 for the school year.  There are cheaper options (lowest I've found is $6,500) but they have less experienced teachers and it means more driving for me.

The other one that people keep telling me to put her in is the Waldorf school. We've gone to several of their festivals and the community and school is beautiful. A lot of our home structure (like our routines and our home surrounding) is strictly based on Waldorf principles. It's $8,500 for the school year for three times a week. It's beautiful and magical program and I love how art and nature are at the core. Things I don't like is that they are very hands-off with bullying and child-to-child interactions, and that it's adult led.

So those are the 2 programs that I've looked into and liked so far.

The thing is is sticking her in preschool really that important? Just about everyone that lives around here says yes. The reasons they give are: socialization, education, and sitting and listening skills.

Socialization is one of the least of my worries. Madeleine has Baby X that plays with her everyday, but other than that we play with neighborhood kids for 3-4 hours a day at least 4 times a week. We also have play dates, church, story time at the library. and parks.

Education is a weird one for me. I'm not really sure how I feel about it. I know she'll learn how to read and do things eventually. She's born into a highly educated family. College and PhDs are in her blood. She would be 4th and 5th generation on Matt's and my family. Matt and I are pretty sure she'll be able to find a job that will put her in the middle class. Something I do want to give her though is plenty of time to explore. I want her to find her own interest before she is told what she should be interested in at school. Thankfully, I think both of the schools above could give her that, if I chose to put her in.

Sitting and listening skills. Well, it's no secret that Madeleine does not sit. She's a wiggle worm. She wakes up in the morning and wants to go outside. By the end of the day, we find her with her blanket and doll at the door asking to sleep out there too. She loves to move and climb. This is something I can totally see as a problem in school. So I asked Matt if we should be worried about this and he said, "No, that's stupid. I've been in school for 20 years. She'll learn how to sit sometime during that period." He has a good point. Still...I think there are learning skills that come with sticking your kid in mainstream school and it's turn she isn't going to start school with them like most kids.

And last thoughts on this is when I actually look at the curriculum Montessori says to keep kids home until 3 and Waldorf says to keep kids home until age 7. Do I really want to give some of my income to pay for one of these schools? Would it be better just to teach her at home? Should I set up a small pre-k here in my neighborhood where most kids are kept at home or homeschooled? 

I'm really on the fence with this. So any advice or thoughts would be great.

Madeleine can make her own breakfast.

 Playing in the dirt
 Cutting up a snack
More dirt

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why we choose to put photos of our kid on the internet

Being a parent is a strange thing. You have to make choices about another human being and hope they do not hate you for it later.

Pictures on the internet is one of them.

Matt and I regularly talk about photos on the internet. We talked about it before Madeleine was born and we have so far stuck to the standards we made then.

With an open blog and instagram and private facebook there is quite a bit of information about our family on the internet. We don't stress over it though and here is our reasoning. 


1) My facebook has never been hack, which is saying more than my email.

2) All of our family is on facebook. It's really easy to get them photos.

3) It has helped me keep up with friends and connect with them even though we are far away. It's been wonderful for me.


1) People pay lots of money for their blog to get recognized on the internet. Most of them fail. I have put almost no effort in putting my blog out there and it shows.

2) My blog is pretty boring. Almost all of the hits are from facebook, though I have had one or two post "go viral" on pinterest and facebook (meaning over a 1000 hits) none of them have pictures of our kid. And I haven't gained a single follower from either of those that I know of.

3) When I blog regularly I get about 60 hits per post. When it's erratic, I get about 30.

4) Blogging helps me out personally in so many different ways. It's mainly my way to journal. It also serves as one way we back up photos. Pros way out weigh the cons.


This is a new thing for me, but more or less, it's more about my hobbies and life. I follow basic safety precautions when having pictures of Madeleine up.

Matt and I are not naive about the internet. We assume that nothing is secure, including our computers and our emails. We figure unless we only use film cameras and mail out our family photos, creepy people can find a way to get photos of our family. Also, to find out if they were abusing her photos would be next to impossible. If you google her name, we have yet been able to pull a picture of her up on a search engine without directly using our blog's name.

But we also made a very conscience choice to raise Madeleine to believe most of the world is good. And the reason for that is that we really believe it. We believe most people out there are not going to abuse our kid or her photos. We think that the people that are friends with us and connect with us over our family life by far outweigh the bad.

If that every changes, we'll make some changes to how our family works. In the meanwhile, I hope you enjoy getting to know how we are doing. :)

Edit: By the way, if you don't put pictures of your kids up, we don't think you are crazy. We just found that this works the best for us.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

My first children's book

Before we started learning about chickens and eggs, Madeleine had been learning about routines. I had the hardest time finding a good toddler book about morning routines. Many of them had too many words or had pictures of the kid hating the routine. This was especially true when it came to brushing hair. If you know of any books that talk about a child that likes brushing hair, let me know!!

So after complaining to many of the library staff, I decided to take things into my own hands and write my own book.

I have exactly zero drawing skills so I decided to do it in photos instead. I ordered it through shutterfly, and it showed up today!

Her doll was the star of the book. I mean if American Girl and almost any kid movie/tv show can market through books, I figured that I'll just market her own toys to her instead. That makes sense right? 

Cover page.

And here is most of the book.

I had fun making a summary on the back. Matt at this point thought I was just being ridiculous.

This whole project took me 45 minutes to make (maybe even less) and an hour and half on the phone with customer service with shutterfly.

It was really easy. The prints are not the best quality, and I think if I do it again I would make the photos lighter and more vibrant. But for what I paid, I think it was completely worth it!

Madeleine was thrilled to read it with me before nap time.  

Monday, April 6, 2015


Easter was fun and simple this year.

 Matt is still pretty anti-prefilled Easter basket, so instead I just made Madeleine a little basket and a flower wreath. 

 We had a chick for breakfast with Madeleine's very favorite thing right now - orange juice.

I hid the Easter eggs and got her dressed before Matt and her went out to find them. I was thrilled with this dress too. I found it at the thrift store in perfect condition and it's oh so cute on her.

She found the first one by herself but she kept getting distracted by all the dirt to play in. Matt would point her towards another one and she get all excited, "Egg!!!" pick it up and ask, "More egg?" before wandering off towards a shovel. Matt ended up throwing his shoe about an inch from some of the eggs to try to help her. But no, our little shoe obsessed girl would run to the shoe and without looking up return it to him and try to put it on his foot. But eventually she did find all 10.

And had to have them opened. 

When we were on our trip a few weeks ago, I got the candy for her eggs. Most of the candy was little sour bunny gummys, but I also had got her some chocolate. They were shaped like animals and she was really excited by them. We found them at the oldest bookstore in the country The Moravian. They were bulk and so cute so I grabbed them for her Easter eggs.

After that we read a few books about chickens (we've been learning about eggs for the last 2 weeks) from the library.

And dressed her up to take some Easter photos.

Those were the best 2. I have to say taking photos of a toddler is hard even when your camera can keep up with them. Almost every photo she was making some type of face or eating candy. 

The worst one. Demon fairy child.

But in the end we got one or two for grandparents and our wall and called it good.

Matt and I headed in to get ready for the Sisters to come over but Madeleine surprised us and stayed outside sitting on her bench.

After 10 minutes or so I went out to check on her. She was eating her candy and watching the birds and airplanes. Not long after the bells from the campus cathedral rang and she was so excited. 

The rest of the day was pretty unexciting. We listened to church and talked to family, before going to bed at a reasonable time. 

Matt and I were happy with it. I was able to keep it inline with our zero-waste goals thanks to our wood Easter eggs and chocolate factory candy. She didn't get much so clean up was nonexistent. And as for the religious part of Easter, I decided it was pretty perfect. Christmas to me is all about the hope that Christ can bring, and Easter is all about the joy that the Atonement brings.

Madeleine will learn about the Atonement and Crucifixion when she gets older. She'll understand pain and guilt better and hopefully understand that we believe Christ can help take those feelings away. Right now, Easter is just focusing on the joy and happiness.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Spring is here and we are in heaven!

Madeleine woke up this morning and ran to the back door asking to go out. She ate her pancakes on the porch before taking off to play with her little neighborhood friends. Even Baby X tried to follow her down the stairs. He is getting pretty good at going up but is too nervous to try going downstairs. He just sits and watches Madeleine play until I can move him down. 

(Bye Mom! I don't need you! I'm going to see B.)

Madeleine and Baby X played barefoot in the mud all afternoon until his mom came to get him. Then his older sister joined in on the fun. Madeleine's choices of pretend mud food were cracking me up - eggs and salad. :) The eggs were made by flipping over the colander and the salad was grass and flowers she put in it.

She was a royal mess by the end of it. She had a runny nose and chocolate batter all over her from making brownies earlier. Add that to the mud, she was more dirt than human. She loved it though. She has a little cupboard (actually the little wood thing next to the door in the above photo.) It is full of all of the kitchen stuff she's allowed to play with. She kept running in for more tools and at the end she put her muddy dishes in the sink. haha. 

The brownies we made were actually pretty gross. But Madeleine was so excited. She's getting pretty good at baking and Baby X is now getting old enough that he is helping! He helped put the chocolate chips into the batter and turned on the mixer. Here is her big cheesy grin when I gave her her brownie that she of course had to eat outside.

You know, I like blogging more when it's not winter. We do more things. More people come visit us. I'm less stressed from trying to keep our home in one piece as they go stir crazy. Yesterday we visited our favorite farm. We couldn't pick anything yet, but I'm getting excited for those days coming up. 

I'm getting ready to switch out our winter boots to rain boots and officially decide Spring is here to stay.