Monday, September 28, 2015

Biking Adventure - Bayshore trail

 I think it's kind of funny how little I physically move despite the fact I spend a lot of time outside. Madeleine usually plays outside for at least two hours a day, but while she is running around, I'm playing ref. I stand, watch, and blow time out when needed, and if I miss a bad move, another mom ref is sure to let me know. Now that Madeleine is bigger being at the playground is more boring for me. She can climb most equipment on her own and rarely needs me. She also plays great with other kids. I usually only need to intervene for the occasional grabbing or sand throwing. 

On the rare occasions I am doing something physical outside, Madeleine is sitting.
I'm currently trying to find more creative ways to start moving while being outside, so if you have any ideas...let me know. 

But one idea we had was explore New Jersey more. New Jersey has some amazing paths, and we decided to check some of them out now that summer is over and there is free parking. The first one we went to was Bayshore bike trial. We wanted to bike it but we couldn't quite figure out how to get our trailer in the car. Since it was only 2 miles long, we decided to ditch the biking idea and just walk it with Madeleine in the stroller.


From the second we drove up to the marina we were excited. There was almost no one there, and we were able to park our car right next to the beach facing NYC.

The first part of the path was just walking down the marina. Madeleine was in love with seeing this many boats. There were yachts, small sailboats, motor boats etc. It was pretty neat.

Then the path started. The first part was all high beach grass that wasn't really interesting.  But then after a half mile, it opened up into trees, with small paths that when down to the beach.

Madeleine kept yelling at Matt to get down because he was going to get hurt. 

After that my phone died. :) I didn't think ahead. But we found dead horseshoe crabs that were over a foot long on the beach that were pretty cool. I had fun poking them with sticks. Matt and Madeleine had fun climbing on all the rocks too whenever we stopped. The walk was so easy and pretty. Madeleine kept pointing out a lots of flowers and sticks, while Matt and I had fun talking, looking at the beach, and the huge houses. But more than anything it was just pretty. There were not many people there and for the most part we could just hear the ocean. 

I'm actually really glad that the bikes didn't work out because I liked taking this trail slow. I think the four mile walk took us about an hour and half with Madeleine in the stroller.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Girly Airplane and Space Room

Pinterest rarely fails me but when we were looking to decorate Madeleine's room, I was struggling. She's into airplanes, robots, and dolls but loves everything to be pretty. "Pretty" in Madeleine's terms so far means floral, purple, or a dress, but I haven't figured out the rest of her definition. For example, Pottery Barn stuff is not pretty to her but skulls are? 

Anyway I was really stumped on how to decorate her room, but in the end, I kept coming back to airplanes. Matt already made her rocket models for her room, and Matt and I both enjoy airplanes. It's not something we would get sick of. But I googled, pinterested, etc. and could not find an airplane room that was girly. 

Here's what in the end we came up with.

Her room from the hall. The coolest thing is probably the pictures. I always ask for Matt's input on stuff and he didn't want to put up fighter planes. So we ended up printing black and white photos of what we consider important events. There are three people, Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, and Chuck Yeager with their planes. The Wright brother's plane, international space station, and the Hindenburg are a few of the other ones. Madeleine loves them and is always hitting them and taking them down. 

(I'm a bit obsessed with this picture of Amelia Earhart)

To the right of the bench you have this. Her closet doors were glass so we had them removed, for those who are curious this is what the inside looks like.

We all share the dresser and we mainly just use the closet for her larger toys. Most of her toys are on the bookshelf next to the closet

Notice most of her pictures are black and white because I'm too cheap for colored printing. :)

Her bed was she was most excited about. I found some fun fabric at Joann's and threw the pillowcases together. Madeleine picked out the trims herself. The green polka-dot fabric has little yellow roses in the center. When she walked in and saw the room that's the first thing she gravitated towards.

I still havent' completely finished her quilt. It's 90% done though and she's been sleeping with it for the last year. It will get done some day!

Close up of quilt.

The last wall I forgot to take a photo of. It has her little red kitchen.

It's been just over two weeks and she loves it. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Exponential growth

Madeleine turned a 1,000 days old yesterday. Here is her exponential growth chart.

Top Left: 10^0 days old
Middle Left: 10^1 days old
Bottom Left: 10^2 days old
Right: 10^3 days old

She'll be older than me for the next photo. I haven't even hit 10^4 days old yet. I won't until I'm 27.25 ish. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

What I've learned my first week working at Starbucks

1. Caramel Macchado Cream is really good. It's like a caramel version of hot chocolate but without the chocolate.

2. Starbucks is nice to their employees but not so nice to the environment. I get free drinks and a meal for each shift I work. I also get full benefits at part time and my manager is going out of his way to help me work only while Madeleine is in daycare. On the other hand, everything gets wrapped individually and we don't recycle anything including boxes and milk jugs.

3. Most of the customers at my store are regulars.

4. Not all of the employees like coffee. I'm the first to never drunk any before but I have several coworkers that admit that they don't drink coffee either.

5. Starbucks is amazingly efficient. Mixing drinks is complicated and their system continuously surprises me how idiot proof it is. Cups, containers, and machines are all designed to make things as simple as possible.

6. My training is going to take 2+ weeks. They have a schedule on the wall with what I am to learn each day. The first day surprised me the most. It started with the manager telling me why he hired me and what my first impression said about me. It was really flattering. I was also told that while I'll get feed back on my training, that I'll be giving my manger feedback on my trainers so that they can learn what they need to do to work toward their next goal. 

7. Mixing drinks is hard and the science and history of coffee is pretty neat.

8. Most of my coworkers are married and my age or older.

9. Mocha syrup is just chocolate syrup. They call it mocha because it is used for primary mocha drinks and it makes the system more employee friendly.

10. The hot chocolate gets a shot of vanilla syrup and it tastes so much better without it.

11. They have a special setting for kid's drinks that is much cooler and can be drunk right away.

12. Most of the employees live pretty far from the location they are working at. Out of the 6 employees I have met, only one other one lives within 15 minute drive. My manger lives 30 minutes and another employee 45.

That's what I've learned so far. I've really enjoyed it, and I'm kind of surprised that I am. It's a pretty low stress job so far and people are nice. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Small shift

I'm usually absent in photos but this one is a bit different, since the absence of me is what I feel most. Up to this point, it's always been me sitting across that table eating breakfast with her or at least hurrying around the room. But today that changed. A small shift but it's there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

New Normal?

Tomorrow I'm starting work. You all might be sick of me talking about it, but I'm still pretty nervous about the whole thing. Last night I finally stopped procrastinating as much and finished up most of the things I needed to get done before tomorrow. 

We have done several test runs of the schedule and for the most part it working pretty well. Little things, like having a clear path out of our room (so I don't scream and wake Matt up) and having clothes out for Madeleine the night before, surprisingly made a big difference.

Stay-at-home mom schedule/working full time at home
One thing that is constantly surprising me is how much more organized we need to be, even though I'm only working part time. I cannot even imagine working full time out of the house. Things that used to be flexible like bedtime are suddenly a set time, and other things that I didn't even have to think about matter - like what we are eating for breakfast.

Our new schedule
On the other side, it's interesting seeing the switch of childcare. Matt used to be in charge of bedtimes and I was queen of the morning. Now it's swapped. Madeleine loves being able to go with daddy to "Daddy's home" since her daycare is just right across the parking lot from his building. I think it will help him and me too. He's awful at waking up with an alarm and I'm not so great about going to bed consistently. So far, this has been helping with both.

I realize that this is many people's everyday lives and my respect for them has gone up. I've been a full time stay-at-home-mom the first 6 months of Madeleine's life. The last 2 years I've been a working mom either at home or at someone else's home, but I never had Madeleine away from me. She came with me everywhere I went, so this is the first time I'm juggling daycare, home, and a bit of work. I've been on the side lines supporting these women as their babysitter, and now I'm dipping my toe into their lives, and I'm just a bit overwhelmed. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Toy inventory

Last year we did an inventory of all the toys we had. It was one of my favorite blog post. It was nice to see what we had and I wanted to do it again this year.

One of the big difference is this year, Madeleine doesn't play with as many toys. She has favorites and plays with them for hours. We are lucky enough that when she grows out of them that we have plenty of younger friends to pass them onto. At this point, we don't really need a toy rotation either. All of these fit in Madeleine's room and she is responsible enough not to trash her room. On the occations that friends come over and everything gets dumped out, it takes me less than 10 minutes to clean everything up and about 20 for her. It's a good balance right now.

List of Madeleine's toys 
1. Train set
2. Two waldorf dolls
3. Sophie
4. Tiny purple baby
5. Two bears
6. Two puzzles
7. Knobbed cylinders puzzles
8. Wooden rocket
9. Wooden plane
10. Three wood trucks
11. Chemistry blocks (in green bucket)
12. Geeky blocks (in green bucket)
13. Drawing board thing
14. Doll house
15. Duplos (120)
16. Wool ball
17. Tin tea set
18. Dissecting doll
19. Doll stroller
20. Kitchen
21. Rodie
22. Bead set thing

In full disclaimer, we do have two small containers of toys that Madeleine doesn't play with for friends that aren't her age. We have a shoe box of playmobiles and small box for tiny babies. They rarely come out though.

Madeleine spends a lot of her time playing outside. Her dolls and bears go with her almost everywhere. The white bear is her bear and the "pink" bear is the bear that her friends play with. The knobbed cylinders are one of the most frequently played with toys. Madeleine uses them for play food and I have also seen them used as logs on the back of the trucks or just lined up across the floor.

I love watching her play. She's getting more creative. She "reads" books to her dolls and likes playing nap time. Her duplos recenty have been rockets and blocks have been used to build houses.

It's been awesome. Can't wait to see next years photo.

Friday, September 11, 2015

How much does Madeleine cost?

I'm pretty sure most of you have seen the articles about how much a kid cost to raise.

With me starting work out of the house next week, I've been thinking a lot about being a stay-at-home-mom and if it's worth it. Thoughts like would I do it again if I had the chance to do it all over again, what are the pros and cons, would we be better off financial etc.

I wanted to see how much we are saving by me being at home, but in order to do that, I had to first find out how much our kid cost. Since Matt is a neat freak, our finance spread sheets made it pretty easy to calculate.

So here you go.

Pre-birth (2012)
Crib, stroller, carset, clothes, toys, and birth announcement: $129.24
Fabric for bedding and blankets: $87.60
Things for me (OB visits, prenatal vitamins, materinity clothes, and pregnancy books): $28.87

Total: $245.71

(Does not include diapers or anything like that since we waited to grab that after she was born)

We also got $4,967 back on taxes for 2012 since she was born just before New Years and we qualified for both the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit.

Day 1 to 1 year (2013)
Medical bills for being born: $453.03
Medical bills first year: $139.84
Clothing: $232.85
Toys: $76.17
Diapers: $210.72
Baby stuff (furniture, breast pump, changing pad, binkies, nursing bras etc.): $374.23
Formula: $50.06

Total: $1,536.90

Housing doesn't apply for either of these time periods because we stayed in a one-bedroom
She was on medicaid for a lot of her first year luckily so we didn't have too much in the way of medical bills. 

Car to be honest, we don't spend much on our car. It's paid off and it's the same car we had before she was born. We didn't upgrade, and we rarely drive anywhere just for her. If you wanted to add gas, we average about $60 a month in gas and $1,960 total for everything (gas insurance etc.) a year.

Also during this time we got a $1000 for the child tax credit.

1-2 years (2014)
Clothes: $337.94
Toys and books: $459.63
Outings and snacks:$496.80
Diapers and wipes: $209.01
Sippy cups and kid size utensils: $44.64
Healthcare: $1,050
Food: $1,002 (20% of our total food budget)

Total: $3,600.01

Housing doesn't apply here either. The cheapest on-campus housing was a two bedroom. Even single people lived in them. If we didn't have her we would still be living in the same place.

Again we got a $1000 for the child tax credit.

And yay for not being sick at all. :)

2-3 (2015 so far)
Clothes: $205.40
Toys and books:$223.07
Outings and snacks: $354.08
Diapers and wipes:$108.23
Cups, dishes, etc.: $100.46
Healthcare: $1,050
Food: $1713 (a third of the food in the house. She eats a lot)
Daycare: $510.00

Total: $2551.24

Housing strangely still doesn't apply, since we got an extra discount for having a kid. It's actually about $100 cheaper than the one bedroom.

Daycare will all be reimbursed at the end of the semester by Princeton and we bike there and back.

Diapers drop drastically when we started cloth diapering.

And again, she's been pretty healthy. :)

So that's what we have paid so far for having a toddler.

According to the USDA, we should be paying

Overall Annual Estimated Costs

(Household Type = Two Parents, Income = Less Than $61,680, and Region = Northeast)

HousingFoodTransportationClothingHealth CareChild Care and EducationOtherTotal
Your Costs:$4,600$1,600$1,425$925$738$4,225$563$14,075
National Costs:$3,875$1,513$1,500$838$838$2,750$538$11,850

We are higher on healthcare and food but below most other things. So according to this we are saving about $10,000 a year (that's also taking out an extra $600 for transportation). It also helps that I've been able to work most of her life with her, pulling in an additional $15,000 without having to pay for daycare. Also, daycare is way more than $4,225. The daycare Madeleine is currently going to would be $1,860 a month if she was going full time. (Although we would still get a $5000 discount from Princeton, but it would be $17,320 a year for her to go still after the discount.)

I'm pretty excited about working out of the home even if it's just a bit, but I'm already feeling the pull of shifting to being a working out of the house mom. Our lives are already more complicated with daycare pick up and drop offs and meeting up with friends is a lot more difficult. 

So looking at the numbers...does any of this surprise you? I feel like the media tries to scare people in thinking that kids are unavoidably expensive and out of most people range. Matt and I are just starting to notice money going towards Madeleine, but to be honest, that's mostly because our food budget had to be bumped up a bit.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Thursdays are my favorite day. It's our official library and farmer's market day. The farmer's market is right in the plaza next to the library so it makes sense to do both at once. (Although we do go to the library more than once a week.) We are in the middle of a transition right now, so it made this Thursday even better. Even though it was pouring, Madeleine and I picked up some fruit, eggs, and flowers. I love the familiarity of it.

After we ran to the library before we got too wet. 
We have been reading some seriously awesome books lately.

Madeleine's books are some of my favorite. I've been on a biography kick, and children's biographies has to be one of my new favorite genres.

These are the three we have this week. All of them are good. I like Firebird by Misty Copeland the best. The illustrations are pretty and the words are a poem. Madeleine's favorite is Me, Jane since it has a monkey in it. If you have any biography children's books you love, send them my way! I'm trying to get my fingers on Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova next.

I've been reading three books this week. 

This book has been a crash course on music and movies for me. I love it, but it's taking me forever to read through it since I don't understand 70% of the references. But if you want to know the history of the hipster (or nerds), like punk music, or 80s movies, you'll probably like this Twee book.

Cover art

I'm also almost done with this book. I've read a chapter every two days. It's a heavy read and I can't mentally take more than half a chapter a day. With that said, it's been one of the best books I've read in a while. It's helping my reading and I can't wait to use her questions for book club.

Lastly I'm reading Emily of New Moon for book club. I'm almost done.

Matt has also been reading. He read The Way of Kings last week and now he is starting on Emily of New Moon.

 What have you been reading? Any traditions you particularly like?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Day in the City (museum and 3 bookstores)

As a former homeschooler, the first day of school was always exciting for us. It was the day that all the kids went back to school and we got all the museums and parks back to ourselves. Even though Madeleine is going to "Pre-K" next week, on Thursday I figured we still celebrate by going to an empty museum.

Our awesome library has free library passes you can check out for many of the NYC museums and in true to back to school fashion there were still several passes not booked on Thursday night. I chose to go the Children's Museum of Manhattan. So Friday morning, we jumped on the train at 8:30AM to start off our adventure.

Our first stop was the actual museum. It seemed a bit old and run down but Madeleine surprisingly loved it. I honestly thought she would get bored quickly, especially after we did two of the four floors in less than 15 minutes. But then one of the employees invited us to a music show they were doing downstairs. Madeleine was enthralled with it.  She clapped. She danced. She sang with them. She actually sat for most of the performance! It was great!

 (After climbing through the digestive system, there was a toilet that taught you about poop! All the toddlers loved flushing it.)

These guys were awesome. Here's a link to their facebook.

After that we headed across the street to Cafe Lola. It's the cafe in You Got Mail. One of my mommy friends had suggested it and recommended the chocolate cake. We ordered lunch though and it surprisingly filled us up. I actually pretty disappointed that we didn't get any cake, but I'm sure we will next time.  

By the end of lunch, Madeleine was an exhausted mess, so we then started to do the list of things I planned for me. We hit three bookstores. The first one was literally a small hole in the wall. I loved it. As you can see it was just jammed head to toe with books.

(Westsiders Book)

Then we jumped on the subway and went to Strand. I've been following their instagram for months and have been wanting to visit there. I think Strand is pretty much the perfect big book store. (Sam Wellers in Salt Lake was pretty close to that too) It has the big tall shelves and the miles of books, but it was stroller friendly!!! There was plenty of room for everyone and it was fanatically organized. I loved that new books were nested up to the old books. It made looking at any classic book fun, since I could see dozens of different prints and conditions of the book. It kind of made me feel like I could pick which flavor of that book I wanted. Also their rare book floor was incredible. It was kind of like the Princeton University Library but I could actually touch the books instead of having them all behind glass. I'm sure I'll visit there again soon.

Book I bought there. :)

After that we went to the farmer's market on Union Square. I was curious to see what it was like compared to the ones I go to. To be honest, I was surprised to see that the prices were pretty similar and they had a lot more specialty foods. It also was more interesting. People were playing chess, playing music, and just hanging out. It was a people hub, instead of a place to rush and get your organic produce and leave.

 Madeleine was thankfully still asleep, so I walked a mile to the last bookstore on my list - McNally Jackson Books. It was a nice bookstore, but most of the books were new. I tend not to like those as much, but this bookstore had something that Matt and I desperately wanted to see, the Book Espresso Machine. It's a machine that will print any book in the database in 6 minutes. I was so excited to see this thing in person. Turns out they print mostly out of print books or self-published books.

 I picked Emma. While we were waiting for our book's turn to be printed Madeleine (now awake) ate a cookie in the cafe. Madeleine was super impressed with the book lights. 

Then the nice employee informed us our book was next so Madeleine and I walked over to watch it. In just a few short minutes I had a hot book in my hands! It was kind of thrilling. I think next time we will try to publish a book of our own. I was thinking that it would be really handy for printing off some of our blog post to have in hard copy.

After that we went to Penn station and headed home.

A few finial thoughts about NYC. Everyone reads more there. I see more people reading than anywhere else. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that the subway requires waiting. I kept finding books that I saw people reading that looked fascinating. 

And lastly, one thing that I like most about traveling is being reminded that most people are wonderful. I hear how dangerous and rude places are but honestly I find that most people are amazing. 

 In NYC today, there were so many helpful and kind people. Every time I had deal with the stroller and stairs, someone offered to take it so I could carry Madeleine down. Madeleine starting poking this poor lady on the subway, and instead of getting mad, took out her earbuds and started poking her back. In just a few minutes, Madeleine was giggling and behaving. In Penn Station, Madeleine had had enough and took her shoes and threw them at two people. Suddenly two strangers where handing me her shoes back and helping me get the stroller down the escalator.

 It hasn't just been this time either. Last time I was in NYC by myself, I got lost on the subway due to construction. Then the subway I thought I was supposed to be taking broke down so everyone had to get off for 20 minutes while they got a new one or something. I ended up asking these nice ladies for directions and ended up sharing cupcakes and macaroons with them while chatting about books.  I lost my wallet in Philadelphia last year and someone returned it to the Dunkin' Donuts with nothing missing. I like that the more people I meet the more I like humanity. There are definitely jerks in this world, but I think most people are kind and I like that I get that reminder every time I leave home.

Anyway, I'm starting to feel a bit more comfortable with NYC, so any suggestions of other places to visit there? Especially bookstores?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Madeleine starts "preschool" in a week! It really is just 2 hours of free play with a snack and a craft, but guys, we are SO excited.

I'm excited for sometime to myself and Madeleine is excited for me to go away?

That might sound kind of weird but lately she has this new thing that she'll see friends or adults we know and then turn to me and say, "Bye Mommy!" repeatedly until I leave or explain to her that I'm staying. Most of the time if I'm staying, she'll get upset. I think she wants a bit more independence from me and I think that this will be a good fit. 

I went to the parent teacher night tonight. It was really boring, but Madeleine's teachers are really nice. I think she might the youngest in the class so they put me to help in the classroom the first day.