Sunday, May 31, 2009

Camping 2009

We went camping this weekend with Isabel's grandma & grandpa M., her cousin Travis & her uncle Tony. We had a lot of fun. We went to the KOA Kampground in Jordan, MN and got a Kamping Kabin there. There was a very nice playground behind the cabins that Isabel played in quite a bit, we even went to check out the other (smaller) playground on the property as well. They have an indoor heated (although still a little chilly) pool there that we swam in last night and this morning. They also had free hay rides & family movies, but we didn't get around to doing either of those and mini-golf too (which I think grandpa & Travis might have done today.)

We did the typical camping things like cooking over an open fire (grilled out hot dogs & brats, made popcorn, & roasted marshmallows for smores.) Not sure that we will go camping anymore this season, as I don't think I will want to be sleeping on the ground or a hard mattress while my belly gets bigger & bigger. But we do have other fun things planned like our trip to WI next week, many days spent at the pool, preschool day camps, trips & campfire events to RBNC, family picnics, a trip up north to Isabel's great grandma's cabin, Straight River Days,a nd taking care of our plants & garden.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

We spent early afternoon on Saturday at the MN Landscape Arboretum. They have a Learning Center there with lots of activities that are hands on for the kids, so that was a good place to start and where we spent most of our time, but we did walk around pretty much most of the gardens.
In the gardens, Isabel had a really hard time remembering that she couldn't pick anything. It took a lot of reminders and she wasn't made at us for constantly tell her things were to look at and not take there. She seemed ok with that. We did have a planting project there that we did they she got to take home.

Here is Isabel with mommy & daddy at a couple of different places. I wish the arboretum wasn't so far from our house, otherwise we would visit it more often. After our visit here we were off to the campground, which wasn't too far away.

May Trick or Treating

Isabel started putting on some assorted dress up clothes and ended up with this look and then asked to go trick or treating. We visited some neighbors that indulged her with giving her some treats. Funny girl.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Busy, busy, busy!

We had a very busy morning. Here's what we did:
* Went to the gym (mom went on treadmill & bike, Isabel went to Kidcare)
* Went to the library (picked up movie & travel pack of books they put together for Isabel)
* Stopped at a rummage sale & picked up a couple of things
* Went to open gym gymnastics (see 2nd picture below)
* Went through drive-thru @ McD's to grab lunch
* Stopped at Fleet Farm to pick up some more dirt & compost to fill a couple more pots
* Went to FFA Baby Farm Animals Day at our school (see top picture below)
* Watched Calliou
* Playing outside (well, she says playing, mom says she's picking all my flowers & buds - bah!)
* Now it's 2pm and we are about to go plant some tomato & marigold seedlinds we had planted last month.
* In a couple hours we will meet some friends at a park for a playdate.
* After daddy gets home, pack for our camping trip then pass out from exhaustion.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lots of Fun with Friends Today

We started out the morning meeting our friends Rebecca, Dani & Casey here at our house and then we walked to the park. We did a lot of sand play and that was fun. We like hanging out with them.

Then we had some lunch & went grocery shopping. The grocery store was doing a program this afternoon with SafeAssured Id. Pepsi was sponsoring it, so it was completly free. Everything is digital, even the fingerprints. Plus they make an IDcard for your child and an encrypted cd (so anyone can't just get your kids info if they got this cd) with their picture, a video of them walking and talking, as well as info (DOB, height, weight, identifying marks or allergy info). They shred the paperwork in front of you and it is deleted from their computer right away, so they save nothing. You have the only copy of everything. I have other id kits here that I completed with hair sample, dna mouth swab sample, ink fingerprints, pictures & other identifying info, but this was the first one that did them walking & talking, as well as the picture & indentifying info. Of course, I hope we never have to use any of this, but we have it all in case we do.

Then this afternoon, our friends Cheri, Cole & Jackie came over to play. We got out the squirt bottles we recently purchased and had some fun with those. We like hanging out with them too.

As I type all of this, Isabel is running around upstairs being "Naked Girl" (actually I see now that she has put on a necklace & bracelet). Daddy says it's funny how she says "Naked Girl", like it's some kind of superhero or something. Sometimes she likes to just be "Half-Naked Girl."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Learning About Money

I thought this was the perfect time to start teaching Isabel about money. Her first response when we are out of something is, "Let's go to the grocery store and buy more." Luckily, when something breaks her first reponse is usually "Daddy can fix it (even if it's something mommy can fix & DOES fix.)" But at least she doesn't ask to buy a new one when something appears broken to her.

Since it was just her birthday last week she got several gifts of cash or checks. So, I thought it would be a good time to take a trip to the bank. A couple months ago, I read an article in a parenting magazine about concerns that our children don't know where money comes from or the value or money because we do everything online and with a credit/debit card. The concern was that kids never see money or have to handle it or are given the opportunity to use their money because too often things are just bought for them. And the money they may recieve goes into their bank but they never have to spend it, so their is no value in it for them.

Up until this point, the only coin that was of value to Isabel was the penny because of the penny horse to ride at the grocery store. There hasn't been much of an opportunity for her to spend any other coins or dollars.

This article mentioned making a point of taking your kids into the bank to deposit money and show them how to fill out a deposit slip, sign a check, and see their deposit reciept & talk about the difference. So, I decided to do that. Since daddy's check are electronically deposited, there is very few other times we have to deposit a check and if we do have one we do it at an atm.

So, we went into the bank today and I talked to her about the deposit slip as I filled it out, talked about signing checks as I signed them and then she insisted that she has to sign them too since they were her checks. So, we talked about signing on top. Then I had her carry everything to the bank teller. She wasn't too interested in learning about the deposit reciept though.

I let her keep $5 of her birthday money so that she could spend on things she wanted and then we went to the dollar store. I told her she could buy one thing. At one point she had three things she wanted, but figured out what she really wanted (candy & not a toy) and put the other two items back.

I had her pay out of her purse when we checked out. She happily handed over the $5 bill, but when she had to hand over the nickel and two pennies from her purse she was very upset that she was giving away her pennies. The lady told her she would give her the candy in exchange for the money and would give her some dollars back as change. Isabel doesn't understand "change" but did understand that she would get her candy & some different money.

It will be a while until she understand the actual value of each coin and dollar, but I am sure things will come up that she will want and she won't have enough money and we'll have to have a talk about that. But it was a good lesson in learning about money today.

There have been times when we are out shopping & she asks for something and I tell her I don't have enough money to buy it today or I only have enough money to buy one thing and not two, and she is ok with that, even the times she doesn't get anything. So, she is grasping the concept that we have to have money to buy things and we have to have pennies to ride the horse. Sometimes I only have 1 penny and she understands that only means 1 ride and is ok with that.

The other thing about money she learns about is coupons. When we are shopping she likes to have her own coupons or she gives me other coupons she find in front of products in the grocery store. It makes me laugh because she has learned their is value in coupons at such an early age.

I know I buy her a lot of things and we take her a lot of places, but what she is bound to learn through that is how thrifty mom is and how I am always searching for a deal and if I save a couple of dollars here, then I have those dollars to spend there.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Great Serengeti Waterpark

This late morning/early afternoon we went to the Great Serengeti Waterpark. It is a small indoor waterpark located in a nearby hotel. They have 2 bigger wateslides (one for tubes and the other is a body slide) & 1 small slide for the wee ones. Plus there is a water basketball court area, and a small lazy river. The area by the small slide has the big animals you see in pictures and has water squirting out all over the place. Today they were having a special, so we thought we would go check it out again. We haven't been there in almost 2 years. The admission used to be half the price (& Isabel was free when she was one years old.) So, she doesn't remember it at all from when she was 15/16 months (last time we were there.)

She was hesitant to go down one of the big slides with us (on a tube), but once she did she had so much fun and kept asking to go down over & over again. It says that you are supposed to be 42", but they weren't enforcing that and there were other kids riding down on their parents laps.

It was a day pass and open swim is until 9pm today. They actually had open swim from 9a-9p because of the holiday. So, we'll go back in a little bit and stay for a while again.

Next weekend we are going camping and I picked out a campground that has an indoor heated pool, so that should be fun too. Isabel hasn't been camping since she was 16/17 months either. We are doing a KOA Kamping Kabin. They are rustic cabins, so we are still doing all the cooking outside & washing dishes in a bucket & everything. They are basically log rooms with a couple of beds with the thinnest mattresses you can imagine on them. We have had the tent set up in the backyard, but we would rather do the cabin thing with her until she (& her little sister/brother) are older.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Beautiful Day for RBNC

We had a fun time exploring at the Nature Center. Isabel said her favorite part was finding & holding the baby frog. Daddy says his was taking off his socks & shoes & walking in the river. The frog rates pretty high up there on my favorite part, but I really liked all the creatures we saw, the turtles, tadpoles, birds, inchworm, tiny crickets, dragonfly, crawfish, & the baby frog. I thought just looking at the river was very pretty.

We tried out some trails that were new to us, which is how we found our way down to the river. Isabel, as always, is facinated by all the flowers & leaves & sticks she finds along the way. She loves going to the nature center. She has a tendency to seek those same things out no matter where we go, so sometimes it doesn't pay for the admission to go to an outdoor place to see something else, because she would rather just see the flowers & trees.

The left picture I took when she was fishing at the turtle pond and the right picture I took when we had climbed up this compacted sand hill.

I thought I would turn them black & white to see how people like them.

Oh, the shirt & shorts she is wearing today is from Auntie Razz & Uncle Shane.

Birthday Party Yesterday

Yesterday, we had a birthday party for Isabel that her family came to, as well as a couple of friends. We had family, Auntie Phanie, Uncle J, baby Jayden & Grandma S. that came and stayed with us for two nights for Isabel's birthday. Grandma & Grandpa M. came down for her party too.

We got out the bounce house and everyone took a turn going in there with Isabel. Except grandma M., she was afraid to channel her inner child and try it out.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

3-Year Well Child Visit

Today was Isabel's 3-year well child visit. She is 39 inches tall, which puts her in the 90th percentile for that, so she has slowed a bit. The doctor said she will be between 5'10-6 feet tall if she continues to track at 90%. Her weight was in the 80th percentile and her body mass index was the 5oth percentile, which is right where she should be with her height & weight. So, she's doing good.

No issues. They did an eye & ear exam and everything checked fine. So, two 3-year appointments down (family doc & eye doc) and one more to go (dentist in June). She doesn't need to go back until flu shot time this fall, which we'll do as early as possible since we have the new baby coming then and then her 4-year well child visit. She won't have any shots until her 5-year well child visit (other than flu shots.)

Birthday Dinner w/ Mom & Dad

We went to Applebee's last night. she ate a bunch of fruit & veggies before we left so she wasn't terribly hungry, but she usually shares with me anyways. We got the 2 for $20, which is 2 entrees & 1 appetizer for $20. Basically, it's like getting the appetizer for free. This time we tried the mozzarella sticks. She liked the cheese but not the breading and was trying to suck the cheese out of them. It was hilarious! And then she ate a good portion of my steak. She also got their free birthday sundae shooter (daddy bought one for himself too.)

We had bought her a couple more presents that we let her open there: 3 new books, a box of large sidewalk chalk & a soccer ball. She loved all those presents and couldn't wait to leave so we could hang out in the driveway & use them. Guess we didn't need to buy the bike.
Here she is playing outside. She LOVES her soccer ball and we played quite a bit. She asked mommy & daddy to draw "hats" on the driveway. Daddy drew a cowboy hat w. cowboy & I drew a witch hat w. witch. After she saw daddy lie down by his cowbot hat and say "Look at me! I'm a cowboy," then she had to do the same thing & say the same thing for each one. Funny girl.
Now it's off to her 3-year well child visit.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Isabel's Third Birthday Party

It's unbelieveable that she is three years old already. I can't believe how fast time has flown; it makes me so glad that I stay home with her so that I can spend as much time with her as possible.

This morning we gave her a bike for her birthday right after she woke up (see bottom picture) and it's too big for her. I had her try out a bunch of 16" bikes at Fleet Farm, Target & Wal-Mart but ordered this one on Amazon and it's too big. She needs to be about a 1/2-1" taller. So, she won't be able to ride it until this fall probably. I think I will keep my eye out for a 12" one at a rummage sale this summer (not that I go to many, but the city-wide ones are coming up next month, or maybe I could ask my MIL to watch for one when she goes.)

Then we went to the gym for mommy's yoga class. We brought a container of juice & bag of colored goldfish & little cups to kid kare at the gym so she could share treats with all the kids there for her birthday. She was very excited to be able to share that with everyone there and very proud she brought treats.

The above picture is of the birthday cookie I made for her. We will have cake this weekend when we have a party with family, so I like to do something different for her friend party.

Here are her friends that come. I try to do the # of years you are is how may friends you get, but when it's a daytime party with SAHM's you get siblings as well, so it ends up being 3 friends plus siblings. Her friends that came were Amelia, Sadie, & Casey (all three years old too) and her little friends Dani & Gavin.

We had lunch of pizza from Papa Murphy's, veggies & dip, chips, bananas, animals crackers, juice & the birthday cookie.

We have nasty winds here today, so we played outside for a little bit. We ended up blowing up the bounce house inside for the kids to use. Good thing we have a big place. And we blew up a bunch of balloons. It amazes me how much kids love balloons. It brings hours of enjoyment (or until whenever they pop.)

Her friends were very generous and brought her some very wonderful presents. Thank you!

Here are a variety of other pictures that didn't really fit in any other collage. You can see her (in her jammies) with her bike, the poster & colored picture I made for her, a picture on the deck on the way to the gym this morning, and one of the gifts she got. I had never seen anything like this (Tickle Monster) before and thought it was just fantastic. They are fuzzy "mittens" with finger holes so that you can tickle your child as you read the story. Lately, Isabel has been into monsters (not afraid of them) and mommy is usually the tickle monster (which this is perfect for) or the mommy monster (which smothers her with kisses.) She is always the baby monster.
Tonight, we plan to go out to Applebee's for supper as a family and we have a couple other small gifts for her.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Heat Record Today

We spent a lot of time outside today and it just kept getting warmer & warmer. It warmed up to 99 degrees in our town and set a record. Can you believe it? We were forecasted for 20 degrees below that on the weather last night.
Tomorrow the Cities are supposed to get to 87 with warmer temperatures closer to 90 degrees as you go south (us!) So, we'll see how warm it gets tomorrow on her birthday.
We got out the small kiddie pool & filled that and her water-squirting 4-square mat. She had a lot of fun. Her friend Gavin came over to play in the water & on her outdoor toys & have popsicles.

Poster Picture

I had the darnedest time getting her to smile & stand nice for a picture today. The past 2 years I have made laminated posters of her (in actual height) for her birthday and had them up for her party. It's a lot of work, but it's something nice to do and she can keep it. I still have to measure her today so I know how tall to print out the picture. After taking about 30 pictures of her, this was the second to last one. I took just one more after this one just in case it was even better, but this one is nice & the best. There are cute & funny ones in the group but some she is standing weird or looking to the side or making a silly face. I want this one to be standing straight up and looking straight at the camera.

Friday, May 15, 2009

ECFE Potluck Picnic @ the Park

We took a walk to the park since it is only a half mile away. It ws good to move around some.
Isabel is really into picking "flowers" and she was trying Soooooo Hard! to pull all of these out.

She is my little anti-litter bug. We had a couple books about Earth Day and being nice to the earth that we have been reading the past few weeks and now whenever we go to a park she has to pick up the trash that she sees and throw it away so that "we can keep the earth clean and beautiful" as she says. Yesterday, when we were stopped at a light she saw trash out on the lawn in front a business and was disgusted that there was trash there and really wanted to stop & get out of the car to pick it up. I assured her that the business people would clean up their yard and it would be ok.

I was playing around with my photo editing software and created this collage from 3 different pictures from yesterday. All of them had outdoor backgrounds that I had to remove.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pregnant Snake

We played with play-doh today and we made a water snake and she decided that it had a baby inside it si she made it a "big belly". When we were at playgroup today she decided that she needed to listen to the baby with a toy stethoscope.

We had a pretty busy day today. We started out the day at the gym for my yoga class and then we went to a playgroup. Then we came home and ate lunch, played playdoh, had storytime, and finally rest time. Then we went to the dentist for my appointment and on the way home I decided to take her to this local safety fair that was going on. There she recevied lots of coloring books & coloring sheets, several stickers and tattoos, a couple erasers, soem sidewalk chalk, a pencil, a bookmark, and a bracelet. We had to fill a "passport" by visiting all the places there and then turned it in for a chance to win a bike or some other prizes (Actually, we just got her bike that she will get as a b-day present yesterday.)

Tomorrow, we are meeting grandma at Stages Theatre to see the play "The Paper Bag Princess". We bought grandma tickets to that, the MN Orchestra (which we went with her too in January) and the play "Wizard of Oz", which we'll meet her at in July as her Christmas present.

Tomorrow evening we are meeting our ECFE at the park for a potluck picnic for supper. It supposed to be a pretty nice day tomorrow, so hopefully it stays that way.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Morel Mushroom Hunting

Our friends April & Noah took us mushroom hunting with them today. We had never done it before and April grew up going mushroom hunting with her dad, so she was willing to teach us a few things. I was hoping we would find at least one mushroom, but we found 4 large ones and one small one. April & Noah found about double that and were very kind to give us all the mushrooms to take home since they already had a lot at home. Now I have to find a recipe I want to use. I am very excited to try them. We went to Williams Nature Center in Mankato to do our hunting and we saw several other people hunting there as well. April said that in the evenings (after work) the nature center will be crawling with hunters. The only negative thing was that I found another tick on me (just me).

Afterwards, we drove out to Rapidan Dam Park and saw the dam, had lunch at the little cafe there, and finally spent sometime at the playground there. They do have tent camping there for $9/night.

Next time, they will come visit us so that we can show them RBNC.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Productive Day

We had a pretty productive day. We started out at the gym for mommy's yoga class. Then went to Wal-Greens to buy 4 packages of diapers (they have BOGO free this week, you can buy more than 4, since I am stocking up ahead of time I just buy a few packages each time a deal like this comes along -- hopefully I will be saving money in the long run, which considering I am buying them at half price, I should be good as long as I don't overbuy on a particular size).

Then we came home and did a little work outside, a little trimming, spreading grass clippings on the garden, pulling some weeds in the wildflower garden, planted some new seeds in the wildflower garden (which over the past 2 years has become more wild and less flower), washed 2 loads of clothes & hung them on the clothesline, filled up the bird feeders & hung a couple more.

Then this afternoon we drove to Northfield (it's a half hour away, so I usually just make a monthly trip) to go to Menard's & Just Food Co-op. The picture above is from the co-op. We stock up on their monthly specials on organic food. Isabel decided to try out the child-size grocery carts they have there. Finally, we came home and unpacked everything and I planted the geranium flwoer plant and Hungarian Wax pepper plants we bought. I use those to make salsa. And I made a pot of homemade chicken vegetable noodle soup and am serving that with some breadsticks I bought at the co-op. I want to get a few more things planted yet tonight, I have some pation tomatoes that need planting as well as some cilantro, although I am not sure it's quite warm enough yet for the cilantro.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Daddy & Isabel made me breakfast of blueberry muffins and scrambled eggs with ham, mushrooms & chives (from the garden). Then this afternoon we went to lunch at Noodles & Co. Afterwards we went to Zollman Zoo. Isabel was more interested in the flowers, trees & rocks than the animals. I guess next time we will take her to the Arboretum or RBNC.

Ok - keeping this short as I feel sick. I am sick of being sick.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Pizza & Bowling

We had a nice afternoon with birthday freebies. We had lunch at Godfather's pizza and Isabel got a free mini-pizza & pop for her birthday. Last fall I signed her up at the restaurant for their birthday club and a postcard came at the beginning of the month telling us of her freebies and that everyone in the family got the same deal for $2, which is quite a deal. Then after that we went to our local bowling alley that also has a birthday club sign up (for the whole family) and all three of us had received coupons for our birthdays for one free game of bowling (shoes extra). So, for the cost of shoe rental for each of us we got to go bowling. Daddy had never been bowling with Isabel before. She's stronger at carrying the ball that I think he realized. We would have bowled more games, but she's not used to sharing the lane with 2 people, usually she bowls by herself. So, it took longer than she is used to and she got restless. Plus, she really wanted to go play the racing games in the video game area, which she did with daddy when we were done bowling.
And now we'll go out for pizza at a different place with some friends. Mommy still feels hungry for pizza (I get small cravings every now & then), so I asked some friends if they wanted to meet us at Pizza Ranch. They have a nice kids play area there, so the kids can play & the adults can talk. :)

Why I Became a Stay at Home Mom

I am reading Dr. Laura's book In Praise of Stay at Home Moms, and it's not because I am a fan. I have never listened to her talk and read only one other book by her. And even though I found that first book to be insightful, I was annoyed by some of the other things she said. I decided to pick this book after a friend highly, HIGHLY recommended it. It's a quick read, so I will be finished with it soon. But it did make me think about my own story.

When I had my daughter, it was a tough adjustment to the lack of sleep, the crying, the constant nursing and her general sensitivity to everything. I wasn't expecting anything to be easy, but it was harder than I thought. What's even harder is changing yourself so quickly after you have this baby. Don't argue that you have 9 months to prepare, you don't! You don't really know what it's like until you have that baby in your arms and are caring for it 24 hours a day. It's hard to imagine any of the thoughts, feelings, and physical adaptations your body makes until you have your own child.

My daughter loved to nurse, in fact she wasn't completely weaned until just after a year. We started early trying to give her a bottle of breastmilk (even tried formula & water just so it was different) so that after the 3.5 months I spent home with her, she could go to daycare while I went to my job working in a school. She wouldn't take a bottle from either grandma, from daddy or a willing friend. It was the daycare provider that we had so thoroughly interviewed, observed & researched that got her to take a bottle.

I had a couple of half days to put in before my full-time schedule started up, so this was the perfect time to try out our daycare lady. I left with her understanding I would call many times and if my daughter had not taken the bottle I would leave work, come back & nurse her & then return to work. I did that the first day. And each time I left her I was always so anxious and sad to leave her in someone else's care. I began to plan how when I was back to work FT, how I was going to run back every day to nurse her or did I just let her go all day without food and she would nurse all afternoon & night, like I had read about in some books.

The second day, she called me before I made my call to tell me that my daughter had taken the bottle from her. This was fantastic news. Soon I was back working full-time and I still struggled every day with dropping her off. I loved picking her up and seeing her get so excited to see me, but some days I cried all the way to work because I was so sad & anxious about leaving her. I didn't have anything to be anxious about; I just didn't want to miss ANYTHING. I still kept thinking that I should be staying home with her, that I should be the one taking care of her, that I should see EVERYTHING she does.

It helped that I loved my job and found it very rewarding. It also helped that since I worked in a school I was done and was quickly to daycare to pick her up by 3pm, unless there was some after-school meeting I was required to attend. I could pick my daughter up right after her nap and bring her home to nurse her. I don't know that I would have chosen to go back to work if I didn't love what I was doing so much and that I was picking her up 2 hours before most people even left their full-time work. I sat down one day and crunched the numbers, with picking her up at 3pm and having the rest of the afternoon & early evening with her and the time in the morning I had with her, I had exactly the same amount of waking hours with my child that the daycare lady got to spend with her, plus I had all weekend. I felt luckier than most parents, but it still weighed down on me that I was leaving her there.

Then changes in both my husbands jobs & mine forced decisions upon us. Whereas he chose to leave his job and find a new challenge, the program I worked in the school system was part of budget cuts and with that my job was cut out as well. As much as I loved my job, I loved being with my daughter more and the prospect of finding a new job I might not like as well and having to work longer hours was unacceptable to me. Since my husband was still looking for a new job, I approached him with the possibility of finding a job that required us to move out of state as long as I was able to stay at home with my daughter. He had been finding lots of job for his career field across the nation, just not all in one spot and only a few in our state.

While he did still continue to look in our state, he did eventually find a job out of state and we moved. We never had that discussion about what would happen if we stayed in state and in our house. Would he have expected me to find a job and put my wonderful, beautiful little girl back in daycare? I don't know how that discussion would have gone, but I would like to think it would have resulted in me still becoming a stay at home mom. I had already been home with her for a month while he pursued job opportunities and finally had decided on one place he wanted to work and a job he thought he would enjoy and learn from.

I would love to say everything just fell into place after that, but it didn't. I choose to look at that year as growth opportunities for both of us in our positions as a working dad and stay at home mom and growth and testing of our marriage. He had a job he loved and a company he really liked working for. I found this wonderful mom's group that I made some lifelong friends with and were very supportive. I didn't know how much I was going to need that group for daily support. We both grew and learned so much from that year, but that's all it was, a year.

During that year, we tried very hard to sell our house in the crumbling housing market without any success. Financially, we were tapped and we weren't sure how long we could support us paying for 2 residences, but we made the decision together that it was important for all of us to stay together wherever that was. We knew it was important for our daughter and our relationship that we see each other every day and not live in different states, because a job is just a job and a house is just a house and those will change through the years, but our family needs to stay together forever. We found a lot of support through friends and family, for which we still continue to be extremely grateful for. Eventually, my husband found a job back in our home state that would allow him to commute from the house we already owned and we moved back.

There really was no discussion about what I was going to do. We both knew that my staying home to raise my daughter was the best thing for our family. We saw firsthand how much more she seemed to thrive under my constant care. I felt I was becoming a better mother, woman, & wife through my experiences staying home. My husband was a better father, man, husband, employee as a result too. And my daughter had the opportunity to grow through the experiences I would give her every day and I would see first had how she would learn even the smallest of thing. Every minute of every day hasn't been easy, but nothing is ever “easy”.

As our daughter is quickly approaching her third birthday, after only having spent 9 months attending a daycare, and I am pregnant with our second child, I know I will continue to stay home with them. My daughter with start preschool this fall; it's two days a week for less than 3 hours each time. I don't think I could have her be gone much more than that. I still have so much more I want to teach her and experience with her before she starts school full-time, and even then I am not sure she or I will be ready for her to be in all-day kindergarten. I know it's two years away, but it's unbelievable how fast the last three years went.

In five years, I will have two kids in school all-day. Will I go back to work a traditional full-time job? I don't think I could. I anticipate obtaining some type of employment while they are in school, but I want to be home with them when they get home from school. I want to go to all their school activities. I want to be with them on school breaks. I want to spend summer with them. Can I really make that happen and still work while they are in school? I believe I can. I made some good educational and career decisions before I started a family and I believe those decisions will be very helpful towards any future part-time career plans I make that allow me to still be a stay at home mom. I am a stay at home mom, I am proud of it, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Number Chart

I just made this today, actually while Isabel was still sleeping. We have been working on her learning her numbers up to 20, she's got to 14 fine now but she still likes to skip over 15 and 17. So, I thought something visual would be better. Plus, then she can learn to identify all the numbers  by sight rather than just knowing how to count them. So, hopefully this helps. 

What I used was a box of flashcards (bought last year in the Target dollar section and never used until now) that went 1-25 (actually, they included one zero card, but it wouldn't fit and she knows zero already so it's not a big deal), a piece of poster board (I bought last fall during back to school sales for 4/$1), some leftover doublestick tape (just to adhere the cards in place to make it eaier to apply the contact paper), and clear contact paper (which I already had, I use this alot when I do educational projects for her since it can make things waterproof & marker/crayon proof, but you can pick this up at Target for about $3/ roll and it will last you a long time.)

I suppose you wouldn't have to use the contact paper if you had the flashcards adhered well enough. And I suppose you could use the flashcards just as flashcards or just tape them to the wall

Actually, there were 2 sets of cards in the box, so if anyone wants to make this for their child that is reading this, let me know and I will give them to you. Let me kniow.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

27-cent KFC Meal

So, some of you may have already seen this posted on FB. Yesterday, Oprah was passing out coupons for free 2-pc grilled chicken meal through her website and it even said on there that you coud print it out 4 times. Isabel & I went today to use a couple after we went to storytime & did some grocery shopping (we didn't have anything too perishable and anything that needed refrigeration was in an insulated bag.) Isabel loved it. While we were there she ate her drumstick, corn and half her mac & cheese. After working in the yard for a couple hours she was hungry again and ate the rest of her mac & cheese & her roll and now all that is left is the thigh piece.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A Busy Day

We had such a busy day today and I am exhausted. We started out with a 3-year eye exam for Isabel at 9am and that took about an hour. Her eyes are good and now she will have another one in 2 years when she turns 5 (before she starts kindergarten). Then we met some friends at their house and played there for a while and then took a walk (mile each way, so I got some good exercise in today) to the park and played there with them for an hour. She did a really good job playing & sharing with Casey, which is nice to see because she will be in preschool with him next year. Then we came home for lunch & rest time (she's not napping anymore these days).

After that it was off to a "Fun Shop" class about music today. She enjoyed that. There was instruments to play and make, they had a parade outside, and danced with scarves to songs. Then we met our friends Beth & Aleyah for dinner at Applebee's to take advantage of their Cinco de Mayo specials. Then, after that we went straight to school for her ECFE class, we were about 10 minutes late but uit's 1.25 hours so we didn't miss much.

Isabel talked to daddy on the way home from class, as he's in Atlanta for a conference and now she is watching one show (since she didn't get to watch anything today) and then it bath time, storytime & bedtime.

I wouldn't be surprised if she falls asleep while I am singing to her like she did last night. It was very sweet to watch her fall asleep while I sang to her; she's never done that before.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Picture Day

This morning we went to the gym and then to Wal-Mart to get her 3 year picture taken. I wanted to get them taken so that I would have them to hand out at her birthday. She is sitting at the job kiosk (which is by the portrait studio). The picture that was the cutest wouldn't work because she has a raisin stuck in her molars and her mouth was open so that you could see it and it looked like a bad tooth decay. The picture we picked (she helped me decide) is nice and she has dolly in it, which is why I think she liked that one the best. After the baby is born we will do a new family session with Skye and get nicer pictures of Isabel, the baby, and all four of us.

Sunday, May 3rd

Isabel was very happy walked into the house after her 4 days trip. She was very affectionate & sweet. Of course, I loved it! I got so many hugs & kisses from her and she was telling me over & over how much she loved me and missed me. :)

I bought her this magnifying class (& a sticker/activity book) from Longwood Gardens. She was very excited to use them both.

Since it was such a nice day we got outside (& put daddy to work) setting up chains to hang her swing & rings from a tree in the backyard. We have chains hanging and can swicth out which ones she wants to use. She can use both at the same time if she wants, which she sometimes does.