Blog

Give Your Children a Foundation of Language and Literature

I have recently realized how important it is for children to have a strong foundation of language and literature in order to be successful in life for themselves and more importantly to be well educated, productive members of society. This is goes against the current trends of parents encouraging their children to master math, science, and technology so they can have good paying jobs as doctors or working for Microsoft. I recently read an article that discussed this phenomenon of parents not allowing children major in liberal arts. You can read the full article here, it’s in the Washington Post written by Steven Pearlstein; Pearlstein quotes Debra Humphreys regarding the phenomenon: ‘“I have heard from many different colleges that there is now a considerable — and disturbing — amount of parental pressure against the liberal arts,” reports Debra Humphreys, a senior vice president at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.’ Don’t get me wrong, I understand the struggle of paying a mountain of student debt and only being able to land a job where you didn’t even need a degree.

When I was in my 3rd year of my undergraduate for English Literature I was working at Safeway, where I had been able to advance to office manager and hiring manager. I was continually interviewing recent college graduates with a four year degree in English Literature, and they were here interviewing to be a cashier along with a few high school drop outs. This made me decide to change my major to Business Administration, without any influence from my parents, so I understand why parents are encouraging their children to not “waste their time with a Liberal Arts Degree.” However, I now know that I have been able to be successful in sales, business, and in my personal life more from my three years of studying liberal arts than from what I learned in my business classes. img_6116

In the mandatory psychology, sociology, and literature classes I was able to gain invaluable insight on how people from different walks of life respond to events differently, on what  motivates people, and how to see issues from another person’s perspective.  I developed interpersonal communication skills, public speaking experience, and critical thinking. I can see the implications that my choices have on my future and my children’s future based off the experiences I have read and studied in history. The knowledge and skills I learned studying for my liberal arts degree have helped me to develop lasting relationships with my peers, bosses, vendors, and customers and this has helped me to be successful both in my professional and personal life.

Recently I have observed an extreme lack of education in language, literature, and humanity. Due to this lack of ability to communicate with each other, as a society, we have become angry with each other. We are no longer learning about the importance of society, diversity, history, literature, and the arts. All of which I believe play an important role in bringing us together a society and as people. We are losing that connection. We are losing our ability to reason, think critically, empathize, and communicate. I know I don’t have a lot of influence over my peers, but I do have an incredible amount of influence on my children, and so do you. Give your children the gift of language. Give them the gift of literature, history, and the arts. Teach them to love books, to love to learn, and to love to understand others. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Dr. Seuss, “The more you read, the more you know, the more you learn, the more places you’ll go!” Build the foundation while they are young, and you’ll be amazed at all the places your kids will go.

img_6114

 

Advertisements

5 Free Videos to Get Your Kids Excited to Learn Spanish

One of the many reasons we decided to home school our kids is so they can focus more time on the subjects they love and we have the freedom and flexibility to help them build a larger base of learning in their early years, a concept we learned from Classical Education . My husband speaks Spanish fluently and we live in an area where there is a fairly large population of Spanish speakers so it made sense for us to have them learn Spanish as their first secondary language. However, I was having a difficult time getting my daughter, who is 5, interested in Spanish, she was much more interested in creating her own language, which was a lot of “ebo dedo ai” and “bibi bo bo” which I’m assuming is her trying to speak to R2D2. I was starting to get frustrated when I was listening to Spartan Up by Joe Desena on Audible and he said that they also have their children learn another language, and he and his wife allow their kids to watch as much TV as they want as long as it is in the other language, ie Spanish, Mandarin, French, whatever language you are encouraging your kids to master. My kids aren’t as into TV, but they absolutely love watching music videos on YouTube, which I am constantly fighting, so I finally stopped fighting. I found a few videos that my kids love, and now they are excited to learn Spanish and will ask me how to say things in Spanish throughout the day.

These are a few of the best videos I have found to get your kids interested in Spanish:

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes  It’s a familiar song to kids, Jamie on here is a great singer, and I think my kids like her because she is happy and cheerful throughout the whole song. My kids can sing this whole song now and they can name all the body parts in Spanish.

Mi Cuerpo Hace Musica This one is nice because it doesn’t have an advertisement in the beginning, and it is interactive, so my 2 year old loves it as well.

Teach them to Count to Ten in Spanish There are a lot of different videos you can use, but for some reason my kids like this song the best.

Days of the Week This is a very upbeat, fun song for kids to learn and it is helpful for us parents that don’t speak Spanish to have the subtitles and learn as well!

Learn Sports with BASHO & FRIENDS – Juegos My kids love this one! Personally, I would not have picked this song, but my kids have so much singing along and the repetition is great!

There are a lot of paid for programs to teach your kids Spanish, but we are going to attempt to use all the free resources available to us first, we will keep you update on what we find works best and other great sources to teach your kids Spanish! If you have found a great free source for kids to learn Spanish please let us know in the comments !

**I don’t receive any compensation for promoting any products, services, or videos on my blog, this is just what I have found works best for my kids.

 

 

 

Homeschooling as a Working Mom

I was first given the example by my own mother. My mother is a Physical Therapist, and an exceptional one as well. She did not choose between being a mother and having a career, she had both. When my older brother and I were 3 and 1, she found a job as a Physical Therapist at a Nursing Home that was owned and operated by a local family. My mother explained to them that she put being a mother first and that she wanted to be able to home school her kids, so she would need a somewhat flexible schedule and to be able to bring her kids to work. I want to add, my mom worked full time, a full 40 hours and sometimes up to 50 per week when her patients needed her! This is how she did it.

First of all, the owners agreed to let her use a small empty room as her class room that was very close to her office. Although she wasn’t in her office that often because she was usually somewhere in the building working with patients. We only used this for a few hours a day, after we were done with our lessons she would take us to a lady’s house, usually on her lunch break, for us to play and run around and have fun until she picked us up at the end of the day. Let’s be honest, you can’t expect a 5 or even a 7 year old to behave in a nursing home from 9-5. When we are a little older we wouldn’t go to the babysitter’s until about 3, so we had a normal length school day, although it was far from normal learning.

Before you get too worried about the quality of our education, my older brother just graduated medical school with an MD and my younger sister is a Pharmacist, so we were fairly well prepared for higher education. 😉

However, that isn’t really the point, you already know home school students usually do very well or you wouldn’t be looking into how you could home school your own kids! We need to focus on how to get it done!

First of all, to be really successful at being a homeschooling and working mom, it will help to embrace the notion of homeschooling on the go. For my mother, she used travel time as learning, as well as evenings and weekends. For instance, it was a 30 minute drive from our house to my mom’s work, then of course  a 30 minute drive home. She would use that hour as completely focused learning time. We would sing learning songs, do addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc in our head as our mom would quiz us. We would talk about our lessons from the day before or tell our mom about the book we read. Then over the dinner table (we sat down and had family dinner every night) we would talk about other interesting things and my father would often join in then as well. I would argue that we learned more from this hour and a half (the drive and dinner) then the average kid does in an entire school day. Not because my parents were these brilliant teachers, but because we wanted to impress our parents with how much we learned and we loved having their attention (as most children do), so we remembered what they taught us. I remember when I was in public school in 8th grade (my Mom only did home school for Elementary School) my teacher asked the class, why do we have fall back. Nobody was raising their hand so I did and explained why there is a time change. My teacher stopped and looked at me very surprised and asked how I knew that. I laughed and replied that everybody knows that. My whole class disagreed with me, none of them knew that. We had discussed it at a family dinner when I was 6 or 7 I think. I had known that since I was 6! And here were 8th graders that didn’t know! If you are homeschooling on the go, your kids will eat up your every word and will want to learn from you, and you will be shocked at how far ahead they are when you just teach them everything you know as you go about your day!

I currently have a daughter in Kindergarten and a very rambunctious 2 year old son. I’m going to be honest, I might be changing my story when my son is old enough for school on how practical this is, but I hope not! 🙂 With my daughter I have a friend who also home schools who has children the same age, and she takes over playing and teaching my kids in the afternoon when I’m focused on working. We wake up early in the morning and do Math, we are continually learning Spanish, and we read and write every night. My daughter can already read and she loves to read, she is ahead of her grade level and I have been able to work outside the home just like my mom did. You can do it too! You need a good support system, that’s not true, you need a GREAT SUPPORT SYSTEM, find that boss who understands you need flexible time to teach your kids, find that friend who is willing to watch your kids while you are working, and get to work!

Why All Men NEED to Know the Realities of Violence Against Women

It is baffling how much violence still exists against women and how so many men don’t understand the scary realities that women face everyday. I have realized that the main reason that many men don’t understand how prevalent of a threat the male species is in general to women is because we don’t talk about it. We keep these realities to ourselves because they are too painful to talk about, or people might think we are dramatic, or we just don’t want to think about them any more than we do so we shove them to the back of our mind where the survival portion is working to take care of us so the rest of our brain can focus on what a beautiful morning we are experiencing.

I would like to say that I have always talked to my significant other about these harsh realities, but I have always used the last excuse I listed above; I refuse to live in fear, so I don’t want to think about the seemingly quirky self protection measures I take by voicing them to my husband. However, now that our daughter is getting older, I have realized that these issues are soon going to be my husband’s problem as well, as he helps me in raising our daughter to be a confident, competent, and street smart young woman.

To be honest, I didn’t give a lot of thought to how differently men and women go about their day until my husband started asking questions about why I do certain things. Such as locking the door when he runs into the gas station to get an energy drink. One day I didn’t unlock it as soon as he got back and he asked me why I locked the door? Did I see somebody suspicious? No, I just always lock the door because you don’t always know what a bad person looks like until it’s too late, and I made an easy target being a woman with the car running.  It was a very simple thing, but it made me realize that men, even ones like my husband who are very cautious by nature, see the world from a different perspective.

Last weekend, we were out walking around downtown with the kids on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We walked past a parking garage where there were 2 girls, probably college students, waiting for the elevator for the parking garage. One of the girls commented to the other, I never take the stairs here. My husband was confused and after we were out of earshot he commented that was weird she wouldn’t take the stairs. He wasn’t being rude, he just lives in a different reality than a lot of young girls and women, so it never occurred to him what could possibly wrong with taking the stairs, it’s great exercise, and our society needs to walk more stairs. I almost felt bad telling him why women don’t take the stairs in sketchy areas, or even in seemingly safe areas. Not very many people take the stairs and they echo so you aren’t sure exactly where noises are coming from, and in the case of a parking garage there are a lot of easy ways to make a quick get away. For instance, a predator can wait in the middle of the stairs and as you turn the corner knock you out, either against the wall, rail, or by throwing you down the stairs, then they can do whatever they want to you there or they can drag you into their car really quickly if they had planned it correctly and were parked near the door. He gave me a look that was mixture of horror and anger.

This is why this important. My husband is an amazing man, it would never occur to him to hurt a woman, ever. This makes him less aware of things that happen, because he would never think to be aware of what another man might be doing in the stairwell because if he was hanging out in a stairwell it would probably because he was trying to catch a rare Pokemon! But now he knows to watch out for not only me and our daughter, but for other women as well, if he passes a man just hanging out in the stairwell and he sees a girl come up by herself, he will instantly be on alert because now he knows that she might be in a dangerous situation and he will be there to help her if needed. One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

It is so important for the many, many great men in this world to know what to watch for and how to help women when we need them. An important fact we can take from the recent case with the rapist, Brock Turner, was that it was two men who stopped it. It would have been easy for these two men to see some people having sex and move along, but they were aware of what it is like in a woman’s world and noticed that something did not look right. In the statement read to him in court Brock Turner’s victim thanked the two men that saved her, “I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my head to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have…felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.” Buzzfeed

There are a lot of men in this world who are heroes, and who would step up to help in a heart beat, but they have to know where and how to look for situations where they can help. We have to make the great men aware of the threats we face every day so they can better understand the harsh realities of being a woman and they can do their part to change them for the better!

Homeschooling on the Go!

 

We don’t have a typical set up for homeschooling, so we have revised traditional school with what we call Homeschooling on the Go! The idea is to create a culture in our family where continually learning is just a part of every day life, you don’t sit down for school and learn for 5 or 6 hours and then turn your brain off; there is always something new and interesting to learn. We started this in our family partly out of necessity and partly because of how much of a difference it has made in our own lives.

For the first year and a half of our marriage, my husband and I were both in school full time and working. We would come home from work every night, make dinner, get our daughter ready for bed and then hit the books! We were so excited when we had finally finished our degrees and could live a “normal” life of just going to work and then coming home and not having to study. We went along like this for about a year, we found some shows we liked on Netflix that we would watch together or when it was nice outside we would go on a bike ride. After we had caught up on all the TV shows that were all the rage when we were in college that we didn’t have time to watch back then, we realized TV wasn’t all that fun and we missed studying! We missed learning and growing and having discussions about our homework! How I Met Your Mother is hilarious, but there’s not a lot to learn from that show, aside from learning that Neil Patrick Harris is hilarious!

We discussed getting our Master’s Degree, but to be honest, we already had a pile of student loan debt and we wouldn’t make that much more in our chosen fields with the higher degree, so we sought elsewhere. We downloaded audible (my husband drives a lot for his work so he could listen to books while he was driving) and we found some great personal improvement books. My favorite one to this day is Dale Carnegie’s  How to Win Friends and Influence People I would highly recommend it to anyone! We also listened and read books on health, body language, political and financial books, and one of our favorites, Spartan Up by Joe Desena. We also downloaded books to teach us new languages, which is probably the most fun activity we do together now, is to practice speaking in Spanish or Mandarin!

20151004_115146From this experience we realized the most important thing we could pass onto our children is the love of learning. Children are born with an innate desire to learn, I believe the most important thing we can do is to not kill their desire to learn. If we as parents are continually learning new things and show our kids how much we love to learn, they will likely follow suite.

This backstory brings me to my point of Homeschooling on the Go! We are very busy, we both work full time jobs, although we are lucky enough to have fairly flexible work schedules, and we spend a lot of time outdoors. Instead of having our children sit at a desk for a few hours every day and learn, we incorporate learning into our life. When we are jumping on the trampoline we count, sing the alphabet, count in Spanish, count be 2’s and count by 10’s. When we are driving up to some of our favorite camp grounds and hiking trails we practice spelling. My daughter calls it the spelling game, we will try to stump each other on how to spell a word.

When we are home we work on writing, reading and art. While I am cooking dinner my daughter will practice writing sentences and she will sit next to me and read to me while I’m folding laundry. Learning is just part of our every day life and because of that we never have to fight with the kids to do their homework, they just learn because it’s exciting and it’s fun. We are able to work homeschooling into our lives instead of working our lives around homeschooling and because of that we are able to pack some much more into every day!

REDcoyote-08761

Photo Credits: RedCoyote LLC -Facebook: @RedCoyote208

Note: I do not receive any compensation or kick backs from any company or book that I recommend. They are just what I have found to be most helpful in life, and I hope you can find as much use out of them as I have!

Surviving the Summer without Grass in the Backyard

This has been a rough summer for us trying to survive without a grassy backyard. The house we bought was foreclosed on and the backyard was a healthy lush field of thistles. CanadaThistle_leafNot just little Thistles either, it is full of the beautiful Canada Thistle!  Doesn’t that look fun?

This might sound like it’s not a big deal. Honestly a few years ago we were living in an apartment and it would not have even occurred to me that we would need a nice thistle free backyard! However, a few years ago I didn’t have the blessing of my 2 dogs and my 2 year old son. My daughter enjoys drawing, painting, and going to the park, so it wasn’t as crucial to have open space for her to run as it is with my overly energetic 2 year old! This was a pretty stressful decision for us, with all the work we had to do on the property we really needed to be able to have the kids in the backyard to get some of their wiggles out and not spend every evening at the park or the Rec Center until the kids are worn out.

We debated putting in a sand box, a play structure, or paying for the yard to be done quickly by professionals. Then we found the perfect solution… a trampoline! Growing up in a family of medical professionals I have always been hesitant to buy a trampoline, even as I am writing this blog it gives me a little anxiety knowing my children spend hours on the trampoline. However, we also have a high rate of obesity  in this country, so I try to at least do my part for my kids in making sure they get plenty of exercise. That is what I tell myself at least!

For the trampoline we only had to clean out a section of the beautiful thistle garden we were growing close to our patio so the kids can go straight from the patio to the trampoline! It’s perfect. My kids get plenty of exercise, they love it, and I have time to get the kitchen repainted without having to worry about little hand prints appearing in the wet paint.

We do have strict rules for the trampoline. They have to have the net zipped up at all times. They cannot play any games that increase their chance of injury such as crack the egg, or there is a similar one with bacon. They have to always be running the same direction (to try and avoid collisions) and they absolutely can not run into the side of the net!

If you are also suffering a summer without a backyard, a trampoline might be the answer for you too! What have you guys done when you don’t have a backyard to send your kids out to get their wiggles out?12963420_10156966753620128_3572354814640113154_n

Photo Credit: Jed Davis- Facebook @redcoyote208

5 Ways to Save Money on a Fixer Upper

IMG_4255

We recently bought a cute little fixer upper house, so we are constantly looking for ways to save money without having to sacrifice too many luxuries and features we want in our house. We have been trying to do as much of it ourselves as possible, which helps keep most of the repairs and upgrades relatively inexpensive, but there are some things that are best left to the professionals. Through this process we have found quite a few different ways to save money: these are my top 5 so far:

 

1. Find Local 2nd Hand Building Supply Stores

We have been able to save thousands already by using 2nd hand building stores. Our favorite one is the Restore which is a non profit for the Habitat for Humanity! When builders have excess materials they often donate it non profits such as the Restore for a tax write off, so they often have materials here that have never even be used. You can also
get gently used appliances and fixtures that have been taken out of homes that have been remodeled. We had restore_pictureto buy all new blinds for our house and we are able to get the 2″ Faux Woods ones that would have been over $60 each because we have such large windows for only $10 each. We had 7 windows that needed blinds so that alone added up to a savings of $350, just on blinds! We also found some great outdoor light fixtures for $8 we were able to repaints so they look as good as new. If you aren’t sure where to look, ask the professional you just hired if he knows of a good 2nd hand building supply store in your area.

 

2. Find Tools to Borrow or Rent

We are lucky to have family near by and fantastic neighbors! There are so many tools that you need for little projects when you are fixing up a house that you won’t need on a regular basis. You can save a lot of money by renting these tools or by borrowing them from a neighbor. We rented a paint sprayer from our local paint store instead of buying We had to completely re-do the lawn, instead of sod we decided to lay seed, which meant a lot of rota-tilling and raking. We knew we wouldn’t be using a rototiller  very often so we were able to borrow my father in laws for a few weeks in exchange for my husband doing some manual labor at their place with their rototiller, which he most definitely would have done anyway, so it saved us a lot of money! We were also able to borrow a pressure washer, miter saw, and caulk gun— the caulk gun was just because we couldn’t find ours at the moment and needed to replace some shingles on our roof ASAP. Thank God for Good Neighbors!

3. Get 2-3 Quotes When Hiring Out Work

If you don’t like any of those quotes you can always get more, but for the most part getting more than 3 quotes in a waste of time. Check for reputable businesses, be sure they are licensed and check reviews with the Better Business Bureau and Google and Yelp reviews if they are available. You can look up contractor licenses for any state here: http://www.contractors-license.org/  There are quite a few different professional services you can use as well to connect you with the right company or person for the job. I deal_176351_handymansacramentoused Porch and I had 3 companies contact within the first couple of hours ready to give me a bid on my small framing project.  I was very happy that I got more than 1 quote because the first quote was twice as much as the company I ended up using! I was able to save over $1,000 just by getting more than 1 quote. That was definitely worth the time to meet with more than 1 contractor, and he did an excellent job!

4. Time Management 

Figure out how long you think it will take to complete the remodel/fixer upper project. Then double it. That is probably not what you expected to hear, we are always reading how we need to make a schedule and stick to it! Well I’m saying that too, but if it is your first time with a fixer upper or a remodel, it will probably take longer than you originally thought to get everything done, especially if you have full time jobs!

My original schedule was to have the house and yard completely redone in 12 weeks. I had it broken down by project and by how long I thought it would take. After the first 3 weeks I almost started hiring more professionals than needed and I was going to order Sod instead of waiting for the fall to seed. However, I calculated how much that would add to our home remodel and decided to change my schedule instead. Now I have allotted myself a full year, so I have time to get everything done without having to hire most of it out.

If you have no idea where to start in how long to allot for jobs there are quite a few free resources that will give you ideas on how to plan your remodel. I used HouseLogic for some ideas on how long renovations would take, but keep in mind this is using the time frame for professionals, not for a diy after a long day or long week of work, so cut yourself a lot of slack!

5. Be Flexible With Your Renovations

This is probably the most difficult one, and it ties in with 1&2. If you are anything like me you probably have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to your home remodel. You might even have a board with pictures of your ideal picture, ideal laundry room, and of course your dream bathroom! However, you will save a lot of money if you can be flexible in the upgrades and changes you make me. Start with what is most important and if you have certain things that you will not budge on, for instance having a big open kitchen, then by all means spend the money there. If you found a floor that you like on pinterest, but then found flooring at the Restore for half as much that you really like to, go with the less expensive option. You can save a lot of money by being flexible and open minded with your upgrades and that will give you the freedom to take advantage of a great deal when it comes your way!

 

Comment with ways you have found to save money on your Fixer Upper and Share with anyone you know who is considering taking on a remodel project or a fixer upper house!

 

 

 

The Path to Home Ownership

For the past 10 years I have lived in 14 different places, so I have moved to a different place on an average of every 8.5 months. I honestly don’t mind moving, and my 5 year old daughter loves it, she gets so excited every time we move. However, my 2 year old son does not handle change well at all, and to be perfectly honest, I’m ready to be able to paint my kitchen any color I want and be able to have a dog without paying an outrageous pet deposit. This has led us to exploring buying a house.

I took the recommendation of a coworker on who to use for a real estate agent, and she was fantastic. I loved Ruthie, she was helpful through the whole process and really listened to what I was looking for in a house, which was somewhat specific. There were difficulties with the seller and the title and she was all in fighting for me to get me the house I wanted. Which leads me to the first steps to home ownership:

  1. Narrow down what you want in a house and prioritize. The prioritizing portion is important, obviously we all have our dream house list, but depending on your financial and work situation, everything you want might not be practical. I’m both very specific about what I like and I hate being wasteful, so we opted to look for a fixer upper (because I can’t justify repainting a house that was just painted even I hate the color). This worked well, we found a house that needed all new paint and all new floors, so I could totally justify changing to exactly what I wanted!
  2. Pick a good real estate agent. I’m not going to lie, at first I was like we have the internet, I can do it on my own, I don’t want an agent trying to push me into something I don’t want! I am so glad I listened to my coworker and talked to a real estate agent! Be sure to find an expert in their field and someone you enjoy being around, you might spend more time together than you would think!
  3. Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage. These 2 steps will actually be done together, in my case I actually spoke with the real estate agent first and she referred me to a mortgage broker she had worked with before who she knew and trusted. However, don’t fall in love with a specific house until you know what you can afford.  Same idea here, find someone who is an expert in the field (he had been in home lending for 20 years) and who you feel comfortable with because in some cases they will have to dig pretty deep in your finances and it might feel personal.

Get ready for a bumpy ride. I’ve heard a few home lenders begin the process with “By the way, at the end of this, you will probably hate me, and I’m so sorry!” It’s probably a good idea to set expectations low. That way if you are prepared for the worst, you can handle it, and if it ends up being a breeze, you will be on cloud nine! It’s a win-win.

From beginning to end, the process ended up taking almost 3 months by the time the title issues was cleared up. But we could not be happier, I love having my own home and the joys and challenges that come a long with it!

Follow my blog to learn some great ways to upgrade and fix your home on a budget! We will have a lot of new projects!