Maybe your child is not as mature as you think she should be.  Maybe you think he’s little for his age, and could use another year of pre-school under his belt before starting in the big leagues.  Maybe you’re a sports-minded family, and you want to give your mini linebacker the best odds at athletic success.

Experts say, however, delaying kindergarten is not the right answer.  In fact, you just might be doing your little pumpkin a disservice.  The New York Times recently published an article highlighting  a study which tells us, in a nutshell, the best academic tool we can give our children is school itself.


According to this article, for students young for their year in kindergarten, greater strides were made during the school year in reading and math than in children who were older.  The article discusses how children grow when they are pushed:

“In this respect, children benefit from being close to the limits of their ability”.

Just let that sentence sink in for a second.  Give it a second read.  Absorb it.

What this tells us, is that it is good to push our kids, within limits. If a child is faced with a task that is challenging, but not out of reach, it encourages them to try harder. To want to be better.  On either side of this fine line, however, children (and teachers) face the consequences of boredom or frustration.

I’ve learned this first-hand, with my son, who happens to be in kindergarten (not early, not late, right on schedule).  He does not know all of his letters yet, although he’s getting there.  He is far from reading, however.  So, I have started working with him each day.  We don’t do a lot, anywhere from 5-20 minutes when there is some quiet time just for the two of us.  And, based on this new ritual, I have learned three things about him:

  1. When pushed just a little out of his comfort zone, with support, he flourishes. “No, no, Mommy, don’t tell me the answer, let me tell you the letters!”.
  2. When pushed a lot, he shuts down.  No wonder he literally looked the other way when I was trying to teach him sight words when reading a bedtime story!  It was like asking him to do calculus before he could multiply.
  3. When he’s presented with a task that he has complete mastery of, at first it’s a confidence booster, but that quickly wanes.  What is left is boredom (“Ok, ok, Mommy, I know those letters, but what is that one, again?”) and potential disruptive behavior.
Of course, there is no right or wrong answer that fits everyone.  We must make our own decisions, based on what is best for our child.  And, no one knows your child better than you.  This is also about more than just reading, math, and kindergarten.  It is a life lesson, too.  After all, we not only want our kids to learn, we want to teach them to be lifelong learners.  We want them to have a thirst for knowledge.

We, as parents, are helping our children learn how to learn.  What a gift.  I promise, I’ll try not to screw it up.

So, what did you do, or will you do about kindergarten?


Very soon my husband, the two boys, my mother and father-in-law, and sister and brother-in-law will be cruising around the Disneyland Resort, staying at the Grand Californian, and even enjoying a fun-filled Character Breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen.  But, what to wear?  Especially since the pool is going to get some quality play time, too.  I mean, have you seen it?

Photo courtesy of magicalmousecapades.com

I have worn a two piece since the baby was born, but it’s kind of like wearing open-toed shoes when you’re in bad need of a pedicure: I really shouldn’t.  So, I picked up this cute little suit while shopping online at JCrew today:


Here’s to hoping it a) doesn’t look too old on me, b) fits, and c) looks decent.  I have bought lots of swimwear online at JCrew before, but it’s always been bikini separates, and I know how those fit me.  A one piece is a whole different ballgame.  However, this was on sale, and I got an extra 30% off, so what was originally $88, I paid just over $20 for.

As for clothing for the rest of the trip, I also picked up a short-sleeved denim top perfect for layering when mornings are cool:


This shirt should be comfy (for long days) and will offer a little more style than a staple, such as a t-shirt.  I also plan on bringing an assortment of capris, and shorts, such as these, also from JCrew:


These are my favorite shorts.  Ever.  They are comfortable, flattering, and come in a rainbow of colors.  And, being from JCrew, I know the fit will be consistent.  Sold!  Over the years I have purchased many pairs of the JCrew Chino shorts.  It seems I collect them in different lengths and colors.  The good news?  I can attest to the fact that they wear well, too.  I have a couple pairs that are at least 6 years old.

I also plan on bringing my Teva’s (they might not be fashion-forward, but they are comfy, and go with most anything):


My final must-haves for this vacation will be my lightweight, zip-up hoodie (the best layering piece for a casual vacation), and in case I actually get to go out to dinner . . . a great pair of jeans from the Gap (with a pair of flats).  My current favorite is the 1969 Perfect Boot Jeans:


So, there you have it.  Flattering, comfortable, and stylish clothes, perfect for a casual vacation.

What are your favorite vacation clothing picks?

Note: For more great ideas on style and fashion, check out Musings of a Housewife.  She should know, she also co-owns All Things Chic!

This is going to be a busy week.  Dentist appointments (first one for my 2 1/2-year-old!), the carpets are getting cleaned (baby is finally crawling, really can’t put it off any longer!), and I’m leaving my husband alone for the weekend (what a treat!), because I’m packing up the kids and taking them to my friend’s house for the weekend.  It should be a crazy, fun, weekend with 6 kids between us.  Ahhh!  

On top of all this, I’m prepping for our upcoming trip to Disneyland!  This will be the boys’ first trip, and the baby is staying with my parents.  My in-laws, and my brother and sister-in-law will be coming, too.  I will never again be spoiled with so much adult supervision for my children.  I simply cannot wait!

Because the week is already going to be busy, I have a very simple menu on deck.  Nothing fancy, but family favorites all around.

Monday:  Tacos (Still have not gotten this on the table, in two weeks!)

Tuesday:  Homemade Pesto Pizza (using pesto and pizza dough recipe from Simple Bites)

Wednesday:  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Soup

Thursday:  Breakfast for Dinner – Scrambled Eggs and Overnight Forgotten Coffeecake  (trying to use up leftover buttermilk in the fridge!)

Friday:  Off to my friend’s house for the weekend, so husband is on his own with leftovers or whatever he can find.  🙂

What’s going to be on your dinner table this week?

For more menu ideas, check out I’m an Organizing Junkie!

My husband is out of town.  I can say this because by the time you read this, he will be back.  He has also been uber-busy at work lately.  He generally works a lot, but the last couple of weeks have been exceptionally crazy.  So, it didn’t surprise me at all when last night, at about 10 o’clock, he says casually, “Hey, did I tell you I’m going to Vegas tomorrow?”.

Um, nope.  No, you didn’t.  He’s not so much into the details sometimes.

At least this is only a one night trip.  Not at all like the time I found out he was going to Brussels, Belgium because of some flight times I saw scribbled on the back of a grocery receipt he left sitting next to the laptop on the kitchen counter.  I know, I know, his communication skills are positively astounding.  In the end, his trip got cancelled anyway.  But, I’m getting a little off topic.

It just so happens that I had already made plans with some girlfriends to go out tonight.  I planned it carefully, so that the baby would already be asleep, and the boys would be fed, and in their jammies.

So, now I’m faced with a dilemma.  I could a) scrap my plans for a Girls Night Out (which honestly only happens every six months or so for me.  I know, I know, I need to work on that), or b) call my Mother-in-Law.  I do have a couple babysitters that I use, but now that school is in, they are busy with sports, boyfriends, part-time jobs, and oh, yes, school.

I decided it was important enough to me to give her a call, last-minute.  Turns out she was available and happy to do it.  I am a lucky woman.  Side note:  She also watched the kids one other time this week, and has plans to help me out twice next week.  Am I taking advantage? I hope not. But, possibly a little.

Not everyone has a great relationship with their Mother-in-Law, but after 14 years of marriage, here are a few secrets I will share with you about your Mother-in-Law:

1.  She really does want to help.

So, let her.  Let her hold the baby.  Let  her do a load of laundry.  Let her take the kids to the park.  She wants to do it, and it’s really okay.  Really.

2.  She has the best of intentions.

Yes, she may feed the baby at the wrong time.  Or not warm up the bottle enough.  She might even (gasp!) stop for an ice cream treat before dinner. She is not you.  She will not do things exactly as you do.  But, if you give her instructions, she’ll do her best.  She doesn’t intentionally sabotage your children’s sleep schedule.  She’s finding her way in this whole Grandmother thing, just like you’re finding out who you are as a Mom.  And, she’s waited her whole life to be a Grandmother, so cut her a little slack.  Even if it’s a really, really small amount of slack.

3.  She loves her son and her grandchildren.  But, she loves you, too.

She loves you in a different way, and that love may change and grow over the years.  But, she loves you in a way that says “thank you for sharing your life with my son, and for letting me be a part of my grandchildren’s lives, too”.

4.  She appreciates a Thank You.

It’s easy to take anyone for granted.  I think it’s especially easy to take your Mother-in-Law for granted.  So, remember to appreciate the good things she does.  Even if it’s sandwiched in between things that frustrate you.  She’s a good person.  See Numbers 1 and 2, above.

5.  She has more life experience than you.

This one might be hard to swallow for some, especially if your Mother-in-Law is one who is constantly offering up advice, or insinuating that her way is better.  But, it is true.  She’s been married longer, and even though her children aren’t little any more, she’s been a Mom longer, too.  So, listen to her advice, and allow it to sink in a little.  No one says you have to follow it.  But, you never know what you might learn if you’re open to it.

I mean, maybe she really does have a terrific chicken recipe that’s easy and delicious (and if your husband likes it, you can just wink and say, “I know, yum, right?! It’s just a new recipe I’ve been wanting to try”). Or you can give her credit, if you’re feeling generous.  Men usually don’t care too much about that kind of thing anyway.  Either way, it’s a win-win.  Or, if you’re Michael Scott, a win-win-win.

6.  She knows you hold the cards.  And, she appreciates that you put up with her son.

It’s true.  You have a lot of power in this relationship.  And, he is the boy she raised: the good, and all.the.faults.  See paragraph 3, above.

Anyone else want to chime in?? Come on, put me in my place. 🙂

How much time do you spend in the kitchen?  If you’re anything like me, you spend at least 50% of your time here on a daily basis.  It’s probably even higher than that if I actually logged it.  Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve both discovered and developed over the years.  They make my life easier, and make me more efficient in the room I spend more time in than any other in my house:  the kitchen!
  1. Disinfect your sponge.  There are two simple ways to do this.  The first is to dampen the sponge and stick it in the microwave.  In an 1100 watt microwave, it takes only 90 seconds.  If you have a lower wattage model, it might take from three, up to five minutes.  You can also throw it in the top rack of your dishwasher each time you run it.  For me, the microwave option is easiest.  It seems I can’t go one dishwasher cycle without needing the sponge, so unless I run it overnight, I just choose to zap it.
  2. Clean your microwave.  Simply put a bowl of water in the microwave, and let it run at 100% power for five minutes.  Then, wipe the inside clean.  You can throw some lemon juice in the bowl for a little extra cleaning power and an oh-so-fresh scent if you have some on hand, too.
  3. Store your staples so they’re handy.  I put sugar, flour, bread flour, brown sugar, and chocolate chips in Tupperware containers.  In those containers, I include a measuring cup in the size I most often use for that staple.  For example, in my flour container, I have a 1 cup measuring cup.  In my brown sugar container, I have a 1/2 cup measuring cup.  This saves me from a) searching for the right size measuring cup and b) washing it every time.
  4. Mount a pretty towel hook near your sink.  My dad did this for me about a year ago, and I can’t believe I ever lived without it.  It is a simple hook purchased from Home Depot.  He mounted it just where I wanted it, just to the left of the sink.  Out of the way of the most used side of the cabinet, and super handy for the 203 times I wash my hands every day.  I have never looked back.  I don’t care if it seems like I’m already a grandma.  I no longer have to search for a clean hand towel, I don’t create extra waste using paper towels, and it automatically means I keep my hand towel separate from any towels I use to clean dishes, etc.  Brilliant!

5.  Have a Snack Box.  On an easy to reach shelf in the pantry, I have a large, clear plastic container that I keep stocked with (mostly) healthy snacks.  When my kids ask, (and they know they are supposed to ask first, because it might be meal time), they know they can choose anything in the box, nothing is off-limits.  Things I regularly stock this box with are: Stretch Island Fruit Leathers, Zbars, Annie’s Bunny Grahams, granola bars, and Trader Joe’s Apple Crushers.  Basically, these items are fairly healthy, and are obviously non-perishables.  I often do dole out string cheese and fresh fruit, but if they are hungry, this is extremely helpful to me, and even my 2-year-old can be self-sufficient.  That is good for everyone!

What are your favorite time-saving and sanity-preserving tips and tricks for the kitchen?

My kids, like most, love waffles.  Although I don’t have much extra time, I have found that it doesn’t take much longer to throw together homemade waffles (and make some extra to throw in the freezer) than it does to pull out a box of mix.  And, they are much healthier for them.  (So glad they don’t know it yet!)

This is such an easy shortcut to healthier eating.  You really don’t have to sacrifice money or time to prepare a nutritious meal.  Just having the right tools (a good recipe, and the right ingredients) can make it simple!

Get ready to wow your kids, and if your husband is anything like mine, and actually prefers things to be healthy, you can impress him, too.

Note:  I’ve adapted this recipe from one I found on Cooks.com years ago.  Most recipes for whole wheat waffles that I found were either a) hardly qualified to be called whole wheat waffles, or b) were so tough and chewy that not even the neighbor’s dog would want them.  This is a nice, happy medium, and is a definite keeper in our house.  Enjoy!

Photo from Plan to Eat

Whole Wheat Waffles

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

(Note: Feel free to substitute half of the flour with white whole wheat flour, or all-purpose.  Really, whatever you’ve got on hand works, using all whole wheat flour is just the healthiest option)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 T sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until just combined.

This recipe makes about 8 waffles in a standard 8-inch waffle iron.  A lot of times I will make a double batch.  The boys like to snack on them, and I tear them up in little pieces for the baby.  So, one batch hardly makes enough for the freezer.  And, while you’ve got the waffle iron hot, might as well make the most of it, right?

Loving this Menu Plan Monday, and actually holding myself accountable for it.  A whiteboard in the kitchen wasn’t really doing it for me.  🙂  I found the recipe for Thursday from Jo-Lynne at Musings of a Housewife.  She got the recipe from Jules at JustJules.  Thanks to both of these ladies for this awesome recipe!  My recipe for Tuesday was found courtesy of Laura at I’m An Organizing Junkie, it was on her menu last week.  Can’t wait to try it!

Monday:  Tacos (didn’t get to that last week)

Tuesday:  Baked Ziti with Spinach and Sausage  (Looks like real comfort food!)

Photo from Your Homebased Mom

Wednesday: Homemade pizza

Thursday:  Chicken with Spinach and Mushroom Sauce  

Photo from Musings of a Housewife

Friday: Parents are visiting, so we’ll most likely go out or go pick something up.  🙂

Saturday: Leftover Potluck

Sunday:  Who knows, something simple!

What’s on your menu for this week?

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