What to Expect When Your Child Goes to Kindergarten

>> Thursday, March 30, 2017

A lot of my fellow 2011/2012 moms are currently filling out paperwork and visiting school open houses in preparation for next year's big move -- kindergarten. I've written about how we live in New York where the age cutoff is December 1. We went back and forth on exactly what to do with Ada.

  • Delay preschool/school from the start (she was SO ready at age 3 for preschool!). 
  • Another year of pre-K (not in the budget)? 
  • Homeschool her for a year (with working from home + infant -- nope). 
  • Put her in full kindergarten (I had misgivings due to the schedule, etc).

Looking back, I spent so much time worried about this topic.

When Ada went off to school full time in the fall, I experienced a wild mix of emotions. On one hand, I felt apprehensive about sending a four-year-old off on the bus each morning. I was thrilled she got into the early kindergarten program, somewhat delaying her entrance into the public school system by a year, while also not delaying it at all. (It's a unique offering in our district -- higher level than pre-K, but less demanding than K.) Still, it was a lot going from the summers together to not seeing her between the hours of 8AM and 4PM.

Slowly this routine has become the new normal. It's even worked out quite well now that we have baby sister at home. Ada loves her teacher. She loves her classmates. She loves her school. It's an awesome school. I can't say enough good things. We moved when she was just two specifically to get into this district out of all the districts in our area. When it comes to school, I was just like her. Very eager to be around my friends, learn new things, and just be out in the world. So, while I miss her -- incredibly at times -- I am also happy to know she's happy.

I see it, too. She's different. She's been learning so much being away, being more independent. She's grown tremendously as a result. Sure, there are times when her sensitive nature get the best of her. I think that happens to any kid. But she's confident. She likes her thoughts to be heard -- to share her ever-growing knowledge of what the world is all about. It's exciting to see. It fills me (and Stephen) with a lot of pride. We made this kid, and she's turning out to be fantastically funny, bright, and empathetic.

(She can also read, write, and do all other kinds of nifty things, like mix primary colors to make new colors -- her favorite new project. I don't mean to diminish the academics in this discussion. I am blown away with everything she has learned in such a short time. But -- honestly -- so much of this first year is about the transition. The social and emotional aspects. Fostering confidence and all that jazz.)

But then there are these times when my heart aches beyond aching. She's been having issues with a boy on her bus who's taken to harassing her every. single. day. He even followed her around on the playground yesterday just to bug her. There have been times when I've seen her heart sink because she was so overly excited to tell a friend about, for example, her pierced ears . . . only to have the friend shrug and say effectively, "who cares?" This little bubble I so carefully put her in is slowly weakening. Every situation brings out this inner mama bear mode I didn't know I had.

And -- yes -- I think she'd still be napping two hours a day if she were home with me. She can get extremely tired on the long days, and I feel guilt because so many people I know still have their 2011 babies home. There are times when I hear some new word or phrase I may not want to hear. Or sometimes there's an issue I feel like she's not ready to confront, and I'll try to redirect. It's just a whole bunch of complex stuff . . . and I never quite know what questions the day will bring.

What wisdom can I share about being a new-ish mom to a school-aged kid? Like everything else in life, this is a totally new season. Get ready for it. Your child will probably have things about school that he loves and hates (Ada doesn't love P.E. and can get somewhat upset if it's that day -- like sick-to-stomach). There will also be times when you'll feel so crushed that she has to navigate the cold, scary world (errr, or playground) on her own. You'll likely be shocked at some of the stuff he has heard from other kids. You'll also likely be saddened when you pick up stuff about the lives of other kids that maybe don't have the most supportive home environments.

Most of all, though, you'll get through it. You'll somehow learn how to cope and help your kid with this new phase. I know some of you gals are probably worried. Or maybe you're excited. There's a lot to look forward to. Ada wears her school sweatshirt with pride. She knows people that I don't know. She sees teachers, staff, and friends out and about and gets super excited because she now has her own little world. Oh, that's another cool thing. There is now a whole group of people who care about your child. The teachers and helpers and other parents -- they all care so much. And you end up loving this new village.

When school starts, it starts. From there, everything keeps spinning -- sometimes at a dizzying pace -- and we just go with it. Time, unfortunately, isn't stopping anytime soon. If anything, it is moving faster than ever. Instead of resisting it, I eagerly await learning what each new day brings. I most look forward to that moment when my big girl gets off the bus each afternoon. It's certainly become the golden hour in our home.


Almond Butter Energy Balls

>> Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I'm not a huge fan of dates. I feel like food bloggers, especially those who do the plant-based or raw thing, use them in many recipes. The texture creeps me out (I'm not a fan of raisins either), if I'm being entirely honest. That said, I found myself sticking them in the cart on my short shopping trip the other day. Why? I wanted to make some energy bites that are low in Weight Watchers points.

I didn't end up doing very well with those trials -- so that recipe is still in development. It's actually getting really close. But I did come up with these guys, which are around 4-5 points each, depending on how you scoop them (flat tablespoon versus heaping).

Immediately after eating them, I get a boost in energy. They're perfect for before or after workouts. That's for sure. I have a 7-miler on the schedule tonight, so I'll definitely be packing a few of these in before I lace up my shoes.


What you'll need . . .

  • 1 cup dates, pits removed
  • 1/4 cup smooth almond butter
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Handful or two chocolate chips (optional -- highly recommended)

Method . . .

  1. Pulse the dates in your food processor until they come together into a ball. 
  2. Then tear that ball up into small pieces (to distribute more evenly in your processor) and combine with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Pulse until you get a sticky dough. It may not pull together, but it should stick together when you press on it.
  4. Then scoop tablespoon amounts into your palm and roll into a ball. Repeat until you have 12-16 balls.
  5. Keep in an air-tight container in your refrigerator.

I wanted to thank you guys for your amazing feedback and sharing with my whole Real Life // Being Happy post. It's nice to know I'm not alone in how I think and feel. It's nice to know I'm not alone is just being happy with where I am in this world. I am hoping to get some time to respond more personally to your comments today. Nap strike + looming work deadline hasn't been helping in this area!


Chocolate + Nut Butter Energy Chunks
Chocolate Chunk Energy Cookies
Cocoa + Nut Butter Energy Balls
Cacao Nib Energy Chunks
Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bars
Automatic Healthy Eating // Learn to Love Alternatives 


My Real Life + Being Happy

>> Thursday, March 23, 2017

I've been blogging for ten years now. I mean, that's sort of incredible if you think about it. That's about a third of my life I've shared online. Blogging is a funny thing, as I'm sure you've gathered throughout the years. There are many aspects of it that I absolutely love. There's this awesome online community of people -- women, mostly -- and I've benefited greatly from the connections I've made with other bloggers and readers across the country and beyond.

But then there's this tricky side to it. The comparison trap. The constant feeling of being behind. Of wanting what other people have. I never felt this way in the beginning. My first "blog" was a Livejournal just for my friends to read while I was in college. To me, writing online has never been about projecting an image of myself. It's been all about sharing in the best way I can as an introvert. I can type out and "say" so much more on the computer than I might in a conversation (though that has certainly changed over the years).

And it was about sharing (and still is!) when I started neverhomemaker. Then something shifted in the blog world. I don't really know when it happened. I feel like it was the year I had Ada, back around 2011/2012. I feel like I looked around one day, and what once was a place of sharing recipes and thoughts and somewhat poorly lit photos became a competition. Who had the BEST recipe with the BEST photos? Who lived in the most interesting ZIP code or had the cutest kids? Who spent their weekends doing the most interesting things and who was able to cultivate the most put-together image? Whose stuff was getting Pinned or otherwise shared the most?

I may be alone in seeing the online world in this way. Or maybe I'm not. But my own internalization of it started to weigh me down. To make me feel less-than. There were days I wanted to try my hand at the competition. Thing is, I don't live anywhere all that interesting. We don't make a lot of money. I don't have time to spend anymore rigging up impressive photo-shoots of my food or house or anything. Many of my close friends don't live near us, so we don't do a ton of socializing. We go on one vacation most years.

The list of how my life isn't "blog-worthy" goes on.

I'd keep looking at life as a work-at-home mom through an Instagram lens and feel like I was coming up short. I look at blogs that didn't exist way back when neverhomemaker was at its peak of "popularity" and they've become HUGE. Like massive giants. Kudos to the people who write them -- really, I'm impressed -- but it all seems so exhausting to try to stay on top of the trends, to project an image of perfection, etc. Yet to many, it seems this pursuit is effortless. And maybe it is. But that's where I've gotten lost with the whole thing.

See, I have slowly started caring less and less about my relevancy in the online world. And in general. You don't have to be a blogger to feel the way I'm feeling. Projection of perfection is everywhere. It's stressful. Anyway, long-time readers may have noticed I stopped blogging as frequently in recent years. I un-followed a number of certain big bloggers who, well, trigger my feelings of inadequacy. I un-followed Facebook friends who bugged me. And now I've basically quit Facebook. It's all been a transformative experience.

I'm just a real woman in her early thirties who has two kids and a real, physical life to lead. I have two amazing daughters to bring up who don't care about pageviews or followers. Who don't really care if they are wearing twee outfits or engaging in the latest Pinterest trend activities. I don't care about seeming cool to my real life friends on social media. What's most important in my life right now is that my girls need a loving mama. Full stop.

Truth is, I used to care about making my life, my home, my activities seem more exciting than they really are. It's like a switch flipped, because . . . I just don't anymore. I'm quite happy with my life. My real life. And the people who are actually in my real life don't care about any of this nonsense. Sure, I dream of living near the ocean or of having an impeccably clean home or having enough money to buy all organic ingredients for carefully crafted cookbook dinners each and every night.

Who doesn't on some level?

The difference now is that I have stopped trying to pretend for others. I often joke with Stephen and sing the line from Hamilton that goes "We don't need a legacy . . . we don't need money . . ." because that's how I feel. We are living comfortably in a suburb to nowhere important in a home that is plenty big enough for us. We have food on the table, often from Aldi, often the same meals on repeat for several weeks at a time to save money. Ada goes to a wonderful school. We have a beautiful baby who is growing leaps and bounds. I am able to use my college degree to work from home. Stephen may have a teacher's salary, but he has his summers off.

There's a lot to love here, even if we aren't jetting off on vacations all the time or keeping up with the Joneses in other ways. And there are so very many ways to keep up these days, from the clothes we wear to the fitness boutiques we attend. (BTW: Have you seen the movie? I've got a major crush on David Duchovny. It's a good watch. Makes me think of blogging! Also -- what does it mean if you live in an area that doesn't even have fancy fitness boutiques? )

Where did these musings come from? A friend of mine recently shared an article she had found online about wanting to live a mediocre life. The author of the article asks "what if all I want is a small, slow, simple life?" And this whole thing has resonated with me. Blogging and living online in any way, shape, or form (blogger or not!) for so long has a way of skewing the importance of things in life. In the end, all that matters is finding joy and fulfillment in the things you do. In the people you're around. On the path you follow in your real life.

And I could be enough,
And we could be enough,
That would be enough...

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