Sunday, October 31, 2021

Rosiebebe at Almost 3.5 Years Old

A. Her Schedule – Left to her own devices, she's wake up at the crack of dawn and go to bed whenever we go to bed, but her bedtime is 8:00 p.m.

B. Her Size – She's wearing size 5 clothing or extra-small, which is only one size smaller than our 6-year old. She's wearing size 10 shoes.

C. Her Personality – She is a pretty outgoing, friendly child. It's been weird having her spend basically half her entire life during a global pandemic when socializing (like at the playground) has been discouraged.

D. Her Favorite Things
  • Colors: Pink and red.
  • Shows and Movies: She still likes Disney movies but she watches a lot of YouTube videos too.
  • Books: She does not have a favorite book.
  • Toys and Play: She still really likes babydolls and all of the accessories. She also likes Duplos. She also likes tiny toys like Hatchimals. And she likes PlayDoh.
  • Art: She loves drawing with markers (both dry erase and regular).
  • Activities: She loves socializing with other friends, be they younger or older than her. She is drawn to babies like a moth to a flame - she loves meeting babies and enthusiastically saying "So cute! So cuddly!" to them.
  • Time of Day: She is an early bird.
  • Bedding: She has a pink blanket and a rainbow-colored pillow.
  • Clothing: She'll wear anything but she tends to be a girlie-girl if left to her own devices. She likes floral prints and the Houndstooth pattern in particular.
  • Foods: Besides milk, she likes chocolate and other sweet things.
  • Animals: She's not as into animals as her older brothers. That being said, she likes puppies and birds.
  • Heroes/Characters: Frozen's Elsa and Anna.
E. Things She Does Not Like – Bedtime. Eating most foods - she is a picky eater and is quick to label foods as "Ewww, gross!"

F. What She’s Thinking About – She is really into babies, including her own little brother. She declares her love for him daily. For the most part, he tolerates her affection, but it is a bit of a lopsided relationship.

G. Surprises – I'm a bit surprised that she's so into babies as I was not when I was a little girl. Though that may be because I didn't have a lot of exposure to babies whereas she has met them at daycare (pre-pandemic), not to mention living with a baby brother in her bedroom!

H. Best & Worst Things –
  • The best thing(s): She has a pretty good relationship with her oldest brother.
  • The worst thing(s): She is so incredibly loud. She talks loudly and continuously, and she sings even louder.
I. Family and Friends – She has a little buddy who is slightly older than her - her "buddy" is one of my BFF's children. Sometimes, they sweetly talk, hold hands, and play together. Other times, they fight bitterly over any given toy that they both want to play with at the same time.

J. Parenting or What I’m Doing Differently
 – Parenting during a pandemic is a weird experience. On the one hand, I am getting far more time near her than I otherwise would. On the other hand, ordinary experiences like taking her to the store aren't happening. She is still very confused by the concept of stores - places where you go and see things in packages but they're not yours, and you can't open them or take them with you when you leave.

K. Milestones – She's pretty good at counting and knowing her letters.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Serious Kiddo at Age 8





A. His Schedule – Left to his own devices, he'd wake up at around 7 a.m. and go to bed at around 9:00 p.m., but his bedtime is 8:30 p.m.

B. His Size – He's wearing a mostly size 7 clothes and he's wearing size 1 shoes.

C. His Personality – He's a contemplative child. He is very gentle, patient, kind, and forgiving with his younger siblings.

D. His Favorite Things
  • Colors: Blue.
  • Shows and Movies: He likes watching other people play video games on YouTube.
  • Books: He reads a lot. His favorite type of books is graphic novels (particularly humorous ones), but he also likes Pokémon guidebooks.
  • Toys and Play: He barely plays with toys anymore. He likes playing Minecraft on his laptop.
  • Art: He's not very into art, but he's still pretty good at getting his point across when he needs to create drawings to accompany his writing assignments. He enjoys working with clay though. He also likes crafts, like jewelry-making with Rainbow Bands.
  • Activities: Besides the aforementioned video game playing, and watching other people play video games, he likes to read. He enjoys quiet activities like putting together a puzzle.
  • Time of Day: I think he enjoys his afternoons at SACC (school-aged childcare) the most.
  • Bedding: He has a blanket with stars on it that is just like his brother's, and a soft blue pillow.
  • Clothing: He'll wear pretty much anything, but he has a preference for blue and for soft, cool clothing (e.g. shorts not pants, and cotton not denim).
  • Foods: Besides milk, he likes raisin bread and American cheese.
  • Animals: He still loves our dog, cat, and rabbit. He also likes Triceratops, sharks, and snakes.
  • Heroes/Characters: Mewtwo from Pokémon.
E. Things He Does Not Like – Meat.

F. What He’s Thinking About – He thinks he can sense how animals are feeling. This year, he wants a Halloween-themed birthday celebration again.

G. Surprises – I'm a bit surprised that he's not more into art.

H. Best & Worst Things –
  • The best thing(s): That he's a great big brother. That he plans well, such as budgeting for things he wants to purchase.
  • The worst thing(s): He sometimes gets very hyped up, and then it's difficult to get him to wind back down.

I. Family and Friends – He has a few close friends at school, including a "girlfriend" that he always sits with. He really enjoys spending time with my mom  she is probably his favorite person to hang out with.

J. Parenting or What I’m Doing Differently
 – Honestly, I'm trying really hard to create good habits and rituals (e.g. "movie night") but it is so hard with a tiny house and so many people.

K. Milestones – He is above grade level in both reading and math. He devours reading material.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Bear at 6.25 Years Old

A. His Schedule – Left to his own devices, he'd wake up at 8 a.m. or even later, and go to bed at 10:30 p.m. But he needs to wake at 7:15 a.m. for school, and his bedtime is 8:30 p.m.

B. His Size – He's wearing a mix of size 6 and size 7 clothes and he's wearing size 1 shoes.

C. His Personality – He's an empathetic, energetic child who loves to party.

D. His Favorite Things
  • Colors: He likes bright colors like red and he likes "rainbow." He also likes Fortnite purple.
  • Shows and Movies: He likes anything with the Avengers, particularly The Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Books: He can't quite grasp reading yet, but he likes learning about science, particularly rocks and gems.
  • Toys and Play: Toy weapons, particulars Nerf Guns, which he collects.
  • Art: He's a creative guy who loves creating art, especially if glitter is involved.
  • Activities: He loves playing video games and watching YouTube videos of other people playing video games. Besides that, he likes playing outside.
  • Time of Day: For all the energy that he exudes, he likes nighttime a lot.
  • Bedding: He has a blanket with stars on it, and he still has his rainbow pillow.
  • Clothing: Unlike his older brother, he cares a lot about how he looks and wants "cooler clothes." His newest item is sneakers with flames on them.
  • Foods: Besides milk, he likes plain potato chips, meat, and raspberries.
  • Animals: He still loves our dog and cat. I would say his favorite animal might be dragons. I asked him, and he said it's peacocks, because he "likes rainbow-colored birds"
  • Heroes/Characters: The Hulk. I wish there was more Hulk merch.
E. Things He Does Not Like – Weirdly, none of my kids like pizza. Chocolate. Feeling excluded.

F. What He’s Thinking About – I think he worries about how he stacks up to others, which may be partly because he and his brother are so close in age. I know it bugs him that his older brother can read chapter books while he's struggling with even short words.

G. Surprises – I guess I am surprised at how quiet and "boring" it is every time he has a one-on-one sleepover with his grandma.

H. Best & Worst Things –
  • The best thing(s): I get a kick out of how artistic he his, combining supplies in unusual and effective ways. I'm glad that at least one of the kids is into art like my mom.
  • The worst thing(s): Emotional regulation is still challenging.

I. Family and Friends – I'm sad that some of his closest friends have drifted apart from us, either due to busy schedules on their end, or to them moving.

J. Parenting or What I’m Doing Differently
 – There's only so much space in our schedule. I wish I had the time to read to him one-on-one on a nightly basis. If we do it a couple of times a week, that's a win.

K. Milestones – Seeing him write his name on everything is pretty cute.



Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Last Son, Age 9.5 Months

A. His Schedule – He wakes up by 7 a.m., if not earlier. He takes a morning nap, starting some time between 10 and 11 a.m. We put him to bed for the night by 8 p.m., but sometimes as early as 6:30 p.m.  it just depends on how tired he is.

B. His Size – He's wearing mostly size 18-month clothing at age 9.5 months, but he has a size 12-month pair of baby jeans and a size 2T shorts romper that he wears regularly. At his 9-month (really 9.5 months) well-child appointment, his head circumference was 18-1/4 inches and his weight was 21 lb.

C. His Personality – He's a pretty awesome baby. He loves cords and fiddling with small items. He's friendly and relatively quiet (except when he's bouncing vigorously in his Jumperoo). He loves his oldest brother and thinks he's hilarious.

D. His Favorite Things
  • Colors: It is too soon to tell, but I'm hoping he likes yellow. His oldest brother's favorite color is blue, Teddybear's colors are green and red, and his sister's colors are red and pink, so yellow is "open" for the taking. He also looks really cute in green.
  • Shows and Movies: He doesn't really like watching children's programming – he'd rather make a beeline for open baby gates or electrical cords.
  • Books: We need to do a better job reading to him.
  • Toys and Play: We got him a cord / tube toy that he likes, and he has a Walk 'n Play (aka Musical Walker) that he likes.
  • Art: I don't think we've ever done an art project with him.
  • Activities: He's a sensory guy – he loves digging his hands into the grass, or mulch. He also loves mealtime.
  • Time of Day: Probably the morning, right when he gets up.
  • Bedding: He has a couple of mint-colored blankets.
  • Clothing: It seems like I am always putting him in the same two outfits - my favorites are this two-way zippered romper and a John Deere pajamas set (similar set).
  • Foods: Besides milk, he likes French fries and green beans. He eats almost everything we let him try.
  • Animals: It's too soon to tell what he likes, except that he seems to be interested in our dog and cat, to the extent that his eyes get wide and happy when he sees them.
  • Heroes/Characters: It's too soon to tell.
E. Things He Does Not Like – Being hungry – he can get hangry.

F. What He’s Thinking About – He likes following us around the house, and hates getting stuck on the opposite side of the baby gate from us.

G. Surprises – I cannot believe how lucky we are that we get to live with such an amazing baby.

H. Best & Worst Things –
  • The best thing(s): He's a healthy baby who sleeps reasonably well and seems to be a fan of me (enjoys my company).
  • The worst thing(s): This is the last time we're planning to be the parents of a baby – it's hard to leave the phase of cute baby feet, chunky baby thighs, cute baby clothes...

I. Family and Friends – Unfortunately, everyone is pretty busy. I wish our friends and family had slightly less hectic schedules so we could hang out at the park, or our house, or their house, relaxing. The baby would love to see them.

J. Parenting or What I’m Doing Differently
 – With each kid we add to our family, I relax a bit more. I also get more efficient, what some would call "rising to the occasion." I evolve because I have to. Others have said "you'll find grace when you need it" [and not beforehand]. With every kid, I also become more weary of screens  childhood is so short, and screens seems to eat away a lot of it. That being said, if I'm in the shower or need to vacuum, I'm thankful that I have the option to provide a safe way to distract them so that I can accomplish what is necessary.

K. Milestones – He now has two teeth on the bottom and is getting his two upper front teeth. He can't quite pull up yet, but he's getting there. We got a coffee table so hopefully that will help teach him to couch-surf.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Four Christmas Gifts

The saying goes:

Give them something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

It's minimalism at its finest. At my particular household, here's why it didn't work for us:

  • The kids thought the wearable item was replacing a toy.
  • Most of my children can't read, and one doesn't even like being read to. Also, they kids thought the books were replacing toys.
  • If they truly need something, why make them wait until Christmas?

For what I do instead, see that information in a future post!

That being said, I can see how the "want-need-wear-read" system could work really well for some households.

Here are my "want-need-wear-read" suggestions for each category, by age.


Baby to 2 Years Old


2 to 5 Years Old


5 to 12 Years Old


12 to 18 Years Old

Friday, August 27, 2021

Post Ideas

Here are some posts I'm considering writing, organized by topic.

Minimalism
  • Halloween, simplified
  • Simple Halloween-Themed Party
  • Christmas Gifts at Our House
  • Christmas 4-Gift Saying
  • Family Christmas Lists
  • Christmas, Simplified
  • Hiking with Kids, simplified
  • Coffee at home, simplified
  • Simple Floral-Themed Party
  • Colors in Your Home, simplified
  • Kids' Books, simplified
  • Simple Doughnut-Themed Party
  • Thanksgiving, simplified
  • Kids' Capsule Wardrobes
  • Kids' Shoes, simplified
  • Giving Gifts, simplified
  • Adopting a Vacation Mindset at Home
  • Getting Fit at Home, simplified
  • Going to the Beach with Kids, simplified
  • The Kids' Toys that Failed Us
  • The Kids' Toys that We Loved
  • Solo Travel, simplified
  • Travel with Kids, simplified
  • Kids' Lunches, simplified
  • Useful Baby Shower Gifts
  • Bulk Holiday Gifts
Family posts
  • Kid Updates
Organization posts
  • Organization Products I Use
  • Fridge and Freezer Organization
Finance posts
  • My (very intentional) Splurges
  • Subscribe and Save, some thoughts
  • Charitable Donations for a Minimalist
Decorating
  • Buying Easy to Care For Home Goods
  • My Living Room
  • My Master Bedroom
  • Miami-Themed Moodboards
Product Recommendations
  • Newborn Must-Haves for a Minimalist
  • Home Cleaning Products, my favorites
  • Open-Ended Kids' Toys
  • Makeup, my favorites
  • Pet Cat Must-Haves for a Minimalist
  • Pet Dog Must-Haves for a Minimalist
  • Pet Rabbit Must-Haves for a Minimalist
Arts and Crafts

  • Art-Themed Party
  • "Neon Night" Party

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Halloween, Simplified

 Here's my minimalist take on Halloween that hopefully makes it simpler for you!

Costumes

What I Avoid: Letting my kids pick whatever costume they want, and doing a family theme.

Why? Two Anecdotes:

The Problem with "Choosing Anything" One year, my child picked a very obscure animated movie character, so there was no ready-made kit to buy. I scoured the internet as well as brick-and-mortar stores for the items to assemble this costume myself. Of course no one knew who my child was dressed up as. But the biggest problem was that for all the time and effort I spent on this endeavor, my child doesn't even remember the costume (he barely remembers the movie that inspired it). Not to mention that there is no chance any of my other children will want to re-use this costume, if it even fits them during autumn time.

The Problem with Group-Style Costumes Another year, we tried (in vain) to do "Ghostbusters" as a family. But I couldn't find a costume in my daughter's size. And I couldn't find a ready-made Jeanne costume for myself (from the animated series). And I couldn't find a Slimer costume for the dog. And I can't sew. And then Halloween got cancelled anyway because this was 2020. I have the same problem with "family pajama" photoshoots - it is very difficult to find one thing that comes in everyone's individual size, is affordable, and is equally liked by everyone.

What I Do Instead: Buying some parts of costumes that can be reused (Itemize It), buying play costumes that can be used for Halloween as well as the rest of the year for pretend play (Year-Round Play), and buying pajamas that double as costumes (Pajama-ize It).

How this Can Work:

Itemize It Say you want to do a Disney's Elsa costume. Yes, you could just buy that ready-made, and I would support that instead of making one yourself (unless you love making costumes). But, you could also buy the following items: plain blue dress, cloak, blue gloves, blue shoes, and kids' costume jewelry. You could then re-use the dress and some of the other items as part of your child's regular or dress-up / costume-play wardrobes. In that case of the jewelry, you could save a couple pieces and give away the rest either as Halloween treats or to your children's' friends.

Year-Round Pretend-Play Melissa and Doug do a lot of this sort of generic costume which could totally be worn on Halloween, as well as year-round as part of a costume trunk. These types of costumes also work really well in terms of handing them down from one child to the next, and the sizing is typically generous / loose-fitting enough to wear for more than a single Halloween. Here are some good ones: a doctor costume, a firefighter costume, a police officer costume, and a construction worker costume. You can add everyday wardrobe items to these costumes, such as red rain boots for the firefighter or yellow rain boots for the construction worker.

Pajama-ize It Instead of buying a Ninja Turtle costume, you could buy Ninja Turtle pajamas. Instead of buying a Superman costume, you could buy Superman pajamas. Instead of buying a Batman costume, you could buy Batman pajamas. Your child will also be super comfortable, I promise. Usually, I also find that pajamas are more durable than traditional costumes, and/or less expensive.

Trick-or-Treating

What I Avoid: Long, tiring walks hunting for candy with special-purpose buckets.

Why? One Anecdote:

The Problem with the Seemingly "Endless" Trick-or-Treat Walk One year, I had two of my young children with me. The youngest was too young to walk the whole thing, but quite heavy for me to carry. The other tired easily, even before his candy bucket got heavy. Not to mention that trick-or-treating happens at night, usually after a long day of work and/or school / daycare.

What I Do Instead:

Get a Wagon I bring a wagon that the children can ride in when they get tired. It also doubles as a way to haul their candy loot and any costume props or masks that the children tire of holding on to themselves. This wagon is also great for everyday neighborhood walks, going to the zoo, or going to the beach, etc. to haul either children, toys, or snacks (or all three).

Get Some Boring Buckets I also give the children plain buckets for their candy instead of traditional Halloween buckets, as the plain ones can be re-used throughout the year for other events like Easter or a Treasure Hunt, or even for cleaning or organizing.

Curtail the Walk I also limit our route to only a couple of streets, then return home. Waiting at home, I have a bag of the children's favorite candy to supplement their haul. In our area, you sometimes walk down an entire street where not only are none of the house participating, but the homes don't do the courtesy of turning off their porch light, so the child walks all the way to the door only to be met with disappointment. Other homes have jarringly spooky yard decorations, always a worry for more sensitive children.

Parties

What I Avoid: I do not enjoy food prep, so never again will I make all of the cute Pinterest Halloween foods. I also don't have a lot of storage space, so I try to have my Halloween décor be all consumables / disposables. I will also forgo structured kids' activities.

Why? Four Anecdotes:

The Problem with Cute Halloween Foods Kids are usually not adventurous eaters. One year for a Halloween-themed kids' party, I made "spider" sandwiches, "bone" snacks, string cheese "ghosts," and a "pumpkin" cheese ball. Do you know what the kids wanted to eat instead? Chips. Lots and lots of chips.

The Problem with Unique Halloween Foods One year, a friend created "black" chicken wings (similar). In addition to the dye being a bit purple or green in some places, and people's bowel movements being strange colors following the event, and the food dye being somewhat costly in order to buy it in the quantities that were needed, many guests simply found the food too weird to eat, so they didn't even try it.

The Problem with Perennial Décor I personally do not have the space to store bulky Halloween décor the other eleven months of the year. One year, we bought a wooden scarecrow decoration (similar) for our yard. The next three years, I either forgot it existed or forgot where we'd stowed it. Eventually, the sign got bent and rusty and we discarded it.

The Problem with Structured Activities Kids like to do things on their own terms. Want to have a relay race at your party? I've tried an failed. Want to have the kids play a Halloweeny tic-tac-toe game with spider game pieces? Yeah, the kids just ignored it. Want to have the kids craft their own spiders? This "fun" kit was not too fun (the pieces were hard to pop out). But my least fun idea, judging by how much the kids ignored it, seemed to be my printed off Halloween word searches. The problem with all of these activities is that they were too rigid. 

What I Do Instead:

Do Ordinary Party Food If cooking is your jam, go ahead and get creative, but I personally am sticking to ordinary party food: chips, juice, carrot sticks, cheese pizza, etc.

Do Consumable / Disposable Décor If you're okay with disposable serving ware, buy some themed plates or napkins. If you do a solid color such as orange for your serving ware then you can use them for the entire fall, such as for Thanksgiving. If you're okay with balloons, buy some Halloween balloons. One year, I paid a Party Store to fill my balloons with helium, but it only lasted 24 hours; I now just blow them up at home with ordinary air. My easiest and cheapest decorating trick is to just buy some solid-color bring crepe paper and tape it to the walls or ceiling.

Do an "Easter" Egg Hunt But temporary Halloween tattoos were somewhat interesting to the kids. And a really big hit was a Halloween-themed egg hunt - it's just like an Easter egg hunt where the eggs are filled with candy, but I used black plastic "Easter" eggs.

Do an Open-Ended Activity Table This could be you supplying random craft supplies in Halloweeny colors, or paper and Halloweeny stickers, and letting the kids make their own thing at your "Craft Table." Or, you could supply cookie or cupcake decorating items (e.g. Halloween sprinkles) at your "Decorating Table." The point is that the kids can approach this type of activity on their terms.

For more Halloween ideas, see my post titled Simple Halloween Themed Party.

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