Tag: kids

March 2024 Project Goals

March 2024 Project Goals

March is upon us and it is time for new monthly goals. This year my focus is on finishing up projects that I have so it should come as no surprise that my main goal for March is to work through my project backlog. I […]

2023 Summer Reads for Kids – What my Kids are Reading this Summer.

2023 Summer Reads for Kids – What my Kids are Reading this Summer.

I thought I would make a list of books my kids are reading during summer of 2023 as a fun way of tracking where my kids are at and to share book ideas with other book loving families. Last year I posted a couple of […]

Arboretum in April

Arboretum in April

Recently we went to the Washington Arboretum near the University of Washington in Seattle. We have gone there many times in the past but have not been there for quite some time. We love to walk the trails and learn about the plants from all over the world. In the past we have met up with friends but this time we ended up just going as a family on a day off from school. The park does get busy on the weekends, especially when the weather is nice but if you get there early enough the parking is easy to find.

One of the new things we found was a garden from New Zealand. We loved a bunch of plants we saw, particularly some of the grasses. There was also a fabulous view from the gazebo at the top of the hill which the kids loved.

These trees were part of the New Zealand section of the Pacific Connections Garden which featured plants from all over the Pacific. Even though parts of this garden were installed as far back as 2013 we had not been to this part of the Arboretum since then and it was great to see how the gardeners had restored this section of the park. It was beautifully done.

Up the hill from the New Zealand section was a bunch of gigantic Japanese Camellia plants. The flowers were as big as my hand! We loved seeing these, especially since they bloomed the same week as our camellias at home which was exciting for the kids.

I tried very hard to get a good picture of a salmon berry flower the last time we were out on Whidbey Island and was very unsuccessful. I could not get it to focus because there was just enough wind my phone couldn’t find a spot to focus on. I did however get this picture at the Arboretum and I am pretty happy with it. Salmon Berries are native to the Pacific Northwest and are some of the first native foods for bees in our area. I love their flowers and the kids look forward to eating them every summer.

After looking over the gardens at the top of the hill we wandered down to the playground for a bit then back up the hill. We took a detour after looking at some rhododendrons to check out a swampy area near a stream. I believe these are ostrich ferns but I could be wrong. They were very beautiful.

What is a swampy PNW area with out skunk cabbage? Even though they smell pretty badly I love their yellow color. I tried to get a close up but didn’t want to damage any plants. These were a nice bright spot amongst the green.

We were lucky enough to hit the tail end of the cherry blossoms at UW. We did not walk up to campus to look at the larger collection but checked out the ones along the large path at the Arboretum. We love cherry blossoms at our house and it was nice to see them in a much less crowded area. They had both pink and white and both were amazing!

 

We love the Arboretum and have plans on going back more frequently this year so the kids can see the changes in the trees and plants over a period of time. I love that we have this place in the city where you can go see a variety of plants and everything is free. In the past we have taken picnics and enjoyed an afternoon out in nature.

 

Links:

Washington Park Arboretum

Pacific Connections Garden

 

Tulip Fields In Bloom

2022 Goals End of Year Reflection

2022 Goals End of Year Reflection

2022 was a year with mixed results for me. As I reflect on my 2022 goals post from March of this year I am struck by how different my year turned out from where it started. I started the year gung ho about my career […]

June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

June 2022 Final Grocery Spending

Our June grocery goal was to eat through our fridge and freezer as much as possible and for the most part we reached this goal. I am super proud of our progress! Up until the last week of June we kept our spending under $300 […]

Our Favorite Board Books

Our Favorite Board Books

To compliment our summer reading lists for first and third graders I made the below list of our favorite board books for younger kids. We still read many of these books to our kids even though they are way past the board book phase!

 

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Peek-A-Boo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. This is hands down my favorite baby book. Even though we love the Jolly Postman series we did not discover this baby book until we had our youngest. The rhyming is superbly written and the peek-a-boo aspect of the book kept our very active baby engaged enough for me to actually read it to him all the way through. I frequently give this book out for new parents since we love it so much and it isn’t as well known.

 

Mustache Baby by Brigit Heos. Mustache Baby was given to our youngest by our oldest daughter and it is delightfully silly. The baby is born with a mustache that changes it’s behavior and it was a great way to show a baby’s perspective on how their moods change.

 

Where’s Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz. This book and the others in the series were favorites of my kids. This book goes through different body parts playing peek-a-boo with lift-a-flaps to teach babies where everything is. My kids loved reading these, especially when I gave the wrong answers and they had to correct me.

 

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton is another favorite bought by our oldest daughter. This book follows four figures trying to catch a bird. Only the smallest one figures out how to make friends and get close to the bird. This is a great book because a lot of the story is in the pictures which kids will pick up on while the parents are reading out loud.

 

Baby Faces by DK. This book was a huge hit with my kids and I was able to start “reading” it with them from a young age by just looking at the pictures and talking about the different emotions. My kids loved seeing the different babies and each had their favorite baby. This is another book that I give to new parents since babies love it so much.

 

Fire Engine Man by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha. My son loved this book when he was younger. It is about a little boy who pretends to be a fire fighter and what things he would do. It is written from the perspective of a little boy which really helped draw him in.

 

Count a Block by Christopher Franceschelli. This book teaches kids to count to 100 and if that seems overwhelming for a young child, the way it is written is fabulous and both of my younger kids learned to count at a young age with this book. We love the surprises that are intertwined and that it shows how things change like short hair to long hair, eggs to chickens etc.. We are fans of the whole series!

 

Last but not least, you can’t do a board book list without Sandra Boynton. She is a huge hit amongst the younger crowd and I have linked a few of our kids’ favorite books below. She is amazingly silly and has so many books that kids with any interest can find something that they like!

 

Moo, Baa, La La La!

 

Blue Hat, Green Hat (the OOPS book)

 

The Going to Bed Book

 

Happy Birthday, Little Pookie

 

Thank you for reading our board book list! There are so many other good books out there it is hard to pick just a few. Leave some of your favorites in the comments!

 

Summer Reads for Rising First Graders

 

Summer Reads for Rising 3rd Graders

Summer Reads for Rising First Graders

Summer Reads for Rising First Graders

With summer starting I thought I would make a list of some of our favorite book series to read over the summer. I just graduated my third kindergartener and a lot of the other moms in my youngest’s class have been asking me for book […]

May 2022 Final Grocery Spending

We are working on our grocery spending for 2022 and our goal for May was to do a low spend month. Unfortunately we ended up a little bit swamped during the middle of the month and we both spent too much money and I did […]

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

June 2022 Spending Goals and Mid-Year Check In

Our 2022 spending goals have already gone a little bit sideways with me leaving the workforce in March. I left my job for both health and family reasons and it has thrown our budget into a hurricane of uncertainty. For now our goal is to spend as little as possible across the board so I can continue to not work through at least the end of the year. I read over our 2022 Spending Goals and for the most part we have been sticking to them except for me bumping up my 401k. June is a good time for us to review and revise our goals and this year is no exception.

Below are our goals for the year with a new recap:

  1. Max out IRAs – Mine is done. My husband still needs to max his out but we may have to wait until we get his bonus next year.
  2. Increase our 401k contributions – We increased my husband’s by 1% in March and hope to keep it there until the end of the year. I no longer have a 401k since I am not working.
  3. Save, save save. We reinstated our automatic savings, upped our investment amounts and increased our kids’ college savings amounts. Now that I am not working we may have to reduce our regular savings BUT we do have a nice chunk in our cash emergency fund already so it should be ok.
  4. Decrease our grocery spendingWe have been working on this all year. We did both a pantry and freezer clean out, tried a no spend month and meal planning. This is still a work in progress but we are doing another freezer clean out for June and are making progress.
  5. Be more mindful of our spending – We continue to work on our mindful spending. I have been resisting the urge to buy clothes for the kids and trying to do laundry more often but they are growing so fast it is hard to keep up. We are also not shopping as often which greatly reduces the temptation to pick things up randomly.
Free Lunches.
Free Lunches.

We are also taking advantage of the last couple of months of free universal lunches and breakfasts. I linked our latest video below and here.  This program ends in June but I firmly believe that all kids should be receiving lunch at schools for free without the stigma that is attached to it when only low income kids receive it. Getting lunches from the school has helped our budget out tremendously and as I discovered this week, they are giving tons of extra food to help families out over the summer when the program is no longer available. I am really hoping another bill passes so that all kids can have free meals again. Grocery prices have increased significantly over the past year and a lot of families that do not qualify for assistance are struggling.

 

Our budget resets every July since we pay tuition for the kids only 10 months out of the year. We usually don’t get a tuition statement with the exact amount of the payments until mid-June. I put an estimate of the amount when we get the tuition amounts in February and look at our spending for the rest of the year. This year since I am not working we do qualify for a little bit of financial aid but we are still going to have a very tight budget. We knew this though when we decided that I would leave my job and have cut our spending on vacations and activities with the kids (not their regular sports yet). We also did not sign up for summer camp every week of the summer which saved us nearly $5,000. Summer camp is super expensive and this year the prices definitely went up.

Camping at Whidbey.
Camping at Whidbey.

Instead of taking a bunch of expensive trips we are going to be doing day trips and camping out at my dad’s house on Whidbey. Camping out there is nearly free and I absolutely love that the kids are growing up helping my dad build his cabin and develop a place for family to hang out for years to come. We are putting them to work helping with clearing the land and planting some crops for my dad to harvest later. My oldest is also starting her cabin building out there this summer so the kids will help with that as well.

Beach
Beach view.

Some of our day trip ideas so far include hiking, the beach and visiting local parks. Mr. Oscoey has a bunch of PTO to use up so he is going to take some time off as well this summer so we can do some trips as a family during the week when everything is less crowded. I may break down and find a couple of days down in Oregon later this summer but it will depend on how we do for our spending in June and July. For now we are planning on staying local and as frugal as possible.

 

How are you cutting back your spending this year?

 

2022 Goals

 

Garden Update 04.30.22

Garden Update 04.30.22

Garden Update 04.30.22

Welcome to the end of April when our garden starts to take off. We have been celebrating the emergence of our asparagus and planted many flowers and I am super excited for the summer when all of our plants start taking off. I am still […]


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