Fun At Acting & Piano Class

I've been wanting to get Phoenix & Ariana into an acting class for a while now. They went to their first class last month at a program put on by our local metropark. In a nutshell, it's an acting class for the preschool-8-year-old crowd and focuses on activities and games that introduce kids to movement, rhythm, drama and character. They both had a blast at their last class, and couldn't wait to go again.

Phoenix was very comfortable during this second class, and got right into acting. Ariana, however, was a bit more timid. I think it may have been because there were a lot of new faces that she wasn't comfortable being around. I notice that she tends to be more comfortable when she's around people she knows well. Either way, they both said they had a fun time, and that's what really matters. This time, they even wrote their own play for the finale, choosing the character, plot, costumes, etc.

And, after class one of the days helpers gave Phoenix and Ariana some quick piano lessons as well. It was on the piano that Ariana really became comfortable, and it was fun to watch them have fun together.

To me, this is what homeschooling and unschooling is all about. It's about living life, having fun, and giving yourself plenty of time to experience new things. It's about meeting people and learning something new from them. It's about showing up early so you have a little more time to spend where you're going. It's about staying late to a class so someone can teach you to play the piano. 

Have your kids ever taken an acting or piano class? Have you? What did you think? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)

What I Wore Wednesday

Fashion? Me? Well, I'm working on it. I've been out of the fashion loop for a while now. But, inspired by a few fashionistas who keep posting ridiculously cute outfits they wear, I've decided to join in on the fun in a series I'm calling What I Wore Wednesday.

Today is another library day. After seeing how my jeans looked in my first What I Wore Wednesday post, I was motivated to buy a brand new pair of jeans. I'd never thought I'd be a skinny jeans girl, but when I see them on everyone else, they really look amazing, so I figured it was worth a try. Today was my first attempt to pull together an outfit with my brand new skinny jeans.

Super Skinny Jeans - American Eagle
White Tank - Kohls
Plaid Shirt - Hollister
Necklace - Premiere Jewelry
Shoes - Kohls

I'm Linking Up With:
    Have you tried skinny jeans? What do you think? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

    What I'm Reading

    I know e-readers have been about for a while now, but I've just started getting on board. I never though I'd be an e-reader person, but I love that I can read a book on my iPod while I'm rocking Ariana to sleep in the living room. I had tried books, but between having lights on and the noise from the flipping pages, it just wasn't working. I had recalled there being a Kindle app for iPod, so I downloaded it, and haven't looked back since.

    I've always loved reading, so it feels awesome to get back into the swing. Here's what I'm reading right now. 

    How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett

    I've been on a bit of a productivity kick lately. I seem to be noticing a lot of women I know being super-productive lately. Not content to simply appreciate the work of others as I coast along, I've decided to become a bit more productive myself. This book as certainly helped me as well as a few other resources... but that's another post! At only 36 pages, it's also a quick read. After all, the book is about being productive!

    On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

    This is another book that came from a desire for self-improvement. As I was scrolling through my Goodreads, I noticed a blogger I admire (Dear Crissy) reading quite a few books on improving her writing. Well, if a blogger I look up to can improve her writing, certainly, I can improve mine! So, after a search for good books, I decided upon On Writing Well by William Zinsser - based on the fact it is well-liked by writers, available for download on my iPod's Kindle app, and, of course, free. :) I'm only 8% through this book, but am looking forward to diving into it a bit more once I finish a few other books first.

    Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

    Years ago, I got a few of the Pretty Little Liars books for my sister for her birthday. Years later, the books have become an amazing television series, and I've found myself completely in love with the show. Looking for a bit of a fun,guilty pleasure read, I picked up the first book in the Pretty Little Liars book. Overall, I'm very impressed with it. As I read along, I can re-live the stories I first learned to love on television. Right now, this is my go-to book when I read. I absolutely love it! It's also a free Kindle download, so get it while it's still free!

    Paradise Valley (The Daughters of Caleb Bender Book #1) by Dale Cramer

    This was actually the first Kindle book I downloaded. I've always been fascinated by the Amish, so a story like this was naturally intriguing to me. I love how the romance escalates... from quick glances, to eventually taking the big step to holding hands when nobody is looking. I love the sweet innocence of the characters. While it's certainly not the intense page-turner, it's still a pretty decent book. I'll likely start reading this again once I finish Pretty Little Liars.

    What are you reading? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

    What I Wore Wednesday

    Fashion? Me? I know, it sounds crazy. I've been out of the fashion loop for a while now. But, inspired by a few fashionistas who keep posting ridiculously cute outfits they wear, I've decided to join in on the fun in a series I'm calling What I Wore Wednesday.

    Today is our library day, so I was looking for something fun, but not too fancy. I haven't yet been bitten by the fall bug, and am very much in love with colorful clothes. I love this skirt - it was handmade in Thailand, and something I don't wear nearly enough.

    Photo Credit: Ariana Brown

    Skirt - Etsy
    Necklace - gift from friends in Brazil
    Top - Express
    Shoes - Kohls

    I'm Linking Up With:
    Are you ready for fall, or still into summer looks? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

    What I Wore Wednesday

    I mentioned how I was feeling in a bit of a rut lately. Well, I think I know the perfect way out. I've actually started watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians for the first time, and it really has me interested in fashion. I'm no Kardashian, but I think it'd be fun to focus a tad bit on fashion in my life. So... here it is... a fashion & style post I'm calling What I Wore Wednesday. :)

    Here's what I wore for a moms night out dinner at Quaker Steak & Lube. I haven't shopped at Walmart for clothes in ages, but between hand-me-down jeans from my sister and some old, old, shoes, I'm sure wearing more than enough from there!

    Lace-Trimmed Tank - H&M
    Faded Glory Jeans - Walmart
    White Stag Shoes - Walmart 

    Taking this photo reminds me that I really do need to get a new pair of jeans for the winter. I have exactly zero jeans that fit me well right now. My go-to store is usually Express. They tend to fit the best and be the most flattering on mt body. Who knows, maybe I'll be sporting some new jeans in my next fashion post! ;)

    I'm Linking Up With:
    Where is your favorite place to shop for jeans? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :) 

    The Tablecloth

    "Ken have you seen the black circular table cloth?" I yell loudly from the living room.

    It's Sunday. The day our family has dedicated to cleaning the house. Only it's not we that usually clean the house. It's more just me. So I suppose today is the day our family has dedicated to have me clean the house. Because that never happens. 

    So far I've done three loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom, mopped the kitchen, and washed a few heaping piles of dishes in the sink. The table was a disaster after the pot-stickers and rice our family had for lunch today. So, I cleared off the tablecloth and got ready to throw in the washing machine. As I grabbed a recently-laundered tablecloth to put on the table, I was greeted by a disgusting sour milk smell. Gross. I grabbed a second tablecloth, and it smells even worse. 

    "Why do all of our table cloths smell like sour milk?" I wondered. I suppose a logical answer would be that somehow between a three-year-old and a five-year-old, milk has been spelled plenty of times on the tablecloths. 

    The two sour milk-tastic tablecloths got thrown into the laundry room to be washed asap. As I rummaged through drawers looking for a black circular table cloth, I was surprised that it was nowhere to be found.

    "How do we lose a tablecloth?" I wondered in my head. 

    "Ken have you seen the black circular table cloth?" I yell loudly to from the living room.

    "No... Did you check in the closet?" He yells back. "You might have put it in there thinking it was a towel." 

    Not likely, but I check anyways. I've checked everywhere else, so who knows where it could be at this point. 

    I see a black corner of fabric peeking out from underneath some towels. My heart almost skips a beat as I move the towels on top of it to see what it was. Only a pillowcase. I keep looking. Sure enough, after moving a few more towels I see it. My tablecloth. My black beautiful circular tablecloth. I quickly remove it from the pile of towels and take a quick whiff. I want to make sure the nasty milk funk hasn't gotten to this one yet too. It smells clean and I am relieved.

    I quickly walk over to our table, shake out the tablecloth, and center it perfectly on the table. I place our stainless steel napkin holder on top of the table. Our napkins are a mix of store-bought white squares, brown rectangular ones from Taco Bell, and a packaged wet wipe from Quaker Steak and Lube. I stand back and take a minute to observe the clean table. It won't stay this way for long, dinner is coming up in two hours. But for now it looks good.

    I love to hear what you have to say. Just leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every comment. :) 

    The Truth About Kids & Screen Time

    I have always been a fan of limited screen time for kids. Mostly, I limit screen time to about 60 minutes a day, but we have unplugged completely on occasion.

    I'm always interested in learning about viewpoints that challenge my own. So, when I read an article about allowing children to self-regulate television habits posted at, I was intrigued. To sum up the article, when we limit access to something, we make it important. When we allow unlimited access to something, it becomes less important. So, when we limit television, we make kids want it more.  I wasn't sure if I was sold on the idea, but I was willing to give it a try. So, for the past 7 days, we've allowed out kids to watch unlimited television, and gave them unlimited access to the Kindle & LeapPad.

    In a nutshell? I'm so not a fan of unlimited television and screen time for my kids.

    Here is what I observed.
    • They clocked in 6+ hours each of television a day. Between the two of them, my kids would, when given the chance, watch television from 9am-noon. Then, after lunch, from 1pm-4pm, and sometimes have room for a show or two after dinner. Watching television and playing Kindle/LeapPad literally became their life. And, for what it's worth, they only watched two shows, both of which were non-violent, and age-appropriate: Wild Kratts & Toopy & Binoo.
    • They weren't interested in activities they would normally be interested when the television was on. The would normally love to cuddle on the couch to read a book together, but this week, not only did they not want to listen to a book, they actually seemed to hate the idea.
    • They became aggressive. Turning off the television to eat became a battle. They became full of anger, hate and resentment because they needed to stop watching television.
    • They became impatient. Normally, if they'd call me for help, I could tell them to hold on, and then I'd take care of what they wanted. This week, if I didn't help them immediately, they became furious.
    • They became uninterested in things that were educational. Usually, I can get my kids to watch an educational DVD, read an educational book about science, etc. But, this week, they wanted nothing to do with anything educational. Both as a homeschooler and unschooler, this simply wasn't going to fly. While I consider myself an unschooler because I never force my kids to do anything educational, they're usually open to doing educational things. It'd very important to me to keep this desire for learning alive.
    I've been told that the copious amounts of television my children have been watching is part of the binging process... allowing them to have as much as they want until they no longer want it. But, I just couldn't live this way. I couldn't deal with the lack of desire to learn, the attitudes and dis-respect. So, I've officially put our unlimited screen time experiment to an end.

    AAP And Screen Time Recommendations
    • Children Under 2 - No Screen Time
    • Children Over 2 - 1-2 Hours/Day

    Can Children Be Addicted To Television?
    In short, yes. A person can be addicted to anything. Here's what the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition says in regarding use-related disorders.

    Substance use disorders span a wide variety of problems arising from substance use, and cover 11 different criteria: 
    1. 1. Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than the you meant to
    2. 2. Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to
    3. 3. Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance
    4. 4. Cravings and urges to use the substance
    5. 5. Not managing to do what you should at work, home or school, because of substance use
    6. 6. Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships
    7. 7. Giving up important social, occupational or recreational activities because of substance use
    8. 8. Using substances again and again, even when it puts the you in danger
    9. 9. Continuing to use, even when the you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance
    10. 10. Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance)
    11. 11. Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.
    The DSM 5 allows clinicians to specify how severe the substance use disorder is, depending on how many symptoms are identified. Two or three symptoms indicate a mild substance use disorder, four or five symptoms indicate a moderate substance use disorder, and six or more symptoms indicate a severe substance use disorder.

    I suppose that for some families, children may learn to monitor themselves, but it wasn't working with ours, and I wasn't willing to keep trying in hopes that one day things will change. This unlimited television experiment also reminded why I started limiting television time in the first place. It's not because television is bad, but rather because play is so good. Every minute my kids spend in front of the television is a minute they could have been playing. I'd much rather have them playing, especially since they're so young. At this age, playing is a child's work. It makes sense to take advantage of this wonderful time by giving them as many opportunities to play as possible. I already knows what works for us, and I'll be going back to that. :)

    Phoenix & Ariana's First Acting Class!

    I've been wanting to get Phoenix into an acting class for a while now. Well, today was the day. Our local metropark is offering a class "Big Stories, Little Actors". In a nutshell, it's an acting class for the preschool-8-year-old crowd. The class includes activities and games that focus on introducing kids to movement, rhythm, drama and character.

    I was actually quite impress with how well Phoenix & Ariana did. While Pheonix is quite outgoing, Ariana is much more reserved, so seeing her let loose in class was very cool to watch. The did a few acting warm-up exercises. Next, they read The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss. After the story, they did a craft, and finally acted out The Sneeches using everything they had learned in the class.

    Here's a video of Phoenix & Ariana doing some of the warm-up exercises. :)

    I thought I filmed when they acted out The Sneetches... but I didn't so... you'll just have to trust me that Phoenix and Ariana both did great!

    Have your kids ever taken an acting class? Have you? What did you think? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)

    "Oh My, Oh No!" Book Review

    I was given a complimentary copy of "Oh My, Oh No!" to facilitate this review.

    Oh My, Oh No!

    By: Lisa Charrier
    Illustrated by: Agnes Domergue

    Running Press Kids; Ages 2 - 6
    $15.95 US · $18.50 CAN · Hardcover
    8.5 x 8.5 · 32 pages
    ISBN: 978-0-7624-5409-9
    Publication Date: September 23, 2014

    Our family loves books. We also love letting kids be kids. Enter Oh My, Oh No! by Lisa Charrier, Illustrated by Agnes Domergue.  Oh My, Oh No! is a beautifully-illustrated story about how a little girl tries to do things to be just like her mother, and gets herself into all sorts of unintended mischief along the way.

    When's the last time you looked at something from your child's perspective? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)

    Blogging Blues | Fun New Photos Of Phoenix and Ariana

    I feel like I've been in a bit of a blogging rut lately. Actually, ever since I attended BloggyCon 2013 a year ago, it kind of dawned on me that I really didn't have the desire to blog like I used to, and like so many other bloggers do. Those people that blog for money, money to live off of, are hardcore. Seriously. They're another breed. The whole "blogging is your business" just isn't for me. Sure, I'll do a sponsored post or work with a company here or there... but in terms of any sort of meaningful income, I'd rather just work 4 hours a week at a job than spend 40 hours a week blogging for the same income... if that makes sense.

    But... if there is anything to bring me out of a rut, it's beautiful autumn weather. So, today, while the hubby is doing a 24 hour fast to prepare for his black belt testing, I've been hanging out with the kids. We just took Hugo for a walk, rode bikes, and I was able to snap a few.

    Phoenix - 5 years & 9 months   |   Ariana - 3 years & 3 months

    I know I'm their mom, but I love how these photos turned out. Taking Phoenix & Ariana's pictures today was a blast, and it reminds me of how fleeting these moments are. I think I'll be carrying around the camera a bit more. Oh, and, it doesn't hurt the Ken got a new lens that takes up much less room too! ;) 

    Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one.