2017 Resolutions

I debated doing these this year because last year was one of those years where things happened that caused my goals to fall by the wayside. I decided to go more general and achievable just to motivate me. I want to feel more in control of my life this year.
a. Create a budget, or at the very least a general plan for where our money is going. I’m cautiously optimistic about this year, but I don’t want caught out by surprises like last year.
b. Try to cook something new from scratch each month. I want to expand our selection and find some easy and inexpensive meal options.
c. Work on organizing the house, particularly the spare room and cupboard under the stairs. Those are currently our places to shove things out of the way, and it’s getting to me.
d. Display the decorations we have where they can be seen. We’ve got a fair amount of art work, and it’s not really out anywhere. Seems like a waste
e. Complete at least 3 projects around the house. There are lots of possibilities, including wall mounting the TV, boarding more of the loft floor, making kitchen curtains, painting, putting up shelves, adding a medicine cabinet, and changing the upstairs sink to a single tap. None of these are pressing matters, but they would make a difference.
f. Go through my media, use it, and decide what to do with it. This includes books, DVDs, CDs, and video games. Not going to have set amounts, but I want to make some progress.
g. Organize my clothing. It’s been rather haphazard for a while. I’ve got drawers and hanging space that I just need to utilize.
a. Complete at least 4 of the kits I currently own. I have loads of them, including cross stitch, sewing, and knitting (like the never-ending Christmas jumper). Some are really fast, and others will take more time.
b. Use some of my stash to make something from a pattern or tutorial. I’ve got loads of yarn, fabric, wool roving, embroidery floss, and assorted odds and ends. And I have a ton of ideas on Pinterest and in books to inspire me.
c. Design a crafting pattern of some sort. Probably cross stitch, knitting, sewing, or needle felting.
d. Craft at least one gift. This can be part of achieving one of the above goals.
e. Try at least one new craft. I’m looking into doing a silver clay workshop. It’s a concept that really interests me.
a. Just take pictures and have fun with it.
b. Install and use Lightroom and Photoshop on my current computer.
a. Develop one of the writing ideas I’ve had floating around. It could be a novel, picture book, or comic. I just want to make progress to the point where I feel confident showing it to someone.
b. Write some blog posts. I’m thinking maybe posting at least a couple times a month for now.
a. Complete an adult jigsaw puzzle. I’ve got a difficult puzzle in progress in the spare room. It’s one of those Lost in a Jigsaw puzzles. I’m thinking of cheating a bit by looking at the solution.
b. Complete at least one dot to dot, coloring page, or Sudoku a month. I’ll probably end up doing more, but I don’t want to feel forced.
c. Plan some type of exercise. I know it’s good for my health and mood, so I need to make it happen.
d. Finish my college photo album. It’s been hanging over my head for far too long.
a. Plan a family holiday of some type. We’ve got a few places in mind. They might not all be new for me, but they’d be great experiences.
b. Go on a short break. I’d like that to be somewhere new for me.
a. Do some more crafts with her. She’s got some kits, and I’ve got supplies. We’ve had some successes last year, so I want to keep it going.
b. Do more cooking with her. It’s a great skill to encourage independence.
c. Encourage her to help more around the house. Again, life skills are important. (And I wouldn’t mind having less to do myself.)
d. Primary school admissions. The biggest decision is if we keep her in the private school I’m working at or move her to a state school. There are benefits and drawbacks for each.
e. Get her to write her name independently. We’re working on it, and I’m pretty sure it will happen this year without much trouble.
8. S AND I
a. Plan some dates or activities together. I’m not setting up an amount, but just want to make sure it happens.
I’ll update as I progress. Good luck with your resolutions!
2017 Resolutions

Once Upon a Time…Online: Happily Ever After is Only a Click Away

I was recently offered the chance to read and review a book for Parragon Book Buddies. As a lover of books who is raising a fellow book lover, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. After a short wait, this lovely package came in the post. Kudos for the personalized label and festive crayon!


My 4 year old wasted no time opening it.


And we were introduced to Once Upon a Time…Online: Happily Ever After is Only a Click Away by David Bedford and Rosie Reeve.


While updated or twisted fairy tales have been popular for many years now, this book used a concept I’ve never seen before. What if the characters were given a laptop with unfettered online access and no adult supervision? Needless to say, it starts out quite fun for characters like Jack, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, the Three Little Pigs, and even the Big Bad Wolf. But they soon realize there are consequences to being online, and especially to online orders without passwords! The Fairy Godmother has to save the day and teach the children about appropriate online usage.

My daughter enjoyed the book. “This book was so cool. I liked the castle.” I also enjoyed the book, particularly as a parent of a child who loves Daddy’s tablet and phone. It did a great job showing the appeal of technology, as well as the potential for problems. But it was done in a way that wasn’t scary. One concern I had was that the Fairy Godmother was just going to magic away all the technology, making the problem go away unrealistically. Instead, she took on the parental role of supervising usage and teaching the children to use technology appropriately. It’s a great way to introduce conversations about technology in a fun and age appropriate manner. I expect this to be a book that will be read quite a bit in the future.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Once Upon a Time…Online: Happily Ever After is Only a Click Away

Do we need gender neutral Christmases?

I actually started this post last year. As we approach the run up to Christmas 2016, I still think the point is apt. I might update with this year’s views.

As I sit here surveying the chaos under the Christmas tree that happens when you have a three year old, I’ve been thinking about the gifts we’ve gotten our daughter. And I realize they don’t necessarily fit all the “gender neutral, empower your daughter” guides I’ve been seeing online. As someone who considers myself a feminist, I wonder if that’s a bad thing. I’m sure some circles of the internet would say that I’m being a failure, but I don’t think so. Below is a selection of some of her gifts, along with the reason I (or my husband and I) chose them (or recommended them to family member when asked).

Belle doll (from Mattel, so Barbie style): She already has Elsa and was expressing interest in the Barbies at our grocery store. When I asked her which ones she wanted, this was one of the top ones. I figured it was better than some of the ordinary Barbie dolls in swimsuits she also pointed to.

Play Doh ice cream set: A toy she’s been saying she wanted every time we go the grocery store. She’s decided Play Doh is wonderful, and she LOVES ice cream.

Toy cars: She loves vehicles, so a no-brainer.

Wooden Bertie the Bus (from Thomas): Again, a vehicle. She’s into buses, and it fits with the wooden tracks and trains (including some Thomas themed ones) she already has.

Lottie dolls: I saw them online and really thought she’d like them. My mom got her Muddy Puddles Lottie because that’s the one she liked the best on the site. And we got her Kawaii Karate Lottie because I studied karate as a girl and wanted her to see it as a future option (and it was on sale).

Build your own castle: Total impulse buy I saw in B&Q. It has mini bricks and cement. DIY skills are great to learn, and she’s really keen to give it a go.

Paint your own tea set: Again, she saw it at the store and wanted it. This one surprised me a bit because she’s just getting into art and pretend play. I figure it’s worth encouraging these trends.

Shopping list: A memory and matching game she’s been introduced to in nursery. It seems like a good way for her to combine home and nursery in a fun way.

Magnifying glass and binoculars: I wanted to get her a preschool microscope and science set, but Toys R Us didn’t carry them. This was the best option there. She’s shown a bit of interest.

Toy broom and dust brush: I wouldn’t have even thought of this, but she was really interested in a similar set at another store. It’s not a bad idea to teach her help out in a fun way.

Blueberries for Sal: This was a book I had as a child. The way Sal picks and eats all her blueberries reminds me of taking my daughter to pick blackberries. And it’s a funny story of mistaken identities with wonderful illustrations.

Stickers: What three year old doesn’t love stickers?

Art kit: She’s starting to get more into creative play, so I’m hoping this will be fun for her.

Kid’s makeup: She likes to play with my makeup, so this is a way to keep it safe. It’s very colorful and fun for her to use at home. It’s kind of like using face paint, in all honesty.

Frozen hair ties and Elsa clips: She’s starting to want her hair pulled back sometimes. I want her to feel free to express herself in her own way, so I’ll let her have these as options.

Tube of dinosaurs: Dinosaurs are fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she plays with them.

Hello Kitty Trunki bundle: This was from relatives. We travel to visit my family in the States, so age appropriate travel gear is a must. And Trunki offers lots of good options. We had a used Trunki that was due to be updated, and I thought the bundle deal was a great one. I pulled up the website so I could get ideas to pass on, thinking she’d probably choose the bus. But she wanted Hello Kitty and the pink accessories. Again, I’m not going to minimize her choices.

Candyland: This is a game from my younger brother’s childhood. It’s often the first board game for many American children. So I wanted my daughter to have it. I was a bit disappointed it came with a spinner instead of the pictured cards, but I decided to give it to her anyway. She’s not quite sure what to do with it at this time.

In all, it’s quite an assortment of items, some that fit typical girl’s gender roles. And I’m fine with that because those were generally items that she wanted, not items that we forced upon her. I think that to be truly gender neutral, we have to respect the child’s interests. Too often, it feels that feminist parents and websites try to discourage any toy that is seen as traditionally “girly” or “feminine,” and that bothers me. There is nothing inherently wrong with beauty, homemaking, dolls, or the color pink. The problem is if those are seen as the only acceptable options for a girl to be interested in. My daughter has a range of interests, and I’m not going to discourage any at this time. I’ll introduce her to new experiences that I think will benefit her (including links to my childhood and hopefully my husband’s). I want her to see that she can have a rich range of experiences that are not limited by gender and that her thoughts and opinions have value. That will be my focus, not imposing an artificial “gender neutral” Christmas.img_1456