Happy Friday, party people! My brain is absolutely fried after a week full of math and science and very little creativity. I can’t wait until the first of the month when I have some money and can just go freaking shopping again. I’ve had my eye on this from Target for over a month but since it’s only available online I decided to get a Target debit card so I could get free shipping, which required a trip to the store to apply in person and then a week long wait for the card to come in and by then I was of money (note: I have money to spend on other things, like food and necessities, but my home decor budget is usually blown early in the month). Well, now I just found the same exact ottoman on Amazon where I could’ve gotten free two-day shipping without all the hassle.

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Seville Classics Rush Cube Storage Ottoman, Mocha
In case you missed it, I finally got around to making a facebook page for my blog! You can “like” it to keep up with blog posts and photos I post to Instagram. What else do bloggers do with their facebook pages? I’m sort of at a loss here, which is why I didn’t create one sooner. But I wanted a way to connect with readers on facebook while keeping my personal account to people I know personally so here ya go. Still working on the perfect cover photo, obvs.

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Living Well on the Cheap on Facebook

Are you familiar with TED? It’s a nonprofit that puts on conferences where speakers from various fields are asked to give “the talk of their lives” in 18 minutes or less. Videos of the talks are put online for the whole world to watch at their leisure. I’ve been hitting the gym every day and watching TED talks using the iPhone app while I work the elliptical. This one was especially inspiring to me.

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TED

That’s all I’ve got for today. I hope you each have a wonderful weekend! I’m hoping to put my coding woes behind me (the navigation bar at the top of my blog is black and I want it to be white, total first world problem) and knock out some projects that have been on my to-do list for weeks. Wish me luck!

I distinctly remember sitting in trigonometry class and thinking snidely that it was a complete waste of my time. It was at the height of my “teenage rebellion” and I was probably wishing I’d skipped school that day to hang out with my boyfriend (who, of course, had already gotten his GED in juvie. Shout out to Brad if you’re reading this!). Well, eleven years later I find myself watching youtube videos on how to use cosin in the name of decorating. It all started out when I saw this table online and thought I could recreate something similar, but with the proportions of a nightstand instead of a coffee table:

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I was able to find a tabletop, copper pipe, and elbow fittings with no problems, but the piece in the middle where they all come together eluded me. So then I thought I would make one like this instead:

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But that would require me to go back to the store for y-fittings and more pipe, as the ten foot length that I bought wouldn’t be enough to make four 27″ legs and have enough left over for the stretchers. So then I thought I would do this:

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A three-legged table with angled legs coming out from the center. I kind of liked the modern feel of it and figured it wouldn’t be too difficult. This is where the trigonometry comes in-I needed to figure out at what angle to cut the legs and how long to make them. Feel free to LOL at my work below if you are actually a math person.

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I was so proud of myself for figuring out that I wanted a 30° angle between the leg and the table, only to have my spirit crushed when I realized I had no idea what that meant for cutting the pipe. So I texted my math-whiz friend Sarah (note to all of my other friends who are good at math-you are all good at math. Please don’t be hurt that I didn’t text you instead) and I think she was kind of confused by the diagrams I kept sending her. She said things like, “Umm…what are the things in that picture?” And then she drew a diagram of her own but she still didn’t know the answer. She eventually just suggested I make something like this instead, cutting the legs at just a 15° angle:

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Design for Mankind

Yes, that does look quite a bit easier. I think I’ll do that, I guess? This is where you guys come in. How should I attach the legs to the table? Am I making this more complicated than it needs to be? Between this and some coding issues on my blog math and science are giving me quite the beating this week. Yesterday I felt like I’d been working hard through Jack’s entire afternoon nap, then I looked up and realized the house was in shambles and I had accomplished absolutely nothing. Trigonometry and CSS for the win. I don’t know what I’d do without all the technically-inclined folks in my life helping me out!

Disclaimer: this is not meant as a criticism of anyone else’s parenting, past or present, including and especially the folks who raised us. My background in both education and social work have informed my opinions on certain aspects of child-rearing, but it’s just what I believe in and what works for our family. This is meant to explain my choices, no more, no less.

Jack is almost fifteen months and still has yet to take his first unassisted steps. He can pull up and walk while holding onto the furniture, but when he really wants to get somewhere he drops to his hands and knees and crawls.

He’s been slow to hit all of his milestones-rolling over, sitting up, and crawling. He did all of them in his own time and I refused to rush him. When he was ten months and still not crawling well meaning folks insisted that I try to teach him how to get around. I didn’t know how to explain my opposition eloquently so I joked about not wanting him to be mobile because it would be more work for me. But it was more than just laziness-it was a parenting decision that I wasn’t able to articulate clearly in the middle of a party or the grocery store checkout or whatever. And now that the months are passing by and everyone wants to know whether he’s walking the topic has been reawakened.

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image from here

I believe it’s important for Jack to be allowed to figure things out on his own. It’s a chance to let him learn to take on challenges and self-direct his own learning. These are part of a broader group of skills called executive functioning, something researchers now know is critical to success from elementary school well into adulthood. I won’t be spending a lot of time teaching him shapes, colors, letters, and numbers, either. That’s what kindergarten is for. The preschool years are for learning to focus, use your imagination, think critically, engage in learning, and develop empathy and self-control. None of these skills are anywhere near fully developed by school age, but executive functioning skills at school entry are more predictive of academic (and life!) success than any other measure-including IQ (see links below for more info on this).

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image from here

I’m under no illusions that this one decision to let my kid learn to walk on his own will make or break his ability to self-regulate come kindergarten, but it’s part of a broader approach to parenting that I feel strongly about. Honestly, I’m ready for him to walk. I can’t imagine it’ll be much harder to keep up with him than it already is and it’s getting awfully tiring having to carry him around everywhere. But it’s not about me. Learning to walk may very well be the most monumental accomplishment of these early years and I want him to do it on his own. We’ve got three months left before his crawling is cause for concern and I feel confident that he’ll take his first steps before then. And if he doesn’t we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Again, please don’t take offense if you’ve chosen differently with your own kids. This is not at all intended to tell other people what they should or should not do. I do a much better job of expressing myself through writing than when speaking and this is the best way I know how to explain to the world at large that I’m not dooming my son to crawl forever because I’m lazy. Thank you for reading and for always being so supportive and wonderful in general. I love y’all!

Here are some excellent articles about executive functioning if you’re interested in learning more:

Executive Function Skills Predict Children’s Success in Life and in School

Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control?

Relations between Preschool Attention Span-Persistence and Age 25 Educational Outcomes

From External Regulation to Self-Regulation: Early Parenting Precursors of Young Children’s Executive Functioning

Executive Functioning as a Predictor of Children’s Mathematics Ability: Inhibition, Switching, and Working Memory

From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development

The grout in our downstairs bath is supposed to be white. I know this because it fades from dingy gray to bright, clean white in the areas that don’t see much traffic, like under the vanity and behind the toilet.

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From a distance nothing seems to be amiss, but up close the floors never look clean no matter how often I mop.

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I’ve made a few halfhearted efforts to scrub it clean, but seeing as this room is on the large side as far as bathrooms go I have only worked in small sections, not wanting to invest a ton of time into a method I’m not sure will work. I haven’t found anything that impressed me enough to do the whole room yet.

So I thought I’d ask you guys-what are your best techniques for getting grimy grout spic and span? I’ll test out the most promising suggestions and report back on what worked for me. And then I’m going to seal that grout so this doesn’t happen again!