Monday, April 9, 2018

White Privilege


This piece (written by Tenaja Jordan and shared by my colleague Britt Hawthorne) is lingering in my mind. 
But all of you, truly all of you, are ignorant when it comes to understanding the depth and multifaceted nature of our pain as black people. We are not African, having been removed from the continent for generations. Our status as Americans was never truly conferred. And so the middle place, the chasm between African and American, is where blackness exists. I can’t be your friend right now because I’m fresh out of the magnanimity that such a friendship requires. I really don’t want to know how difficult it is for you to talk to racist family members while people like me are systematically being killed or otherwise erased. I don’t want to help you brainstorm ways to “use your privilege for good.” I’m not here to “wokify” you.
Every weekend I come to this blog and spend a little bit of time escaping from the atrocities of our world and country. On a daily basis I am thinking about inequity, disparities, systemic racism, oppression, domination, hatred, white supremacy, bias, and privilege and actively trying to do something to make the world better for all people through my work.

When I come here, I want to take a break by talking about frivolous things like meals I'm making, crafts I'm doing, and changes we are making to our house. 

I am constantly aware of how this space embodies my privilege. I have immense privilege to "take a break" from thinking about all the atrocities because I am white, live in economic comfort, am cis-gender and heterosexual, am able-bodied, live in a conventional marriage, etc. I am not in imminent danger like so many others are. And it feels icky. It feels icky to "take a break" here. And yet we all do need to take a break to restore our energy and ourselves so that we can go back out there.

I'm sitting with it. 






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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

This Week's Healthy Lunch


My plan is to make a list of healthy meals that I can just rotate through so I can be on auto-pilot. It's the only way I'm able to fit in all the things I want in my life: time for exercise, time with family, healthy eating, downtime, adequate sleep, meaningful week, parenting, conversations with friends and family, time with Matt--the list seems endless! 

This week's lunch:

  • Bean dip (0 points)
  • 16 crackers (3 points)
  • 3 pieces of mozzarella cheese (3 points)
  • Baby carrots (0 points)
  • Bell pepper
  • Cucumbers
  • Snap peas
I'm really excited! I'll make five of these meals on Sunday and then eat them the whole week. Then the next week I will rotate through something else. Healthy variety without much thought! Sounds great! 



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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Weight Watchers: Week One Update


Week one is done! I lost two pounds and already feel a difference in my body. My clothes fit a tiny bit better, and running is easier because I'm not jiggling as much (sorry for the mental movie). 

Let's first rewind and talk about why the heck I'm even doing Weight Watchers. While listening to the Friendlier podcast this weekend, I heard Abby talking about how she wants to have a very body-positive approach to life and doesn't want to kowtow (okay, she did not use that word, but it seems to capture her sentiment) to warped societal pressures about what bodies are supposed to look like. 

For me, joining Weight Watchers isn't about a negative body image or conforming to societal expectations. It's literally just about my self and what feels good to me. I don't feel good when I'm carrying around an extra ten pounds. It makes it harder for me to exercise, and if exercise is harder, then I'm less likely to do it. And when I do it less, I'm not able to adequately release all my stress and foster all the good kinds of chemicals I want flowing through my body. I'm not self-critical when I gain extra weight. Instead, it's more of the Proactive Problem Solver who comes out. She asks kindly, "So what do you want to do about it?"

My general approach to maintaining my weight has been:

  • Always eat a healthy breakfast
  • Eat healthy lunches Monday-Friday
  • Eat healthy dinners Sunday-Thursday
  • Splurge at dinner on Friday and Saturday
  • Eat a moderately healthy lunch on Saturday and Sunday
  • Eat one treat during the week
  • Run two times a week for ~40 minutes around the lake
This worked for me for a long time. And then it wasn't working. Doing Weight Watchers this week has helped me understand why: I've recently started eating too much for lunch and dinner during my "healthy" meals. 

I've been eating frozen cheese enchiladas from Whole Foods (they are cheap and tasty!). But they are 10 out of my 23 daily points. For dinner I've been eating a very tiny Udi's gluten-free pizza (with thin crust!) once a week. Guess how many points that was? 22. For one meal! 

So following the Weight Watchers guidelines for a week has helped me understand what I need to do to lose my extra weight and then maintain my ideal weight. I need to identify lunches that are in the 6-point range, and I need to build a cadre of more healthy dinners. For example, I can still eat my super-easy Modern Meal pasta, but I can only eat a cup of it and I need to fill myself up by adding a ton of steamed broccoli to it. When I get home from work and am starving, I need to snack on bell peppers, strawberries, hard-boiled eggs, etc. (all of which are 0 points!). And I need to hold myself to my "one treat during the week rule." If I'm going to want to eat the dips, cupcakes, bundt cakes, and donuts that show up at school nearly every day, I'm going to have to pick only one or I'm going to have to limit myself to a bite of each. 

If it's going to be a crazy week (family in town, night-time meetings at restaurants, etc.), then I'll need to think about fitting in more exercise. 

All of that feels really doable! 




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Monday, April 2, 2018

Reflection & Rejuvenation: April



I knew March was going to be crazy, and it was! But it was also a lot of fun. 

I found myself getting into a depressed place by the end of it, and it was helpful to step back and realize the sadness was simply coming from the fact that I way over-extended myself during the month and didn't have anything to do with my actual life. So helpful! 

So, April, here we come! How is it that a fourth of the year is already gone? I'm grateful for this monthly practice of spending some quiet time by myself checking in and making sure I'm living the kind of life I want to live. 

My Monthly Summit idea has not been working. This month it fell on the same night as a date night. I decided to change it to recur on the 28th of every month, which means I'll have some leeway to move it by a couple days, if needed. 

So what is in store for this month? 

  • I just sent out the invite for our recurring Saturday Supper. I created a sub-group within our larger neighborhood Nextdoor group for families with children born between 2009-2015 (that's two years older and two years younger than my children). So I was able to invite those folks as well. It's really cute that Henry has been begging us to have a Saturday Supper. He loves having people over! I switched the format to potluck so I don't have to stress about how many people are coming and getting the food right. If more people come, then more food shows up! 
  • I scheduled my monthly self-care rituals: pedicure and cheap massage at the massage school. 
  • I am working on scheduling a tennis date with a friend from work. That will mean that I have one evening self-care thing a week, which sounds just right. 
  • The big thing that is happening this month is my 40th birthday Fantastic Family Fun Fest! We are going camping in Houston with friends. Can't wait! 
I don't want to forget about our Family Goals for the year:

    • Go on 4 day trips
    • Eliminate credit card debt and save up for a hot tub!
    • Go camping at least two times
    • Go to at least two performances
    • Play tennis at least six times
    • Host at least 10 gatherings
    • Plant at least 100 trees
    • Go on 3 awesome trips
    • Volunteer as a family at least three times

I don't want to have to cram them in at the end of the year like I did last year. We'll be going camping this month, having another gathering, and we volunteered and planted trees in March. Seems like we are doing okay! 












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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

March Madness


What a whirlwind! There is such a pattern in my life: Whenever I get myself too busy, I end up feeling unhappy and less resilient. 

I knew March was going to be rough! 

But that’s okay. I want to look forward, not backward. And I want to celebrate the positive! Our Spring Break was truly packed with some awesome quality time together and some incredible memories. Here’s a video that highlights only the positive (just know there are always lots of negatives when it comes to parenting two young children!):



I’m eager to get back into our daily routines. And I want to take care of my core, so that I can take care of everything in the periphery. On a recent airplane ride (I literally had to fly to and from a city in one day for a recent work trip), I sketched out concentric circles. The inner circle (#1) is my self. The circles radiate out from the center, as follows:

2) Mother and wife
3) Daughter, family member, friend
4) Colleague and leader
5) National collaborator

I spent a little time brainstorming how I want to continue to take care of my core, so that I have more energy and capacity to do #2 and then #3 and then #4 and then #5. 

I’m being cautious not to add new things because there are already so many things I want to maintain. I want to continue to try to stop working by 8pm every night, eat healthy food, run at least twice a week, and get enough sleep. 

The main new thing I want to do in this area is start Weight Watchers. I’m carrying around an extra ten pounds that makes my clothes not fit and makes running more difficult/uncomfortable. I think it's time to increase the level of accountability and awareness by starting an external program. I did Weight Watchers once more than a decade ago, and I appreciated how it approaches food holistically (versus just counting calories) and helps re-calibrate your mind about how much food one should intake on a daily basis. I'll let you know how it goes! 



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Monday, March 26, 2018

A Montessori Home (Ages 7 and Almost 5)


During my Spring Break I spent some time reorganizing our house as part of Simone's online course about preparing a Montessori home. It's crazy how much new stuff sneaks in all.the.time.

Update 1: Boys’ Room

I find that it takes constant vigilance to keep up with growing and changing boys. Tate and Henry still share a room. I spent some time donating toys that they have grown out of, and making sure each thing in their room has a spot. They are constantly bringing new things into the house (mainly things they get from other people, such as goodies from birthday parties), and it’s a constant struggle to keep stuff organized. I want each thing to have a spot, so that they boys can take responsibility for restoring the environment each night. 








Update 2: Art Shelf

I put this shelf together a while ago, but I refreshed it and updated it over the break. Honestly, the boys barely use this area, but I’m still inclined to have these kinds of things available to them. Tate is definitely increasing his interest in art (Henry has never really been interested in it). 






Update 3: Living Room

I moved all of Tate’s costumes into our ottoman, which opened up an entire shelf. I moved the boys’ board games out of a high shelf in the bathroom onto the low shelf in the living room. We’ll see if this arrangement works out! 

Update 4: Adventure Playground


We already have an area of our yard dedicated to free play with bricks, pavers, planks of wood, metal buckets, etc. I added an outdoor storage unit from IKEA (we pulled off the bottom of the legs to lower it more to child-height) that includes nails and tools. 



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Monday, March 12, 2018

Have a Great Spring Break!


For the past couple months, I've been dreading Spring Break. Normally, we go on vacation together as a family, which I love. This year, however, Matt got offered a position as a photographer for SXSW. Of course I had to say yes to my taking on more child care, so that he could pursue his passion. He has done so much for my career these past seven years. Of course I can do whatever he needs me to do. I owe him a ton! 

But I was bummed about it. Not only were we losing our family vacation, I was going to be saddled with lots and lots of solo parenting. 

I am not a big fan of solo parenting. I love, love, love my children, but I am happiest when we are all together as a family. Small doses of alone time with them are fun and cozy; but large and repeated chunks of time? Not so much. 

I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided to see what I could do to set myself up to enjoy that time. I thought about just jumping in the car and taking the boys on a road trip adventure to see friends in Colorado or family in Florida. I thought about taking them camping. 

When I really dug into it, I realized that with a little rearranging, it could actually turn into a pretty fun Spring Break. The trick was giving myself full permission to take my alone time whenever Matt was able to be with the boys. The other trick was to fill up my days with activities that I could look forward to. I found a cool, free SXSW event for families. I also sent out a Doodle poll to some of our friends to see who wanted to get together for play dates, so we now have something different scheduled for every day. Other friends are heading to Wimberly for a couple days, so the boys and I will join them for that (Matt will commute back and forth). 

I also realized that Matt was planning to take a couple days off of work to give me entire days of free time. Instead, I had him move those days to a different week so we could have a consolidated chunk of time together to actually take a quick trip to the Texas Coast. 

So now I'm excited about Spring Break! 

See you on the flip side....



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