Monday, August 3, 2015

Henry's Lemonade Stand: 4 1/2 Years-Old

What fun! Henry had the idea to plan a lemonade stand. He used his moveable alphabet to write a letter to his teacher to invite her on a Saturday. Then he juiced most of the lemons using our electric juicer. Unfortunately we only had a dark natural sugar, so it ended up looking like a dehydrated urine sample. Oh, well!

We found a nice shady spot and got to work waving at all the cars that passed by. We met several new neighbors, and even sold lemonade to a family from our school who just happened to be driving by. Henry took the orders, filled the glasses with ice, and worked the dispenser. (I had to teach him not to drink out of the glass when it got too full.) 

In total, Henry made about $18. He set the price at $1/cup (I talked him out of $10/cup). He said he wanted to earn money for a gumball machine, a motorbike, college, and homeless people. 

We had fun counting his money afterwards (just one-to-one correspondence, not actually counting the denominations of coins) and then he divided it up into his money jars according to the sticker system that we use: 1 part for charity, 3 parts for a car, 2 parts for college, and 3 parts for saving up for a toy. 

It was a such a fun glimpse into what is going to come! I'm an elementary teacher at heart--infants and toddlers are hard, hard, hard. 

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Black Lives Matter

When I get extremely overwhelmed, my exposure to current events is limited to Facebook. I don't have time for much else. When I'm really, really overwhelmed, I don't even have time for Facebook. 

So when I got invited to a vigil for Sandra Bland, I didn't even know what it was about. The next day during professional development, two of our staff members led a session on culturally responsive education, and they showed the footage of her arrest. 

I can't even begin to describe what I felt while watching it. Outrage. Disgust. Desperation. A lack of hope. 

It was so hard to watch a smart, educated black woman--who knew her rights--try to defend herself against a racist, domineering, oppressive white man. She was irritated about being pulled over for a failure to turn on her signal when changing lanes. He asked her to put out her cigarette. She knew she had the right to smoke in her own car and she let him know it. She knew he could not make her get out of her car without telling her why and she told him so. As she defended herself, his need to control, oppress, and beat her down (figuratively and literally) continued. 

When I hear people talk about "police brutality," I can't help but think the real problem in this situation is so much bigger than police brutality. It's about a dominator-dominated society, who has power, and how they use that power to oppress other people. And it's about racism because who has power and who gets oppressed tend to fall along racial lines. 

I almost backed out of going to the vigil because I was overwhelmed with work and closing my eyes from fatigue at 7pm. And then I read a post from my friend on Facebook who said the least we can do as white people is SHOW UP. I knew he was right. I knew I couldn't live with myself if I used my white privilege to get out of a vigil for a courageous black woman just because I was tired. 

Because people of color can't ever get out of this. This is their reality day in and day out. Their people are getting killed by police in the streets, being punished in schools at disproportionate rates, suffering from health issues at disproportionate rates. If I were Sandra Bland, I can't even imagine how fed up I would have been. I don't even know if I could have talked to a racist white police officer as calmly as she did. 

I want to share an excellent piece of writing on this topic. I'm conscious of the fact that it's the white voices that get "shared," "liked," and heard more often. So I seek to share the voices of people of color as often as possible. This piece is a powerful read. 

"Sandra, from the beginning, refused to give up her power. And in that jail cell suicide may have been a form of resistance and an astounding statement of self-love. A statement saying I will not give you the power to kill me and I love myself enough to not endure you killing me slowly."

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Turning the Corner--Woo-hoo!

Oh, Friends, what a whirlwind! That's a common theme in my life, right?

I genuinely and honestly feel like I have turned a major corner.

Let me back track a little.

Two weeks ago, I was at my Reflection & Rejuvenation Retreat with two wonderful women. (Kate, I'm sorry I haven't responded to your message; I have 465 messages awaiting me in my inbox!)

During my time, I realized that I am in desperate need of relaxation. I came to admit that even though my life with children is fun, it is NEVER relaxing. Even when we are in our backyard swimming together, I am supervising them or playing police officer or tightening masks and goggles. If I have "free time" on a Saturday morning, I go running or I clean the house. I almost never, ever relax during the day. Since I'm a morning person, relaxing during sunshine hours is important to me. 

My work to-do list has been so long this summer that I haven't had a chance to relax after the boys go to bed. I jump on a call or work on a document or try to clean out my inbox. 

The final push came these past two weeks as I prepared almost 80 hours of professional development for my staff. It takes SO long to draft a session, create the PowerPoint, and design the handouts. Even though I still feel behind going into the year, I feel like it's going to be a much easier year as a second-year principal. I'm looking forward to more balance in my life! Cue the celebration!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dreaded Chores

The house we stayed in for the Reflection & Rejuvenation retreat was absolutely stunning. It inspired me to want to take better care of my home (pictured above) because I am deeply impacted by my physical surroundings. For example, there are lots of maintenance things that need to get done on our house that are negatively impacting its beauty:
  1. The wood siding is molding and needs to be power-washed, scrubbed, and restained
  2. The deck paint is peeling off :-(
  3. We have some warped bamboo floorboards from water damage that need to be replaced
  4. Henry accidentally pulled one of the towel hooks off the wall and we haven't done anything about it
It's hard for me to prioritize these things because taking care of them is no fun at all. And yet the amount of work that is actually required pales in comparison to how good it will feel when those task are done. 

The other thing I want to do is rethink our bedroom comforter. I have always loved duvet covers over down comforters, but I feel like our duvet comforter is always slipping off and isn't comfortable to sleep on. Maybe I'll sew in some straps like this video suggests. I'm also thinking about getting a rug for the end of my bed so that I can easily do yoga each night without pulling down my mat. 

I hope I can follow-through with these minor task because I know they will have a major impact. 

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eulogy from My Son

I know that writing a eulogy for myself from the perspective of my son is a little creepy (okay, way creepy), but the exercise (thanks, Stephen Covey!) was actually really illuminating and clarifying. I enjoyed doing it at the Reflection & Rejuvenation Retreat. It helped me pat myself on the back in some areas and set goals for myself in other areas. So here it goes...

I couldn't have asked for a better mother. She went out of her way to make me feel so loved and so worthy of love. When I was little, she would think of far away places and say, "Do you know how much I love you? I love you from here to Antarctica!" She would put notes in my lunchbox and send me care packages at college. She was always there to stroke my forehead or massage my shoulders.

I could come to her with any problem, and she would always be there. She would ask me whether I wanted her to help me solve the problem or just listen. And she would always hold true to my wishes. 

And she was always so much fun. No matter how important her work was, she would always make time to go throw the football with me or read me a story. She laughed at all my jokes and didn't shy away from talking about poop or farts. She never cared when I came home dirty. In fact, she would say, "It looks like you had a lot of fun!"

She supported me whenever I developed a new interest. She built a bird feeder with me and bought me model airplanes. She even let me plan a road trip to a remote island to learn more about horses I was fascinated with. We went on adventures together every year, and she always had such a passion for learning about new things and going to new places. 

She inspired me to work to make the world a better place for all people. She had so much empathy and compassion for diverse people, and she devoted her career to social justice. 

She lived with integrity and easily admitted whenever she made a mistake. She apologized easily. She always saw herself as a work in progress and strived to be better every single day.

Through her example, I have come to be the kind of person who seeks to make the world a better place in a joyful and loving way. 

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Back on the Exercise Bandwagon

This year has been up and down in terms of exercise. After the new year, I resolved to exercise at least four times a month. It wasn't a huge goal, but it was a 400% increase from what I was doing! 

I hit the 4 times/month goal, and then friends from Henry's school started a YMCA club, and we would go every Monday. With that commitment plus my frequent jog around the lake on Saturday morning, I started surpassing my goal. 

And then I threw out my back. And so I haven't been exercising at all. Just walking around the house was a big event for several weeks. 

My back is finally on the upswing, and so I am re-committing to bringing more exercise back into my life. I am so grateful for a body that can move without pain--I don't want to take a minute of it for granted. Our young bodies are fleeting, and I want to strengthen my body and take care of it as much as I can. Having two babies completely obliterated my core strength, which is why I want to bring yoga or pilates back into my life. 

We definitely don't want to incur more monthly costs, so it makes sense to attend classes at the YMCA, even though the timing of the classes is not great. I'll have to leave right after dinner and miss the bedtime routine. At least it's only once a week.

It's so hard to miss that time with my family. It feels so limited and precious. I also feel bad about putting extra work on Matt. But, at the end of the day, I owe it to myself and my family to take care of my body. 

On top of that, I'll try to jog two times a week: once on Saturday while the boys take Hoss to the dog park, and once during the week when I take Henry and Tate to the YMCA. It also looks like there's a Zumba class for kids on Sundays at the YMCA. I wonder if adults can do it alongside their children? That could be really fun.

Part of my feels really lame for being back in this space stating the same goals over again, but this is the reality of my life. Our lives are in large part our habits, and it's difficult to maintain healthy habits. It takes commitment and recommitment. So, I recommit to:

  • Running twice a week for at least 30 minutes
  • Stretching every night before bed
  • Going to a yoga class once a week
  • Treading water in the pool for 20 minutes as often as I can
These sound like lovely goals! And I'll be able to maintain the top three, even when the weather changes. Because the top three goals have specific slots in my calendar, it will be easier to turn them into habits. Hooray! 

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Around Here Lately

This photo from our vacation in Tahoe is totally misleading!

Yes, I had a wonderful time in Tahoe with our in-laws, but my summer has not been all smiles and sunshine. My summer has been a lot of put-my-head-down-and-work. I feel like I want to make serious progress on my to-do list so that I head into the school year more relaxed and better able to institute a balanced routine. 

I didn't miss a single day of school this year, so I accumulated 15 days of vacation. I used them for the first three weeks of June. I would go into work really early in the morning while Matt handled the breakfast routine. Then I would come home and take over while he went to work. After the 6:30pm bedtime, I would get back to work. I was able to fit in about six hours of work a day. 

When Tate's birthday rolled around, I was feeling pretty stretched thin, so I pulled together a Tater party very quickly. I used Instacart to order everything I needed for a baked potato bar, tater tots, french fries, and potato chips and french onion dip. I even ordered the cake from Whole Foods. At least it was the same cake we ate at our wedding and the same cake we ate the morning after Tate's birth to celebrate his passage into the world. So at least it's a meaningful convenient cake! 

Between all the busy-ness, I try to soak it all in. Every funny thing my boys say, every time Henry wants to "snuggle," every time I get to hang out in the backyard with my boys. These are the days! This is the life!


Join us for the First Annual Reflection & Rejuvenation Retreat in Austin, TX, July 10th to 12th!

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