Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Read This Article: An Open Letter to Black Parents Whose Suns Have Been Pushed Out of Preschool

This article is such an important read for those of us working in schools. (Thank you to Roberto for sharing it!)
Looking back, you will mark this moment: when you wanted so much for him to be in that school, affiliated with Boston College and its reputation, that you took their side, and your child was wrong. Because you get star struck, a bit, thinking that these Ph.Ds in early childhood education who are supervising the teachers in its lab school will, surely, know what it means to “teach for social justice,” to have teachers who are “culturally competent.” Until, that is, you realize that they don’t.
If the school was a partner, there would be more children, faculty and staff that reflected the backgrounds of the children in the school, especially more children of African descent.

I work in a progressive school that strives to "teach for social justice" and hire teachers who are "culturally competent." And yet it can be so easy to continue to "do school" in a way that doesn't serve all children.
...who assured you that the tide was going to turn.
And it did, arriving in the form of a Black teacher, who, after spending one day with your sun summarized that “no one had taken the time to actually teach him what was expected,” and that she would.
I find that progressive schools can err too much on the side of "permissive" classroom management that doesn't set up all children to be successful. Reading this article has inspired me to read more about authoritative (versus permissive or authoritarian) parenting. And Parent-Child Interaction Therapy sounds amazing!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

It's August: Time to Shop for Christmas!

I'm someone who really likes to get creative at Halloween and buy or make thoughtful Christmas gifts and yet I don't want those things to feel stressful. My solution is to start thinking about these things in August! 

I keep a running list all year long (inside my to-do list, which is kept in One Note) of gift ideas I have for people. That practice helps me have a head start. If I see something out in the world during the year, I go ahead and buy it. I have a tupperware container in my closet where I keep gifts that I buy early. 

Starting in August, I give myself time and space (instead of going on Facebook) to think through each person and think about what they might like. I draw webs in my notebook with different ideas (like Matt in the center with his interests around it: running, photography, doing puzzles, etc.). I can usually think of something good (or at least good enough!) if I make myself spend time thinking about it. 

So I've already got ideas for Matt's Christmas and birthday presents (they come so close together!), as well as my aunt and my step-father. It's a start! 

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Monday, August 13, 2018

My Job Nearly Crushed My Spirit

I wrote and deleted many different titles for this post. I landed on this one because it feels the least hyperbolic. 

When I finally had time to go to therapy this summer, my therapist literally said, "I hope the past five years have not crushed your spirit or your sense of self." 

Now that I'm through it, I can see what he's talking about. If someone said to me: "I have two children who are two years apart," I would say, "That's hard." If that same person added, "And I'm a full-time working mother," I might say, "Wow, that's really hard!" And if she then went on to say, "And I was the founder and CEO of a start-up during the first 5-7 years of my children's lives," I might respond with, "What?!?"

But that's exactly what I did. 

I underestimated how hard it was going to be, and I committed to doing too much, too fast, with too few staff members. 

Luckily, I'm still standing, with my spirit and my sense of self still in tact. Phew! And the school we have built is incredible. There is so much love, care, inclusiveness, passion, and commitment to children.

I have done regular work with a leadership coach for the past two years to understand how to better prioritize and streamline what I take on and when. I have also worked with her to develop routines and habits that help keep my bucket full so that I can show up better to do the hard work. 

I'm now making time and space for regular therapy so that I can process what the therapist calls the "trauma" of the past five years, as well as the trauma of my childhood. I put trauma in quotes because I see others going through much more significant trauma (that isn't self-inflicted) on a daily basis. I don't take the word lightly. But, at the same time, understanding my own experiences as trauma is part of what will help me heal from it. 

I'm so grateful for the journey I am on and am so happy to be back in this space with time to write about it! Connecting with each of you is such a gift. 

I hope you are doing well! 

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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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