Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Saying Farewell to 2017 (See You in 2018!)


We are so close to the end of the year, my friends! 

I do feel like I've made the most of this year. I am so grateful for all that I have, and I want to savor every last bit of it. 

I'm still brainstorming what I hope to manifest in 2018. I started writing a lot of different things on one single page: savor, being rather than doing, family goals, slow to say yes and fast to say no, sustain, friends/connection, ukulele, tennis, Saturday Suppers, starting an Austin chapter of Navigators, 40th birthday party, podcast, a weekend away with Matt, getting our will done, therapy, beautiful office. 

Then I started circling the things that stood out to me.

Then I remembered something I've been working on this year professionally--before I commit to taking on new things, I make a list of all the things I want to sustain because the energy/capacity we have to take on new things is connected to what we are trying to sustain. 

I want to sustain:
  • Leadership coaching
  • Vacations: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Two runs per week outside
  • Stopping work at 8pm so I have free time
  • Tracking expenses in Mint.com
  • Family Goals
  • Saturday Suppers
  • Adequate sleep
  • Meditation/gratitude
  • Date night
That's so much already! Do I really want to take on anything new? 

So I went through my favorite exercise: asking myself what I need on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis to feel fulfilled. 

Daily:
  • A home cooked meal with my family around our table
  • Adequate sleep
  • Meaningful work that makes the world a more just, equitable, and peaceful place
  • Time to connect with Matt
  • A breakfast smoothie
  • A healthy lunch
  • Self-directed time
  • An organized living space
Weekly:
  • Exercise
  • Time to talk to my mom
  • Time to text/talk with family/friends
  • Blogging
  • Self-time in the house alone
  • Time to prepare for the week
Monthly:
  • Pedicure
  • Cheap massage
  • Saturday Supper
  • Navigators meeting
  • A cool adventure
  • Crafting
  • Date night with Matt
  • Time to reflect on progress toward my yearly goals
  • Therapy
Yearly:
  • Vacations
  • Birthday celebrations
  • A trip by myself
  • A trip with just Matt alone
  • Family rituals
So what's starting to emerge for me is this idea of Sustain & Strengthen or Sustain & Deepen. I'm already doing so many things I want to do and living the life I want to live. I just need to sustain what I'm doing. 

I'm going to think about this more over the rest of the holiday season and into the new year. 

I'm wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a rejuvenating new year! See you on the other side!

For updates in between blog posts, check out Instagram

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Family Goals


A new year is almost upon us! 

My wheels are turning about our family goals. I made my family brainstorm some ideas with me when we were held hostage in our car for a 20-hour trip back from Florida for Thanksgiving. 

Our template holds 9 goals, so that's my target (#lazygirl).

Here's what we have on the list so far:
  1. Save up money for a hot tub (um, after we eradicate our credit card debt). 
  2. Start an Austin chapter of Navigators. 
  3. Go on at least four day road trips.
  4. Host at least 10 Saturday Suppers. 
  5. Visit at least 12 Austin parks.
  6. Go on at least 5 hikes. 
  7. Go mountain biking as a family at least once. 
  8. Plan tennis at least 6 times. 
  9. Volunteer as a family at least 3 times. 
  10. Plant 100 trees. 
  11. Learn to pay the ukulele.
  12. Go on at least 3 awesome vacations. 
For updates in between blog posts, check out Instagram

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Cultivating Entrepreneurs for Change


Henry and I had such a fun experience preparing for and participating in the Magnolia Makers Market!

I'm conscious of helicopter-parenting and over-parenting, so I tried to let him lead the process as much as possible (which is hard for me because I am naturally controlling and perfectionistic!). 

The main thing I did was collect kids craft ideas in Pinterest. Then I let him browse that page to pick out what he wanted to do. He selected painted wooden keychains. 

He then made a list of everything we would need to get for the project (including all the math associated with doubling things and figuring out how many we would need to make 100), and I drove him to Hobby Lobby to pick out his supplies. There was a lot more math involved with figuring out how many packs of each things we would need and comparing prices based on the cost of individual units. 

We wanted to keep the cost as low as possible to maximize Henry's profits, so we pulled up Amazon while we were shopping and did decide to order some of our items from there. 

Once everything arrived, we got started. Henry agreed he would pay me $5 for my help, in addition to repaying me for all the supplies I bought.

We strung the wooden beads on pipe cleaners and used sponge brushes to paint them. We hooked the pipe cleaners on a hanger so we could hang them to dry. 

Henry was able to do every step of the process independently: he could use the ruler to cut the suede to the right size. He could tie the suede onto the key ring. He could string all the beads and tie the suede at the end. 

We took turns checking each other's work, "Did I miss a spot on my painting?" He would honestly find spots that I missed, just as I would find spots that he missed.

It quickly became clear that we wouldn't have the stamina to complete 100 key chains, so we started working on them in batches. We would paint 10 beads and then make 10 key chains. I didn't want us to get the end and have all the beads painted but no key chains finalized. 

In the end, we made 50 key chains. Early on, we figured out how many key chains Henry would have to sell at $3 each in order to pay me back (i.e., 16). Once we got past 16, he was very motivated to make more and more. 

Henry then drafted his sign on paper, and then transferred his final draft to a posterboard. We walked around the house and brainstormed how to decorate the table. 

On our final night, Henry made a list of key chain prices for himself (1 = $3, 2 = $6, 3 = $9, etc.) and we practiced making change and saying, "Thank you! Have a great day!" We also practiced what to say if someone said, "Keep the change." ("Are you sure?" Thank you so much!). 

Henry also decided which non-profit he wanted to donate a portion of his proceeds to. He already knew that he wanted it to relate to elephants, so we did some internet research and landed on the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. 

The day of the sale, Henry helped load everything into the car, and helped set up his booth at the event. He sat at his booth for nearly 3 hours straight! Early on, he said, "I want to do this again next year!" I said, "Awesome! But I'll ask you again at the end of the day to see if your answer is the same." And fortunately it was. 

It was so inspiring to be around so many creative, crafty, and caring children! I definitely look forward to doing it again next year.

The key it all was having enough time for the process. We worked on this for about a month, which meant that we could slow everything down to Henry's pace. There were times when he only wanted to paint for five minutes, which meant that we had to put everything away and wash all the paint (which then led to a big mess and then led to a long clean-up process). But it was what it was. We finally got into a rhythm of working at night after Tate had gone to bed. Henry said, "It's a lot easier to work and stay focused when Tate's not distracting me by playing!"

For updates in between blog posts, check out Instagram

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Design Advice Needed!



I'm about to have an office for the first time in my entire life! It's going to be a major upgrade. I'm currently sharing one open room with seven other people (and frequently at least one sick child on our little sick bed). Plus my chair bumps into the back of another person. It's a tight squeeze!

I want to make the very best use of the space. I always try to start with function. How do I want to use the space? 
  1. My desk, obviously. I think I want it facing out into the room so I can see the rest of the office and don't feel so isolated. This will be a change for me. My desks almost always push up against a wall. I should be open to pushing it up against a wall, though. That would create a lot more space!
  2. Plants, plants, plants. But how? On little shelves attached to the wall? From ceiling planters? In big pots on the floor? All of the above? 
  3. Books, books, books. I have so many educational books. 
Wait, what if I don't have a desk at all? What if I have a dining room table instead? I could easily work there with my lap top. Then, others could come in for meetings and join me at the table! Do I really need a desk? It seems like desks just collect stuff unnecessarily. Am I missing something? I do want to be able to easily reach things like paperclips, pens, stapler, tape, and post it notes. But it feels like I could put those things close by to my table somehow. Oh, I guess I will also have my own phone for the first time. 

If I went with the table instead of a desk idea, I could then have a chaise lounge for when I need to do comfy work (e.g., I frequently have to design curriculum for hours at a time). It's an interesting idea! 

I can barely find any resources about this. I found one article. I can't find any books on it. Isn't there some kind of workplace planner? Some kind of questionnaires? Recommendations?

Okay, I am stressing about this way too much. I just want to make the most of this opportunity! 

(P.S. In case you are wondering, I will be paying for the bulk of this stuff on my own--by saving up my personal allowance. I will only have a modest furniture allowance from the school.)

For updates in between blog posts, check out Instagram

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Credit Card Debt


Oy. Matt and I have quite a bit of credit card debt at the moment. It's been a year of spending beyond our means: first it was expensive doctors appointments (not covered by insurance) related to Henry and Tate's genetic issues with not processing folic acid. Then it was deciding to plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia. Then it was deciding that we had to replace the temporary wood railings that were crumbling on our front and back decks (we had had them for four years) and deciding that we should install a shade sail at the same time in order to make our back deck more usable. And then our pool pump broke. 

It's time to get back on track. At the end of October, I got our budget ready for next year. We planned to resume tracking our expenses on Mint.com throughout November, but I forgot to reset the budgets (certain budgets accumulate from month-to-month), so it wasn't a tremendously helpful process. 

But now we are all set to start tracking religiously in December. It's crazy to me how much willpower it takes to track daily expenses, even though Mint.com makes it so easy! 

Anyway, thanks for bearing with me as I publicly recommit to getting back on track with our budget! We have to pay property taxes in January (we don't escrow them throughout the year), so it might be a while before we get out of debt. The faster we can hunker down, the faster we will get out of debt! 



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Monday, December 4, 2017

A One Gift Christmas


Shhh...please don't tell my children that a lot of people get a lot of presents for Christmas. We're trying the pick-your-very-favorite-thing-and-you-can-have-it strategy. 

For months leading up the Christmas, when the boys ask for things, we say, "Let's add it to your Christmas list!" As it gets closer, we ask them to settle on their very top gift. And then we get it for them. 

I'd like to think it's really cool to be able to name your favorite thing and guarantee that you could have it? I honestly have no idea. We're just trying our best as parents! 

This year, Henry wants a pocket knife so he can whittle. We are bundling it with this wood and this book. Tate wants a remote-controlled boat



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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Holiday Gift Idea: Magnets


Are you still looking for holiday gift ideas? 

This year we used Social Print Studio to make refrigerator magnets for our family using family pictures that Matt took. We ordered the smaller ones and were happy with how they turned out. I highly recommend them!

(If you are looking for a less expensive, DIY version, I've also made magnets like this before and liked the results...)



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