Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Backyard Complete!




Woo to the hoo-hoo! Our house is officially complete (well, for now). We have lived here more than a year, but we were finally able to finish the backyard landscaping. 

When we first moved in, we were scraping together every last penny to put a downpayment on the house (not because it was very expensive but because I was only working part-time and then not at all once Tate was born). Once we lived here for a while, we saved up our money again and were able to get the front yard professionally landscaped. After that, we continued to save up money and also take out a loan in order to build a pool and get the backyard landscaped. 

The yard has distinct areas. Area one is a play area for kids. Right now it's just mulch, but we hope to build a sandbox, bring in a hammock, add some rocks, etc.


Area two is a firepit. We're thinking about these chairs for the area.


Area three is the pool with a patch of grass off to the side. Eventually we'll get some adirondack chairs for that area.


Area four is a bocce ball court surrounded by 12(!) fruit trees. In about five years the trees will grow up and over the court and provide amazing shade.


Area five is forest that leads down to the creek. Once we save up money again we'll tackle that area. It just needs to be cleared out a bit and then it will be an amazing place to explore. 



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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Enter to Win: Montessori Documentary, Edison's Day


Friends, 

I am so happy to be able to offer a free copy of Edison's Day. It is my absolute favorite Montessori documentary. I have gushed about it many times. It's a 30-minute glimpse into the life of a Montessori family. Edison is 20 months-old in the documentary, and you follow him through the day. There are beautiful scenes of him pouring water for a friend during lunch, helping his dad wash the family car, and helping his mom make dinner. I was (and continue to be) blown away by what a 20 month-old can do when the environment is set up in a way that supports his or her needs. It is so easy to underestimate what children are capable of. This film is beautiful and inspiring. I have watched it countless times and gain new ideas every single time.

The mother in the film, Sarah Moudry, is a knowledgeable and amazing Montessorian. You could not believe my surprise when I found a Montessori "Mommy and Me" class in Houston and she was the instructor. I felt like I was meeting a celebrity! I enrolled Henry when he was just five weeks old and stayed late after every class to pepper her with questions. I now regularly read her blog

I am thrilled to be able to host a contest to give away a free copy of Edison's Day (valued at $45). 

To enter the contest:
  • Please leave a comment with your first name and first two letters of your last name. 
  • Enter by Friday, September 26, 2014 by 11:59pm CST. 
  • Only one entry per person, please (but feel free to have family members enter on your behalf!).
The winner will be announced the following Monday. I will wait to hear from the winner for one week. If I do not hear from him or her by then, I will draw another winner.

Happy Entering! 



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Monday, September 15, 2014

Keepsakes


In a recent article by Mr. Money Mustache about why it's okay to only have one child, I stumbled upon this quote: "In the thick of the bad times of raising a young child, you sometimes feel like your whole life has been one long screaming, screeching, smashing, crying argument." 

This stage in our lives is definitely a challenging one, with Henry being 3.5 and Tate being 1. My professional job is so demanding right now, as is my mothering job. 

So when I think about ways in which I want to keep tangible memories of this stage in our lives, I look for very simple, low-maintenance ways. I'm trying to "make a cleaning" and keep this year  as simple as possible. Here's what we have going on right now:
  • The boys each have a binder full of letters and photos from pregnancy through their first birthday. I will continue to use these binders to add letters each year on their birthdays, class photos, etc.
  • As a family, we've been keeping a scrapbook over the years. However, Matt recently had the idea to just print a family book each year with photos from our Instagram accounts via Blurb. We will continue to add things to the scrapbook (like our yearly anniversary letter), but we won't add photos to it. Instead, we'll make one book a year.  
  • I purchased copies of Oh, the Places You'll Go for Henry and Tate. We ask their teachers to write a note to them at the end of their time together, and we plan to give them these books at graduation. 
  • I got the idea to keep artifacts from their pockets (like the ones above) and turn it into a piece of art inside a shadowbox. I have a basket on a high shelf inside the bathroom closet. As I collect something, I slip it into a little baggie and use a Sharpie marker to label it with their name, date, and brief description of the object. I imagine I will present them with this when they are an adult, like at their weddings (if they get married) or as a housewarming present (if they buy a house).
  • We purchased a hanging ruler to keep track of our boys' heights as they grow. It's easy to roll up, so once we no longer want it hanging on the wall, we will roll it up and put it into one of their Tupperware containers. The boys each have one large container where we keep things for them (a couple of baby clothes, their first blankets, etc.).
All of these are actually really easy to maintain, and I think we'll be able to keep them up!




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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Nighttime Ritual



When I was gearing up to try and get pregnant for the first time, I intentionally built a "Relaxation Ritual" into my evening. It was absolutely amazing. I'm feeling like I need to reinstitute something similar into my life. Right now, I get to work at 6:30am, stay on campus until 5pm, do the dinner and bedtime routine until 6:30pm, and then work on my computer until 10:30pm or 11:00pm. There's not a minute of "me" time in there (well, I guess I sometimes look at Facebook while Matt is bathing the boys). 

And do you know where I really want to start? With a good book! What a concept! I used to be a voracious reader, but over the years I have silently dropped the habit. When I was getting ready for pregnancy, I only read pregnancy/birth/parenting books. After I had Tate, I did read a ton of books on my free Kindle app while breastfeeding. But once the hours of breastfeeding stopped, so did the reading. 

I'd like to get back into the habit of going to the library weekly with Henry. It's so easy to reserve a book for me through the library system and have it delivered to our local branch. 

I also think it might be fun to start a Little Free Library at school! 



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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hallowweeeeennnnn!


It's that time of year again!

Hooray!

I love the planning, scheming, crafting, and creating that precedes October 31st.

Once Tate gets old enough, we'll let him start picking his own costumes. In the meantime, I'm trying to seize the opportunity to create family costumes.

Just like last year, we decided to let Henry pick his costume first, and then we built everyone else's costumes around his (it was a circus theme, and Tate was a strong man). This year Henry decided to be a lion. He didn't leave us with much to work with beyond The Wizard of Oz (which he doesn't know anything about), lions-and-tigers-and-bears-oh-my, a pride of lions, and a repeat of our circus theme.

We decided to be a box of animal crackers:

  • Henry = lion (we're going to dye a sweatshirt tan and then create a lion's mane from yarn)
  • Matt = elephant (he already owns this costume)
  • Me = giraffe (with these ears and tail, and a t-shirt painted with brown splotches)
  • Tate = tiger
We'll pull a wagon that is decorated like a box of animal crackers! 



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Monday, September 8, 2014

Around Here Lately



What a hiatus. 

I'm sorry! 

Life has been just-barely-hanging-on around here. Being the principal of a start-up school is the hardest thing I've ever done. Being the principal of a start-up school on top of being a mother pretty much takes every last ounce of energy that I can muster. 

But I really want to get back into blogging. It's my reflection space. It's my planning space. It's my space to connect with each of you and to draft the kind of life I want to write for myself (and revise, revise, revise!).

I've been through so many changes in the past 3.5 years. I gave birth to Henry, I published a book, we moved to Austin, I helped open a school, we started building a house, I got pregnant again, I had a miscarriage, I got pregnant again, I worked on starting another school, I gave birth, we moved into our new house, I breastfed for a year, and I opened a school.

All all of those seeds we planted are now taking hold and sprouting: the school is open, our house is complete, and we are now a family of four.

And even though I've been trying to savor each stage along the way, it is even more imperative that I allow myself to just sit and savor this for a while. Maybe that's part of why I haven't been blogging--blogging pushes me to start scheming and dreaming!

No, I haven't been blogging because I just simply haven't had a spare minute. I hope I'm able to squirrel away some moments and spend them here in the coming weeks!

I hope all is well with you...



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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Shower Board as a DIY White Board


I'm finally getting around to sharing our DIY white board! It was a cinch to make. First, we purchased a piece of inexpensive shower board from Home Depot. We were happy with the 4' x 8' piece. If we had needed a smaller piece, we would have asked them to cut it on site. Shower board is literally the stuff that goes inside a shower.

Next, we screwed it into the wall. Then we used trim to frame it. (And by "we" I mean our friend Chris who volunteered to help with that part of it in exchange for a cooking lesson.) Then we caulked everything, primed it, and painted it. I purchased vinyl lettering from this Etsy shop. I used thin tape to create the outline of the monthly calendar and some sections on the right (for example, one of them says "On the Menu" and I list out the meals we're having that week). Each month, I use a dry erase marker to label the days. I transfer events from the yearly section over to the monthly section. That's it! 

I was afraid it would stick out from the wall too much or be really distracting, but neither of those things ended up being true. We really like it! 



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