Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Helping the Homeless

Over the past couple months, Henry really started to notice and talk about all the homeless people we pass on the street. Although we try to keep his world mostly positive during the first plane of development (during which he is developing his love for the world), we also want to be honest with him about what he sees. 

It was very clear to us that he was feeling sympathy for the homeless people we pass by each day, so we wanted to enable him to do something to help the situation. We decided that what made the most sense for our family (given that we live in Central Texas where the sun and heat are relentless for most of the year) was to pass out water bottles. 

We keep a shoebox filled with bottled water next to Henry's carseat and Henry passes it out his window when we stop at a stoplight next to a homeless person. We've been doing it for a couple months and it's been working out really well for our family.

Share |

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Teaching Children to Save Money

Henry has been really interested in money lately. He really, really wants quarters for candy machines around town. We choose not to give him quarters on the spot and instead tell him that he can remember to bring quarters from his piggy bank (he solves this problem by turning the knobs anyway--it works more often than you think it would!--and finding stray candy on the ground and putting it in his mouth before we can stop him--it builds his immune system, right?). 

His interest in money inspired my idea for his Christmas present this year: a modified piggy bank system that encourages him to save his money for various purposes. It contains five jars:
  1. Small Change: to spend on small, quick things (candy, cheap toys, etc.)
  2. Saving Up: to put aside for a larger purchase that takes a little time to save for
  3. Sharing: to give away
  4. Car: to save up for a car when he turns 16 (we will pay for his insurance and maintenance, but he will have to buy the car and pay for gas)
  5. College: to go toward his college savings account (we are saving for this, too, but we want him to have the awareness that it takes money)
Whenever Henry gets money, we will divide it into 10 parts. These 10 parts will be divided up into the jars according to the following fraction:
  • Small Change = 1 part
  • Saving Up = 3 parts
  • Sharing = 1 part
  • Car = 3 parts
  • College = 2 parts
I'm not sure how Henry will actually get money. In a Montessori home, chores are just something that everyone does--it's part of how everyone contributes to the family. But I also see the value in him getting his own money so he can begin to learn really valuable lessons related to spending and saving. 

Perhaps we'll just give him money each week equal to his age. We would refrain from buying him things when we're out and about and instead give him a couple dollars each week so we can sit down and divide it up into the jars. 

We definitely wouldn't be starting this if he wasn't already noticing money and generating an interest in it. It's hard to know what approach to take. On the one hand, I really want to give him authentic practice with delaying gratification by saving for a larger item. Research shows that the ability to delay gratification is a huge indicator of success later in life. On the other hand, I don't want him to generate a scarcity mindset that makes him feel like he needs to hoard his money or I don't want him to feel like he doesn't get new things unless he pays for them himself. It feels like a tricky balance for sure. 

What are your plans for teaching your children about money?

Share |

Monday, December 16, 2013

Making a Clearing

When I started thinking about my New Year's Intentions last week, I stumbled upon the idea of needing to make a big clearing to accommodate all the work that is coming up in my life. I've been friends with lots of folks who have started schools (and worked part-time to help open a school in 2012-13), and the consensus is that it's overwhelmingly crazy. 

The problem is that I don't want the craziness to box out the other parts of my life that need attention, such as my family and my health/wellness. For me, it's all a connected system and all the parts have to be functioning well (even if the different parts don't necessarily get equal attention all the time). 

So what are my strategies for mitigating the craziness? 
  • Get my organization system into a rock solid place. In order to maximize my time, I'm going to have to always focus on the most important priority. I need to have a clear sense of what needs to get done between now and the start of school, and I need to generate a timeline for getting it done.
  • Plan ahead as much as possible. Working in schools is largely a game of execution; you're always responding to situations that pop up. But the more time you have for planning upfront (and the more time you allocate for planning while executing), the more you can anticipate and prevent certain things. This means I can't get into the habit of going to bed early or watching TV on weekdays. I know it sounds draconian to say, but it's true. There is so much work to get done between now and the start of school in August. If I choose to relax now, then I will pay the price later. It's a delicate balance for sure. I recently had a baby and I deserve rest. And without adequate rest, I won't be able to work effectively. But if I don't get my work done now, then it will pile up and have to get done later (while I'm also trying to respond to things that are happening in the moment). 
  • Make exercise more efficient. Right now, we're heading to the lake so I can run on Saturday and Sunday. I love being outside in nature (which is why I'm trying to exercise outside), but I think there are more efficient ways to meet all my needs. If I run on the treadmill at the local YMCA, then I'll have more time for other things. When we have lots of free time as a family, that's when we can head into nature. 
  • Get a robot vacuum. With a bloodhound and two children, our house needs constant vacuuming. I actually hardly ever vacuum, but asking for one of those robot things for Christmas would free up some of Matt's time.
  • Hire a cleaning person. This is the hardest one for me. I've always had a problem with outsourcing basic human things. I think it's incredibly important for me to slow down and take care of my physical environment. I also think it's incredibly important to model for my children (and invite them to join in). Matt and I intentionally choose to live in a smaller house so that there is less to clean. But we're getting to a place where we feel stretched thin all the time. If we hired a cleaning person every other week (and paid him/her a good wage to honor their time/energy), I think we would still have plenty to clean on a weekly basis, but we wouldn't have to worry about bigger things: bathrooms, dusting, windows, baseboards. 
  • Give myself permission to drop down to two blog posts a week. I try to be pretty consistent with three postings a week, and I'm hesitant to reduce that number because I enjoy writing in this space so much. But it might take some pressure off to aim for 2-3 times a week versus a solid three. 
I know how this sounds! Some of you might be wondering, "Why would you want to live like that?" It's a question I asked myself many times before choosing to go down this path. I believe in giving more children access to free, public Montessori, and now is my time to pursue this passion. 

Share |

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

Yes, it's that time of year already. It takes me a while to come up with my intentions for the year, so I need to start thinking about it early. I also need to figure out what my process will be for reflecting on the year. 

I might want to use my template or maybe Andrea's form instead. Or perhaps I need to create something new. I'm wondering if I should start with what I need in my life on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis and use that as the base for how I reflect on my life for the past year and set intentions for the new year. 

Or perhaps I think about it in terms of all the roles I play in my life and what I want to accomplish or how I want to be within those roles. Or maybe I create more of a wheel of the different categories of my life with the center representing 0 and the outer edge representing 10. Then I can connect the dots and see where I'm a little off. 

I definitely want to have a mantra for the year. Two years ago it was "Make Dreams Happen," and this year it is "Put Down Roots." I imagine that the process of reflection will clarify what makes the most sense for 2014, but I'm thinking about something like "Appreciate" or "Be the Change." I also want to keep the calendar feature of my template that pushes me to think back about everything that has happened this year. And it would be awesome to dig up all my old forms and see how my life has changed over the years. I want to have specific yearly goals that I can drive toward on a monthly basis and monthly goals that I can drive toward on a weekly basis. I imagine tons of these goals will be work-related, since opening a school is going to be huge. I wonder if I simply need to make a big, gigantic clearing for that work and then figure out what the other things are that I can fit in around that. 

Here are some thoughts about how to reflect this year: 

Looking Back 
  • Flip through my electronic calendar to complete the calendar template from this year: What kind of year did I have? What do I want to celebrate from the year? What do I hope to do differently next time? What did I accomplish? What did I let fall by the wayside? Is there anything I need to do before declaring this year complete? 
  • Review my past forms to remind myself about my trajectory: How was this year similar to and different from years past? 
 Looking Ahead 
  • What kind of year do I want to have this year? What do I want to make more time for? In what areas do I want to grow? What do I want to accomplish? What do I want to maintain? 
  • What are my specific intentions for the year? 

Share |

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Magic of Montessori Movement

There are aspects of the Montessori philosophy that make parenting more difficult. For example, I think it would be much easier to plop Tate into one of those baby exersaucers. 

Instead, I always try to put him on the ground during his awake time. I try not to put him into positions that he couldn't get into himself (e.g., no bumbo seats to support him in a seated position before he is actually sitting). His first activity was lying on his back watching visual mobiles, like the whales and butterflies, or going on his stomach to look at black-and-white books.

Once he started reaching for the mobiles hanging above him, I switched to things he could bat at: a puzzle ball, a bell, etc. hung under an arch toy hanger

Once he started grabbing at the objects dangling in front of him, I switched to a wooden ring and other toys that he can grab and interact with. 

At three months, he started rolling over onto his stomach, so then I started putting out objects that he could reach for, and scoot toward, like the bell and ball cylinders. Once he touches them, they roll slightly and encourage him to scoot toward them again. 

By the end of four months, he was able to army crawl his way toward anything. Now at five months, he is getting up on all fours and giving indication that he is eager to start pulling himself up on things. I look at this little being with utter and complete amazement. 

I've done my best to observe him and prepare the physical environment in a way that supports his development and then I've stepped aside to let him do his thing. What he's taught himself to do in four short months is nothing short of amazing. As I marvel at what he can do, I'm not excited that he's reaching "milestones" early. That's not it at all. Instead, I am excited about what he is learning. By being provided with freedom of movement from day one that allows the full development of his muscles and motion (no swings, no infant seats, etc.), he is learning that he can exert his will within the world toward a specific end. At five months, he is learning that he has control over his own body and he can direct it to accomplish his own ends. 

And that lesson, to me, is the foundation for the healthiest kind of self-esteem. It's a sense of self that doesn't come from others' praise or even their love. It is not dependent upon anything external. And the point of that kind of independence is not separation from those around him. After he moves from dependence to independence, then he can move toward interdependence. The separation then helps him form even healthier attachments.

This blog post over at Janet Lansbury talks about this same idea in a different way. A mother wrote in with her worry about the fact that her child wasn't learning how to sit as early as his friends. But then she realized:
But then as we watched the babies, my boy flipped onto his tummy and proceeded to circle around the floor, grabbing any toys that caught his fancy, exploring and discovering. The other two babies just sat there playing with the toys their mothers handed them. The striking thing was that they didn’t even reach for new toys. Maybe they had learned already that if they tried to reach something they would just fall over. Or perhaps the thought of reaching for something they wanted hadn’t even occurred to them, since their mothers always handed them toys.

Share |

Monday, December 9, 2013

New Organization System

Every time there's a change in my life, I usually have to make some kind of change to my organization system. Here are some of its past iterations:

As I head into school leadership, I need to have a vastly more complex system than I'm using now. It needs to be computer-based (even though I'm a paper-and-pen kind of gal), and it needs to sync to my phone, so that I always have it with me. 

A couple months ago, Matt pointed out the most awesome system that was already on my computer: OneNote. I love it! It's basically a computerized version of how I would organize myself if I could still use a good ol' fashioned binder. It has tabs and pages; you can copy and paste from other Word documents; you can create tables. (It does fancier stuff, too, but I was content with being able to organize my information within tabs. For example, I had a general tab for "Management" and then separate pages for every person I manage. That way, I had a centralized place to keep track of our meeting notes and things to follow-up about.). 

And then my computer collapsed and I purchased a Mac. And now OneNote is gone. Oy! I have tried everything. I tried doing this weird installation thing to trick my Mac into running OneNote, and it worked! But not as well as the original. It's too clunky and it malfunctions right when I need it to work. 

There's a promising Mac version coming soon, but it's "read only" right now. 

There's other software that might do the trick for $49. But it doesn't seem to have a corresponding iPhone app. 

I know lots of people who swear by Evernote, but it just doesn't organize information in the way I need it to. 

Remember the Milk looked promising but, again, I'm looking for general categories (that I can name myself) that can be clicked on to reveal new categories that can be clicked on to reveal notes/lists. 

It seems like my best bet (until Notebook comes out) is Growly Notes. It's not ideal because it doesn't interface with my iPhone, but it seems like the best I can do for now. Or maybe I'll stick with my clunky, shady version of OneNote, since it syncs with my phone. 

Argh. I'm definitely not able to check off this item on my List of Ways to Organize My Life

Share |

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

One In, One Out

Matt and I have lived in a variety of homes. Our first one in Denver was a tiny little thing. It was tiny to the point of uncomfortable. Our bed had to be pushed against the wall, which meant that one of us was always climbing over the other person.

The house we bought in Houston was approximately 1,000 square feet with an attic but no garage. We stored our lawn mower and chicken food in the laundry closet, and every space had to serve multiple functions. We had two bedrooms and one bathroom, a tiny dining room that could only accommodate a table for four, and a tiny living room.

When we moved to Austin, our rental house was a huge 1950s ranch. It had a two-car garage and closet after closet.

When it came time to design our long-term family home, we wanted something in between. We honestly couldn't afford to build a garage, which we were okay with, since our past garages seemed to attract junk. We put as much extra storage space as possible inside the house, in the form of linen closets and even some "attic" space above the bedroom closets. Although I'm nervous about how our house will feel as the boys grow and take up more space, I'm happy with our amount of storage space. I like that we have to be strategic with the items that we own.

For example, a friend of ours just gave us a new cutting board for a housewarming present. We currently have a giant one and a tiny one. With the addition of this new cutting board, we decided to donate the tiny one. We have a basket that we use as a dedicated donation basket where we collect things that we want to donate to Goodwill. Once it gets full, we set it by the front door and Matt usually takes it. Having this kind of system helps remind us to declutter. I think it can be really easy to let things accumulate over the years. Old things can get buried under new things to the point where you forget that the old things are even there.

I'm especially feeling frustrated by my inability to keep up with Henry and Tate's clothing and toys right now. Because our closets lack any organization, it's difficult to rotate out clothing that gets too small and rotate in new clothing. I want to hurry and get closet systems installed so it's easier to access bins of clothing and toys.

One project at a time! 

Share |

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Five Months: Happiest Birthday, Tate!

Dearest Tate,

This has been the month of movement for you! You are such a little scoochie bug. At the beginning of the month, you were doing 360 degree turns. By the middle of the month, you were propelling your body anywhere you wanted to go (mainly by pushing off the ground with your legs, but also by pulling with your arms). By the end of the month, you were getting up on all fours. You are determined to join the action! 

You are still such a joy to be around. You are all smiles. You are always watching and laughing and wanting to be in the middle of things. 

This was also the month you became OBSESSED with food. Seriously, you are lightning-fast, and you make dinner time very difficult because you are always grabbing for our bowls or plates. You love, love, love sucking on apples and drinking water. You even got to suck on Henry's chocolate chip cookie when dad left you two alone for a minute. Your brother is such a good sharer. 

We could not have asked for a better little guy to round out our family. Thank you for blessing us with your presence every day. Thank you for being you. 

With gratitude,

Your mama

Share |

Monday, December 2, 2013

Setting Up a Nanny Share

I've talked a lot about the things I did for Henry that I want to be sure to replicate with Tate and the things I'm willing to let go. So far, I've been really happy with how it's all played out. 

The one area where it's been a struggle, however, is the length of time I'm able to stay home with the baby after birth. With Henry, I stayed home for 14 months before enrolling him in daycare. I was still working during that time (e.g., I wrote a book and did some educational consulting), but I was his primary caregiver the entire time. 

With Tate, I wanted to be able to do the same thing, but I just can't. If my second pregnancy would have gone to term instead of ending in miscarriage, our baby would be turning 12 months in January, which would have coincided perfectly with when I start back to work full-time (My work load is actually more than full-time already, but I'm only on the payroll part-time for October, November, and December.) 

But instead (and gratefully!) we have Tater Tot who will only be turning six-months in January. I am itching to be able to focus on my work, but I still want him to have the benefit of being breastfed every three to four hours and to spend his days in the calm and quiet of his own home. A nanny seemed like the best option while he's so young, especially while we're waiting for the school's temporary facilities to be set up (P.S. We purchased on 9 acres of land!) and I'm working from home. 

However, nannies can be expensive, so we had to get creative. We decided to try and set up a nanny share with another family so we could split the cost. I posted a message on three local neighborhood list-servs and was able to find a family with a baby just three months younger than Tate. I was looking for a baby around the same age because I wanted them to have the same developmental needs. Birth to crawling, crawling to walking, and walking to running are all very different stages. 

I signed up for a month of and interviewed a couple candidates. We settled on one and she starts this week! The other family will bring over their daughter at 7:30am and the nanny will watch both of them from 7:30am-2:30pm, Monday through Friday. Then the nanny will bring their little girl to their house and continue watching her until 5pm while I take Tate to go pick up Henry from school. 

It's funny how easy this whole process seems as I write about it in hindsight. The truth is it was anything but easy! It was stressful trying to find another family with similar needs (many families wanted part-time care, wanted to pay daycare prices instead of nanny prices, wanted to start later in the year, wanted different hours, or had older children). Then it was stressful trying to identify, interview, and hire candidates. There was lots of back and forth among the other family, the nanny, and us. It was so hard to give up work time to focus on this process. The irony! I had to give up work time in order to create more work time for myself. Argh.

At many points throughout the process, I thought, "This isn't going to work. I should've just signed him up for daycare. But now he's not even on any waiting lists. What are we going to do?!?" However (knock on wood), I'm so thankful I persisted and pursued a more creative solution that works better for our family. I'm crossing all of my appendages that it goes well! 

Share |

Monday, November 25, 2013

Snapshots of Joy & Gratitude

When I used to teach 3rd grade, I read Cam Jansen with my students. Cam had a photographic memory, so she would go around taking snapshots in her mind. She would later use these snapshots to help solve mysteries. 

Lately, I've found myself doing the same thing (well, the mental snapshot thing, not the solving mysteries part). I find myself taking a mental photograph of a situation as a way to pause and soak up the joy. The intentional pause also gives me a moment to acknowledge the gratitude I feel. 

It happens in simple moments, like when Matt, Henry, Tate, and I are "making a tent" on the bed by going under the covers or like the time Tate grabbed at Henry's breakfast taco and Henry said, "I guess we need to make him some guacamole to eat." Or it happens when Henry, Tate, and I are driving in the car, listening to Henry's favorite song on repeat and rocking out with clapping, singing, and fist-pumping. 

I am overwhelmed by my luck sometimes. I feel like it's all too good to be true. I don't know how I managed to give birth to two healthy boys and marry a man who is pure light. 

I don't talk about the contentment I feel regarding my life in blog posts very often because it feels like bragging. It also doesn't feel useful to me as an exercise. I gravitate toward blogging when I need to puzzle through something, think out loud, hold myself accountable to accomplishing something. I try to make other space in my life for expressing gratitude and celebrating the joy of living. Every night as I fall asleep, I try to reflect on the things I am grateful for. That practice--instituted as part of my New Year's intention process--has helped me focus on gratitude more throughout the day, too. Hence these new "Snapshots of Joy & Gratitude" that are popping up in my life. 

This weekend one of my friends posted on Facebook a request for wedding venues in Colorado. I recommended Sunshine Mountain Lodge and included a link to the story of our wedding there. Rereading the story, I was reminded of how much insecurity I felt as Matt and I forged our own path. I was reminded of how much hustling it took. We had to have a vision of what we wanted and we had to make it happen for ourselves, despite the resistance we experienced. 

And I don't mean to harp on this fact, but only spending $2,000 on our wedding put us on the trajectory that has led us to where we are now. We closed on our house in Houston just days after our wedding, which cleaned out our entire bank account. If we had spent any more on our wedding, we wouldn't have been able to afford the downpayment. 

Three years later, we were able to sell the house for a significant profit (we saved 3% on realtor fees by selling it ourselves), which allowed me to stay home with Henry and pursue my passion to open Austin's first public Montessori school (which was a volunteer effort for the past two years). 

We committed to living frugally for a year, so that we could save up to build a family home together.

And all the fights (caused by the restrictions of living on a tight budget), the insecurity ("Will we be able to save enough money for the downpayment on our permanent loan?"), the judgment (people write mean things about me on the internet every day because of the choices I make for myself) and the hustling (working part-time while volunteering for my school part-time while taking care of Henry after school and being pregnant with Tate--all while facing obstacles head-on and persisting) were all worth it. Life was still enjoyable while all of that was happening, but now we get to watch it grow and blossom. 

We hosted Matt's birthday party this past weekend. He wanted to throw a 1980s movie party--pizza, soda, candy, popcorn, and Goonies on the big screen. Our friends crowded into our home and congregated around the island. I used to daydream about that kitchen island while we were building our house. It wasn't the object itself that excited me; it was the potential of the object to help cultivate what I want more of in life--connection and community. 

Several months ago, our friends told us about a giant movie screen that was deeply discounted on We decided to purchase it because we had visions of hosting movie parties (mainly outside). In preparation for Matt's birthday party, we decided to research the possibility of purchasing a projector. We were able to snag an awesome one off Amazon for $322. 

As all of our friends crowded onto our giant sectional couch with blankets and popcorn, I was once again overcome with gratitude that we have been able to create the kind of life we want for ourselves. It was so great to spend quality time reconnecting with old friends and connecting with new ones. One of our friends stayed the night, and we all enjoyed waffles together in the morning. 

I'm so tempted to delete this entire post because--again--it sounds like I'm just trying to brag about myself. I promise that is not my intention. My intention is to say, "We did it! And you can, too!" Whatever vision you have for your life, it is within you to make it happen for yourself. That's such an incredibly empowering place to start. It's not easy to visualize the path and then follow it, but it's completely possible. 

Share |

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Introducing Baby Foods

It's been fascinating to compare Henry and Tate's developmental trajectories. Henry was four months -old when we took a trip to New Mexico and Colorado. Matt and I distinctly remember eating at a restaurant when Henry started reaching for our water glasses. He wanted to bring everything to his mouth. 

Tate has entered that same phase (exact same behavior with water glasses!), which is why we want to get him started on solid food. The Montessori approach to food introduction actually begins even earlier, but I'm too nervous to start any earlier than four months. 

I think we'll start with rice cereal, sweet potato, banana, avocado, and apple. We never waited several days between foods with Henry, so I don't think we'll do it with Tate either. We will also introduce a small water glass from the very beginning. It worked so well with Henry. He's only broken glasses or dishes a handful of times in the past three years, and I think he has learned to be more careful because of it. He never throws things off the table, etc.

So far, Henry is a fantastic eater. We never have to worry about whether he's eating enough, and he has a varied palate. He eats edamame, sushi, Thai food, broccoli, quinoa, roasted vegetables, chickpeas, etc. Here are the things we implemented with him that we will likely replicate with Tate:
  • Introduce foods as soon as he shows an interest of bringing things to his mouth (~4 months)
  • Introduce a variety of foods quickly--all sorts of fruits and vegetables
  • Make interesting foods as soon as possible, such as green beans with mint
  • Make baby food from scratch because it tends to be chunkier and better preparation for eating
  • Avoid relying on convenience baby foods, like pouches
  • Accelerate to foods with more texture earlier than the average American book recommends
  • Graduate to real foods as quickly as possible
  • Never make a separate "kids meal" 
  • Share our food at restaurants rather than ordering off the kids' menu
  • Never force him to eat anything and be okay if he chooses not to eat (and don't offer him something else beyond what's on the table)
  • Introduce sugary food around the year mark but use it to teach moderation
  • Serve his food on ceramic plates with real forks and spoons from the very beginning
  • Limit snacks to mid-morning and mid-afternoon--try to avoid snacks while driving, walking in the stroller, etc.
  • Push the high-chair right up to the table during family meals
  • Serve snacks at a child-sized weaning table
I'm not expecting Tate to be the same phenomenal eater that Henry is, but we'll see how these strategies go! 

Share |

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Healthy Kid Lunches

Henry graduated from the Youngest Children's Community at his Montessori school. He's been there since he was 18 months-old, so it was a bittersweet transition. The teachers and I cried as we said goodbye, and we exchanged gifts. The nice part is that we were able to transfer him to a different campus (of the same school), so our commute is cut in half. 

When he was in the Youngest Children's Community, the children worked together to make lunch for themselves every day: tacos, pizza, sandwiches, hummus, etc. It was the sweetest, most amazing thing. Now that he's in primary (ages 3-6), we have to send him with a lunch every day. What a huge transition! 

I wasn't particularly eager to add one more item to our to-do list every day, but so far packing a lunch hasn't been bad. I ordered this dragonfly lunch box from L.L.Bean because it received high ratings for keeping food cold. Then I ordered this Bento box style lunch container and this water bottle. After learning more about how they do lunch at his school (the children transfer their food onto real plates), I realized it probably wasn't the best option. It would have been easier for him to transfer food from tiny containers. Oh well. I like that the compartments are labeled with the food groups, which helps Henry learn how to balance his meals. It also makes packing and cleaning even easier. 

I tried to figure out how to make it easier to pack his lunches, not waste food, and offer Henry a variety of things to eat. I decided that I would send him the same thing for five days in a row and then switch to new things the following week. I was able to add the items to our meal plan (as Henry Lunch #1, Henry Lunch #2, etc.). Here are some of the things we intend to send:

  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Edamame

  • Pepper jack cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Colby jack cheese

  • Crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Rice cakes
  • Pita bread

  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Oranges

  • Snap peas
  • Cucumbers
  • Broccoli 
  • Cauliflower

  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Cashews
I'm tempted to buy four more of these so we can pack them all at the same time for the entire week. It seals tightly, so it would be similar to storing everything in Tupperware. 

Share |

Monday, November 18, 2013

Making a Change

For me, when it comes to making a change in my life, my first step is usually to be clear about what I want to change. I did that a couple weeks ago in this post when I wrote about wanting to eat healthier foods and get more exercise. 

Sadly, it hasn't led to any change in my life! I've still been indulging in unhealthy foods and not making any time for exercise. Identifying that I have been stress-eating didn't do anything to help abate said stress-eating.

So now it's time for step two. For me, step two--when it comes to making a change in my life--is getting really specific about what the change will look like and when. For diet and exercise, I literally need to map out for myself what I'm going to eat for the majority of the time, what exercise I'm going to do, and when I'm going to do it. Essentially, I have to put myself into auto-pilot mode so I'm more likely to implement the change. 

First thing to figure out: breakfast. I had gotten on track by making green smoothies every morning. I love them! Protein, calcium, fruit, and vegetables all in one meal? Amazingness! Sadly, Tate doesn't respond well to that much dairy in my diet, so I'm back to the drawing board. 

I thought about peanut butter oatmeal (I love adding apples, pumpkin seeds, and dried cherries to my oatmeal), but I didn't want to give up the greens. A quick search uncovered this green smoothie made with almond milk (which is usually fortified with calcium), a frozen banana, flax seed meal, spinach, mixed berries, and peanut butter. Apparently it has 11 grams of protein. I'm excited to try it! 

Next up: morning snack. Depending on how filling breakfast is, I may not need a morning snack because I eat lunch pretty early. If I do need a snack, I'm going to go with a handful of almonds and fruit. I also need to make sure I've drunk enough water. Sometimes I'm actually just thirsty instead of hungry. Another thing I need to do is pre-wash as much fruit as possible on Sunday, so it can be grab-and-go throughout the week. If I have to stop what I'm doing to prepare food, I'm more likely to just eat more almonds and less fruit. I know it sounds pathetic to say I'm too lazy to wash an apple, but when Tate's sleeping and I get to work, I am desperate to fit in as much work as possible. 

We usually eat dinner leftovers for lunch, but I need to have a back-up. I've been eating egg sandwiches on bagels, but I am way too tempted by a bag of bagels in the house. Maybe I should go for a salad? I could make it a hearty one with lettuce, beans, cheese cubes, and an additional vegetable (I already have all of those things in containers for Henry's lunch). 

And an afternoon snack? I'll go for a cheese stick and more fruit. 

We've been using our meal planning process and doing fine with making our meals most night. I'm not a big snacker after dinner, but it's hard to resist a dessert if Matt volunteers to go out and get something. I thought about pushing him towards McDonald's (gross, I know!) because their vanilla ice-cream cones are so inexpensive and low-fat, but when I actually look at the ingredients I am completely repulsed. Maybe I'll just have to muster up some willpower in these situations and say no thank you while he gets something for himself. 

As for exercise, it's going to be a little trickier. I feel so stretched thin as it is; I know it's going to be difficult to give up some of my free time for exercise. I'd like to fit in two--maybe three--runs a week. It's been nice going on Saturday mornings. If we leave soon after our 7am wake-up, then I get a run in while the boys hang out at the dog park. It's hard to get out of bed when we're having so much fun just relaxing as a family, but I like to get back in time for Tate's nap so I can have some time to myself for blogging while Tate and Henry go for a run. I wonder if we should repeat the same thing on Sunday, so I'm guaranteed to have two runs a week? 

As for the third run, I'm thinking about joining the YMCA. I love the concept of a community recreational center that brings neighbors together for health and wellness stuff, but I have a hard time stomaching the $80 monthly fee for a family membership. It may start to make more sense as the boys get older and can take advantage of more amenities. For now, I think I'll just stick to two runs a week and try to attend one yoga class. It looks like there's a good one just 10 minutes away from my house from 8-9pm. Although I hate to concentrate all my exercise on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, I think it would be better for me to get it over with at the beginning of the week so I'm less likely to make excuses as the week goes on. I'm also going to e-mail a neighbor to see if she wants to sign up with me. It would be great to have a carpool buddy and some increased accountability! 

If we do need to eat out during the week, I should try and suggest only healthy options:
  • How Do You Roll for edamame, miso soup, and sushi
  • Chipotle for a salad bowl
  • Mother's Cafe for a veggie burger and salad
  • Greek food
  • Lavaca Teppon for grilled tofu, vegetables, and rice

When it comes to health and wellness, I aim for good choices about 80% of the time. I'm feeling really good about this plan!

Bananas prepared by Henry for freezing

Share |

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gifts for a Three Year-Old

I don't really like thinking about Christmas before Thanksgiving, but it's often a necessary part of gift-giving! First we came up with a list of things to get our friends and family. Next, we began the process of generating the list of things that we would want (per the request of our family). Here's what I came up with for Henry:

Share |

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Recommendation: I'm a Big Brother

We're four months in to this whole sibling thing, and so far it's going well. Henry absolutely adores Tate (and vice versa). We did a lot (and continue to do a lot) to make the transition as smooth as possible. I know it's going to get a whole lot rockier when Tate is mobile enough to take Henry's stuff and knock down his block towers, but for now we're soaking up the sweetness. 

One of the things that helped was the book I'm a Big Brother by Joanna Cole. Our neighbor gave it to us, and it's awesome (aside from the fact that it's heteronormative). It talks about all the things babies can't do (like play or eat pizza) and reiterates important things (like asking before holding the baby). It's a great read over and over in the months before birth. 

It would make a great gift for a little boy or girl who's expecting a new sibling!  

Share |

Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 Organizational Challenge

It's funny how you can move into a brand-new house and still have a ton of projects to do. Although we aren't ripping up floors and painting like the folks over at Young House Love, we still have a whole host of projects to undertake. Some of these projects fall into Phase 1, which means they need to get done quickly so we can feel more settled, while others fall into Phase 2 (and 3, 4, and beyond!), which require that we save up more money. 

When I last talked about our house, I mentioned that we had put everything in a spot (for example, everything was assigned a closet), but within all of those spots, there is little to no organization. That means whenever we open any closet or drawer we are bombarded with chaos. For those of you who are sensitive to order (or lack thereof) like I am, you can imagine how unsettling this situation is! 

When I'm experiencing stress in my external orbits (e.g., with work), then I especially appreciate calm and serenity within my internal orbits (e.g., home). That's why I want to commit to completing some of these projects before January 1. 

Here are my priorities: 
  1. Get stairs built off the deck (right now it's completely enclosed, which means we can only access the backyard by going out the front and around--very annoying when trying to let the bloodhound out!)
  2. Landscape the front yard (right now it's just a big mud pit, which means we are constantly bringing in large amounts of dirt)
  3. Add iron railings to the front deck (this was part of the original plan but we ran out of money so it had to be postponed)
  4. Purchase a door mat
  5. Purchase pillows for the couch
  6. Install curtains
  7. Hang something above the couch
  8. Install spice racks
  9. Organize junk drawer
  10. Organize utensil drawer
  11. Install Tate's closet
  12. Install outdoor closet
  13. Plan bathroom closets
  14. Fix window
  15. Fix dry wall
  16. Replace dead plants
I'm not gonna lie--it's a little overwhelming to look at these 16 major things and imagine how to get them finished alongside Matt's birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but I know I will feel so, so much better going into the new year if we can get these done.

To kick off this list of projects, I decided to tackle one of the easier items: I organized our cooking utensil drawer. Here's how I did it: 
  1. Took out everything and organized it into groups of like items. During that process, I purged a couple of things that were repeats.
  2. I laid everything out on the counter in groups to create a draft arrangement.
  3. I used these drawer dividers from The Container Store to create different compartments. 
  4. I used my label maker to label each section in order to make maintaining the system easier. 
Is there anything you want to get organized before the end of the year? Feel free to declare your intentions here for a little accountability! 

Share |

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sleep Training

"Sleep training" is such a polarizing topic, but I think those are the ones we need to talk about most. If we share our rationale, thoughts, feelings, and experiences with each other, then we create more opportunities for conversation, agreement, and disagreement, which ultimately leads to more purposeful parenting. Someone may read this and think, "That's definitely not the route I want to go," which is completely understandable. At the end of the day, we are left alone with our thoughts and we have to feel good about the choices we make as parents. 

Matt and I started sleep training Henry around five months because our pediatrician recommended that we do it (if we were going to do it) between 4 and 6 months. He said it got much, much harder after 6 months. The three of us had been traveling around the Southwest, and it really threw off Henry's sleep. He was waking up all night long (even more than when he was a baby, baby!). We were exhausted by the time we got home (both from traveling and from months and months of fitful sleep) and were ready for a change. We decided to start sleep training. 

Our pediatrician also told us that 4 month-olds can go 8-10 hours at night without milk (6-8 hours at two months and 10-12 hours at six months). So if Henry woke up earlier than the recommended length, we let him cry for five minutes before going into his room and soothing him. If he was still crying, we went in ten minutes later. If he was still crying, we went in 15 minutes later. 

The first night, he woke up three times. The second night he woke up twice. And the third night he woke up once. After that, he basically slept from 8pm to 7am (barring new teeth or sickness). As his naps changed over the months, his bedtime gradually moved earlier and earlier. He still sleeps until 7am. 

We've been really happy with the way Henry sleeps, so we knew that we wanted to try sleep training with Tate when he hit the four-month mark. The decision was a lot easier the second time around because we've seen the benefits for both us as a couple and Henry. The first time around, I was really worried about interrupting Henry's attachment to us. I very much believe that infants absorb everything. Part of why we tried to have a homebirth was because we wanted Henry to have the gentlest, kindest welcome into the world. The primary reason we decided not to circumcise is because it felt unnecessarily cruel to subject a baby to the pain that comes from severed skin. 

So deciding to let Henry cry for 5-minute, 10-minute, and 15-minute increments was not something we took lightly. In the end, though, we ended up feeling fine with it. We felt like a full nights sleep was definitely good for Henry. He has always grown really well, and he seems well-attached and adjusted. We also felt like we were better parents because of it. We have more patience when we sleep for the recommended period, and we benefitted from having time alone or with each other in the evenings. Sleep and time to ourselves help meet our needs so we are more available to meet our children's needs. 

With Tate, we were eager to start sleep training right away. Where we are in our lives right now (two full-time jobs and a toddler) makes us even more exhausted. In the weeks leading up to Tate's four-month birthday (November 1st), his sleep got worse and worse. He was waking up every couple hours (and sometimes in 30-minute increments!). He would only go back to sleep if I fed him or we put him in the Moby and carried him around. Since he was fine going back to sleep in the Moby without eating, I felt like he wasn't waking up out of hunger. 

The first night, we left his Montessori floor bed (i.e., a crib mattress) next to our bed. When he woke up, we tried not to respond for five minutes. However, he rolls so much that he would roll himself into the wall and we would need to intervene to help him. Still, he was able to put himself back to sleep and significantly reduced the frequency of wakings. 

The next night, we moved his mattress into his room and put it in the center of the room on a plush carpet. The first time he woke up he fussed himself back to sleep. The second time, I fed him. Then he slept until 7am. 

The third night, he woke up once and I fed him. Then he slept until 7am. 

We'll see how tonight goes! Matt and I are both feeling a huge sense of relief that our sleep deprivation days might be coming to an end. 

Share |

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Four Months: Happiest Birthday, Tate!


We cannot get enough of you. Seriously, you are the softest, sweetest little thing.

What a month! You started by rolling over, back to front. We were having a play date one day, and you suddenly just rolled over. No struggle, no practice--you just rolled over. Now when I try to put you under one of your hanging toys, it captures your attention for about two minutes before you are already flipping over! I had to start putting out the bell and ball cylinder because you are eager to scoot toward things, grab them, and put them in your mouth.

Toward the end of the month, you mastered rolling from stomach to back. You lead with your head and then look startled when you flip over.

We continue to have so much fun with you. You love listening to the books we read, and you laugh when you are tickled. You were such a good sport when we dressed you up in a strongman costume for Halloween and painted a mustache and big eyebrows on your face. Henry loves going under tents with you (we get on his bed and pull his comforter over our heads). You try to eat the tent.

Your dad and I remembered the meaning of your name this month: cheerful. Yes, that is exactly right. You are cheerful and sweet and just generally fun to be around.

I thank the Universe nearly every day for the opportunity to be your mother.

With gratitude,


Share |

Monday, November 4, 2013


And with that, the year is almost to a close. I haven't done my monthly goal posts since Tate's arrival. I think my overarching goal has been to put my head down and get through it! It's been a year of big things: Baby Tate! The House! The School! I wish I had time to just sit back and let it sink in. But there's been so much to do since July. I was back at work meetings just two weeks after Tate's arrival (my mom was in town and able to watch Tate and Matt was still on paternity leave). 

And even though I've been full-speed ahead with getting the school up and running, I've also been prioritizing time with Tate. I've been next to him for a feeding every two to four hours for the past four months of his life. I've snuggled up to him during his nighttime feedings and essentially held him in the Moby or Ergo for a nap nearly every three hours all day long (Matt takes over when he gets home). 

I get exhausted when I see it written out like that. 

On top of all the Tate-induced responsibilities in our lives, there's still a lot to do with Henry. Even more than when he was an only child because we're trying to give him extra attention and love to help him weather the arrival of his new brother. I pick him up every afternoon and we typically play on the front lawn of the schools. He asks, "Do you want to chase me, Mom?" and I try to say yes as often as I can. 

The funny thing is, I haven't even had time to stop and realize how stressed and busy I've been. I've just noticed the symptoms: I see myself craving unhealthy foods (and indulging, even when I know it has the potential to induce a gall bladder attack that cripples me from midnight to 4am). I watch myself have zero motivation or inclination for exercise. I see our house getting messier and messier as I take things out in a rush and leave a disaster trail behind me. 

When I get to this place, I first have to take control of something tangible and immediate. This time, I started with our laundry. I washed every piece of clothing, sheet, comforter, towel, napkin, burp cloth, and hand towel in our house. While the cycles were going, I put away everything that had been displaced during our frenetic Halloween preparations: paint, embroidery thread, spray foam, twine, the box cutter, etc. for Matt's costume; balloons, puffy paint, tape, etc. for Tate's costume. The massive glass drink dispenser for our block party (there were about 30 of us in all!).

And then I took it one step further and transferred our files from their temporary plastic home to our permanent filing cabinet/bedside table. 

But these are all the surface symptoms. I'm merely plucking off leaves instead of getting to the trunk or the root of the issue. 

One: it's just hard parenting an infant. They are completely dependent upon other people to meet nearly all of their needs. And the sleep deprivation! Seriously, my brain is working at about 36% capacity. I struggle and grasp for words to express my thoughts (when I can remember my thoughts). Sometimes I stop and remember, "Oh, yeah, you have an infant! No wonder you are tired/stressed/overwhelmed. Duh!" 

Two: I realized that it's getting too hard to be Tate's primary caregiver all day long while trying to start a school. He naps very consistently and pretty much adheres to a schedule, which allows me plenty of work time, but he's getting older and his awake time is getting longer and longer. It also feels like my schedule is too fragmented. I need more sustained periods of work time to focus, concentrate, and accomplish things. 

My solution to problem number two has created even more stress: I've been working to establish a nanny share. I should talk about it in a whole other post! 

Writing all of this out helps me feel better already. There are very concrete things I can do to reduce my current stress levels. Thanks for listening! 

Share |

Monday, October 28, 2013

'Tis the Season!

Ah, 'tis the season of holidays! With a new baby around, I forgot that I like to start thinking about Halloween in the summer, so I have plenty of time to think about Thanksgiving and Christmas before they sneak up on me. 

Halloween seems pretty under control. I talked to the two other families I have met in the neighborhood, and they were excited about the idea of a block party Halloween bash. They are going to invite some folks, and I found two other families off the neighborhood list-serv to invite. We'll just set up a folding table in the cul-de-sac for pizza. I purchased these glow stick bracelets to pass out; I figured they would increase our visibility while trick-or-treating and be super-fun!   

What else makes a fun cul-de-sac party for a bunch of toddlers? Sidewalk chalk? Bubbles? Done and done. 

We still need to make Tate's strongman costume and finish painting Matt's popcorn costume. I need to borrow a couple things for my clown costume. 

Now onto Thanksgiving...

We usually travel to our friends' house in Houston, but with two young ones in tow, that idea is less appetizing. Plus, I think we're excited to host at our house now that we have a big table and a deck. I think a day of cooking with friends and then dinner outside sounds positively delightful. I wonder what's the best way to organize an invitation since we'll want to collect quite a bit of information (such as whether they want to come early and cook at our house or just show up for dinner)? Perhaps just an Evite with a link to a Google doc Excel sheet that lists what we need? That way, everyone can see everyone else's responses and respond accordingly. 

It seems like we'll want to set food out throughout the day--but easy food so we don't get overwhelmed with preparing food while we prepare food. Maybe just monkey bread for the morning time and crockpot chili for lunch? With hummus and pita chips + fruit for a snack? 

Ooh, I think I want to make these clay wishbones for an after dinner surprise! 

As far as Christmas goes, I already booked our tickets to Florida to see my family for part of the holiday, and then Matt's family is coming to Austin for the other part. We'll just need to figure out presents for everyone. We'll need to get those ordered and wrapped ASAP to reduce the stress. 

Oh, and there's Matt's birthday in there! I think he already has an idea about what he wants to do for his party, so I'll just work with him to plan it. I already ordered and received his present. 

Phew! I feel so much better spending a few minutes to get some ideas out. Thanks for listening! 

Share |

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How to Revive Trick-or-Treating in a Neighborhood

I've been trying to decide what to do for Halloween. I posted on our neighborhood list-serv to get a sense of what our neighborhood is like, and it sounds like it's a lot of dark houses and not a lot of trick-or-treaters. 

My first inclination was to schlep our family to the Mueller development. It's a high-density, primarily affluent neighborhood in East Austin. Apparently families from all over our side of town flock there for the bountiful candy. I thought the close proximity of houses would be easier on a toddler.

But then I thought about one of the comments on the list-serv a little more:

We had one caller [in 2000], a young girl who lived catty-cornered to us. That was it. We tried again the following year. No one came. We haven't left our porch light on during Halloween since then...This year might be the right time to turn on the lights again. I see many more young people (I'm 68) out walking, many with children...Maybe this is the year. Perhaps those of us subscribing to this string might declare our intentions and influence others? 

Maybe this is the year. Maybe this is the year we turn the lights back on.  

I'm trying to figure out how to do this. Does anyone have any ideas? I tried to do a quick Google search for inspiration about how to revive trick-or-treating in a neighborhood but didn't see anything. Maybe we pick one street to start with? We could pass out flyers in the weeks leading up to Halloween to let people know we're coming? 

The more I think about something like this, the more excited I get. This is the first time we have ever moved somewhere and thought, "We are going to be here for a long time." So when I think about what to do for Halloween, there's so much possibility for establishing yearly rituals.

What if we host a block party every year? It could be a potluck so it wouldn't require too much work on a school night. Or even just a pizza party. That might be even better. Then we could all walk from our house to go trick-or-treating. If we go that route, it makes sense to try and target the nearby streets. 

I think I'm going to start by talking with two friends with young children that I've met in the neighborhood and see what they think. I'm excited!

Share |

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Inch by Inch, Row by Row: Front-Yard Garden

I've written this post so many different ways in my mind over the past week as I've debated whether or not to move forward with a front-yard garden. 

In one version of the post, I was going to write all about how we have to be honest with ourselves about who we are and what our preferences are--no matter what other people say/think and no matter what we tell ourselves in our own romantic stories about who we want to be. 

Ever since I started this blog in 2006(?) I've wanted to garden at home. We went to great efforts to make this dream a reality when we lived in Denver, but it was an epic fail. It required constant watering, and the Colorado sun scorched it and produced only one tomato (which Hoss promptly ate). It was a both a time- and money-suck. 

But I haven't given up on the dream of creating a productive rather than just a consumptive household. Especially now that I have children, I want them to see where food comes from and play a role in bringing it from seed to table. 

But I'm busy, busy, busy. And Matt informed me that he has no interest in taking over garden care (like he did in Denver). He already does most of our yard, dog, and chicken work. 

And I'm only going to get busier as a school leader. So am I kidding myself when I think that I'll make time for gardening on a weekly basis? Am I just pushing something on myself that no longer fits my reality? Would I rather spend an hour in the garden or going to the farmer's market instead? 

But I really do want to create the kind of home where we grow things. I want to work with Henry and Tate to plan the garden each season and then bring our plan to fruition. I want to minimize the work as much as possible (hooray for drip irrigation!), but I think it's still something I want to move forward with (and if it fails we can fill the planters with something like wildflowers, right?).

When I was talking to my friend about the amount of work that she puts into her garden each week, I was inspired by the idea of partnering with my neighbor to make our front-yard garden come to life. My neighbor was thrilled by the idea of our front-yard garden when she first heard about it. She explained that she always wanted one, but her husband at the time wasn't very supportive. I'm wondering if she has any interest in working together to bring a garden to life. She's not working right now, so she has more time to devote to it. I'm going to see what she thinks about us contributing the land, soil, and plants, while she contributes more of the time. Then we can share the harvest. The thing I love most about this idea is creating even more opportunities to interact with our neighbor and work alongside each other. Henry already talks about her a ton. Maybe if all of us worked together, we could give our little patch of earth the tending it deserves. 

Share |

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Countdown

Halloween preparations are in full swing at our house. I love the month-long preparation/anticipation process--it makes the holiday that much more fun for me. And I LOVE how excited Henry is about Halloween. 

As a side note, Halloween probably isn't a very Montessori holiday for young children (between dressing young children up in imaginary things when they are trying to understand the concrete world and stuffing them with unhealthy candy), but it's an important ritual in our family, which is more important to us than implementing strict Montessori.

Henry is already practicing how to say, "Trick or treat--may I have some candy please?" 

As I mentioned in my last post on the topic, Henry decided that he wanted to be an elephant. I found an amazing elephant costume that was made from a stuffed IKEA elephant, but IKEA no longer sells them. I was instead going to make him an elephant head from another IKEA thing, but then I found a $15 elephant costume at Carter' I thought about taking the easy way out and ordering the inexpensive costume but decided that it would be more worthwhile and satisfying (although not as attractive) to DIY a costume with Henry. 

We trekked to IKEA to purchase what we needed, and I was celebrating the decision I made to go the DIY route. It was much more satisfying to engage with Henry in the process. However, we arrived at 9am and realized it didn't open until 10am. Ugh. We came home and promptly ordered the $15 costume. At least we did it together, right?

The costume only went up to size 24 months, so my plan was to cut off the head and alter it to fit Henry. Imagine my complete surprise when the costume arrived and actually fit my 4T-wearing toddler! 

So Henry's costume was done and done. I then moved onto Matt's costume. We decided the most affordable route would be to dress him like a bag of popcorn. Henry and I started making the cardboard shape together, with ample inspiration from Pinterest. 

Tate is going to be a little strongman. I purchased a red-white-striped shirt and will turned it into a sleeveless, scooped-neck unitard. We will make a little barbell for him to hold and draw a mustache on his face (again, treating a child like an object is very non-Montessori). 

I'm still going as a clown because I can repurpose several parts of my homemade Rainbow Brite costume from many years ago. 

To help Henry wrap his brain around time, we sat down to make a countdown chain. I cut strips of origami paper and Henry and I worked to glue them together. I made a label for the top and laminated it  so we can use it for many years to come. Now he can rip one off every day and visually see the amount of time left until Halloween. 


Share |

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Montessori Home Tour

I had the great fortune of taking a Montessori parenting class with Sarah Moudry (the mom featured within my all-time favorite Montessori video, Edison's Day). We started when Henry was five weeks-old, and it was amazing to have her as a resource to answer my questions and provide guidance. Although I haven't read it yet, I bet there's some useful information in her book about toilet learning.

She's presenting at an upcoming conference and she asked me to make a video about how her class impacted how we do Montessori in our home. In case you're interested, here's a little tour of what some of our Montessori spaces look like in our new home. 

You'll basically see everything you've already seen in Henry's one-year-old Montessori room and his Montessori nursery. We honestly haven't updated his toys very much because he prefers to make his own fun with various things he finds around the house. 

Share |

Monday, October 14, 2013

Light-Blocking Shades

One of the difficult aspects of our new house is figuring out what to do for window treatments. Honestly, the house is not designed to sport window treatments well. The windows in Henry's room, for example, push right up to the wall making it impossible to hang a curtain without closing off some of the window or they are insanely wide, making it cost-prohibitive to purchase some type of roller-shade or blinds. We knew all of this when we purchased the designs for the house (and even made some of the existing windows bigger!), but we didn't make the house more window treatement-friendly because we generally don't use many window treatments anyway. In our Houston bungalow, we left the shades open nearly all the time.

But my toddler and nap times don't get along well without a darkened room. Even if we had blinds or a rollershade on Henry's windows, we would still probably want something to close around the edges (especially when he goes to bed when it's still light out in the summer months). In our rental house, we closed the blinds and then hung a blanket on some hooks that were designed to hold a valence. 

In our new house--while we figure out the window treatment situation (which is one item on a list of about 5,008)--we decided to concoct a temporary solution (that will still be useful in the long-run). We purchased light-blocking fabric from JoAnn's (which was amazingly 50% off!) and sewed magnets into the edges. The edges around our windows are magnetic, so our big strips of fabric stick right to the edge. It's easy to put them up and take them down for naps and bedtimes. When we take them down, we fold them and hang them on hangers in the closet. The rest of the day we can enjoy the natural light. 

VoilĂ ! 

In the future, we might paint them to look a little prettier (maybe with stripes or clouds), but for now I'm just cutting myself some slack and being thankful when we can keep the dishes from our frozen-pizza dinner clean. 

Share |

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Three Months: Happiest Birthday, Tate!

Oh, Tate. We are all so in love with you.
Henry continues to adore you. He wants to hold you, kiss you, and rub your head. The three of us spend quality time together every day after we pick up Henry from school. You love watching what Henry is doing.
You have been all about talking to us this month! You smile and make all sorts of gurgling, cooing, and baby screaming noises. You would much rather talk to one of us than watch your mobiles.
I've been lazy about letting you nap in the Moby wrap every day. You are such the perfect little napper when you're nestled up against my chest. I take you to all sorts of meetings with me and you sleep through nearly everything.
But you still hate the car with a passion! You get yourself all worked up (beads of sweat and everything!) when we have to go pick up Henry every day.
You are just the sweetest little thing. Thank you for making our lives more fun, hilarious, sweet, and full.

Share |

Related Posts with Thumbnails