Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Mantra for Next Year

This year I've been focusing on "making a clearing" in order to steal myself against the onslaught of difficulties that come from opening a school and raising two young children. Honestly, the process of opening a school has been more difficult than I ever imagined. 

This year, "making a clearing" has included different things. I've tried to make aspects of my life as easy as possible, so that I could invest more in two main areas: mothering and working. We've definitely made dinnertime easier by using Greenling some weeks or cooking frozen meals other weeks. We sometimes hire a housekeeper when it gets so dirty we can't stand it, but mainly we've just lowered our standards for domestic cleanliness. 

Mainly "making a clearing" has been about not letting myself get involved with dreaming and scheming about side projects. There is little time to focus on anything else but my two big priorities. I haven't set monthly goals for myself in a long time.

Fortunately, I can see the trajectory we're on and am optimistic that it's going to get more and more manageable. Last night I had the random thought: "What will my mantra be for next year?" And I immediately answered: "Balance." It's exactly what is needed in my life. I feel the negative effects of being so laser-like focused on two priorities and not having space or time for self-care, exercise, or much fun. 

My hope is that the most difficult parts of building this dream are behind us. Tate is now 15 months. With Henry, I distinctly remember 16 months being a turning point for me as a mother. 

At the same time, I want to savor every moment of where we are. I don't want to constantly be focused on "when it's going to get better." I cannot even fathom how quickly children grow up. Being connected to former students on Facebook has really illustrated how quickly time slips by. My first third graders are now grown adults. Even children I taught just a few years ago are already in middle school. 

And those are other people's children. I feel like I'm going to blink and my children will be teenagers who are gearing up to leave the house and venture out on their own. 

Yes, I am eager to savor every one of those baths I get to give and books I get to read. 

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Drumroll, Please

The winner of our contest to win a copy of my favorite Montessori documentary--Edison's Day--is: Kathryn Sp.

Congratulations, Kathryn! Please e-mail me your address to claim your prize. 

"Kathryn Sp

This sounds like a wonderful resource as I learn about Montessori practices with my infant son.

September 16, 2014 at 9:33 AM"

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Hobbies

The melancholy in Nichole's recent post resonated with me, and when I saw her list of ways to care for herself, I started to get excited. Knit a cowl? Great idea! I started looking into classes about how to knit a cowl. 

When I told Matt about it, he reminded me that I also wanted to get back into tennis. I had the idea that I could try to gather five or so folks from my neighborhood and hire a tennis coach to give us lessons once a week at the park in our neighborhood. 

I've been so focused on "making a clearing" in my life that I haven't made time for the kinds of things that excite me. What else might I like to learn/do in the coming months? Honestly, improving my tennis and knitting skills seem like the perfect goals for the fall. I don't want to take on too much. I want to take on just enough to give me something other than parenting and working to think about. 

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Movie Recommendation

Matt and I finally(!) watched a movie together this Saturday night. Don't be too impressed; it wasn't a "date" or anything that exciting. It was just the two of us in our bed with Netflix, but, hey, when you work all the time, this kind of thing is a step forward!

I always have trouble finding good movies on Netflix for some reason. I clicked on a movie called Thanks for Sharing, and I almost stopped it five minutes into it. However, I'm so glad I persevered. It is a movie about sex addiction, and I appreciated it on so many different levels. First, I really liked the characters. They were the kind of people that stick in my mind for days. I cared deeply about what happened to them (to the point where I really want there to be a sequel). 

Second, I found the over-arching topic of addiction to be really interesting. Although I don't feel like I have any addictions that are true diseases, I do feel that internal pull between part of me that wants to do x, y, or z, and the other part of me that doesn't want to want to do x, y, or z. 

If you're looking for something good on Netflix, I highly recommend it! 

P.S. Please leave any recommendations in the comments. I seriously can't find any good movies on Netflix! 

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Monday, September 22, 2014

To All the Mamas

I had a chance to reconnect with an old friend this past weekend. She's a very special friend, indeed. We met during prenatal yoga. Our babies were due within a day of each other. We didn't really become good friends until after our babies were born (hers was early; mine was late), and another mom from our prenatal class suggested that we all get together. I remember that they had gone for a walk together, and then we all met at a coffee shop (I had to skip the walk because I was still bleeding too much). I soaked up every ounce of our conversation. I didn't even realize how desperately I needed what they had to offer--empathy, advice, and their own new-mama questions and uncertainties. By the end of our first meeting, I was begging for us to make a weekly ritual out of it. 

We kept it up for about three or four months. We would walk together, return to one of our houses, breastfeed our babies, give them some awake time together (we thought it was adorable to line them up on a blanket and watch them "play" together), and then put them in their wraps for a nap while we ate our lunches. 

To this day, I am so, so grateful for those days together. I'm quite certain I wouldn't have made it through that really hard phase without them. There was something magical about finding women who were going through the exact same thing at the exact same time. We were all sleep-deprived, we were all figuring out how to pump, and we were all wondering how to do this parenting thing. 

Reconnecting with one of the women this past weekend while she was in Austin brought back all the same feelings of gratitude and relief. We slipped easily into our old honest conversations. She now has a second child (who was also due within a day of my second child; she again gave birth early and I again gave birth late!). We talked about how hard it is. Yes, we are overwhelmed with gratitude for how lucky we are to have healthy children, but it's really hard. And sometimes we don't like hanging out with our children and yes, we need to find more time for self-care, and: Did we mention how hard this is? 

It felt so good to say those things out loud to another mama and to hear another mama echo back similar thoughts and feelings. And that's why I wanted to say them out loud to you. Just in case you feel something similar and need to hear your own thoughts and feelings echoed back to you. 

This parenting thing is so hard for me. I love it and am so thankful we decided to expand our family, but it is so, so hard right now. It's hard to muster up the patience that is needed to get my three year-old to brush his teeth every night. It's hard to stay calm when my one year-old is screaming because he both doesn't and does want to be held. It's hard to muster the energy to scrub hardened food off the table all.the.time when my one year-old still doesn't reliably sleep through the night. 

Phew. I feel better just saying it. 

This weekend was a good reminder about the power of friendship and companionship. I need to make more time for it in my life! 

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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


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


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


It's that time of year again!


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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