Tuesday, March 31, 2015

San Diego!

Spring Break! What fun! 

During Spring Break, our family trekked to San Diego for five days of fun. I was born in San Diego and spent the first 12 years of my life there. I was eager to share it with my family. 

We rented a small house in Mission Beach from Airbnb. We were just a block away from the beach. Although it wasn't the nicest place, it fit within our budget and had two rooms (which makes it a lot easier to put Tate to sleep). Here were some of the highlights of our trip:
  • Henry loved exploring real ships at the Maritime Museum 
  • The San Diego Zoo Safari Park at 8am was beautiful! It was nearly empty and we got to enjoy the butterfly garden, the hot air balloon, and the tram ride.
  • The Birch Aquarium was small but fun--the views were jaw-dropping.
  • UCSD was super-fun around lunch time--hooray for farmer's markets! 
  • Torrey Pines State Reserve was breathtaking! 
  • The Green Acre restaurant nestled within a commercial office complex was amazing! 
Our days were relaxed. Early morning wake up (thanks to two young children), morning activity, lunch, nap time, late afternoon at the beach, dinner, 6:30pm bedtime for the boys, an evening of HGTV and then a Netflix movie for Matt and me. 

I just loved the concentrated time with family. These days are so precious. We've been sticking to our monthly budget, which enables us to go on these kinds of vacations. It feels like the right thing to be prioritizing at this time in our lives. 

Henry reminded us to purchase an ornament to add to our Christmas tree, something we do on every family vacation. I also kept a shell that Henry gave me to add to the keepsake shadow box I'm making for his adult self! 

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Register Now: Reflection & Rejuvenation Retreat July 10-12, 2015

Finally! I’m excited to share the details of the 2015 First Reflection & Rejuvenation Retreat. One of my goals for the year was to get this event planned. I’m looking forward to time with new friends! I hope you can join us!

Friday, July 10 to Sunday, July 12, 2015

Join a community of 12 kindred spirits for a weekend of reflection, rejuvenation, inspiration, and connection! We'll be settling into a tranquil retreat on two acres of land. Planned activities will include guided reflection and goal-setting, envisioning, tapping into our creativity to create a touchstone object, plus much more! Additional activities include relaxing by the pool, yoga, reading, journaling, playing board games, etc. The retreat will balance time with the community and time for personal introspection. 

Arrival & Departure
  • Plan to arrive at the Austin airport by 4pm on Friday, July 10, 2015. 
  • We will leave the house together on Sunday morning at 11am to travel to the airport.
  • There is the option to arrive on Thursday after 6pm for an additional fee.

  • All 12 participants will have their own beds in a combination of four bedrooms and some semi-private loft spaces. The slumber party feeling will be part of fostering connection and community. 
  • Although all of our activities will take place at the retreat site, you are welcome to venture into the city yourself with easy access to public transportation. 

  • The total cost of $425 includes lodging for Friday and Saturday night, transportation from and to the airport via Super Shuttle, all meals and snacks, and all materials required for our various activities. 
  • Add an additional $75 to stay Thursday night (includes dinner, breakfast, and lunch). There will not be any planned activities until dinner on Friday, but you are welcome to start your introspection early!

Register Now!
  • Registration will be open to the first 11 people. The registration fee must be paid in full in order to secure your spot. Refunds will only be issued if your spot can be filled by someone on the waiting list.

Pay via Pay Pal

  • Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

'Tis the Season: Gardening

During Spring Break, I decided it was time to get our garden going for the 2015 Spring/Summer season. We ripped out the lingering weeds, kale, and cold weather lettuces. We dug out as many grubs as we could find. We added a layer of Ladybug Revitalizer Compost. And we made a trip to Red Barn Garden Center and purchased four tomato plants. 

I still remember debating whether I wanted to build four raised beds into the plan for our front yard. I worried that I would lose interest in gardening and wouldn't be able to keep up with it. I worried that I wouldn't be able to grow anything (since I struggled so much with my garden in Denver). 

But last summer was wonderful. The addition of automatic irrigation has made all the difference. And putting the raised beds between our front door and our cars ensures that we don't neglect the garden. I feel so fortunate to be able to share the "garden to table" experience with my boys. Both of them loved the whole process from start to finish. I'm looking forward to another season of it! 

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Leadership Coach?

In this post, I wrote about how I used to devote more time to intentional self-growth but I had grown out of the habit over the years.

One really quick way to get back into the habit would be to start seeing a therapist. However, I think the more relevant route for me at this point in my life (since my time is limited and I need to stay very focused on my work) would be to look for a leadership coach—someone who is part-therapist, part-life coach, part-executive coach, and part strategist. It would be someone who is well steeped in things like non-violent communication and mindfulness as well as the concepts in Good to Great and Drive. Someone who would have worksheets and reflection forms for me to fill out independently before discussing.

Does such a person exist? Since this coaching would likely take place over the phone or Skype, it doesn’t matter where they are physically located.

Please let me know if you have any leads! 

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Montessori: The Crisis of Self-Affirmation (aka the Terrible Two's)

Last week felt it like something was terribly wrong with Tate. He seemed to have shed his cheerful self and revealed an irritable, demanding, dissatisfied little tyrant.

For example, he became obsessed with wanting the cleaning spray bottles. When I stuck firm to the boundaries that children are not allowed to have the cleaning spray bottles because they have chemicals in them, he threw terrible, protracted screaming and crying fits.

Things that he used to do easily (like take a bath and eat meals with the family) became battles. Putting him to sleep at night went from kissing him on the cheek and closing the door to 1.5 hours of screaming and crying.


When I talked with my Montessori-trainedfriend about it, she explained that he is likely entering the Crisis of Self-Affirmation. In the middle of the night, I couldn’t fall back asleep because I was stressed out about Tate and stressed about giving 30 visitors a tour of our school during SXSWedu, so I found and read some information about the Crisis of Self-Affirmation on Meg's website:

At around 18 months of age, the child enters into the crisis of self-affirmation, sometimes called the crisis of opposition. The beginning of this period is marked by the use of the word “no”. This period is an ambivalent time for the child, who is leaving her infancy behind and moving towards childhood. She is torn between the drive to move forwards and become independent, and the desire to remain within the protective and nurturing circle that her mother provides. The child demonstrates her desire for self-affirmation through her activities and her language which are directed towards affirming herself as an individual. In the preceding period, particularly the symbiotic period, the child’s trust in the world is established. During the crisis of self-affirmation, the child’s trust in herself is established. This is when the child moves from believing that they are capable, to knowing that they can do things. She is no longer content with watching, she wants action, and most importantly she wants to be a collaborator. So we need to provide plenty of chances for her to do things, even if we think she might not be able to do them!
Silvana Montanaro advises parents that “behind the child’s ‘no’, is the desire to be recognised as a person who is already able to resolve many problems related to him...and to ask for his opinion much more often than is generally done.” She stresses that she is “not suggesting that it should be left to children to decide what to do. The idea is to simply avoid giving only orders and to leave a choice between alternatives when it is possible. In this period what really counts is helping the child to verify the importance of his presence in the family. Real collaboration comes only from those who do not feel overpowered and can contribute freely. We are not risking anything by offering choices, while the child gains very much, because we demonstrate that we consider him able to choose and that we respect his judgement. “
The end of this crisis is marked by the child’s use of the pronoun, “I”. This is the sign that he has really integrated himself as an autonomous human being. He understands that he is unique and not really a part of anyone else, but separate and individual.
By the age of three, the model for the human being that is developing within the child is complete. Crisis periods are favourable for change, not only in children, but in all who participate in them.” – Understanding the Human Being, Silvana Montanaro 

Yes, that’s exactly it!

The trick is to muster up and maintain the kind of patience it takes to parent a child who is in this stage. Their behavior makes us less patient—just when they need more patience. Their behavior makes us less supportive—just when they need more support. Their behavior makes us less loving—just when they need more love. I’m reminded of this advice from Sonnie McFarland, one of my Montessori trainers:

When we see our children as divine being striving to develop their human potentials, rather than willful children purposely annoying us, we will approach them from an entirely different perspective.

What a big challenge!

For me, providing the patience, support, and love that Tate needs looks like going back to my Montessori roots. I need to infuse more Practical Life opportunities into Tate’s day!

These ideas include:
  • Creating more opportunities for him to help in the kitchen.
  • Setting up Tate’s closet so that he can independently access and choose his own clothes.
  • Keeping his kitchen drawer stocked with glasses.
  • Teaching him how to use a stool to access the water dispenser in the refrigerator.

Doing real work alongside adults helps children feel useful and powerful. It builds their self-confidence and their sense of self-worth. It helps them weather the Terrible Two’s and come out stronger.

I remember that Henry seemed toskip over the Terrible Twos and I wonder if it was because I was in a much better place to honor and meet his needs. I picked him up from school in the early afternoon every day and followed his lead while he prepared and cleaned up his snack. Then I let him take the lead at the park. He would independently explore while I followed him at a safe distance. Those were the days!

I can work to build more of these things into Tate’s daily experience. And whatever I can’t do for Tate I will need to forgive myself for. There are definite drawbacks from being the second child, but there are also benefits. I think it balances out!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cultivating More Mindfulness

Another session I attended at the Montessori conference was related to cultivating mindfulness in our daily lives. I was reminded of these important concepts:

Our breath is a powerful source of relaxation and reconnection. When we are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, or angry, we can call upon our deep breathing (all the way to the belly!) to immediately calm ourselves. I love that this simple yet powerful techniques is within our control and can be carried with us from place to place—situation to situation—with ease.

There is space between stimulus and response and our power lies within that space. We cannot control what happens to us in life, but we can control what we do in response to what happens to us. And within our power to choose our response lies our freedom.

Setting an intention for the day can keep us focused on growing. At the start of the day, we can set intentions for our “way of being.” We an check in regularly and ask ourselves if our actions are in alignment with our intention. If not, then we can get back on track. We can set all kinds of intentions, such as “Be grounded,” “Be patient,” “Breath.”

I have no doubt that who I am as a person impacts who I am as a principal and a colleague. These mindfulness strategies can help me reconnect to and reveal my authentic self.

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