Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What Kind of Summer Do You Want to Have?

Things are flying by at break-neck speed around here. The end of the school year is such a crazy time. There's so much going on that it feels impossible to stop and plan for our summer. And yet if we don't, we run the risk of not intentionally working toward our best summer possible. 

So, what kind of summer do we want to have? 

Our summer will come in phases. I only used one of my sick days this year, so I will get to use five of them for a week off and then the office is closed for another two weeks, for a total of a three-week vacation. 

Phase One:
  • We will be traveling with Matt's family to the San Juan Islands off of Seattle.
  • Matt will take the boys for a couple hours each morning while I work. Then I will have the boys for the rest of the day. 
Phase Two:
  • The boys will stay home with a nanny, while Matt and I work [3 weeks].
  • I start professional development with teachers while the boys continue to stay with the nanny [2 weeks].
  • Matt and I will hopefully squeeze in a fun trip together. 
  • I'm going on a Reflection & Rejuvenation Retreat. 
How do I want to structure my time with the boys?
  • Fun adventures in the morning: Deep Eddy, Little Stacy Park, Train at Zilker Park, Cathedral of Junk, UT Bell Tower, Mayfield Park, Rock n River Aquatic Park
  • Mid-day quiet time
  • Play dates in the afternoon
How do I want to structure the nanny's time with the boys? 
  • 8:15am-10:30am = Morning adventure (Nature and Science Center; Thinkery; Splash Pad; Bullock Museum; Texas Memorial Museum; Wildflower Center; Pioneer Farms; Playground for All Abilities; Austin Animal Sanctuary; East Austin Zoo; Dinosaur Park; Roy Guerrero Park)
  • 11:00am-12:00pm = Make, eat, and clean up after lunch
  • 12:00pm-1:00pm = Quiet time in rooms
  • 1:00pm-4:15pm = Play time at home
In terms of what I need to do to bring this vision to fruition: I need to send out a Doodle poll to get all the play dates scheduled in advance, and I need to use Care.com to find a nanny. 

It feels so much better to have a plan! 

I've always been like this. When I was around 8 years-old, I flew from California (where I lived with my mom) to Florida (to see my grandparents and my aunt). Each night, I would ask my aunt, "What is the plan for tomorrow?" 

But what is my bigger vision for the summer? 

I want to find balance this summer. I want to both work and relax. When I'm working, I want to be working on the highest-priority things and setting up systems and structures that will set us up to have an awesome third year of school. When I am relaxing, I want to spend time in the pool with my family, find new games to play with my husband, host backyard movie nights for the neighbors, go on new adventures around Austin and Texas. I want my sons to see me reading real books. I want to watch good movies on Netflix. I want to finally finish nesting in our house. I want to make popsicles and harvest watermelons out of the garden. I want to try new recipes. I want to be outside as much as possible. 

There's a lot I need to do to make this vision possible! 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Third Book Is Now Available!

I'm giddy to announce that my third book is now available! It's called Explore Longhorn Cavern State Park: A Texas Hill Country Adventure

My first book, A Priceless Wedding: Crafting a Meaningful, Memorable, and Affordable Celebration, was published the traditional route. I found an agent (through a long-time blog friend) and then talked with several different publishing companies before landing on Voyageur Press. 

My second book, Kids in the Kitchen: Simple Recipes that Build Independence and Confidence the Montessori Way, was a collaboration with the amazing Kylie of How We Montessori. The graphic design was donated by my dear friend in Houston (who has her children in public Montessori). We produced the whole thing without any cost and published it using CreateSpace, so that all of the proceeds could go toward growing the public Montessori movement. 

My third book, Explore Longhorn Cavern State Park: A Texas Hill Country Adventure, is a collaboration with my husband, a budding photographer. We had been wanting to collaborate on a project for a while and we finally had the idea to publish a series of non-fiction children's books based on our travel adventures. The idea is that you can take your children around the world from the comfort of your lap.
The Explore non-fiction series invites children to tap into their innate curiosity and travel to new places. Explore Longhorn Cavern State Park: A Texas Hill Country Adventure focuses on the unique history of the underground caverns in Burnet, TX, which have been occupied by American Indians, confederate soldiers, a speakeasy, and the Civilian Conservation Corps over the span of hundreds of years. Ages 2-10
We published it on our own using CreateSpace again, with the support of an awesome graphic designer I met through this blog, Sebrina Parker. I highly recommend self-publishing but it definitely requires to support of a real graphic designer to help it look professional.

If you're interested, you can purchase the book here!

If you have any questions about self-publishing, please let me know!

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Monday, May 16, 2016

5-Minute Fix, Months of Procrastination

Honestly, these are my least favorite posts to write--the ones where I have to confess that I have been dragging my feet for MONTHS and then finally did something that took about five minutes.

It has happened frequently, like here and here.

This time it was a little shelf that I wanted to install in my bathroom. I was convinced that we needed to have a professional install it. Then once I got over that idea I thought I needed Matt to install it with the drill. Once I waited for that to happen and it still didn't, I asked Matt for the drill to do it myself and found out we don't even have a real drill anymore. So then I grabbed our child-size drill and set out to do it myself.

And that's when I actually read the instructions and found out the shelf installation only required a screw driver. Seriously. A screw driver and about five minutes of work.


Oh well. [Insert vast amounts of self-forgiveness.]

The shelf is only fake-styled right now, but you can get a sense of the direction it's going. I'm so glad it's finally up!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Go Out and Make It Happen for Yourself!

As I mentioned earlier this week, I've been informally coaching some of my friends to help them figure out what they want to do next in their lives. 

One of my friends just found out that she got her dream job! It's been a long journey, but I am so, so proud of her. 

It started last July at my Reflection & Rejuvenation Retreat. We spent time envisioning what we wanted in our lives, and my friend explained that she really want to move with her family to a different state, and she wanted to work at a very particular place in a particular city. 

Usually, the envisioning part is the hardest. I usually have to coach people about how to get over their fear/parallelization/indecision and just choose a path. There are so many possible paths for each of us; we can't waste too much time trying to find our One Authentic Path (just like there is more than one awesome Life Partner for each of us). 

So it seemed pretty easy when my friend already had everything figured out for herself. I said, "Great! So make it happen!" And that's when she explained that it was nearly impossible because they never have positions available. 

Through the years, I have found that you can't take no for an answer too quickly if you want to create or build something for yourself. We then started to work on the idea that she could propose a new position for herself. The first step in the process was to help my friend realize that she had nothing to lose. She already didn't have a job! What were the real risks associated with putting herself out there? Just embarrassment and insecurity. And those are not real risks. 

So she crafted a possible job for herself and reached out to her dream work place. I have found that so much can happen when you reach out to someone with genuine effusiveness. It was easy to do in my friend's case because she felt so passionate about working at that particular place. 

Long story short, it was a very long and difficult process (10 months!) to get from that initial e-mail to a bona fide job offer. There were many, many times when she felt like they were not interested and minimally interested because they weren't following up. I kept pushing her to go back to them (in a friendly, not annoying, way). I kept reminding her that she would be an amazing asset to their team, that she had so much to bring to their organization, and that she had nothing to lose. 

I know intimately how it feels to feel insecure. To feel unsure. To feel under-qualified. It's not usually easy to do something big. But you have to persist. You have to flex your courage muscle and make yourself do it. It's worth it! 

Photo courtesy of Hank + Tank Photography (my husband)

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

This Is What My Children Do Instead of Watch TV

This is definitely not a "holier than thou" post about limiting screen time. I do not profess to have parenting all figured out. Not even close!

I just wanted to check-in about where we are in relation to screen time as a family. We intentionally try to limit the amount of time our children spend in front of screens. Henry (who is five) gets to watch 15 minutes of Netflix a week. We try to have him watch reality-based things like Cailou, Nova, Bill Nye the Science Guy. He also watches non-scary things like Bob the Builder, Reading Rainbow, and Handy Manny. 

Tate (who turns three in July) does not get any screen time right now (we let Henry watch during Tate's nap). Once Tate is no longer napping, he will get to watch 15 minutes with Henry.

Neither boy gets to play any type of game on a phone or iPad. I sometimes take them to the IMAX theater at the museum to see a non-fiction movie. We most recently watched one about national parks, and it was awesome! 

This arrangement is working well for our family. Although there are plenty of times when it feels like parenting is harder because we don't rely on the help of screens, I still think it's better in the long run. It would be awesome to let the boys watch TV as soon as they wake up on Saturday morning so Matt and I could sleep in, but I see how much children learn by interacting in the world. They learn real focus and concentration (which seems notably different from the kind of hypnotic focus and concentration that screens induce). They build their brain through the use of their five senses. They learn patience and delayed gratification. 

I also just think there's so much inappropriate content out there. So many things that are geared toward children are overtly scary. Or they model really bad behavior for 24 minutes and then resolve it in the last 4 minutes. 

There was a time when Henry was watching a longer chunk of TV each week, but it seemed to make him crave it even more. We're at a good place as a family, although I am looking forward to when they are a little older and we can start Friday night movies!

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Reflection & Rejuvenation: My Goals for May

Seriously, May? It's already May?

Whoa. There are only five weeks of school left. How is that possible?!?

Well, I started this post more than a week ago and am just now coming back to it. So now we are down to four weeks. 

Some highlights from my month:
  • I've been coaching four different people (just as friends, not for money) around their particular life goals, and it feels good to be helping people. I feel like I went through such a selfish, self-preservation period when I was trying to open the school and raise two young children. I'm so glad I'm finally able to look beyond my immediate needs to help others. 
  • I presented at the Yale School of Management conference about school redesign and it was so fun! 
  • We had an amazing event at school called Noche de Primavera. It was awesome to see that something I started has grown into something so much bigger than I could have ever created. 
  • Matt and I finished our book! It is in the final stages of being tweaked. I can't wait to share it with you!
But now? Now I feel like I am barely hanging on by a thread! The end of the school year is pure craziness.

The thought of setting goals for May feels like a joke. Well, that's not entirely true. The thought of setting ambitious, push-myself goals feels like a joke. But I do need to set self-care goals for myself.
  1. I need to turn off the lights by 10:00pm. Life is so much more difficult right now when I'm tired.
  2. I need to keep up with my running and my yoga. No excuses! I almost didn't go to yoga last week because I was so tired, but I made myself go and it was awesome. 
  3. I need to buckle down and get a lot of work done. I know this goal isn't exactly in the same genre as my other goals, but I need to remember that I have to work urgently to stay on top of everything. I can't get too sidetracked by self-care. I have to keep it to a minimum right now.  
The only other thing I want to do is look ahead to the summer. I want to fully immerse myself in my summer vacation (three weeks!). I don't want to be planning for it once it starts. So I guess that's my big goal for the month! 

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