Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Detoxing for a Couple Days

Last year, my overarching focus for the year was "Health & Wellness." I started the year with a 21-day cleanse, which felt amazing. I did yoga and ran twice a week all the way until April. 

This year, I've been running twice a week (I haven't picked up the yoga again yet). I'm feeling proud that we are almost through April and I'm still regularly running! But I'm also feeling like I want to kick up the healthy eating a notch. 

I'm going to do a couple days of this cleanse. It's so simple and it doesn't feel like a cleanse at all. It just feels like healthy eating. 

Breakfast is a smoothie. Lunch is usually some form of rice, beans/lentils, and vegetables. And dinner is soup. 

I'm going to try Daily Harvest for a delivery of smoothie ingredients and soups. It will help me break out of my one-kind-of-smoothie rut and perhaps help me actually like soup. I'm excited! 

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

DIY: A Simple Curtain

With the new house going up next door, our days of basking in unadulterated natural light and unhindered views of trees are now gone! 

Our shower and our bedroom used to face an empty forest. Now they face a two-story house! 

I got tired of shlepping my bathroom stuff into the boys' shower, so I eventually broke down and made a little privacy curtain. I am finally at a place where I can admit to myself that I don't like sewing. I love the idea of being able to make things for myself that meet my needs exactly, but I do not enjoy the process. Luckily this one was pretty quick! 

These grommets are miracle workers. Seriously. You just cut a circle out of the fabric and snap these bad boyz together. Voila! 

I purposely went with a white fabric to continue to let in as much light as possible. 

It feels strange to finally recognize that sewing is not a hobby of mine. I've honestly enjoyed the end results so many times that I got confused. It's liberating to understand that I should do it if I really, really need something, but I should consider it work and not a hobby. I think the book I'm reading right now (Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less) is helping me be more discerning! 

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Monday, April 17, 2017

A New Hobby

Book stores hold a special place in my heart. I have fond memories of walking into a book store feeling lonely, a little at odds with the world, a little out of place--and walking out with a deep contentment and a renewed sense of excitement. 

Lately I've been craving a trip to the book store. I'm feeling like I need a new hobby. I want to pore over a non-fiction book, take notes, make plans, and make something happen. But I have trouble fitting trips to the book store into my life as a mother. In the evenings, after the boys have gone to bed, I don't have the energy to get in my car and drive across town. On Saturday mornings when Matt takes the boys for a few hours, I want to run around the lake and write. 

So I've been holding this craving in my heart but haven't acted on it yet. Luckily, a book found its way to me: Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest & Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms.

Thanks, creepy Amazon targeted marketing! This popped up while I was buying a new mattress topper, a chalk pen, and omega fish pills for the kids. 

This book looks like exactly what I need: a new project. I can't wait to plan how to bring flower gardens into our life and fill our house with blooms all year long. And gift bouquets to others! 

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Weekend Adventures

Spring is in full effect around here, and we are trying to live outside as much as possible. Last weekend, I took the boys on an adventure to find "Secret Beach." We strapped our bikes to the car, brought a picnic lunch, and set out. We even had to follow a map and try to identify off-the-beaten-path trails. 

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Summer Vacation Planning

Summer vacation is upon us! I have three weeks off every summer. (I technically get two weeks off, but I always save almost all my sick days for an extra week). 

I feel like my boys' interests are changing as they grow. We can't just repeat all the things we did last summer. Additionally, I'm rethinking how we use our time together. Last year, I worked from 7am-10am while Matt watched them, we went on an adventure from 10am-12pm, then we cooked lunch at home and cleaned up, then we had an hour of quiet time in separate rooms, and then we either went to someone's house or had people come over. 

Although that schedule was a lot of fun and helped the days go by quickly, it didn't have the kind of open-ended play I want for my boys. I want them to build forts and look for bugs and invent things. So this year I think we will only do one big thing a day: either an adventure or a playdate, not both. 

I'm also trying to think about what kind of family we are. What do I do when I have free time in front of my boys? I want to cross-stitch germs, work on LSAT logic problems for fun, read real books, and do some pottery.

We'll be going on a road trip from Austin to Dallas to Hot Spring, AK, to Memphis to Marion to Terre Haute to Indianapolis. If you live in any of those places and want to get together, let me know! 

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Montessori Advice: Packing Lunches

Despite the fact (or maybe because of the fact?) that Henry has been involved in the kitchen from a very young age, he doesn't enjoy helping in the kitchen. Sure, he'll jump on the bandwagon if we're making something like brownies, but he really doesn't want to be involved in the day-to-day: dishes, setting the table, helping with dinner, etc.

However, I want him to contribute to our household and our family as much as possible. I want him to understand that each person has a role to play in helping our household run. 

I returned to the handbook from a private Montessori school for guidance. Here's what it says about how to involve children with preparing lunches over the years:

2 years = Talk with your child about preparing their lunch while the child watches. It will make more sense to your child if you prepare it slowly and methodically. 

3-4 years = Your child can help by handing things to you or getting things for you, such as a towel, cutting board, etc. Your child should stay with you until the task is complete.

4 years = Show your child slowly and carefully how to prepare one part of the lunch. 

4+ years = Now your child can prepare the part of the lunch that they were shown. This continues for about three weeks.

4.5 years = Now show your child how to prepare a second part of the lunch. 

5-6 years = You and your child work together to prepare the lunch.

6-7 years = Your child can now prepare the fruits and the vegetables while you prepare the sandwich. 

7-8 years = Your child watches how to make the sandwich and how to clean up afterwards. They take on this task, while you switch to the fruit and the vegetable. You prepare lunch together.

8-9 years = Your child can now prepare their entire lunch while you are nearby for supervision.

9-10 years = Your child continues to prepare the entire lunch while you are doing another task in close proximity for company and acknowledgement. 

I read the handbook in front of Henry, so now he is invested in preparing the fruit and the vegetables. We do things like snap peas, cucumbers (he can peel and cut them), dried raspberries, red bell pepper, etc. It's been working well! 

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Want to Be Neighbors?

I'm serious about this one!

There's a two-story house going up next store. It's on an acre of land that backs up to a beautiful creek. It's near three major thoroughfares, so it's easy to get around town. It's two miles away from the city's only free public Montessori school (serving infants through 8th grade).

We could build a gate between our yards and share a pool. I'm also happy to share the garden beds in our front yard.

E-mail me if you are interested!

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Is the Vasectomy Working?

The answer is yes. And the answer to this question: "Did you really make your husband go to the doctor to check to make sure his vasectomy is working?" is also yes. 

I hear stories about people who accidentally have third children, even though their husbands have had vasectomies. I didn't want that to be us. 

It's hard. On the one hand, I can absolutely understand why someone would want a third child. The truth is, when I'm 60, I'm sure I would love having three adult children. I love the idea of more personalities and more variety in our family. But that path from 39 to 60 would not be better for us with a third child. We are just now getting to a place where our family feels like more fun than work. And Tate is almost four! If we started over again, Henry would be 11 years-old before life settled down again. I don't want to miss out on his experience from 6 years to 11 years--those are my favorite years of childhood! Tate would be almost nine. 

I can totally understand why someone would reset, but it's not the right decision for our family. We want to travel to Australia without having to buy another expensive plane ticket. We want to keep our tiny Honda Fit. We don't want to saddle our children with college debt and we want to go on several vacations every year.

Even as I write those things, it feels like I'm elevating materialistic things about relationships. And I know with all my heart that good relationships are at the core of a happy life. But--knowing myself--I honestly think my relationships with Matt, Henry, and Tate will be better for the next several years if we don't add the stress of raising another life. And the reality is that I already have a third child--my career--and I like it that way. I want to find purpose and joy through family and have a meaningful career that contributes to the broader world and have time for exercise and have time to pursue my creative pursuits and have time to just connect and be present with people. 

If you get the sense that I'm trying to convince myself not to have a third child, you're right! I'm getting this all out so I can read it when I'm 60 and am regretful of the fact that I didn't have more children. 

Until then, I'll enjoy my life! 

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Reflection & Rejuvenation: April

A fourth of the year is behind us! I do not take that lightly. I feel so grateful to be alive and to have the life I have. I don't want to waste any of the time I have on this Earth. I know I sound cheesy, but I'm being sincere! 

By the end of the year, I want to be able to say that I feel balanced, connected, full of vitality, and at peace. I want to keep my bucket full, so that I can interact with others from a place of patience, love, and joy. At various points this month, I was up at a 9. At other times, I was down at a 6. Probably, overall, I averaged about a 7.5.

Here are the things I'm trying to do toward the above goal this year:

  1. Run at least twice a week and do yoga at least once a week. Running = I don't want to get up to look at my tracker, but I swear I'm doing well! Yoga = 0%. Still not fitting this in. Still want to fit it in. I think I'm going to look for a buddy so I have more accountability on this one. 
  2. Eat in a balanced and healthy way. Okay (except for vacation). I need to get back in my salad habit. I haven't had much time for meal prep on Sundays. 
  3. Continue my daily meditation and gratitude practice. I've been doing a guided body scan meditation almost every night!
  4. Stop working at 8pm to create two hours of free time for myself each evening. It's been hard to do this, but I'm working on it!
  5. Attend therapy every other week and attend leadership coaching every other week. There therapist I wanted ended up not having any room for new patients. I'm back on the search! 
  6. Take a pottery class. Later in the year...
  7. Host a Sunday Supper at least ten times this year. Yep! Did it on a Saturday instead this time.
  8. Religiously use to track our expenses. We have fallen out of this habit. April, we are coming for you! I need to think of a specific time and place to do this, otherwise I won't. I should do it while I'm brushing my teeth every night. 
  9. Restore our house each night. Better! 
  10. Go on a retreat by myself. Later in the year...
  11. Go on a trip with Matt. Later in the year...

Here's how I did on my February-specific goals? Well, I never posted them on our giant kitchen whiteboard, which means I totally forgot what they were. [insert self-compassion]

I'll bump these to April and add a couple more:
  • Schedule a dentist appointment
  • Plan our summer (I'm traveling to Ohio for a four-week Montessori training)
  • Organize the entire kitchen
  • Plan our summer vacation ideas
  • Plant our garden
In terms of our family goals, I booked us tickets to see a theater production! I also need to schedule our next Saturday Supper. 

I'm excited about what April has in store.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Teaching Problem-Solving to Young Children


Over Spring Break, I read an awesome book called Children's Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction.  It's an approach to supporting children to strengthen their natural abilities to solve math word problems 

In the context of a classroom, you present a problem to the group, give them time to solve it individually (with the option to use manipulatives if they need to model the problem for themselves), and then bring them back together to share various strategies children used (since there are many ways to solve a single problem).

The teacher doesn't actually teach anything. Instead, they simply choose problems in a very intentional way and then purposefully choose which children they want to share their strategies with the group.  

We are doing action research around this approach at my school, so I've been trying it at home with Henry to prepare for our research work. 

I make these cubes available as a manipulative. I intentionally use cubes that snap together so that he can eventually apply his knowledge of the base ten system by snapping them together, making ten rods, and then counting by ten. 

I am in awe of the strong mathematical base he has built in his Montessori classroom the past three years (PK3, PK4, and kindergarten). We have done some problem-solving at home over the years ("After you wash the strawberries, will you count them and see how many each of us will get?"), but I am blown away by what he is able to do. 

Today we did the 8th type: Part Part Whole - Part Unknown. The problem was "There are 21 sour candies in a jar. 8 are pink and the rest are green. How many green sour candies are in the jar?" I changed the candy to sour patch kids because Henry loves those, and I changed the colors to reflect the colors he had in his box of manipulatives. I thought this might be the problem to stump him! It's so hard! Instead of getting stumped, he reverted to a lower level of strategies. For many of the previous problems, he was using the "counting on" strategy where he wasn't  using the manipulatives to model the problem. He was starting with one set and then using his fingers to add the second set. However, because of the difficulty of this problem, he had to resort to direct modeling. The most interesting thing was that he had to resort to very direct modeling. He used red cubes for the red candy and green cubes for the green candy. Even though I did change the problem to reflect the colors that he had in his box, I didn't mention to him that he might want to model it that way. He did it on his own. CGI says that children are natural problem-solvers, and it is so cool to watch it in action!

There are 14 different problem types, and you can increase the difficulty of each problem by adding digits to the numbers. Here are the 14 problems I'm systematically working through with Henry to see what he can do and what we should focus on next:

Problem Type
Pre (Grades K-1)
(Join Result Unknown)
_____ has 24 M&Ms. _____ gave him 7 more M&Ms. How many M&Ms does _____ have now?
(Part Part Whole- Whole Unknown)
_____ had 18 fuzzy stickers. _____ had 6. How many fuzzy stickers do they have together?
(Separate Result Unknown)
_____ had 16 cupcakes. He gave 7 of them to his friends. How many cupcakes does he have now?
There are 9 muffins in a box. How many muffins are in 3 boxes?
(Partitive Division)
_____ has 12 cookies. He puts the cookies in 3 bags with the same number in each bag. How many cookies are in each bag?
(Measurement Division)
Ms. _____ bought 9 pencils. They are packed 3 pencils to a pack. How many packs of pencils did she buy?
(Compare Difference Unknown)
_____ has 13 erasers. _____ has 8 erasers. How many more erasers does _____ have than _____?
(Part Part Whole - Part Unknown)
There are 21 sour candies in a jar. 8 are pink and the rest are green. How many green sour candies are in the jar?
(Join Change Unknown)
_____ has 9 toys. How many more toys does she need to have 21 toys altogether?
(Separate Change Unknown)
12 kids were at the playground. Some children went home. Now there are 4 kids left at the playground. How many children went home?
(Join Start Unknown)
_____ has some books. He buys 6 more books at a yard sale. Now he has 11 books. How many books did he have before?
(Separate Start Unknown)
There were cookies in a cookie jar. _____ took 7 of them. Now there are 15 left. How many cookies were in the jar to begin with?
(Compare Quantity Unknown)
_____ has 4 crayons and _____ has 7 more than _____. How many crayons does _____ have?
(Compare Reference Unknown)
A blue jar has 15 buttons. It has 4 more buttons than a red jar. How many buttons are in the red jar? 

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Thinking about Getting Pregnant? Last Week to Register!

My Purposeful Conception: Preparing Your Mind, Body, and Life for Pregnancy e-course was dormant for a while as I figured out how to get back on my feet after giving birth to two children, building our dream house, and starting an organization and a school.

But then I got an e-mail from a reader asking if we could partner on the course to get it back out into the world. At the same time, I saw a conception book sitting on my colleague’s desk. It rekindled in me a strong passion for helping families intentionally prepare for conception. It is literally one of the biggest decisions we can make in life and yet our culture doesn’t support much intentional thought around preparing for conception.

I ended up partnering with Katey Zeh who is just amazing. She inspires me with the way she thinks about the world and acts in ways to make it better.

We are starting our next course on April 3. We would be so grateful if you could help us spread the word far and wide! If you can think of someone who might be interested, here’s a blurb you could copy, paste, and send to them:

Hi! I thought you might be interested in this e-course called Purposeful Conception: Preparing Your Mind, Body, and Life for Pregnancy. It was created by the blogger behind Feeding the Soil. It starts on April 3. If you’re interested, you can read more about it here or register here. Have a great day!

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On Self-Compassion

One of the things I'm working on with my leadership coach is the concept of self-compassion. She recommended this awesome website that has some explanations, meditations, and exercises. 

One of the exercises I wanted to do was write a letter to myself that I could read on a daily basis. When I wrote the letter, I realized there was a lot of focus on my accomplishments. That's not the point! I'm supposed to be celebrating who I am, not what I've done. 

At the bottom of the letter, I wrote some affirmations that I can read to myself each day:

I have a unique set of skills and strengths.
I am valuable to my family and to the world beyond.
I have made and continue to make a positive impact on countless lives.
Montessori For All has an important role to play in the world.
I have the courage, strength, and resilience I need to face difficulty.
I am committed to constant growth.
I have everything I need.
I’m everything I need to be.
I am loved and have immense love to give.

I'm going to write them on a framed photograph in my bathroom so that I am forced to come across them frequently! My hope is to read them to myself every day.


JOIN US!: Registration is currently open for the next Purposeful Conception Course: Preparing Your Mind, Body, and Life for Pregnancy, which starts on April 3! Register now! We'd love to have you join us!

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