Monday, May 22, 2017

Montessori: Right Now


One mistake I make over and over again as a mom is bringing up future plans to our kids. Especially plans that they'll be excited about. For example, we received an invitation to my niece's birthday party two weeks ahead and I told the kids we were invited and would go. Their response? "Right now?" What follows is trying to explain time to someone who has no concept of time. ;)

We've done a bit of experimenting and discovered that telling the number of "sleeps" is actually quite helpful. I never understood why parents talked in terms of "sleeps" until having my own walking, talking and confused children. Going to sleep over and over again is something young children can grasp and understand quite well. It seems to be okay to mention plans a day or two in advance as well. Even thought it isn't happening right then, it's soon and they can wrap their heads around tomorrow (Theo) or even the day after tomorrow (Coco). But next week is too far away to tell them about something.

Montessori recognized different Planes of Development. The First Plane is from birth until 6 years of age, the second from 6 until 12 years of age. She has a wonderful quote that captures perfectly why children under the age of six have such a hard time with time: "The first plane child wants to wrap their hand around the world, the second plane child wants to wrap their head around the world." Children up until six years of age are really only concerned with what they are experiencing in that moment. In other words, right now. They're interested in what they can see, hear, touch and feel at any given moment. They are totally and completely present at all times. For them, all that exists is right now.

So I really try to stop telling our kids about plans in the non-existent-to-them future. And I also avoid imposing future consequences. Children rarely understand the offense or the consequence outside of the present moment. So saying there will be no tv tomorrow really doesn't do anything but confuse them.

What do you think? Are your children able to understand the idea of the future? At what age did it get easier for them? How do you discuss upcoming plans?

(Photo of Coco in the Columbia Gorge)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Weekend Reading


J's parents are coming up from Oregon tomorrow for Coco's big ballet recital on Monday night. It's at the Fox Theater, which is so amazingly gorgeous, and then afterward we're having a big shrimp boil out on our patio, courtesy of my Uncle Cyrus. Sunday night is all about the s'mores with the grandparents. It's going to be a busy one!

And here are a few links and a bit of weekend reading for you:

How to be a better iPhone photographer, according to Apple.

Can't wait to wear this jaunty tee all summer long.

Brava! So much honesty and candor.

J and I are really into this (new to us) podcast. (The Trumpland episodes are blowing my mind. Eeek.)

Get me a pedicure before these beauties arrive!

Wouldn't you love to do this for ten minutes every day?

Rolling on the floor laughing.

I'm pretty sure this takes predictable routines for kids too far. ;)

Seriously, can you find anything new in this smart cleaning advice?! (Oh wait, that bit about the sheets is kind of eye opening.)

Finally ordered this book upon Coco asking for it daily for many days in a row!

And from the archives: One thing I loved about Switzerland and still my favorite breakfast.

I hope your weekend is top-notch! See you all back here Monday. xo

(Ranunculus photo via Pinterest)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

How To: De-puff Eyes After Crying


This has not been the easiest week. Soon I will be able to share more about some very big stuff we've got going on, but until then I'll leave you with this invaluable trick to de-puff eyes after crying. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Have a beautiful weekend.


How was your week? Tuesday afternoon, Coco came down with a fever and I spent Wednesday and Thursday at home with a very sick little bunny. She had a headache. "Mama, my forehead hurts!" And a sore throat. "If I do this (swallows several times, with visible effort) it really hurts." And maybe some sinus pressure. On the way to the bathroom: "When I step too hard, it really hurts in my head." But she was a total trooper and it was nice to spend a day on the couch with her. Such a sweetie.

Today was the Mother's Tea at Coco's Montessori school. I made this incredible and oh-so-easy salad and it was a total hit! But, Thursday while I was home with Coco, I somehow managed to burn an entire baking sheet of tomatoes to a veritable crisp while roasting them. That is not an easy feat! So I started over and roasted these mini heirlooms and they were just delicious.

Now, I feel a bit of a sore throat myself. Ugh. But here's a bit of what I've been reading and checking out lately:

Following your dreams is actually about saying no.

What is going on here, exactly?

Make your baby feel loved.

Excellent explanation of what repatriation feels like.

The Swiss National Bank is rolling out a beautiful new banknote series.

This is so true.

The most flattering, comfortable yet still pretty everyday bra.

Made me giggle with glee.

Have you tried the two minute facial? I'm obsessed!

Forget building self-esteem and do this. It works.

Wishing everyone a Happy Mother's Day, especially to those of you who have lost your mom, or can't have a baby, or have lost a child. You are not forgotten. I'm excited for brunch and mimosas on Sunday and I'll see you back here Monday! xo

Monday, May 8, 2017

Montessori: The Debrief


Very small children are all about predictability and knowing what comes next, which is why they respond so well to routines. It's also why they respond to a lack of routine quite horribly. The problem is, of course, that we do things each week, or at least each month, that fall out of our predictable routines and that's when we all need the debrief.

When I was teaching, I employed the debrief often. Before Creative Movement class, which only happened every few weeks, we would debrief. Before any sort of holiday gathering or inviting observers or visitors into the classroom, we would debrief. Before going out on the playground after the first Oregon rainy day, debrief. It was upsetting to the children that everything was wet and squishy. They needed a heads up.

Simple things to which we are accustomed are happening to children for the very first time. Before Creative Movement, we'd all gather in a circle and I would explain plainly and somewhat slowly what was about to happen. They enjoyed the suspense and intrigue of being told what would happen. They would not have enjoyed the jolt and surprise of just going without the debrief. I looked around the circle at their little eyes. "Today, we are going to Creative Movement" I would say. "Very soon, I will call your names one by one to line up by the outside door. Miss Joan will be waiting for us in the covered area and everyone will participate and have a nice time." Pause. "Can anyone tell me something they remember or like about Creative Movement?" After no more than three comments, I would announce the first person to line up and then get them on their way. Whereas they might be frantic and worried about where I was leading them outside, not during recess time (!) they would walk calmly and without resistance to Creative Movement. They would then participate and have a nice time. So handy!

A few weeks ago, J took Coco and Theo to Target because he needed to buy some thank you cards. This was most certainly outside of their predictable routine. They go to Target with me often enough, but almost never with J. Whereas I have some ground rules and routines for Target visits, J just thought he could take them in there, grab some cards and get out. Ha. Hahahahahahahaha! Of course all hell broke loose when Coco spotted some toy she wanted.

Normally, I make them both sit in the cart (Theo in the seat and Coco in the actual cart) and allow them to each pick a toy to have with them whilst we wheel about. J did not know this, of course, and told Coco no to the toy. Coco, not being one to take no for an answer, proceeded to have the worst tantrum of her life, complete with clawing at his face and screaming blood curdling screams in the middle of Target.* By the time we'd had a glass of wine and he was telling me about it while they slept in their beds later that evening, he was able to laugh about it (bravo, J!) but he said in the moment, it was extremely trying and embarrassing. Um, yeah.

I explained to him that he needed the debrief. Rather than just cruising on into Target, he needed to park the car and then turn around and look into their sweet eyes and explain what was going to happen before going in. Lay down a simple code of conduct. "You're going to both sit in the cart while I push" Explain what you're going to get and why. "I need to get some thank you cards for my co-workers. You can help me pick out some nice ones!" Then, allow them to ask questions. "Can we have a toy in the cart? Mama always lets us have a toy." Coco would definitely explain this one in her super detailed way, "We go to the toys and mama lets us point to a toy and pick that one to have in the cart with us. And after a little while, we trade and Theo looks at my toy and I look at his. And we don't buy them. Andt the end, we put them away before we go." She's very verbal. And tenacious.

After days and days of begging and pestering and constant asking, I finally took Coco back to Target to look at the coveted toy. I needed to buy a few other things, so she played with it in the cart. After five minutes or so, she said, "Can I get a new toy? This one's boring." Theo wasn't with us that day, so we swung by the toy department and switched it out for something else. Then I finished my shopping.  She probably would have gotten bored of it the day she was there with J, too. But it's good he held his ground anyway. Hopefully next time, it can be avoided.

Do you like surprises? Do your kids? How do you debrief or help things to run smoothly?

(Photo via The Mountain Laurel/Tumblr)

*She came down with a fever the next day;)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Pet Peeves


Today I had a really great day. It's funny, I couldn't even tell you why it was great really. I was tired AF from Theo keeping me up again, and he was still very cranky and demanding and made his trademark screeching sound a lot. That makes me want to scream. And yet, I had a great day. Go figure.

So, seeing as it was a great day, this seems like a fine time to rant about a few pet peeves I have. I wonder if we have the same pet peeves? Read on to find out.

#1 - Converse shoelaces.
Have you ever wondered why Converse shoelaces suck so bad? I have. So many times. They're impossibly slippery and never stay tied. I remember, as a child, thirty years ago, my mom double-knotting my Cons the way I double-knot my kids' now. Why, in thirty plus years have they not done something about this?! On their own website, they show the shoes untied. Preview of what's to come.

#2 - When people say, "It is what it is."
Argh. This one is so irritating. In the Bay Area, you're guaranteed to hear someone say this at least once an hour. It is almost always accompanied with a sigh of resignation or shoulder shrug, as if to say "it's hopeless" or "it's beyond anyone's control," rather than "it is what it is." Saying that something is what it is seems to give it a great amount of gravity. However that is not how this particular phrase is typically used. We don't go around quipping, "to be or not to be" because it carries weight. It has gravitas. But "it is what it is" just gets tossed around like nothing. Oh well. Nothing I can do about it. (Shrug) It is what it is! ;)

#3 - Overhead lighting.
Damn if I can't stand overhead light. It's glaring and harsh and over illuminates everything and creates horrible shadows that feel straight out of some David Lynch film nightmare. Our apartment in Zurich didn't have any overhead lights. Not a single one. Instead, each plug had one socket out of three that was connected to the light switch on the wall. It was amazing. Click the switch (they were buttons, not flippers like we have in North America) and all of the connected lights came on at once. Our current house has tons of overhead lights. One in every room. I refuse to use them and went to great lengths to place lamps near every door. But J loves the overhead lights when he's looking for something, or just whenever really. I've threatened to take the lightbulbs out. Cringe!

Tell me your pet peeves in the comments below. Do you share any in common with me?

(Photo via UO Orange County/Instagram)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Self-Care When Caretaking and TV Lately


I've been taking care of a very sick Theo for the past few days. We have spent a great deal of time on the couch together, just snuggling, or sitting together watching a movie, or napping together. Taking care of a sick child is really hard. They feel awful and don't quite understand why or that it's temporary and they're very very needy and demanding. So, I did something this week that I haven't when caring for sick children in the past. I took some time for myself. Saturday, Coco had a birthday party to go to. Normally, I would have had J take her so I could stay with Theo. But I left Theo in the capable hands of his dad and took Coco myself. It was nice to get out of the house and such a needed break. Sunday, I went to yoga, and again today I went to yoga. Theo and J are close and having him take care of him when he's sick only makes Theo's bond with J stronger. It's a win-win all around.

So, I have to ask what TV shows are you watching lately? We became total TV junkies after getting married and I love it. When we were newlyweds, we would get Chipotle and watch Desperate Housewives (HA!) every Sunday. That show was so bad it was good. I loved that weekly tradition. After becoming parents, J really did make everything so darn perfect for when Coco and I came home from the hospital. He stocked the fridge, cooked and cleaned for two solid weeks and made sure that I had a funny or compelling show to watch with a big cup of tea on the couch every night. The first series we got into was Weeds and I get all misty eyed now when I hear the theme song because it takes me back to those days holding newborn Coco on the couch and watching TV.

Back to the present, we like to have a few shows going at once. The most recent season of Homeland was incredible, as always, and thankfully we had Billions to keep watching on Sunday evenings when Homeland ended. However, now Billions is in it's season finale this coming weekend. No! I know that House of Cards starts up again at the end of the month. And I have to double-check the dates for Master of None and Bloodline. I would still love to hear what you recommend as it seems that most of our shows are kind of heavy and dramatic lately.

Speaking of. We've started watching the most terrifying, twisted, dark show I've ever been into. It's The Fall. Have you watched it? It's a Netflix original and so violent and creepy, I can't believe I actually like it. But it's all I can think about. The little details, the amazing acting by Gillian Anderson, the dynamic, human, flawed (sometimes very flawed!) characters. J does not like it. And on some level I don't either. It's that dark. But I really do love one aspect of the show so much. It does an incredible job of illustrating sexism and misogyny. Incredible! I love their social commentary. It's really thought provoking.

So tell me what you're watching! Especially if it's something funny or light-hearted. ;) And here's to Theo being back to his old self very soon! xo

(Photo via Elvira/Instagram)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Have a sweet weekend.


What are you doing this weekend? Is it warm where you are? We are freezing and hoping for some sun and warmer days. I'm craving rosé and sunshine and bike rides and lazy days at the park, but spring has been so slow to start. Finally our cherry tree is in bloom, so it's coming. Hooray! 

Thank you for sharing so much through your thoughtful and eye-opening comments on this post. I think deciding when to be done done having babies is one of the hardest things. There are so many logical reasons to go one way or another, but if I think ahead to having adult children, or try to imagine how I'll feel at the end of my life, I can see that this is one of those things that is just going to have to come from the heart. Cheesy, but true! So, sometime over the next couple years, I guess I'll just follow my heart. I'm not ready to do anything right now, especially with things a bit up in the air at the moment, but we've got a little time. I think I can leave that question out for a bit. ;)

And, here's a bit of what caught my eye around the web this week:


Speaking of commutes, this couple has a short one!

Spokane had the most amazing storm this week. We sat on the couch with all the lights off and the front door open and said "Wow!" and "That was a big one!" about a million times. :)

Beauty gurus claim this $12 exfoliating sponge is better than the Clarisonic

Is undiagnosed lead poisoning a problem in your state?


I got J a bottle of this for summer. Mmmmmmazing!



This made me rethink the girl on wall street. 

Cannot wait to read this book. (Her Modern Love essays made me cry!)

I hope your weekend is lovely and wonderful and filled with good coffee and sunshine and naps. I'm going to get down to business cleaning out some closets and doing a bit of spring cleaning. Wish me luck! See you back here Monday. xo

(Photo via Prone to Wander/Tumblr)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

What's Your Ideal Commute?


J and I were talking about commute times today and it got me thinking about what it means to commute. Personally, I don't like a long commute that forces me to get up early and commit to covering a serious amount of ground every day. When we first graduated from college, J and I moved to LA for a few months. I always felt like it was a really stupid move, but now I see that it was actually awesome. I learned a whole lot about what I didn't want in life during those months. Among those things was a long commute. For a while I drove nearly an hour each way to work and it was a completely demoralizing and soul sucking experience.

Over the years, I have had walking commutes, including one that was veritably straight uphill and always resulted in my arriving at work hot and red in the cheeks. Another crossed over a small farm in which I would sometimes get held up in a traffic jam of sheep! I've had urban walking commutes (typically weather permitting) and public transit commutes, and of course, the standard car commute.

Probably the best commute of them all was when we were living in Northwest Portland and J and I commuted together. The drive was absolutely beautiful through the winding streets of Portland's forested West Hills. Some mornings, the sun filtered through the trees and sprinkled us with delight in our convertible. Most mornings, we had the top up and the heat on, surrounded by tall trees whose tops you couldn't see in the misty clouds and rain. While I don't favor a long commute, I also don't want a commute that's too short. In my mind, around 20 minutes is just perfect. It's long enough to drink a big cup of coffee and listen to the news and mentally change gears. While I was forced to give up my morning-news-in-the-car habit commuting with J, I did get to listen to his curated playlists each morning and do my makeup and drink coffee in the passenger seat. A year later, we wound up moving across the river and in the interest of time, usually wound up taking I-5 to work instead. But, sometimes, if we had some extra time or got up early, we would go across the Broadway Bridge and drive the old way, just because.

This week, J and I have been subbing at the same high school. Every morning, we pile the kids into the car and drop them off together and then chat while we finish our coffee the rest of the way. It's pretty darn cozy, I have to admit. So, tell me, what's your perfect commute? Are you a headphones on the bus or train kind of commuter? Do you not mind driving 45 minutes? Or do you even really think about it? I would love to hear. Please share in the comments below! xo

(Photo via Pinterest)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Don't Yoga So Hard


Namaste. Did you think that was me for a second? Bwahahahaha! So not me.

But, Sunday night I did go back to yoga after a six or seven month hiatus. In the grand scheme of things that is a very good thing. I'm crazy out of shape now that I no longer walk everywhere and I'm grumpy and disagreeable when I'm not getting regular exercise. But, the whole thing with yoga, as you very well may know, is that it is a practice and it's usually a good idea not to fall completely out of practice for an extended period of time. Hey, what can I say? I did. And the only thing to do was get back to it. So off I went on Sunday afternoon. Once I hit my mat, I was feeling so good and so inspired, I really did think that the mindfulness practice I've been doing thanks to the Breathe app on my Apple Watch had carried me through my lapse, no harm done. Ha. I was so wrong! In my inspiration and desire to look like this crazy yogi above, totally nailing an impossible contortionist pose, I yoga'ed so hard.

Word to the wise: Do not yoga so hard.

If you yoga so hard, you will hurt your neck like I did and it will not feel good. It's been a few days of neck pain now, so I've had plenty of time to contemplate what went so wrong when I yoga'ed so hard and it was this: you do not yoga hard, ever. In fact when you yoga well, it is the opposite of doing something hard. Yoga is the ultimate balancing act. Yoga is seeking to find that place where you can balance and feel your weight supported by the earth and then you relax into the posture and let it all go. What I did was the opposite. I seized those postures with all my might, which given my weak core following the carrying and delivery of gigantic Theo, happens to be my neck muscles. Ouch.

So I'm going to go back to yoga tomorrow, but for the Restore class. And then, over the weekend, I'll do my best to yoga so soft. I cannot and will not push myself into a pose beyond my limits. And I vow to seek balance and to focus on letting go. I think this soft approach is going to spill over nicely into the rest of my life, too. I really do.

Do you go to yoga? Do you ever find yourself wanting to yoga so hard? Please tell me I'm not the only one! ;) xx

PS - My favorite yoga pantsAnalyzed Movements, and photo via Lululemon/Pinterest.

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