This week has been fun and trying at the same time. I’m 39 weeks pregnant and so ready to have this baby – physically and mentally. But with this week being Spring Break and Elisabeth having the entire week off of school, I thought I would take advantage of her time off and spend what might be some last one-on-one time together for a good while before Baby North 2 arrives. I have to say, it’s been such a fun week… but it has also been rough. Although she only goes to school in the mornings from 8:30 – 11:45, I have come to appreciate those 3 hours or so I get each morning to run errands or catch up around the house. She doesn’t nap anymore so it’s literally been a 10-12 hour day every day this week. I’m pooped!
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve spent this week at Sea World, Pump It Up, a day at the park with friends, a movie date to see The Lorax (again) and Friday we’ll be spending the afternoon at the Children’s Museum. I’m such a Type A personality that sometimes, it’s hard for me to put aside my to-do list and be OK with not accomplishing much for the day. As a stay-at-home mom, I’ve had to learn how to multi-task and plan my time wisely around my little girl – accomplishing things while she’s at school or after she’s gone to bed for the night. But this week, I told myself that I needed to get lost in every moment with her. And I did.
I cried Monday night after our day at Sea World because I knew it was our last time we’d go together just me and her (as we had done all summer and on special occasions throughout the year). Right now, my house is a mess, my fridge is almost out of everything and I intentionally haven’t done much nesting for the baby this week… and I don’t feel a bit bothered by it. My moto for this week can be summed up best by the quote below. And I think it’s a moto I might learn to love from here on out. My babies will only be little once; the days are long and the years are fast and this week has taught me to soak up every minute with them and live in the moment.
letting things go that you can’t control at the moment and knowing that soon, it will all work itself out and be back to normal
Most people that know me well, know how much of a health nut I am. I eat an organic diet, try to shop at local farmer’s markets as much as possible and avoid process foods at all costs. But lately being 9 months pregnant and very uncomfortable carrying this baby all in my belly (seriously… my belly looks like a torpedo and my hips have stayed in pre-pregnancy shape), I’ve had to let go of some of these things that I’m such a control freak about when it comes to food. I still eat 100% organic when I eat at home, but I’ve had to buy more processed foods that I normally would make from scratch myself. We’ve also eaten out a lot, usually at Panera Bread for breakfast or lunch.
I already have a picky eater on my hands so my inability and lack of motivation to get creative with cooking has probably made my very picky eater even more picky. Sigh… For the first time in months, Elisabeth asked for peas for dinner. I nearly fell out of my chair. She ate 2 full bowls that night. I was so thrilled but my excitement was soon squashed when she refused the next week. It kills me to know that I haven’t been able to make the effort to make sure she is getting the vegetables she needs on a daily basis. But I have to quit being so hard on myself and be happy that what she does eat is healthy and not junk food. (For example, for snack yesterday she ate crackers, cheese, apples and strawberries). I should be happy that she has never eaten fast food, white bread, high sugar cereal or fried food. And despite my lack of efforts in the kitchen lately, I can happily report these are things that I have not caved into and bought to make things easier on myself. Sure my grocery bill is a bit higher than normal, I just need to remember that very soon, I can help get my family back on track and start cooking up a home cooked meal and home made, healthy snacks again. For now, I’m letting go and accepting I can’t control everything right now and being happy with finding a healthy balance in our diet.
forever erasing the ignorance and stereotype you once held towards something or someone and seeing things in a different perspective
This week I’ve been busy at work on the nursery with my labor of love sewing projects for Baby North V2 where I finished a diaper changing pad cover, crib blanket, and 1 curtain panel (waiting on more fabric to come in today to complete the other). Next week’s goal includes a crib sheet, boppy cover, and some throw pillows.
Before this week, I had never sewn anything in my life, except a few felt square ornaments over the holidays where I learned how to thread my machine. I bought my sewing machine almost 3.5 years ago and have just now started using it. Talk about “learning on the job.” My husband teased me over the years about how it’s just collected dust sitting in the guest bedroom on a sewing table. I first bought it when I was pregnant with Elisabeth because I saw this brilliant idea online on how to convert some of my pants, shorts and skirts into maternity wear at home. I never did it. Instead I went shopping.
Over the years, I never got rid of that sewing machine because it really was a skill that I wanted to learn, especially now that I had kids (growing kids + clothes = must have sewing skills for those alterations). After all, my mom would make all my Halloween costumes and hem my uniforms when I grew every summer so it was something I wanted to be able to do for my kids. The funny thing is, growing up, home economics wasn’t even offered at my private college preparatory high school. My elective options were limited to foreign languages and arts. I always felt like the attitude towards home economics in my school was that it was an area limited to your 1950′s version of the smart woman who’s goal in life is to become a wife and mother (think Julia Stiles character in Mona Lisa Smile). And I have to admit, I carried that sentiment with me too… until I became older, wiser and most importantly, a mother.
Before kids, getting ahead in my career was everything to me. It was my purpose. I pursued the highest form of education in order to get ahead and worked long hours and traveled many miles to do whatever it took to prove myself to my colleagues. I would have brushed off the notion of the concept of a work-at-home mom (WAHM). To me, climbing the corporate ladder was a career and nothing else. But guess what I learned very quickly after leaving the corporate world? There is a whole world of mamas out there that share that same drive and ambition and have been able to strike that right balance of work and home by starting businesses all with the help of their sewing skills. Etsy.com is a shining example of this world. Some of my favorite mom owned businesses that have become very successful through the use of their sewing skills and equipment include Bit of Whimsy Dolls.com and Water Wrap Carriers.com (a local mom owned business whose sales span across the globe in New Zealand!)
These businesses have been such an inspiration to me in getting over the intimidation of my sewing machine and just having the courage to put it to work. Project Runway may have a little to do with this too (tee-hee). But my kids have ignited that drive and ambition when it comes to sewing; that drive I get when I set my mind to things. After all, I want them to have things I MADE for them with love; not just things I buy for them.
I’m not setting out to start a home business with my new found sewing skills. But I’m so grateful that my perspective has changed since my days in high school when I scrunched my nose at the thought of learning such skills in a home economics class. And who knows… maybe some day, I will come up with a genius idea like Water Wrap Carriers.com and start a business as a WAHM. But for now, this little sewing project for my newest love of my life has made me appreciate my new found skill and relieved that I’m no longer ignorant to the stereotype I once held about women who know how to sew.
knowing how to love and grow together despite the constant pitter patter of little feet around you.
Photo taken by Elisabeth
Travis and I are going on our 8th year of marriage and I had always heard about the “7-year itch”. You know… when people have been married for that long, they begin to re-evaluate their relationship. Well I have to say that after being married 7 years and looking ahead at a year full of change, there is no itch for either of us and if anything our relationship is as strong as ever. I have never been more madly in love with anyone other than my husband and every year that goes by, that love just grows stronger and stronger. You’re probably wondering what my point is in relationship to “change.” Well, this past week was Valentines Day and Travis was away on business. No, he didn’t send me flowers or something extravagant to make up for his absence. Instead he has planned a date night for us tonight. I know this sounds weak to some people, but for us, date nights are rare (unless they are at home after the little one has gone to bed… and those are some of the best date nights) so for us this is special.
We hardly ever get a sitter so we can go out alone and we have never left Elisabeth overnight for us to get away. It’s not that we can’t afford a babysitter or a romantic trip away for us. I think it’s just that we really do enjoy each other as a family. Travis and I purposely waited 5 years after getting married to have a baby so that we can enjoy our time together. We travelled, lived spontaneously and enjoyed every moment together without the worry or responsibility of raising another life in this world. It’s also the reason we only want to have 2 kids – so when they grow up and leave the house, we can get back to that life of travel and spontaneous moments; hopefully retired, full of energy still and proud of the job we did as parents, which if my husband has anything to do with it, we will.
The picture in this post was taken on our vacation this past summer in Cancun, Mexico where some dear friends of ours were getting married. It was taken by Elisabeth. Travis and I look goofy, but it’s a genuine snapshot of how much of a good time we were having with our little girl and the fun and laughs we had together on the trip. When we told people about our vacation plans that summer, they were always surprised to hear that we were taking her with us. I can understand – a wedding, Mexico, the beach… what a romantic setup for a perfect getaway for 2. But we couldn’t imagine her not being apart of this special time with our friends (who are basically her god-parents in legal terms) and we had a wonderful time as a family laughing, having fun and making so many memories. When the kids are older, more self-sufficient and able to comprehend the idea of us leaving for a few days and coming back and being secure about it, we might consider going on an overnight stay for just the two of us and leaving them with grandparents. But that is years and years away and for now, Travis and I are happy to bring the kiddos along.
I’m proud of the marriage and relationship we have; I’ve never had a stronger connection with anyone in my life. And I know our love and marriage is strong when we don’t need a break from the kids to rejuvenate anything in our relationship. A few stolen moments are enough to just remind us of how much we love and appreciate one another. So that is what Travis and I do… take a few stolen moments with each other, like the one tonight and appreciate just how good we have it in this life together. It works for us and I know it’s not practical for every family. I guess I just wanted to share how it is possible to have a strong marriage with the constant pitter patter of little feet around you with rarely a break. So to wrap up this Valentines week, I leave you with a quote from Marilyn Monroe, which sums up just how much I need from my man; no flowers or jewelry. With just one look at each other, I know how much we love each other.
“The real lover is the man who can thrill you by kissing your forehead or smiling into your eyes or just staring into space.”
“This system in which a child is constantly moving objects with his hands and actively exercising his senses, also takes into account a child’s special aptitude for mathematics. When they leave the material, the children very easily reach the point where they wish to write out the operation. They thus carry out an abstract mental operation and acquire a kind of natural and spontaneous inclination for mental calculations.”
(The Discovery of the Child, Maria Montessori)
I came across this numbers game, perfect for the month of February. We’ve been working on phonics sounds and Elisabeth has done great, learning just about every sound of the alphabet. We’re ready to take it to the next level but first, I thought we could shift our focus on numbers for a little bit. This easy to make game not only builds math skills but it’s also self-correcting so it’s a great game they can play independently after it’s been explained to them (leaving you time to whip up dinner while they work… a great alternative to TV). All it takes for you to put together is a little construction paper or poster board, stickers and some laminating work – easy peasy.
The instructions are in the link here (one of my favorite websites for Montessori at-home ideas).
If you haven’t read my kick-off post for Montessori Monday’s, a new segment on my blog, here is the link to catch you up.
I’ve been meaning to start blogging about Montessori since many people are unfamiliar with this educational model. When I first heard of Montessori, I was touring a pre-school while I was pregnant with Elisabeth since this school had years of a wait list. It was a traditional preschool but the owner/director mentioned how they integrate Montessori principles but “without the oddness of the students just sitting there quietly by themselves all day.” That description always stuck with me and it made me wonder about Montessori. When Elisabeth was 18 months old, I saw a commercial on PBS for an open house to a local Montessori school and decided to check it out. That tour sold me.
Ever since then, I researched Montessori and the benefits, which have led me to become a big believer in this way of teaching. It also seemed to fit right in line with how we were raising Elisabeth: Ask questions, challenge the status quo, respect humanity and nature, and keep an open mind. The Montessori method is designed to address the needs of the “whole child” - academic, emotional, social, physical and spiritual. With that, the Montessori environment has proven to foster critical thinking, independence, creativity and a love of learning. From a broader perspective, it has also proven to cultivate stewardship of the environment and responsibility toward the greater community.
Montessori is very different from traditional schooling and those differences are probably what some people, who expect daily progress reports of gold stars and grades, have a hard time getting past. The main differences are hands-on learning, mixed-age classrooms, uninterrupted work periods and the accommodation of different learning styles, talents and pace. What does this mean? No grades, gold stars, homework or teachers in front of the classroom teaching the same thing to everyone. Instead, Montessori is focused on self-discipline and the teachers do this by helping each child learn how to appropriately meet needs rather than discipline through the use of rewards and punishments. A teacher’s role in a Montessori classroom is more of a guide providing more of a child-centered approach. I encourage you to observe a Montessori classroom at work; there is no chaos or unruly children running around. What you will find is independent, focused and attentive children at work – all without the rewards and punishments you find in typical classrooms. It’s truly magical.
Here is one of the best Montessori videos that highlights the wonderful things about Montessori and how it differs from traditional schooling:
Not every Montessori school is created equal so it’s important to visit the school and observe the classroom to get an idea of how truly Montessori it is. The school we have chosen for Elisabeth in Dallas starts homework in 4th grade and they do annual testing starting in 1st grade. Some Montessori parents might have a problem with that and part of me does. But when talking to the director, I can understand why it’s important and the way they approach homework and testing is not one with pressure nor does it become the focus of their curriculum. The homework is provided as a weekly deal, not every night like in traditional school, and they can finish it in class if they use their time wisely. But beginning in 4th grade, children become more social in class so if their work is not completed then it becomes homework due at the end of the week. So to me, this was a good thing – teaching time management skills. The testing they do is not for any kind of funding or bragging rights for the school. It’s more to ascertain where the child is in their development and to get them used to standardized tests since many children move on to public high schools where testing is a big focus.
Now back to the statement made by that owner of the pre-school about the “oddness” of a Montessori classroom. I’ve visited and toured 4 Montessori schools in the past 18 months and I have to say, in every single one there is nothing odd about it. I LOVE watching a Montessori classroom at work. There are children working in groups, some working independently inside, some outside, some having snack alone and some together and some working one-on-one with the teacher – all happening simultaneously and with a sense of order and calm.
One of my favorite sayings about Montessori is from a shirt that was around back in the 20′s that read: “It takes a brave woman to raise a Montessori child. Because they think and speak for themselves.”
This saying is so profound for me because it’s exactly the kind of child I want to raise and Montessori education is a piece of that puzzle.
Here is Elisabeth in her first year of Montessori around 20 months old. She’s concentrating very hard with the dressing button frame, which directly helps her learn how to button and unbutton herself and indirectly facilitates acquiring coordination of movement.
What are your thoughts on Montessori? Could you ever make the leap from traditional schooling?
having the courage to leave your comfort zone and embark on new adventures with optimism and bravery
Well, I know I’ve mentioned it either on FB or here that we have been contemplating a move to Dallas and after this past weekend, it’s been decided that the North’s are ready to embark on this new journey. So in approximately 6 months, we will be making the move to Dallas, Texas. This is a huge change for all of us, but I think mainly for me. I’ve never lived anywhere outside of San Antonio (except for a brief 6 month stint in Austin where I commuted back to San Antonio most of the time anyway), but I’m so ready to move away from my comfort zone and embark on this new adventure.
During the year that Travis and I were engaged, I took my first business trip to New York City and that was the moment that I realized there was a whole other exciting world outside of the only place I’ve ever called home. I think I even tried to convince Travis that we should move out to NYC ASAP. Ha! He wasn’t exactly on board and I loved him way more than the adventurous thought of living in the city that never sleeps. Over the years and especially since we’ve started a family, we both have agreed that San Antonio may not be the place that we want our kids to grow up. I love my hometown, don’t get me wrong and I think it’s a great place to raise children. But what we want for our children is to experience the world outside of our little bubble and we have committed to doing that through either travel or living there. When Travis was job hunting, he was looking at companies in London, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We were seriously open to the world. And I knew that if I wanted to encourage my children to experience the world with open minds, I couldn’t genuinely do it having never done it myself.
Now I know Dallas isn’t NYC, London or Australia, but for me it’s not San Antonio. And that was a huge confirmation for me when I started looking at Montessori schools for E. There were 25+ schools to choose from in Dallas and surrounding areas as opposed to San Antonio where I can count on one hand the number of schools to choose from. The airport is also a true international airport as opposed to ours where you have to go through DFW, Houston or any other major airport to get anywhere. This is one of the driving factors for choosing to live in Dallas for now – Travis’ work. With as much as he has to travel, DFW will provide some relief and make his travel shorter and efficient, which means more family time. There is also more opportunity in his industry there as opposed to here, which means job hunting will be a little less challenging when it’s time for him to move on from his current job.
We’ve decided to stay in the Dallas metro area as opposed to living out in the suburbs. I’m not big on the “Friday Night Lights” culture that you get out in Plano or Southlake and this crunchy mama has to live near a Whole Foods and have access to children’s activities downtown at the various museums. So the neighborhood we’ve set our sights on is the Lakewood/Lochwood area, which surrounds White Rock Lake… perfect for the runners in us. It sort of reminds me of Alamo Heights with tree lined streets and renovated houses originally built in the 1950′s and 60′s. It’s also the same neighborhood where the Montessori school we fell in love with and have chosen is located. So I feel like we will have the best of both worlds – living in the 9th largest city in the United States while having our own little community within it.
I’m very excited about this move and feel really good about it in my heart. I will miss my friends and family here but the good news is we are only an easy 5 hour drive away and we will always have our home ready to welcome visitors from good ol’ San Antone. And if you live in Dallas now, I’d love to get together once we move.
February has been dubbed “Operation Finish the Nursery” in the North house. This time around, I’m putting my sewing machine to work and will be making most of the pieces. The color pallete consists of grey, teal and canary yellow tones (primary patterns below).
I’m still debating on whether or not I want to pay $90 for this adorable crib size blanket from this awesome Etsy seller or if I want to try and make a less sophisticated version myself with the same elephant print using minkee fabric on the other side and save some money.
We are not painting the room; instead Travis put in chair railing and crown molding and we kept the room a warm beige. The room doesn’t get a whole lot of natural light (good for napping!) and from my research, I’ve learned that it’s best to keep the colors warm and more mid-tone. No dark colors and no pastels. I think the colors chosen will achieve this nicely and the patterns won’t clash with the wall color. I’m also excited about the gender neutral look of the nursery using these colors; I’m not great at home decor or design but I think the colors and patterns chosen would work great for a boy or girl while keeping a modern approach. If we knew the gender, I know I would resort to the typical boy/girl colors of blue and pink. Plus, it’s challenged me to be creative rather than resorting to ducks or bears to achieve that gender neutral theme.
The curtains will use the grey chevron pattern above and I’ll be using this awesome tutorial here which includes tabs (to give it a modern feel) sans the tree branch rod, although it is a cute touch.
I had every intention of buying this fitted crib sheet from Land of Nod, but it’s on backorder until April. Ugh. So I’m thinking of making my own as well since I’ve been able to find a pattern very similar on fabric.com. This one intimidates me just a bit since I’m such a novice at sewing and have learned what I know so far from the internet.
Lastly, I’ll be using this tutorial to make my own changing pad cover using a canary yellow minkee fabric with the teal elephant fabric for the top (as the tutorial uses).
Here is the room in it’s current state and as you can see I have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks if I want to make most of these pieces.
So here is my list to complete the nursery:
Sew changing table pad cover
Sew fitted sheet
Finish touch up on crown molding (hubby)
Decide on whether to make boppy cover or buy
Move small shelf into room
Find wall decor
Make throw pillows
Decide on whether to make or buy black/white mobile
I should also mention that the nursery will be a Montessori nursery. This calls for a whole blog post of it’s own but the biggest difference from a typical nursery is there is no crib, which is a shocker for people unfamiliar with Montessori (I’m still getting used to the idea). For a quick explaination, here are some attributes of a Montessori nursery:
a baby-proofed space that is safe for the baby to move and explore
a floor bed
a mobile above the floor bed
a mirror attached to the wall beside the bed or a horizontal mirror next to the floor bed
low pictures on the walls
natural materials wherever possible
gate at the doorway so the door can be left open
I’ll update some more as we make progress but would love to hear your thoughts on what we have planned so far. What do you think? Will it work for either a boy or girl or do you think it skews more to one gender?
Change is rekindling a friendship and finding that love was never lost in between…
When Elisabeth was born and came home from the hospital, our beloved dogs Pacey and Lexi became… well, dogs. As time went on, they were left outside more and more until they eventually became outdoor dogs except to come into their kennels and sleep at night. No more relaxing on the leather couches or roaming the roost. Luckily, we have a beautiful backyard with at least 10 oak trees and a covered patio that spans the back of the house so it’s not like they were left out in the desert. It just became more work to clean up after them inside and when Elisabeth began to sit up and crawl, it became work to have to watch them to make sure they weren’t chewing up her toys or knocking her over.
Over the years, Lexi, our 12 year old cocker spaniel had become more and more ill with chronic kidney failure until I finally found food from a local rancher that she is able digest, unlike her processed food, which was literally killing her by the day. But she is still old, frail, shaky, deaf and so so skinny (despite our attempts to “fatten” her up with the home made dog food). I know her time is immanent and honestly, I’d rather not see her suffer anymore and remember the spunky, smart dog who did cool tricks on command (which included closing the door with her paws!)
So recently we decided that our once beloved, spoiled rotten dogs should become once again indoor dogs. That way, Lexi can just sleep in her bed all day instead of on the patio couch and enjoy her last months/weeks in the warmth and comfort of the 4 walls she’s known as home for half her life. And in the process we realized something – Pacey, our 4 year old rescued lab mix, is actually a great asset to me. Pacey has always been docsile and timid, but if you want to play, she can bring her game. With Elisabeth, she has always been cautious; probably because she has always sensed the mama bear in me when she was near her as a baby. But now that Elisabeth is a bubbly 2.5 year old who runs, hops and plays, Pacey wouldn’t make a bad playmate for her… helping this mama out in the process.
So far, Pacey is still adjusting to the change and she definitely needs to brush up on her manners as I learned earlier this week when she reached up on the counter and ate half the muffins I had just baked for Elisabeth. I’ll call her into the playroom and she comes in not sure what is going on and why I’m inviting her into such sacred territory. But it’s definitely working… Elisabeth loves to play dress up with her and will even try to serve her some Melissa & Doug play food. And she’s been a big help to me by either keeping her occupied while I make dinner or cleaning and licking up the crumbs from the floor after Elisabeth’s snack. I just wished I had realized earlier what special little canine creatures these dogs are and how much of a role they play as part of the family when we became a family a 3 (and soon to be 4). They have definitely reminded me that they are more than the cliche of “man’s best friend.” But rather, they are man’s best friend… unconditionally. They seek to please and never give up. They love us at our worst and our best. And they are best summed up by this quote:
Change is having to say good-bye, staying strong and treasuring the next hello.
Sending daddy off at the airport with a sweet good-bye kiss
Late last year, Travis took a new job with a company based in Silicon Valley (tech capital of the world) which would require him to be gone much more than he already was, leading us to make the decision for me to be a full time stay-at-home mom. 4 months in, we are still adjusting – me being a single mom much of the time and Elisabeth missing her daddy during the week. When Travis and I talked about the decision for him to take the job and the impact on our kids, we thought it may not be much different than when he wasn’t traveling as much since by the time he got home from work, Elisabeth would be in the bath and on her way to bed, making their interaction time limited anyway during the week. And although she’s very attached to her mommy, I can tell she feels his absence when he is gone. Its just another change for her and I know she will adjust. If anything, it has made her time with him that much more special. She wants to talk about her week and everything we’ve done, show him the things she’s done and learned at school and any new developments or accomplishments she’s had with her ballet, puzzles, or phonics sounds. And every time he comes home from a business trip, he brings her a “surprise” which makes her so giddy when she sees him the next morning after his late return the night before. Their hello’s have become so sweet.
As for myself, I think I’m just now adjusting and becoming less anxious about playing single mom when he has to go and the days that he is gone go by fast now. If anything, after 7 years of marriage, this adjustment has made me appreciate my husband and the person that I married so much more. I really am one of the lucky girls that married a great guy. We’ve had a great 7 years together and I can truly say that our marriage has been pretty smooth sailing this whole time, but this change has brought us so much closer than ever. It has also made me stronger as a mother. Although I get the benefit of being there for the wonderful moments during the week with our little girl, I have to put up with most of the tantrums and challenges that come with raising a 2 year old all on my own. But it has made me more patient and more compassionate towards my baby because when her daddy is gone, I’m all she has and I have to be there for her through the good and the bad.
We’ve decided as a family that this situation wouldn’t be long term, but for where Travis would like to take his career, this is a great opportunity for him right now and we will support him as family. The long term benefits are good for all of us. Many times, when I tell people how much he has to travel and be gone for work, people gasp and have this look of pity for me; but it’s no different than a mother being married to a doctor who has to work 100+ hours per week. It’s very similar actually. And if anything it has made us closer and stronger as a family, appreciating what matters that much more, and living in the moment with each other instead of sweating the small stuff.