November 6, 2016

On my ears: podcast recommendations

I have tried to come up with a catchy introduction phrase to this blogpost forever but the more I write the crazier it gets. I only wanted to recommend two podcast episodes to you that I listened to just recently. They both talk about kids. I don't know how you raise your kids, but I struggle the most with raising our firstborn son. Not because of him (turns out he is actually the "easiest" of them), but because we practice our parenting skills on him. There is always trial and error, expectations set too high, rules too strict and rules too loose involved. And every time when we think, we found our groove and everything goes smoothly, the child matures some more and everything is out of order. Again. It is like trying a computer game for the first time and the moment you think you finally got it, you get to the next level and you start all over ...

This year our next level is middle school. The difficulty level is high because Micha and I both have grown up in another country, in a totally different educational system. So middle school is not only new to our son, but also new to us. I was very happy when I stumbled upon this episode from "This American Life" that centers all around middle school. It tells and reminds us of the struggle most middle schoolers go through - finding their place in society and the world and physically and emotionally growing their bodies and minds to become an adult. If you have a middle school child - please take the time to listen to this episode: This American Life -#449 Middle School.

Every night, I get an email from my son's middle school showing his grades. In most subjects, everything he does, gets graded: every assignment, every homework, every paper he produces in class. His grades are always changing. He is a good student, but it is so tempting to define this child only by his grades. To ask: "Will I be surprised, when I look at your grades tonight?" Or: "Why did you forget to put your name on an assignments twice? Are you crazy, your grade is going to drop?" And yes, I have asked these questions, and I assume, I will ask them in the future. It is hard to let go of habits and it is very convenient to intervene at an early stage, isn't it?

Last night, I watched Julie Lythcott-Haims's TED talk on "How to raise successful kids without over-parenting". She delivered a powerful speech about what really matters for our kids. And it was a great reminder that we all should give ourselves from time to time. What our kids need most from us is our unconditional love and a tool set to master their lives by themselves instead of mapping it out for them. If you have 15 minutes, please let her convince you. Julie Lythcott-Haims: "How to raise successful kids without over-parenting".

November 4, 2016

Journaling in a Traveler's Notebook: Summer Journal 2016 Pigeon Point and Half-Moon Bay

I really enjoy journaling in my Summer Journal. This is why I am trying to work on it constantly. I am remembering so many details and want to preserve them all. The details of this specific trip are not so great, because I had a really bad day and picked a fight with my husband because I forgot to check the weather forecast and forgot my sweater at home. If you want to see the process, there is a video on youtube.

November 3, 2016

Planning in a Traveler's Notebook: October Review and November Setup

I would have never thought that I needed a monthly overview, but when I decided last month that I wouldn't use it, I actually went back and filled it in about 5 days into October. So this month I made sure I filled in all the events and get a good feeling for the month.

How do I utilize the monthly overview? I mark birthdays, holidays, school breaks. I add appointments, regular activities (in the mornings) and events. I do not need exact times because I don't use it for accurate planning. As I said before: the monthly overview gives me a feeling for the month, this is where I can find out if my goals align with the ongoing events. This is where I notice: "Shoot, THIS is actually November, if I want my kids to have an adventcalendar by December 1st, I have to do it BEFORE that day." Or: "I am reading in the classroom on Friday, there is two other appointments in the mornings that week, don't plan on getting any crafty time in." Or: "If I want to send a postcard for that birthday, I need to send it by that date because it takes a week to get there."

Are you using a monthly overview in your planner? And if so, how are you using it? If you want to see what my October planner pages looked like and see how I decorated Novembers planner spread, here is a video.

November 1, 2016

The story of the quilt. Or: Patchwork blanket that is far from perfect.

Two or even three years ago, I gave my husband a voucher for a handmade blanket. I did not specify exactly what it would look like but I actually had an idea in my mind. He is a big fan of the San Francisco Giants and I would make him a blanket out of different orange, grey, and black fabric squares, a very simple but also (in my opinion) very sophisticated fan-blanket.

Then I started collecting different fabrics in the colors of the color scheme and I thought about the construction of the quilt. I wanted it to be a real patchwork quilt. But if you know me and know me more than just soso, you might also know that sometimes what looks like procrastination is in fact perfectionism. I wasn't able to start because I didn't know how to start. I knew that I would have to put a lot of time and effort into construction a quilt that would meet my own expectations. And I also knew that even if I tried very hard, I would still not be satisfied because I just don't have enough experience.

Fast forward to last week, when I realized that it was not about making the perfect quilt and that it was not about the neatest mitered corners or the most intricate quilting or even about sewing straight lines. My husband wouldn't notice any of these things. He would however see that I chose the team colors of his favorite team, he would appreciate the time and effort that I put into making something for him and he would also snuggle in that blanket each and every night.

It took me about 3 days to finish cutting out the squares, assembling the quilt top and then quilting along each column. I had already found the perfect backing for the quilt last winter at Jo-Ann's. I then went ahead and cut a wide binding strip so that I would not have to worry about the edges and used my sewing machine to bind the quilt. Done! Not perfect in the eyes of a quilter. But perfect enough for me! I am so happy that I finished this project and it fills me with such a warm feeling seeing my husband toting his new blanket around like Linus from the Peanuts.