A Half Birthday List

The only advice I have about having a birthday list, is to start one when you are in your twenties.  When you get to be my age, my half birthday list is in the twenties!

birthday list

My reason for coming back to the birthday list is it helps me do fun and significant stuff I wouldn’t otherwise.

I’ve learned a lot about myself since doing The Healthy, Happy, Sane Teacher  – yes, I did the program and wrote it. What? It’s good stuff.

One thing I learned is that days, weeks and months can get away from me if I don’t actually take control of my schedule. I have a gold medal in time-wasting/mindless internet surfing thus leaving almost no time for things that are important let alone fun.

So now every Tuesday afternoon I plan my life: meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), movement, quiet time, work and most importantly fun.

I’ve been working on my half birthday list since mid-September because that is actually the six month mark for me and I wanted to be sure I wanted to publish another list before I actually published it.

Apparently, I do, so there you go.

22 Before 44: A Half Birthday List

  1. Take a dance class series. I have always loved dancing, but haven’t taken any lessons in years. I’m currently thinking intro to tap dancing. How much fun would that be?

  2. Pay off my teaching credential loan. It is time.

  3. Set up system for depositing checks. What? Doesn’t everyone struggle with getting checks deposited before they expire? You didn’t know checks expire? Well, you heard it here first.  Get a pretty box by the door and put a banking day on the calendar each week.Get that app that lets me never go to the bank again.

  4. Take a solo spa day in Calistoga to use the gift card in my wallet. Sometimes waiting around for someone to be able to go with you means you never get to go. So before my birthday, solo spa day.

  5. Buy a bigger food processor from Crate and Barrel to make life easier. Why Crate and Barrel? Gift card in my wallet.

  6. Read 22 books for pleasure. I have gotten away from reading fiction the last decade or so of being in a constant quest for knowledge. The next 6 months are all about the novel. Please leave your must read titles in the comments.

  7. Enjoy a restorative yoga class each month. Taught by someone else. I mean really.

  8. Celebrate family day with a day off at Apple Hill.

  9. Write 22 thank you notes to people who have touched my life.

  10. Take control of my calendar – clearing one day a week to schedule everything. Another brilliant tip from The Healthy, Happy, Sane Teacher. My day is Tuesday. Game changer. I plan all meals, exercise, meditation, work time, family time and fun. And it all gets done because it is on the calendar. What? I know. Revolutionary.

  11. Teach a restorative/writing workshop – Restoration NOT Resolutions is scheduled for New Year’s Day at It’s All Yoga. Save the date! More details later.

  12. Create a business with the city and or state. This is a by the end of 2013 goal.

  13. Set up business checking account. This is also a by the end of 2013 goal.

  14. Take a cooking class. I did this in Thailand and absolutely loved it. Do more of what you love. I think I’ve heard that somewhere before.

  15. Pretty up the back yard. Ideas include: a new gate, make under laundry room into a cute play area with shelves and cover, deal with the toy clutter, adding more shade, adding more flowers, adding an herb garden and more!

  16. Attend an author event. Inspiration? Yes, please.

  17. Make bread in the bread machineJust how long must one own a bread machine before one uses it? I’m at about two years. Crazy train, I know. This will stop or I will give it a new home.

  18. Wrap up 25 winter books for the kid to unwrap each day of December. Yay for new books! From the library!

  19. Pare down wardrobe/reestablish my personal style. More accessories and less yoga pants/jeans and striped t shirts.

  20. Investigate/start college fund for kiddo.

  21. Eat vegan treats. Make vegan cinnamon rollsmake vegan biscuits and gravyeat a vegan doughnut.

  22. Mini redecorate our bedroom. Ideas include: add shelves as foot board and night stands, new bedding, recover head-board.

Do you keep a birthday list? 

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Making the Most of Summer Break: Halfway Check In

summer of intentionality 2013

Oh my goodness, friends, I just realized we have hit the halfway mark for summer break 2013. *gulp*

It’s both good and bad news. I’ll leave the bad news up to you, but the good news is there is still time to make some summer break plans to learn, to do and to read.

Have you made your list of things to learn, to do and to read yet?

Here’s my update:

Summer of Intentionality 2013:

Things I Want to Learn:

Skype – – I have used it and am LOVING IT! It feels nothing short of a miracle every time it works. My dad asked me a “technical” question about how Skype works the other day on a video chat and my answer was “It’s magic!” and that pretty much sums up how I feel about the whole thing. I totally wish I would have started using it earlier.

Hootsuite – I’ll just say there is still time in the summer for me to give it a go.

Movie Maker – I’ve been playing around with camera placement, lighting and getting ideas together. Look for some new videos from me in the next few months.

Student Motivation – I am so excited to be learning about the research behind motivation. More on that below.

Things I Want to Do:

My Activities:

Yoga class twice a week at It’s All Yoga – a work in progress! I’m going to class more than I have been in the last couple months, but not making that twice a week goal. Something to work on.

Daily restorative yoga – dude. I need to get on this one.

Manicure – Must schedule appointment.

Pedicure – Must schedule appointment. Is this a good time to talk about my fear of getting oglies from getting a pedicure? Because I really think that is what is holding me back.

Foot massage -Someone may need to hold my hand on this one.

90 Minute full body massage July AND August appointments are on the books.

Road trip to see Rhett Miller with friends. Show tickets are purchased. Now we need to rent a car and find good places to sleep. I may also try to convince my friend to go to a restorative yoga class in SF.

Ride my bike for errands. – Dude, where’s my bike?

Nap in a hammock.- The hammock has been put together and has clocked lots of reading hours. The cat and the kid fight over who gets to try to knock me off. Needless to say, I may have to switch this from napping to reading. Just for safety if nothing else.

Make pie. Good god, I love pie. – So many pies have been made and consumed this summer.

Family activities:

Visit Minnesota grandparents – DONE

Visit Bay Area grandparents – DONE several times!

Visit Mendo County grandparents – in the scheduling process.

Visit Portland friends – they are coming here instead of me going there. Two on the books.

Visit the swimming pool several times a week as a family – Best.Idea.Ever. We’ve been meeting another family there for dinner and swimming more nights and it is simply the best. I’m going to be sad when summer ends.

Ride bikes as a family. – I am not even sure where my bike is at this point.

Go to the farmer’s market together. – So far it’s been teams of two, not three, but we go several times a week.

Cook outside at the pool and eat dinner there. – We haven’t cooked there, but we’ve brought lots of picnic food with us. I love summer food! Especially when it is shared with good friends.

Fruit picking – DONE

Late add: Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge – on the schedule

Late add: Tuesday Night BBQ – on the schedule

Things I Want to Read:

Complete the summer reading program at the library.

 Just Kids by Patti Smith – It was so different than what I thought it was going to be I have to say I was just surprised. I liked it, not loved it. I learned a lot, but completely different stuff than I had anticipated.

Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness – I have it, but haven’t started it yet.

Steal Like An Artist – by Austin Kleon. I reviewed it here.

Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields – I have it, but haven’t started it yet.

Mindset by Carol Dweck – I’m almost finished with it and if I have seen you in person recently I’ve told you to read it. Can’t wait to tell you more about it.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – I’m on page 556 and I’m still in, so it must be good.

That’s my mid summer update!

 How are you making the most of what’s left of summer break?

43 Books: Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest

As part of my 43 Before 43, I’m reading 43 books.

I bought this for myself for my birthday and it is book number 39. Not too shabby.

Let me start with what I liked about the book:

  • The title. Seriously, if the word minimalist is in the title I’ve probably already checked it out.
  • The subtitle: Enjoy Modern Family Life MORE by doing LESS. – I love doing less and enjoying more. Like a lot.
  • An entire chapter dedicated to self-care!
  • The ideas in this book are completely doable.
  • This book helped me feel less alone in the sense that I want to do less and enjoy parenting more. I still see so much what I call parenting Olympics around that it was refreshing to read a book with beliefs similar to mine.
  • As part of the book launch, the authors held a 2 week Min Camp where each day we were asked to do an easy action from the book. It was such a great way to put the book into action. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s still going on.
  • I love the idea of limiting extra curricular activities (both from a parent AND teacher perspective – down time is good for everyone).
  • I love the idea of saying no to activities and physical stuff to make room for the remarkable.
  • Kudos to the authors for emphasizing working with the teacher when dealing with their kids’ school and the idea of GOOD ENOUGH when it comes to school. I was basically fist pumping and shouting during that part.

A couple of things that weren’t my favorite:

  • I wish the self-care chapter would have been first instead of last because I am such a huge advocate of self-care. I get that a lot of people haven’t been taking care of themselves and have to sort of be talked into doing something for themselves. But SO IMPORTANT!
  • The writing in the education section got a bit circular. I’m thinking because it is so ridiculously personal for each family and everyone’s experience is so different. Still, the emphasis on taking the competition out, (ironically) wins.

The all important question – would I want to be friends with the author?

Good lord, YES! Asha and Christine use their own experiences and family stories to illustrate the topics in the book and I feel like we are kindred spirits.

Should you read Minimalist Parenting?

Absolutely. If you have kids and feel like your life is running you instead of you enjoying it, read this book now.

Have you read Minimalist Parenting? What did you think?

43 Books: Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

As part of my 43 Before 43, I’m reading 43 books.

Let me start with what I liked about the book:

  • I absolutely l.o.v.e cultural studies especially with similar cultures. {I am practically clapping my hands and hopping with glee – this is how excited I am.}
  • The way the author describes French children as: sleeping through the night by three months, eating well-rounded multi-course meals, and their parents able to carry on adult conversations while the kids played independently reminded me of teachers who have a firm grasp on classroom management. {Hint: they don’t get the “easy” kids or work harder, they make it look easy, but they are managing those kids invisibly. – So exciting! And really, how do they do it?)
  • The French words/phrases/concepts: The following are a small, yet powerful list of my favorites.
  • The Pause: Making kids wait builds their waiting muscles thus avoiding immediate meltdowns.
  • Betise: small act of naughtiness which is considered normal child behavior and parents don’t need to freak out about (Hello, me!)
  • Cadre: A frame/framework – setting limits and having plenty of freedom within the frame. {sigh….I miss teaching}
  •  Non – no, absolutely not.

A couple of things that weren’t my favorite:

  • I wish the French pronunciation (as well as the English translation) would have been in the text. I loved knowing what the words meant without having to turn to the (well placed at the beginning) glossary, but I never looked at the pronunciation guide after my first read.
  • I know some people will HATE this book because she writes in a way that implies the French are doing it right thus making everyone else wrong. Although for some reason, my usually defensive self, did not even take it that way. I just read it with a lot of curiosity agreeing with parts and observing other differences.
  • The idea of kids going on week-long class trips sans parents as young as 3 or 4 years old gives me hives

The all important question – would I want to be friends with the author?

Yes! We could practice saying no convincingly to our little ones while wringing our hands over sending kids on vacations without us.

Should you read Bringing Up Bebe?

Yes. If you are interested in the lives of little people and if you like to travel or ever want to spend time in France.

You may also want to spend some time reading other reviews of this book. Holy moly, some people HATED it.

Have you read Bringing Up Bebe? What did you think?

43 Books – Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

As part of my 43 Before 43 I’m reading 43 Books.


Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of Dear Sugar columns from The Rumpus. I checked this book out from my library’s e-reader collection because so many people have raved about the author’s (Cheryl Strayed) other book, Wild, that I decided I’d read this while I waited for Wild to become available.

Until I read this book I didn’t even know Sugar existed. I’m hoping I’m the only one! If you’ve never read Dear Sugar, stop what you are doing and go check it out.

Why you may be asking yourself, am I advocating you spend time reading an advice column? In a word, kindness. Sugar answers every single letter she gets with kindness. And a whole heart and no BS. In my opinion tender-hearted kindness is in short supply these days of reality TV marathons and competitiveness for competitiveness sake.

I spent most of the time reading Tiny Beautiful Things with tears streaming down my cheeks because I could feel Sugar’s empathy and compassion coming through her writing. I felt like she really cared about the letter writers and their problems.

It also probably helps that the problems people write to Sugar about are universal – love, lust, loss – and either me or someone I love has been in the midst of suffering like that and the answers Sugar gives and nothing short of tender reminders that we’re all in it together.

Do I recommend this book? Without a doubt.

Would I want to be friends with author? Yes. She seems like she’s been through a whole lot of life and come out the other side.

Have you read Tiny Beautiful Things or the Dear Sugar column? What did you think?

Summer of Intentionality — Part Two: To Do

Here are last year’s To Read, To Learn, and To Do. 


2012 Summer of Intentionality 

To Do:

Many of my summer to-dos can also be found on my 43 Before 43 list.

Clean up my bike and run errands on it all summer long.

Take Ruby to see live music.

Host a baby shower.

Travel Plans:

Road trip to Portland.

Road trip to Anderson Valley.

Bay Area visits to see friends and family and escape the 1,000 burning suns in Sacramento.

Air trip to Texas to visit my mom.

Act like a tourist in Sacramento:

Crocker Art Museum.

Railroad Museum.


House work:

Wall of shelves in the dining room.

Entry way re-do.

Bedroom spruce.


What’s on your to-do list this summer? Fun and functional?

Please click on images for source.

43 Before 43: Take Myself To the Movies

News flash – until recently I’d never been to the movies on my own.  Weird, I know. Solo movie viewing seems to be a rite of passage into independent womanhood I missed.

The reason? Mostly because I don’t see my friends enough as it is and we hardly ever go to the movies because we tend to be talkers and that isn’t really conducive to movie going.

Fast forward a few short months into parenthood and suddenly doing things all by myself seems like a great idea. Yes, I still miss my friends, but the sheer bliss of only answering to myself outweighs my need for adult conversation.

What movie shall I see? The Artist {loved} and Friends with Kids {enjoyed enough} *

What theater should I go to? – Varsity in Davis and Tower in Sacramento

Where shall I sit?  – Wherever I want.

What will I do while I wait for the movie to start? – Words with Friends and wonder if I’ll be alone the entire movie.

Two hours alone without a little person hanging on me? Oh my!

Needless to say, I’ve decided to make this a monthly treat.

What regular treats do you do for yourself?

* other things I’ve seen recently on Nexflix Watch Instantly which I recommend – Being Elmo and The Pixar Story.

43 Before 43: Baby Goes To The Beach

One of my 43 before 43 is to take Ruby to the ocean. Living on the West Coast means {at least for me} having a deep love of the sand, waves and sunshine. However living with a baby, I am learning, is about taking things as they come and maybe crossing your fingers a bit. With my huge desire to experience a weekend away from home and to stick my toes in the sand, we set off for our journey. Over the new year weekend we drove out to Jenner to spend time with our friends A+B. We were very a little nervous about taking Ruby for such a long car ride since she has officially registered her opposition to the car seat. What a delightful surprise when she slept pretty much the entire way there and we were able to enjoy a few days away. Here are a couple of snaps from The Girl’s first visit to the beach. We’re looking forward to taking Miss Ruby on more adventures. Tell me about trips you’ve taken with your little ones. What shouldn’t we miss?

43 Books – Learning To Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life

As part of my 43 Before 43 I’m reading 43 Books.

photo credit: ponderingyogini.org

After a lifetime of panic attacks, author Pris Warner decided she would like the brain of a monk and all that comes along with it – peace, tranquility, compassion, loving kindness, wisdom and patience.

In Learning To Breathe, she takes a year to discover the path to peace.

Friends, I loved almost everything about this book.

I immersed myself in the author’s story and admired the author for facing her fears. I found her immediately likable and I really cared whether she would be relieved from her panic attacks in the end. Reading quickly over three days I was reminded of my own lifelong desire for inner peace.

Hmmm, maybe I need to get myself back on the cushion.

My only issue is I found it to be a bit tidy. What do I mean by tidy? The author decided she wanted the brain of a monk and next thing you know she’s on the path to a daily 20 minute meditation practice.

I have been struggling with adding meditation to my life for years, so I wonder how this happened so effortlessly. She didn’t feel any resistance or forget just plain forget? I need some of that!

That was my only beef with the book.

I sped through each chapter which covers a month and a spiritual practice aimed at resolving her panic attacks.

While I don’t suffer specifically from panic attacks, I do suffer from complex PTSD  and as a result have also used many of the therapies the author experiences in my quest to find a more peaceful existence.

The one hold out for me has been EMDR. As a result of reading about the author’s success, I decided to give it a try.

I may or may not be writing about that experience later, but I am hopeful that I will be able to move forward because if this treatment.

Do I recommend this book? Without a doubt.

Would I want to be friends with author? Yes, if for nothing else, to get some meditation tips.

Have you read Learning to Breathe? What did you think?

43 Books – Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer

As part of my 43 Before 43, I’m reading 43 books.

I am totally conflicted about this book. I didn’t put it down until I was finished despite having just come home with a new baby and a serious case of insomnia. And yet, I was irritated the whole time I was reading it.

Let me start with what I really liked about the book:

  • The title. I would have argued with the publisher to leave off the 23 poses part.
  • Each chapter is a pose name and the ones where the author tells about her childhood are called child’s pose – clever and it only took me half way through the book to figure that out. {see insomnia/stupidity}
  • The author and I each suffer from mama anxiety and use yoga as a way to find our sanity or at least a way to ease some of the pain in our aching backs.
  • Like most people, we both started out with a really physical practice and learned to quiet it down.
  • We are about the same age so our cultural references are spot on – apparently we love the 90’s.
  • The Pacific Northwest! I lived there (in the 90’s!) and could picture the setting perfectly.
  • Claire explores the others limbs of yoga besides asana and gets to the down and dirty of why yoga can be such a life changing practice.

So what was my problem?

I think I identified a little too closely for my comfort with Claire. This book could, in a lot of ways, be mine. Although at points it just sounds whiny and precious and all first-worldly and I wanted to smack both of us and quite frankly I’m not sure I wanted to tell this story yet (or ever), so it was shocking to see it on the page.

Claire’s yoga story is so similar to mine,  with all it’s twists, turns and complaints, I felt like she’d some how inhabited my most annoying self and decided to let that cat out of the bag. It just isn’t the easy breezy side I’ve been trying to cultivate for the world to see and I’m at once horrified to see all “my” crap out there and secretly thrilled I’m not the only one with this particular brand of crazy.

In a completely petty side note, the mention that her brother was in a band that was super popular in the 90’s (and she named the band!) bugged the holy hell out of me. Why? I guess because it seemed all star-f*ckery and it totally wasn’t relavent to the story. Brother? Yes. Name of band? No.

The all important question – would I want to be friends with the author?

Absolutely. At the very least we could talk about how great the 90’s were.

Should you read Poser?

Yes, if you are someone exploring yoga beyond a Saturday morning exercise class or is interested in a brief look into the history of the other limbs of yoga.

Have you read Poser? What did you think?

43 Books – Battle Hymn of A Tiger Mother

As part of my 43 Things Before 43, I am reading 43 books.

Here is the list as it stands now.

1. Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother {finished November 2011} – I read this book in 3 days with a baby. Needless to say, I found it hard to put down.

I’m surprised because I didn’t think I would like it based on some of the talk on Twitter and book reviews. A lot of people clearly didn’t read the book and relied on pull quotes, when taken out of context, make the author sound like a crazy ogre.

What did I like about it?

Amy Chua is funny and quite direct in her approach both in parenting and in writing. I found her writing style to be engaging  and easy to read. Plus she’s pretty self-reflective and sees her ways as extreme. At least she’s not fooling herself. Plus, she’s not asking you to raise your kids the Chinese way.

Would I want to be friends with her if I met her?

Maybe. She’s a bit intense, but I can be too. She is funny and self-reflective and truly only wants what is best for her kids. Although she may be a bit harsh for my taste. I probably would end up telling her that “thoughts are for inside” – rough translation: dude, stop being so harsh.

Do I agree with all of her methods?

Absolutely not. In some cases she just sounds cruel.

On the other hand, I do agree a lot of parents take the easy way out. Nothing is more frustrating as a teacher than to be the only one seemingly invested in a student’s success. Somethings take practice and practice isn’t always fun.

Truth be told, I may have been a bit of a “tiger teacher” my first few years. While my actions didn’t measure up to Chua’s, these were my students, not my own children. We both shared high expectations for our young people and in the process aren’t very popular.

This book is definitely NOT a parenting or child care book, but a memoir.

I definitely recommend reading this book. Please skip the reviews (except mine, of course) and read it for yourself.

Have you read Hymn of A Tiger Mother? What did you think?

Do you have any books you loved and think I should read?

43 Before 43: Actually Make Something I’ve Pinned From Pinterest

In the spirit of not being such a holiday Scrooge for Ruby’s sake, I’ve decided we’re going to decorate our house for the winter holidays.

This is a huge step for us. The first year we were in our house we cut down and decorated Christmas tree with lights and bows and then never did it again because we always spend it with family out-of-town. Plus the whole undecorating part was so not fun.

This year is different – the Ru is home and since I’ve always felt the holidays were for kids, we’ve finally got a reason to decorate.

Enter the Life/Birthday List and I found the inspiration from my favorite hobby obsession Pinterest:

For tutorials on making this and other alternative “trees” – click the photo.

Here is my actual “tree” – I’m looking forward to seeing it lit up at night.

I’m so excited I am able to already cross something off my list.  If you are interested in other ideas I have found for the home – check out my list on Pinterest.

Are you all inspiration (like me) or do you make time to be creative and actually make things?