Archive for 'friends'

This time of year seems to sneak up on me and every year it causes both excitement and dread.

School? Lunches? 6am alarm?? NOOOO!!!

Regular schedule? 8 hours of working at home alone? Earlier bedtimes? HOORAY!!!

For the past 7 years we’ve had our elementary school Back to School Clothes Swap. In the past 3 years we’ve added a book swap too. Both have been hugely successful.  This year I just don’t have it in me* so this post is to help those that want to organize their own. (or take on the Zilker Elementary swap??) You can do a big community wide swap or just do a smaller one with friends. It’s a great way to both purge your own closets and get your family the things they need to get back to school. Goodness knows summer sees a lot of growth and those pants from kinder just aren’t gonna cut it for 1st grade. Unless of course you’re into clam-diggers. Which you might be! In addition to saving money and consuming less, the swap is a super fun way to encourage kids to take style into their own hands, create their own get-ups and not fall victim to the marketing machine which really preys on families during back to school time.

Our school swaps have had as many as 500 people attend. Our motto being, BRING WHAT YOU CAN. TAKE WHAT YOU NEED. There are no limits, no tracking of who brought what, no money exchanged. Just bring it if you can. Take it if you need. And here are my simple steps for…

  1. What we’ve learned about how to throw a successful community swap.
  2. How to throw your own swap on a smaller scale.
  3. The option to take on the task of running the Zilker Swap. (well for this just email me and I’ll hook you up!)

10 STEPS FOR ORGANIZING A COMMUNITY WIDE CLOTHES SWAP

These are a lot of work for 2 days with a HUGE return. There are no committee meetings required and really can be created with not that many committed folks. More is better of course but not mandatory.

  1. Secure a large space like a school cafeteria or gym or the like.
  2. Alert an area thrift store that you’ll need a pick up at the end. Here we use Goodwill because they come in with a truck and bins at the end and take EVERYTHING. If you haven’t planned this in advance, it’s a big task but you can have everyone take a carful to their local favorite thrift or charity.  There will be A LOT left over.
  3. Get a cohort who can help you steer the ship. (this is crucial because it not only makes it easier but makes it more fun)
  4. Put the call out for volunteers to help set up and help the day of the event. You don’t need many but you will need some. The final clean up at the end you can just wrangle anyone who is still there picking through items.
  5. Pick a day and allow drop-offs the day before and the day of ONLY!! Do not try to take things days or weeks in advance unless you can have them dropped off in the space you will be using.
  6. Try to get a screen printer who can organize the screen printing portion of things. A screen printer is total value added. By having a screen printer you can make some clothing that might be unwearable because of a stain wearable. Plus, it makes the clothing options more fun and makes kids get excited about their expanded style options. If you can’t get a screen printer, continue without it.
  7. Get some sewists who can come with their own sewing machine. Set up an area for sewists where people can come and help mend, embellish or repurpose. You can also have a sewist making T-shirt bags. A GREAT and simple project which serves as a great swapping bag.
  8. Make BIG SIGNAGE for each sorting station. We tend to make different groupings each year but basic divisions like ADULT DRESSES. ADULT PANTS. ADULT BLOUSES. ADULT T-SHIRTS. For the kids item divide by size such as INFANT. TODDLER. 6x-12. You can also break this down further into bottoms and tops but it’s not imperative. Especially for the infant items, just toss them all in together.  SHOES can all go together as can COATS. Perhaps in a cold climate you’d want to break that down by size but here in Austin we just threw them all in together.
  9. On the day of the swap, as people come in with their bags, have them sort their own items. In the past we’ve had people drop off their bags and then have volunteer sorters put them out on tables but we’ve learned that it’s easier to have each person sort their own stuff. They know best what’s in there so it’s faster and more efficient. Have a couple of sorters at the front to both direct people and also to help those that might need assistance such as mamas with younguns.
  10. If you feel like having a mic, that can be fun to build excitement and also to alert people to specialty items such as a cool pair of boots or some such item. It might not be necessary but I am rather fond of microphones so there’s that. Also good at the end to let people know you need help filling the bins and sweeping the floor.
5  STEPS TO CREATING YOUR OWN FRIEND CLOTHING SWAP.
These are easy and require way less work.
  1. Pick a date and a location. You can do it in a house or even in a neighborhood park.
  2. Alert your friends and especially those with kids in various sizes. If all are the same the pickings will be slimmer. Expand your options by including families with different age/size kids.
  3. Sort your items as they come in: kids/adults/t-shirts/dresses/miscellaneous/etc.
  4. If you have a really small group you can just sit in a circle and do it show style. Pick an emcee (that’s usually my role!) and go through each bag item by item. Takes a while but is super fun!
  5. At the end each take a few bags to your favorite thrift or drop off bin. The bins are great because it doesn’t matter what time it is. Open all night!
*It must be noted that not only do I feel relieved not to be taking on this task but my children all thanked me.

 

 

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Though it seems in many ways like this school year has just begun, one glance at photos from the beginning of the year and I can see how many changes have taken place! Physical, emotional, mental changes of monumental proportions!

As we approach the last day of school, I realize once again that it’s time to leave these beloved elementary school teachers of whom I have grown so dependent on throughout the year, so attuned to, so enamored with! But it’s time to move on. To say goodbye. To end this relationship which has grown so comfortable in such a seemingly short time. It’s like breaking up with someone you love. You question the necessity. You are confused by the circumstance. I want to continue on with this comfortable place. I want to keep up with our ongoing conversations about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and education.

I want to greet each other in the mornings. I want to savor those little smiles we share sometimes at the sheer absurdity of it all.  But alas, here we are at the end of a very beautiful relationship. The school year closes, and in the fall we will start anew.With someone else. New getting-to-know-you.  New understandings. New inside jokes. New knowing of what works and what doesn’t. But before I go into the abyss of summer, I have a few things I want my children’s teachers* to know…

  1. From the proverbial bottom of my heart, thank you. For everything. For your patience, your love, your commitment to my child’s growth and understanding. And for your commitment to our whole family’s well being. We have learned so much from you and we have  loved being in your midst.
  2. Your patience is mind-blowing. Having spent a few hours here and there doing projects with the class, I am FLOORED by your patience. You deal with the talkers and the squawkers. The constant requests to look-at-me!! The mess and the distractions. And the sheer magnitude of the multiple personalities in one room. I know here in our house of 5, getting a word in edgewise is painstaking at times. Yet you manage to not only deal with all of it but TEACH at the same time and keep your cool. At least that is the appearance you give. Which brings me to my 3rd point…
  3. Your human-ness is endearing. Those very few times when it felt like too much? You didn’t hide it at day’s end. You admitted DONE! But done was only for that day and then the next day you were back, to do it all again. Like nothing had ever happened. Thank you for that. Thank you for re-intending a brand new day and for showing the kids that what was, was and now here we are in a brand new now. I commend and applaud you for that and I have learned a lot too.
  4. The way you see the whole child is a gift. I love that you teach the basics but you see so much more! I love that while the twitchers and the class clowns might be a lot to deal with, you see each person and what they bring to the table as a valuable part of the group. You really seem to appreciate them for who they are. You don’t put everyone in one box, rather you celebrate the unique part that each child plays.
  5. Thank you for not judging. When my marriage ended. When we were working out the logistics of being in two households. When a certain child showed up in the same pair of corduroys day after day you didn’t judge. I felt compelled to tell you that really he had two pairs exactly the same and that he insisted on only wearing those and that it just wasn’t a battle I was willing to fight, but really, you never judged in the first place. For all our family crises, mix-ups, snafus, you never judged. Quite the opposite in fact. You made me feel understood.
  6. Thank you for sharing your experience. When a certain child had a rough day, or something funny happened, you managed to steal a minute or two at day’s end and share the story with me. Even when I’m sure day’s end had big value, you kept on, you didn’t rush away, you took time to connect. And when the sharing was an infraction of some sort, you didn’t snark about it, in fact, sometimes you chuckled about it as if it somehow made your day. With all your little anecdotes shared about what went on, I always had the feeling that you truly and totally appreciated having my child in your room. Priceless that feeling!
  7. Thank you for sharing you. I know you have to keep a lot to yourself about what you’re going through, but those times when you shared your own heartache or saga or home experience, I so appreciated being able to meet you there in that place. To share a cry or a laugh or shoulder shrug. It made me love you even more!

And now it’s time to leave you. I’ll wave to you in the hallways next year. I’ll stop by for a check in on occasion. I’ll long for you in the beginning of the year and then we’ll be onto the next. And if they are anywhere near as great as you, we’ll be a lucky, lucky bunch.

Thank you for being you.

 

*While I am also grateful to my older kids middle school and high school teachers, this post is for my children’s elementary teachers because as kids get higher up, my connection with the teachers is slim to none. In elementary it is a real relationship. Built anew each year. So enjoy it. And know that it is fleeting.

 

 

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On Christmas Eve I found myself huffing noisily and irritatedly from the Santa storage under the stairs up into the living room to the tree. Up and down I went a couple of times each time louder and louder. I was excited about the gifts we got. We chose carefully for each child. We bought some second-hand, some new. Some things they wanted, some they needed (everyone got lots of socks!). Some things to do, eat and play. I was GLAD for all we selected. But I was huffing because I wanted my husband to see what I was doing and see that I wanted help. So I huffed louder each time I walked by him. And finally I said something snarky. Who knows what the words were, it was the tone that carried the message. He looked at me and said, “I didn’t even know you had started. Next time just ask for help.” Duh. And oh. And of course.

A couple of days later my kids were lounging on the couch reading in various states of repose and I was slamming about in and out of the

Do they look like they’re paying attention?

room picking things up and tidying and putting things away and after a few minutes of doing this seemingly invisibly, I snapped. What the words were I don’t know. Something with the message of “WHY CAN’T YOU READ MY MIND AND KNOW WHAT I NEED???” but in different words. My now teen son looked at me and said, “Don’t get all mad at us, just ask us for help. We ‘re not paying attention. We’re reading.” Again oh. And duh. And of course.

So it’s become my practice this week, a practice I hope to carry with me everyday, now and into the new year and every year beyond that.  Rather than imagine everyone is completely tuned into me and my needs, I’m going to try calmly asking for what I need. Be it time or things or energy or help. I’m going to put it out there to the people around me.  Kindly. Without rancor. With the full expectation that  my needs will be met. By someone. In some way. By the partner. The children. The community. The universe.

And before I even ask, and certainly before I freak out, I’m going to ask myself, “what do I need?” Because surely getting it clear in my head is the first step in putting it out clearly to those around me.

What if we all did this? Took these four easy steps…

  1. Pause.
  2. Ask yourself, “what do I need?”
  3. Believe you can get it.
  4. Put it out there to those around you. In your home. Your community. Your universe.

Think of how good you’d feel to state it kindly. Think how happily you’d help someone who asked so nicely and didn’t wait until they were freaking out. Think of how trusting you could be of all the people in your home/life/world if you knew full well they were stating clearly what they needed. No need for passivity. No need for mind reading. And no need to get all bent out of shape.

Just ask. Clearly. Calmly. Joyfully.

And trust.

It’s worth a shot right?

 

 

This is an amazing act of love put together by my friend Rachel Hobson. It’s a list of free and fun things to do in Austin this summer with kids. Check it out. And submit some ideas if you have some at http://austinfamilyfun.wordpress.com/. This is a much needed and valuable resource!

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This is a two part series that offers you both an introduction to toddlerhood and an overview on the whys and ways of staying sane, setting boundaries and having more fun.

We will be offering this 2-part workshop on Thursday May 14 and Thursday May 21 from 7-9pm

Part 1 – Know Thy Toddler: Tips and Tools for Parenting Your 1-3 year old

Let’s face it, parenting a toddler can be very challenging. Being a toddler is hard work, too. In the midst of massive brain and body development, they are asserting their own opinions and desperate to explore the world around them. As a result, this can leave you exhausted and at a loss for how to traverse their emotional terrain.

Toddlerhood is a world unto itself. Join us to learn the ins and outs of this phase of life.

During our time together you will:

  • Discover insightful and important information about this exceptional phase of development
  • Gain a whole new perspective on what it means to parent a toddler
  • Learn why this time of life can be so challenging for parents and how you can make it less so
  • Gather useful and effective tools for navigating these years with your growing child in ways that are fun and connected.

Part 2 – The Whys and Ways of Staying Sane, Setting Boundaries and Having More Fun

Are you committed to positive parenting but find yourself at a loss when times are tough between you and your child? Do you wish you had some tools for creating more harmony, cooperation and fun in your home? We’ve got you covered! Join us for this class which will give you a clear understanding of why young children behave as they do, why it pushes your buttons and how to offer support and guidance in ways that foster connection and long-term emotional well-being.

During our time together you will:

  • Discover what is happening in your child’s brain that causes them to act the way they do
  • Learn why your child’s behavior pushes your buttons
  • Learn why it is important and necessary to appropriately express your needs and limits
  • Discover the key ingredients of a deep connection with your child
  • Gather a set of new tools for creating balanced and joyful family life
  • Learn how to get what you want and need from your child by Slowing Down, Connecting and Enjoying life together.

This class will give you a revolutionary developmental approach to positive discipline.

There are two ways to participate in this class: teleclass or in person

To register for the workshop click here

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Help a brother out

This is the brother that needs help.
Isaac, fondly called Ike, even more fondly called Ike-a-saurus. He is an adorable, sweet, happy bundle of wonderful.

Ike’s mama is the author of Haiku Mama and the amazing blogger behind Haikuoftheday, where you can read a lot of their story in her own words.

Ike’s road has not been easy and was born 13 weeks early.

He was a tiny miracle, beating all of the odds to be healthier than anyone imagined possible. But it was still a long, hard, scary road in the NICU.

And expensive. Oh, so expensive. But the family was so joyful that he made it to the other side of the hard road behind him, that the money troubles they faced just seemed inconsequential.

Finally, Ike got to come home! Hurray! Of course, he could not leave the house, visitors had to be limited, and his health was fragile. Every day felt like an accomplishment. There were many many doctors visits and trips to the ER, adding to the insurmountable medical bills.

And THEN, as if this wonderful family had not been through enough, his Dad’s company decided to lay papa off (along with the rest of his department). No severence. Insurance cut off at midnight the same day.

Now, sweet baby Ike is back in the hospital. After weeks of doctor and ER visits because of a horrible sound he made while breathing, Ike became very very ill. The family has to focus all of their efforts towards getting him better.

If you have a few extra pennies, dollars, stocks or hidden gold bullions that you could put together to send to this family, they would totally appreciate your help. You can donate directly from their Ikeasaurus website. They didn’t want to be “this” family. It’s a tough place. But there they are. And anything we can do to help, will totally go a long way.

Total Goodness

Here’s Bernadette and I with six of our dearest friends. This picture was taken last weekend on our camping trip.  All of these beautiful women are slow family mamas and brilliant creatives as well. If you have a few minutes, grab a cup of tea, kick back and peruse their fabulous websites and blogs. From left to right: Kathie Sever, Bernadette Noll, me, Barbara Frisbie, Shannon Lowry,  Liz Garton Scanlon, Lynn Hoare, Sarah Bork Hamilton

I sure do love these lovelies.
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