May 2016 – Choosing Means – 19

Today’s card says: Choose to be the best version of yourself. Choose to be kind. To smile. To thank people. To appreciate others. To do favors where you can. To smile. To hug. To listen. To be there.

I love this card. This is something I so wish for myself. I want to be the best version of myself always. I know this is not possible. I know I can’t always be my best self. But I want to. I want to always choose kind. Even as I am choosing the opposite, in the middle of my behavior, a part of me is constantly yearning to be the best version of myself. I want to always bring out the best in others. To reflect their wonderful light back to them. To listen intently. To be generous and kind. To focus on them. On the people I love, the people I care for, even the people I barely know.

I’ve learned that one of the best ways to get out of my head (where I tend to be a lot) is to really focus on others. If I am spending a lot of time on someone else, I am not spending it on me. I am there, present with them. I want to say yes to others. Yes to favors. Yes to being there. Yes to showing up. Yes to trying new things and sharing them with others. Yes. yes. yes.

This isn’t about eating right or exercising more (though yes to those too) but it’s really about the person I am all the way deep inside. I want to embrace all the best versions of me and show them to people all the time. Let the love pour and the light shine. I want to smile all the time. So much that my jaw hurts. To hug the people I love.

I am so grateful for my little life and more than anything I want to choose to be the best version of me. The one that I really love. The one who isn’t scared, tired, worried, anxious. The one who doesn’t even need to think about worthiness because she’s busy living and focusing on others. She’s too busy shining and reflecting others’ light. This is who I want to be.

This is the choice I want to make. Most of all.

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 18

Today’s card says: Choose to see the magic in the ordinary. These little moments are the ones you will miss the most when it’s all over. Sitting together, laughing together, holding hands. Be grateful.

Oh the loveliness of the everyday extraordinary.

Years ago, when I first started scrapbooking, it became quickly obvious to me that what I loved the most was preserving the tiny, ordinary moments of our lives. I liked holidays and birthdays just as much as the next person but I also didn’t forget those ever. I did forget the fleeting moments of ordinary life. The particular phrasing my kids used when they were little. The way David said destruction instead of construction or the funny crawl Nathaniel had before he walked were all moments that would have come and gone if I didn’t take the time to somehow capture them.

The taking of the photo and writing down the words allowed me to etch these moments deeper into my memory. I feel like life, especially my life, passes by so quickly, so fully, that it’s easy to miss these magical ordinary moments.

And, by definition, today’s ordinary moments are so different from tomorrow’s because life’s constantly changing and along with it, our definition of ordinary changes. This is the same reason I do a week in the life or other similar projects that capture the ordinary. It’s one of the reasons I chose this word this year. To remember to choose these little moments. To remember to choose to create opportunities for these moments. To spend more time together being in the ordinariness of everyday life so that these moments are more likely to happen.

I am so grateful for my ordinary life. I am deeply grateful to get to spend moments with my amazing husband, my wonderful kids, my growing array of friends and my one and only family. So here’s to choosing the everyday. Here’s to not taking those precious “ordinary moments” for granted. Ever.

Here’s to the extraordinariness of ordinary life!

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 17

Today’s card says: Choose to create moments with people you love. Life’s moments are slipping away and the people you love are growing up or growing old. You will miss these moments so very dearly.

Oh near and dear to my heart. I think I definitely do this in small ways. I try to make sure I am there for my kids’ life events. I spend a lot of time with them. Less so with my husband and even less so with my parents, etc. But I try.

The part of this that resonates with me is that I am doing this even less so with big things. I am not good at taking vacation. I often worry too much about the expense or the timing for work. I worry about my body during the summer. I worry about planning and I worry about traveling logistics. So much unnecessary worrying gets in the way of creating more memories.

This is not to say that I need to travel far and widely to create memories, it’s just that I am less good at this particular type of memory creation. So it’s important to me to do better here. What are the choices I can make to make this less painful? What choices help me make sure I do these vacations more? What choices are getting in my way? What new choices can I make to get out of this mindset and/or work around it?

I want to choose to create both big and small memories. I want to look back on my life and have moments to smile about with my kids, my husband, my parents, my sister, my nephews, my friends. All of it.

While I love my job and find it intellectually stimulating and challenging, I am definitely one of those people who work to live. I don’t want to live for work. I want more in my life. I want to focus on my family, my loved ones, I want to spend time doing art, reading, etc. So to ensure that I make those moments in my life, I need to choose them. I need to make them easier for myself.

First step, see if I can make a plan for this coming weekend! :)

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 16

Today’s card says: The only way people know what you stand for is by the choices you make. If you say one thing but choose to do another, which one do you really stand for? Have your actions in line with who you are.

Ah what we believe in and what we do. It’s so easy to say things but so very hard to actually do them. At least certain things.

I find that for many of us there are life’s willpower-related convictions, do I eat this, do i exercise, do i read more, sleep more, etc. These are just to make us better versions of ourselves and people we strive to be but they are choices you make all day long and require your willpower along the way.

Then there are those fundamental things that we “say” or “believe in” but don’t do. This is what this card is here to remind me. That what I say or think in my head is irrelevant and what matters is what I do. Out here in the world, the actions make the biggest difference. How I choose to behave, what I choose to do, who I choose to be ends up being who I am.

There are certain areas of my life where I really feel like I am very aligned with my values and my actions reflect my values. I choose what I say I care about. But then there are just as many where it’s just not the case. Sometimes it’s because I feel an unnecessary sense of urgency in some less-important areas. Other times it’s due to laziness or because choosing to do the right/better thing is really hard and requires energy I don’t have.

These are the things I want to remember. That if it takes energy, I need to save my energy for the things I value and not for whatever happens first. I need to remember that urgent and important are not the same thing. And I need to make my choices accordingly.

Like most things, if I don’t actively make the choice myself, it ends up being made for me. And not always in the direction I might have chosen. So I need to remember to choose.

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

Week in the Life 2016 – Day 7

Jake woke up early this morning and headed to work since we’d told him he could work today if he came home around 5pm. As soon as the kids woke up, we called my mom, cause it’s her birthday. LOVE YOU MOM!!

We then went to Cafe Borrone for breakfast only after I promised they could play since neither of them really wanted to go.

They know I hate that particular game so they were messing with me by putting it in the photo.

I read while they played. Making my way through this book really slowly.

David drew using Paper 53. 

We then headed to the book store. Looked at puzzle books and more. We intended to buy no books. 

But ended up with all these.

David cleaned up his room while Nathaniel and I folded all the laundry. 

We then cleaned up the toy bins too so I decided it was time reward me with some CNN while the kids played. 

I did some of the KenKen puzzles while I watched. The 1-4 ones were easy but the 1-6 ones were super hard!

I’d promised we’d play board games today so we pulled out AntiMatter Matters – A quantum physics game.

I like being the yellow guy.

This was our first time building a neutron along with the proton and electron.

At the very end, David tried to do an “evil” move by making me lose my pieces but then i told him, what if I spun the “center” and won (since I already had all my pieces.) There was a 10% chance but that’s exactly what I did! I loved it that much more because I’d just told him that I usually win because I focus on winning and he focuses on destroying others. Lol.

Then it was time for ubongo.

I am not so great with spatial things so I find this game challenging and I like playing it so I can get better.

The crowns are still a big hit in the house.

David and I did an Algebra book this fall. I told him he’d have to do 10 random problems from the book to prove to me that he still remembers the material. And the boy did! :)

And then it was time to practice guitar.

Right after, Jake got home so we walked down to Palo Alto for some ice cream. Bottom left is me, though I ended up only eating the pink one which is Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet. Top left is David. Top right is Jake. Bottom right is Nathaniel. 

We then walked back home. David had practice with his Talent Show team so they are off doing that and Nathaniel and I did a bunch of math together right before I tucked him in. Now I am watching some TV and typing this up. It’s 8pm which means we have only about one hour before I call it a night.

And there we go. A whole week documented. I am proud of myself for pulling that off :)

Week in the Life 2016 – Day 6

Saturday started slowly. I woke up around 7 with Nathaniel peeking into my room. “Can I watch Garfield?” he said as soon as he cuddled in with me. I said yes and off he went.

When I came down, my nephew Aksel was calling me on Skype. While we were talking David woke up and he showed David these Turkish airlines planes that have Batman and Superman.

We all took a photo before we hung up. I got to talk to my sister too but by then she was gone to the movies.

We then drove to the movies to celebrate David’s friend Luca’s birthday. Nathaniel got to come along too and enjoyed the fun theatre. 

The Angry Birds movie. Silly but also a bit sweet. Nothing I would have seen on my own :)

We got to have pizza, chat with the others, cake and then headed home so the kids could get ready for Maker Faire. 

Love my boys.

He insisted I take this shot. Love love love him.

All three of them with their nerdy gear, all ready for the Faire.

After they left I spent 3 hours listening to my book and doing something I’d put off for 5 months. I created templates for all the room parents for 2016-2017 school year. Very time consuming but not hard.

The resulting ones are consistent, hopefully clear, and easy to use.

I then did all this posting, some photo processing and a bunch of TV while there was no one else here.

The boys spent 6 hours at Maker Faire! Playing video games.

Apparently it was really fun.

They ran into both friends from our school (our college) and from David’s class. Everyone goes to Maker Faire here!

After working for a while, I decided I needed to go out a bit so took a little stroll in the neighborhood.

Looked at the beautiful flowers. 

When I got back home they were all back. Nathaniel made faces about going to bed (even though it was 2 hours past his bedtime.) And David read his book with his graduation sunglasses. (Everyone was pretty much ready for bed.)

I tucked the little boy in while Jake went shopping for groceries and made me some yummy food. He’s so nice to me. And then I tucked David in, too. Read for a bit more and am now watching a movie while I post these last bits.

It’s almost Sunday.

Week in the Life 2016 - Day 5

Friday started with a 6am meeting. I woke up just a few minutes before the meeting and quickly got breakfast ready and got right to work.

I had spent hours catching up to email the night before but still woke up to 45 new ones. And here was one. I am overdue on my vacation days.

Little boy woke up soon after and gave me a big smile.

And then it was time for my 1-1 with Jon. 

We we scheduled to go to Nathaniel’s conference at 7:45 so when my two meetings ended I took a quick shower and jumped in the car. 

We got to school right before Jake so the kids ran to greet him.

Nathaniel showed us his year’s work. It was so much fun.

A little outline of his conference which he got to run.

Apparently there will be much Harry Potter this summer.

David was able to join us too since it was before school started.

Jake then went to work and I went to Cafe Borrone to meet my friend Chris to talk to her about the middle school process.

It was sunny but really cold.

After she left, I did a bit of work there and then went to the bookstore to get David’s friend Luca a birthday present. We always get books. 

I had this awkward amount of time between then and my lunch meeting so I decided to do some more work. And then I decided to read my book club book right before I was to meet them. It was a graphic novel so I thought maybe I could pull it off.

Some tea and reading. My favorite thing to do.

Then it was book club time. Still really cold.

After that I went home to warm up and do a lot more work. Work work work and then time to pick up the boys.

David telling me a story  (which did not relate to why he was so incredibly dirty.)

On the way back home.

I did a bunch more work and then decided to take a bit of time off and warm up and watch TV while the kids showered.

Jake came home and there was much rejoicing.

Calvin and Hobbes has become popular again in the house. Love love love Calvin.

We seem to get these semi-dead yellowjackets in the kids’ bathroom a few times a year. They are really scary for the kids and not easy to kill. This one looks dead but wasn’t. We just let him outside.

David and I then left for his school because he was inducted into the graduation class. And there was an event where the current 8th graders and 12th graders came back to talk about their elementary school experiences.

Each of the 5th graders got up on stage and talked about their favorite memory of what they will miss the most.

I hadn’t had dinner (or lunch) so we grabbed some Starbucks on the way home.

Once home, I did some math with Nathaniel and then tucked him in. Jake was doing some work so David and I both read.

He then started doing some journaling in code.

And that was Friday. A few hours of reading, a bit more work, and I called it a night.

Week in the Life 2016 – Day 4

Today started with a 5:30 meeting. I woke up just a few minutes before the meeting and quickly got breakfast ready and got right to work.

Little boy came down right before 6am and snuggled under the covers.

Then Daddy got up and there was much much excitement.

Time for breakfast and a bit of computer time as they wait for the oatmeal to cool off.

Jake took them to the shuttle today so I walked them to the door to give them hugs.

Love these boys so much.

I quickly showered and headed to work. More Fellside, and my favorite companion: google maps.

Not the best angle. but here we are. all serious looking.

The best part of going to work is the wonderful coffee.

and the food!

It was supposed to be overcast today but it was very sunny when i got to work.

I found a room that was free for a few hours and settled in.

Ate breakfast and got ready for my 8:30am.

Right before the meeting my mom called so we got to say a quick hi. Love my mom so much.

This is my work-mate Ernesta. She’s awesome. All the way in Zurich.

I meant to take more photos but the rest of the day is a blur. I had more meetings and then gave a presentation on Mentoring and was on a panel and then drove back home to change and head to school for pickup. Here’s the only shot I have. Not the best.

Little boy was ready for me when I got there.

He played a bit and I went to go get David.

Another shot on the way home. Kids really love it.

I wanted to take a photo of my desk for posterity. So you can see how not organized I am lately. Yes, it’s driving me mad.

Shower and dinner. Boys started doing homework while I did work.

David had to design his own money tonight.Pick important historical figures.

The kids played a game while I worked some more. They got so into it that Nathaniel ended up having to take another shower.

Then it was time for the little one to head to bed. I tucked him in and went back to doing work. I had 132 emails in my inbox and I was determined to make my way through all of them for once and all.

One more shot of the little boy.

Jake came home right then, hugged the boys, and kindly went out to get gas for my car and a quick dinner for us so I could keep working.

I finally managed to finish all my emails, my work, and gave one more hug to David. Typing this up as Jake falls asleep next to me (hello, jetlag!) and will then head to bed for another early start tomorrow.


May 2016 – Choosing Means – 15

Today’s card says: Some choices seem inevitable but nothing is ever written in stone. just because you always did it one way does not mean you have to continue. today can be the first day you create a different story. a new way.

I feel like I’ve talked about this particular theme several times this month already. But apparently I felt I needed the reminder more than once. Because I didn’t read the previous cards when I was writing new ones.

So maybe this is a message for me to remember that I don’t have to be who I am today. I can be someone else tomorrow. I can be someone else in the next 5 minutes. I can be a different person.

I can also be the same person and have a different story about it. I can do what I’ve done and feel good about it. Or ok at least. I can choose what things mean. I can choose how I see myself. I can choose all of it.

This is hard for me to remember. That I can change me. I can change my story. I can change what I make things mean. I can change nothing and just choose to be ok with what is. I can do whatever I want. All of the options are available to me.

The hardest thing is remembering that I have choices.

And so I need the reminder.

Again and again.

And again.

Hence the multiple cards. 

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 14

Today’s card says: To be able to choose you need to pay attention. you need to slow down or even stop and realize that there is a moment of choice. a moment where you get to make a decision.

If I can remember one thing about choosing, it would have to be this one. If I want to choose, I need to know that there’s a space to make a choice at a particular moment. Without that knowledge, without recognizing that space, I don’t have any chance of making the right choice. Because I can’t make any choice at all.

When I listen to meditation experts, this is the one point that is often made about meditating. That meditation helps you get better at paying attention. At noticing that millisecond of choice. Even though I know this, and I want to get better at catching that moment, I still don’t meditate. (just like i don’t exercise lately at all.)

This is also why we have the 24-hour rule in our house. It forces us to have the moment of choice stretched out to a whole day. Something happens to you -> you’re not allowed to do anything in return for 24 hours. I can feel sad, mad, i can cry but I am not allowed to take some action for a day. This means I extend my moment of choice. Which then makes it much easier not to make an emotional reaction. It makes it easier to be rational, thoughtful, and purposeful.

So I need to do this more. I need to be able to walk away. To hold back. To stay silent. Let my brain catchup with my emotions. If I make a rule to stay silent each time. To count to ten in my head before I say anything. It will make it much likely that I respond and not react. If I make a rule that I have to say something to my kids quietly 5 times before I yell, it makes it harder to react. Because I have to keep count that I did it 4 times, etc. I work much better with consistent rules. So making a rule I have to apply every single time is easier for me.

So maybe that’s the trick here. A modified version of the 24-hour rule. Maybe this will help me choose what will help me to pay attention and notice all the moments of choice that are present. Choosing to create room to choose.

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

Week in the Life 2016 – Day 3

Today started with a 6am meeting. So I woke up early, prepped some of the lunch and breakfast. Then I had a few minutes and read my favorite email of the day. I like to start my days with theSkimm.

Then it was time for team meeting.

Today’s meeting had a demo which was fun.

Little boy was awake and dressed of course. He finished off making lunches and then woke David up.

While I went from meeting to meeting, the boys ate their food and got ready for school.

I had a total of 4 minutes between meetings to get them to the shuttle. David is getting so tall.

A quick shot on the way again.

After many more meetings, I went out for lunch again to my friend Allison’s house for our book club. It’s hosted once every 6 weeks or so and I always try to make time for it. It was super hot today so I dressed light because I knew I was going from her house to the school.

After our lunch, I went to the kids’ school to meet with the principal because I am the head of the parent association this year and I have had recurring meetings with the head of the school all year long. Today was our last one. After him, I met with another Administration member to help work some details out for next year (coordinating volunteering across the school.) And then it was almost time for school to get out so I just grabbed the kids a bit early so we could rush home for my meeting.

I had a meeting for an hour when we got home so the kids showered and did their homework during that time. Then we had plans to go get ice cream but I was tired and not in the mood to walk in the heat so we came up with a different plan instead. We ordered pizza hut which said it would take 35 minutes to get here and then left the house to go to the corner store.

We got ice cream, pears and carrots and walked back home. With 10 minutes left to spare.

Nathaniel did another round with the garden because it’s been so hot and the plants are craving water.

The pizza came right on time so we dug in. After a slice each we were totally full. The kids ate cheese and I had pepperoni and pineapple.

There was some room left for ice cream of course.

Then it was time to get into PJs and read a bit while I type this. As soon as I am done we will do a bit more math and then he’s off to bed.

David’s already in his room, and Jake is on his way back home (so thankful!) Once the kids are down, I need to write interview feedback, go through my emails, do a bit more work and then it’s sleep time for me, too, since it’s another 5am day tomorrow.

Week in the Life 2016 – Day 2

I needed to make sure I was sleeping before 10:30 last night so I decided it was ok if this came a day late :)

Today was a super-early start because I had a 5:30am meeting.

Nathaniel slept with me again but when I woke up, he was clearly still too tired so I asked him if he wanted to go back to sleep and that I’d wake him up at 6 when my first meeting was over. He said ok. I went downstairs and did a quick lunch prep to make it easier on Nathaniel, also prepped the oatmeal and then sat down with my tea.

I spend most of my days like this. On videoconference with my team mates. Since I work with a team in Zurich, a lot of my meetings and work is early AM. Right before this meeting, I snuck upstairs and woke up Nathaniel as I’d promised.


While I was in my meeting, Nathaniel prepared lunch for both him and David. He’s been doing this all year. He’s a total gem.

We took one more shot on the way to the shuttle. David didn’t forget his glasses this time.

Since I was meeting my mentee for lunch, I decided to eat a small breakfast. Small yogurt with a few berries.

Then it was time to get organized again and figure out what I had to do today.

On the way to the cafe where I met my mentee (she’s out on maternity but we still try to check in with each other) I listened to my book. I’m currently reading Imagine Me Gone by Adam Hasslett and listening to Fellside by M.R. Carey. I love listening to my books when I am in the car.

I had a lovely lunch with my mentee and then drove back home for more work and then it was time to pick up the boys. Nathaniel gets out earlier and he’s always waiting for me in this corner.

We drove straight home today and I asked David if I could get a shot, this is what he let me have. He wasn’t super thrilled.

Nathaniel watered all the plants in the front and backyard while David showered.

David did this math homework while Nathaniel showered and I prepared their dinner. We are super early today because David has a music class and then we had plans to leave right after.

While they ate I turned on CNN to see how the primaries had gone. Nothing super surprising.

Nathaniel has to read 20 minutes a day for his homework. He loves reading series and is currently reading Ellery Jake series.

David started tuning his guitar in preparation for his teacher. He usually plays the acoustic guitar but he’s preparing for a Talent Show in two weeks so he’s practicing the electric guitar these weeks. 

His teacher is here and they are practicing Superheroes by The Script.

While he is with his teacher, Nathaniel and I continue our math class from yesterday. Today’s topic is Order of Operations.

As soon as the teacher leaves, we drive to our local bookstore. Today’s the release day for my friend Evelyn’s book and several of us volunteered to help her setup.

Here she is with her awesome daughter Reese!

A wonderful pastry chef did the amazing food and she made Russian desserts (the book takes place in Imperial Russia) and look at these swans!!

More Russian desserts :)

Here’s Angela who organizes the events at Kepler’s bookstore and Evelyn’s good friend.

And then Evelyn and Sabaa whose book was also awesome.

I had preordered my copy so David started reading it right away.

Sabaa then interviewed Evelyn and the crowd had a lot of questions and it was a really lovely evening. I am so incredibly happy for my friend. Her book is really really awesome. Our first grade teacher and 7 of Reese’s classmates were also there to support them and it was really nice. By the time we were done it was almost 9 and well past bedtime so we drove back home and Nathaniel went right to bed. David decided he wanted to as well. I spent a few hours doing some more work and then headed to bed myself.

And here we are. Day 2.