Know Your Neighbors: Whitney Parchman of Joyful Day Montessori & OPRFLife.com

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Whitney Parchman

If there is one thing nearly everyone in the OP/RF/FP area might have in common, it is an interest in (“interest in” being code for “need for”) home repair. We come here because we love the charm, the potential, the joy of realizing our 100-year-old home was somehow never insulated.

This week’s guest of honor on “Know Your Neighbors” – Whitney Parchman – has taken the (big) leap from home repair to home renovation. They’re not just painting and putting new cabinets into their 100-year-old River Forest bungalow. It’s a – demolishing entire walls, re-doing the foundation, building an addition – type of renovation. Whitney has been documenting all of it on her blog – OPRFLife.com. As she aptly describes it, it’s “a virtual feast for any home improvement junkie”.

In addition to resuscitating a piece of history, Whitney is the founder of (and teacher at) Joyful Day Montessori, a mom, wife, yogi, and philanthropist – among other things. Read on to learn more about Whitney and how she has made the vision for her life her reality

Around Oak Park
You have two exciting things going on ‘work-wise’. Can you tell us a little bit about each of them?

Whitney Parchman
Last December my husband and I purchased a home (The Ashland House) in River Forest with the intent to start a major renovation. I started a blog (OPRFLife.com) that chronicles the renovation process. I have really enjoyed the process of taking a somewhat neglected home, breathing new life into it and then maxing out its full potential. I find home renovation to be fascinating and figured there would be other people that would be curious about what we were doing that would enjoy following along in the process.

In addition to the blog, I am the founder and Directress at Joyful Day Montessori, a Montessori school for toddlers. I teach in the mornings. Once we move into the new house I’ll have an indoor/outdoor classroom for the kids. I’m really looking forward to it.

AOP
When you’re not working, where can we find you? Who are you with?

Whitney
One of my favorite things in life is to go to the Oak Park Farmer’s Market with my husband and son throughout the summer and early fall. I’ll ask the farmers about how their growing season has been and find out what’s in season. Then we’ll go home and prepare our finds. When you have beautiful and delicious ingredients it’s difficult to botch your meal. In the cold months

I enjoy knitting. I find it to be very relaxing and productive. There aren’t many activities that roll both of those attributes in one! Recently, I’ve been making a conscious effort to carve out time to spend with friends at least twice a month. It’s so easy to get caught up in the routine of life and neglect personal relationships. I’ve also started doing yoga consistently (like 3 times a week consistently!). I’ll get back to you on how that’s going – my body is still adjusting!

AOP
Do you currently live in the area? If so, what brought you here?

Whitney
Right now we live in Forest Park until The Ashland House is inhabitable. We moved to the area when our son was an infant (2008). We just couldn’t bear the idea of being too far away from the city. My husband works downtown so the commute is very manageable. I love being able to see the Chicago skyline once I turn East onto Madison. As for our move to River Forest, it was the school system and sense of community in the OPRF area that won us over.

The OP/RF/FP area is also perfect for the work that I do. Parents around here really value the importance of education for their children. This area is also great with regard to architecture. I couldn’t ask for a better place to merge my love of education with home renovation!

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AOP
What pushed you to start a school and a home renovation (and a blog to go with it!)?

Whitney
I think what it ultimately came down to was that I have a vision for my life and work that would never have come to fruition if I was working for someone else. Period.

AOP
How did you find The Ashland House?

Whitney
Well, it’s a long story but if you’ve ever house-hunted in the OPRF area on a budget you would understand. I will say that my husband is a Saint and told me to make an offer on The Ashland House without ever having seen it himself. I love that man!

AOP
What are you most proud of, career-wise?

Whitney
With regard to my business, I am most proud of the fact that my vision is coming to fruition. I feel most alive when I am creating. I am also equally thankful to have such a loving and supportive family. Without their blessing and support, I would never have accomplished as much as I have.

AOP
What does a typical day look like for you?

Whitney
I am an early riser. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up around 4:30 am. The first thing I do is read my daily devotional (along with a nice cup of coffee) then check email, complete correspondence, pay bills, outline my day, etc. Our son usually wakes up around 6 am. At this point, I am working on the blog. From 7 am-8 am I get ready for the day and make sure the kiddo has his act together. At 8 am I drop him off at school. After that, I finish preparing the classroom for the students’ arrival. I teach from 8:40 am to 11:35 am (my favorite part of the day). After class, it’s time to clean up, have lunch and answer any email or voicemail messages. Depending on the day the afternoon could be yoga and a shower or meeting with our general contractor and making LOTS of decisions about the house.

In my free time, I run to the grocery store, plan meals and do laundry. A little after 3 pm I pick up our son and head home to make dinner. I try to cook our meals from scratch because that’s the best way to know where the ingredients come from. It can be a bit of a time commitment, but it’s worth it. After that, I enjoy some down time and get ready for bed. I have a great life!

AOP
It sounds like you’re very organized – any tips for the rest of us?

Whitney
Staying organized can only happen if you “get” organized to begin with. I’m still working on “getting” organized. The best tip I can give is that you need to figure out what works for you. If you are continually frustrated about an unorganized area of your day, space or life you need to pinpoint what is preventing you from fixing that area. You can’t fix it if you don’t know what the problem is. Once you figure that out you need to do the work to get where you want to be. Easier said than done sometimes, right? 🙂

AOP
If you magically had three more hours in a day, what would you do with them?

Whitney
I would talk on the phone with my family and friends like in the olden days. You remember, right? Before kids? I would also finally get around to listing and selling all the stuff that has accumulated around our house over the years before we move (I am a fan of Mom Mail). I’d fit a power nap somewhere in there too.

AOP
What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Whitney
If I am completely honest, when I was a kid I thought it would be cool to be a farmer or carpenter. There was a period of time when I would have liked to be an inventor. When I was younger I always thought I would be a real estate mogul too. I would love to rehab an entire block of homes. Not just flip them but make each one something that I would enjoy living in. From a young age, I’ve also wanted to be a philanthropist.

AOP
Finally, anything coming up that we should know about?

Whitney
Once The Ashland House is complete I’ll have an indoor/outdoor classroom for our toddler students. I founded Joyful Day Montessori in 2014. We offer an authentic Montessori experience in a loving home environment. The new space was designed with that in mind. An important part of the curriculum will be composting, gardening and other sustainability practices. I find that our society, in general, has become too far removed from where our food comes from as well as the effort it takes to grow and consume our food. I feel very strongly that our connection to nature is a natural and impactful way to teach children about life as well as stewardship. For families that are interested in Joyful Day Montessori, our next available opening is Fall 2016.

On a separate note, my friends and I are organizing a Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) Community Mobile Pack that will take place this April 16th at Concordia University. Along with 500 volunteers, we’ll pack 100,000 meals for starving children around the world. Ultimately we would like the OPRF community to rally around the cause and have it become an annual event. With recent world events, we feel that the best way to counteract hatred and violence is with good deeds both in our community and beyond. Please “like” our FMSC Facebook page to join our cause and stay up to date.


For more information on Joyful Day Montessori, FMSC, to follow along with the story of The Ashland House on OPRF Life and/or to get in touch with Whitney, visit:
Whitney Parchman
www.OPRFLife.com
http://joyfuldaymontessori.com/
Email: whitney@oprflife.com
Phone: 773-677-3169
Twitter: @OPRFLife

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