Sunday, August 29, 2010

Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans.
A concept as foreign to me as camping or playing chess or changing a flat tire.
(beats chest, drags knuckles)..."what 'er dose?"

I'm fat. I'm not looking for compliments. Don't talk me out of it. I am fat. I have successfully stalled in my post-baby weight loss, and I am now just sitting here at the weight I was before I decided to do something about my fatness two years ago. I put my mind to it and lost 20 lbs, but that also required me to run (A LOT) and eat (A LITTLE). I have the motivation, but do I have the time? the determination? the skillz?

Having a baby changes everything. This, I know. My life is so much better because of that little cheesy nugget, but I just can't let go of the fact that my evenings are totally sold out before they even begin. It is stressful trying to find time for the house, my husband, my daughter, my job, and then my super-size body on top of it all.


I bought a pair of fat jeans in my first trimester of pregnancy so that I could wear regular jeans for as long as possible (I don't know why I was avoiding the maternity jeans for so I WISH all my clothes now had a stretchy band holding them up instead of a button and zipper). Well, these fat jeans are now my regular ol' me jeans. They are the only ones that fit. And that sucks.

Someday, maybe, I will get my shit together and just decide I am tired of trying and I am just gonna do it. But for now, I am gonna focus on a different kind of skinny jeans.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A New Normal

On my drive to school, I do a lot of thinking. I spend a lot of time in my car alone, so for now it is where I can best sort through my thoughts and feelings.

This morning, I started to feel sorry for myself again. I was bitter that most of my colleagues hadn't even gotten up yet and I was already on the road heading to school. I was sad that Noelle was slumped over in her car seat, fast asleep, while most other babies were home in their cribs. I was angry that I have already filled up my car three times in the past week, and I hate spending all that money on gas. I started about thinking about how short my evenings are by the time I get home and get Noelle set for the evening and how there's never enough time to do what I want.

Then I caught myself. I recently saw Eat, Pray, Love with family and there was a quote that really stuck with me. He said, "Choose your thoughts like you choose your clothes." It never really dawned on me that I could control what thoughts went into my head. I always thought that you felt how you felt and nothing could change that. Well, this morning I tried to choose my thoughts. I convinced myself that this was just my new normal.

Yes, normally, people don't get up at 5:00 a.m. to go to work. Normally, they don't travel an hour each day. Normally, people don't have to take their kids with them for 2 hours in a car each day. Normally, teachers can leave at 3:10 and be home by 3:30 in the afternoon. Normally, people don't fill their cars up 3 times a week with gas. But...this is my new normal. It's my life. I am no longer waiting for my life to complete itself. That happened on March 11, 2010. It is now my turn to live it up as much as I enjoy all the time I do have with Luke, Noelle, friends, and other family. This is my challenge to be productive and efficient so that I can have more precious minutes for the important things in life. This is my new normal.

Of course, I would love to get up at 7 a.m. and be home before 4 p.m. and work 5 minutes from my home. I hope to do that someday. But, until then, I will be thankful for my job. I will cherish any and all minutes I have in the day to be with the ones I love, and I will do anything in my power to appreciate this life I have.

Monday, August 16, 2010

5 Months Old

Well, I can hardly believe it, but my Noelle is almost 1/2 a year old already. 

Right now, at 5 months and some change, she is over 16 pounds. 
She smiles all the time, but we still haven't heard a belly laugh since the Jenny Jump-Up event. We don't know whether to worry that she's not laughing or be relieved that she isn't laughing at us and all the ridiculous things we do. Either way, I am asking Doc about it in a month at our appointment. She's such a happy girl, but this no laughing thing has me perplexed.

She is eating a wide variety of baby food now. She has tried almost everything. We know it's a little early for foods, but Doc said it is ok and Noelle is doing great with it. I think her favorite is peas right now.

We are working on sitting. She can do it for a little bit (like 7 seconds), but then she leans forward. 

She is an absolute joy and makes us sooooo happy. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Series of Unfortunate Events

Yesterday was my first day of school with my students. I put on a cute pink shirt I bought at Ann Taylor Loft this summer. I liked it.

Thankfully, I decided to wear my hair curly yesterday because it ended up raining, HARD, all the way to school. Straight hair would have been a hot (and frizzy) mess.

I took Noelle to daycare for the 3rd day in a row. No, it hasn't gotten easier. I still hate taking her there, despite the nice people she's with and the smooth transition we have had. I still wish that I was the one with her all day. But...that's another story. So, upon getting her out of the car seat and getting ready to hand her over, I thought that her butt felt warm. At that moment, her teacher pointed out that she was peeing on the floor! Her diaper had leaked, and the pee was dripping out onto the floor and all over my shirt! Hey, Kids...welcome to my room...oh, that smell? Just my kid's pee on my shirt! I still have faith in the Target dipes. It was a bad diaper job at 5:00 a.m. that I did when I was half awake.

I left the baby girl and headed to school. The kids came filing in. We had a pretty good day. It was a very typical first day of school. They were all excited and talkative and ready to impress me. I have 23 students.

The day ended...I ran out of there to go get Noelle. I am taking advantage of not having much to do in my room while I can and leaving as soon as possible. When I got there, they were ready to give her the last bottle, so I got to feed her. While I was feeding her, a dad came to get his cute little girl...maybe about 16 months old. The little girl was so excited to see her daddy that she ran for the door. She tripped over her clumsy feet and fell head first into the door. She smacked it HARD! She then let out one of those silent know the ones where the mouth is gaping open, tears are pouring out, and no sound is coming out of the mouth. It was so sad. Her daddy scooped her up and held her while she caught her breath and screamed bloody murder. I seriously wanted to cry for her. My empathy button is really sensitive these days. A kid fell out of his chair yesterday on the first day of school and instead of wanting to reprimand him like I would have in the past for not having "four on the floor," I wanted to cry because he was probably embarrassed. I see Noelle in all of my students now. Well...not the kid I find incredibly annoying.

Anywho...I got home, went to Zumba, then began the rat race of trying to get dinner made, Noelle a bath, and the bottles and lunch ready for the next day. I was very stressed and multiple mental breakdowns occurred. Luke got the bottles ready for the next day, which I was thankful for.

We got Noelle down and everything was fine...until we discovered the cats had been peeing in her bike trailer we just bought. Great. GREAT. Cat pee...such a fine fragrance. One more thing to add to the list of "clean thoroughly or BURN."

This morning, I went to get the bottles out of the fridge. I happened to open the bottle bag to check them, and I found them floating in a sea of formula. One of her new bottles totally cracked up the side and leaked formula everywhere! I am glad I checked though, because I would have sent that bag to day care and she would have been short one bottle!

I swear, I was so upset and crazy this's amazing that I wasn't served with divorce papers today citing, "My wife is a crazy b$%*&" as the cause. I cried my whole way to school...feeling sorry for myself and our situation. I am tired. I am not in the routine yet. I am trying to figure out how to be a wife, mother, teacher, friend, and still have time for myself at the end of the day. It was a really tough way to start the day.

But on the way home, I found myself laughing about it. Now, either I have been granted some kind of sweet ass grace, or I am just going to straight to the insane asylum...but either way, I am happy I could laugh this afternoon.

Now...on to get Noelle out of the car seat (where she is napping). Poor girl...her little butt will probably look like a baboon's by the time this year's over from being in the car seat so long. I wonder if they make an ointment for that...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Noelle's First Day

Well, today was the day I have been dreading since I found out I was pregnant over a year ago...Noelle's first day at daycare. From the second I knew I was going to have a baby, I began fretting over who was going to watch the baby while I was working. Staying at home is not only not an option for me, but it also really isn't my true preference at this point as I am just hitting my stride in the classroom. However, I knew then that I would love this child more than life itself, and finding a babysitter would be no small task.

I put it off until about January, and I started looking in the Indy area. The going rate was about $250 per week. For the month, it would be more than our mortgage payment. We had been pretty diligent in saving money for child care, but this type of cost would just about wipe us out...and all for someone else to take care of our baby. We put Noelle (at the time, Baby E) on the list at one daycare just down the road from us, and we stopped thinking about it for a while.

Noelle was born (yay!), and I immediately started stressing again over this childcare decision. Finally, in June, I decided to get my butt in gear and start exploring other daycare options. Something was tugging at my heart, telling me that the daycare we had signed her up for wasn't quite right. I took personal recommendations from my colleagues at school, and I was able to find some good options in Muncie. I was always so hesitant to bring Noelle to Muncie with me each day, but the pros far outweighed the cons in this situation. With her in Muncie, we would be saving about $400 a month, she would be 10 minutes away from me and even less away from my family as well as Luke's. If she ever got sick, I could leave immediately and get her. Plus, as Noelle gets older, she and I can use the time in the car to talk and sing together.

After much consideration, I decided on River of Life Church as the daycare provider for Noelle. I personally know the director and lead infant room teacher, so I felt good about signing her up.

And then came today. Where did my summer go? I seriously feel like I was just packing everything up at school, and now we are back already! Anyway, we gently woke our little angel up this morning at 5:30 and began the process of getting her ready for her first day. She was SO cute. She had squinty eyes and her hair was sticking straight up. Baby bed-head is sooooo cute. She was rubbing her eyes and smiling sweetly at us, clearly wondering why the heck we were waking her up so early. Luke fed her while I got ready, and then we loaded her up and I hit the road.

I could tell that Noelle was asleep by the time I got on I-69, and we made it to Muncie without any problems. I nervously took her to the baby room at River of Life and I handed her off to the teacher there. She was smiling and staring at the fun stuff hanging from the ceiling. She seemed to be trusting and didn't show any anxiety. I took this as my moment to leave, and I turned around and headed out. Of course I got choked up and my eyes filled with tears, but I refused to let myself get any more emotional than that. I knew that if I started, I wouldn't stop...and I didn't bring any make up to touch up with. :-)

I thought about Noelle allllll day. I wanted to go get her numerous times, but I knew that she was OK and in good hands. My parents went to visit her and said she was doing fine, so I got through the day and waited for my chance to go get her. I was so excited to go pick her up and hold her! She was finishing a bottle when I arrived and seemed to be OK. We safely made our way back home.

Today proved to me a couple of things. First off, motherhood has made me very strong. I have faced so many fears over the past year, and I have learned that I can get through anything with the right attitude. Second, Noelle is a very well-adjusted and happy baby. She trusts me, and when I am at ease, she knows that everything is going to be alright. She doesn't need me to be around all the time, and she can be flexible in a number of situations. She is such a wonderful little girl, and I can't wait to see how her personality develops.

Here's hoping tomorrow is just as smooth as today.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Extra Mile

For weeks, going on months now, I have been trying to burn off this stubborn post-baby weight. I am plateauing. It sucks. I wish I could break through. Unlike Giselle Bunchen, breastfeeding was not the ticket to losing all the baby weight. Such a shame because we are so alike in so many other ways... :-)

So in an effort to try and get back on track, I have been going to Zumba twice a week for an hour, and then I stay after and do an extra mile on the treadmill. I also try to get in to the gym at least one other time to do a longer run like 2 to 3 miles.

I try to run that extra mile extra fast (fast for me is like a 6.3 speed, which is about an 8 minute, 30 second mile) so that I can get home and see my baby. I also try to push myself to compete with the person on the treadmill next to me...unless that person's Luke. He ran a marathon, remember?

Running is something I never used to enjoy. Now the fact that I can run 3 miles at a time is pretty thrilling. It is so gratifying to know that you accomplished something that you set your mind to...which brings me to the October 5K I am going to do at Fort Ben! I haven't done a 5K since the May before I got pregnant, but this will be my third overall. I also plan to do the Jingle Bell Run in December. One great thing about living in Indy is there is a running event every month that you can sign up for.

So, now I am in "training mode." I hope to improve upon my old race time and get my new race time in 30 minutes or less (kind of like a pizza delivery guy). Hopefully as the weather gets cooler, I can run outside because there is a major difference between treadmill running and pavement running. Major.

A really super cool invention for runners (or people who want to be a runner) is the Nike Plus sensor. You put it in your Nike Plus shoes and it syncs up with your iPod to give you your stats as you are running...distance, speed, calories, time, etc. It tells you when you are almost done. It allows you to set goals and achieve them. I really like it...especially when the woman's voice comes on to say I am done! It's a really great $30 investment.

And, as always, running the extra mile can translate into other situations in life...not quitting when you're tired...not giving up when you want to....setting your mind to something and achieving's a good thing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why Homeschooling Insults Me

I read a lot of blogs. I like it. I like blogging. I would like to be a blogger. I like the word blog. Blog blog blog.

In a lot of the blogs I read, the women homeschool their children. I read them. I try to see their points of view, and they are totally allowed to have their opinions about why homeschooling is better than traditional schooling because they are writing on their blogs. This little bliggity blog is my space, so I then get to write what I want.

I find homeschooling insulting. The whole concept of it. What's that? You'd like an explanation? OK...twisted my arm...

I went to college to be a teacher. I took it seriously. I graduated with honors. I had great recommendations. I worked my butt off to get my first teaching job (the job I still have today), and I have been working EXTRA hard ever since to keep that job. I love what I do...even when I hate it, and I carry the responsibility of educating children with me at all times. I spend a great deal of my own money on my classroom. I don't nickel and dime the system, turning in for reimbursements for staples, notebooks, binders for my kids, cute chairs for them to read in, etc. etc. I could probably set up my own teacher store in my room and sell 1/2 of my stuff and STILL have enough to feed a third world county (that is, if third world country people enjoyed eating brightly colored posters, borders, letters, and stickers). What I am trying to say is...I am a teacher 365 days a year, not just August through May, and I am teacher from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep. Rarely am I not thinking about how I can be better and do better. I strive for excellence, people!

And I would be willing to bet that the majority of teachers out there are built about like me. I know it's easy to be all Negative Nancy and say that the education system is full of old crusties who need to hop off the dead horse and retire away to Central Florida already (and believe me, there are a few-- not you, Mom), but I am going to err on the side of positive and say that I have many teacher friends and family members who are committed to this profession.

I don't know too many bankers, doctors, financial advisors, nurses, (you get my point) dragging home their work in bags with apple appliques on them to sit and complete while having one eye on the TV and one hand on their dinners. People make a fuss about summer vacations saying dramatically, "I wish IIIIIIIIII had a summer vacation!" Well...I have been to school 6 times on my summer break, spent countless hours reading educational reference books, surfing inspiring educators' websites, and I have dropped a nice amount of cash for some new things for my room. I seek inspiration for new lessons and projects from everywhere...I mean everywhere...Lowe's, Goodwill, children's books and more. My mind never quits.

All that being said, it saddens me when a parent feels that he/she could do better homeschooling their child, especially when that parent has no training in teaching or child psychology or instructional methods or state standards. Education is the foundation on which everything else can you really think that you can do better than professionals when it comes to giving your child the tools they need to succeed in life?

Kids need time away from home and their parents. They need socialization with other kids and adults. They need rules and boundaries. They need traditional school. There, I said it.

Don't parents need a break, too? Do moms really want to make breakfast, clean it up, get kids dressed, brush teeth, wipe butts, and THEN sit down and try to teach all the subjects of school? And when you homeschool, you cannot tell me you sit down for 6 hours straight and educate like a traditional school. I do that for 180 school days and STILL have material I can't get to. A couple hours a day of homeschool can't possibly equal out to the full school day in a traditional setting.

Believe me, I know that there is more to life than tests and standards. I am always looking for new ways to infuse my classroom with excitement and non-tradtional ways of teaching. However, I believe in accountability. I believe in the standards. I believe that if we don't have standards to worry about, we would have no way of knowing if our kids were ready to face the big, scary post-high school world.

Speaking of high school...homeschooled kids are ROBBED of all the wonderful experiences in high school. Making the cheerleading squad. Playing on the basketball team. Eating lunch with friends. Homecomings. Proms. Wearing that cap and gown. How do homeschooled kids graduate? Their parents pat them on the back and say..."Well...I guess you're done now!"

Many argue that homeschooled kids still get to go to prom because they have little homeschool groups that get together and do it. I don't know how fun that could possibly be, but I won't judge that. They say that their kids are safer, they are free from peer pressure, and they graduate quicker. I think a healthy dose of peer pressure is good. Kids need to learn how to stand up for their beliefs, fight for what's right, stand up against what's wrong. They will not be in a bubble forever, and they will have to face this world at some point. The pressures will still be there, and without practice and experience in resisting peer pressure, they will no doubt fail at it....or just live their lives scared shitless. Graduating quicker? Who wants their 16 year old going to college? Why are we rushing childhood? Why can't kids be kids until they are 18? I always felt this way about people who were determined to graduate early from college. Why? College was THE best time of my life. I wish it were twice as long.

One blogger I read said that she doesn't want her child confined to pencil and paper or learning inside. I suppose she will also have a problem with her child's boss when he asks her to complete a task on ((gasp!)) paper using a ((GASP!)) pencil! Most jobs require these two tools. Also, we learn outside all the time. My kids were outside everyday for a week last spring doing cloud observations. We do spelling with sidewalk chalk. We read outside on nice days. We did an XY coordinate grid on the playground.

So, in my opinion (yes, I know it is only my little, unimportant opinion), homeschooling is an insult to teachers everywhere. People not trained in the field are saying, "Teaching, can't be that hard! I can do better!" The "do it better yourself" concept has gone too far. Save it for laying tile in your bathroom or growing a garden for fresh produce. Don't go DIY on your child's education.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Chapter

5 more days of Summer.

FIVE more days of Summer.

Where has the time gone?

One month ago, Luke changed his mind about going to Kentucky and decided to spend the month of July with us. We got our house project finished, replacing all of the siding on the house, painting the trim, and putting in a new patio door. 

Two months ago, I got that sweet taste of freedom, a.k.a. summer vacation as I stood in front of the buses and waved "buh bye" to 600 elementary kids with my fellow staff. 

Now it's all over (k, dramatic...) and a new chapter is beginning. This chapter is called, "How to be a working mom and not cry hysterically when you drop your kid off at day care." Catchy, right?

A few days ago, I went to Target (where else?) to get Noelle's "things" for day care. I had to get new diapers and wipes, Kleenx, a spare pacifier, etc. I got teary eyed in the diaper aisle because I realized this was the baby girl's first school supply list. 

Today, I dropped off those supplies and some additional paperwork to the day care. As I brought Noelle into the room where she would be spending 8 hours a day in for the next 9 months, I got choked up again. Her beautiful name was written in letters on the wall, on her cubby drawer, and on a name tag above the crib that would be hers. She wasn't phased by any of this, but I just couldn't help but feel sad. One of the girls working there was holding a little guy, maybe about 10-11 months old, rocking him because he was sad and missing his mommy & daddy. I just wanted to pick him up and hold him. I couldn't help thinking that this could be my little girl in a week...missing me, and me not being able to do anything about it. 

It's so bittersweet to be a working mom. Right now, it is not an option. I am a provider for my family. I am THE provider for my family. And to be honest, that sucks. I want to be taken care of. Never in my youngster fairy tale dreams did I fantasize about being the breadwinner on a teacher's salary. However, I know that this is a means to an end, and it won't be like this forever (this has become our motto in our house). I know that Luke is working so hard, and I know he feels bad that he doesn't bring in any income. I know that we are 10 months away from him graduating, which will be here before we know it. I know that in one week, I must put on pants that have a button and a zipper for the first time all summer, and I will be grateful because I have a job...a job that many, many people would want...and a job that provides for my family.

However, knowing that a side effect of this job is giving up my baby girl feels like getting punched in the stomach. I LOVE that baby girl. I know her better than anyone. I know her cries. I know what she needs. I know how to make her smile. I know that her toes rarely uncurl and her belly button is a half-innie, half-outie. I know how many hairs are on her head and that the one freckle on her whole body is on her right leg. I know how many rolls are on her chubby thighs and that she giggles when you sing her the theme song from "The Hills." I pray it isn't long before the people at the day care begin to know all the things that make her so special. 

I am worried she will become needy for attention. I am worried she will be scared and not know where I am. I am worried she will get sick. I am worried she will think I abandoned her. I am your typical first-time mom, about to trust other people with her child...and I am worried, but I know I made a good decision...and she will be OK.

I love my job. I am proud of what I do. I am proud of my degree and that I use it every day. Teaching makes me a better person for me and for my family. But I am most proud of that little nugget sleeping in her crib right now...and proud of who she already is and of who she will be in the days and years to come.

New chapter, you better be a good one.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Live & Learn

When Noelle was born, she only wore one kind of diapers. Pampers. Preferrably, Pampers soft and even with that handy yellow line that turned colors when she peed. Oh yes, Pampers, you made my life easier. I wasn't wild about the baby Sesame Street characters at the waist, but at least it wasn't that hellish Winnie the Pooh and his little friends (i.e. Huggies are not allowed in our home).

Then, as Noelle got bigger, I grew tired of the Pampers price tag. Yeah, I used coupons, but still...I much preferred spending money on a cute little dress for the nugget or a gallon of ice cream instead of making sure she had a fancy booty. So, I decided to give Luvs a try. They were a few bucks cheaper than Pampers, so I thought, "Why not?" Tried them...luv'd them...I saw no difference between them and the Pampers Baby Dry.

So, after a couple of weeks with Luvs, I tested my luck once more. I thought to myself, "I could save even more money if I tried Target diapers!" Yes, I did the unthinkable. I bought generic diapers. I got just a small pack to see if they were worth anything...and to my surprise, they were great! No leaks, not stinky, and they even fit her better than the Luvs did. Not to mention the fact that they are super soft and have a cute blue and green polka dot design on the entire diaper. And the price? Around $7-$8 cheaper than Pampers. That's a savings of about $15-$20 a month on diapers.

Now, maybe in the beginning when Noelle's poop was runny and highly prone to leaks and PUBS and all kinds of traumas, the Target dipes might not have worked, but now, they are just fine....and I have no problem saying that I will put generic diapers on her now so that we can have more money for more important things later. Also...I have tried the Up & Up (Target brand) wipes, and they are lovely. They are the same exact weight and texture of Pampers wipes. In a related note, I buy Meijer brand formula as well because it has the SAME EXACT ingredients as the Enfamil Premium with the same exact amounts...and it is literally under $12 for the large can and Enfamil is $23 for the large. Say wah?

All that being said (giggles nervously)...I did succumb to the Cynthia Rowley for Target designer diapers (by Pampers). They were sooooOOOOOooooo cute...and she can't even fit in them yet....but I thought for "special occasions" (OK...let's face it...her wedding wouldn't be special enough to wear these expensive things) they would be adorable. So what if I paid nearly $1 PER diaper? Luke's exact words were, "She better be pooping golden turds in those things!" point in this post is this...don't be afraid to try's not as bad as you think and doesn't scream "I'm a bad mom!" It might, however, scream, "I needed some extra money for a shopping trip and potty training my 4 month old wasn't a realistic option so I got the cheapest diapers I could find, k?"