Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life with Charlotte, Week 2: Overwhelmed

Charlotte is now officially 16 days old (feels like she should be starting college next week...time is flying). In Charlotte's 2nd week of life, she continued to eat, sleep, and poop. She also continued to wow us with her sweetness and beauty, reminding us to thank and praise God often for the gift of both of our girls.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it. After I had Noelle, I cried for many days, multiple times a day. I had the classic case of "Baby Blues," lasting about 2 weeks and then disappearing. I had many a breakdown in the days following Noelle's birth-- breakdowns over silly things and breakdowns over serious things. I developed new fears, couldn't watch scary TV shows, needed lights on at all times because darkness made me sad. I cried in the shower, I cried when I looked at her, I just cried.

I prayed I wouldn't have this same case of the "Baby Blues" following Charlotte's birth, but that didn't happen. Sure enough, I turned into a blubbering mess upon bringing her home from the hospital, and having a toddler at home who likes to push boundaries intensified the emotions.

There are plenty of women who have babies and never experience this unexplained sadness and emotional roller coaster, but there are also plenty of women who go through this exact thing and some who have it much worse. I guess what I'm saying is that now that Charlotte is 16 days old, my "Baby Blues" are dissipating and I am finally starting to get a handle on being a mother of 2 little ones.

The whole process is quite overwhelming.

Not only is parenthood overwhelming in the "too much going on, I can't breathe, how do I help two crying babies at the same time, Noelle just peed on the floor because I was feeding Charlotte and couldn't help her get to the potty on time, Luke's working late again, the house is a freaking mess, I don't feel like cooking" kind of way...but it's also overwhelming in the "how could I be so lucky to have the most beautiful, healthy babies, and how do I deserve them when so many others are suffering losses of their children or infertility issues" kind of way.

Little by little, one day at a time, we are learning how to navigate this new world together.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Life with Charlotte, Week 1: Adjustment

Little Miss Charlotte is officially one week old, and the word to describe this week would be "adjustment." Oh boy...all kinds of adjustments have taken place. We are adjusting to living on very little sleep. We are adjusting to splitting our time and attention between two girls. We are adjusting to me being at home alone with the babies. We are adjusting to life as a family of four and the realization our "old life" is officially not coming back! 

When you bring a child into the world, it seems that everything goes through adjustments. Our marriage is already bending and stretching to accommodate another human being who is much more important than either one of us right now. A co-sleeper bassinet rests in between Luke and me at night leaving no room for snuggling or spooning for the two of us. There's not a lot of time right now to talk about things that don't involve diapers or feeding schedules or Dora the Explorer. We are OK with this, definitely, but we also understand the importance of making time for each other and for adult conversation. I believe that you can't have a healthy home life with healthy children if your marriage isn't solid and strong. Putting children above your spouse should be done with caution, in my opinion. Right now, we really have no choice but to give all of our love and energy to our girls, but sooner or later, after this initial adjustment period ends, we will be able to give something, even if it is the very last remnant of our hearts, back to each other.

Noelle is adjusting, too. She really loves her baby sister and speaks with excitement about her. However, I know that Noelle sees us interacting with Charlotte and giving her attention and I'm sure she thinks "Who is this person stealing my Mama and Papa?" We have tried to shower Noelle with praise and love and special attention, but there is only so much to go around at any given moment. I have thought this many times-- but thank goodness we are playing "man to man" and are not outnumbered yet.

I am adjusting to my new primary role of caregiver and not teacher. I must say I have suffered from a great deal of guilt because here I have the two most beautiful girls in the world, and I am constantly having to remind myself that my #1 priority right now is taking care of them-- not thinking about school, attending meetings, grading papers, planning units, taking photos, etc, etc, etc. It's difficult though, to change gears like that, when it's all I feel like I know how to do. I am used to being really busy, so when I'm home now without any real place to go or be or anyone really to talk to (aside from Noelle), it causes some uneasiness and loneliness to be quite honest. I am adjusting (have I mentioned it's the word of the week?) to this lifestyle and am trying to embrace it as I know that this leave will be over in a flash and I will have all of that familiar chaos back in my life in no time. 

Lastly-- Charlotte is adjusting. :-) She had her days and nights completely mixed up upon entering this world. In her first few days of life, she barely opened her eyes during the daytime. She wanted to eat all night, which left me with about 2 hours of sleep each day. However, last night, she allowed me to sleep about an hour and a half to two hours between feedings, and she has spent several minutes today taking in her world and surroundings with her eyes open. I am hopeful that she is going to start sleeping more and more at night and show us her beautiful eyes throughout daytime hours. 

Also noteworthy...she weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces (birth weight was 7 pounds, 8 ounces) at her first appointment with Dr. Woodworth. Her umbilical cord stump fell off at the appointment, too. We go back this week to have a weight check to make sure she is gaining enough weight. I am really hoping she is because I am going to be pretty resistant to formula supplementing this time. There's nothing wrong with it, but it is a personal goal of mine to nurse Charlotte and not have to add the expensive formula to her diet. Here's hoping...

Anyway, each new day brings a new adjustment for us, but sooner or later it will stop feeling like an adjustment and more like our new normal. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

25 Minutes

I promised myself that when Baby Charlotte arrived I would get back to blogging regularly so as to document life's happenings as a mother of two. She's 5 days old and currently enjoying a milk coma, so I thought I would take advantage of the time to write about quite possibly one of the most terrifying and downright crazy nights of my life.

October 14, 2012

With our scheduled induction to take place Monday morning, Luke and I enjoyed a weekend of time with his family and a dinner date to Johnny Carino's. We visited a pumpkin patch with all the kids and took in the beautiful fall weather. We watched Notre Dame win and the Colts lose (a pretty normal combo this football season), and we tried to soak up as much time with our sweet Noelle as we could. We knew we were down to the final hours of being a family of 3, which was part exciting and part sad.

I wasn't feeling great on Sunday morning, partly because I was up from about 1-4 a.m. feeling a lot of back pain and pressure. Charlotte was very active and agitated, which prevented me from sleeping and causing me to question every little move of hers. I was finally able to get myself relaxed enough to sleep, but the restlessness took its toll on me and left me at home while Luke took Noelle to church with the family. It took me a few hours that morning to get up and moving, feeling sore and achey and more than a little whiney.

I managed to find enough energy to go out to Luke's parents' house for a bit. After a few hours, we were all exhausted and ready to settle in for our last night as just the three of us. We stopped to pick up a quick dinner at Noodles and Company and made our way back to our house.

It was about 6:30 p.m. and my tailbone was really hurting, so I decided to take a hot shower and see if I felt better. An hour later, I was already in bed and trying to kill the pain with a hot rice bag. After laying down for a while, I started to notice a little pattern in the spasms I was feeling in my low back. It did seem that they had a certain rhythmic timing-- starting around 6 minutes a part.

I had downloaded a contraction timer app on my phone a couple months back when I started having Braxton Hicks contractions all the time. What I was feeling on Sunday night were nothing that I recognized as contractions. After all, I have experienced true labor contractions before and would certainly know them when I felt them...right? Well, I was amused by the pattern of this back pain, so I started to log the waves of spasms in the contraction timer. By about 8:15, these "spasms" were getting stronger and coming about every 90 seconds to 2 minutes.

Then it hit me.

I was in labor.


Luke would come in to check on me and I would be just a little more uncomfortable each time. Finally, he walked in on me rocking back and forth on all fours on the ground, and he knew it, too.

Panic hit me pretty hard as I realized that we needed to leave for the hospital immediately if we had any chance of having the baby in Indy. Luke's mom was due to arrive at our house to stay the night so we could leave for our induction the next morning, but she wasn't there yet and Noelle was fast asleep. As we were frantically throwing last minute necessities into travel bags and exchanging wide-eyed and panicky looks with each other, the pain began to get so intense that my main emotion at that point was fear. Fear that we wouldn't make it to Indy. Fear that we wouldn't even make it to Ball. Fear that I was going to have this baby in my own house.

I made a call to my mom and dad at 9:00 and told them to get to our house now because it was time. In the 5-8 minutes it took for them to arrive, we loaded the car and went back and forth with "Are we going to Indy or do we need to go to Ball?" As the pain and INTENSE pressure worsened with every minute, I told Luke we had to go to Ball. My parents arrived and we exchanged very few words. We simply got in the car and drove to Ball...the place I was avoiding throughout my entire pregnancy. I wasn't avoiding it for any reason other than the fact that I didn't want to be put in the vulnerable position of giving birth in front of any of Luke's colleagues or directors or anyone else he knew. Not to mention we really wanted our original OB to deliver Charlotte. That, and the fact that Community North is basically a luxury hotel and nothing compares aesthetically.

However, none of that mattered in the 5 minute ride to the hospital as I turned into your standard screaming, laboring pregnant lady. I remember screaming in pain, yelling things like "I'm scared" and "Help me" and "We aren't going to make it." I know this sounds dramatic and silly, but to be honest, these were my truest feelings at the time. I can't even put into words how incredibly scared I was.

Luke called ahead to the labor and delivery floor to tell them we were coming and to be waiting for us with a wheelchair. We pulled into the circle drive of the emergency room entrance and two nurses and one of Luke's fellow residents were there with a chair waiting to transport me to the 4th floor.

They knew the urgency and literally sprinted me through hallways and to the elevator as fast as they could, asking me various items of information along the social security number, my blood type, my allergies. People waiting to be seen in the ER stared as they raced me past, and I had never been more relieved to see the elevator.

We made our way to the floor and they took me to the room. I didn't even know that Luke hadn't been with us. He was parking the car and doing his own race through the halls to get to me in time, hurdling a few chairs along the way. Thankfully, he came in behind us and was able to be there for the birth of our baby girl, which happened approximately 5 minutes after.

More panic hit me as I realized that there would be no chance for an epidural and I would be doing this the old fashioned way. I remember saying how I couldn't do it and I remember everyone saying that I could. I did do it...a true testament to the fact that you will do what you have to do in the moment to get the job done.

It hurt. Not gonna lie.

About three good, hard pushes was all it took to give life to my second daughter-- a far cry from the four hours of seemingly endless pushing with Noelle. From start to finish, 25 minutes was it...from the 9:00 phone call to my parents to the 9:25 delivery. I don't think we even left our house until 9:10 and didn't arrive at the hospital until 9:15. I can't decide if those were the longest 25 minutes or the shortest 25 minutes of my life-- probably a little bit of both.

Waves of shock hit us both as we looked at each other in disbelief. "Did that really happen?" I managed to say multiple times, along with "It wasn't supposed to be like this." And it wasn't supposed to be like that. She was supposed to be born the next day. We were supposed to have her in Indy. She was supposed to have been delivered by Dr. Ertel. I was supposed to have an epidural for the love of God. However, for as much that went "wrong" or not according to plan that evening, so much went right.

Charlotte didn't have to spend any time in the NICU (unlike Noelle), which meant that I got the moment I always wanted to have-- they put her on my stomach seconds after her birth, and Luke got to cut her cord. She was never taken out of our room following the delivery, and we bonded with her right away. These things were luxuries to us-- things we didn't get to do the first time.

I am so incredibly thankful for those two nurses and Dr. Anderson who were there to help us that night.  I am thankful that we didn't try to head to Indianapolis only to have our baby on the side of I-69. I am of course so thankful for Luke who was always calm and never showed any fear if he had any.

And tonight, I'm thanking God for another  beautiful baby girl who will no doubt have a life full of adventure and spirit given her entrance into the world.

Charlotte Scout, we love you and your sister so much.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How to Train Your Toddler

Correction: How to Potty Train Your Toddler

Step 1: Wait until she's ready.

The end.

I started to try to potty train Noelle at the beginning of the summer. I was determined to proudly walk my potty trained two year old into her daycare at the beginning of this school year and proclaim to all that I had successfully coached her out of diapers and WOW aren't I the best at being a mom??

Well, after one day of potty training in May, I quit. I cried and then I quit. Noelle wasn't getting it. I wasn't sticking with it. End of story. Looking back now, I laugh because Noelle was still sleeping in a crib. How on Earth was I going to teach a child to get up out of bed in the middle of the night to go potty when she wasn't even physically able to get out of bed in the first place?

So, we abandoned the potty training idea for a couple of months. We bought her a twin bed and started pumping her full of "I'm a big girl!" confidence. Once she started school, the people at the daycare began to plant the seed of sitting on the potty. I had mixed feelings about this-- mainly because I wasn't really asked if this was OK, and I wasn't sure if I was ready for them to do it...but Noelle insisted on trying like the big girls, and I guess it ended up being a good thing.

As of last Friday, I added several pair of Hello Kitty underwear to the Dora & Yo Gabba Gabba ones we already owned from the first failed attempt and told Noelle we were done with diapers.

Now, I'm not saying I haven't had to clean up my fair share of pee on the floor, on the toilet set, in the undies, on the socks, etc, etc, etc...but I will say that in one week, she had only ONE accident while at school, and she has used the potty numerous times out in public, too. I'd say her success rate is about 75-80% at home, and I think that's pretty good. She wants to be a big girl and she likes feeling successful.

We are trying to reward her with stickers instead of food treats, but I'm not gonna lie...I've been so happy she's finally doing it that I have given her suckers, gum, fruit snacks, chocolate, and I bought her a stuffed penguin today because she peed in the potty at Hobby Lobby. I'm that mom...but I don't really care. I can honestly say I haven't changed a diaper in a week, and that hasn't happened since early 2010. All this just in time for me to start changing lots and lots of tiny diapers here in a few weeks.

Potty training is HARD work on the parents, too. Diapers are much easier. I actually was OK with her being in diapers. It's far easier when you're out in public to just let your kid pee in her diaper instead of frantically trying to find a bathroom while your child is yelling to an entire store "I have to go potty!" all the while you're sweating profusely and worried someone is going to buy that shirt that's the last one in your size that you're going to need to stash somewhere while you're in the bathroom. Ugh.

But-- it's a necessary evil, this potty training thing. I'm happy she has decided to take the leap. Just one more notch in her "I'm a big girl" belt.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Playing Catch-Up

I can't believe it has been over a month since I last posted. I used to be so devoted to keeping this blog updated, and I used to really love reading blogs. I still do, but I get so overwhelmed when I start that I usually just go to Facebook. It's a really exciting life I live.

Let's see, what's new with me? I am currently attempting to save the world, one student at a time. I think the school year has started off well, but I am completely distraught over the fact that I don't have a maternity leave substitute yet, and I don't have all of the information ready to give to my "maternity leave sub." I want to put together a binder of all the important things he/she needs to know while I am gone for 12 weeks, but I haven't had time to do that yet.

I suppose I feel a sense of urgency because at my 32 week appointment last week, I basically had to convince the nurse practitioner (I didn't get to see my doc because she was already scheduled full) to check me to see if I was dilating (which is a really gruesome word and I hate using it) yet. I have been feeling nonstop pressure down low and a lot of contractions, so I was just curious. I was having flashbacks of my pregnancy with Noelle when I was 7 cm dilated at 38 weeks and 2 days later they induced me. So, she checked me, only to find that I was already 3 cm....yes, at 32 weeks. Of course it is too early, and it's not even anything to get excited about because if the baby is trying to come early, she is WAYYYY too early.

I go back to the doctor on Tuesday of next week, and I'm wondering if she will check me again. I am also wondering if I will have progressed further. My biggest "wonder" is what she will tell me if I am progressing. Will she tell me I need to go on bed rest? Will she give me some sort of medicine to helps stop contractions? Will she let me be and just tell me to wait it out? I don't know...but I am nervous and oh-so-thankful that Luke can come with me this time. The last time, after the 3 cm scare, I was put on the fetal monitor for about 20 minutes. I was all alone and scared and nervous and going through all of the "what ifs" in my head.

So, all of those things aside, I am really, really excited for this weekend. Saturday is going to be "Baby Preparedness Day." Luke is finally off on a Saturday and we have planned for this day to be the one when we pack hospital bags, bring down baby gear from the attic, get the nursery all ready to go, wash bedding and blankets, and do all of the things we have neglected to do for the past 8 months.

Then...Sunday marks my final (LAST ONE!!!!!!!) photo session before my leave begins. I never thought this day would come. Honestly, I love my photography business and am SOOOOOO thankful for all my clients, but I am so ready for a big ol' break. I haven't set a return date yet, but it will probably be Feb/March of 2013, provided we survive the apocalypse. I am so excited for all the free weekends I will have. It's going to be amazing!!!!

It's now 8:30 and I am ready for bed! Tired doesn't begin to describe how I feel right now. Even Noelle passed out an hour earlier than normal. I think that's a sign that I should, too.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

As of tomorrow, not only will I "turn" 28 weeks pregnant, but it will have been a week since I last saw Luke. He has been in Canada on a fishing, camping, and canoeing trip with his dad, brothers, some family, and friends. He is due back here on Sunday, and I can't freaking wait until I see him. Really, tomorrow will be the last day that I won't be able to talk to him because at least while he is on the 20 hour drive back on Saturday, I should be able to chat with him on the phone. This makes me quite happy!

This is the longest amount of time that I have been away from him since having Noelle. This has been a really challenging week. All of the loneliness, silence, and just longing to have his company around aside, it has been a busy week where I would ordinarily really need his help, want his opinion, rely on his expertise, and cherish his support. It's amazing how you truly don't understand how much you need your spouse until they are not there (for any amount of time, really), and when you have a child, that need is multiplied by about 10,000.

Luke is a super wonderful dad, a supportive husband, and in general just a great, positive person to be around, so not having him here (both in person and on the phone) has been so tough. This week, I had several photo sessions, my glucose test at the doctor's office, a lot of school stuff to get done, and some housing stuff to take care of in Indy. Not to mention this was basically my last full week of summer break, so I really didn't want to spend it frantic and frazzled and lonely, but I did the best I could. I'm thankful for all the babysitting help and people who were there to keep me company this week.

However, through it all, even though I absolutely cannot stand when Luke is gone this long, I feel a sense of strength and accomplishment. I was able to swallow my fears of being alone, to handle responsibilities and duties that aren't normally mine, and to be strong for my daughter when even she quietly whispered in bed, "I miss Papa."

So, I find myself both wishing for Sunday to hurry up and get here and for the week to slow down (only because I will be starting school one week from tomorrow), but since sacrifice was the theme of the week, I'll go ahead and just hope for this week to end as quickly as possible.

Monday, July 30, 2012


I have so, so many blog posts I would like to either start, finish, or post for the public. I'm queen of the unfinished draft post...and I'm really wanting to turn them loose. Everything from Facebook issues to political issues to mommy issues to not issues at all....I just want to write in this place called MINE.

I look forward to doing that here shortly. Stay on the edges of your seats, couches, rugs, beds, or whatever else you're sitting on these days.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Charlotte Update

So, this pregnancy will go down in history as the least documented event in life. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but compared to Noelle's when I was documenting everything, every week, I have now become what I promised I wouldn't...forgetting to take belly bump pictures, forgetting to write things down, forgetting to give Charlotte the 5 star treatment I gave her big sister. This makes me sad, but I can't go back in time and redo what I have missed, so I guess I will just give an update to ease my own guilt.

I am close to 27 weeks pregnant right now. I really can't believe that because I feel like it took an eternity to get to this point with Noelle, and these past 27 weeks (well, 24-ish since I found out) have just zoomed by. Being busy with Noelle, photography, and life in general has accounted for the time warp feeling, and I wish I could just take it all in a little more. Before I know it, this will be over, and I will be a mother to two precious girls (insert excited squeal!), but I know I will miss the pregnancy.

I have always been blessed with "easy" pregnancies. I don't get morning sickness. I don't have health complications (knock on wood). I don't get so tired that I can't move or function or take care of myself and/or others. I don't have weird cravings or aversions. I simply function as a normal human growing another human inside. No big deal. I chalk it up to simply not allowing myself the time to think about feeling like crap...because there are days when I don't feel up to par...but I just can't think about it. There's too much to do in a day. This is not to say that women who suffer from all of the above are weaker than me or that they throw themselves pity parties all day (because believe me I would if I did have all of the nasty pregnancy symptoms), I'm just saying this is what I do and it works for me.

Charlotte moves a ton. She loves to be active in the evening and while I am sleeping. She moves twice as much as Noelle ever did. Noelle moved just enough to let me know that she was OK. Charlotte moves constantly. I don't know what this means for us for when she is born, but I'm loving her active personality already.

I'm big. I think I have gained less weight so far in this pregnancy, but I started about 15 pounds heavier than I did with Noelle, so I feel like I look about 6 weeks ahead of where I should. I am self conscious about this and really don't like my picture taken this time around (which probably explains the "forgetting" of the belly bump pictures). I am looking forward to having Charlotte so that I can begin the process of losing this pregnancy's weight as well as Noelle's. I have a goal of losing 50 pounds. I shared this goal with Luke over our anniversary dinner at Cheesecake Factory, after we had an appetizer, entree, and dessert (cheesecake!). Of course that would be problem #1.... a 3 course meal, but it was our anniversary and I'm still pregnant. So there.

We have begun the process of combining Noelle and Charlotte's rooms. We have picked up some art for the walls, gone through Noelle's clothes from 0-3 months and put them in the dresser, and we are slowly but surely making room for baby. We have loads of baby gear to bring down from the attic and get ready, but we will soon enough. It's definitely really easy to get ready for a sibling that is the same sex as the older one. It's also easier to know the sex this time around. It was fun to be surprised with Noelle, but it's been fun to know and call her by her name, too.

Speaking of her name, we have decided on Charlotte Scout Ernstberger. I have always loved the name Scout for a little girl, but I never thought I would be daring enough to use it as a first name. It doesn't really "go" with Noelle, either, which is pretty feminine looking. However, we love the balance of Charlotte Scout...girly with strong...a little tomboy mixed with frills...and we love that Scout is a character in To Kill A Mockingbird, which is Luke's mom's favorite book and my mom is an English teacher. It all fits.

I go for my glucose test next week. I'm a little nervous that I will have GD this time around, mainly because I feel fat...which is really no evidence that I have it but I definitely feel more at-risk this time around.

Once school starts, this pregnancy is going to fly by even faster. I will be so busy with school and getting things ready for my maternity leave that I will barely have time to think about anything else.

Charlotte, we are so excited and ready to meet you. We know you will be the best addition to our family. Thank you for being so easy on me and for fitting into our already-crazy life. I hope you know that even though I haven't been the  best at documenting every step of your journey that I love you so much!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


It's been a month since I clicked the Publish button, and I'm pretty sure that's because I try to avoid the way I'm feeling right now. Anxious. Nervous. Full of thoughts yet empty on words. I have started a handful of posts over the past several weeks, only to shut my computer with frustration and go about doing something else.

I really think that I have experienced and am experiencing a ______ life crisis. I don't know what to call it when I am only (freshly, as of yesterday) 28 years old. I hope it's not a mid-life crisis as I would like to live to be older than 56, but I suppose stranger things have happened and I know the world would in fact go on. 

Unless the world ends in December of this year. In that case we have a whole new set of issues on our hands.

Anyway-- I feel this is an actual "crisis," meaning that I am so afraid of failing that I am taking myself out of the ball game all together. This is new for me. I of course have felt fear and anxiety before, but I have never really let it impair me to the point of just removing myself from the situation all together. Now I feel like I have been doing lately is thinking of ways to get out of commitments and responsibilities I would otherwise have no problem completing. Am I vague enough for you?

I love the Internet, but the Internet doesn't always love me. What I mean is that I love to stalk blogs, read websites, go Pinterest crazy, and just basically creep around into other people's lives, but these practices have really hurt me lately and have hindered my confidence as I enter my 29th year of life. In a time when I should be more sure and self-aware than ever, I find myself doubtful, insecure, and questioning every single part of myself, slicing and dicing until there's nothing left.

My practice of reading outstanding teachers' blogs has caused me to doubt what I can do in the classroom, thinking I'll never be as creative and talented and effective as these ladies. I have woken up in the middle of the night thinking about my class's ISTEP scores, wondering what I could have done better to get 100%. 

I love to get inspiration for photos from other photographers who are much more talented than I am, but lately I have just been consumed by worry that my photos will never be that amazing. When I don't hear back from a client who has received my photos, or when I lose a client to someone else (which has happened before as well as just recently-- a long time, 4 session client), I start to wonder why I am even trying. I begin to think that this whole thing is a waste of time and I should just quit before I waste any more money. I don't like fishing for compliments-- in fact  never actually try to fish for a compliment, but there are times that I would really like to hear something like, "WOW! That photo is incredible! GREAT WORK!" I don't hear, ever. So, maybe my photos aren't incredible, and maybe I should just quit? I don't know anymore.

Don't get me started on Facebook. I love and hate it with a passion. I recently felt like a loser because I saw a bunch of girls my age celebrating a bachelorette party, looking all cute and trendy and skinny with their alcoholic drinks in a hotel room, while I was sitting on my bed in Luke's T-shirt at 8:45 on a Saturday night ready to call it a night. I am always so torn between loving being "past" that time in my life and hating that I am not even 30 and have the social life of a 75 year old. Then again, even those people have social calendars at the retirement home. I have phantom friends, friends who I know are there but I don't talk to or see unless it's on my Facebook newsfeed. I have become awful at remembering birthdays, organizing dinners, having people over, or basically just making an effort. I'm embarrassed by what a horrible friend I am.

What it all comes down to, I believe, is that I truly have no idea WHO THE HELL I AM. I am 28 years old and suffering an identity crisis. I don't know who I am, what I want, or how to be OK with any of that. I feel ungrateful for saying all of this because I know that I have a beautiful daughter and another on the way, and I know I have a great husband and I know that we have jobs and a roof over our heads and cars that run and all that stuff. I know. But is it too much to ask to feel as whole on the inside as I appear on the outside? Where do I go from here? How do I make things better? 

I guess I need to sit down and really consider the reasons why I am doing what I am doing-- teaching, photography, blogging, etc. Am I doing it for ME, or am I doing it for the approval of others? If it was for me, then it wouldn't matter what anyone else thought (or didn't think, which tends to hurt just as much). I have somehow lost my way and am hoping to find my way back soon.

In the meantime, I bought a laminator. It helps a little.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Freezer Meal Cooking

This was my original draft of this post from a week or so ago. I have provided an update after the first round of Freezer Meal Cooking at the bottom. 

I am absolutely HORRIBLE at meal planning. In fact, I HATE IT with a passion. I hate sitting down and trying to predict what is going to sound good for the week, and I hate going to the grocery store. In a nutshell, I would rather go out to eat 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. The kicker is that we can't afford that lifestyle, it's not healthy, and I'm actually a pretty damn good cook. So, I have decided to take a different approach.

We spend roughly $200-275 a month on groceries. We typically do two really "big trips" of about $100 each, and then the incidental trips to pick up a few things at $20 per trip add up over the month. My goal is to try and cut that monthly bill in half. If we could get away with a whole month's of groceries for $100-$150, I would be very, very happy. Not only would we be able to put that money to better use, but we also wouldn't feel like the grocery store robbed us.

Enter Freezer Meal Cooking! I have read about this phenomenon where people spend one whole day a month cooking meals that they can freeze for the entire month. This means you have one huge shopping trip to buy supplies, one day of a really messy kitchen, and then you are left with a month's worth of meals that you can reheat and eat. I have done some research on what will freeze well and for how long, and thankfully a lot of our favorite recipes from The Pioneer Woman and Pinterest are totally freezable. There are also a lot of really great ideas on the Internet for new recipes.

My goal for this month is to create 24 meals. This means that we will have 6 meals per week that are homemade and premade, which leaves one night per week that we can go out and have a date with our extra money we are saving! So, is it possible to buy supplies for 24 meals on $100...that is yet to be determined, but I would think that planning things out and thinking ahead will help in the money saving department.

Here is my tentative plan for this month's meals.

1. Pioneer Woman's Mac & Cheese (1 recipe will make 2 meals)
2. Pioneer Woman's Meatloaf (1 recipe will make 2 meals)
3. Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells (1 recipe will make 2 meals)
4. Pizza Casserole (1 recipe will make 2 meals)
5. Corn, Black Bean, and Beef Empanadas (1 recipe will make 2 meals)
6. Pancakes (for breakfast-for-dinner)
7. Pizza Stuffed Pretzels
8. Coconut Crusted Chicken Breasts (make enough for 2 meals)
Need more...??

For extra fun, I am going to make 4 Pioneer Woman Pie Crusts and a batch of PW Cinnamon Rolls.
I have my work cut out for me!


On Sunday, we sat down and created our grocery list for the day-o-cooking. We decided to go to Aldi first and see what we could find, and then we went to Meijer to finish up the rest of the groceries. All told, we ended up spending roughly $120, which would get us about 12 freezer meals and then our general day to day groceries for breakfast and lunch. I am not a couponer (I wish I was), but maybe since I am planning ahead more, I can start to look for coupons to save us even more money.

We did all the recipes as planned above except for #6-7, and I haven't had time to do the PW pie crusts and cinnamon rolls. I am reasonably sure I have all the baking ingredients for those items on hand.

Anywho-- Monday was the day for the cooking. When Noelle fell asleep, I got to work. I started boiling all the pasta and defrosting/browning meat. I did the meat loaves first since they took the most time in the oven, and then I just went from there...preparing and assembling. It was confusing to know which things needed to be baked, then frozen, and which things were just frozen and not baked. Everything looked really yummy when I was making it, but I decided to hold my breath until I actually started using the meals.

For storage, we bought the aluminum throw-away baking pans. For the casseroles and meat loaves, I wrapped plastic wrap tightly around the food (pressing it down onto the food), and then I added foil to the tops and crunched it down tightly around the rim of the pans. I wrote on the tops what the dish was, when it was made, and some brief instructions like baking temp and time and anything that needs to be done to it. I then cautiously put the items in the freezer and hoped for the best (and no freezer burn)!

Today is Thursday, and this was the first day we used a freezer meal. It worked out great because Luke was on call and I had a photo session, so it was unknown as to how much time we would have for dinner and if Luke would even be home in the first place. So, I set one of the pizza casseroles out in the fridge today to thaw. I put it in the oven to heat it up for about 15 minutes.

The result was really great! I only noticed mild crunchiness of the noodle edges on the top of the pan, and I think that's because I messed up when I baked it originally and didn't cover it so the noodles might have cooked too long in the first place. However, it was only one or two bites where I got a "crunch" and the rest was melty, cheesy, saucy goodness.

For this pizza casserole recipe, for my own notes, I am documenting that next time I will still use 1 bag of egg noodles, but I will use double the meat (I only used 1#) & double the sauce (need 2 jars). I like a lot of flavor, so I will add some italian seasoning to the meat maybe or just sprinkle it in when I am preparing the dish. This original recipe was supposed to be a layered dish, but I decided to just mix it all  together before I baked it to evenly distribute all of the sauce, meat, cheese, and noodles.

Overall, the first meal was a success! Luke really liked it and so did Noelle. The best part was that the clean up was 2 dishes, 2 forks, and an aluminum pan to throw away. It was magical. I am excited to add more recipes to the freezer and shoot for a whole month's worth of meals.

Here is the link to the original Pizza Casserole recipe:
Pizza Casserole by The Dinner Time Divas

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oh, Baby!

I was full of nerves and jitters and anxiety as the ultrasound technician turned on the machine and put the gloop on my belly. Of course we were excited to know if we were having a baby girl or boy, but we were really just wanting to be reassured that this baby was healthy.

Thankfully, the baby is very, healthy, and she's really cute!

Yes, we are having another little girl! Luke thought that the baby was a boy but was only fooled by the umbilical cord. :-) The ultrasound technician, who was the same one we had when we had Noelle's ultrasound, said she was absolutely sure we were having a girl!

I was so excited...we both were. We wanted a girl for Noelle and were ready to pull those bins of clothes down out of the attic. We told our families that night at our house and everyone was overjoyed.

Now that it has hit me that we are having another baby girl, my mind is just swirling with thoughts of names, clothes, and the sweetness of seeing Noelle and her sister together. It will truly be a joy to watch them grow up. I hope they are close and happy and loving to each other.

As far as names-- we were about 100% sold on Charlotte...but then it felt like we overused it and now aren't too sure. We also like Isla, and I like Hadley. Luke doesn't like that name though, so it probably won't fly. He likes Isla though, so we will see. I don't want to for sure say what the name is right now...still have 20 weeks to go, and I don't want to start getting monogrammed blankets and then decide I don't like it anymore. I want something feminine, sweet, and something that makes you say, "What a pretty name!" just like people do with Noelle.

For now, though, we are relishing in the joy of knowing that in just a few months, we will be parents to the two most adorable girls on the planet, and that makes us so happy.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer Break, Week 1

Well, it has been a full week (and a couple days) since I walked out of my school on the last teacher work day. Of course, I have plans to return rather soon to get started on work for next school year, but for this week, I stayed away. Here's a summary of what was accomplished in my first week of summer vacation.

1. We enjoyed a cookout at Allison & Chris's house. Noelle swam without a swim diaper in their baby pool, and boy did we get to see what a diaper can actually hold! HOLY COW!

2. We spent a couple days at Seth & Liz's with the boys and shopped at Edinburgh.

3. Noelle and I drove to Greenfield on Tuesday morning to spend the day with Joyce while Abe & E were at work. It was a really great experiment with being a mother of two! There were only a couple times where I thought..."How am I going to do this!?" Noelle and Joyce both are really well-behaved, happy girls, so that made it easier. I even put both of them in the car to run an errand and get lunch, and it was great!

4. I tried, and failed, at potty training Noelle. Wednesday was one of the worst days of motherhood that I have experienced. Really, none of it was Noelle's fault, and I only have myself to blame because I sincerely feel she wasn't ready to try it yet. She wasn't successful, went through 10 pairs of underwear, and desperately wanted a fruit snack (her reward for using the potty) but never got one. I found myself crying intermittently (over POTTY TRAINING FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!), and poor Noelle was so moody and upset for most of the day. After two accidents first thing in the morning on Thursday, I waved the white flag and threw the diaper back on. She was happy and so was I, and for now, that's all I care about.

5. Noelle and I spent an entire day in our PJs, and it was awesome. It was unseasonably chilly on Friday, so we enjoyed the excuse to stay inside and I cleaned our master bedroom and bathroom for SIX hours. The bathroom was disgusting and needed a ton of cleaning. Our bedroom had mountains of laundry to be done and to be put away, so I went to work while Noelle napped and continued it throughout the day. It wasn't the most fun I've ever had, but I felt really accomplished once it was all done. Now to keep it that way...

6. We bought paint and began painting the playroom/sunroom. I say "we," but Luke has done 100% of the work. I took the switch plates off. Woohoo! It will be done soon! I can't wait to start Pinteresting the crap out of that room...

7. I have begun a teacher blog and am really excited to join the world of teacher blogging. I have been obsessed with finding new ideas for school and have been really, really motivated. Who says teachers don't work during the summers?

Well, I would say that was a pretty good start to my summer break! It's nice to look back and realize that I was a lot more productive than I thought I would be! I would like to get to Zumba this week at least once or twice, but we have a busy week coming up with our ULTRASOUND, a couple photo sessions, and some other fun activities. Score!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Adventures in Potty Training

I am going to be starting Potty Training Bootcamp with Noelle tomorrow! I am extremely nervous about this...and I think what makes me most nervous is that I can't leave the house for 3 days while we are in "bootcamp." Luke is on call tomorrow until 10, too, so that means we will be in the house allllllllll day. I get cabin fever really easily, but I think this is a sacrifice I can handle, especially if Noelle is successful.

I am stocked up on fruit snacks to use as rewards as well as small toys to help keep her motivated and rewarded for a job well-done. We have Dora underwear and I am ready to clean up pee all day. Well, I don't know if "ready" is the word, but I am preparing myself to do it.

I will be sure to document the trials and triumphs of this process because I know that you are just dying to know how it turns out. Hopefully, by the end of this week, we will have a potty trained little girl on our hands! Crazy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer love!

Well, so far, the first few days of summer vacation have been great! Friday was my first official day of being home with Noelle, and it was just great. We had a lot of fun together and it was so nice to just enjoy her by myself. Luke got to come home a little early, and I even got to go to a Zumba class that wasn't I think that was a victory.

Saturday morning, Luke went to help a friend move in Indy, so Noelle and I decided to go to Concannon's and eat some donut holes for breakfast. They were so yummy, and watching my baby girl's face light up as she eats a little treat is just so fun. Noelle was in such a good mood that we even got to make a trip to Goodwill (no success) and the grocery store before she took her nap.

Saturday evening was a cookout at Allison's house. Noelle had fun playing in a baby pool with some other kids and we enjoyed talking to our friends. Despite the sweltering heat, we all managed to have a good time. It was so nice to just relax and enjoy company.

Sunday, we got up and headed "down South" to spend the afternoon/evening with Seth & Liz & the boys and the rest of Luke's family at a graduation open house for one of his cousins. We hadn't been to New Albany has a family unit since Christmas, and we had a really great time. We stopped at the Edinburgh outlets on the way and Luke let me pick out some maternity clothes! The Loft outlet store is so awesome. I could have bought everything there! Noelle was so enjoyable and had a great time shopping with us.

Once we arrived at Seth & Liz's, Noelle quickly changed into her swimsuit to swim in the baby pool with the boys. She absolutely LOVES her cousins-- oh my goodness. She follows them around and plays with them so well, and they are so loving to her. She had some of her cutest moments this weekend with her cousins. She was chasing fireflies with them in the near dark in just her diaper and her PJ shirt, and she ended up sleeping in bed with Solomon all night, which was just so sweet. We had a great time and are so thankful for great family.

We made the 3 hour drive back today and were very tired. By 7:30, Noelle was definitely ready for bed, and my eyes are closing as I type. This week will begin the potty training bootcamp! Oh boy....I'm really scared. I know she will do well, but I think I am having a hard time letting go of my "baby." Giving up the paci made her look like such a big girl, but without diapers...? She basically isn't going to be a baby at all anymore! But...I will have a new baby to put diapers on a few months, and if we can go until then without buying diapers, then that is a good thing!

Overall, summer vacation has started off wonderfully, and I am going to enjoy each and every day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A reflection

It's my last day of school. My room is quiet. My students have already spent a whole day doing whatever they want, and I have been working in my classroom, doing my best to clean and organize before I take a couple weeks off. Yes, I said a couple weeks, not 10 weeks, because I as well as nearly every other teacher I know continue to work throughout the summer. Just had to get that in there for all the doubters in the world.

Anyway-- I'm feeling reflective today. Almost emotional. I can blame the hormones, but really I think it's because I am filled with regret. When a school year comes to a close, you take a minute to stop and think about what you accomplished and what you didn't. I tend to focus on what I didn't accomplish-- what I set out to do, but didn't. What I hoped to achieve, but didn't. What I imagined myself doing, but didn't. This isn't the best way to think, but it is also where the biggest changes are made. Self-reflection is quite important in all areas of life, but in teaching, it is crucial. Teachers who no longer self-reflect are the teachers who are giving everyone else a bad name. Teachers who go on doing what they always have been doing just because it's easier, not because it's good for the kids. I have always been quite reflective and have never really been afraid of change. In fact, teaching is the one area of my life where I enjoy and embrace change. I love fresh, new ideas and strive to be the teacher that I would want for my very own children. 

All that said, I now know that I have a lot of work to do this summer on my own mental perspective. I spent the largest part of my school year counting down the minutes, hours, and days until it was over. I dealt with "mommy guilt" so much that I missed out on opportunities to grow and challenge myself as a teacher. I spent the better part of 9 months complaining to anyone who would listen about how tough my job is. My job is tough, and I know it is...but that should be good enough. I shouldn't have to paint a billboard that reads I WORK HARD. My hard work should speak for itself. 

Though I consider myself a good teacher with new ideas and a fresh perspective, I also consider myself to be a really great pity party thrower. This needs to stop. My dad congratulated me on finishing my 5th year of teaching and told me a rough estimate of how much money I've "made" since college. I quickly laughed and said that I have nothing to show for that. What a foolish statement that was. Aside from the material possessions I have accrued, such as buying a home, buying a car, buying a new camera, getting Noelle anything she could ever want, going to nice restaurants, having meals and clothes, putting gas in the vehicles, taking trips, and purchasing other luxuries that many people would really want, I also have achieved and experienced so much in my 5 years since college. A wedding, pregnancies, watching Luke graduate medical school, great memories with friends...the list goes on. When I look at it all in black and white, I feel quite rich, and quite stupid for making that comment.

Next year, I give myself permission to ENJOY my job and not to feel bad about being a working mother. I don't know how long I will be a working mother. I don't know how many years of teaching I have in me. I don't have a crystal ball and cannot predict the future. I don't want to pay for two in daycare. I don't want to be away from my babies. But this is a choice I am making-- yes, a choice. I could stay at home. In fact, I am only one of two wives in the entire residency who work outside the home. I could make it work on Luke's salary. We made it work on mine for 4 years. However, I am choosing to work because of the fact that I am  good at what I do, I enjoy the adult interaction, and I enjoy (when I let myself) teaching children. Of course I love being with Noelle, and of course I am dreading leaving my new one, but I know that my relationship with Noelle hasn't suffered because of me working. I know that she loves me and she knows that I love her. I know that as a mother, I have a really great career-- there are 365 days in a year and I work 185 outside the home. Not a lot of other jobs allow you to work half the year. This is a blessing, and why I have been overlooking it for so long is beyond me. 

I have been afraid of enjoying working outside the home because it feels like I should just be at home. It feels like I am making the wrong decision by being away from her and allowing "someone else to raise my child." It used to be that stay at home moms were judged because people didn't think they did anything all day except watch soap operas and do laundry (which of course I know that isn't true!), but now I feel like it's the working moms who face criticism because we're not home with our children and breastfeeding all day and blah blah blah. Why can't we as women just support each other? Why can't women who stay at home and women who work outside the home just recognize that we are all humans who contribute to society in our own ways, and we should be valued and respected because of that?? I'm guilty of it all, too...I'm talking to myself...but it's got to change.

I was searching the Internet for some classroom ideas just 20 minutes before starting this entry, and I came across a cute blog that got me all excited for teaching again in the fall. I  then saw the picture and the bio and realized it was a girl who I had known in college and am still Facebook friends with today. She is married and has a little girl, but she still had time to create a cute blog with all kinds of great ideas and sound really excited about her life and her career and her decision to teach despite having a little one at home. I was suddenly inspired by her to be that way-- to embrace everything and realize that I could be like that, too. I could still be head over heels in love with my children and husband, but I could also be a damn good teacher and it's OK to be both. It doesn't have to be either/or. 

So, I have a challenging road ahead of me. I know that my mindset will not change over night...but I know that with positive thinking and positive steps in the right direction, I can turn this around and look forward to a school year full of new ideas, new successes, and a new baby. :-) 

Monday, May 14, 2012


Hi Blog Friends!

I would like to squeal with unbridled excitement because...

I am getting a new camera! Well, it's a new, used camera! But it's new to me! And barely used! In fact, so barely used that it has only taken 6,000 photos. To put it in lay terms-- I take 1,000 photos in a session. So, basically this person did 6 sessions and called it a day.

And now it's MINE!

And now I'm POOR!

But it's MINE!

Luke was so kind to let me just dive in head first to an eBay auction that was too good to pass up! Not only do I get the camera, which if you want to hear the nerd talk, it's a 21 mega pixel Canon 5D Mk II...but I also get an extra batter, two wireless remotes, and some other fancy upgrades with all the original manuals, cords, and software.

I am sooo excited! This is perfect timing because I have plenty of summer sessions as well as my real life to photograph, and I am just dying to step my game up in the photography process. I'm so happy!

In other just as important news... three weeks from tomorrow, WE FIND OUT IF THE BABY IS A BOY OR A GIRL! :-)

OK... I'm done spreading my rainbow fairy dust and giggle powder throughout the Interwebs...for now.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I made a decision today. I made a decision that I have made over and over and over and over and over and over and OVER again...time and time again...time after time...

You get the point.

I say this a lot.

"I'm going to work out! I'm going to eat healthy! I'm going to lose weight!"

Now, before you gasp and say, "BUT YOU'RE PREGNANT! YOU CAN'T LOSE WEIGHT!"

Oh yes, Rookies. Yes, you can.

You see, the misconception is that you eat for two when you're pregnant, you give into every craving, you laze around and make your husband rub your feet, etc, etc, etc. End fantasy.

What really happens is if you follow this philosophy (like I did with Noelle), you end up 40 pounds overweight by the end of it all, you hate yourself in all the birth pictures, and you can't get the weight off to save your life. Or your child's life. And that's saying something.

And don't forget everyone tells you that breastfeeding will help you lose the weight faster. Not for me!

I was super active the last time. I did Zumba all the time, but my eating sucked and it showed. I still don't know how my face got even rounder than it is when I'm normal, but it did, and it was scary.

I vowed before I got pregnant again that I would shed the last 10-15 pounds, and that never happened. Now I am going into this pregnancy extra chubby, and I am refusing to let it get the best of me this time.

So....I took the first step and went to the gym. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and then walked 15 minutes on steep incline. It's no Zumba, but it was something, and I felt accomplished when I walked out of there.

I have made some vows for dietary changes and am looking forward to seeing the results. Before anyone goes all CPS on me...just know that this is FOR the baby. I am making a decision to be healthy, and the weight loss will be an added benefit.

Here we go...again...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Can't Hardly Wait

Oh hai....

Who has 2 thumbs and a baby with a heartbeat in the 160s? This girl! We had the 15/16 week appointment today, and 2.0 seems to be doing pretty well. I think next time I am going to make my doctor earn her pay by asking some weird questions and coming up with some crazy complaints because as of now, she barely has to do a thing! We go in, she puts the doppler on, we hear the baby cruising, and then she says "Any questions?" I never ya in 4 weeks!

This next time, however, in 4 weeks....we get to have the BIG ULTRASOUND! Yippee!!!! I technically could have it in 3 weeks, but Luke made me wait a week so that our regular OB appointment and the ultrasound would be on the same day so as to save on the trips to Indy. Boo! I kind of wanted to punch him for making me wait another week, but I decided to take one for the team.

So, June 5 is the day! I am so excited and ready to know what this little human is inside of me. I feel like I am a total monster with this pregnancy-- obsessing over the sex of the baby and just acting like my arm will in fact fall off if I don't find out. I was so cool, calm, and collected with Noelle and we didn't even find out!

Anywho, that's about all that's newsworthy here. School is wrapping up, life is winding down, the baby's growing everyday, and I ate a giant baked potato for dinner. See...allllll that's newsworthy.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Art of Alone

On Sunday, I had two photo sessions in Indy, and after the 2nd one, I found myself extremely hungry and needing to use the bathroom (I'm pregnant, remember?). I knew that just going through a drive-thru wouldn't be able to help me with my 2nd "need," so I decided to stop in Noblesville at Hamilton Town Center and get some Qdoba.

I was all by myself and relishing every moment. Now, don't get me wrong or misunderstand-- I love Noelle and Luke so much. I love this new baby already. I love the time I spend with them and always want more time than what we have, but to walk into a restaurant without a stroller, diaper bag, or anything but my wallet, keys, and phone, and to stand in line without breaking a sweat worrying about her darting off or getting fussy, and to get my drink without having to take shifts with Luke, and to sit in total and complete silence while enjoying my nachos at a normal speed, not warp speed, scarfing down the food before Noelle gets was just wonderful.

There was a table full of high school girls and boys near me, and when I was their age, I probably would have made fun of a person like me. I would have thought that eating alone was the definition of a loser, and I would have probably assumed that I had no life, no family, no friends, no nothing.

How silly of me, for sure. There I sat...alone....with a job, a husband, a house, a daughter, a baby on the way, a family, plenty of friends, and plenty to keep me busy. You see, being alone doesn't make you a loser or weak. It makes you strong and confident. To be able to sit in silence with the person you have created without needing the reassurance or protection or buffer of another person, I think that makes a person a real winner.

A winner-- or just a really, really lucky person who was able to sneak out alone for an hour. Either way, I always feel pretty good about being alone.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's official!

I have felt the little one move a few times now. At first I was in denial and thought it wasn't humanly possible to feel the baby this early yet, but after a few days of it, I am now convinced that we have a little Olympic athlete growing inside.

I always said that after I had Noelle, what I missed the most about being pregnant was feeling her kick and move. I didn't feel Noelle move until well after my 20th week of pregnancy. To feel it already at 12-13 weeks, I feel blessed! I am so excited to be on this journey again and am ready for everything that is to come.

Other than that, there really isn't much to talk about. I am anxiously awaiting the end of school with less than 4 weeks to go now. I am SO ready for a break and to rest my mind and body for a little bit.

OK-- I guess there is something else to talk about. I don't want to open a can of worms, but since this is my blog, I feel that I have permission-- but lately on Facebook there have been not just one, but several, of my friends posting about how teachers (I'm paraphrasing) are whiners and need to just shut up or quit. Someone put a picture up of an extremely outdated letter from 1994 where a teacher was reprimanding a student for correcting her (albeit in a disrespectful way) because she was wrong in something she told the class. This inspired a lot of hateful comments about how this is what's wrong with schools TODAY (Hello...1994...) and why they chose to homeschool their children because teachers "don't know what the Hell they are teaching."

I wanted to comment so badly on those posts and really lay it out there, but the general consensus I was gathering was that really no one would see it from my point of view. After all, I have a very easy job where all I do is babysit and get to leave at 3:00 and get summers, spring breaks, Christmas breaks, random 3 day weekends, 2 hour delays, snow days, etc. Who would want to hear about how I actually do work extremely hard, all through the year, whether I am in my classroom or not. That I spend COUNTLESS hours and dollars of my own money on my students, classroom, lessons, etc. My day does not end when I walk out of school (typically never at 3:00, usually closer to 5:00 which is when most "normal" people leave their jobs). I lug home a bag of papers to grade each night and have the internal struggle of do I miss out on time with my child and/or my husband to grade these things (that will most likely end up shoved in a child's backpack never to be seen by the parent anyway) or should I just wait until tomorrow.

I don't really need to mention how difficult it is to deal with parents who think you're the enemy, students who are apathetic, students who struggle no matter how hard to try to help them, new demands from the state which includes a grand total of about 3 whole school weeks of ISTEP testing, plus an additional 4 weeks per year of Acuity testing (which is basically like an ISTEP, but doesn't "count" against you in the state's eyes), which leaves very little time to get material taught in a way that is meaningful to the students.

Let's not forget about how now with the new teacher effectiveness model, if even one of my 25 students does not show "growth" from the previous year's ISTEP test, (which is all that shows a student has grown, right?), I automatically cannot receive a highly effective rating, and because of that, I may not ever make more than what I make right now, which, in case you were wondering, isn't a whole lot. Because I didn't start my masters by last summer, I no longer have the chance to earn it and be paid accordingly for my extra education. Therefore, there's no incentive to learn more and get a masters degree, but yet I still have to renew my license every 5 years by taking college classes and/or doing other requirements.

I have never, ever wanted anyone to feel sorry for me in the profession I chose and for the most part, enjoy. However, I would have expected a little more respect for the work that I (and my teaching colleagues) do, and a little less resentment over the summer break that I do feel I have earned. If we need to stop complaining or quit...then I would invite the haters to stop hating or get your teacher's license.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

13 Weeks!

With one week left in the first trimester, I am feeling pretty great and can't complain about this pregnancy! I am of course very tired and like to be in bed early most nights, but I also attribute my fatigue to having a 2 year old running around, working long days, working the weekends and weeknights with photo sessions & editing, and trying to cook meals and be an active participant in my life. 

There have been a few mornings where I have thought I felt the baby pitter-pattering away in there. When my belly is empty and I'm laying on my tummy, I can feel the butterfly sensation. It was about this time that I thought I felt "something" with Noelle, though I am still not sure if I really did or not. I will no doubt be able to feel the baby moving in about 6 weeks, which really excites me. 

We are extra excited because, since we are finding out the sex of the baby this time, our gender ultrasound will be here around the end of May. We can't WAIT to find out what this baby is. In fact, I am absolutely dying to know. I can't wait to take Noelle to the ultrasound with us and show her what the baby looks like on the inside. She talks about the baby a lot and even says she dreams about "Baby Charlotte," which is 99% likely going to be the name if she's a girl. 

As far as weight and belly watch-- I think I am developing a little bump, but of course it is camouflaged by my already existing gut pooch. Ugh. I can't wait for about another 4 weeks when I will probably pop out a little more and people can stop giving me the look of "Are you, or aren't you?" I haven't gained anything as far as the scale tells me, so that is a plus. I even made it to the gym (once) this week. Go me...?

There's not a bunch more to say at this point, except for my BabyCenter app says the baby looks like a shrimp. Which kinda freaks me out if we're being honest. Yipes.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Summer Lovin...

Is it too soon to begin my Summer Bucket List? With 28 school days left, I think not. I am sooooo ready for a whole summer with my baby girl, my friends, my husband, and myself. I am ready to slay some dragons and get things accomplished before this next tiny human comes into the world. I have some grand plans, like I do every year, and I hope this year I can get them all done. Let's see...unlike previous summers, I won't be trying to sell a house, pack, and move (2011); I won't be putting new siding on the house and taking care of a 3-4 month old (2010); I won't be trying to get pregnant and wreck my bike on a mountain bike trail (2009); I won't be buying a house and moving while Luke is in Canada (2008); and I won't be getting married, trying to find a job, and moving to an apartment in Indy (2007). I am ready for a summer AT HOME, with wide open plans to do whut I wunt.

Home Improvements
1. Paint redecorate/organize the sunroom/playroom
2. Paint redecorate/organize the office/craft/crap room
3. Reconfigure and situate Noelle's room to make room for a new baby
4. Get photos and artwork on the walls, dammit

Cooking & Cleaning
1. Prepare freeze approx. 10 Pioneer Woman pie crusts
2. Create toddler friendly healthy snacks
3. IF the baby is a girl, get clothes bins down and wash and prepare the clothes
4. Wash down and launder car seat covers and other baby equipment
5. Effectively menu plan according to a weekly budget

Fun with Noelle
1. Go to at least 3 different water parks (indoors or out)
2. Go to the zoo
3. Go to the Indy Children's Museum
4. Go to the Muncie Children's Museum
5. Complete a weekly hands-on craft
6. Eat lunch outside whenever we can
7. Go to an indoor bounce house or playground
8. Take part in a few of the local library activities
9. Visit the Faeries & Sprites night at Minnetrista
10. Take her to her first movie
11. Maybe join a gymnastics class or another physical activity class

Get My Crap Together Stuff
1. Catch up on ordering photos and actually place in albums
2. Plan around a tight-ish budget and stick to it to save monies for the baby
3. Go to school once weekly to organize and prepare for my impending maternity leave
4. Have 3 "No Spend Days" per week where we don't spend any money at all...not even on gas
5. Complete 5 Pinterest projects
6. Read 3 books
7. Complete 30 minutes of cardio 6 days per week

Well, it looks like I have gotten a little ahead of myself. I've got a lot of work ahead of me! Let the fun begin!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Tomorrow, April 13, was the due date of our first child, in 2009. Had it not been for the miscarriage we suffered, we would have had a little boy or girl a whole year before Noelle was born. I know we would have had Noelle anyway, but most likely we wouldn't have had her on March 11 of the next year. It's so weird to think about "what might have been."

I think about that pregnancy a lot. In fact, I was thinking about it for about the first 10 weeks of this pregnancy each and every day. I was so much more worried about this one than Noelle's. I had this overwhelming bad feeling that I was going to lose this baby and that we would have to endure the loss again. After hearing the baby's super strong heart beat twice and seeing the baby once on the monitor, I am starting to just now feel, at almost 12 weeks, that this baby is going to happen and we will be holding him or her in our arms in just about 6 months.

It's so hard to explain to people who have never experienced one just what a miscarriage does to you emotionally. I mark it has a turning point in my life. I will never forget the moment we found out about it, and all of the days following. I will never forget the weeks of crying and the emotional turmoil I went through. I will never forget the death of that dream and how badly my heart ached for the baby I would never least never hold here on Earth.

To some it may seem silly to be so attached to something you never saw, never knew, never kissed...but for 10 whole weeks, that baby was mine, and I was a mama. All of a sudden, the baby was gone and I was nothing.

Everything changed, of course, when Noelle was on her way. In many ways she has healed the hole in our hearts and filled it with such love, joy, happiness, and bliss. However, in other ways, knowing her has made the grief even stronger, because we are so aware of what we missed the first time...and what we would miss if we ever had to experience it again.

So, April 13 will come and go. No one will probably recognize it as any other day except the last business day to mail your taxes. It's special to me, though...the mama, and that's all that really matters.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In with the new!

Ever since we found out that we were going to have Baby #2, I have been so busy thinking about the changes that we will need to make to our home to get ready for the new life coming into the world. Of course, Luke probably rolls his eyes on the inside and openly says, "We have everything we need! Who cares if we have a boy? He can sleep in a pink room. All he needs is a blanket and a white onesie."

That ain't gonna work, Hunny.

We have a 3 bedroom home. We very much need the 3rd bedroom as a craft room/office space/extra crap room, so we can't give the babies their own rooms yet. I wish we could, but we can't. The baby will be in our room for probably the first 3 months like we did with Noelle, and hopefully this will help keep Noelle asleep if the baby wakes up in the middle of the night. However, once the baby gets bigger, he or she will need to bunk up with big sister. Let the fun begin!

Noelle's room is a pink paradise right now. It is so girly. If it's a boy...Heaven help him. Needless to say, I am hoping we have a little sister brewing in the belly, but of course I will take a healthy baby boy any day of the week. Thank GOSH we are finding out this time! Anyway-- Baby #2 will need Noelle's crib and mattress, so we have started looking at twin beds for her. I don't have interest in a toddler bed because she will only need it for such a short while. I found this really cute and cheap one on (ahem...) (cringe), and I think it will be really cute with her existing furniture. It has good reviews, so if we can find an inexpensive twin mattress, we will be set!

Elise Captain Twin Bed

After we had Noelle and she grew large enough to not really need her carrier in the stroller, we began seeing the necessity for a little better-built umbrella stroller. We got the $20 Target cheapie because we thought we would use the big stroller travel system a lot more, but for quick trips to the mall and walks around the neighborhood, the travel system stroller became too cumbersome and annoying. The $20 cheapie is doing well, but a few things have broken and the handles are really low so Luke doesn't like to push it...which means I have to. ;-) We went to Buy Buy Baby last week and found a really nice Chicco brand one that is a little more expensive than the $20 one, but it seems easy to steer, has some storage, and the handles are much higher (so Luke can do some pushing). I don't think we will invest in a double stroller just yet. Noelle really doesn't like to be in her stroller much anyway anymore, so I don't think she will be too into a double one. We have a jogging stroller, travel system stroller, umbrella stroller, and a bike trailer that can fit two children in it, so with this addition, we will have a nice stroller collection.

Chicco Ct0.6 Capri Stroller

My last "need" with this new baby is for something that we borrowed from friends (Hi Eichenbergers) when Noelle was a newborn. The Boppy Newborn Lounger was a God-send. To be honest, I didn't really use the Boppy and didn't care for it for nursing or for laying Noelle in it. However, the lounger was awesome. It was perfect for travel (basically like a travel crib), great for laying her down on the couch next to us or on the floor without having to be actually on the floor, and when she slept in bed with us (GASP!), it kept her elevated so that we wouldn't have something traumatic happen in the middle of the night like rolling over on top of her. I was sad to give it back. So, I look forward to purchasing my own for this child and any to come.

I'll need to find a cuter version, though!
Boppy Newborn Lounger

I am so excited for this new bundle of love...I can't think about anything else!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just a quick note to talk about the 11 week appointment that I just had with Dr. Ertel! At first I was freaked out because she couldn't find the heartbeat right away, but she found it and it sounded glorious! It was in the 170s which is much higher then Noelle's ever was. Makes me wonder....?

Everything is going great and I am just so fortunate to have an easy pregnancy. I am also happy that at almost the 2nd trimester I haven't gained any weight. Yippee! Hopefully I can make it to another 4 week appointment without any change on the scale.

Here's to a healthy baby!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Day 1

My name's Noelle, and I'm a paci addict.

Hi, Noelle!

You see, I didn't have a choice. When I was born, I was whisked away to the NICU because I had a life threatening condition. It was all very intense. OK, I lied. I was taken to the NICU because in reality, I swallowed a little of the poop water I was living in...OK, there I said it.

Anyway-- in the NICU, a sweet nurse popped the very first paci into my mouth. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was green and rubbery and had this cool place where I could put in finger in it. Those were the days. Siiiigh.

So, like I said, I didn't have a choice. What was I supposed to say? Whoa, whoa, wait a minute! Do you know that those things cause life altering addictions? Do you know that you are setting me up for disappointment in a couple years when my parents grow a pair and decide to take the thing away from me? Huh? Do you?

So my addiction began. Mama and Papa started bringing home all kinds of cute pacis for me to try. Pink ones. Blue ones. Green ones. Even a purple one! Rubbery, plasticy, decorated, plain, big, small, but all of them awesome. I loved alllll of my pacis equally. I never showed discrimination. That's got to stand for something, right?

I pretty much blame my parents. Whenever I would cry, or be unnecessarily loud (like in church or at a restaurant), in would go the paci. I didn't care because I liked it, and they liked it, too. Who doesn't like a little peace and quiet every now and then, right?

So imagine my horror when about a week ago, my parents started saying things like, "Noelle, guess what? The Easter Bunny is coming to take all of your pacis away and give them to 'needy' children!" They would act all excited and like this wasn't going to ruin my life. I played along. I gave them cute responses. I acted OK with it, but I never was. Needy children want my pacis? Yeah, right. If they knew I only suck the toothpaste off my toothbrush and don't really brush my teeth, they wouldn't want these bad boys.

Well, the day finally came. Easter. Worst. Day. Ever. The night before, they made me put all of my pacis into a bucket and set them out on the mantle for the bunny. What is this? Christmas? Since when do we offer things to the Easter Bunny? They kept promising me some kind of awesome surprise in return, so I went along with the charade.

That night, my first night without the paci, I made sure my parents knew I was NOT happy. I couldn't just go to sleep and act like everything was fine! That's called lying. Lying is bad. So I fought them hard on the bedtime. I would scream and cry, and then I would quiet down, just long enough for them to get in some of their TV show, and then I would just let it rip again. I did this for a couple hours until I actually needed to get some rest for my big finale. 4 a.m., Baby!

I jumped up and down, screamed and cried, threatened to take my diaper off (that always gets Mama), and basically made myself look like a 9 month old until my mama came and got me. She took me to her bed. Score!

A couple hours of shut-eye later, and then it was time to request Barney at 6 a.m. I mean, seriously, I should be up for an award. I thought for sure that they would cave and give me the paci after those shenanigans, but no such luck. We went about our day, did the Easter thing, and I gave it one last effort. At both of my naps today, I cried and screamed, but those ruthless parents of mine just let me stay in there until I fell asleep. The withdrawal symptoms must be waning because I was actually tired and I actually napped pretty well without the paci.

So, here I am...24 hours without the paci, and I can say that I have completed my first day off the nip. We will see how long this lasts. If things go south, I've always got the one I hid down in the couch cushions. They never clean down there.

I just want to be the Pioneer Woman...

...and because of that, I have decided that these two pieces of kitchen utensils are a MUST and I NEED them right now.

Stainless Steel Flat Whisk

Pastry Blender

And yes I really would use them.

And start to talk in an Oklahoman accent.


Because I can't suck it in any longer...

Below is a post I wrote about 4 weeks ago when we had our first ultrasound with this pregnancy:

There comes a time in your life when you get sick of worrying, planning, and thinking about what's next, how much money is in the bank, what's going to happen, and who's going to care about it. You can plan and think and over-think and over-analyze until you feel physical pain from it all, or you can let go and let it happen.

And by "it" I mean "life."

And by "life" I mean...

I'm pregnant.

I will not lie...I will not lie on this blog and say that we just wait for the right time to come along. We knew we wanted a new baby in our lives for a really long time, and we would have gladly accepted this gift several months ago, but regardless, we have achieved a successful pregnancy, as confirmed by the ultrasound today and the strong 173 beats per minute heart thumping away.

I am still in disbelief that we are going to be parents again. I can truly say that already we feel different than when we were expecting Noelle. I'll be 100% honest-- it's not the same "giddy with excitement, holy sh*t, what's happening?" feeling that we had with her. I have spent the better part of a month worrying myself silly over the fact that I have about 1% pregnancy symptoms and forget that I'm pregnant most of the time. I had myself convinced that we would be seeing an "empty" ultrasound like we did about 3 1/2 years ago and we would be going through that kind of tragedy again.

But then we didn't see that at all. We saw a little baby, about 8 weeks old, peacefully still and heart beating wildly. We were reassured, and for the first time in a month, we exhaled.

I didn't cry like I did the first time. This doesn't mean I'm not happy or ecstatic or ready to just tell the world-- but rather I just accepted the challenge. I accepted the responsibility of growing this baby into a person, the way we have started to do with Noelle. I felt like I was accepting a new mission, and that I was ready to be this baby's mama.

Of course Noelle is a little young to understand everything, but she will be a little over 2 1/2 when this baby arrives in October, and I hope Noelle understands one thing most of all...

She is my first baby. She is my first love. Having another child will not replace her. Having another child will allow me to experience Noelle in a whole new way-- as a loving, helpful, and playful sister. She was the first to hear my heart beat from the inside, and that is pretty dang special.

We are so happy. We are so ready for ready as we could ever be! Baby E 2.0 is coming in October, ready or not!

I'm changing my name

to Michelle Duggar!

Why? Well, I can tell you it's not because I have decided to have 20 children, or that I am growing my hair out to my rear end, or that I am going to buy everything from the Salvation Army (not that there's anything wrong with anything I just typed...). The real reason is that last night, I was inspired to make my own laundry detergent. Yes, you read that correctly. Laundry detergent. Made. In my kitchen.

It was actually a pretty fun process. It was easy and very inexpensive. The supplies were about $12, which included a brand new 5 gallon bucket. This recipe made 2 gallons of detergent, and after the first load this morning, I am convinced that this is the way to go! You only use 1/2 cup per load, and by my calculations, this detergent will last you a very, very long time. You see, that $12 in supplies bought us MORE than enough to make at least 2 more batches (so, 4 more gallons of detergent), and even still there will be plenty of Borax and Baking Soda after the next 2 batches...all we will need is more laundry soap (Fels Naptha...who has actually heard of THAT brand before?). So for probably $15 in supplies total, you will have enough to do at least 6 batches, or 12 gallons of detergent. I don't know or really care how that compares to store-bought, but I am willing to gamble that 12 gallons of detergent for $15 is a hell of a deal. Again, remember, you only use 1/2 cup per load!

The recipe is very simple.

1 box of Borax
1 box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (basically baking soda found in laundry aisle)
1 bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap
(all ingredients found in laundry aisle)
5 gallon bucket with lid

*You will need a container to store your detergent in when you finish. I was going to use an old detergent container, but I decided to go with an idea I saw on Pinterest where you buy one of those beverage dispensers that you would use at a BBQ with a little spout on the bottom. I got mine at Wal-Mart, and it holds 2 gallons.

1) Cut 1/3 of the Fels Naptha soap off.
2) Grate the soap with a grater over a good-sized pot.
3) Add 6 cups of water to the pot and heat it up until the soap melts. You don't need to boil it.
4) Add 1/2 cup of Borax and a 1/2 cup of Washing Soda to the pot. Let it dissolve.
5) Pour 4 cups of HOT water into the 5 gal. bucket.
6) Add the soap mix from the pot to the bucket.
7) Add 1 gal + 6 cups (which equals 22 cups total) of water to the bucket and stir it up.
8) Put lid on the bucket and let it sit for at least 12 hours.

When you check on it after 12 hours, it will look like the soup you get at chinese restaurants. It will be a little runny and gross looking, but you should see gelled together parts of the soap. Mix it up really well with a long handled spoon. Some people mix theirs up with hand mixers, but mine mixed up just fine. I then transferred the mix to the beverage dispenser and the amount fit perfectly!

Honestly, the hardest part of this whole thing was getting the darn lid off the bucket. Geez Luke put it on tightly!

We did a load of some of Noelle's dirty laundry, and we were both REALLY surprised with how well it cleaned. The clothes came out looking great!

The next batch I make, I might put some kind of scent in there, just because the clothes were pretty unscented, which is I guess what clean is supposed to smell like...? Overall I give the whole process a big 10/10 and I am happy that I did this! Every little bit helps, and if it's one less thing we have to spend money on, I say it's a victory!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I just ate Ezekiel bread.

And it was good.

I had some photo sessions in Indy today, which meant that I had some time in the car to think. As much as I wish I could teleport myself to places and not have to waste gas or time in getting there, I do miss the hours upon hours of thinking time that my commute allowed me to have. So, today I took advantage. I turned the radio down and just thought.

My first thought was, "I feel like crap."

Yes, I'm sick. I have a cold. I can't talk. I can't breathe. It's yucky. I don't get sick very often at all, but when I do, I go down hard. So, I was pitying myself, naturally.

My second thought was, "I have got to eat better."

I am not going to Zumba any longer, and I'm hours away from canceling my gym membership to the Muncie Y. I don't like it there, mainly because at the end of a long day, I don't want to run into a) any students, b) any students' families, c) people from my high school that I'm not friends with, d) people that I work with, e) former teachers, f) my boss, g) my neighbors...and all of those people I have run into while exercising at the Y. I tried the Zumba classes 3 times from a couple different instructors on different days, and I just wasn't in love. Nothing about them excited me and I just didn't want to go back.

Oh yeah and I was also asked if I was pregnant while not actually being pregnant...and it's still a sensitive subject for me.

So, I figure that extra $35 a month can be better spent. I need to remind myself to cancel the membership this week.

Anyway-- I know that the basis of losing weight and overall health is FOOD. I went nearly a year without eating McDonald's or any fast food, and now since 2012 rolled in, I have eaten it numerous times. Blah. I feel so icky. I eat a lot of Lean Cuisines which supposedly are "healthy" but are loaded with all kinds of chemicals and salt and other stuff.

So, I decided that if I wasn't going to be as physically active as I was, then I can't just eat all of this junk/crap/shit and expect to look anything other than a fat pig.

I made a mental list of things that I wanted to get at the store to try. One of them was Ezekiel bread, which is made without flour and is supposedly like the healthiest type of bread there is. One of my friends had it once and said it was really good, so I found it in the freezer section and gave it a try.

I made a piece of toast and did put some butter on it, but overall it was good. I actually really liked the texture...kind of crunchy on the outside and then soft in the middle, and the flavor wasn't bad. I'm hoping that this will be a good alternative to bread made with a lot of additives and that it will be more filling.

I am hoping to incorporate other healthy options like fresh juicing, smoothies with almond milk, and eating lunches that actually are made of real food and not prepackaged factory food.

And I'm gonna try to go another year without the golden arches.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Good Stuff

My last post was, though a true reflection of feelings at the moment, a little 51/50 hold at Cedar Sinai Hospital in LA...think Britney Spears circa 2008, so I decided to change it up a little.

I would love to have time to blog about everything that's GOOD in my life, because there is a lot of GOOD. And just as my little chubby fingers were a-strokin' these keys, I came up with (finally) my Lenten promise. I shall blog about the positive parts of my life, and the positive parts only. There's too much good stuff going on to ignore it.

... twiddling thumbs trying to think of all that "good stuff"...

OK, I have something. For the first time in my teaching career, I got a card today from a parent that was on an actual note card and a pink envelope and said that basically she understood that this was a stressful time with ISTEP and she wanted to thank me for being a caring teacher and she is praying that everything goes well next week.

This was very sweet and unexpected. So I had to take it to my colleague next door to show it off. Teachers just DON'T get this kind of mail. At all. Ever. We hear the "You screwed up my kid because you corrected his paper!" notes. We get the "Please call me to discuss why you won't let Johnny turn in the work that was due 3 weeks ago for full credit" notes. We get the passive aggressive "Thank you for letting me know that Susie has 100 missing assignments. I'm sure that it was not intentional and there must be something going on in the classroom for her to have done so poorly. I will discuss this issue with her and then call you and stalk you until you give me the answer I want, which is clearly for little Susie to still be on the All A honor roll despite said 100 missing assignments" notes. We don't get positive, happy, "I understand" notes.

So, to that parent, I am ever grateful, and the card is now in front of my computer monitor so that I can read and reread it daily (hourly?) as needed.

On another positive "note" (silly pun)...Luke and I decided to go to breakfast for probably one of the 5 times we have done so all year on Sunday. We got Noelle ready and went to this little family restaurant named Bruner's. It's really old school and not that modern on the inside ( all), but the food is great and it's all for good money. I actually love their biscuits and gravy. YUMMY. Anyway...we ordered a host of food. Like...a lot. We were hungry. Noelle was pretty good throughout the breakfast, telling the waitress at any chance she got that "Noelle wants a waffle!" Well, one of our former high school math teachers and her husband came in and came over to speak with us. Her husband, who is super nice and not scary looking at all, bent down to talk to Noelle. Well, Noelle hated this and in an unprecedented move, she burst into tears and the silent cry...where her mouth was just frozen open, horrified, and big huge tears came down her cheeks. She reached for Luke and begged for his protection. I was so embarrassed and felt terrible for her husband, who sheepishly went back to his seat. We chit chatted a little longer and then our former teacher went to sit down, too.

Well, we went to ask for our check and the waitress said "Actually, that guy took care of it," pointing to our former teacher's husband. I don't know if he felt so bad about Noelle's meltdown or if it was out of the goodness of his heart (I'm sure the latter), but he paid for our bill (remember ALL that food) and even put money on our table for the tip. Crazy! We thanked him 100 times over and of course said how he didn't have to do it, but he insisted.

It was so refreshing to have that happen to us, and it really inspired us to want to do something for someone else. Pay it forward.

So, if this blog post didn't put warm fuzzies in your heart, then perhaps you should just go ahead and pull a Britney and shave your head and stab a car with an umbrella. No?