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!