Saturday, March 21, 2015

525,600 minutes

525,600 minutes*, 8,766 hours, 365 days, 12 months, 1 year. No matter how you slice it, Little Miss has been a part of our lives (on the outside) for one whole year!

It's funny how a year can feel under different circumstances. A year felt never ending while I was pregnant, and yet vanished in the blink of an eye as soon as Hazel was born. But, these realizations are known by all parents out there, so instead of rambling on about "Where does the time go?" I thought I'd ramble on about what we've learned about being parents.

To keep the list contained, I thought I'd write a "12 things we've learned in 12 months" kind of deal. 

12. Poop isn't that gross when it's your kid's. Since we cloth diaper, we deal with poop in a very direct way. Direct as in rinsing dirty diapers in your bathtub.

11. The topic of poop itself becomes less funny when you start speaking about it daily. I noticed I got over my apprehension of using the word poop when one of my first graders complained of a tummy ache and I asked, "Do you think you need to poop?" 

10. All sense of modesty goes out the window after you push a kid out (or maybe that's just me). After having several strangers with their faces precariously close to your lady parts as you're pushing out a human being (and possibly some poop) sure makes one feel like, "Well what do I have left to hide?" 

9. Say goodbye to sleep (once your baby learns to move). We were more rested when Hazel was a newborn than we are now. Once those peepers pop, it's game on! There's no quietly watching from the sidelines anymore. I'm pretty sure Joe and I are constantly running around the house these days making sure Little Miss doesn't get electrocuted, or choke on something. Super thankful for that small square footage. 

8. You realize just how unclean your house is. I don't mean like you won't have time to clean, I mean no matter how many times you vacuum, dust, pick-up, or put away, tiny baby hands will find something left behind and put it directly into their mouth. 

7. Babies and dogs are gross creatures. Like dogs, a baby will not hesitate to put disgusting things in their mouths, open mouth kiss you with a drooling slobbery face, or just enjoy rolling around in filth. I repeat, babies and dogs are gross. 

6. You'll second guess every decision you make, even when your gut is telling you you're doing it right. 

5. The first three months with a baby will be spent worrying if they are still breathing (even when they're awake laughing and smiling at you). It's like this crazy person takes over your brain and you can't help but indulge their irrational behavior. 

4. When all else fails, go outside! Screaming baby? Go outside. Restless baby? Go outside. No matter the weather, if you've changed, fed, and burped your baby and they are still not content, take that kid outside. 

3. No more free time. Wanna read for an hour? Too bad, your free time is gone. Think you can get your stuff done while baby is napping? Sure! Right after you put that load of laundry in, take a quick shower, and pee. By the time that's all done the kid is awake and it's go time again. 

2. Staring, watching, staring, and more watching. This is what your life turns into, and it's amazingly beautiful. 

1. Everything you said or thought you would do before baby comes is most likely going to change, so go with. I was sure once we brought Hazel home from the hospital she'd go straight to her crib. She's taken three naps in it her entire first year....

Here are a few of Hazel's favorite things these days:

Tilly! Still this cat resides as her number one favorite thing.

Sharing every piece of food she has with the dogs. 

Telling us no.....

Dancing!

Playing phone

Waving to everything and everyone

And pulling out every plug from every socket. 

We would also like to go on record with "banana" being Hazel's first word. She has pointed to and said "nana" on a couple of occasions now, so we're putting it in the books! 

Since Little Miss has turned one (become old news) the baby updates will probably end, and life at Small House Love can go back to DIY.......maybe 


Cheers!

*There are really 525,948.766 minutes in a year, but that's not as catchy. 





Sunday, February 1, 2015

Getting Crafty

Materials
When my sister in law, Alison, asked if I wanted to make wreaths with her my first thought was, "I didn't know people did that" and my second thought was,"I'm not crafty." You see my sister in law is one crafty chick. She designed and made all the decorations for her wedding. She even has Girl's Nights with her friends spent wrapping mason jars in burlap. I didn't even know what burlap was until we were shopping.

We met up on a chilly afternoon and headed off to Michael's to gather our supplies. After feeling totally lost in the flower section, and asking way too many questions, we finally checked out and headed back to Alison's place to make our wreaths. Coincidentally, when Alison asked if I was interested in making wreaths, I had recently pinned a cute Mickey Mouse wreath (See here for inspiration). I decided that I wanted my wreath to last a little more than one season so I went with a more neutral theme. Putting the wreath together was actually pretty simple. 

To start, I attached the smaller grapevine with fishing line to make the ears.


Ears on
 After I attached the ears, I got to work adding the flowers. For this part I used more fishing line. I didn't have the patience waiting for hot glue to dry, and the way I was curving the flowers around the bottom of the wreath just wasn't working with the hot glue. 

Flowers


After the flowers were on, I enlisted Alison's help with creating the bow. As stated above I am not crafty, and I can barely tie my own shoes much less a fancy pants bow.

Bow
The bow was applied using copious amounts of hot glue and then I decided to wrap the ends of the flowers in some lace to pretty them up a bit. That's pretty much it! 

Final Product 


I can honestly say I had a pretty fantastic time and am very pleased with the end result :-).


Cheers!






Here's a pic of Alison's pretty spring wreath. She's clearly a pro at this :)

Alison's creation :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Decem Mensium

Little Miss recently hit the 10 month mark! She's growing like a weed! She's officially in the beginning stages of walking, and is getting stronger every day. We've even made it through her first sickness.

Her little personality is shining through more and more these days. She is one chatty little baby. We are still woken every morning to the sweet whisperings of Baby Hazel. She's got a lot to say when those peepers pop open. We are still bed sharing, and I'm sure there are many of you scoffing at this. I'll listen to your feelings about this if she's still in our bed when she's 18. Until then, you'll have to keep your opinions to yourself :-). In all seriousness, it really is one of my favorite things. Waking up to Hazel's smiling face and her little whispers sure takes the edge off being woken in the wee morning hours. And I don't have to drag myself out of my snuggly bed to get the kid. Win-win in my book :-).

Here are few of Hazel's favorite things (In no particular order):

Our cat, Tilly. (Tilly might actually be her most favorite thing). Anytime Hazel sees Tilly she squeals and begins calling to Tilly. I'm pretty convinced she's working hard to say her name. There's a lot of, "tttt" when Tilly's around. 

Being chased up the stairs, around the house, or just about anywhere. 

Eating. Whether it's from the boob or stove, this kid is an eater!

Sweetums. (For this reason only, Sweetums gets to stay....). 

Dancing! Anytime there is any kind of sound that might resemble some kind of tune, this chick's booty gets to shaking. 

Daddy. Hazel is a bonafide daddy's girl. She lights up every time Joe walks into a room. I mean he could go upstairs to take a quick pee, be gone for maybe 2 mins, and when he comes back downstairs Hazel acts like she hasn't seen him in weeks. It is literally the cutest, sweetest, bring-a-tear-to-your-eye thing you've ever seen. For this reason, Joe gets to stay. ( I kid, I kid). 

It's hard to wrap my head around that in just two short months, Joe and I will have a one year old. Like for a whole year we've provided and kept alive a whole person, and she's still in one piece! That's crazy, and sure leaves the future looking bright. 

Just the other day we were discussing (read I was nagging Joe so I'd have something to put in the blog) how we think we've done this first year. We both came to the conclusion it hasn't been nearly as hard as we thought, and we've lost a lot of that alone time we used to have. Yet, neither one of us felt that was truly a bad thing. 

Well that's all for now. Hopefully once summer comes I'll have a post about refinishing kitchen cabinets!

Until then, cheers!












Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Eight Months

Eight months. That's how old Little Miss is these days. Eight months. I know all parents can agree that eight months can already feel like a lifetime. It's hard to remember what Hazel was like when we brought her home from the hospital and even harder still to remember what life was like without her. This little girl has turned our world upside down, and we are better for it. 

In a very short time span, Hazel went from being a little sack that we just placed where we wanted, to a moving and shaking animal that gets into everything! She went from having a gummy smile to sporting two very sharp teeth! She went from struggling to crawl to crawling at the speed of light. To top it off, she's climbing on every possible surface she can threatening those first steps. 

She's discovered she can make different sounds and has become very good at mimicking dolphins, although I don't think she's actually ever heard one. Hazel has discovered, or I should say we have discovered, that she has an independent streak in her (read temper). I can only assume she inherited from me. She knows what she wants, and if she can't get it her frustration is adorable. 

She has become a silly, playful girl who has a built in jungle gym in the house. Hazel can usually be found harassing Sweetums or using her as step stool. 

We have continued with Baby Led Weaning, and Hazel is basically a master at this. While her initial reaction to any food placed in front of her can only be best described as disgust, she has yet to refuse anything. I think her favorite thing so far is Mexican. I am excited about this as Mexican is my favorite food too��. 

I know that we still have some big adventures ahead of us, but I can honestly say, the ride so far has been pretty amazing.  

Cheer! 







Saturday, September 20, 2014

6 months

It's been 6 months since Little Miss entered our lives! She's already half way to a year old and I just cannot believe it! Time is just zooming by. It's zooming extra quickly these days with the addition of work and grad school. I really don't know what I was thinking when I applied for this insane Master's program, but let me tell you full time working, full time nursing/pumping, and full time grad school are kicking my butt! So apologies if I'm extra moody or withdrawn. My plate is quite full these days! But, enough about that, let's move on to all the amazing things Little Miss can do now that she's 6 months old! 

Hazel has mastered the art of rolling all over the place. She spends a lot of time doing this. She's working on perfecting the art of sitting up unassisted. She's still a little weeble wobble with this, but her balance improves every day. She loves to chat! Especially first thing in the morning. Hazel has also started to figure out that mommy and daddy can go away, and her stranger danger alarm has been going off pretty consistently. 

I've been back at work for a month now, and while the job is stressful to the max right now, Hazel has adjusted very well. Joe has done a fantastic job of balancing work and Hazel duties, with the help of Grammy, while I am away. Evey day I come home to a happy baby. I love seeing how confident he his with Little Miss.

We're starting to introducing Little Miss to solid foods! She's had a few things here and there. A stray piece of banana or a taste of avacado, and so far she doesn't seem in a rush to make the transition anytime soon. I'm not too sad about that. I rather enjoy breastfeeding so if she's happy I'm happy :-). 

I am so looking forward to seeing what we have in store as she closes out her first year! 

Here's Little Miss' 6 month photo shoot :)

Cheers!









Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sinking Ship

I don't have anywhere to put this, so here is goes, I've decided it's time to throw in the towel on my public school teaching career. I'm not cut out for this job anymore.

Today I was informed that the Superintendent, of the county I teach for, has declared that using crayons after Kindergarten is not supported. I can't direct quote because I didn't write it down, I was quite distraught after hearing these words, but I can paraphrase. His statement went something like this, 'Every time I see a child drawing a picture in response to a book they've read [over the summer] I cringe. Crayons should not be used past Kindergarten.' A part of me died upon hearing those words, a part of me saw red, and another part of me felt so defeated that I drove home in tears. These were not the first tears I've shed this year. Can I add quickly that we are only in the third week of school. I've cried almost every day that I have left my classroom. I thought my tears would be over leaving Little Miss at home, but that is not the case. I am teaching in a county where we are dishing out a curriculum that is not developmentally appropriate for a majority of its students. I am teaching in a county where the message is, "It's not about you [teacher] it's about the kids." I am teaching in a county where the purpose of learning has become to score well on "The Test." I am teaching in a county where children, after Kindergarten, are not allowed to use crayons.

Let's start with the curriculum. There are plenty of articles on the web about Common Core and the havoc it is wreaking on our country. I'll admit, when it was first introduced I was kind of on board. I thought about my student teaching experience in Pennsylvania. I thought about how baffled my colleagues were at what was being taught in Maryland and not being taught in Pennsylvania. Clearly, having a common set of standards in education for our country is a good thing. It can only help address issues when a child moves from state to state, and hold educators accountable for making sure ABCs and 123s are taught. The county in MD that I work for had decided to create their own curriculum to address Common Core. I thought, "Thanks! This will save time in planning." Boy I couldn't be more wrong. I've found over the years that I have been teaching this curriculum I am left frustrated. I have students, 1st graders, breaking into tears because they just cannot grasp the concepts being thrown at them. Many of my students are still working on basic skills such as counting past 20 and reading books with more than two words per page, but instead of building on those foundational skills, I am forcing them to write essays. I'm frequently left asking myself, "When did I stop becoming the expert of my students?"

Now on to, "It's not about you [teacher] it's about the kids." If what I do and what I teach is about the kids, then it IS about me. I, the teacher, am the one that is in that classroom, with those kids, teaching the curriculum. If I'm feeling defeated, frustrated, and down right embarrassed at what I have to teach, then I can only imagine how my students are feeling.  I make it a goal of mine to advocate for my student's learning on a daily basis, but who is advocating for me, the teacher? I want my students to leave my classroom feeling successful and motivated to come to school every day and continue their learning. I have many days where I know I have failed in that mission because I am not leaving feeling successful or motivated.

Next, "The Test." Since this school year has begun my colleagues and I have heard nothing but, "We need to get the kids prepared for "The Test." In fact, in a recent meeting, one of my colleagues informed us that we are prepping students for "The Test" starting in pre-K. For those of you who may not know, pre-K consists of 4 year olds beginning their educational career. Instead of working with those 4 year olds on appropriate social and emotional skills, and early learning skills such as their ABCs and 123s, we are beginning to prep them for "The Test." "The Test" which they will take when they are budding 3rd graders. That was another day I left work with tears in my eyes. Jeannie Fulbright reminds us, "If the purpose for learning is to score well on a test, we've lost sight of the real reason for learning." In recent decades "The Test" has become the driving force for what we do.

On to, the no crayons conundrum. The words I heard today were the straw that broke the camel's back. I have been struggling for the past year or so with the decision to stay in the teaching profession. Upon hearing these words I knew I was in the wrong place. In fact my teammate put it best when she said, "We are raping our children of their childhood." The county I work in has become so focused on the curriculum that they have forgotten what we are here to do. They have forgotten that our first goal as educators is to inspire. We are here to create positive social change. They have become so wrapped up in becoming "Groundbreaking" that they are beginning to fail their employees, and their students. They are creating a society of test takers instead if life makers.

Lastly, I have to add that while everything in me is screaming to leave, I simply can't. I can't leave my students to deal with this mess without me. I'm a good teacher. I don't say this to be smug. I say this to remind myself that I am a good teacher. That I am the expert in my classroom. That I am the one who knows what my students need best. That I am the one who cheers them on every day telling them that they can.

I know I'm not alone in this. Our nation is grappling with a toxic educational reform. We as educators are teaching in a time with unprecedented expectations. 20 years ago teachers were teaching in a time of unprecedented expectations, and I know 20 years from now the same will be true. I just hope those expectations will be ones that can actually help create that positive social change.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ticking Away.......

In just 12 short days I will be returning back to work. I've had five months at home with Hazel and it's been no where near enough. I have to add that I am so thankful for this time. Shortly after Hazel's arrival, Joe and I thought I'd have to return to work when Hazel was only 10 weeks old. Luckily that didn't happen, and I got to extend my time with Little Miss. I told myself it'd be a little easier leaving her at five months. She'd be older, a bit more independent, and she would be able to handle the adjustment easier. What I didn't account for were my feelings. 

New parents are always told how much life changes when they have a child. They're told that the love they'll feel for that new life is indescribable. It's all true and more. What they don't tell you is that the love you'll feel actually does have a word, primal. Every single thing that I have done, or felt, since Hazel arrived has had a primal nature to it. There are so many schools of thought out there about the best way to raise a child, and I looked into all of them, but once she came, all bets were off. I no longer cared if letting her cry it out was right. I no long cared if there was such a thing as nursing too often, I only cared about what felt right to me in the moment. I paid attention to my feelings and emotions as well as Hazel's. Sometimes it feels right to go away from the crowd so Hazel and I can have some alone time. Sometimes it feels right to carefully lay her on the floor, or her crib, and let her cry for a bit so I can gather myself, and sometimes it feels right to ask for help when I know I've reached my limit. For five months our lives have been progressing like this. At times it's been very hard, but it's alway been very beautiful. 

Recently I've found myself second guessing my decisions on parenting. Should I have set a schedule for Hazel, so my return to work would be easier on everyone. Should I have let her cry a little longer so she could figure out how to self sooth. Should I have tried my hardest to not form such a close bond with this little creature. The answer to all these questions is, no. Everything I have done up to this point has always been right for us. 

As I prepare myself to return back to work, my hesitation is just as strong as it was when Little Miss was only 10 weeks old. Hazel will be staying with Joe and his mom while I am away bringing home that bacon. I'm frequently told how much easier it must be to return to work knowing Hazel will not be left with strangers. It doesn't make it any easier. It's hard leaving your child in the hands of others. Even when those others are family. I know that she will be in loving hands, and I know that she will have every need met, but they will not be met by me, and my heart breaks thinking about that. My little Lady Bird will be growing and changing, and I won't be there to witness every second like I have been. 

I know I'll adjust to being a working mom. Every working mom does. I'm going to work hard to respect my feelings as I go through this transition. I'm going to lean on that supportive husband of mine. The one who is alway holding me up. The one who dries my tears, pours me that glass of wine, and just listens calmly as I frantically worry. I'm going to trust that loving husband to look after our little creation, and I'm going to cherish these last few days I have left with Hazel.


Cheers.

Here's what I'll miss the most: