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 So apologies if I'm extra moody or withdrawn.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:


























Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Four Months!

Little Miss turned four months old yesterday! Since we're in Colorado, we thought we'd capture this amazing milestone by taking advantage of this lovely place. The three of us headed out to Garden of the Gods and attempted a little photo shoot. Although the sun was too bright, and the three of us sweated off our morning meals, we got a few good shots (and with this backdrop and subject how could we not?)

A few of Little Miss' favorite things:

  • Chewing on fingers (any fingers)
  • Reaching and grabbing for anything in sight
  • Flashing smiles
  • Putting anything she possibly can in her mouth

A few of Little Miss' not so favorite things:

  • Tummy time
  • Napping
  • The car seat

Cheers!

This girl thought her 4 month sticker was awesome!
Hanging with my girl 
Can I have those fingers, please?
Such a good sport :)


I'm over this, mom.....





Saturday, June 21, 2014

You are My Sunshine

All those cliches, those things you hear about having a baby and motherhood - all of them are true. And all of them are the most beautiful things you will ever experience.
                                                                            -Penelope Cruz

Today our baby girl is three months old. She has brought so much joy and love into our lives, that I'm having a hard time finding the words to describe it. Personally, I have never been happier. As someone who's experienced many bouts of depression, I never really understood what happy meant. I thought it meant being content. I was wrong. This is happy. Every time Little Miss shoots me her crooked smile, or gives us a little giggle, I feel nothing but pure joy. My heart literally sings. Every little thing she does, from the way she looks around a room taking in what she's seeing, to changing her dirty diaper, is the best thing I've ever seen or done in my entire life. 

I've also never been so sure of myself. It amazes me that at a time when I should be feeling like a fish out if water, I feel perfectly at home. It's a great feeling, and I hope it continues as this little girl grows. 

OK, enough with the mushy crap ;-)

Here are a few of Hazel's favorite things;

  • She loves to smile, all the time :)


  • She is the happiest little baby when she wakes up in the morning. I am greeted every morning with her crooked grin.


  • Hazel has found out she has a voice box and is not afraid to use it. She likes to yell for no reason other than to hear herself.


  • Little Miss has found her fingers and they are her favorite toy, and as soon as she can figure out how to get to her toes I know she'll be a happy girl. 


Joe and I are also convinced Hazel knows she is a cutie. We are going to be in for it....

In July we will be taking Hazel on her first flight. The three of us will be going to Colorado for three glorious weeks! Pap Pap's job got transferred to Pueblo, CO (not permanently). We are going to take advantage of the move and spend some time out west. I am very excited about this trip. The past two summers have found me taking new adventures, and I am so looking forward to taking this adventure with my new little family. 

Well that's all for now folks. Here some pictures of our little girl at 3 months old. 

Cheers!

Hazel was not impressed with turning 3 months.


This smile :)


Our beautiful girl


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Two Months

Time has been flying by since Little Miss entered our lives. She's already two months old, and yet it still feels like we just got home from the hospital with her. 

Frequently we get asked about how our lives have changed since having Hazel. I think the biggest change is time. Everything takes just a little more time now that she's here. I can't just clean the house in two hours, now it's an all day affair with many, many, breaks inbetween. I have to say, the breaks are pretty amazing though because I get to hang with my little girl, and that beats cleaning any day.

These past two month have been the most amazing, scary, and exciting months of our lives. Every day I go to bed thinking there's no way I could love this little life any more than I do, and every morning I wake up loving her more than ever. 

Thankfully I won't be returning to work until school starts back up in August. This will give me the chance to be a stay at home mom to Hazel for 5 amazing months. I am looking forward to the next three months with her, and I know they will be just as spectacular as these first two have been. 

Cheers!


       
   Our little family 


    Little model

    Morning smiles 

    Get this kid some coffee! STAT!

    Pure happiness