Thursday, December 31, 2009

Holiday photo montage

We started, of course, by decorating the house. Aliza liked the candles that we put in the windows and quickly decided that they were her toys:

Then came the tree:

Linus decided to hang out underneath it while we decorated:

And even Aliza got into decorating:

Although she took a break to read a bit:

We had our annual cookie exchange. Aliza woke up just in time to taste the gingerbread cookies her Mem-Mem baked.

And we went to the first of many family parties the week before Christmas. We discovered that despite our best efforts, Aliza was, in fact, afraid of Santa. She refused to sit on his lap, but we did get a quick family picture. And she sure did have fun playing with some of her younger cousins....and by playing I mean rolling around on the floor:

Christmas morning and we learned that Aliza definitely understood the idea of opening presents:
We paused to play....and snuggle:

Before heading over to Nonna and Grospapa's house where we got to eat yummy lasagna and open more presents. Aliza got an awesome kitchen set, complete with microwave, refrigerator, stove, baskets and lots of food. It was so big though that we have to wait to bring it home until we take the tree down and make some space for it.
Then we headed to Mem-mem and Pop-pop's house where we got to open more presents and eat more yummy food! Her tea set and table quickly became a crowd favorite.

It wasn't until a couple of days after Christmas that Aliza finally got around to opening a very special present from her Daddy. A special blue box containing her first Tiffany's ornament:
All in all, it was a rather very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

School picture

Here's Aliza's very first school (daycare) picture:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


In my classroom:

Me: (Circling four quarters that are on a paper.) "What does four quarters equal?"
Student: blank look....followed by, "$1.52."

Me: Blank look because I am now wondering where in the world this kid has been for the last three days when we discussed what four quarters equals. "Let's look at that again- what does two quarters equal?"
Student: "Fifty cents!"
Me: "Good! So, two quarters is fifty cents, what's two more quarters?"
Student: blank look AND total silence.
Me: "50 plus 50....."
Student: more blank looks.....more silence......still more silence......"$1.00?"
Me: (with a sigh of relief) "Yes!"

Next problem:
Me"OK, you already added the two dollar bills, so now you just have to add the coins. So, two dollars plus one dime."
Student: silence.
Me: not realizing student doesn't know answer, "write the answer there...."
Student: blank stare. Silence.
Me: (Mental groan.....) "two dollars, plus one dime.....what's a dime worth again?"
Student: "ten cents!"
Me: "Awesome, so two dollars plus one dime is......"
Student: silence. Blank stare. "$2.10?"
Me: "YES!!"

In contrast--I got home and had THIS interaction (with my 1 1/2 year old):

Me: (Drawing an A on a paper) "What's that?"
Aliza: "Aliza!"
Me: "Yes!" Drawing a M on the paper...."and what's that?"
Aliza: "Ma-ma!"
Me: "You are so smart!" Drawing a D on the paper..."what's this Aliza?"
Aliza: "Da-da!"
Me: picking her up and squeezing her, because, seriously, she's the cutest thing EVER and really, how could I now after she just showed me how brilliant she is?!?

Monday, November 30, 2009

18 month stats and pics

Aliza had her 18 month check up recently (WHERE did the time go!?!?). Here are her stats:

Height: 31 1/4 inches
*Weight: 22 lbs. 9 oz.
Head circumference: 47.5 cm

*She lost a pound after a bout of pneumonia.
She's had a busy are some highlights:

Sitting at the table (like a big girl!) for Fake Thanksgiving:

"Feeding" Charlie (the puppet):Blowing out birthday candles:

Funny hair during her bath (a.k.a. splash-splash):

Swinging with Mommy:

Working hard:

And finally- making some calls on Daddy's Iphone:

Sunday, November 08, 2009

One is silver and the other gold...

Four short days into NaBloPoMo and I missed posting three days in a row.....Russ kept saying "You HAVE to post, it's Nablowoowho month...." (He doesn't quite get the acronym.) I kept telling him, "Be a guest poster for me, I can't do it!" but he didn't....I'm a bit relieved honestly. I mean, I was hoping to make it a little longer than four days but seeing as how all of my creative writing energy (and free time) is going into my thesis, I just didn't have it in me this year.

Anyways, all that aside, we spent a lovely morning visiting with some dear friends whom we don't get to see nearly often enough. They were in town for the weekend and called us up to see if we were free....miraculously, we were!

Sparing you all of the details (like the fact that Aliza ate three of these super yummy pumpkin muffins my friend made, which is more than she's eaten all weekend- she's getting quite finicky about her food which is making me crazy!) I'll skip right to the point....seeing these old friends was like coming home and putting on cozy clothes. We haven't seen each other in awhile, nor have we talked (my bad, I'm so horrible about staying in touch, it is one of my biggest flaws), but somehow, seeing them today, it was like no time had passed. We resumed conversation as if we were just chatting yesterday.....fell into jokes like we always had in the past.....and felt the ease and comfort that only comes from years of knowing one another and going through some of life's biggest, and hardest, changes together. It made me crave friends. Or rather, it made me crave the easygoing friendship I have with those people who have been in my life for so long that they know the best and worst of me and love me anyways. All those people in my life (with the exception of one) live far away, and the time I get to see them is very few and very far between....

I left wishing there were mere towns separating us, rather than states.....

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

From bad to worse

The stabber bit me today.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


As a teacher, I know, theoretically, the impact that language development has on a child's learning. I had one student who received intensive special education support, not because he was learning disabled but because he was adopted and spent the first few years of his life living in a home where he wasn't spoken to much at all. After adoption things changed, but this kid was forever impacted by those first, formative, years....
I've known this in theory.

The reality is so much more amazing. Not to brag (but I'm going to) Aliza, at 17 months, has an amazing vocabulary. She comes out with new words every day (yesterday it was Ipod).
I'm also proud to report that she LOVES books. She won't even watch T.V. Oh sure, she'll give it a glance if it's on, maybe even sit still long enough to watch it for a full minute, but that's about it. She prefers books. And crayons. And toys. Over T.V. Can't say I mind all that much either...she also requests books by name. Sometimes by their title (like Dog or Cat) and sometimes by the first line, or maybe a repeated line, in a text. Like this one, or this one. She's a reader already.

Of course, the way she talks is just so darned cute. Some of my favorite words that she says just a bit funny are captured here on this video....listen closely for yellow and yes.....two of my favorite Aliza-isms.

Monday, November 02, 2009


There is a book that must elementary school teachers know- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. I like to think of poor Alexander whenever I have a day like the one I had today....
My morning started with a daughter who is clearly still thrown by the time change and decided to wake up at 5:20 a.m. I listened to her screaming while I showered and then kept her occupied while I attempted to get dressed.
Got into my car, only five minutes late!, only to discover a warning light flashing at me alarmingly from the control panel. I chastised myself the entire way to daycare, convinced it was the oil light telling me that I made the wrong decision to stay at home and work on my thesis this weekend instead of getting the much needed oil change. A quick stop at the Mobil station and I filled my oil tank, hoping it would do the trick. As I sat in an impossibly long line of cars waiting to get onto the parkway, I looked up the warning light that was still glaring at me from the dashboard and discovered that it was not, in fact, the oil but rather the tire pressure. Great.
There were yellow warnings printed in bold letters about Accident! Serious Injury! Damage to the car! all over the owner's manual so I drove to work worried about THAT. When I finally arrived at school (an hour later.....ahh, morning commute, how I love thee) I actually looked at the tire in question and, frankly, dismissed all of my fears as unreasonable because the thing didn't look remotely flat.
Going about my morning....students arrive, get working, all seems OK. Time to go to music at 9:40 and one of my little girls is in tears with her mom waiting out in the hall to talk to me for "just a quick minute". I send my student teacher and para off to bring the kids to music, figuring nothing could really happen along the short walk while I talk to the girl in question. Do my best cheerleader interpretation, reassure the mom, solve the problem, yay me.
Begin walking the girl to music and run into my para who has come to let me know that one of my little guys has stabbed another kid with a pencil.
Get to my class, waiting outside the music room, and attempt to get the stabber out of line to visit the principal. Temper tantrum, screaming fit and he throws himself down in the middle of the front entrance way and refuses to budge.
It's not even 10:00 yet and I have about fifteen more minutes before I am supposed to be in a meeting with a former parent of mine who is planning on suing our district (again). I grab the principal, who disciplines the student right there in the hall because he won't move, then am told to track down the special education teacher and the school social worker. Fine. Grab both and leave my screamer in their capable hands while I go to my hour long meeting with the former parent.
That meeting ends, as expected (he'll sue- again), and I check in on my student. He's now in the school social workers office, still quite unhappy. Head off to another meeting with the parent of the stabber....thirty minutes later, meeting is over, stabber is settled down and in the classroom.
Lunch time hits and I walk my kids outside and watch the stabber as he hauls off and hits another student.
Repeat visit to principal (much calmer this time) and visit to school social worker. I leave the kid with her while I make a phone call to the parent of the kid who was stabbed, and some copies and, blessedly, finally, make it to the bathroom. Stabber makes his way inside for lunch and I finally sit down to eat mine- with five minutes to do so.

Luckily, the afternoon passed without incident.....

And tomorrow is a brand new day--more importantly, a day without students! I'm hoping the teachers don't get bored during our workshops tomorrow and stab one another with their pencils......

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Aliza's second Halloween was even more fun than her first.....she still doesn't quite get what trick or treating is, but tolerated her costume and even walked (and rode) around the neighborhood a bit with our two good friends and a bevy of other parents and children. Next year we will have to practice saying "trick or treat".....

We started our evening by carving our pumpkin while Aliza played outside (as an aside, Russ decided- after viewing the pumpkins in the neighborhood- that next year he needs to improve on his pumpkin carving ability. I tried explaining that the fancy ones he saw were, most likely, patterns, but he is determined to put on a better show next year):

After a yummy dinner of pizza with Grams and Gramps (a.k.a. Mem-mem and Pop-pop) Aliza got dressed in her costume just in time for Nonna and Pop-pop's arrival:

She quickly decided it was time to head outside:

Although she got a bit confused about the fact that we were supposed to visit houses, and not our own backyard:

We decided to strap Aliza into her vroom-vroom to walk around the neighborhood:

She got out and walked a couple of times, but seemed a tad overwhelmed with all of the neighborhood kids we were walking with and opted to stay close to my side.

We returned home to say night-night to Mem-Mem and Pop-pop and enjoyed some trick or treaters before bed....although now we seem to have a ladybug infestation:

Overall it was a fantastic Halloween!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Guessing game

Lately, meals with Aliza have been a guessing game. As in, "I guess we'll see if she'll eat some chicken." And when that doesn't work, "I guess we'll try a grilled cheese." And then when that doesn't work, "I guess some pasta."

It's also a guessing game as we try to figure out what she is pointing to and saying during dinner. She is clearly trying to tell us what she wants, we just don't always know what she's saying.

She does love the three Ps: pasta, potato and pizza. She'll eat those any time at all and pretty much in any form too. But a kid can't live on carbs alone....

I think part of it is because we keep giving her the same thing. Not because I haven't tried new things, trust me, I have. Recently we tried quiche--eggs, veggies, cheese, maybe some meat, what could be better, right? She didn't like it. Oh, I know, sometimes kids don't like things the first time you give it to them. I've tried four times now. Spinach and quiche lorraine. Tonight she looked at me, picked up the quiche and tossed it right over the edge of her tray and onto the floor. I also tried homemade mac and cheese. What kid doesn't like mac and cheese? So it had veggies cooked into it but Russ and I loved it. Not Aliza. Right over the edge. Same with the homemade mozzarella. I'm cooking. A lot and often and many varied things. But she's not biting.

Tonight's dinner is a classic example. Tonight she ended up eating edamame, grapes, banana, and a muffin (that had carrots and banana baked into it, but don't tell her!). Before you think I'm a horrible Mom, I did try to get her to eat quiche. Then turkey. Then homemade chicken tenders. Then mozzarella sticks (also homemade with veggies cooked into them). Then sweet potato (which she requested but then mashed between her fingers, a first for her). Oh, and trust me, when she's older, I won't be offering her all these options. When she's older, dinner is dinner and that's it. But right now her tastes, and her teeth, are still developing and so much of what we eat isn't suitable for her still. Tonight she did want pudding when she had barely eaten anything at all and we did say no, not until she ate some chicken. She never ate the chicken but she also never got the pudding.

When she was younger (it's so funny to say that since she is, after all, only 1. But when she was an infant and didn't know any better.....) she would eat anything. Without a problem. Now? Now it's a guessing game.

So if there are any parents out there who have some advice on how to get a toddler to eat, well, I'm ready for it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pumpkin patch

We took a trip to a local orchard to pick pumpkins and apples. Aliza had a lot of fun wandering admist the pumpkins......

But she had even more fun apple picking. Although, admittedly, she didn't get to pick many apples as she was awfully distracted with eating:

Here she is pausing long enough to check out the hay ride:
Back to eating, while Mommy and Daddy pick some apples!

In the pumpkin patch:

Sunday, October 04, 2009


I miss blogging. I know, I know, I wasn't exactly a prolific blogger, but I enjoyed sharing my stories and my noticings. I want to blog. I want to catch up with my friends- both those I know personally and those I've met here in the wide world of the web--but, well, something had to give. And, unfortunately, it was blogging.
Here are some things kicking around in my head and in my world these last several weeks:

Aliza is, officially, a toddler. She walks far more than she crawls at this point. Her confidence in her ability to walk is growing. Before she used to take an unsteady step or two and then fall down and crawl the rest of the way to her destination. Now, well, now she takes several steps, less unsteady than before, falls and immediately stands up again to keep walking. She traverses our house this way and it still makes me want to cry when I see it. I'm so proud of her and, at the same time, so amazed that my little baby is WALKING. Seeing her this way, as a toddler and not as a baby, is filling me with some mixed feelings.....on the one hand I am so proud that she is walking and so filled with wonder at her development, and on the other, I miss my baby. I'm starting to feel that urge to have another child. Before you get excited (Mom and Mom S.), it's not time and we aren't ready yet but seeing Aliza walk somehow has me more and more ready.

I hate my thesis. Actually, that's not entirely true, I actually really love my topic although I'm still not convinced I'm going to produce something stellar the way I had hoped, but I'm interested in what I'm doing and I want to do it. Just not now. See, when I signed up for this class, I read the course description and didn't quite realize I'd actually be writing a thesis. Get over it already, I know but man, it is A LOT of work. It is more work than I had mentally prepared myself for and frankly it is ridiculously overwhelming. This week we have a rough draft of Chapter 2 due by Wednesday night. Chapter 2 requires me to find up to 12 articles (20 by the time I'm done with the whole document) on three themes related to my topic and then to write about them in a narrative. I'm not entirely sure what all that means. I have a friend in the course with me who is a mom and a teacher as well and we keep repeating our mantra: "We CAN do this." I'm not sure who we are trying to convince, but if we say it often enough, hopefully it will come true. In other course related news, I did find out that the practicum I am concurrently working on isn't due for another 10 months. (Oh, didn't I tell you that I'm doing a thesis and a practicum? I probably forgot to mention it because whenever I do talk about it a note of hysteria creeps into my voice that I am convinced makes everyone around me wonder about my mental stability. So I now avoid talking about the two projects together.) Ten months though......seems manageable.
My Mom and Dad are safe and sound at home from their travels abroad. They were in Italy for two weeks and this educator sure did miss them. So did Aliza, who kept picking up the phone, dialing numbers, holding it to her ear and, when asked who she was calling would declare, with conviction, "Nonna!" No more two week vacations Mom, it's way too long!
Aliza is blowing me away with how much she is growing every day. She comes out with new words every day (yesterday it was circle). It's amazing that we are now able to communicate with her. I can tell her, Aliza, almost time for a bath! and she'll look at me and say splash, splash and then walk on over to the gate and point up the stairs letting me know she is ready now. She's also developing a bit of an independent streak. She loves to take my hand, make me stand up, and guide me exactly where she wants me to go. She also loves to yell at me if I don't go exactly where she wants me to. It's so darned cute that I laugh at her every time, which makes her more upset. She's also doing this funny thing where she likes to hold on to stuff. Car keys, cups, toy shovels, you name it, she's got a death grip on it. I try not to let her hang on to anything when I'm dropping her off at school because, inevitably, she'll cry if I try to take it from her when I leave and I hate for her to start a day like that......but I don't always win that battle.

The mom of one of my students has the following quote as her email signature:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Plato

And with that thought, I will leave you dear friends......

Monday, September 21, 2009

First steps

Ever since Aliza's 15 month check up, we have been practicing walking everywhere. She went from holding on with two hands and holding on with two hands and walking with more holding on with one hand and walking taking her first unsteady steps today! We have been frequently saying, "Aliza walk to Mommy!" to which she often replies "No!" but today she did! We didn't capture her actual first steps on tape, both of us were so shocked she complied we didn't have the camera ready, but then we went in for round two. (Sorry about the camera angle, I have no idea how to rotate it and I wanted her feet to be visible!)

Then, that night at dinner, she continued to learn about utensils. Here she is, working with a spoon:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Flat out

Back to school.....

I always forget--I don't know why I always forget this seeing as how I am now in my tenth year teaching--but I always forget what back to school is like. How it hits you like a ton of bricks. You hit the ground running, your to-do list is a mile long and you don't have time for anything. Certainly no time for blogging. Most definitely no time for reading or commenting on other blogs. Barely time to eat these days.

Like right now? Right now I have a messy kitchen to clean, a load of laundry I should have done over the weekend that I didn't do, two loads of Aliza's laundry that I haven't managed to sift through, bills to pay, and a slew of other minor household related things that I am pretending don't exist. And for school I have an open house presentation to prepare, two sets of papers to correct (how are those piling up already!?), a math unit to re-vamp because my kids are NOT getting it, two parents to email, some random paperwork to fill out on special ed kids in my class, conference forms to create and post, a website to update and---well.....the list is seriously endless. I cross one thing off and add two more lately. And don't even get me started on grad school. Somehow I have to come up with an amazing project to do that satisfies district and building and state requirements and get it all done fast because my deadline is sooner rather than later.

So. I wasn't actually posting to complain. I was posting to say that yes, I am in fact still around. And I will come back and blog, complete with cute pictures, soon.
Just as soon as I catch my breath.
Pinky promise.

Monday, August 31, 2009

First REAL day of school

Today summer officially ended and Russ and I returned to work. It was also Aliza's first "official" day at "school." In the tradition of our family, I had actually bought her a brand new outfit to wear. (Actually, I think I bought her like six brand new outfits, but some are for fall.) But then the weather seemed like it would be a little warm so I didn't dress her in it. She looked cute though:

Here's my brand new outfit- I know, I know, I'm not wearing it. That's because I have three days of meetings and professional development before the kids arrive (although they are visiting every day!) and I'm saving the outfit for Thursday:

Back to Aliza......Here she is with me, letting me know how she is feeling about the day:

Despite her appearance here, she actually had a really great day at school. She played, she walked (with the help of the teacher), she ate, she napped, she waved bye-bye and blew kisses when it was time to go and she came home so sandy that our just-cleaned floors are gritty. I think the five days of transition last week really helped her to have a wonderful first day. Although she still cried when I dropped her off. I'm hoping that stops soon because it sets me off and frankly, I'm running low on mascara!

Friday, August 28, 2009

You've got the cutest little baby face

Aliza makes all sorts of fun faces these days.
There's this one:
That's the I want that, also known as the I want you to do something face.

Here's another, the All done! face:
Here's her hello face:

The ever popular "sniffy" face:
The sleepy face:

The I am very upset with you face:

One of my new favorites- the Ohhhh! face:

Aliza serious-pants face:

The I'm impossibly cute face:

These are just a few of my favorite faces!

Here she is practicing one of her other new tricks- first she lets us know what is in her diaper, then she practices some animal noises. She does other ones, but her daddy threw her off by asking to make an aardvark noise.