Friday, January 30, 2009

My daughter, the drummer

By some strange fluke, Aliza received several drums this Christmas. Her favorite one is one that lights up a different color every time you hit it. She figured out rather quickly how to operate this drum, and has since experimented with hitting it with a variety of other objects.
The only problem is that sometimes she'll try hitting some of her other toys, and when she doesn't get the same reaction she'll often pause in confusion, before returning to her drum.
Here she is, trying it out: (Sorry it is so short, I ran out of memory space on my camera!)


video

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mixed bag

(Thanks for the title Kelli!) :)
Why I love third graders:
In the midst of my parent observation the following conversations happened:
Student A: "Mrs. S, this is the best math lesson EVER!"
Student B: "Mrs. S, can we call you Mrs. Nice instead? Because you are really nice!"
Student C: "No, we should call her Mrs. Amazing!"
Me: "How about Mrs. Fantastically Beautiful?" We all laughed and moved on with the lesson, although for the rest of the day my name was, in fact, Mrs. Fantastically Beautiful.
Because that's just how we roll in 3S.

Update:
The observation went well. I was nervous and the kids were so excited about the lesson I did (which, I must admit, was rather awesome) that they were a little energetic, but in a positive-learning way, not in a disruptive-negative way. The parent involved sent me a rather nice email afterwards, thanking me for the opportunity. I was supposed to meet with said parent today, but a snow day means that was cancelled. Darn.

Why I wanted to gauge my eyes out with a spoon yesterday:
I recently had a Smart Board installed in my classroom (which I am madly in love with and use every single day for the majority of my lessons now) and was required to attend Smart Board training ALL day yesterday. I've been to a few of these trainings and have already created lessons involving the Smart Board and used it quite a few times. We began the day- and spent the whole morning- learning about the tool bar. And the gallery. And a variety of other tools that can be used with Smart Board software, the majority of which I have already found, experienced, created with and implemented. Finally, in the afternoon, we were given time to actually prepare lessons, but by then I was so brain dead and tired I wasn't nearly as productive as I could have been. And then, of course, there was that person. You all know what I mean. The one person who doesn't know how to do anything and spends the entire day asking questions that if she was paying even the slightest bit of attention she would have figured out. Sigh.

Aliza news:
Aliza's latest trick is clapping her hands. She doesn't exactly make a loud noise when she does so, but she has such a look of concentration and fascination when she does it....I have to get a video to post because it is just the cutest darn thing. We are spending the day together today because yet another snow storm has left us stuck (happily) at home.....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Observation

Today I am being observed.
Not by my principal.
Not by a colleague.
Not even by the language arts coordinator in our building.

Today I am being observed by a parent.

I've been observed by my principal, by colleagues and student teachers. I've had the language arts coordinator for our building in my room and various special ed teachers in my room. I've even had the district language arts coordinator in my room observing, as well as an outside consultant for reading.

None of these people have made me as nervous as this parent.
I am imagining the worst- that he will walk in with a video camera, or a tape recorder. That he will sit there and glare at me and take copious notes on everything I say and do. And that he will then follow up with more meetings to discuss everything that is wrong in the classroom.....

What he doesn't know is that, after a recent interaction where he questioned a decision I had made I woke up in the middle of the night with a certainty growing in me. The certainty that I KNOW what I am doing. And I decided, then and there, that I will not let him make me question myself. Sure, I'm not perfect. As a teacher I make a million decisions in a day, and I'm bound to mess up some of them. Lessons bomb, kids go crazy, things happen. But I know what I'm doing. I have two degrees in elementary education and I'm pursuing a third. That aside, I have nine years of teaching experience. If there's one thing I know it is kids.

So I will not let this parent make me question my teaching. I will not let him put me down. I'm the teacher, not him. I will hold my convictions close to my heart and I will teach the way I always do. With laughter and love and a pinch of firmness.

And I'm going to wear the pendant Aliza gave me for Christmas, just to remind myself of what's really important in my life.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Winter festivities

I started a post about last week, how rough the week was and how, at the end of it, I felt a bit battered by the events. I deleted the post because I decided why waste time writing about something that is just going to bring everyone down?
Especially since we are in the middle of a three day weekend and another snow storm has left us with the perfect excuse to stay home and hunker down....and have some fun with Aliza:







video

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Plutonium

The other day I was speaking with a colleague whose wife recently had a baby. He was telling me how he was talking to his wife about the milk she had pumped and he said to her that she treats it like plutonium.

In the midst of this story I, apparently, gave him A Look much like his wife did....and he asked me to explain why the milk is so special. I stumbled over my words, fumbled for an explanation and finally ended with, "It just IS plutonium!"

I've been thinking about the conversation ever since...how do you explain it to someone else? Someone who doesn't know, or doesn't understand?


Nursing, and pumping, is so much. It is time....time away from my piles of things that have to be done. Time where I can't do anything BUT nurse, or pump. Time where I get to snuggle with Aliza and just be her and me, together- the way it was in the beginning.

It is also satisfaction....the satisfaction of knowing that not only did I nurture her for the nine months she developed, but that I am continuing to nurture her and feed her. The satisfaction of knowing that she is getting all of my good antibodies and immunities. The satisfaction of knowing that this is something that only I can do for her and that it is one of the best things I can do for her.

It is also sacrifice....I can't drink, at least not without feeling immense guilt. I still have to watch what I eat as some foods make her upset or gassy. And some foods are still off limits. I miss out on activities and conversations because I'm nursing. It feels like my body will never be the same afterwards. And when she wakes up in the middle of the night, I am the only one that can stumble out of bed and give her what she needs. Foregoing my own much needed rest. It is exhausting to do but also, oddly, calming.

It is both an amazing feeling and a royal pain in the neck. But I'm not sure that even this post does the feeling of nursing justice.
It might not be as rare as plutonium. Or even as expensive. But it just IS plutonium.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Pause

Being a teacher, I was always good at multi tasking. You have to be when you are in a classroom of twenty to twenty four students, all of whom often have something to tell you all at the exact same time while you are trying to organize the next lesson....
When I became a wife I became even better at multi tasking. Something about owning a home and doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning and shopping for two made me use my time more wisely and do multiple things at once, pretty much all the time now.
Now that I am a mom, well, multi tasking is like second nature. Case in point? This morning alone (it is currently 5:37 am) I have made lunch for two, taken out everything Aliza needs for the day, made chili which is currently in the crock pot (love my crock pot), taken laundry out of the dryer, checked my email, made coffee, gone through the mail from yesterday and cleaned the counters and sink. Oh, and nursed Aliza- twice. All before taking a shower and having a single sip of tea.

Here's the thing about multi tasking though....sometimes you have to stop. It's really difficult though. I get twitchy if I'm not doing multiple things at this point. But sometimes? Sometimes you have to just stop.

There are only two things in my world right now that make me stop. The first is pumping. I know, I know, that sounds strange, but you can't do anything else while you are pumping. It's not easy.....it's not easy to stop everything I'm doing in the middle of my day and just sit still for the ten minutes it takes me to pump, but I do it.

The second thing that makes me stop is Aliza. She is changing so fast, it blows my mind....and I don't want to miss it. Sometimes, like last night, I'll be holding her while unloading the dishwasher, or having her sit in her high chair while I clean up after dinner....and even though I'm with her, I'm still not with her. And I'll realize that. And I'll stop. And then we go and play, or read, or practice for crawling. And I spend time just being with her. Looking at her. Breathing her in and remembering how she is right. now.
And I pause.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Books, books, books....

I love to read.
As a kid I always had my nose buried in a book. I preferred books to T.V. shows and would literally carry books with me everywhere.

The love of reading didn't lessen as I grew older, but I found it more and more difficult to find time to read, especially when I became an over committed teacher. Now, as a mom, I want to instill in Aliza a love of reading. My parents did this for me--they read to us constantly and they were readers themselves. We read to Aliza all the time, and she loves to read (she even turns the pages herself sometimes!) but watching us read....well, that is another story entirely. Lately I've had two problems, the first being finding the time to read, that is, time when there isn't something else to do or I'm not exhausted from doing everything; and the second is finding something to read. It is difficult to make myself stop....to ignore the piles of things to do and to just read. Not to mention I don't read when Aliza is awake (unless I'm nursing her) because if she's awake then we are playing....so that limits my time even more.

I was given the book Love Walked In and I started it with every intention of finishing it. It was slow going at first and I tried, I really did, to stick with it. See, I hate abandoning books. I usually don't do it. I'll push through hoping it will get better....this book didn't grab me enough, at least not yet. I am not willing to admit defeat though, it is not yet relegated to the book shelves downstairs. It rests by my nightstand waiting for my return.

Because I was frustrated by the fact that I really want to read, I returned to an old favorite author. I was convinced that she would kick start my return to reading because her books, although heavy and often difficult to read, are always beautifully written and make me think deeply. I read Mercy in only a few days. It was comfortable reading yet another Jodi Picoult book. I've read enough of her writing by now to know what to expect and there is something oddly comforting to return to an author whose writing style you know.

Partly through reading Mercy, my sister gave me another book to read. She told me to get a move on because the book would soon be a movie and everyone knows you need to read the book before you see the movie. So I started reading it I was determined to finish it in time to see the movie with my sister. Which I did, but don't ask me how because I couldn't tell you.
I then proceeded to read the other three books in the series.
And then I got stuck for awhile. I mean, stuck with what to read next. I wasn't quite ready to return to Love Walked In, but I didn't have anything that was grabbing me....I thought about revisiting an old series I read previously that I know my brother in law is reading, but the books are thick, and there are a lot of them. Frankly, the task was daunting.

While at Target the other day I actually wandered through the book section and picked up Sarah's Key. It's an author I've never heard of before but a premise I enjoyed: two stories, one set in 1942 Paris, right in the midst of a war, and the other set sixty years later, also in Paris. Two lives, entwined unknowingly....a historical perspective and a modern one. I'm enjoying the book immensely, although I have to put it down at times because it gets a bit sad and rather intense....
Now that I am nearing the end, I know that I need to continue my reading quest with something new. The problem is that I need a book that is really appealing to me as a reader. I can't read a book that takes ten chapters to get going....so, if you have any good suggestions, dear readers, let me know....help me to stay on my reading journey....to build it into my life so that Aliza builds it into hers.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Gave birth. I’d say that’s enough, wouldn’t you?

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
So I’m one of those people that doesn’t exactly make resolutions….not to say I’m perfect, far from it, but I kind of feel I’m always working on the same things in my life every day: remembering the small moments, treasuring family, being a good person, making wise choices, trying to be the best I can be at everything I do…. Those are always my life goals and will continue to be.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My dear friend Diana gave birth to a handsome little man. A cousin also welcomed a son and I have a few friends with buns in the oven, due to arrive in ’09.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?
Does Saint Lucia count?

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
I honestly can’t think of a single thing. My life is full to the brim of blessings and there is nothing I can think of that I lacked in ’08….

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
May 17th. It is the day I welcomed my baby girl into this world.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Again, giving birth, and doing so naturally. As far as I’m concerned, I can do anything after that. And, for the record, it doesn’t matter that it was a shorter labor. Folks I didn’t even have a freakin’ Advil in my system when I gave birth. If that doesn’t make me Super Woman than I don’t know what does.
I’d say my other greatest achievement is going back to school for the first time in eight years. And choosing a program that will ultimately land me in a principal position. The thought of leaving the classroom scares me, but I am proud of myself for starting on that journey....

9. What was your biggest failure?
Staying home—I mean, briefly being a stay at home mom and not the professional educator I’ve been for the last nine years….I don’t want to say I failed, but, it’s the first time in my life that I felt like an absolute failure. If I am being completely honest, I will admit that I spiraled into a depression the worse I’ve ever felt in my life. I was angry and upset and depressed and incredibly guilt ridden. It was really hard for me to admit that I couldn’t do it, and to then deal with the guilt I felt over that. I wondered constantly what was wrong with me, and sometimes I still do wonder that….Many of those feelings are still there, inside of me today, but I am working through them slowly as I try to be the mom I want to be and the teacher I used to be.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, again, thankfully. Unless you want to count throwing up for nine months straight. But I guess that wasn’t so much an illness as a symptom.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Ummm….wow. I can’t think of anything. Most of our money this year went to Aliza- getting ready for her arrival, taking care of her etc. Oh wait! I forgot! My new car! I LOVE my Sante Fe.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
As always, my family. I wouldn’t be who I am today….I wouldn’t be where I am today, if not for them.
And my husband…..I didn’t think it was possible to love him more than I did, but with the arrival of Aliza he has become the Dad I always imagined he could be.
And, of course, my friends. I am not the best at keeping in touch, but they are there for me always and I am blessed to have amazing, funny, intelligent, caring, supportive friends.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My colleagues—the team that I work with that continues to be downright rude and hurtful to me. (Who has a party and invites the other two teammates but not me? Seriously?) And the one friend- or the one colleague I thought was my friend- that turned out to be one more person unable or unwilling to be a true friend.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Happily- to Aliza. From trying to get pregnant (pre natal vitamins, and ovulation predictor sticks add up!) to finding out I was pregnant (several pregnancy tests later) to being pregnant (hello maternity clothes) to preparing for her arrival (furniture, diapers, clothes, toys and books, oh my!).
And to my new car. Have I mentioned I love it!?!?

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
No surprise here- Aliza! And not just her, but the joy she has brought to so many. It is amazing how a baby breathes new life, new hope and new happiness into everyone around.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
I can’t answer this question…I honestly have no idea.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) happier
b) Considerably thinner! (It helps that I’m not pregnant!!)
c) Hmmmm…..richer emotionally, poorer financially I guess.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Stood up for myself.
Worked out more regularly.
Said no when I was overextended and exhausted.
Called friends just to say Hi.
Slept.
Read.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I can’t think of anything I wish I’d done less of….I guess, going along with above, saying yes to things.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas with Russ and Aliza in the morning, my mom, dad, sister, brother, brother in law, Grams and Joe and two beautiful nieces in the afternoon and then with my mother in law, father in law, sister in law and brother in law at night.21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Sure did, her name is Aliza!

22. How many one night stands?
Dear lord! None!

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Same old favorites—Dancing with the Stars, The Office, Grey’s Anatomy, So You Think You Can Dance.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is such a strong word….I don’t think there is anyone I truly hate.

25. What was the best book you read?
Wow. Another question I don’t think I can answer. I don’t think I can pick just one book…..

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Rather than a group, I’m going to say XM Radio. Seriously it is the coolest thing ever and I am in love with it. It is helping me to discover new music, which I feel I haven’t done in a long while.

27. What did you want and get?
My daughter. It was thirteen long months of hoping and wishing and praying before we learned she was coming….

28. What did you want and not get?
Respect from my teammates. I think I need to give that one up, it’s been several years now and it just isn’t happening.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Geez. These questions are tough! Again, I don’t think I can pick one. Partly because one doesn’t really spring to mind, partly because we don’t really watch movies and partly because the movies we do watch are often of the Iron Man, The Hulk, Indiana Jones variety. Not that those movies aren’t fun, but they aren’t necessarily the kind of films that leave me with a lasting memory.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned (gasp) 32 this past year and spent the day just the way I wanted- eating a delicious meal of a variety of mini burgers hand crafted by my hubby surrounded by my family. I also got a few fantastic new purses, what is better than that!?!

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
There is nothing more satisfying then becoming a mom. Truly.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
I think that I discovered accessories in a very big way in 2008. Lia Sophia jewelry to be exact, although any jewelry really. I also continue to be in love with fun shoes, and have recently decided I need to broaden my range to include non-pointy toe shoes.
Other than that I’d say that I’m pretty basic- no flashy prints or exotic things for me.

33. What kept you sane?
When I was most stressed, most overwhelmed, most exhausted, I would think about Aliza’s arrival. I would dream of walks around the neighborhood with her, lazy days spent playing and all the joys I knew a new baby would bring. In the midst of any drama at school, she was my one source of contentment and peace, even before her arrival. Now that she is here, she continues to be all that and more.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Wow. I feel like maybe I’m not paying attention to things because I can’t think of anyone for this one either. I’m going to think about this one and get back to it.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I think that the election this year was the most amazing thing I’ve witnessed in a long time. No matter how people voted, everyone I know, everyone I talked to, was involved and interested. It was amazing.

36. Who did you miss?
Hmmm…..I think I have to say some of my high school friends that live far away. We got together spontaneously recently and seeing them again, after so long apart, was so special. It reminded me of how, no matter the distance or the time or the life events, when we are together it is easy and comfortable and fun. It is amazing to have people in your life that you can truly be yourself with, and to know that they love you for it.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I made a new friend at work and I’d say that this new friend has been my rock lately. Hands down, I’m lucky to have found this new person!

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
I learned that becoming a mom truly is the most amazing blessing there is in this world. I am not nearly eloquent enough to describe how it feels…how every time I even think of Aliza my heart swells and I feel like I might burst. How hearing her laugh makes everything right in the world and watching her grow and explore her world is more fascinating than any movie, TV show or book. She is everything and more.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Oh dear lord! Another hard question!