Saturday, November 27, 2010


Baby Sherman #2Due to arrive June 21st.....

We are all very excited--although, admittedly, I am more tired and nauseous at this point. Aliza is very sweet about the baby already- telling us things like "mommy has a baby in her belly, and when the baby comes out, I'm going to change its diaper and put medicine on it to make it feel better." She also loves to give my belly kisses.
I'm ten and a half weeks in and doing better than I was last week. It was a particularly rough patch with a bad case of hyperemesis (that's a fancy way of saying I was throwing up a lot). Now I'm on two different anti nausea medicines which leave me slightly nauseous but managing to keep food in.
More posts to follow of my ever expanding belly....and of course, in ten weeks or so, an announcement of the baby's gender!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

240 hours or 3 months...whichever comes first

In just three short months I will be done with a journey that I began three years ago. It started one summer day, with a good friend calling me up and encouraging me to apply for the Educational Leadership program with her. Despite my uncertainty at the time, I also knew that it was time to get that 6th year degree, so I agreed. We completed the paperwork, wrote the essay, took the practice exam and were accepted.
The journey continued with our first class, where the amount we didn't know far outweighed what we did know. It was in this class that I shared the news of my pregnancy and it was in this class that I discovered that I actually became excited about the future career I had opened up for myself by joining this program.
I gave birth to a beautiful little girl and took a break while my friend continued on with her classes. My time away from the classroom was short-- just one summer- because with the reality of Aliza came the realization that I wanted to finish the degree before the time came for playdates and after school sports. She took time off too, to have an adorable little boy, but we came together again, my friend and I, last year- to do what seemed a nearly impossible task- write a thesis and complete a practicum.

Somehow, we survived the year. As I think about what I accomplished last year, and the conditions in which I accomplished it, I am honestly amazed that I did not have a nervous breakdown. I say that in all seriousness and with a little bit of pride....I am stronger than I realize. But, my friend and I made it through with the help of many late night phone calls, cups of caffeine and glasses of wine. The thesis is done, the practicum is completed.

Then came the internship. 240 hours of administrative work spread over the course of one spring, one summer and one fall. I haven't actually totaled my hours, but I am guess-timating that I currently hover around the 120 mark. Halfway there, and more than halfway through my year long internship. Three months to go. We had a meeting tonight, where our advisor suggested that if we were that far away we grab a pencil and start seriously figuring out how to accomplish the 240 hours. As we have done many times on this journey we started so long ago, my friend and I looked at each other and wondered "what are we going to do?" The panic started to set in, but something was different.....this time- this time we stopped.
We reminded one another of all that we have done:

Two different exams, two sections each- over four hours of testing

We can do this.

And in three months? It will finally be over.

Friday, September 10, 2010


We were taking a short extra recess break today at the same time as the Pre-K students. I overheard the following conversation between two of my third graders:

Student 1: Who do you think is cuter- the pre-K kids or Squirt? (Squirt is our class pet, a leopard gecko.)

Student 2: (without any hesitation at all) Squirt.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


Aliza summer '10

(Click the link for a brief video of some of our summer fun.....)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Toddler talk

Posts are piling up like leaves in autumn around here, but they all require me to download pictures, which I can't seem to get myself to instead, I will share some recent conversations I have had with a very clever two year old.....

Aliza: Hey! Guess what happened today?
Me: What happened today?
Aliza: The sun went down down down and the moon go up up up and it's night.
Me: You are right!


Aliza: Mommy, you are still number 1.
Me: What?
Aliza: You are number 1 mommy.
Me: Oh, OK.... (I had no idea I was #1, or even that my #1 status was in some jeopardy)


Aliza: Tunnel coming! (it sounded more like tnnne coming, so we were, understandably, confused)
Russ and I: Huh? What did you say? Toes?
Aliza: Tunnel coming!
Russ and I: (looking at each other with confusion, plus we were several miles away from the tunnel, it wasn't even in sight yet) What Aliza?
Aliza: (more insistent this time) TUNNEL COMING!
Russ and I: OH! The tunnel is coming! You are right! We go through the tunnel to get to Nonna's house!!!


Me: Aliza, you can't eat that right now, you are sick.
Aliza: I'm not sick! I'm 2!

Me: Aliza, how do you spell your name?
Aliza: A-L-I-Z-A! Aliza!
Me: Yay!!!

Is it any wonder I spend my days laughing at her?

Monday, July 26, 2010


This summer has been one of discovery for me so far. Or rather, I should say re-discovery. Somewhere in between writing a thesis, working on a practicum and starting an internship, plus teaching my most difficult class in 10 years and being a mom to a toddler and a wife, I lost the time, energy, desire, do the things that I enjoy doing.....

This summer I'm slowly finding them again. It started with reading. Reading for pleasure. Not journal articles that I had to analyze and synthesize, not professional books that I had to learn from and apply, not curriculum from other grade levels that I had to understand and create lessons for. Nope, just honest to goodness literature. Some good, some not so good....some old friends I've read time and again, some new books in a series...I forgot the sheer joy in losing yourself in a book.

I've also been working out again. I'll admit, it hasn't had much impact on the baby belly I can't quite seem to lose, but, man, it feels good to do it. Working out is one of those things that you do just for you. To be healthy, to feel good, to burn off that ice cream cone you ate with your is a uniquely individual endeavor and kind of like my little gift to me.

This past Christmas I got a bike. I haven't ridden a bike in well over ten's not a skill you forget though, as the saying goes. Lately I've been taking some bike rides around my neighborhood. The feel of the wind on my face and the peace that comes from riding is turning into one of my all time favorite activities. My next challenge is to ride to the bike trail and go for a much longer bike ride.

Taking collectively these endeavors might not seem like much, but, for me, it feels as if I'm finding myself again. It took awhile after the school year ended for the tension to ebb away but, finally, it has. I am content, peaceful......happy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two year stats

Aliza (finally) had her two year doctor's appointment recently. Her pediatrician (whom I think I love more and more each visit) was quite impressed with Aliza's verbal ability and her ability to hop with two feet. (Aliza had fun demonstrating that one, although she did hop to the door and try and open it before the appointment was done.) Here are her stats:

Height: 33 1/4 inches

Weight: 25 lbs 6 oz

Her head circumference again increased--I didn't write down the number but I remember being happy that her head was as big as it was now, and not during delivery.

After her exam, she had to get a few shots, which she didn't like at all. And she told me she didn't like them the entire way home, punctuating each reminder of the pain with a little cry, just so I'd know how bad it really was......

Pictures of all of the fun we've been having together will come soon, promise!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Big changes.....

This summer is bringing some big changes for Aliza....we recently said good bye to her crib: And hello to big girl bed:

Aliza was pretty excited--she brought her snack and climbed right up. Later, we put her blanket and pillow on, and she decided it was a good time to test it out:I added some pillows to the floor when we put her to bed, and it turns out it's a good thing I did. That first night she managed to roll out of bed and off of the pillows. I found her, sound asleep, in the middle of her hard wood floor. After that, we put a bar up:
I bought new bedding for her too...that little pillow on the right there is part of it. But we are holding off on putting it on until after potty training. As part of moving into her big girl bed, Aliza is learning how to make her own bed every morning. When she does, she gets a coin to put into her brand new piggy bank. She's a little too young to get the concept of earning her allowance, but we figured we'd start young. So far it seems to be working, she is eager to make her bed every morning, and loves putting her coins in her piggy bank.

We also bought her a brand new step stool, and gave her her very own drawer in the bathroom filled with her toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair brushes and elastics. She loves this too, and has brushed her teeth multiple times the last few days:
Soon we will try potty training, and hopefully she will be just excited about her new big girl underwear as she is about her big girl bed!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

At the end.....

The year ended as it always does- in a rush of backpacks over flowing with books and papers collected from a year of learning, in the crush of many eight year old arms wrapping themselves around me, the piles of pictures telling me that I am the Best! Teacher! Ever!, last minute gifts, quick thank yous, cleaning and packing up and emptying a classroom that was so full of laughter and learning, discussing next year's class, and.....inevitably, tears.

Sometimes it is I who is doing the crying. Ten years in though, I can honestly say I haven't cried on the last day in a few years. This year, I did. Several times in fact.

The first time I cried on the last day of school was when I received an email, forwarded to me from my principal, sent by a parent whose two children I was blessed to have in my classroom. I say blessed because, truly, they are amazing kids and wonderfully supportive parents. The kind of kid who, on the last day of PE class, fumbled the ball and pretended to drop it so that my little special ed child would not get out during a game of Mat Ball. Point to a third grader that will do that and I'd be astonished, because in ten years of teaching (nine in third grade), I can say I've come across maybe half a dozen kids like that. Anyways, the email was the nicest thing I have ever received far and away. Those words don't even do it justice.....
Here is a snippet from the email:
Lisa is truly at a level that differentiates her from her colleagues. It is a wonderful combination to be so professionally gifted as a teacher, coupled with a distinctive ability to motivate and inspire children to learn and develop…and Lisa possesses such talents. I am incredibly impressed with her professional approach to her job, characterized by preparation, attention to detail and a tireless energy for teaching. While this in and of itself would be significant, with Lisa it only tells half of the story. Her unique gift lies in her ability to create a wonderful environment in her classroom, filled with warmth and caring and encompassed in her deep personal commitment towards the children. Long after the memories of flash cards and homework assignments passes, our children will remember and benefit from the personal investment Lisa made in their lives. As parents, we will also see it in their confidence, maturity and continued passion for learning.

You see now why I cried.....
I cried again when I opened the gift from this particular student whose dad sent this email.... he gave me a nice picture of the two of us together, with a card that read, "Mrs. S, when I'm with you, you always make me feel good!"
I'm not kidding when I say I was bawling when I read that card and then proceeded to embarrass the poor boy horribly by hugging him in front of all of his friends.

And then I cried one last time when I hugged my biter/stabber/kicker/yeller good bye. I'm sure some of you are wondering why in the world I cried rather than celebrated him leaving my classroom. All I can say is that this little guy taught me so much- about myself, about my profession, about my school. About learning and life and patience and strength and humor and frustration and honesty.....about the kind of teacher I always hoped I was and the kind of teacher I discovered I really am. I poured a lot of myself into helping him, never realizing until the end that he helped me just as much as I hope helped him. He is a gift, and I was blessed to learn with him.
And that- those two students and the nineteen others I had this year--that is why
I am a teacher.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Today is the last day in what has been a long and challenging school year......
As Aliza would say, "Yahoo, yahoo!"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things I didn't truly get (or know) until I became a mom....
(In no particular order.)

1) Automatic car starters

This might seem trivial and I'll admit, I was one of those people that thought automatic car starters was one of those silly things that you didn't *really* need. What's the big deal with running outside to start your car? But now that I have a child that I am rushing around in the morning with, trying to get her out the door and myself out the door looking somewhat decent and at a reasonable I get it. Especially when it is below 0 and I have to figure out a way to run outside to start the car--do I bundle Aliza up, or not? How cold is it really? Do I strap her into her chair for a few seconds and risk it or bring her? These are the questions I debate every morning. And one day, it struck me, man it would be awesome to just push a button and have my car nice and warm for both of us to climb into when we are finally ready!

2) Joy.
Oh sure, I knew happiness. And contentment. Laughter and love....but joy. True joy, the kind that makes you catch your breath and fight back tears. The kind that makes you feel like your heart is in your throat.....that I didn't get until I had Aliza. To see her smile, hear her laugh, or, better yet, hear her say "Mama". That is JOY.

3) Reading.

Oh how I miss the days when I could just lose myself in a book. Go to bed and actually stay awake long enough to make it through more than a paragraph. Have something to read other than journal articles and professional books. Sigh.

4) Sleep/exhaustion.

No one knows tired like a working Mom. Especially a working mom to a toddler who keeps waking up in the night and won't sleep unless I am in the room with her.

Enough said.

5) DVR.

I knew before Aliza came that I'd want DVR. Made Russ get it so that we could use it. And it was one of the smartest things I ever did. Folks, I have a show on there from December that I still haven't watched. December. I don't watch much TV as it is, and I'd watch even less without DVR.

6) Couches.

Russ told me the other day that before Aliza came I would watch TV on the couch after dinner and fall asleep early.
I have no recollection of this.

7) Tissues/Wet wipes/hand sanitizer

Aliza and I were out to breakfast the other day with Nonna and Grosspapa and I had a momentary panic (internal) because I realized I didn't have wipes to wipe the table or her hands. We made due with a napkin that I dipped in my water glass.... I swear I go through more tissues and wipes than I would have ever imagined possible.

8) Tip toeing

I am an expert tip-toer. Russ? Not so much. I learned early on how to tip toe out of her room. Tip toe into my room, climb into bed barely making a sound. I learned which floorboards creak, in her room, in the hall way. I'm awesome at tiptoeing down the stairs--jumping over the first few steps at the top that creak the loudest.....who know that would be a mommy skill?

9) Pumping

This might sound gross, but man, I didn't quite get it when my sister referred to her breast milk as liquid gold. Until I had to do it myself...nurse, pump, feed, worry that I had enough, wonder if I'd have time during my special to make my copies, go the bathroom, pump for long enough, pass out papers etc. Wondering if I could even find a space to pump that wasn't occupied, dirty or surrounded by kids. Liquid gold. Seriously, it is.

10) Blogging

Believe it or not, I miss blogging. I know, I wasn't that active of a blogger before I had Aliza but I definitely posted more regularly than I do now. Now I'm down to two posts a month I think. Pathetic. Seriously though? I don't have the time. I keep telling myself it will be easier next year, no thesis, no practicum, no really tough kids etc etc etc. I NEED to believe it will get easier because I miss the days when I could check in on blogs, catch up on people's lives and share my own. I crave that time.

11) Crying

I'm a crier, always have been. No big surprise then that after giving birth I became even MORE of a crier. It's embarrassing really. I cry at everything now. I try to hide it, but really, when I cry it is obvious. As in the puffy eyes, red face and splotches everywhere. Not pretty.
12) B.R.A.T.

Brat is no longer just a spoiled kid.....BRAT is what you feed your kid to stop them up. Moms out there know what I'm talking about....Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. Learn it. Love it. Use it.

13) Aliza.

She was a whispered dream in the night, a hope in my heart, a wish for my future. Now she is my sunshine, my light, my world. Now I can't imagine a life without her.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Because I'm sure the four or so followers that are not my family members are dying to know.... I thought I'd share the results of my interview.....
Turns out I didn't need to be as nervous as I made myself, nor did I need to prepare as much as I did. (I certainly didn't need to stay up until 11 the night before analyzing data from the school!)

I went with the suit (thank god for mother-in-laws, who gave me some fashion advice minutes before I was to leave), closed toe shoes and a light blue top underneath. It was a pants suit, because I don't own a skirt suit, but it worked. I felt especially good with the choice when my principal told me that I looked professional. Coming from a man who wears a suit and tie to work every day, it was a good thing.

I showed up at the interview appropriately early, sat and chatted with the secretary for a bit and observed life in this elementary school. I had gotten a good vibe from the website and got an even better one sitting in the office. The secretary greeted everyone by name and seemed cheerful. Staff stopped to chat and joke and everyone seemed friendly and welcoming. I knew a few people- some by name, others by face, and that felt good. Plus there was two of the largest goldfish I've ever seen in the office, which, for some reason, I thought was a good sign.

Much of that good vibe disappeared when the principal walked in (after being paged). He seemed nice enough, greeted me with a smile and shook my hand firmly....then led me into his office. By himself.
No interview committee.
No panel made up of other administrative-y types, or classroom teachers.
Just him.

OK, maybe he was being nice to his staff, it was before contractual hours and the second to last week of school. Granted, every interview I've ever participated in while working in this district has been with a team of people and granted I'm a firm believer in being the type of administrator that includes their staff on important decisions but, hey, I can overlook this, quietly tuck away the ten copies of my resume I brought and move on.....

Then he started asking me questions, and I use the term loosely. It felt more like a checklist and a chat, than an interview. Do you know this? Yes, OK, good. Are you trained in this? No, not yet? OK. Have you heard of this? You have, great. That was the tone and the feel. I didn't feel like he wanted to know me or whether or not I was a good fit for the school, more like he was checking off a list all of the things he needed to know I could do.....

As I talked to Russ about it after the fact, I told him it seemed to me like he was either going through the motions and already had his candidate hired so why bother pulling together an interview committee, or like he was the kind of principal who makes decisions on his own without consulting his staff or his leadership team. Either way, good vibe totally gone.

All that being said, I consider the experience a success. I went through it and survived first of all. My name is out there, along with the information that this is the direction I want to go in. Those principals chat, I know they do. I'd say I had everything he was looking for too--especially when, at the end of the conversation, I asked him and everything he named was something I had done or was trained to do. In terms of candidates, I feel I'm a pretty strong one. My resume is updated, my cover letter is done and, after wearing it all day, my suit will be dry cleaned.
Bring on the next interview!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

To suit or not to suit?

I'm going on an interview on Thursday.

That's feeling a little surreal, so let me just say it again---
I'm going on an interview on Thursday.

There are these positions in my district which, essentially, are the equivalent to an Assistant Principal position. Only, because my district is clever, they give them a fancy title that ends in the word teacher so that these people get paid the same salaries as teachers and NOT the same salary as administrators. Even though the job is most definitely not the same as a teacher. Clever, no?

Anyways, for me, this job is a natural next step on my path towards eventual administration. More than that, this year has made me ready to leave the classroom.....or more ready to leave than I ever have been before.
It's been a rough year.

And that's the understatement of the century.

So. This job posting came up....I panicked, thought about it, talked to people, worried some more and then decided to go for it. After I decided that I learned that the position is all but taken. See, they have to post the job, and they have to interview everyone that applies, but the position was held by a teacher at the school for a year (whom I know, he's in the same program as me and we've shared classes together). Then the job went part time (because of number of students in the school) so this gentleman returned to the classroom. Now it is going full time again and he's reapplying. It was his job and he's getting it again. Word on the street is that they essentially have hired him already but are going through the motions.....

But, hey, I figured I'd apply anyways and get some practice interviewing.
The thing is, even though I know it is not for real, I am still so nervous. I drove home today, practicing my answers to the questions I'm sure I'll be asked. I went online and did some research on the school. I went and looked up their CMT scores so I could have some talking points and sound super smart during the interview.....And, most importantly, I already started debating my outfit--suit? No suit? Skirt? Pants? Open toed shoes or not? The thing is, the interview is in the morning and then I have a long day of teaching ahead of I wear a suit and then change? Clearly I'm worried about the important stuff!

So. Thursday I interview for the first time in over ten years.
Wish me luck.
But not too much luck, since, you know, I'm not getting the job anyways.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes...or toddlers....

Aliza, at two, is filled to bursting with language. She talks so much it boggles my mind. She is already using complete sentences, although she does, at times, mix up her words. In a totally adorable way of course. My all time favorite is when she asks me to "Pick my up". I know I should correct her, but honestly, it's so darned cute that I smile and hug her instead.

Lately, she's come out with some real the other day when she said, "Mommy, I don't like poops, they're yucky!" (This following a nasty stomach bug that had us going through many, many, many diaper changes in a day.)

Or this one, when she told me, "I'm not sick, I'm 2!" (This one came after I told her she couldn't have something she wanted because she was sick and I was worried about it upsetting her stomach.)

Tonight, while sitting in her "big girl" chair, she went to the bathroom (still not over her stomach bug) and immediately announced, "Oopsie, poopsie!" No idea where that came from but it left both Russ and I laughing out loud for a good five minutes.

My all time favorite though is when she spontaneously bursts into song. Sometimes she wakes up singing, sometimes she'll be sitting in her car seat and suddenly start singing, sometimes she'll be quietly playing and singing to herself, but it is always just about the cutest darned thing I've ever heard.
Sometimes I wish I could freeze her in this moment in time for just a bit longer......

Sunday, June 06, 2010


By 9:30 am today....
I changed Aliza's crib sheet (trust me when I tell you it is a huge pain and a large accomplishment)
Gone through a bin of summer clothes my sister gave me and pulled out the stuff that I thought might actually fit Aliza
Thrown a huge load of laundry in the washer for Aliza
Played Ring Around the Rosie a dozen times
Unloaded, and reloaded, the dishwasher
Made coffee for Russ
Straightened up the kitchen
Fed Aliza breakfast
Played catch at least 30 times
Sorted through the pile of mail on the dining room table
Wrote out two checks for bills
Watched five minutes of three different Mickey Mouse Clubhouse shows and danced with Aliza to her favorite songs on said show
Swept the kitchen floor
Gave Aliza about 50 kisses

By 2:00 today.....
I showered, dressed and dried my hair
Got Aliza dressed and combed her hair (also a huge accomplishment)
Visited my grandfather in the hospital
Cleaned, steamed and pureed an entire head of cauliflower
Slid down the slide three times
Cooked a sweet potato
Paid three bills online
Swung on the swing and pushed Aliza for twenty minutes on her swing
Made homemade banana bread (with the cauliflower hidden inside.....gotta love Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook)
Played in the sandbox
Straightened up the kitchen
Built half a dozen castles for Aliza to destroy
Fed Aliza lunch
Got Aliza to fall asleep for her nap
Cleaned out the fridge
Gave Aliza at least fifty more kisses

By 9:00 tonight....
I snuggled with Aliza as she woke up from her nap on the wrong side of the crib
I went for two different walks with Aliza--one in her bike, one in her vroom vroom, which she insisted on pushing herself for a (rather long) block
Put away three loads of laundry
Went to Best Buy to buy Russ a birthday present, Babies R' Us to pick up a couple of things for Aliza and Stop and Shop to buy stuff for school
Played with a dump truck and a piggy bank
Fed Aliza dinner
Managed to finally put away my turtle necks and begin taking out my t-shirts (still not completely done with that project, but progress was made)
Told Aliza I loved her at least a dozen times
Laughed at her silly antics at the dinner table
Packed breakfast, morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack for Aliza
Responded to half a dozen emails
Filled out Aliza's daycare sheet for tomorrow, packed her bag and labelled her new shorts, t-shirts, generic Tylenol and spray on suntan lotion (apparently the lotion stuff is no longer acceptable so I have to trade it for spray stuff at daycare)
Waited for an hour for Aliza to fall asleep
Cleaned the kitchen
Gave Aliza at least 100 kisses, at least 50 more hugs and told her I loved her a dozen times (have to give her extra Sunday night since I won't see her all day Monday.....)
Finally posted to my blog
Started to do school work (started being the operative word here)

When people ask me how my weekend was, my response is always the same:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Picture update

It's so much more fun to show what I've been up to rather than to here you go....

Easter Sunday:

(I mean, seriously, isn't she the cutest thing EVER?!?)

Cooking with Mommy: (turns out Aliza loves to bake and cook with me)
Playdate with her cousin (I got so many good pictures, but I'm limiting myself to two here):

Gardening/spreading mulch (she likes to dig in the dirt too):

Sleep over with her cousins:
And of course lots of her all time favorite activity- taking walks:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Living with a toddler is SO much fun sometimes......

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What I learned.....

Today I learned that I'm 33 years old and not above asking my Dad for help with my homework.

Today I learned that two hours of a screaming 8 year old is more draining than one might imagine.

Today I learned the power of a phone call--to make a difference, and to make a teacher feel good.

Today I learned that I am not happy in my job. Correct that. I love my job. I have the best job in the world and I never ever feel like I don't want to do my job. But now, in this moment, maybe even in this year, I am not happy. I am Tired. And Overwhelmed. And Frustrated beyond anything. And feeling like I am swimming against the tide and not making headway. I realized today that I have been feeling that way since-- well since October I'd say.

Today I learned that to be a teammate, you need to have a team.
Unfortunately, I don't.
Today I learned that I am officially done trying to be a teammate.

Today I learned that even when I have a day that leaves me crying on the way home, the second I hear Aliza saying "Mama, open the door" while rattling the gate to get to me, my day melts away and my heart sings.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Winter fun

I know, I know....I haven't blogged in awhile. I could tell you all about why I haven't blogged, or I could just share some recent pictures of my adorable child who is growing way too fast.....
She got a fire truck/ball pit for Christmas which we finally decided to inflate for her. It has become her new favorite toy: She likes it so much she just hangs out in it--to read books or enjoy her snack.....
(As an aside, it came with a measly 20 balls, since I took these pictures Aliza and I bought more, so it is truly a ball pit now.)
We had a fairly large snow storm, that left us hunkered down inside.....until we decided it was time to play outside of course. Aliza had fun discovering her house all covered with snow:
We made a mini-snowman, which Aliza decided she didn't like- it "jumped" off the edge:
We also discovered some old cookie cutters I had laying around, which are great fun with play dough:

And since she doesn't have nearly enough toys, she got a brand new one: a farm. Largely because I remembered having (and loving) the same one when I was a kid. Turns out the updated version is even more fun:

Finally, Aliza learned the joy of eating whipped cream right from the container. We only did it once, and after that I hid the canister in the back of the fridge, but she sure did love it:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Monday, February 08, 2010

Mommy lesson #1

Sometimes I write posts and I think, "I can't publish this, I sound like I'm complaining...." but the thing is, this is where I am, in this moment in time. These are my thoughts and feelings, the things I'm wondering and figuring out.....this is my snapshot in time as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, teacher and student. So here it is, without apology or complaint.
I'm sick.
I'm not one to admit that, and especially not to the large Internet world, but there it is.

Now time for the mommy lesson:
It's not about me's about Aliza.

Oh, I know you know this in theory. You know when you get pregnant that it's not about you anymore. From the second you conceive, your body is not your own and you begin to figure it out.
In theory.
Then the baby arrives and you really start to figure it out. If that little bundle of joy wants to eat at 2 a.m. then, gosh darn it, you are going to drag yourself out of bed and feed her. It doesn't matter how bone tired you are, you do it. Because you are a mom.

And if that baby girl decides, just as you are about to start cooking dinner, that she needs you RIGHT NOW, then you stop what you are doing and be with her. Because you are a mom.

Today, I had a Day. You know what I mean.....the kind of day that leaves you drained, emotionally and physically. The kind of day where you are driving home and all you want are cozy clothes, a rather large glass of wine and a pint of the good ole' boys: Ben and Jerry. Today, I was driving home on the verge of tears because I knew that what awaited me was a sick little girl I spent the day worrying about who only wanted me to hold her close. And a project for class that I am supposed to talk to my principal with on Wednesday. And old papers to correct, two loads of laundry to put away, a dishwasher to empty, a trip to the grocery store to get the things Aliza needs according to the doctor and.....well, you get the picture.
But I am a mom. So despite my desire to curl into a little ball, I came home, took care of my little girl, went to get the stuff she needed to feel better, emptied that dishwasher, worked a bit on my project and spent the night hoping, wishing, praying that my little girl sleeps through the night for the first time in several nights.
And I did it all.
Because this is the reality of being a mom.
And I am a mom.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Do I have to get coffee too?

It's official....I'm an intern.
Administrative intern that is. In addition to, you know, my regular teaching job. Oh yeah, and writing a thesis. And let's not talk about my practicum because I submitted the proposal so long ago and have thought about it so little that I barely remember what my topic is. (A fact that became abundantly clear when I was speaking with a higher up from Central Office and, when asked what my project was for my practicum, I had to stumble around and stall a bit to come up with what I was actually doing. He seemed more flabbergasted by the fact that I was doing all three major projects at once and managed to ignore my bumbling.)

I had my first internship meeting where we got a rather large packet filled with paperwork detailing all of the things we need to accomplish over the coming year. My university apparently prides itself on having the internship run through the summer so that people can gather hours when they aren't teaching full time. I guess I won't be going too far this summer. Anyways, lucky for me I'm so over committed (I knew that would come in handy at some point) I've already started working toward my 240 hours of experience I need. I've got three.
Hey, it's a start.

Here's the thing (and yes, I know I'm crazy).....I don't want my internship to be filled with boring, meaningless work. Some of what I'm already doing--chairing committees, serving on two district wide committees, presenting professional development--will count, and for that, I'll admit, I'm grateful. I might just shoot myself if I had to start from ground zero and fill my it is, it is doubtful I'll make it through without a nervous breakdown. As for the rest, I'm hoping that my time will be well spent and meaningful. I don't want to be relegated to making schedules (not that that isn't a worthwhile pursuit, obviously, it is and it needs to be done, but, well, I've done that before) or fetching coffee (I do think that perhaps I should have offered to get my principal a coffee when we were attending a workshop together, especially after he pointed out the fact that I *hadn't* gotten him one. Ooops.) I want to LEARN something. I want to do something meaningful. I want this experience to be one that I'll walk away from and feel proud of. So that when I go on that job interview for that principal position, I can pull from this experience and say, I DID that, I LEARNED that.

I guess it's just a matter of coming up with something brilliant and worthwhile to do.

I think I'd have an easier time with that if my brain weren't so overloaded.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I might just need a storage unit

My dad has a drawer in his nightstand. It is a drawer where he has tucked away little bits and pieces of our childhood.....birthday cards we made him.....the hat with the ears hanging down the side that used to make him laugh every time I wore it.....letters from summer camp, mine tear stained and Mike's short and to the point......the programs from our college graduations.....little memories of our childhood.

I have already started my own collection.

I'm sure, at some point I will be able to throw away some of her many drawings and pieces of art work. But, for now, I can't. To me, each one is so precious, so special. Evidence of her growing abilities and proof that she is curious and creative and smart. I especially love the artwork I receive from daycare, where they let her experiment with things that I haven't yet tried at home. Things like glue and different texture fabric scraps.....There is a small pile accumulating on top of our fridge that I need to find a new home for, but, for now, it sits there, because I like taking them down and looking at them, marveling at the little girl my baby is becoming.

Then there is The Notebook. Every day that Aliza goes to daycare I fill out a sheet telling them any news or notes and the food I'm sending in with her and they return it to me with a little bit about her day. I've saved every single one. My binder is already growing too small, and clearly I need to either graduate to a larger one or find a spot to store the old notes. The notes, when I reread them are another journey Aliza is on in her little life. They start with comments like this: "Day #1 was a little tough for Aliza emotionally. She has taken to all of the teachers and did quietly observe the other children at play, which she did not do much of, but she did enjoy the purple rocker! Remember, it will get easier for ALL of you!"

To this in early September:
"Aliza had a wonderful day! She danced with me and clapped! She laughed with a full belly at all my silly dance moves. She is a pleasure to have with us!"

To this:
Aliza had such a smiley day! She seems to be crawling less and trying to walk independently more and more!

And this:
"Aliza had a ball outside today! She walked around singing "la, la, la" and pushing a fire truck. The wind was so strong at one point she almost got blown over! But she didn't mind! She keeps talking more every day!"
See why I can't throw the sheets away?

So not only is there art work accumulating, and a notebook overflowing with daycare notes, there are tons of other little things, that I am storing and saving. Like the banner from her first birthday party. Her hospital bracelets from when she was born, of course. Several little photo books from various holidays and events.....I even have paper that she's scribbled on and insisted she's writing her name!
I think it's time for a storage unit.....because a large trash bag is just not an option at this point.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Save Squirt

Nine years ago a teammate decided to buy a snake as a class pet. My class, of course, decided that they wanted a class pet too. I stalled a bit, but ultimately decided a class pet could be fun.... partly because of the person I am and partly because I remember being in fifth grade and having newts and crawfish as a pet and thinking it was the Best Week Ever when it was my turn to take care of them.

I turned it into a teachable moment of course....had the class list all the possible pets (nothing with fur or feathers- school rules), divided them into teams and made them do research and present their findings to their classmates....set up a voting both, made them research again once a winner was selected so that we could get all of the materials we needed to care for said pet and finally, when I had stretched it out as long as I could, bought the class pet- a leopard gecko:

We voted on a name too: Squirt (named after the turtle in Finding Nemo). So I'll admit--and not many people know this secret--Squirt #1 didn't last so long. She was sickly and died shortly after arriving in our classroom. The class never knew, I pretended I had brought her home and returned with a new Squirt.

Squirt #2 has now been with me for nine years. Many students have come and gone in my classroom and have had the opportunity to learn about Squirt and to care for her. Former students check in on her, and will even stop me in the hall to ask how she is doing.

I knew Squirt was special, but I didn't realize how special until she got sick. That's right, Squirt is sick. The first signs started a few months ago. She started having difficulty shedding, and needed help pulling some of her skin off. Her appetite dropped off a bit. I did my research, dropped a pretty penny at my local PetCo and she seemed to be improving. But, recently, her decline worsened. It got bad enough that even my students started thinking she didn't look good. I even had a chat with my class and, in as nice of terms as I could put it, I told them I wasn't so sure she'd make it through the year.

That very night, one of my parent's emailed me to let me know that her sister is a vet, and her old boss specialized in Leopard geckos. I reassured the mom that it wasn't necessary although I appreciated the offer and the mom promptly made an appointment. Two vet visits later Squirt is now on three different medications, has to soak two times a day in a lukewarm "bath", has to be force fed a meal of pureed cat food, Ensure and vitamins (which smells delicious by the way!) and had to have numerous (costly) changes to her habitat.

Crazier than that (because, yes, I know that is crazy) is the outpouring of support Squirt is receiving. My school psychologist emailed to check on Squirt, a special education teacher asked me about her at the start of a meeting, which then prompted a good five minute conversation with everyone at the table and, even more amazing, the parents in my classroom have stepped up to care for her. Two different moms have paid for her vet visits--one late enough at night that the poor mom had to hire a babysitter to stay with her other children and the second visit caused the student in my class to miss her Variety show rehearsal (quite the big deal, trust me!). Both refused to take money, insisting on spending a ridiculous amount to care for Squirt. One of my room parents sent out an email to all parents asking for help and financial support. She also emailed the PTA president and asked if a collection jar could be put in the front office....

All this for a leopard gecko. A very adorable leopard gecko, granted, but, a leopard gecko all the same. Just goes to show you that pets, big or small, furry or not, touch lives.

I just hope she lives.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I really wish there was a pause button

I'm pretty, I'm downright positive that it was just a few days ago that I was feeding Aliza like this:

And I believe it was just yesterday that she sat in her high chair for the first time: And I KNOW she just ate solid food for the first time just a few hours ago:

So how in the world did THIS happen?! Big girl chair, big girl plate, big girl fork and big girl food....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Parenting 101

I've known all along- there isn't a manual. No directions on how to raise a child, no sure-fire way to ensure that your child is well mannered, self motivated and kind. As a teacher, I've come across a number of children whose parents I wish I could sit down, pen and paper in hand, and ask, "OK, so WHAT did you do to raise such an awesome kid?" I've also come across those kids who, when June 23 hit, I wasn't all that sad to say goodbye to.....As two teachers, Russ and I are firm believers in structure, routines and boundaries. Ten years of teaching experience, and countless years of working with children in other capacities, has taught me that kids NEED those things. It's just a matter of figuring out how to give them those things.

Since there is no manual, you have to use the sense that God gave you, the advice from family and friends, your own recollections of how you were raised and just muddle through, praying all the while that you are doing an OK job.

Aliza is just on the verge of that age where the tantrums are starting. We are seeing little glimpses, here and there, of what's in store for us. Overall she's an awesome child. Loving and sweet with a fantastic sense of humor and a love for singing, dancing and drawing. She doesn't watch T.V. for more than a second or two, she loves to read and be read to and, best of all, she loves to hang out with her Mommy and Daddy. I mean, I'm one seriously blessed mom.

She is, at times, becoming awfully opinionated about what she wants, even if she can't even communicate it. And, being 1 1/2 she wants it Right Now. The other day is a prime usual I was cooking dinner. Also as usual, Aliza decided she wanted to be in the kitchen with me. And by decided, I mean she was standing at the gate to the kitchen, rattling the bars and crying loudly. We finally allowed her into the kitchen, hoping she'd head over to "her" cabinet (that contains only Tupperware) or the fridge phonics, or the pad of paper that she loves to grab and then write all such luck. She came straight to me, clung to my legs, looked up at me and said "Mom-mom, UP!" When I couldn't pick her up immediately (sharp knife, hot oil, frying garlic....bad combo) she insisted more loudly and literally clung to my legs as I attempted to walk around the kitchen cooking. Now, thinking about it, it's a rather funny mental image, but in the moment it wasn't so funny.

Her new thing lately is to throw her food off her highchair. She used to do this in the past, but stopped for quite some time. Now, when she's done eating, or if she just feels like it, she picks up her pieces of food and chucks it right over the edge of her chair. Actually, she doesn't discriminate, she'll throw her fork, spoon, cup, plate....all right over the edge and onto the floor. Russ and I went through several ways of dealing with this. First to say no, of course. Then to remove all food from her tray. Then to make her pick everything up at the end of the meal. Finally, we have decided to try something new. Now, the second she throws something over the edge of her high chair we stop everything, take her out of her high chair, make her pick it up and give it to us and then put her back in her high chair to continue eating. This felt like an appropriate, natural consequence to us.
Last night we did this three separate times.

The thing is, who knows if this is the right move.....we certainly don't. What we do know is that Aliza has to learn not to throw her food on the floor. What we also know is that she doesn't do this elsewhere--like day care, or at restaurants. We also know that both of us were getting tired of picking up the floor every night after dinner. So, we're attempting to stay consistent, even if it is annoying to take her in and out of her chair several times, and we are hoping she gets the message.
Sooner rather than later.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Turkey Roulade....a.k.a. where Aliza gets it from

The other night I tried out a new recipe from this awesome cookbook my mom bought me. I knew (or I hoped), before I even started that it was going to be yummy, so I decided to document my progress.....also to prove that Aliza isn't the only chef in the family!
I started with a mixture of spinach, ricotta and shredded mozzarella:
Then I pounded out some turkey breasts and spread out the spinach and cheese mixture:Next I made a quick fresh marinara sauce:

Then I rolled up the turkey, secured them with toothpicks and spooned the sauce over them. Here they are, ready to go into the oven:
After baking them for a bit, I added shredded mozzarella to the top. They came out looking like this:

I think they ended up looking just like the picture in the cook book:

I would like to add that all of this deliciousness happened on my first day back at work after vacation.....

Monday, January 04, 2010

My little chef

Notice how- mid-way through her cooking- Aliza stops to take a taste before adding more "herbs"....