Sunday, August 23, 2009

Welcome home!

So excited!! My brother comes home today! My amazing little brother (okay, maybe he's not so little anymore - he's 22) has ridden a BICYCLE across the country! Ever since high school and all through college, Larry was very involved in Habitat for Humanity. He was president of both schools' chapters and even when to DC to help lobby for affordable housing. After graduating in May from UVA's school of Architecture in this crappy job market - only 2 kids in his class actually found jobs in the architecture industry - he joined Bike and Build. He raised over $4,000 for this wonderful organization and joined 31 other young adults in a bike ride from Boston to Santa Barbara, CA over about 9 weeks. Along the way, they stopped in cities to help local chapters of Habitat for Humanity build houses. He's amazing! Did I forget to mention that my brother had only actually ridden a bike maybe 2 times before he began training for this monumental ride?? Anyway, I am SO PROUD of him! He tells all his stories much better than I could even attempt, so check out his blog: larrybikesamerica He also has amazing photos of his journey along historic route 66 and everything else from coast to coast.
Welcome home fratellino!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Condo living sucks

Well at least this one does. When we moved in to our brand new condo over 4 years ago, I never really thought about what it would be like to live on the 2nd floor of a building with a kid, let alone two kids! Over the past year, I've seen all the disadvantages of living here:
  1. The freaking parking lot. We are constantly battling with the townhouse owners (in the same development) that park in our spots rather than in their own driveways or garages. As it is, our building and the one across the street has less spots than the rest of the condos in the development. Especially in the winter or rainy seasons (which seems like all the time lately), it sucks when you can't park by the door or even near your own building. I really wish I had a driveway and a garage, especially during the school year when I ws trying to get a baby, my pump, lunch box and bag of work shit in the building at the same time.
  2. No space outside that's just mine. The builders had the brilliant idea of giving us "french balconies" off of our sunroom. The only problem: there's no freakin balcony! We have sliding glass doors that go nowhere. There's a railing right there! So what's the point of the sliding glass doors? I would kill for even the smallest little deck or a tiny back yard to take Alessia out to get some fresh air. Or to grill. I can't even tell you how much I miss being able to grill and eat in the great outdoors (or deck). It sucks.
  3. The stairs...What were we thinking?! It has been a major bitch and thorn in my side. Whenever I need to make a quick trip to get food or anything, I have to make sure all my purchases fit into one bag so I can carry Alessia up in the other arm. We went out yesterday and I happened to need a few things and ended up filling two bags. At least my recycleable bags can be carried on my shoulder. But they were stuffed and I just couldn't carry Alessia too. It was such a pain getting up the stairs! She crawled up, but had to pause and "test" each step for it's sturdyness. It took forever! How will I do it with two? When I go back to work I at least have to bring in my pump bag and the two kids, the rest can stay in the car until Mark gets home. Can't wait to see what a scene that'll be!
  4. There's no shade here!! Even though we have two playgrounds in the development, they're in the worst possible locations - in direct sunlight all day long. So the [probably toxic] plastic gets unbearably hot and renders it unusable. But try explaining that to a 15 month-old who just keeps saying "slide slide" every time we pass by. There's nowhere we can play out here where we won't boil in the sun. Oh and this summer they decided to add more mulch to the playground. Wonderful...except they used the same dyed one they use for the landscaping. God knows what is in it, not to mention it stains!
  5. oh my beloved pool, how you have betrayed me! Before Alessia was born, I spent literally every non rainy day poolside, never really bothered by the fact that there was no shade by any of the chairs or over any of the pool ( I was a sun worshiper and loved to just lie there and read). And I really didn't think too much about the fact that the builders didn't put in a baby pool. But now it sucks! Alessia is a little fish - loves the water! But I hate having her in the direct sun for that long and it has been a very exhausting first trimester holding her in the big pool (cuz of course it's not just holding her - she wants to "swim" and "jump" from the edge and bounce up and down.) Only recently has she let me put her in one of the plastic floaty things (although I cringe to think what it's made of), but we still can't go until around 4 or later. That's the other thing...the pool doesn't even open until 11. She eats lunch between 11:30 and 12 and sleeps from 1-4-ish. I still make the schlep with her as often as we can, because Lord knows I won't be able to do it next summer with a 3 month old in tow.
There are a few things that keep me going here: I love our condo - the way it flows, all the colors we used and the fact that all the wall corners are rounded. And of course, my wonderful neighbor and friend Danielle lives in the building right across the street. I would be miserable without her and freak out every time they talk about moving. Speaking of Danielle, she recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! Congrats! If she can live here with two kids, I guess there's hope for me too! She's been an inspiration to me in so many ways over the past year of our renewed friendship and has helped me transform into the mom I am today. Love you Danielle!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Big news

So I haven't been really blogging this summer (not like that's much different than all year long), but one of the reasons is that the only thing that has really been on my mind is that I'm pregnant again (baby #2) and I wasn't quite ready to tell people or really talk/write about it. We've actually known for a little over a month - we found out right smack bewteen the two funerals, so it was actually some much needed good news for both sides of the family. For me, I wasn't so sure at first. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about having another baby. I always wanted at least 2 kids, but, as everyone has heard me say numerous times, I didn't want two kids in diapers at the same time. I know it sounds ridiculous, and that's not really true...I just wanted Alessia to have enough time with us on her own before another one came along. We were planning on having them about 4 years apart, just about when Alessia was ready to start some sort of school and I could hopefully stay home the first year with the baby. But SURPRISE! it happened a lot sooner than expected.
As excited as I am, I have a lot of anxiety about this pregnancy and about our family growing. First of all, when I was pregnant with Alessia I didn't know half the things I know now about the food we eat, the products we use, etc. It was a pretty stress-free pregnancy. I just followed the short list of eat/don't eat the doctor gave me and enjoyed my weekly greasy cheeseburgers and fries. I didn't think twice about the bellly butter I rubbed on my belly religiously or the makeup I was using daily. Now I almost feel like the knowledge I have is paralyzing.
I'm also anxious about how the dynamic of our little family will change. My husband is really excited about the new baby, but he's the baby in the family and doesn't know what it's like when mom and dad bring home another one. I look at Alessia and I worry about how she'll feel about being a big sister. I know it'll be different than I felt when my sister (and later, brother) was born. I was 6. I remember being so excited and proud at first, "This is my little sister, isn't she cute?" And she was the most beautiful baby, which everyone always made a point of saying. My excitement and proudness soon turned to intense jealousy. I remember asking if we could send her back and making nasty comments when people said things like "she's so beautiful, she doesn't even look like a real baby. She looks like a doll!" I always had to point out how she pooped or smelled :o) I know it's natural for siblings to be jealous when a new one comes along, but knowing how it felt when all the attention shifted away from me and to the new baby, I just don't want to see that happen to my little girl. I'm assuming it'll be better since she'll only be about 2, but then I remember my cousin Olivia when her little sister came home from the hospital (same age difference as mine will have). She wouldn't even look at you if you were holding the baby. She soon got better, but it would just break my heart if Alessia did that.
I know there are things I can't control, Alessia's feelings being one of them, and that I shouldn't spend this whole pregnancy worrying. But I can't help it!
I hope I don't come off sounding like I don't want this baby, because of course I do. The emotions of a surprise pregnancy are just very different than a planned one.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Crazy craftiness

We've been up to some craftiness this summer. Our fun has included painting ceramic art, finger painting for the first time, lots of coloring, tissue paper and glue fun, making paper bag puppets and a trip to the Crayola Factory.

Here we are painting some ceramic shoes at our cousin Julian's birthday party:
Here she is doing some awesome fingerpainting with zia (aunt) Tina:

Here's her awesome Crayola Factory artwork:

Some more awesomeness - an underwater fish party! She had a blast gluing the tissue paper on (which were scraps left over from when I made paper "balloons" for her eco-friendly birthday party - which I am now realizing I never blogged about)
And our most recent craft, some paper bag puppets and a colorful sun. She loves these - I put them on and bark and meow at her and she cracks up! She decided she wanted to decorate everything with some shiny heart stickers. Lots of love in this house!

And here's mommy's craft of the summer. I really wanted to get Alessia some ABC magnets for the fridge, but you know me and plastics, so the traditional ones were out of the question. My sister Tina helped me make some wooden ones. And they came out freakin awesome (if I do say so myself!)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

slow summer

I can't believe summer is more than half over! We've actually spent most of the summer staying at my mom's between the funerals, then Mark has been working like a dog and her house is much closer than ours. Anyway, we have managed to get some fun in: while staying up there, we made some home-made playdough, went to the pool and enjoyed yummy fruit smoothies daily.

Alessia had a blast at nonna's, but I would say the highlight was definitely the playdough. It kept her occupied forever! Here's the recipe we used:


2 cups of flour

4 tbs. cream of tartar

2 tbs. cooking oil

1 cup of salt

Food coloring

2 cups of water


Mix the above ingredients in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the mixture congeals.

Store in sealed container in the fridge.

We made half the recipe, and instead of food coloring, used tumeric to color it yellow. The color actually came out really well. I was afraid it would stain our hands as we played, but it didn't at all. It did smell a bit when we played with it right away (like the tumeric) but the smell was gone by the next day. I did take pics, but unfortunately with my mom'ss camera and didn't send them to myself. Alessia loved it though. I found some old cookie cutters and a small wooden rolling pin and she just went to town! It was great not having to worry about her eating the dough, though she never even attempted it.

My mom has a Vitamix that I am now addicted to. We made yummy fruit smoothies everyday that I've been craving since we returned home. My specialty:






(and add some ice)


I'm sure I could make some yummy ones with an ordinary blender, but let's face it, it's just more fun with the powerful Vitamix!! Too bad we don't have any room to store one right now :o(

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Going greener

I've decided to finally ditch the disposable diapers and start cloth diapering. I've been wanting to for a long time, but my mother (who watches my daughter while I work) is completely unwilling to use them. So I finally made the plunge and ordered a set of Grobaby from Kellys Closet. I had tried this brand along with my friend Danielle at the beginning of the summer - she has an amazing and varied stash of cloth, and since she gave these a good review, I figured I'd buy a whole big package. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the switch, though I have to say dealing with Alessia's nasty poopy diapers is making me hope she catches on to potty training quickly! I just purchased some Smarti Pants as well to vary my own stash a little. I'm a little weary about the snaps because Alessia is a major wiggler when I try to put on a diaper, but I don't think the velcro can really last on the shells when they're getting washed every other day. I only have 11 shells and 25 inserts, so I'm doing a lot of laundry.

Speaking of laundry...since switching to cloth diapers, I've found that my laundry machine is a little stinky. I have an HE front loader. Anyone ever heard of this problem? I've tried washing the machine with vinegar, bleach, baking soda to get rid of the smell. As soon as I do another load, it's back. The only thing I can think of is that maybe since we have hard water, the drain is clogged or something and it's not draining properly. I've heard you should use Calgon if you have hard water, but where do you get that?

Any cloth diapering advise would be greatly appreciated! Including any ideas on how to get my mom on board for the fall (I've already told her I'm not paying for disposables, but that doesn't seem to phase her:o( )

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Still here

Can you believe it's already the end of July?? I can't. Although I finished work over a month ago, my summer didn't really get started until this past weekend. It was a really tough end of June and first half of July for me and my family. We lost two family members - one on my side and one on my husband's all in the span of a week.
My grandfather hadn't been doing well since his surgery in January, and pretty much right after school was out, I was back and forth seeing him in the hospital, then we he was sent home under hospice care, we went there. He passed away with family close by on July 5th after 6 months of suffering. It was a really difficult time for us, but we are comforted in knowing that he's no longer in pain. I was fortunate to be one of the last ones to see him sitting upright and conscious. He smiled at Alessia, played with her hand and spoke with us. Not even 2 days later, he was gone. I miss him dearly, and am filled with regret that I didn't go see him as often as I should. Too late now.
Exactly one week later, Mark's grandmother passed away, also due to an inability to recover from surgery. It was two very long weeks after all this time of uncertainty.
So I haven't really gotten a chance to enjoy my time off from work with Alessia and the summer is quickly passing us by. But you can be sure I going to try as hard as I can to make sure I don't waste a minute of the next month and a half with her.
Didn't mean to be a downer...that's just life lately.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A long time coming

I've been meaning to write this since the end of April, but, as usual, have not had any time. It's over! No more breastfeeding. It has been very bittersweet.

Let me take you back about a month...

Monday, April 20th: one week and a day before Alessia's first birthday. I do my usual morning routine: shower, strap on the pump while I brush my teeth and get ready. But... no milk!! So I was forced to send her a bottle of cow's milk (which I luckily bought the night before just so she could try a little before I switched over) At least I had a bottle from Friday for her morning bottle. It was traumatic, as silly as it may sound. I just wasn't expecting to be forced into it. To make matters worse, she wouldn't even drink it at first. I really didn't want to give her milk in a bottle and was planning on introducing it slowly with her sippy cup. My mom quickly gave in and put it in a bottle and had to water it down (gross). I continued to nurse her at 3, bedtime and when she woke at night.

Tuesday, April 21st: This is what went through my head as I woke up and got ready for work:

Just imagine my pump in place of the fax machine. I was really happy to be free of that thing and washing all the parts every freakin night.

We kept up the PM nursing, then literally right after she had her birthday, she started sleeping through the night. (I have not had a full night's sleep since I was pregnant. Can you believe I'm more tired now when my alarm goes off then when I had to get up several times?)

Fast forward to this past weekend: we took our first roadtrip down to VA for my little brother's graduation. I nursed her at a gas station in the afternoon on the way down, but substituted bottles on Sat and Sun because it was just too difficult to do while we were out and about, especially in a college town. Breastfeeding a one year old is nothing like breastfeeding an infant. It's impossible to do it discreetly – she despises the hooter-hider and pulls it off, and tends to fool around a bit. Then I tried again on the ride home, but she just didn't want it. Instead she thought it would be funny to bite me, blow raspberries, etc. Then she did the same at bedtime. On Tuesday, I decided to prepare a bottle before I brought her up, just in case. After signing milk, I tried to offer her breast, but she just fooled around. I showed her the bottle and asked which she wanted; though she came back to me for a second, she proceeded to point to the bottle, then went for it with a huge grin on her face. Last night I asked her again which she wanted, and she eagerly went for the bottle again :o( I knew it would happen eventually, and although I'm grateful she decided when to end it, I'm sad. We had a rough start, but overall I really enjoyed nursing her and the special bond we had. I especially miss our bedtime routine. But I guess I can't complain – we made it just over a year, and she never had formula (well except for the first couple days when we had issues). And I'm assuming that's how I shed all the baby weight and then some. Although I do wonder if all my weightloss contributed to the low milk supply towards the end or if it was 8 months of not pumping enough each day. On the upside, I can now enjoy adult beverages without worrying about it affecting her!

Anyway...just more proof my little baby's growing up.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Birthday part 2

I still can't believe my little gilr is one! Where did the time go?? I do have to admit, part of me was really upset on Tuesday, because I feel like I got jipped out of the past 7 months with her because I had to go back to work. But then we can't change that, so I just have to accept it and move on. I really would've liked to spend the day with her.

At least she LOVED the presents we got her: Green toys cookware set and Haba sticki blocks. She's been having a blast playing with them since she opened them. I was really impressed to see she can actually stack the blocks (they have pegs, kind of like a wooden version of Legos) I got them both from OompaToys, which I absolutely love. They have a great selection of natural and ecofriendly toys, and a ton of European toys. I think most of the stuff they create over in Europe is just so much more creative than the typical plastic crap we sell here. Mark ordered her an awesome walker from Plantoys, but it turned out to be backordered and won't come in until next week.

So proud - she actually goes for the card first! Here's Alessia enjoying her new toys:

She got a TON of clothes from both my parents and my inlaws, a couple of books from my nephews, a puzzle from my BIL and a bunch of Austrailian and New Zealand classic books and a miniature Kiwi bird.

We're still trying to figure out what to do about her birthday party. It was tentatively planned for the middle of June, partly because I want it outside at a park (ecofriendly theme), but mostly because my grandfather has been in and out of the hospital and rehab (basically a nursing home) for the past 4 1/2 months. He was taken home on Monday, but they had to bring him back to the ER today. I just don't know what to do. I feel a little differently than my family with regards to what is appropriate or inappropriate to do when someone is ill or worse. *sigh* I guess we'll continue to play it by ear. I don't have the energy to discuss it tonight.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Happy Birthday baby!

I know it's almost over, but I had to try to write at least a short little little baby girl turned 1 today!!! I can't believe it! It went by so fast. I couldn't take off work today due to state testing, but Mark stayed with her then our parents and siblings came down for dinner cake and presents. I'll be back with more details about our celebration tomorrow, but here's a cute shot for now:

:o( Our best friends Danielle, Pete and Eliza were supposed to join us too, but unfortunately a Coxsackie scare put the kabosh on that. We missed them.
Okay it was a very late night for us, so I'm going to sleep. But I will def be back tomorrow cuz I have lots to talk about - the times they are a-changin around here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Damn plastic toys!

Ignorance was bliss. Thanks to my dearest friend Danielle, who first opened my eyes to the toxins in our world and has led me to read countless articles and books, I am officially crazy when it comes to toxic plastic toys and cosmetics, etc. The lastest: trying to put together an Easter basket for Alessia. I bought her a beautiful wicker basket, lined with adorable fabric, but it is still empty. I went shopping today to get some fillers. I originally wanted to make her some fabric eggs, filled with all sorts of noise making goodies, but then realized that the only store around me that sells fabric is Wallmart, and I fiercely boycott that store, so refused to go there. Option 2: decorate some wooden eggs. So off to Michaels, but the only had a few and they were way too expensive. Plus then I started to get all anxious thinking about what kind of paint I would use. So I went next door to Target and had an axiety attack in the Easter section. I must've picked up 3 or 4 bags of plastic eggs, but just couldn't bring myself to buy them. I just kept looking at the "made in China" and freaking out, picturing toxic chemicals leeching out into the baby's skin (ala the green cold germs from the Lysol commercials). I couldn't even find anything in the toy section that I could buy her without freaking out. I just don't trust anything that was made in a country that knowingly put a toxic chemical in the infant formula because it was cheaper than putting real protein in it - they killed so many innocent children. And I'm supposed to buy toys from them?? Don't remember if I blogged it, but back in October, I spent almost an hour staring at spoons and bowls in Babies R Us, trying to figure out which ones were BPA free (prior to all the labels). I know that she doesn't really put toys in her mouth, but the two don't differ at all in my mind.
Then tonight one of my sweet neighbors came up with an Easter basket and I just cringed at the site: plastic basket filled with plastic "grass" and plastic eggs. The exact cause of my anxiety attack at the store. And of course Alessia loved it all, especially the "grass". But what was I to do? My family does this to me to - "I know you said no plastic toys, but is this one ok?" as she's given a gift with no receipt. And I'm not going to be a bitch and say no, but you know I'm thinking it. What am I supposed to do? I still haven't figured out what do put in her basket. Or in my cousins' baskets. I can't be a hipocrit and buy them things I consider toxic. Any green, nontoxic ideas?

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that I've had my eyes opened to this reality, but there was a lot less anxiety in my life when I was naive.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring Break

Well my spring break is finally here, but someone forgot to notify Mother Nature!! The weather is CRAPPY. Yesterday it poured all day, and today it's cold and miserable even though it's not raining. So much for our daily walks with Danielle and E or a trip to the zoo. But it's ok. I'm catching up on mommy/baby time and when she's sleeping, finally cleaning the house.

I can't believe my little baby is almost 1! 3 weeks from today she'll have her big birthday! This year really flew by. I wish I had been home with her the whole time, but that's life. She just amazes me though. She's still signing (when she wants), but hasn't added any new ones. She responds to a lot though, like the animals - I'll sign horse (her favorite right now), and she'll go get her horse. She is beginning to love music and is quite the little dancer. Yesterday she was rocking out to some Italian rap - Jovanotti. (yea, we don't really listen to "kids" music - I can't stand too much of it) My fears that I would have to feed her her own birthday cake are gone. She has become a pro at feeding herself and just shovels the food in. Speaking of birthday cakes, it has been a source of some disagreements around here. I don't want her to have a "traditional" chocolate cake. I would really like to get or make her a vegan cake since she hasn't had whole eggs yet, and something not too sugary. Any suggestions? On her actual birthday we're going to get together with my parents and my in-laws to have cake and presents, but we're not having her party until June. My grandfather has been in and out of the hospital and rehab for the past 3 months, so I wanted to wait a while in hopes that he'll recover enough to come. And if you recall from the Christening, I have a huge family, so our guest list is looking like around 70 people (adults and children), since we have some good friends with kids that we also want to invite. So I really wanted to have it outdoors, and hopefully will have good luck with the weather in June.

Well, Alessia is up and ready to play, so I'm off! Then we're heading out for dinner to celebrate my FIL's 61st b'day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Proud mom

really quick post...I have to get work done and finish cleaning up before heading to bed. But I just couldn't wait to blog this...

Alessia has been signing this week!! She started with "fan" (actually she started this sign last week and will not stop). She's obsessed with the ceiling fans in our house. She's beed attempting "light", but having a hard time differentiating it from "fan". Today she signed "more" repeatedly during dinner, then "bed" and I swear she attempted "book" after her latte. She's blowing me away!

Ok, got it out there, now I have to run! Can you tell I'm excited?

Monday, March 9, 2009

What happened to February??

When did it become the second week in March?!? No idea where February went. Actually I do...I was trying to balance work and being a mom. It's not going well. I had to stay home from work today, so I'm taking a moment while Alessia naps to catch up on my thoughts and (hopefully) commenting on the long list of posts in my reader. (I can read them at work, but can't comment. I'm still here though!)

Ugh. Today I was thinking about how completely naive I was about motherhood and working moms before I became one. Yes, I was guilty of being that "non-mom" that couldn't understand what my working mom coworkers and friends were talking about when they said they didn't have time to do anything. Or why they couldn't get their act together at work and come up with their own plans. Man, I was an ignorant bitch, even if I never voiced my opinions and just kept them to myself. Being a working mom SUCKS. Don't get me wrong, being a SAHM is hard work and exhausting in its own right. But I would give anything to be able to stay at home with my baby. It's a completely different type of exhaustion trying to balance work and mommyhood, and I feel like one of them always suffers. And for me, it's definitely work that's suffering. I hate it. I used to love teaching. I was a workaholic, staying late everyday. Now I dread going in. I'm beyond exhausted and after 6 months of this craziness, it's taking its toll on me. I have no time to do anything, unless I take time away from being with my daughter. That's not an option for me. I love being a mom. I love playing with her, sitting and reading books with her and just holding her. I don't want to miss this time to type lesson plans or grade papers.
Can't remember if I've mentioned it before, but I spend an average of 10-12 hours a week in the car commuting to and from work and picking up Alessia from my mom's. That's if there isn't ridiculous traffic on the highway (it once took me 3 hours to get home with a screaming infant. Had to stop on the side of the highway 3 times. It was horrible!) I can't take it anymore. On top of that consuming a ridiculous amount of time, since I'm still breastfeeding, I have to pump in the morning before going to work, then again during my prep at work (the only time I have to get things done, or rather don't have), and then take the time after she goes to sleep to wash all the freakin parts. I can't express to you how much I despise my pump. I would love to smash it to pieces when I'm done with it - just like the guys in Office Space and the copy machine.
For anyone that knows anything about breastfeeding and pumping, you know that you should ideally pump every 3 hours: typically 3 times during a work day. My schedule only allows for one time. So what has that done for me? After 6 months of not pumping enough (and not drinking enough and probably losing too much weight), I can barely get enough milk for Alessia's two bottles while she's at my mom's. That brings us to today. Flipped out this morning when I was barely getting anything after 15 min. Alessia doesn't drink formula and we haven't started cow's milk yet (she just turned 10 months a week ago), so I have no backup. I couldn't send her to my mom's with no milk, so I took a family sick day to stay home and be able to feed her. Is that ridiculous or what? I have some cooworkers that poke fun at the fact that I'm still pumping, and it pisses me off. They have no idea how hard it is. I can't do this with the next baby. I have to stay home at least a year so I don't have to pump. But that's a whole other long post. Ugh. I hate living in a country that makes it so difficult to be a SAHM (at least living in this area). or even give us a long enough maternity leave. *sigh* How do other moms do it?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Teacher blues

I'm so bummed tonight. I finally got the official go-ahead to tell my one class (7th grade) that as of next week I'm no longer their Italian teacher. I totally did not expect the reaction I got. Some of my students were actually crying. I felt horrible, shocked and deeply touched at the same time. When you teach this age group, you usually get the feeling the kids could care less who's teaching them. School is typically not their top priority.
To make a long story short, because none of the administrators thought the other teacher would return from her maternity leave - she had twins and is a little older - they did plan accordingly for her return. They couldn't find a maternity leave replacement, so they divided her schedule between some of the rest of us. We were told not to say anything to the kids from the beginning. So, that brings me to today, informing them that we have 3 classes left together and trying to help them make sense of the situation. All they kept saying was "why our class?" "don't you want to keep us?" After class, one of the girls came to find me at my hall duty to give me a hug and tell me that she's so upset, disappointed and how she's going to miss me. I felt so bad, especially since I have mixed emotions about the whole situation. As I wrote yesterday, I'm relieved to have a little less work and more time, but I don't want to give up any of my classes.
I can just imagine what kind of response the parents will have. I would be pissed if I were in their shoes. I spoke to one of the assistant principals, telling her my students' reactions and that I'm sure parents are going to call. She pretty much agreed and said to go ahead and tell them the truth: I'm disappointed with the way this matter was handled, as is the principal, then direct them to my supervisor. So we shall see. What would you think if you were one of my students' parents? I'm debating whether or not I should write my own personal letter to them, just as a bit of closure: it was a pleasure to teach your child, etc. Good/bad idea?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

where do I begin?

I've been away from my computer for so long, I don't even know where to begin with this post. So much has been going on, and although I mentally "write" my posts daily on my long drive home, by the time I actually get home, I don't have any time to sit at the computer and blog. (Let's not even mention the fact that I should be sitting at the computer and doing real work such as lesson plans and grades - which I am procrastinating now on this lovely snow day) But there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. If you recall, when I went back to work I complained about having an extra course to teach to cover for a maternity leave. Well the teacher is finally coming back next week, so I go back to my normal workload of 5 classes. One extra class actually makes a big difference - in addition to having another 28 kids to keep track of, it's 28 more papers to grade, etc and one less period to do it in (although I'm not getting another "free" period - I'll have another hall duty, but I can get work done at that time). So although I'll greatly miss the extra pay (1/6 of my base salary), I'm looking forward to a little less work. I was beginning to lose my mind a bit.

In Alessia news, my baby is 9 months old today!! Happy birthday pupa! She's on the move now, crawling like a champ and climbing and walking along the furniture. The little daredevil likes to let go now and then as well. Sometimes it's like she has a hot pepper in her butt though. She won't stay still! Not a problem, until it's time for latte. Let's just say she's getting creative in her nursing positions:
Speaking of breastfeeding, as the time continues to fly by and we get closer to the 1-year mark, I have been thinking about weaning her. I never thought I would make it this far (especially with having to pump at work), and although some of my friends say they give me a lot of credit for continuing, I say I'm just a big baby when it comes to weaning. I can't bring myself to do it. So although I may say we'll stop at a year, I'm sure I'll still be breastfeeding her at least at night for as long as she wants. The plan now is to slowly start her on milk at a year during the day so I can finally end my relationship with the pump and the book closet.

Yes, this is where I spend 15 minutes a day so my angel can have her precious latte. Isn't it beautiful? The best is when I come out and there are a group of kids at the table. They look at me like "what the hell were you doing in the closet?" And the story is..."oh she's organizing the closet." It must be really messy for me to be in there every day all year! What a shame we have to concoct stories to hide what we're doing, like it's disgusting or inappropriate. And what a shame that in a work environment where all 3 administrators are women, they can't find/set aside a comfortable, clean, and private place for us working moms to pump. Oh well. At least it's not in a bathroom stall. And I get 15 min a day to actually sit and read. I've been working on The Omnivore's Dilemma since October, but finally getting close to finishing it! (More on that book later)

I know this is a loooong post, but just one more thing, then I'm off to try to accomplish some real work. Why are some women (especially fellow moms) so judgemental? I've been getting some annoying feedback, criticism, etc. about my parenting methods and attempts to be green. Why can't people just let me be? I'm not saying anything about what they do in there own lives. But why can't they just honor my wishes, especially when it comes to my baby and what toys, food, etc I expose her to? Apparently I'm a wack job and a difficult mom. Whatever. At least I'm not the only one! I'm sure I'll be back to gripe about this topic some more later. For now I'm off to grade some quizes.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Routine, routine, routine

Is there such a thing as too much routine when it comes to a baby? Mark and I don't keep Alessia on a strict schedule, time-wise, but we do have a routine we typically stick to. After spending a week at my mom's while he was on a business trip, I began to wonder if our nightime routine is, well, too routine. Here's what we do:
  • some after dinner silliness downstairs - usually some more playing or goofing around in front of the hallway mirror
  • bathtime - and this has its own routine:
  • silly dancing around to the Black Eye Peas "Pump it" (Alessia just loves it) and stripping down for the bath
  • watching daddy fill the tub and play hide-and-seek with the baby in the mirror
  • bath time - always the three of us
  • some more mirror sillyness while daddy cleans the tub and toys
  • play with the cheesy electric light-up fish tank while I moisturize her and put on her diaper
  • "latte" and story time: Mark and I read to her as she nurses
  • Daddy and Alessia play around with their mirror counterparts
  • Spell Alessia's name on her door (she has an adorable sign that she always looks at and makes her smile)
  • And finally, put her down to sleep.
This routine just kind of evolved since I went back to work, and it works for us. The problem arose when I tried to do it alone or with my mom's help last week. Alessia screamed bloody murder at bathtime and tried to climb out of the tub. All week I could only manage to give her spongebaths and putting on her pjs was a struggle. I guess she was looking for daddy. She tolerated mommy-only story time and me putting her down, but man was it a rough week. We're both glad daddy came home!
Now Mark and I are wondering if we're too routine with her. She can tolerate differences when we're home, for example when our weekly dinners with Danielle go late and we have to skip a bath, she's perfectly fine. I dunno. What do you think? Is it possible to be too routine?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Will you stop growing up already??!!

Alessia is getting bigger way too fast! Last Tuesday she started "big girl" crawling, and now she's a speed demon and has figured out how to do it on the slippery hardwood floor. We're in big trouble when we finally go home from my mom's on Friday. The house is totally not ready for a mobile baby yet! Her new thing is to climb up things and use them to walk around. She's always so proud of herself when she does it to. Huge smile on her face. And the girl has no fear! She'll just let go and BOOM! I'm usually good about catching her, but today I just couldn't get a good grip and she hit her head on the wood floor :o( I definitely freaked out, but after a kiss from mommy, she was fine. I guess she really didn't hit it as hard as I thought. I keep trying to tell her she's a baby, not a big girl yet! And stop growing up!! I think she'll definitely be walking before her first birthday, which seems to be sneaking up on us. I can't believe she'll already be 9 months at the end of this month!
Ugh...why can't they just stay little and helpless for just a little longer? At least she's still nursing, so that makes me feel better. And this week, it's been just the two of us sleeping in the bed at night and she's been adorable when waking for a feeding. I guess she can't really see me because the room is much darker than ours at home, and she just woke me up by reaching out for my face and holding it with both hands, then nuzzling me. Got to love bedsharing!

Monday, January 12, 2009

And we're back!

Ugh...I orignally started this blog as a forum to talk about my "adventure" as a new mom when I was on my maternity leave. Then I went back to work, and any shred of "free" time has vanished. It sucks, because I feel like as a working mom, I need this outlet more than before, but have absolute no time for myself to actually sit down and write down my thoughts. I called out sick today to take a "mental" day (also my mom has had to work for the past 2 weeks, so it has been a little difficult with Alessia). I don't want to complain too much, because I know there are a lot of working moms out there who have it much more difficult than I, but this really sucks. I'm so behind at work: partly due to the extra course I'm teaching (=one less period to do my work), and because I can never find time to do it at home. Well I guess that's a lie. More like I'm not really willing to do it at home. By the time I get home from my mom's every afternoon, I have about 2 hours before Alessia goes to sleep. Subtract the time to make and feed her dinner, and there really isn't a lot of time to spend with her. I didn't have a baby to plop her in the pack and play or in front of the tv while I work. I want to enjoy her. I don't want to wake up one morning and realized I missed my little girl growing up because I was grading papers or typing lesson plans. Before I had her, I was all about work and took pride in my lessons. Now I feel like I have great ideas but neither the time nor the energy to actually execute them. *sigh* Oh well, I can only do so much.

Enough whining. For those of you (namely Tina enjoying her adventures in NZ) that check this for updates on Alessia, here's all the excitement that's been going on here:
What she's doing:
  • "big-girl" crawling. Yup, she's officially on the move. She actually started last Tuesday, and is getting faster and faster. She loves chasing Danielle's cats.
  • pulling herself to standing in her crib. Started that on Friday. Not so excited about that one. We have to lower the mattress again. She is so cute when she does it though...huge smile on her face - she's so proud of herself!
  • walking while holding on to her crib rail.

What she's "saying"

  • "dada", well actually more like "dadadadadadada"
  • "mmmmm" but no mama yet
  • "nanananana"
  • and still doing the "gremlin" noises.

What she's eating:

  • big-girl food, cut into chunks. Though she absolutely refuses to feed herself. She'll pick up the pieces and mash them between her fingers, but won't put them in her mouth. She leans forward for me to do it. Which is okay by me. I don't want her growing up too fast!
  • chunks of:
  1. broccoli
  2. cheese
  3. banana
  4. kiwi
  5. sweet potato
  6. pasta
  • pastina
  • yogurt
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • pork
  • beef
  • and all the "starter" fruits and veggies

Suprisingly (even to myself), I'm still making all of her food. She has actually never tasted prepared baby food. I guess it turned out being a lot easier than I originally thought, so I've kept up with it. God knows it's been saving us a lot of money, especially combined with the fact that we're still not giving her formula.

Ooh, and the biggest little baby has teeth! One officially "out" - bottom right rises up from the gums. Bottom left has cut through the gums, and top right is just about through as well. I just noticed the top one last night while I was tickling her on the floor. I don't have any pics because she refuses to show us her teeth, but hopefully soon. I'm at my mom's for the week while the hubs is in AZ, so I don't have any pics to upload right now, but if you check out Danielle's weekly winners, she has two of Alessia from Sat.

One of my new year's resolutions was to try to find time (ha!)for myself to continue blogging and get back into yoga, so hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with a new post!