The New Year: Seven Years Later

If someone had asked me ten years ago what I’d be doing now, I don’t think starting my 7th year teaching high school English would’ve been my answer.

If you haven’t read my really old posts, I started teaching without zero experience. Zero. I’d taught exactly one lesson when I walked into my interview. I’d never subbed for another teacher. I’d never student taught. Zip. Nada. Zilch. I walked in cold with keys to an empty classroom.

Two weeks before the 2008-09 school year started, I stared at the vastness that was my classroom. And then I built a tree.

Having a comfortable classroom is part of my teaching style I guess. And I had plans for that giant paper tree in the corner. It took me the better part of a day to get it up and looking just so. I hadn’t received my curriculum yet so why not build a tree?

Seven years later, I’m still concerned with what goes on my walls but I learned that hand-built trees aren’t appreciated as much by the audience as they are the maker.

Seven years later, I still cringe when I think of that first group of kids I taught. I’m still mortified by my greenness back then and feel sorry for them. Except for 7th period. They were the spawn of Hades. (But not Pearla – she was so sweet and timid and a hard worker. I felt sorry that she was in that class.)

Seven years later, I still reflect every year and try to do better by my students. I know there are still (STILL!) teachers that pull out the same lesson plans year after year. In this age of dwindling unions and Common Core, that practice is diminishing. And maybe it’s just my own boredom that gets me to keep changing how and what I teach each year. I just can’t imagine teaching the exact same thing every year. Even if I teach the same novels because that’s what the novel list dictates, I still come up with a different way to approach it.

Seven years later, I still believe that I’m actually making a difference somehow. It’s hard to see the impact when I’m knee deep in the muck the kids throw at me on a daily basis (apathy, excuses, laziness). But I think it happens. I do.

The Business of Oil

I don’t know if it’s the Washington air or my getting older but I find myself trying to approach some things in life more naturally.  Like my health.  (Never mind the three bags of Cheeto Puffs I inhaled while in California during the quilt retreat last weekend – what happens at quilt retreat, stays at quilt retreat.)

Occasional junk food aside, I do like trying to find natural alternatives to everyday chemical products.  Except toilet cleaner.  Have you ever tried to use an all-natural toilet cleaner?  If you have well water or hard water, you can almost forget about your toilet ever being sparkling again without bleach.  Thankfully, Lysol makes a cleaner that is septic-safe.  And it kills the stains. I like a clean toilet so I don’t mind the chemicals there.

But I do sometimes mind all the pain killers, allergy pills, and other medications.  I used to get excruciating migraines ten years ago.  Only a prescription medication would dull the pain.  I don’t have anything against prescriptions when they’re absolutely needed.  I get it.  I’m on a daily thyroid medication.  But when I just have a dull ache in my temple or my lower back is stiff from sitting on the floor, I don’t always want to be popping a pill to get rid of the pain.  And that’s when I started researching essential oils.

I won’t overwhelm you with what I found because there is SO much information about oils out there.  But I will tell you what I love about them.  They’re plant based and have no chemicals.  While oil remedies might take more frequent and longer doses (as most natural remedies do), the outcome is the same as their chemical counterparts.  I love a dab of lavender on my temples when I’m feeling stressed.  I used to use peppermint for my sinuses and plan to use it again once I’m done breastfeeding (peppermint decreases milk production and I’m all about boosting it right now.) Fennel is great for boosting milk production though.  Eucalyptus and Oregano are alternatives to peppermint for sinus issues. Breathe is an oil blend by DoTerra that is a mix of several fantastic oils like peppermint and tea tree to really clear up those sinuses. Deep Blue can be found on the same page as Breathe and it’s another awesome oil to mix with carrier oil and rubbed directly onto the lower back (my biggest problem area in terms of soreness, especially as little miss grows!)

Some oils can be ingested and some are better used topically.  I personally like to put a couple drops on the soles of my feet straight, without a carrier oil.  And carrier oil is just a plant based oil that allows oils (even hot ones) to be placed on the body if you have sensitivities or you are putting them on young children.  Some people use fractionated coconut oil (some fats have been removed so that the oil stays in a liquified state) and some use almond oil.  I’m using almond oil right now because that’s what I have in my house and it’s what I use on little miss after her baths.

Speaking of little miss, I use a couple drops of lavender in her bath at night.  A couple is all that’s needed because essential oils are so strong.  A 5mL bottle will last quite a while even when using it every day.

I also have a diffuser for my classroom that I’m excited to try out with the On Guard blend from DoTerra.  Every year without fail, my classroom becomes an incubator for germs (what classroom doesn’t?) No matter how often I sanitize desks and door handles, the crud gets passed around multiple times a year.  I’m planning to diffuse On Guard every day to protect not only me and my family but my students as well.  I’m hopeful that there will be fewer absences this year.

Do you use essential oils? Which ones do you find most beneficial?

Almost all the oils I mentioned are in the Family Physician Kit (click here and use the search bar to find the oils (including the fractionated coconut oil) you’re looking for.)  Fennel and Eucalyptus are single oils and they can be found here

All opinions stated are my own. As a Wellness Advocate for DoTerra, if you purchase anything through my retail site, I will earn a commission.

Months 3 & 4

Now that little miss is rounding the corner on her fifth month, maybe I should sum up her last two months, hmmmm?

My only excuse for the lack of blogging these days is this cutie pie:

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Around month 3, we sort of fell into a routine. She sort of started napping but still in only 30-40 minute increments unless I wore her in the Ergo or we were driving a long distance.

Around this time too Maddy started sleeping in more regular chunks at night. Everything I’ve read about infant sleep is so contradictory. She is breastfed so she will wake up more often during the night but being breastfed doesn’t mean every infant wakes during the night. Some infants sleep for 8-9 hours from the get go and some just continue to wake up during the night till they outgrow it. Unless the wakeups start to interfere with my ability to function coherently during the day while teaching, I’ll continue to wake up with her. Even though she’s pretty much still asleep, it’s our time.

Little miss also started playing more and smiling a ton. Her little personality really started to emerge. She’s still a fish in water and still hates her car seat.

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Little miss is now what we call “long and lean” at 25.25 inches tall and 13 pounds at month 4. This has been her busiest month of her little life. She’s learned to roll over and over and over and can do it so quickly now. Just in the last week she’s been up on her knees and hands often. I fear crawling is just around the corner!

She also traveled to California once again. This time the flight down did not go as smoothly but since we only flew one way I didn’t sweat it too much. We drove back home with The Mister. She alternated crying and sleeping the entire time. Thankfully, sleeping ate up most of her time spent in the car.

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Like I said, little miss loves her baths and being in the pool at grandma’s was like a giant bathtub – temperature and all! She kicked and kicked her way around the pool – she just loved it. I can’t wait to start swim lessons with her next year!

Making Do

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Sometimes you just have to get comfortable any way you can. Little miss clearly is comfy. Momma makes do.

Baking Math

It’s been a weekend of experimentation.

The Mister’s birthday is today.  And he loves German chocolate cake.  More specifically, he loves my sister-in-law’s German chocolate cake.  Since she lives 1000 miles down in CA, we had a problem.

Fortunately, I knew which cake recipe she uses (or used to – I don’t know if that’s changed).  It’s straight off the Hershey’s cocoa powder tin.  I love that it’s a chocolate cake and not a true German chocolate cake because German chocolate cake never tastes chocolatey-enough for me.  

But the frosting.  I didn’t know her recipe for the frosting.  But lucky for me she shared her grandma’s recipe.

Here’s where the math comes in.  The Mister emphatically told me more than once he didn’t want a whole cake.  Because then, you know, we’d eat the whole darn thing.  He said cupcakes would be best. So I took both recipes, cake and frosting, and divided by the lowest common denominator.  That turned out to be 4.  Which still made about 8-ish cupcakes.  And more than enough frosting.

Here’s where I should show you a picture of the finished cupcakes with their coconutty pecan-filled toppings.  

::crickets::

Yah.  They’re gone.  All gone.  And I’m told they were delicious.

What’s up?

1) Major sleeping issues with the little miss. I am is seriously sleep-deprived.

2) so many visitors this summer! It’s been fantastic seeing our friends and family this year.

3) I opened up my etsy shop. It’s small right now but I’m slowly adding more each week.

4) we are gearing for our annual trip down to Hades aka the Central Valley. We plan to spend most of our time in the pool.

What’s up with you? Anything exciting happening mid-summer?

Bath time Thoughts

As I watch my baby girl kick her feet in the water, splashing me in the face as well as herself, I wonder what she’ll be like in five years. Ten. Twenty.

Will she try all the veggies we put in front of her?

Will she only eat pasta and cheese?

Will she have light hair as I suspect?

Will she climb our fruit trees with reckless abandon?

Will she hate us for being an only child?

Will she love to swim?

Will she grow up to love her state of Washington or itch to leave as soon as she graduates high school? (Go class of ’32!)

One thing I don’t wonder is whether or not she’ll know she’s loved. Because she will. Every single day.

Mish Mosh of Random

Time really does fly when you have kids.
Cliche but true.
Little miss is almost four months old and I haven’t even done her three month wrap up OR picture.

::shaking my head::

I haven’t just been busy with the kiddo either. But she adds a whole ‘nother layer of busy to everything else I do around here. An unpredictable layer.

For example, she’s taking a very long nap today. Long for her. Long ever. Almost two and a half hours. But I wouldn’t know she’d sleep so long and so can’t plan for this blessed amount of time to get things done. Because typically she cat naps for 30 minutes at a time. So I usually run around the house as fast as I can throwing laundry in, folding, taking a shower (maybe), doing dishes (quietly), and/or making up the bed.  Today, she catnapped around 9am and then fell asleep on me around 10:30. Here we are, two + hours later…

So I thought I’d take advantage and write a bit since the laundry is just about caught up, the kitchen is clean and the trailer is set up for our next set of visitors.

Happy summer time everyone! Our “heatwave” isn’t nearly as bad as our neighbors to the east (specifically Seattle/Tacoma) but it’s been pretty warm.  Hopefully, we’ll be back to our normal 60ish degrees by the time September rolls around.

We go back to school officially the Wednesday after Labor Day but we have a few days of inservice the week before our first day. I’ve been sketching out physical changes I want to make to my classroom as well as curricular ones.

I have things to paint and rearrange in there. Files to empty and set back up again. Boxes to be packed and cleaning to be done. My notebook to set up. The Mister and I are shooting for next week to get both our rooms in order. We’ll pass the baby back and forth. I may even have one of The Mister’s former students come in for a bit to watch her while one or both of us work.

I’m not really ready to go back to work. Well, I am but I’m not. I’m looking forward to focusing just on my Alternative kids this year. I’m looking forward to only working three days a week. But I’m not looking forward to little miss being in daycare. At least she’ll be with us more than she’s in care. And she will have a little friend who’s six months older than her there too.

I just have a feeling the first day is going to be tough. Like tears tough. For all of us.

But we’ll get through it. I’m not the first working mom ever to leave her child with strangers. And our daycare has come highly recommended by many people. So that’s reassuring.

So what else didn’t you want to know about my thoughts on leaving my baby in daycare??

Anyway.

I’ve also been researching and cooking more vegan and vegetarian meals these days. Little miss seems to have an aversion to dairy and beans and I’ve been avoiding meat. That makes for some interesting meals. Lots of veggies, some eggs, and a protein shake supplement just to be sure I’m getting enough protein while I’m still breastfeeding.

I do feel lighter eating so many veggies. My stomach, while no where near the flatness it was 10 years ago, feels flatter without dairy. I still have lots of work to do on tightening up the muscles but it’s good to not be working against the bloat of processed foods.

I really like Happy Herbivore and Bold Vegan recipes. Also, Post Punk Kitchen has some fun recipes as well. But like I said, it’s really interesting trying to find recipes that don’t use lentils or beans. Hopefully once little miss starts eating solids, I’ll be able to at least add those things back into my diet. I’ll have a much wider recipe base to choose from.

Have you ever cut out dairy or meat before? What happened?

Taking Stock

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I saw this done on The Small Things Blog and thought I’d give it a shot myself since I’m up early.  (Original post here.)  Little miss woke up around 5am for a little early breakfast and snuggle then went right back to sleep.  Since we’re leaving at 8am to go pick up Grandma from the ferry, I didn’t see any point in going back to bed when I’d be getting up pretty soon after.  So here we are.

 

Making : a tiny sweater for my tiny daughter
Cooking : vegan and vegetarian things these days
Drinking : decaf coffee with a smidgen of fully loaded
Reading: Goldfinch on my iPad
Wanting: to get back into a workout routine
Looking: forward
Playing: “who’s got your hands??” with my baby girl
Wasting: no time planning out the upcoming school year
Sewing: all things useful
Wishing: time would stop
Enjoying: my little family
Waiting: for everyone to wake up
Liking: mornings
Wondering: what my daughter will be like when she’s my age
Loving: little snippets of time to write
Hoping: I don’t screw up this parenting thing
Marvelling: at how quickly my daughter is growing
Needing: just a few more hours of sleep (kinda wish I had gone back to bed!)
Smelling: crisp after-rain air
Wearing: no perfume these days
Following: my instincts
Noticing: how blessed we are to live where we do
Knowing: what’s best for our family
Thinking: about meal planning
Feeling: happy we have another couple of months off
Bookmarking: recipes and dresses to make for tiny daughter
Opening: lovely packages from lovely people

Would you like another?

I participate in a couple of infertility forum communities online.  I’ve been with them for over three years.  There are many many women that have struggled with infertility for much much longer than three years.  And my heart breaks for them.  I feel so sad for those still longing for a child.  Just one. That was my prayer for those three years.  Just one, God.  That’s all I’m asking for here. Some of the women in the online communities continue to struggle with IF issues with multiple pregnancies.  They go through the IF dance with each one.  And some of those pregnancies were/are difficult till birth, every time.  I am in awe of their tenacity to grow their families.  They know exactly what they want and are willing to go above and beyond to fulfill the dreams they have for themselves. Little miss is only three and a half months old but I’ve been asked practically since she was born if The Mister and I would be trying for a second. After picking myself up off the floor, I give my standard, “Oh, let me just enjoy my daughter first.” Or if it had been a rough day, “Let me survive her first.” Now that some time has passed, I think I can safely say that she’s our one and only.  I asked and prayed for just one.  And she’s here.  The emotional roller coaster we went through to bring little miss into our lives was devastating at times.  I could barely hold it together some days.  I skipped baby showers and left rooms when a pregnant woman walked in.  I cried on the way home from work when yet another person I knew announced an impending birth.  My want for Maddy was so strong that it overshadowed so much of my life that was happening around me. I spent many days in my own sadness.  I couldn’t understand why The Mister and I couldn’t have a baby. All I wanted was her. And now she’s here.  After so many tests and medications and procedures.  She’s here.  Our one and only. To go through the emotional strain of trying to get pregnant again with years added onto our ages compounding the issue is just too much at this point (I’d be close to 40 before I’d even think about considering another).  I don’t want little miss to witness the strain or somehow feel the effects of it.  I don’t want to put The Mister through all that pain again either. Once was enough.  Though we’d go directly to IVF knowing our road blocks, I’d still live with that “what if??” monster.  That monster beat me up, stomped on me, and then kicked me in the knees for three years. We don’t need that monster in our lives.  There isn’t room for it.

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