The Author

My photo
I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wonderful Weekend

This is a blog post that really demands some pictures, but I have only taken a few, so I'll have to wait to see what people post on FB, and then I will add some. :-)

I have found that more people than I ever imagined actually do read my blog, and since I have been so negative lately, I thought I should update with my refreshed positive attitude before everyone starts to think I am eternally miserable.

As I write this, Vinny is making me lift my feet up so he can vacuum under me with his cousin Hannah's pretend vacuum. I should thank my lucky stars he is turning out like his daddy... he likes vacuuming.  Haha.

This weekend we are in Arizona. We have many family members and friends out here, so this trip had several purposes. We got to introduce family to baby Tiana, and we got away for our anniversary, which is actually on Monday. 7 years. Woo hoo.

We drove out Friday, and the drive was long as all heck, bu
t I guess not too awful. We did stop so Tiana wouldn't be miserable, but it sure made for a long drive. We spent that night at Marc's sister's house, which meant Vinny actually got to spend some awesome quality time with his Aunt Tricia that morning. She was one of those few awesome adults without kids who still understand that kids are just small people and treats them as such. I dislike very much when adults ignore Vinny, especially when he is talking to them. Tricia never does that, and Vinny just adores her.

Vinny and Hannah being silly at breakfast.
In the morning, we stopped by my grandmother's house so she could meet her new great-granddaughter. She appreciated it. Then we headed over to my aunt and uncle's house where it was an interesting sentimental reunion of sorts. My papa and nana were visting, and they got to see all of their great-grandchildren together at once. I hope someone got a picture of all five of them. I didn't think of it, but I hope someone did it. I guess it will be more fun to take a picture of once the two more that are coming arrive. It is really nice keeping such a close relationship with all my cousins.

In the evening, Marc and I took off for our anniversary getaway. My awesome cousin Tracy took the kids home with her. We stayed at a beautiful resort in Scottsdale and ate at this great restaurant called the Village Tavern. The name kind of threw me for a loop, but it was actually very modern. We had this fantastic bruschetta that totally inspired me to make it on my own. My mouth is watering just thinking about how great it was. I think bruschetta would be great on steak. Yum.  Best of all... I got about 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night. It was amazing, and I feel SO refreshed, words cannot even describe it. My mental state is improved greatly.

Tracy did fantastic with the kids. She's pregnant, so I felt a little bad about how much work taking on 3 kids at once would be, but it went okay. She had a little bit of struggle with the cloth diapers, but overall everything went well. Tiana even slept 5 hours straight for her last night. She has NEVER slept that long for me. I am thinking maybe she was able to get fuller with the bottle. I am thinking I will try to pump after feedings throughout the day and start supplementing her nighttime nursing with a bottle too. Tiana did keep her up in the early morning though, which I feel bad about, but Tracy's napping now. :-)  You want to know how amazing Tracy is... she got all 3 kids to breakfast on time. That's amazing.

It feels bittersweet to admit that the colic seeming episodes seem to have ceased with the elimination of caffeine from my diet. It has been a little hard since most of my favorite beverages have caffeine, but as long as I have things like Mug root beer and fresh lemonade, I'll survive. Some of the bottles Tiana had while we were gone last night were from the past few weeks though, so we'll see if it bothers her tonight. I've fed her fresh breastmilk since though, so maybe that will counteract it. Either way... at least I am in a better mental state to deal with it now. She's a really sweet baby. :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bye bye caffeine, Hello.... minivan? What is happening to my life?!

So, I did a bunch of research about colic (because if you know anything about me at all, you know that is what I do.... research EVERYTHING- to a fault), and I found some stuff about dietary changes for breastfeeding moms. While some research says that studies have now shown that colic is usually not related to a gastrointestinal issue, everyone who I know who has ever had a colicky baby seems to disagree with that statement. Research seems to suggest eliminating certain dietary things that could bother her... like spicy foods or dairy or caffeine. Her crying is so consistent, it can't be spicy foods or dairy, since I don't consume a significant amount of either daily. But caffeine... yikes.

I do consume quite a bit of caffeine. I limited myself during my pregnancy, but I've been so exhausted and crappy feeling lately, and caffeine has become my best friend. I missed coffee so much during my pregnancy. SO much. Seriously... last week, I got a venti caramel latte that was so good it made my week... not even just my day. It made my week. I love coffee. I even have a personal brew keurig and a variety of creamers at home, so I always get the perfect cup. But if it could do some good with Tiana, would it be worth it? Yes, it most definitely would. Not only because I love Tiana and don't want her to feel crappy (obviously), but because listening to her scream makes me a crazy person.

So, today, I had one soda. That was it. Then I cut it out. I had a crazy caffeine headache by this evening, but you know what... Tiana's cranky period today was only about an hour and a half, versus 3-5 hours, and it was manageable. Although she did want to be held and to eat a lot, she wasn't quite inconsolable tonight, which was an improvement, so maybe it worked. Uh oh... I don't know if this makes me happy or sad. I guess both. Well, cutting out caffeine is probably good for my health too, so I guess I need to just give in and do it. At least for the next few weeks til she is older anyway. I once had this crazy friend who thought she had the gift of prophecy or something and told me that God was telling her to set me free from caffeine addiction. I rolled my eyes and laughed at her, but hey... who knows.

In other news, I have never wanted a minivan until this week. Marc has always wanted one. Like before we even had kids. I have always scoffed at the idea of becoming a minivan mom and said I would never, ever do it. I don't need a gas guzzling minivan. I am perfectly happy with my compact car, thank you very much. I don't need a giant van just to cart around two kids. Except now, this week, I may be thinking twice about that idea.... On Wednesday, I went to go on a mini stroller workout at the park with some of the moms, and I thought about bringing Vinny long with and bringing his trike so he could ride while we stroll. Um, yeah, except where would I put it? Before, I would have thrown it in the backseat next to him. But can't do that now. Two carseats, stroller in trunk. That pretty much about does it for my car. We found Vinny's old car seat in my parents garage last week but couldn't bring it home to use as an extra because we had both me and Marc in the car, both kids in the backseat, and the stroller in the trunk. We are going to Arizona this weekend. I handed Marc the suitcase in which we need to pack both my clothes and his. He started packing and then came back in and said, "Uh... do we have another bag? Like a bigger one? Or just an extra?" My reply was a quick, "NO!  Pack less!"  I then reminded him that with both kids in the car now, all the luggage, including the pack-n-play would have to go in the trunk, and we'd be lucky if we fit it all as it is, and I want to try to bring a space bag full of boy clothes for my cousin's baby. On car trips prior to this, with just one child, we usually end up filling the back seat area next to Vinny with stuff too. What now? Seriously...  what now? I have no idea how this will work.

Marc says we could trade in my car and get a mini-van. I would get excellent financing. It has been about a year since I bought it. The problem is... I don't want to drive a minivan. Really, I don't. I don't like big cars. I mean I REALLY don't like big cars, and I hate the minivan image. It's like, "Hi, look at me... the suburban minivan mom." Ugh. I will NOT drive it to work. There is no point in me driving an empty gas guzzling minivan 35 miles round trip to commute to work by myself. Not gonna do it. The only way I will give in is if Marc agrees to drive it during the school year, and then I will take it when I am being mommy on my weeks out of school. And an SUV is absolutely out of the question.

Mommy Logic

Things that I now know, that only moms know, that defy logic:

  • Doing laundry for 4 people is actually double the work of doing laundry for 3 people.
  • In the eyes of a 4-year-old, all socks are not created equal.
  • Packing for a weekend trip with 2 children can take 8 hours... maybe more.
  • Mommies can remember what they are supposed to bring for the class party, the time of the after school play date, and every important date in the next two weeks, but somehow forget to put on deodorant before leaving the house.

Anyone want to add others? Post them as comments and I will add them

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rough Night

To start off, I must admit that Vinny has been a little under the weather. Seems like mostly allergies, but he's been a little cranky. But seriously, tonight he was driving me CRAZY.

I took him to the Halloween carnival at the church where he goes to preschool. This is not the church we attend, but it is where Marc works (he ministers for a Christian after school care company that works in different churches around the county), so he was running things, which meant that it was pretty much me alone with Vinny and Tiana, who is always cranky in the evenings.

After an hour of trying to keep her calm and chasing him around, I was ready to go, but I let him do a couple more things before we headed out. He was an angel the entire time we were there, and he had a blast running around doing everything. Probably half the problem. By the time we got home, he was overtired.

When we got home, Vinny was all whines. Meanwhile cranky Tiana was peaking. All she does in the evenings is cry. It is a little better if I hold her and feed her constantly, but it peaks around 9. Right around when we got home. As I got Vinny in the bath, he just whined about everything. Hard core whining. Like yelling and ordering me around. He wanted it hotter, then colder, then hotter, then colder. Then when I gave up and sat down, he yelled for me to come back 'til I finally came back and turned it off (it was almost all the way full anyway), at which point he took to yelling about wanting it fuller, all the while, I am trying to nurse Tiana to get her to stop her inconsolable screaming.

I lost it. I yanked him out of the bath walked him to his room, threw his pajamas on the floor near him, told him to put them on, and then I shut the door. He of course did not understand that I was at the end of my rope and opened the door and stood there yelling about... gosh 10 million stupid thing.... while I just finished nursing Tiana. He was making me CRAZY! That is not even the end of it, but it is as far as I feel like going in to.

He eventually fell asleep on the couch eating a piece of bread (the end of the loaf, all I would give him when he complained he was hungry. I knew it was just a stall tactic, so I didn't give him something he would enjoy). I carried him to bed and then was left with the other issue... Tiana, who had started crying again, because it had been at least 5 minutes since I had nursed her, which meant it was time to cry again.

I think Tiana may be colic. My mom doesn't think so because she is not as bad as my sister was (who was definitely colic), but my dad witnessed it at dinner tonight, and he thinks I might be right.

WebMd talks about colic saying...
"Doctors usually diagnose colic when a healthy baby cries harder than expected in a "3" pattern: more than 3 hours a day more than 3 days a week for at least 3 weeks in a row. Colic is usually worst when babies are around 6 to 8 weeks of age and goes away on its own between 8 and 14 weeks of age."
Well... it has been since she was about 2 weeks, it is pretty much every day, and it is about 4 hours a day. It has definitely gotten worse this week. She is 6 weeks today.
MedicalNewsToday says the number one symptom is....
"Intense crying - the baby cries intensely and furiously, and there is not much the parents can do to comfort him/her. The baby's face will become red and flushed. Crying episodes tend to occur at the same time every day - generally during the late afternoon or evening. Episodes may last from a few minutes to much longer periods. Crying usually starts suddenly and for no apparent reason."
Yup.... evening. Usually like 6-10 pm.

Apparently, 91% of parents with colicky babies report feelings of depression and/or marital discord. (I don't remember where I found that).

Just a few more weeks. I can do this....

God Bless my cousin who agreed to watch the kids for our anniversary this weekend. I think she knows what she is getting herself in to. At least it is only a few hours a day.

Bleh... that's all I can say

Today Marks 6 Weeks

Today is the 6 week mark. I believed so many things would get better by the time Tiana was 6 weeks. I guess it is a little better. She has gotten herself on a feeding schedule (ish) at night, which is somewhat better than just the miserable eat 10 minutes sleep 10 minutes routine we were doing all night long the first couple of weeks. Now I usually get about 2-3 solid hours in between feedings at night, which I'd like to say isn't too bad, but that 3am feeding still feels awful.

Tiana and I both go to the doctor today. She will be getting the DPT shot. They normally give it at 8 weeks, but the doctor recommended her getting it early because of the pertussis epidemic right now. Considering that he is never worried about anything (he is seriously the most relaxed doctor I've ever met, everything is "no big deal" in his eyes), if he seems worried about the epidemic enough to recommend it early, I will take his advice. It will be nice to stop worrying as much about her getting it.

I wish I could say I was in a better mentally than I was last week, but I'm not. Part of it is that I have relied too much on other people to make me feel better, and people are just plain disappointing. Unless they are new moms themselves, most people don't understand what I am going through, and even then, people don't understand that she's just a fussy baby and I'm not just being a hovering mother. And making plans with people is pointless too because people are just plain unreliable. I need to remember to look to God for comfort, not to other people. People will always disappoint me, but not God.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Simi Cultural Arts Center is doing Rent again this winter. They are auditioning replacement roles... including the one role in my range (Mimi) and ensemble. Should I audition or is that just too much in my life right now? It is on my Buried List though. But I didn't even get a call back last time. Could I take that kind of rejection 2 years in a row? Or with my current mental state? I don't know if I can...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Not myself...

As some of you have probably figured out from reading my blogs, I have not been in the greatest of mental states lately. I wouldn't quite call it postpartum depression, but perhaps just some postpartum blues. It has been hard on me particularly because, after having Vinny, I didn't have any of these feelings at all. Sure, I was a little sleep deprived, but Vinny was an easy baby, and I honestly felt nothing but joy after his birth. I was motivated to get up and get out of the house and talk to people and stuff like that. Despite being way broke, I was happier than I had been in a long time.

I think it may have something to do with what a miserable pregnancy I had with Vinny too. I was just miserable, miserable, miserable most of the time, particularly from 7 months on, so by the time Vinny got here, I was just thrilled not to be pregnant. I actually felt pretty darn good most of my pregnancy with Tiana and then had a rougher recovery, so that probably has something to do with it.

Blogging is keeping me sane. It keeps me sane partially because I get to express my thoughts, and partially because, as selfish as it is, it helps when people react in support. One of my longtime great friends read my prayer blog (which quite honestly was a prayer I just decided to openly share) and offered to come over and help. Although things were calming down and the babies were finally starting to go to sleep, she reminded me that she is happy to come help if I ever need it, and that was a really nice reminder. I truly do know that there are people I can reach out to, but sometimes I just forget that I can.

As sad as it is, I am having trouble forcing myself to do the one thing that makes me feel better... go out. I wrote earlier in the week about wanting to maybe go see that movie, even if it was just by myself with Tiana, but I don't really have it in me to go out right now. I used to really like getting out, but lately, I just don't feel like getting dressed in the morning. Or ever, really. On Monday, I never even changed out of my pajamas from Sunday night. I didn't actually change until Tuesday afternoon when I finally went out because I had an appointment. After the appointment I went shopping with Tiana and it was the highlight of my week. But I am having trouble making commitments to go out, which is really unlike me. I like making plans. Take my play group for instance... there is an online calendar with events and you click to RSVP Yes, No, or Maybe. I find myself RSVPing maybe to everything for no good reason other than not knowing if I will actually feel like going out. That's odd for me, because I normally don't like "maybes" and I am a very reliable person. That's why I'm not RSVPing yes though, because I hate backing out once I answer yes, so I know I will go. I need to just force myself to keep going out for my sanity. So if anyone wants to make a lunch date some time next week, let me know. I'll force myself to say yes, not maybe.

I just don't like the person I am right now, who is so unlike me. While anyone who has seen my house knows I am not really a perfectionist, I like to say I have perfectionist tendencies. I hate the lack of productivity that is my life right now. I hate the mess that I am unmotivated to clean up. I hate the short fuse I have with Vinny. Although he has been honestly challenging lately, I just hate how I react to it in ways I never would have reacted before. I need to get back to being myself. I am just not sure how to do it, because I feel like its not me. I WANT to shake these feelings... I just can't.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Mother's Prayer

Dear Lord,

Right now, my 4-year-old is crying and screaming that he wants his bedroom door open. I shut it because he kept talking to me and asking for things after I put him to bed, and laughing when I told him to go to sleep. God, please give me wisdom of how to deal with his defiance.

My 4-week old is crying because... well, God, I wish I knew why. I fed her, I changed her. She only cries if I put her down, but Lord, I need, need, need to get some stuff done around here. I haven't cleaned up dinner yet, and there is stuff all over my living room. We are having people over tomorrow night. God, please help me get this stuff done and please help her stop crying. I don't know if I can handle her crying any more, but I don't know if I can handle just holding her and staring at this mess any more either.

God, I still have 15 papers left to grade and only a few hours to do it. Lord, you know how stressed I am right now, and I know I should trust in you and not worry, but God... there are an awful lot of things on my plate right now.

God, I really need some time to get it together. I haven't changed out of my pajamas yet today, and well, it is almost time for bed again. My shirt is covered in dried milk because I never bothered to change it, and I'm pretty sure I smell like spit up. God, please help me figure out how to get a break.

Lord... I know that you will provide all that we need, and I really, really, really need some sleep tonight. I can't handle another night like the past two nights.

God... he's still crying and now he's yelling, "Mommy! Mommy!" I think I might break. I don't know how much longer I can do this Lord, but what was that Proverb from church yesterday... something about a child who gets his own way breaks his mother's heart? Or is that how my brain is remembering it right now?

I am missing the parenting seminar at church right now, and although I really wanted to go to it, maybe sometimes you just want me to learn by doing rather than by hearing... because I think the title was "Parenting beyond your capacity," and I am most certainly beyond my capacity. Time to step in God, because I can't do this on my own.

Movies with babies?

I really want to see Waiting for Superman. It is not in every theater and I don't think it will be in theaters for that long. My nights are super busy lately. I could try to get a babysitter so Marc and I could go, but I don't even know when. Maybe Friday? However, I have to admit, if I am using pumped milk to get out, I think I would rather it be for a night of chit chatting and good food and drinks, rather than a movie.

We have one AMC promotional ticket sitting in a drawer in my living room. I have never been to a movie by myself before, but I am tempted to put Tiana in the car and just drive out to the valley to see the earliest showing some time this week, probably tomorrow or Thursday. I normally scoff at people who bring babies to movies, even kids movies. I find it annoying. Crying babies really detract from the enjoyment of everyone else. I hate it when I am sitting in a movie theater and a baby starts crying. Especially if the mom doesn't immediately rush out of the theater.

However, Tiana is really little, and she sleeps pretty much constantly. If it seems like he is going to wake up and cry, I could just nurse her. She nurses for a really long time, and movie theaters are dark, so it wouldn't be awkward. And really, how many people are going to be seeing a documentary on a weekday morning? Couldn't be many, right?

Am I talking myself into something crazy? Or is this reasonable? I just need to see this movie. It is everything I believe in.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Preschool Neighbor Bully? What would you do?

I am seriously irked at the neighbor's kid. The family doesn't speak much English. The kids speak enough. The older kids speak more than the younger kids.

The youngest kid is probably Vinny's age, possibly a little younger. He and Vinny do not play together. However, his playground and Vinny's playground come up to about even level, so the two can see into each other's yards from the top of their playgrounds. As a result, they began talking shortly after we moved in, a little over a year and a half ago.

At first, I thought it was cute. This was when Vinny spoke only to the boy in English, and the boy spoke only in Spanish. Yet somehow, they seemed to have a friendship of sorts. Kind of cute.

Then about a year ago, the toys began to come over the fence. Usually when we are not home, and sometimes when we are, they for some reason throw their toys over the fence. It is not just the young kid. The older ones (by older, I mean like ~5-8 years old) have done it too.

When they see us in the backyard (from the top of the play structure), they ask us to throw their toys back over. We are usually pretty obliging about it. They even had Marc digging through thorn bushes for a tiny yellow dinosaur one day.

I am starting to wonder... how are the toys coming over the fence? An occasional baseball I would totally understand. But a soccer ball? A miniscule dinosaur? I don't get it.

Today, Vinny was outside playing (had already been outside playing happily for quite some time), when a soccer ball came over the fence. I hear Vinny say, "I'll throw it back to you. He goes over the the place where he can get closest to the fence and starts trying to send it back over, with no success. He was even less successful because Woody thought it was a game and kept trying to chase the ball away from him when it would hit the ground. I heard Vinny getting upset at Woody, so I went outside and got the ball. The kid starts yelling at me- and I do mean yelling (he now speaks some English), "Throw it back! Throw it Back! It's mine!" I was on my way to throw it back. Before I did though, I said to the kid, "Look, this is like item number 55 over the fence. Enough with the stuff over the fence." Then I threw it back and Vinny mimics, "Yeah! Enough with the stuff over the fence!" (Okay, that part was kind of cute).

A couple minutes later, I realize the kids are arguing again.

"Vinny, what's the problem."
"He wants the yellow ball."
"Is it his ball?"
"No, it's mine."
"Well, then it is yours, don't give it to him."

Next, Vinny comes to me, "Mommy, he wants my water gun." I recognize the gun as one we got him for his birthday party. "Well, its yours, don't give it to him." I hear the kid yelling, but I can't hear what he's saying. I hear Vinny yell back, "You can't have it! It's mine!" Vinny is starting to get rather aggressive in his yelling. Then Vinny comes to me again, "Mom, he says he is going to hit me if I don't give him my gun." I tell Vinny to just completely ignore the kid, don't listen and don't say anything back. The next time the kid says something, Vinny yells, "I'm not talking to you!"

I go to the door to tell Vinny to just say nothing, but at that moment, I see the kid (actually saw him this time) chuck the soccer ball back over the fence. He immediately starts to yell for it back. I tell Vinny to come inside and tell the kid, "Nope! Not this time. If you want it back, you will need to tell your parents to come get it."

I feel like I did the right thing. Marc told Vinny he could go back outside, but Vinny didn't want to. I think it is better to avoid the situation for right now. I intend to throw the kid's ball back over the fence tonight. I don't want to steal his ball or anything; I just don't feel like he should have the instant gratification of getting his stuff returned to him when he is obviously just being obnoxious. Plus, I have considered that he is intentionally throwing things over the fence to try to claim extra stuff when he asks for it back, in hopes we will not realize it wasn't his to begin with.

Seriously... why do they start this junk so early? Is this a frightening preview of things to come?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fussy Evenings and Parenting Strategies

In the evening, Tiana is generally fussy. I have read that this is very normal. She also does what they call "cluster feeding" during this time as well. This means that she wants to nurse pretty much constantly during this time. I think it is more about wanting that comfort than about actually being hungry. I initially thought perhaps my milk supply is less at night, but I now know this is not the case, since I was able to pump a ton of milk last night when I didn't nurse her.

Last night, Vinny slept over his grandma's house to spend some time with his aunt and uncle visiting from out of town. I had a rehearsal to go to, so that meant Marc would be alone with Tiana. I was gone for about an hour and a half. I nursed her shortly before I left, but knowing she likes to eat a lot in the evenings, I left several bottles... just in case.

Before I left, Marc made a comment about possibly taking the baby to his mom's house so he could see his sister too. I looked at him with disbelief. "What?" he asked. "Nothing," I replied, "I just thought you would find being here with her challenging enough without trying to get out of the house." He made some comment about it not being a big deal, and I left.

I came home to a happy baby that daddy had just put in the swing. "Yea! Daddy did a good job!" I commented. I also noticed that the dinner table was just the way I left it, no dishes were done, no laundry was done, and well... nothing was done. But Tiana was happy. That is really all that matters.

They had not left the house, as I suspected. He had fed one bottle. Marc commented, "She is demanding." He had spent pretty much the entire time meeting her demands- changing, feeding, or just holding her. Yes, holding her is a demand. It is quite clear that she is demanding to be held when nothing else is wrong and she cries frantically until you pick her up and then she stares at you lovingly and contentedly. Feeling loved and secure is a baby need.

While Marc used to stay home with Vinny at nights while I went to school, Vinny was a much less fussy baby. I don't recall him having a fussy time of the day at all. I would be shocked if Marc ever again made a comment about me not getting anything done with the baby. I think he sees that it is more the norm than the exception that I spend most of my day just feeding and holding the baby, and this is not out of laziness.

I have read the babywise theories on scheduling babies and the attachment theories and a little of everything in between, and to a certain extent... they are a mixture of crap. The babywise stuff just does not seem rational- Anyone who tells me to ignore a screaming baby is crazy. I don't believe you can spoil a newborn. They are not crying to manipulate you. Tiana doesn't want me to hold her constantly because she is trying to control me... she wants me to be near me because she loves me. Isn't that God's design for parenting? For children to love their parents... like God wants us to love him?

Along the same token, a lot of the attachment stuff strikes me as kooky too. I want my baby to sleep near me... but I will not constantly open our bed to her. She comes in to eat, but I need space too. I need to sleep comfortably without worrying that I will roll over her. No, I do not believe that my child's long hours in child care will create bad behavior. Vinny has had long hours at day care since he was 2 years old, but he has always been a well-behaved kid. One article even suggested bringing baby on date night if you feel the need to get out because frequent changes in caregiver are not good for baby. I'm sorry, but as much as I want to get out for happy hour or something, you might as well not be getting out if you have to stop to calm a fussy baby. Like I said... evening is fussy time- the point is to get an occasional break from that to keep my sanity as a mom. Happy mom= happy baby.

What I find is funny is how much we want to rely on methods and strategies. It is because of our utter desire to control life and have a method or an answer to all of life's challenges. Why can't we just trust that God has given us children and God has given us instincts, and if we just follow Him and trust our instincts, we can relax and not try to control everything. I mean... God is our Father, right? God doesn't give us a perfect schedule to follow. And when asked about the most important of the rules for His children, the answer was just to love...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What teachers make...

What do I make?

Let's discuss this.

Last night, a student sent me her personal statement for feedback. She is a senior, one of my drama students, and she is a very promising girl. She is not your typical honors student, but she is the hardest worker I have ever met and makes it all look so easy. There is really nothing she could say about herself in these personal statements that would make a college admissions counselor truly understand how very lucky any college would be to have her as a student.

I nearly melted when I read this part of her college statement....
It never crossed my mind when I submitted my narrative essay for English class to the Chicken Soup for the Soul website that it would be chosen. When I received the notice that my story was being published, I was filled with joy, not just because I was getting a prize, but because the story was about my hero: my mom. Now, anyone can read about my ‘Super Strong Mom’ in the book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People” and understand why I admire her so much.

Why did my heart melt? Because it was my class. Because it was an assignment I gave. Because I will never forget the day that she walked in humbly and quietly and showed me the letter from the Chicken Soup publishers. Because one of her free copies of the book is sitting on the shelf in my classroom, with her autograph in it. Because I made a difference.

What do I make? I make what all good teachers make. I make a difference.

Love my son so much...

I think he had a bad dream tonight. He started yelling to open the door, so I did.

"What's wrong Sweetie?"
"Do you need something, Vinny?"
(Awww... my heart melts).
I stand on his couch to put my head near his and peer through the slats of his bunk bed at him.
"Here I am. What's wrong?"
"Um, can I lay with you?"
Eek.Pause to think about this one. We only have a queen size bed. Its a tight squeeze when he crawls in there in the mornings sometimes. I nurse Tiana in bed in the middle of the night these days. If I fall asleep, this could become dangerous. Four people in my bed? Mmmm, I don't think so.
"How about I come lay up there with you?"
So, despite my utter dislike for small closed in spaces, I climb up to the top bunk. Being careful not to hit my head on the ceiling, I adjust his covers, which are totally balled up by his feet and lay down next to my precious son. I give him a kiss on the cheek and lay down next to him with my arm around him.

A couple of minutes pass.
"Mommy... is it morning?"
"No, it is still night."
"Oh......    Mommy?"
"I think you should sleep in your bed."
Laughing inside. That didn't take very long.
"What Vinny?"
"Mommy, I think it would be better if you slept in your own bed."

I certainly agree. No complaints here. What an easy kid.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I love my life right now. Seriously. There will always be parts of my life that I wish were different, but I am so content. 

I have really been wanting to feel like I am fitting into God's place for me in ministry, and Marc and I are going to be hosting/leading the college/young adult group at our church soon, which I am really excited about. We sent out an invite to a kickoff barbecue, and now it feels real. It also feels like God totally orchestrated it, and I am excited for this opportunity. This is really important to me, because fitting into God's plan for my life has always been my first priority. When I was18, before I got engaged to Marc, I really though I was going to be a Christian missionary overseas, so when that plan changed, I never thought I would feel as disconnected as I feel right now. This is an answer to prayer for sure. 

The other thing that I love right now is that I am finally finding it easier to make friends. I know that sounds like a funny thing for me to say, but it is true. I was thinking about it last night, and I have changed a LOT in the past few years. People don't usually believe this about me because I am a teacher and an actor and I have no problem being on stage and leading and stuff like that, but I am actually a really shy person when it comes to one-on-one. I get nervous. I don't know why. I've never really understood it.

 I think it has something to do with the fact that I really got bullied a lot in elementary school and middle school, and even a little in high school. It is hard to admit that. I got made fun of SO much. In elementary, I was always the shortest kid in my class and I had big buck teeth. Up until 4th grade, I was at the top of my class always, so I got made fun of for being teacher's pet too. When I went to a new school for GATE in 5th grade, I actually was challenged for the first time, so that wasn't a problem, but I had wanted so badly to fit in that I tried too hard and that backfired too. It took me until like 11th grade before I finally realized that I needed to just be myself and not try so hard, and if I found friends that way, then at least they would be real friends.

Years ago, when I was in college, I would show up to class, participate in class, and then leave without ever really talking to any of my classmates or getting to know them. I guess it just felt like less of a risk. I would talk to my best friend Mo about really wanting to make new friends. She's awesome like that. She is not the type of best friend who worries I will replace her or anything like that. She really wanted me to be able to make new friends too. She would encourage me to talk to people and stuff, but it never really happened in college. When I went back to school for my credential, I found that when I am in a room full of teachers, it is exceedingly easy to talk to everyone. It is nice to be with people who have so much in common with you. 

Now, I have found the same thing with mom friends. I joined a moms group when Vinny was 6 months old, and I find it just as easy to connect to them too. It has been admittedly easier with as much time as I have available on maternity leave, but I am determined to continue making the effort when I go back to work. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I feel so domestic today...

I am totally not the super domestic type- really, but today, I feel domestic. I made homemade chicken soup and homebaked rolls for dinner. I sent my son to school with homemade applesauce and homemade apple juice. I baked chocolate chip cookies for dessert tonight, which I am totally excited to eat with a glass of milk tonight while watching t.v. after Vinny goes to bed.

Although I must say, I totally know why the world has changed so much in the past 50 something years, where it is more normal now for women to work than stay home. And I know now why women who do stay home want to find other mom friends. Because 50 years ago... a family would not have functioned if a woman didn't stay home.

We really take things like sliced bread for granted. To send your kid to school with a sandwich in the first part of this century meant Mom baked bread. It takes a very long time to bake bread. In fact, today I started with frozen dough, but I still had to thaw it and let it rise, and just letting it rise took hours. I didn't even have to make the dough or knead it or anything like that. And I must admit, despite the fact that I really prefer fresh food... today I used frozen precut boneless chicken breast tenderloins to make the soup, along with boxed chicken stock, and frozen pre-cut veggies. I'd be lost without all that stuff. I can cook, so I could do it myself, but who wants to skin and de-bone a chicken, just to make soup?

I did make the applesauce and apple juice yesterday completely from scratch, way old school style.. no pre-prepared ingredients. We even hand picked the apples from the trees on Saturday. If you don't count the time it took to pick the apples, making the sauce and juice took about 4 hours from start to finish. (Okay, I had to take breaks to feed Tiana, but still). This is why women didn't use to work. Before pre-prepared foods, I don't see how women would have had time to work... and without pre-prepared foods, I can't see how a family would function.

However... those prepackaged foods do cost a pretty penny in comparison to the homemade alternative. We don't think about it because we are used to buying them every week, but I can definitely see how much of my income goes to people who do things like bake sandwich bread. I guess it is all in perspective. Perhaps if we lived on a farm, grew our own food, baked our own bread, and bought nothing pre-prepared, I could probably get away with not working.... but why would I want to? I like to cook, but really, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies taste the same when you buy the pouch mix and add butter and egg as they do when you buy all the dry ingredients separately.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Good day... bad oops.

Today was actually a really great day before the big oops.

The housekeepers came in the morning. They only come twice a month, but it is SO nice to come home to a beautifully clean house after they do. While they were here, I dropped V off at school for a special event he was very excited about- the fire department visiting, truck and all. I hung out in my dad's office and had coffee and made small talk for a while until it was time to leave for school. Yes, school. I went to the English dept meeting. Lots to talk about, so I went. Tiana was an angel and slept happily the whole time.

Next, it was shopping for a birthday present for my papa and then grocery shopping. Later, I took Vinny to his second dance class. It is an all boys hip hop class. The girl who actually teaches the class is awesome, but she had a sub today. The sub was okay, but humorously had probably never worked with preschool boys before. It was kind of funny. At one point, she said "Okay boys, spread out."  Umm.. does she think that they know what she means?  They basically sort of stared at each other and ran around the room. She looked at them puzzled for a minute before altering her strategy and putting them in lines. Funny stuff.

Then we headed home for a peaceful evening. Vinny totally made my day when he was playing Wonder Pets. Tiana started to cry and he was off "to save the day" singing a song about Tiana needing her paci. He excitedly saved the day as he sang, "I think your pacis in your car seat," and then found it and stuck it in her mouth. He's a cutie.

I was able to return the favor for a family that brought us a meal the week after I had Tiana, and since we got a whole heck of a lot of pasta, I decided to go for something different and made chicken enchiladas. We had them for dinner tonight too, and they were very yummy. It was a nice, calm, peaceful evening. Vinny was gifted a giant box of second hand legos, and he and Marc were building a giant lego fort. I decided to clean out the pantry, since something smelled funny.

I started at the top and was at the bottom a good hour later before I found the source of the smell... a bag with a couple of rotten sprouted potatoes. As I went to pull it out, a couple of small bugs crawled out.  I don't do well with bugs. I freaked. I made Marc come and help. He killed the bugs and then was helping me get the rest of the stuff out of the bottom shelf, as I was afraid there would be more bugs, so he was pulling it out and handing it to me. I had a can of dog food in my hand when he thought it would be funny to pretend there were more bugs. He yelled "Oh shoot!" and then pretended to fling something with bugs on it at me. He underestimated my close proximity to him and also underestimated my fear of bugs. I screamed and jumped back, flinging my arms up as I thought a bug was flying at me. With great adrenaline, my flinging hand, which was (if you recall) still holding the can of dog food, colided with Marc's head, right in the center, knocking the can out of my hand and onto his shoulder. Oops.

A trip to the E.R. for some fancy glue band-aid later, he's got a throbbing headache and shoulderache, but he's okay. Ouch ouch.

Oops. Bad oops.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You are invited...

In the past few years, I have been somewhat reserved about my faith.It is partially a defense mechanism developed from many years of feeling labeled and prejudged as "a pastor's wife." There are certain ideas that I think many people have about pastor's wives, and I really don't think that I line up to those ideas. I never liked thinking of myself as "preacher's wife." I just want to think of myself as me.

And you see, my faith has nothing to do with my husband's job. I was a Christian a long time before I was a pastor's wife. I used to be very zealous in talking about my faith. I have since drawn back a little because I found that so many people think of Christianity as a religion. There is a reason that people use the expression, doing something "religiously" for things that they do with strict consistency. Religion has such a negative connotation. In many people's minds, it has this connotation of rules and right and wrongs. It is not that at all to me, but I find that hard to really explain, because you kind of either get it or you don't, and it is understandably hard  to rewrite people's preconceived notions about things, so I don't talk about it much any more.

My husband is still a pastor, which makes me still technically a pastor's wife. (Incidentally, it also makes Vinny a "son of a preacher man," which I will always find amusing.) However, he doesn't work for a church right now, which makes for a different dynamic. When he stopped working for a church a couple of years ago, that meant that for the first time we got to pick our own church. We considered and tried out quite a few things before we chose Discovery Church.

We truly love this church. I feel like it is a gathering place, a family, of people who think like me... that Christianity is not really a religion at all. It is a group of often inconsistent people, who see the gray areas in life, but love God and love other people. I like that.

It is "friend" weekend at church. Our pastor has encouraged us to invite people. I have invited most of my friends to church at one time or another. But if I have never invited you... consider yourself invited. It has also been on my heart to invite some of you BACK. For some reason, there are a lot of people in my life who went to church at one time, but haven't been back in a while. If you would like to feel like part of a family again in a place where you will not be judged and can be frequently reminded that there is a God who truly loves you, then come.
It is on Easy street in Simi Valley.
There are services at 9:00 a.m., 10:30a.m., and 11:45 a.m., and this weekend there is one at 6pm.
If you have small children, you should come see the super awesome Discovery Kidz show at 10:30a.m., and attend service before or after. We usually see the show at 10:30 and then go to service at 11:45.

Let me know if I should save you a seat.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grader's Block...

You know how writers sometimes get writer's block?  If you are not a writer, you may not know what I am talking about, but if you are... then you know how much it stinks. You want SO badly to just write- to just put words on the paper and have them be wonderful, inspired stuff. But nothing comes to you and you just can't get yourself into the mindset to do it. During the time periods when I was writing for a living, this was my worst nightmare. There is nothing like knowing what you need to do to make money and not being able to make yourself  do it.

This week, I am having grader's block. You are probably thinking, "Wait, aren't you on maternity leave? Why are you grading papers?" At least that is what everyone keeps saying to me when I say I need to grade papers. Well, there's a little thing I like to call backlog. I assigned a paper in August. They turned it in the first week of September. I graded two class periods worth before I left for maternity leave. I finished them just days before having Tiana. I still have two class periods left. I told myself that I would grade them while on leave, and I had plenty of time until grades being due, so no worries. Well, time is quickly running out.  I have less than two weeks to get them done now. I haven't started them.

There are about 40 of them. They take about 5-7 minutes each to grade. This is the second day in the row that I have sat down with my laptop, opened the rubric on my screen, even gone to my school email inbox (the students emailed me the papers), but have not actually opened a single file to grade yet. If they are going to get graded, I am going to have to actually open the files, read them, and grade them, but every time I sit down at the computer to start, I find a million other things to do. It is like I can't get my fingers to make myself click the folder with the papers.

I think it may have something to do with the lack of deep sleep I am getting... as in zero. I am so sleep deprived that I walk around somewhat in a state of delirium. It is like I just don't have the mental capacity to make myself think very hard or concentrate on anything complex. I mean, I don't even want to pleasure read. Even magazines only hold my attention for a few minutes. I sort of just want to lay on the couch and watch t.v. all day. I have zero desire to do anything that requires more mental energy than that.

At first, I thought perhaps this is just some postpartum blues? But I am not sad at all. I looked it up on the internet and found that these are just typical symptoms of sleep deprivation. One website (, a website that was selling an insomnia solution) described it this way...
"One of the many signs of sleep deprivation that can seriously interfere in the work place [is poor concentration]. You just can't seem to focus on anything you're doing, no matter how inconsequential it may seem. Not only do you have poor focus and mental concentration, but your reaction time is slowed significantly as well."

Yeah... no kidding. See, this is why women take so many weeks of maternity leave, even though they feel physically better within just a couple of weeks. Because mentally, the idea of doing work is just beyond me. What am I going to do?

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Growing Kids...

Vinny somehow grew up while I was pregnant and I failed to notice. He used to like to sit on my lap a lot, but he stopped sometime in my pregnancy as my belly got bigger. When we took him to the movies yesterday, he crawled on my lap about halfway through the movie (common movie habit for him), and I was suddenly like, "Whoa!" When he used to crawl on my lap, he was still this little baby who fit perfectly in my lap. Now, he feels HUGE. And it is not just because I have been holding Tiana. I considered that, but I never had trouble seeing around his head before, and now, when he sits on my lap, his head comes in front of my eyes, so I have to move my head to the side... and his legs were hitting the seat in front of us. They never did that before. I mean, he is still smaller than like 90% of the kids in his class, but he's always been my little shrimp, and somehow he went and grew up. I got a little sad at first, since I feel like our lap days are coming to an end... but then we measured him on his Disneyland growth chart... and he is FINALLY just a half inch away from all the good rides. By the time we go to Disneyland again, we will be able to take him on Splash Mountain and Space Mountain and Soarin Over California! Now, I am very excited about that!

Tiana must also be going through a growth spurt I guess. She picks at least one time period a day to marathon feed. Most of the time, she can go hours... as long as 3.5 hours in fact, but then at some points, she will decide to feed pretty much constantly for hours. She'll eat for like 30 minutes, take a 10 minute break, then want to eat again. This wouldn't be so bad, but my body doesn't exactly keep up with that pace, and then when it does, several hours later... I feel like I am going to explode. It is frustrating. Worst of all... the past two nights, her marathon feeding time frame has been between midnight and 3 am. It is so terribly exhausting. As soon as she is full and asleep, I will put her down relieved thinking I am going to get to sleep, then like the second I really start to drift off to sleep, she starts crying again. I imagine that is what hell is like. Only in hell... 3 a.m. never comes. At least I do eventually get to sleep, but in the midst of it, it always feels like it is never going to end.

But she is getting bigger and prettier, if that is even possible. It is so adorable how she smiles and laughs in her sleep. I always thought babies couldn't do that until like at least 4-6 weeks old, but she has done it since she was a day old. Only in her sleep, but it is still way cute.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Love is...

In reflecting on the past month's events...

Love is...
  • The best friend who buys every purple onesie at Wal-mart and even the purple socks that I never actually mentioned wanting, but was just wishing I had. 
  • The sister who took my bloody nightgown home from the hospital to wash. 
  • The dad who brought it back clean the next day, along with lunch from my favorite take-out place, and 6 containers of my favorite salsa from their salsa bar. 
  • The mom who rushed me to the E.R. in the middle of the night, just because I was worried, and didn't seem annoyed when the doctor said, "Well, everything's normal." 
  • The husband who gets up to change diapers every night in the middle of night, so all I have to do is feed. 
  • The mom who knew my husband would be overwhelmed on his first evening alone with the kids, and showed up to help with bath time. 
  • The cousins who somehow knew, remembered, and purchased three special items on my baby registry that I really wanted but didn't get.
  • The best friend who showed up with presents for my 4-year old and not the baby, just at the right moment.
  • The 7 people from church who fed my family for 2 weeks, even though they mostly didn't even know us. 

I am truly loved.

Perhaps he needs some individual attention?

When talking to my mom this week, she suggested that perhaps they should take the baby for a couple of hours Sunday so that Marc and I could do something with Vinny, just the three of us again. At first I kind of rolled my eyes and thought, "Not worth the effort. Not necessary."  I am solely breastfeeding and she eats a lot lately, so leaving her for a couple of hours requires some effort and careful planning. I am also having trouble getting enough milk to pump up a good store, so I am not really willing to give up the 4 ounces I have pumped just yet. I worked unbelievably hard for those 4 ounces. The occasion for which that bottle will be used is going to have to be a very important one.

But now... I am starting to think I possibly need to just feed her before we go and take my mom up on her offer to take Tiana for a couple of hours. Vinny has been very patient and really adores his baby sister, but he is clearly missing the undivided attention he previously took for granted. I never pictured him doing the "I want to be the baby" thing, but it is kind of happening. Today, when I was feeding Tiana, he said he wanted to drink milk too. I panicked for a minute, racked my memory bank for previously stored knowledge gained from parenting magazines/forums/etc., and considered that the best solution was probably to say he could. "You can if you want to," I told him, "but you probably wouldn't like it very much. Its for babies, so I bet it won't taste very good to a big boy like you." Fortunately for me, he just laughed and said, "That would be funny!" I guess he didn't really want to; he just wanted to know that he could. [Huge sigh of relief].

He also suddenly wanted to be carried tonight too. And even though he has no problem dressing himself normally, when I asked him to put on his pajamas while I was feeding Tiana tonight, he suddenly couldn't do it himself. I tried to "help" him with one hand, thinking he just needed a little attention, I quickly realized he was not going to be assisting at all. As soon as I asked him to stick his head through a hole, he basically flung the shirt off and said, "No, I can't do it." Ugh... I had to threaten to take away his bedtime story if he didn't put on his pajamas right away. I hate making threats like that, and I hate having to refuse to help him. I thought I would always be able to indulge his needs for attention, but realistically, there are things about taking care of a newborn that make meeting his constant demands impossible. I guess I never realized quite how spoiled Vinny was before. No, that's not true. I knew it; I just didn't care.

See... this is why, when people would ask me when I was having another one, I resented the fact that it was always just assumed that I would or should. My thought was, "What's so bad about just having one?" and I really did fear that having two would mean sharing my attention. Sure there is enough love to go around, but truly, it does mean sharing my time and energy, and it hurts me very much so to see my first baby missing Mommy's undivided attention.

So...  what to do for no more than two hours? We could see a short movie. There's that owl one at the regular theater, or "Cats and Dogs" at the cheap theater, and both are only an hour and a half. Or we could just go to the park or maybe take him to Build a Bear at the mall or something like that? I don't really want to spend too much money; I just want to do something with him for a while where he will get mom and dad's attention the whole time. Ideas?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy Life

So, a dairy company comissioned an independent research firm to study what creates the happiest life. They studied 4,000 adults between 18 and 65, who rated their level of happiness on a scale of one to five. They then scientifically studied the qualities that make for the highest marks. Here is what they found (note, this is a summary chart of the averages):

Image from
What does this mean for my life? 
Uninterrupted sleep: Hahaha, well I am screwed for the next couple months on that one. Pre-Tiana I was okay.
Commute to work:  Check. 20 minutes.
Home-cooked meals a week:  Check. Average 5. Much thanks to Dad on that one.
Exercise a week: Ouch. Need to work out a plan to fix that. Can't exercise til 6 week clearance on 10/27, so November will be the time to change that one.
Time spent outdoors: Check, I think. I've never really counted it, but I think with playdates, weekends, etc., I am probably pretty close to this. 
Time playing with children:  Ouch. If I average this out, I think it would be 2 hours a day, but it unfortunately is very uneven. When I am off work, it is like 4-6. When I am working, sometimes it is 0.  :-( 
Time with partner:  Ouch. 4 hours a day?  Maybe on weekends...
Watching TV:  Check. Normally that is right on track.
Nights Out a Week:  Ouch. I'd say I get one per month. I will have to use this research as evidence when talking to husband and mom.
Alcoholic Drinks/Week:  4? Wow, I am going to have to politely disagree with this one. I appreciate a drink every now and then, but 4 a week?  I think not.
Take out/per week (study was done in England)Check.  Go us.
Weekend breaks a year:  Check. Go us. I knew there was something scientific behind my justification of spending money on weekend getaways each year. 
Holidays abroad:  Um... no. I think this is where the fact that the study was done in England has an impact on the study. In England, you can visit other countries by train pretty darn easily, not to mention cheaply. Not so much for U.S. citizens. 
Hours at work: Ouch. If we were just counting even literally at work, this wouldn't ever work. My contract is an 8 hour day, and I almost always work through lunch. And I pretty much never leave at 3:30. And I almost always do work at home. I would like to say I could cut back, but I don't think I could. I have gotten better in some ways though. I do less grading at home now than I did my first year. 
Meals out a month: Well, close. I'd say we do probably 4. 
Shopping trips a month: Not sure how to calculate that one. Does Trader Joe's count? Target? I'd say with those it is way more, without those it is way less. 
Get home from work: Check, actually. 5:42 pm is actually very close to when I usually roll into the garage.

In summary, I think you have to take surveys like this with a grain of salt, but I think this overall shows I have a pretty well-balanced life. The few things that this brought to light for me are that I could probably spend more time playing with my kids, and I definitely need to spend more time exercising. I am aware that I spend too much time working, as does Marc (clearly), but there is very little that can be done to fix that.

How about you? Any revelations?