Friday, October 24, 2014

Ready to move on...

Things I will NOT miss about our apartment:
  • shared laundry (other people's detergent smells and dryer lint, waiting to start a load because others are washing/drying, having to get dressed and put shoes on myself and my kid just to do laundry!)
  • neighbors who move furniture or play loud music/video games late, late at night
  • neighbors who smoke cigarettes and pot (wish I was joking, but no) under our windows and in their bathrooms (which share vents with our bathrooms)
  • keeping our stroller and dining room table in the living room
  • lack of a yard or other safe outdoor space to play
In addition to these things, we had a mouse (A MOUSE!) in our apartment last week. We saw the little fellow (or lady, not sure) hanging out by our shoes when we stayed up late Tuesday night to watch the Lego Movie. We set traps the next evening and by Thursday, the little fellow (lady?) was trapped under the sink. Unfortunately this was after he/she made little messes in our silverware drawer (oh, so, so gross!), linen drawer (buh-bye towels and washcloths!), and spice drawer (so sad!). I spent Friday and Saturday cleaning up and disinfecting everything with bleach and/or boiling it in water for 10+ minutes. Then spent Sunday-present day convinced that now I have the hantavirus. To make matters worse, I was running a temperature of 102.7 Wednesday afternoon and am still recovering. My husband is under strict orders to bring me to the ER if I start having difficulty breathing within the next 5 weeks. I hope it is just a nasty cold or sinus infection that will resolve itself. I haven't known throat and ear pain like this since I had strep my first year teaching! No fun.

Anyhow, we are so ready to MOVE! Come on November 10! I will take shoveling and yard work and home repairs over those bullet points any day! (Hopefully no mice, though).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When one door closes...

When one door closes, another opens! I feel like that is a pretty perfect description of how life has been going since I resigned from my job in July. Nothing has actually earned me any money yet, but since quitting:

  • Two families from my school have contacted me about doing freelance work for them (in the form of doing art projects with their kids for specific locations in their homes). Whoa. To say it made me feel like a million bucks that they like me enough to privately contact me and ask me to continue working with their kids would be an understatement. It made my heart so happy! The conversations ended with, "We'll be in touch," since I was honest with them about our impending move.
  • We bought a house! Well, closing isn't until Nov 10, but all has been moving along smoothly! It met all of our criteria (and then some) except for the fact that we ended up paying more for it than we had planned. We are okay with that decision, though, because: 
    • the house is 1.8 miles from my husband's office
    • there are three 2-year-olds (and a handful of older kids) in the neighborhood
    • the house backs up to a nature park reserve with walking trails, a lake, and beautiful woods
    • it has 2 attached one-car garage and a second garage behind the attached one that is SET UP AS A WORKSHOP/STUDIO! Oh. my. gosh. Considering we live in Minnesota and it gets cold as heck here (and it is an unheated space) we know it won't be used for a good chunk of the year, will be perfect for the toddler art group I want to start in the spring/summer and will be a great space for holding private art lessons, should things move in that direction!
    • there are 3 great schools within walking distance that (maybe, someday?) could be the key to getting me back in an art classroom
    • there is a public library within biking distance
  • A co-worker of my husband's needs temporary childcare in February and March. It is not a for sure thing that she'll choose me to watch her babe, but there is a good chance since we will be so close to the office (1.8 miles, yo!). They have a 2 month gap between the end of her maternity leave and the opening in their daycare. So, I might have a 3-month-old baby to snuggle for a couple of months and make a little money in the process.
  • A local art-teacher-turned-sort-of-stay-at-home-mom (triplet boys after endometriosis/infertility! wow!) opened a family art center in our current area. My daughter and I attended the grand opening and she asked for my contact info for when she makes a sub list in the next couple of weeks! 
Now we just need to make it through the move so I can feel like there has been some real CHANGE for our family. I am feeling hopeful that great things are to come! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

See you in September...

Here we are in September already! I made my resignation "facebook official" last Tuesday, which was the first day of school for kids in my state. I was pretty nervous about it because I am friends with a ton of teachers, many of whom are working parents (mostly working MOMS, specifically) and I felt like I was letting them down somehow. I will come right out and say it, though, I SUCKED at balancing work, parenting, being a wife...last year is not something I ever wish to relive! Things are better for our little family this way for now. Maybe if my husband's job wasn't so nuts, things would have been different. And I do hope to someday be back teaching art! For now I am so, so thankful to be able to stay home! This Labor Day was the first in 7 years that I didn't cry! We ended the day with a family walk and I did get teary thinking of how lucky I am that we can swing it financially (with some modifications, but nothing that feels like a terrible sacrifice), but I didn't cry.

We are actively house hunting and made an offer on a beautiful house last Friday. It was perfect. Just perfect! Unfortunately, the next morning the nephew of the sellers came forward that he wanted to buy the home. Considering that the house was built in 1954 and has only had 2 owners, we can understand how the couple selling felt better about keeping it in the family. What timing, though?! It had been on the market for 2 months and he didn't come forward until after we made the offer. My husband and I both still feel pretty down about it. Back to square one! We are afraid that this will make the search more difficult...every house will be compared to this one from here on out. It was the perfect size, layout, distance from my husband's office (4.7 miles...he could have BIKED there in less time than it takes him to drive from our current residence!), and had just the right sized yard (big enough to play/party in, small enough to mow with a reel mower). I already knew where I would put the Christmas tree and I envisioned our daughter learning to jump rope on that concrete driveway. There is a highly rated public elementary school .7 miles away, 3 parks within biking/walking distance, and a library less than 2 miles away. Ack! Still feeling the sting here!

Thankfully we were able to extend our apartment lease through the end of November (we'd be moving in 3 weeks otherwise!). It still doesn't leave us much time to find a house, though. While we look, I will continue to go through all of our belongings. Our goal for this move is to only take things we truly want. Over the last 3 months we have donated 22 grocery bags of stuff to a local thrift store as well as recycled or tossed many other items. Our goal for "someday" is to be able to fit all of our belongings in a car (save for large furniture, obviously). It will be an interesting journey!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The crazy is starting again...

Back in the days of my naivete I thought we would easily have babies (HA HA!!) and we would have them precisely 2.5 years apart (HA HAHAHAHA!). Well, that means getting pregnant in October, which I am not counting on happening. My heart wants it to, but my brain knows that there is about a 0% chance of that happening. We are still in a "not trying, not preventing" phase but the infertile crazies are already creeping in. For example, here's my first TMI in some number of months...I have been having pink spotting and am on day 9 of my cycle. That is not a good sign! Could be my endometriosis or my tendency to have low progesterone. Neither of those are very encouraging things when one is trying to conceive. 

Now, I know with all my heart that I am dam lucky to have my healthy 18-month-old. Our family could be complete. There is this nagging feeling though...I grew up as one of six and my husband was one of four. We both loved having siblings! I want Felicia to have one or two of her own. That would be so, so amazing. 

So, in wanting this I have started to stir up a lot of my old worries. What if I can't get pregnant? What if I get pregnant and miscarry (I am at greater risk of that due to my endometriosis and low progesterone)? What if, what if, what if...

I don't want to go down this road again. At least I have some tools in my pocket already. Prayers, yoga, Circle + Bloom, vitamins specific to helping my conditions, a good diet (although I think I need to give up coffee and wine again). I know that if we are lucky again I should get my progesterone level tested right away so I can supplement if needed. All of this SHOULD be of comfort, but I am becoming a ball of stress. Yes, I am back to googling things, too. I need to stop! 

My focus right now should be on getting my home purged of unnecessary things for our impending move, finding a house to move to, improving my marriage (thank God, it is getting better everyday!), and soaking up cuddles and laughs with my girl. 

I am so scared of secondary infertility and miscarriage, though. So scared.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Done and done!

My goal was to wrap up curriculum mapping for school by the end of July...well I ALMOST made it! I finished typing my updates last night at 12:34am! Thirty-four minutes late, but who cares?! I am DONE with all of my job-related tasks! Specialist schedule planning for next year completed, resignation sent, classroom cleaned out of personal things, maps done! I guess I am finally officially unemployed!

Next on my "to do" is obviously to figure out where we will be living as of 12pm, September 30 since that is when we have to turn in our apartment keys and be out of here! We sent in our notice to vacate yesterday, so there is no turning back! Right now, my husband is optimistic about finding a house in time. Me, not so much. I am freaking out! When he got home from work around 12:30am (I was still up, thanks to the mapping!) we had a glass of wine together and talked for about an hour before turning in for the night. He said, "We will not be homeless. Don't worry about that. Worst case scenario is moving into another apartment closer to my office under a 6-month lease." I think I can deal with that, even though I really thought a house was going to be our next stop. I am even willing to move into a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom place to save on money leading up to the house move. Plus, downsizing from our 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom place seems like a great way to de-clutter! I know what you are thinking...1 bedroom with an 18-month-old?! We are still co-sleeping at night. Her room is solely used for afternoon nap, her clothing storage, and her diaper pail/diapers. We could do without for a while, I think.

In less stressful news...tomorrow night my in-laws are watching the babe while we celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary a bit early at the PAUL MCCARTNEY concert! I am so, so excited! I have loved Paul (and the Beatles, and Wings!) since about 7th grade. My 13-year-old self practically hyperventilates every time I think about it! My best friend and I shared a locker in middle school and we had the Beatles plastered on the inside while all the other girls had Backstreet Boys and the likes in their lockers. It will be a much needed dose of fun with my husband! The last concert we went to was Muse in 2010! Did I ever tell you that music was something my husband and I bonded over in high school? He was in a band (swoon!) and we shared a lot of common music favorites. Over the years, we also introduced each other to lots of new-to-the-other stuff. So fun!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Balance between keeping house and parenting + moving

As I have mentioned, things really fell apart while I was teaching last year. My husband rarely got home before Felicia and I went to bed Monday-Friday. I was essentially a single mother after picking up the babe from childcare. I got way, way behind on housework. Mounds of laundry, a constantly messy kitchen, neglected bathrooms...not a pretty sight!

Yesterday I decided to use Felicia's nap time to deep clean one of our bathrooms. It was long overdue. I cleaned the drain in the tub (how the heck did all that hair get in there? GROSS!) and cleaned the sink drain, too, which is now good as new. Did some purging of empty shampoo bottles, products that I no longer use, and random things that somehow accumulated under the sink. I cleaned the toilet and bleached the tub and sink. It is a delightful room now. I am tempted to take an epsom salt bath when I get the chance!

The trade-off of using nap time that way was that I didn't get to start dinner until Felicia had woken. She was not a happy camper while I was trying to cook, as she wanted 100% of my attention. I need to figure this out. Now that I am home I would like a clean home! I would have liked it before, but things had to be sacrificed in the name of survival. I am already finding that being home has many benefits (I can run laundry during the day, I can empty the dishwasher before 5:30pm, etc) but it is also frustrating that all of these projects are constantly in my face and I don't feel like I can get things done while Felicia is awake. I am in the process of trying to nail down a cleaning schedule that will work for me. But...

OUR HOUSING SITUATION IS STILL UP IN THE AIR. Some things that I know would make life easier have to wait for now and may have to for the foreseeable future. Like childproofing the kitchen cabinets and getting room darkening shades for bedroom windows (Felicia has a lot of trouble sleeping at night now that it is so bright out, but we don't want to invest in shades that might be useless after our move). Why do it here when we are moving at the end of September? It does drive me crazy that it takes approximately 1.2 seconds for the girl to completely empty all of the pots and pans while I am, say, checking on the quinoa that is cooking for dinner.

Speaking of moving in like 2 months...we don't currently have anywhere to go! Here is our situation:

  • We know we want to live near my husband's job
  • We haven't really gotten any house hunting done, due to my husband's job and the fact that...
  • We thought we'd have a family-owned rental house (my husband's parents own it and the renters [who are also family] hadn't paid rent in several YEARS until now, after they were told they had to leave July 1st...then they started paying and are staying put) to move into during house hunting but it recently fell through and...
  • We only have one working car that my husband takes every frickin' day to work unless Felicia and I drive him (which gives us over 3 hours of wasted time on the road just to drop him off/pick him up...very frustrating to spend 3 useless hours in the car just so I can pick up groceries during the day)
  • We have a second car that needs repairs but we know we only want it as long as we live this far from my husband's job (he will bike once we live close enough, leaving me with a car, THANK GOD!)
Right now our options seems to be:

1. Try to rush and find a house before the end of September, risking buying something we aren't really happy with but then living near his work and being able to just have one car and getting our home actually set up permanently.

2. Moving in to my husband's parents' basement, still requiring 2 cars since this is even further from my husband's office, but then not being locked into anther rental lease somewhere while we try to buy a house near his office. I don't really like this option!

3. Renting somewhere near my husband's office, month-to-month if possible, requiring only one car, and house hunting like it is going out of style so we can set up a permanent residence. 

My husband is not worried at all about this. I am the heck am I supposed to make things work being home when we don't even have a home in 2 months?! I never imagined being in an apartment at age thirty (and likely thirty-one...). The problem right now isn't is still TIME that is the issue. You would think that by now I know life doesn't go as planned. Ay yi yi...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Making it work for us

2 posts in 2 days?! What the what?!

I am going to try to document a little bit about the good (and maybe not-so-good) things as I learn to navigate being home full-time.

What is making it work for us right now:

1. I prep or start dinner during the babe's nap. She takes one nap nowadays (I know I am LUCKY!). Sometimes long (almost 3 hours yesterday!) sometimes short (35 minutes one day last week). Even if it is pretty short, I seem to have time to at least chop veggies/lay out ingredients for dinner. Right now, I have these sizzling on the stove:

We don't eat much tofu these days, but these are SO good and SO easy! I use coconut oil for cooking the tofu, add 2 cups cooked brown rice, a clove or 2 of minced garlic, and chopped green onion to ours, too. We use gluten free soy sauce to keep them friendly for my gf diet (which is going strong, although I have fallen off the endo diet...I love me some chocolate and red wine!). 

If my husband was home in time to entertain our daughter while I did dinner prep, I probably wouldn't spend her nap this way. But, it is what it is! He still gets home about 2 hours after Felicia and I eat (which is creeping up on Felicia's bed time). Cooking with a very "helpful" 18-month-old can be a challenge. So for now, this is the easiest way for me to get good, whole foods on the table for all three of us. 

2. We go to the park everyday before lunch as long as it is not raining or too hot (today was a too hot day so we've been a bit cooped up). Round trip, it is about an hour of walking/playing. It gets us out of our little 2 bedroom apartment and gets me some much needed exercise. Soon I'll have a running stroller, thanks to my sister who no longer needs the one she used with her kiddos. 

3. I try to read for at least 30 minutes a day after Felicia is down for the night. I just finished this one:

Which I really enjoyed! I highly recommend it for anyone who wants or has kids.

I just started this one last night:

I am in a book club with 4 girlfriends and this is the book we'll be meeting about in August. It seems a little fluffy so far, but I think it will be fun.

Monday, July 21, 2014

We took the plunge...

I sent my resignation to my new principal almost 2 weeks ago. My last official day of availability is this Wednesday, but I turned in my keys and school laptop this morning. I was glad that many of my co-workers happened to be at school today so I got to do some real farewells. I am excited for more time with my family, but also terrified about being unemployed. I have had a steady job for the last 14 years! Almost half of my 30 years! And, let's be honest...I will miss my co-workers, students, the excitement of the hustle and bustle of classes. And I already miss my lunch breaks, even though they were usually only 25 minutes long! Ha!

Things I have noticed about being home full-time so far (that I don't want to forget as I settle in to this "stay at home" thing):

1. I never get as much done as I hope. The world doesn't end, though, if that load of laundry doesn't get put away today.

2. I enjoy cooking REAL food! During school my cooking had to be quick I actually have enough time home before dinner to, like, make baked potatoes in the oven instead of the microwave and use fresh squeezed lemon juice in recipes instead of the bottled stuff. We have been eating so much better in the last few weeks!

3. It is amazing to spend all day with my kid. She is (mostly) a real joy to be around.

4. I have gotten more reading done in the last few weeks than I had January-June. Not because I have time during the day, but because I let myself have some time at night (instead of freaking out about getting everything ready for daycare, or fretting about lesson plans).

5. My husband and I have been fighting less. We have some damage control to take care of. Things got pretty bad after I returned to work in August, especially starting in January. Too much stress, not enough time together. Work was eating both of us. We were really suffering as a couple. Right now, the reduced income for our family seems a small price to pay for getting our marriage back on track.

6. I am tired at the end of the day, but not downright exhausted and beat. I am not tired to the point of tears.

Although my school keys and computer are returned, I still have a bit of work to do on my curriculum maps for the new teacher. I want things to be really easy for her/him. I want the art program to continue being successful. So, that is going to be looming large until I finish. My goal is before August 1, which is when the curriculum software archives for the new school year.

For now, I will leave you with a picture of the girl who gets all my time these days :)

Monday, June 23, 2014


Oh, thank goodness for summer!

My last day of school was June 6 and I finished cleaning out my classroom Saturday, June 14 (there was lots of work to be done on next school year's master schedule and since I am the Specialist team lead, I got to do over 20 hours of that during my first week "off" while also caring for the babe since we don't have childcare anymore, hence the delay in cleaning out that darn art room!). I have yet to resign, but things are looking like they are headed that way. With my position being .8 and us moving to be closer to my husband's job, the commute time/gas for the car along with increased childcare costs next year make it really not worth it financially. We haven't found a house, but we are moving out of this apartment at the end of September no matter what! More on that later...

Not much is new around here. The babe is adjusting to having me home with her all day. Naps have been hit or miss, but we have been making lots of art most days and playing at the park/in the pool any non-rainy day. I am back to cooking healthier meals again, which has all of us feeling a little happier. We are officially "not trying, not preventing" which feels weird since we have never really been there before nor is is truly possible to be "not trying, not preventing" when we are still aware of my cycles using NFP. We haven't used any fertile times yet, but I am hopeful that it will take less than 2 years to conceive again. In a perfect world, I would get a positive test in October and have baby #2 born 2.5 years after Felicia. Not likely, though, given our history.

Hoping for more time to catch up with all of you soon. I am trying to keep the momentum from cleaning out my classroom going to make progress on our home. Things really fell apart here last school year...we are so disorganized! I am back to getting rid of one thing (or more) a day in hopes of making things feel less chaotic and to make more of our time together at home available for fun instead of the drudgery of cleaning all the time! Less stuff = less to wash/put away/keep organized, right?! Here's hoping!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Art supplies for little ones

Since my income will either be going down 20% or 100% as of July, I have started making a list of some art supplies that I know I want to have around for Felicia. So far she has used crayons, markers, oil pastels, and stickers that I had on hand from my personal art stash. I picked up some Crayola fingerpaints and large paper from Target a while ago to give us something fun to do between dinner and bath time and she has used them 3 times in the last week or so. She received Play-Doh from a friend at Christmas and has tried it twice (I say "try" because she mostly tried to eat it!).

Without further ado, here is what I plan to add over the next several months:

Liquid watercolors

Watercolor brushes (I bought these for my classroom 6 years ago and they have held up beautifully in the hands of literally hundreds of young artists! I have seen an assorted 5 pack at Michael's before...I will NOT being buying the classroom caddy for one kiddo!)

Tempera paint

No-spill paint cups

Easy Grip brushes

Chubby brushes

Paint sticks (I have never used these but have read that they are great for little ones!)

And of course paper, which I will probably pick up with 40% off coupons at Michaels or Blick. Essential paper will be: drawing paper (eventually 80 lb), watercolor paper, and construction paper (in my classroom I only use Pacon Tru-Ray construction is lovely!)

My mom gave us a heavy duty, old school, kid-sized artists easel that will be perfect for clamping paper to once Felicia is old enough/tall enough to paint at it.

That is my list so far! What are your favorite art materials for yourself? For little ones?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring! Spring?

We've had some lovely weather these last few days...almost 60 degrees! Yesterday we met a friend for brunch at a restaurant with patio was AMAZING! Felicia was happy as a clam sitting on our laps the entire leisurely meal and then she had a blast walking around outside. It was her first time outside like that since she has started walking! While the guys took care of the check, I walked down the sidewalk with her and she was laughing so hard! She is an outdoor girl, for sure!

School has been okay despite the lingering stress in the air. I have been doing some really stunning projects with the kids - things I've wanted to try over the last 6 years but was too afraid to. Now I figure, what is there to lose? So far, they have been successes with all grades. I decided I'm going to try to keep this momentum going through June so that if (when?) I don't return, I will have gone out with a bang!

Tonight my husband is working late again. Felicia was in a bit of a mood, so we walked to get the mail and then walked the halls of the building. We ended up walking to the laundry room where she proceeded to yell, "Mama! Mama! Mamaaaaaaaaaa!" and "Puppy! Puppy! PUPPYYYYYY!" into an empty dryer. It will be nice when the outdoors are a little better for playing. We have giant, dirty ice piles and mud puddles everywhere outside right now. So, for the time being, yelling into dryers for fun with have to suffice. The weathermen are saying snow late tonight and through the morning commute...hopefully an early April Fools' joke!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The dark side of spring break

Okay, maybe that is a little dramatic, but we've had some struggles since I had that glorious week off earlier this month. The babe isn't sleeping well, which could be more teething (we try to blame EVERYTHING on teething, cheeks? teething. slight fever? teething. wants to nurse a lot all of the sudden? teething. fussy? teething. weird, messy diapers? teething. biting things/people? teething. won't eat her favorite foods? get it...the list goes on) but I think it is trouble adjusting to me being back at work. She also now wakes in the morning screaming (truly SCREAMING, with tears shooting out of her eyes), "MAMAMAMAMAMAMA!" Usually I am just about out the door when she wakes, but I get her dressed and put her hair up for the day, anyways, so I get a little time to play and sing with her, even if it means I walk into my classroom later than I should. Note: I've never been late for a class. I have always been there at least 35 minutes before my first class starts, but I have been "late" by a few minutes by what the spoken contract time is this year.

Yesterday, she pulled a Sleeping Beauty on us and slept in way past when I needed to leave (probably because she slept so terribly during the night) so I didn't get any awake time with her and I didn't get to say goodbye. At around noon, my sister (who watches the babe 4 days a week) send me this text:

Felicia is missing you something fierce today--she keeps looking out the window for your car and saying mama

Ugh. Cue tears and tight chest on my lunch break. You'd think it would get easier after 7 months, but it really hasn't! Here's one big point in the "pros of staying home" column.

Do any of you other working moms kind of hate that you are faced with the choice of staying home vs. working? I guess I should ask SAHMs, too, because you had to make the choice to stay home at some point, too. Most (married) women didn't even have to consider it 70 years ago. I get the whole "women's rights...blah, blah, blah" standpoint...girl power and all that...but balancing work and family is so, so hard. Sometimes I just wish it was the norm for me to be home so I wouldn't have to make the choice. But, some weird part of me feels like I am letting down my teacher friends if I quit. Especially my mentor teachers from student teaching (who I am totally facebook friends with). I am admitting defeat or saying teaching isn't important. The ONLY time I can recall my Mom saying she was proud of me (IN MY WHOLE LIFE) was the one time she visited my school with me and Felicia when I was on leave and she saw all of my co-workers and students so excited and respectful when they saw me. Then I read this paragraph and think, "Are you 15-years-old? WHO THE HECK CARES WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS?" Sorry, I have a one track mind right now and it is the stay at home or work topic. Sorry for boring/annoying all of you. Ugh. Off to finish getting ready for work now...

Monday, March 24, 2014

74 Days and .8

The meeting with my principal went as well as it could have. She was very respectful and sympathetic about the way the changes in the school will be affecting teachers and staff (at least I thought so). My position will be .8 next year. Time will tell what exactly that means. I told her that I would rather work 4 days, with Wednesdays off, than work 5 partial days (why would I want to commute and put the babe in childcare 5 days when I am only working/paid for 4, you know?).

Work agreements should come out in the next few weeks, likely before Easter, and that is when I will need to make the final decision. Music will also be .8 next year and Library .6 (from .8 the last 5 years), which makes me sad for my friends.They want and need that .2!

On a cheerier note, I just counted how many days until the end of the school year. I counted weekends and days off (we get Good Friday and Easter Monday off! Woohoo! Plus, of course, Memorial Day) as well as days of school and the count is 74 days! And because I am 13-years-old, I wrote the number of how many days left in the bottom corner of each calendar spot on our family calendar at home. Ain't nobody got time to recount when I need a little happiness! So, 74 days until summer vacation!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Should I stay or should I go? (Oh, and happy SPRING!)

Several (all?) teachers got an e-mail yesterday about setting up a meeting with our principal to discuss our positions for next year. How they might change/what additional duties we may need to take on to stay full-time or even almost full-time. This happens to me every spring...the sun is up longer, my classroom is brighter, everyone (students and coworkers) are all cheerier than they've been in months! This is a great time of year to be a teacher! I've gone from feeling pretty sure about making some big changes next year to second guessing myself. Darn sun. Darn spring weather! Darn happy, funny, creative kids! I guess I should use the meeting as an opportunity for ME to figure things out as much as for my principal to figure things out. I do not envy her right now. What a hard job, to have to decide who stays, who goes, who gets cut to part-time and no longer has health insurance...she is not in a fun position right now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Today is Tuesday

...and it ought to be better than yesterday!

I'll leave you with these tidbits about yesterday:

1. I had to peel  myself out of bed at 5:30am
2. A kid coughed INTO MY MOUTH during my preschool demo
3. I had my 8th graders for the first time since November of 2012
4. My left eye seems to be infected. Not pinkeye, but something equally unsightly that won't allow me to wear eye makeup
5. After school, I ran to use the rest room (no bathroom break all day) and found myself standing in a PUDDLE OF SOME KID'S (I am assuming it was a kid's and not an adults) PEE while I was wearing my FELT BOTTOM BOOTS.

More on all of this later. Sigh.

Monday, March 17, 2014

All good things must end

Back to work today. You'd think that this being my 6th year as a teacher I'd be used to the feeling of going back to school after a break, and I suppose I am, but it still involves more anxiety than I'd like to admit. Thank goodness for this little secret weapon in my coat pocket:

I picked it up at Whole Foods last August when the beginning of the school year was approaching. 
Pros: natural, fast acting. 
Cons: makes you smell like brandy (it is 27% grape based brandy as a preservative)

Do you suffer from anxiety? What do you do to manage it?

Here is another helpful thing I do to help with mine:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Do you iron for your husband?

Almost radio silence on Monday's post (thanks for your thoughts, Megan!). I've been doing some reading on grief, so hopefully I will know what to do/say next time I see her/write to her/call her. In my research I realized that I hadn't even considered how hard Mother's Day will be for her. Her first Mother's Day and her little boy won't be with her. On Mother's Day, he will have been gone for almost exactly 5 months. He should have been 7 months old in May. I'll be sending some sort of "thinking of you" card and maybe a seed packet of forget-me-nots.

Moving on to ironing...

This morning, my husband got home around 3am, after leaving for work TUESDAY MORNING AT 8:30am. His job is out of control and craptastic to the max right now. Well, this morning he had to go to a client's office instead of his regular office, so he wanted to look sharper than usual. He has known about this for a few weeks and had the outfit picked out (pants, dress shirt, tie all from Express that fit him like. a. glove.). Anyhow, after doing night care of the babe (the TEETHING babe with a possible EAR INFECTION starting) I probably only got as much sleep as mister "I work 'til 3am and don't see my family." So, this morning at 6:30 I am trying to get Felicia back to sleep for the umpteenth time when my husband's alarm starts going off. I am simultaneously comforting the babe and kicking the man out of bed. He rolled out of bed at 7:02. He was shooting to leave home at 7:30 to get to the client's office. He showers quickly, then freaks out because he hasn't shaved his scruffy face and his pants haven't been ironed. I get up and ask him what he needs me to do. He glares (overly tired men are really like women). I ask/yell "WHAT DO YOU NEED ME TO DO TO HELP YOU?" "My pants, my pants!" he cries. To be fair, I guess I couldn't have shaved for him. But I was tired and not being logical when I asked what he needed me to do. In my defense, he should be able to ask me to iron his pants instead of just getting mad and expecting me to offer. So, I iron his pants. I do the best I can, but I am not good at ironing! I avoid it at all costs, in fact.

So, ladies...Do you iron for your husbands? I feel like I should watch some youtube tutorials or something and get better, but I don't want The Bee to expect that I will be his personal ironing slave, especially when I am home next year.

Now, because I am overly tired and have only had 2 sips of coffee thus far and it seems like a big deal this very moment...I have to share that I missed buzzing in the diaper service because I was ironing said pants for my husband. GREAT. Now we have a week's worth of dirty diapers to hang on to for another week. And possibly no clean diapers for the coming 7 days. Hopefully they left the cleans in the lobby. I'll have to wait to check, though, because that teething, ear infection suffering girl is now SOUND ASLEEP at 8:15am.

And in case it is unclear, I really do love my husband. I just hate his job.

Monday, March 10, 2014

What to say to a friend who has lost a child?

Warning: For those with new babies, don't read this unless you are certain it won't make you worry about your own little one. After my friend went through this, I checked on my daughter as she slept for several weeks despite the fact that she was 11 months old already.

Last June, I attended a baby shower for one of my best college friends. This was her second pregnancy (the first was an early miscarriage) and all was going well! Her due date, which was late September, came and went and she was induced the first week of October. After a difficult labor that ended in an emergency c-section, she delivered a tiny, little boy. He was small, especially for being over 7 days late. After about a week spent hooked up to tubes and monitors, they got to go home as a family of 3. He grew and grew! By his 2 month check-up, he weighed as much as my daughter did at 2 months (and she was an 8 pounder with rolls from day 1).

That's when the nightmare began for my friend and her family. He went to bed in his crib that night after a perfect 2 month check up and he did not wake up the next morning. They had an examination done, and it was labeled SIDS. My friend lives in another state, so I was not able to attend the funeral. I sent a card to her and her husband right away, but have only been in contact with her via facebook as she goes through all of this. Finally, today, just over 3 months after they lost their son, I made it to the post office to mail her a letter, a paper angel from my school (more on that later), and an angel ornament I had her son's name engraved on.

Here is the letter (almost word for word, but a little different because I am typing from my handwritten rough draft, not the handwritten final letter):

Dear ___,
Sometime in January while I was taking down our Christmas decorations, I was trying to think of a way for my family to remember and honor your sweet boy, H. I decided to keep his birth announcement with our Christmas things so we can hang it with our cards every year.

Enclosed is a paper angel that I hung on my school's prayer tree back in December. I just took it down last week so I could send it to you. My entire school community has been praying for you, [her husband], and H. I've also sent you an angel ornament with your little angel's name in it.

Thinking of you everyday, my friend.


My question(s) for all of you: What kind of support can I give her on ordinary days? When his birthday comes in the fall? When the anniversary of his passing comes in December? Whenever I try to talk to anyone about it, I just start to cry. Even after my depression and extreme sadness surrounding infertility, I cannot begin to fathom what my friend and her husband went through and what they are still experiencing.

The situation is not the same, but I found this guest blog post from A Cup of Jo, written by a woman who had a stillborn baby, helpful when thinking of what to write to my friend: 
Motherhood Mondays: I had a stillborn baby

I thought I'd share the link, because this community, more than most, has connections to people with such losses.

Friday, March 7, 2014

2 down, 1 to go!

Today is the last day of my school year's second trimester! Spring break is next week and I am almost done with my report card grades (thank you, field trip to the zoo yesterday, that gave me an 80 minute chunk of time to grade work!). I had my sixth graders for the last time yesterday. I have known those kids since they were squeaky first graders. Eighth graders start my class the day we return from break. I haven't had them since first trimester of last school year...they have all changed so much since then and so have I!

All teachers and staff received a "Reduction in Force" letter this week, stating that because of declining enrollment of the school and static/declining church offertory, the school/the affiliated parish is facing a $150,000 deficit for 2014 fiscal year. Even though I am almost certain that I will not be returning, I got an eye twitch just reading the letter. That is equivalent to approximately 5 teachers' salaries for a school year. Not good. Not good at all. Those affected by the cuts are to be alerted by early April. Reduction in force will begin in mid-April.

Yesterday I again realized how very lucky I am that staying home is even an option for our family right now. In the midst of this reduction in force, my husband had a great quarterly review at work and may be up for a that would mean a raise that is almost equivalent to 1/3 of my current salary. That makes me feel pretty lousy about my salary, but makes me think staying home is definitely the right choice at this point in time. If he gets that raise and I am home (eliminating childcare costs, cutting down on fuel costs for commutes) it is really almost a wash when you think about losing my pay.

Back to the main positive here: SPRING BREAK! I am hoping to finish the last of my grading before leaving school this afternoon so that I don't have to worry about it over the next 9 days. Over break I will be doing some curriculum mapping, photographing some student work for their portfolios, and selecting/mounting works for the fine arts night show coming up in May, but most of my time will be spent visiting friends, cooking from scratch, and playing with this funny girl:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Much to my husband's delight, I decided to give up Facebook. He HATES Facebook (or pretends to, anyway...he benefits from me having it because I show him all of the pictures worth looking at, read him the best status updates, and he gets to attend functions where the only invite goes out through fb). Anyways, I am hoping that I will see my time seeming less crunched and that I will have more time to update this little blog of mine over the next 40 days as long as I can think of things worth sharing. Life has been none too exciting in these parts.

Happy Ash Wednesday (is that okay to say?)!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thank you! (pros and cons)

Thank you to those of you who commented on my post about Pros and Cons when it comes to staying home vs. working. I appreciate your ideas and input!

Allison - Staying busy will be something I try to do! I have done a ton of reading about toddler/preschool art* and have some experience now that I have taught preschool this school I hope that wherever we end up house-wise, we will have neighbors with kids and I can host a toddler art group! I also plan on taking a Music Together with Felicia. As for free stuff to do: library story time, visits with my sister and her 2 kids...I'll have to come up with more, obviously!

Colleen - Thanks for stopping by - hope you come by again and see this:) I won't know exactly how it will go for me until I try it, but I was home full-time with my daughter for 7 months before I returned to my teaching job, so I got a little taste. We found that we automatically adjusted our spending (I only had 6 weeks paid out of those 7 months). We put the same amount in savings every month and easily paid all of our bills. Our checking account wasn't quite as plump at the end of the month, but it was nothing shocking. Maybe if I made more money at my job, the drop in income would be more of a concern, ha! I don't make much as I work at a Catholic school and haven't had a raise in 4 years! I hope I don't get bored or become unhappy - the isolation part of all of this scares me most! I think that working part-time would be ideal (best of both worlds) but my current job doesn't allow for part-time. I like how you pointed out that what I decide now isn't a decision for the rest of my life. I can return to work if the SAHM thing doesn't work out.

Erika - The school is getting more stressful by the day :( Ugh. Our new principal walked in at a very hard time for the school financially. I really feel for her; it has not been an easy year to lead and things are sort of falling apart. There is talk of about 5 teachers planning to leave after this school year (which is a big percentage as we only have about 30 teachers!). Our enrollment is down - we were at 360 my first year and we are at about 280 now. Our school day is being lengthened after Easter this school year to make up for the 5 "cold days" we had off in January and the lengthened day will be standard next school year. So, an extra half-hour each day next year with no raise...not too enticing. We have even been told that teachers may be asked to take a pay cut to keep more of us employed - it was pitched to us as being "team players" to keep the school going. So, high stress, longer hours, and not only no raise, but possibly a pay cut? Not looking so good :(

Infertile625 - Thanks for that link! Our school is taking state standardized tests for the first time this year and there is speculation that we will need to start "teaching to the test" next year to bump up our scores. We are a Catholic school, so we have not done the state tests in the past. We've done standardized tests in 3 of our 9 grades just to keep tabs on where our kids are, but now the scores will be published in the papers with our area public schools' scores. We are headed down that slippery slope :( Teaching evening art classes would be a good way to keep my hand in teaching! I've actually considered maybe trying some adult art classes like those "Wine and Canvas" gigs that are becoming so popular! Do you have those where you live? "Painting Pubs" are also on the rise here! I haven't tried either, but several of my friends have.

polycysticinside Thanks for the artist's perspective! I haven't had much time to do my own 
art since becoming an art teacher 6 years ago, so now working full-time and being a mom I
don't have ANY chance to do art! I am not expecting to get a lot done, but I do think that:
1. I will have more time without the commute, hours at work, commute to pick up my daughter, 
commute home 
2. I might actually WANT to do my own art more (after painting, drawing, sculpting, etc with 
kids all day and washing literally HUNDREDS of paintbrushes in a preschool bathroom sink, 
I usually have very little desire or energy to work on my own stuff!)
I think this way I may have a fighting chance to lay down some paint at my own easel again! 
Time will tell, but after reading about your experience, I will try to expect that there won't be 
much time most days.

Abby - Glad you randomly clicked over from Erika's blog...not sure if you will see this! I hopped over to your blog for a your hair and your son is adorable! What is a MOPS group? Okay...back to responding to your comment: When my husband and I did our pre-marriage classes through our church, we did a lot of talking about our future together. At the time, at age 22, our goal was to start a family at age 25 after I taught for a year and to have me stay home. Not sure how we decided that! Anyways, the economy tanked the year we got married and my husband, although always employed, did not find his "career job" that he wants to stick with until mid-2011. Mix in a dose of infertility that, after we waited a few extra years for my husband to find a job he was happy at and waited for me to establish my curriculum at school (which I designed from NOTHING!), caused it to take 2 years to get pregnant. So, our daughter was born when I was 29. Things have not gone according to plan (we also, in our naivete thought we'd get a house BEFORE having a baby - ha!). SO, being a SAHM was a goal and dream of mine, too, but now I am scared after all of the twists and turns it has taken to get here! Deep down, I think I would love it. I am pretty sure we are going to try it out after this school year!! Thanks for the advice about being realistic...part of me thinks I will be Wonder Woman with all the "extra time" at home, even though during the hours that I already have at home, I get very little done when I am the sole parent home with our daughter!

Thank you all, again!

* I highly recommend these great books about art for little ones:
Young at Art: Teaching Toddlers Self-Expression, Problem Solving Skills, and an Appreciation for Art
First Art for Toddlers and Twos: Open-Ended Art Experiences
The Artful Parent 
The Artful Parent is also a blog (all the same content of the book, but online and free!):
These 3 books have even changed how I approach art with many of my older students! The bonus is that now I will be ready for art with Felicia as soon as time allows! She has used crayons and markers so far and painted with blueberry juice, but that is it. SO EXCITED to do a lot more this summer! I'll have to post more about these resources another time.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pros and Cons

Please feel free to add your two cents! Here is my list so far! Allison - I would love your insight regarding staying home! I know you are honest about how challenging it can be.

Pros and Cons regarding staying home as opposed to working full- or part-time:


  1. More time with babe
  2. More time with The Bee
  3. Our boundaries for where to buy a house would be easier to define (The Bee and I work about 20 miles away from each other, in opposite directions of the major cities. Me leaving my current school would make living near his office more logical).
  4. When I am ready to go back to teaching, I will have an area near our home/The Bee's job to focus my search
  5. Time to pursue my own art again
  6. Grocery shopping during the day with the babe (instead of after work in the dark with the babe)
  7. More time for whole foods, home cooked meals
  8. Daytime used for some house work so evenings can be spent with The Bee
  9. Story time at the library (for some reason I am really sad that I never get to do this with the babe)
  10. The Bee coming home for lunch 
  11. Less car/commute time for all of us!
  12. Play dates with cousins and friends
  13. Trading daycare with my sister so I still get a little time for my sanity
  14. In the words of a co-worker, our school is a "sinking ship." I can bail out now before things get really bad.
  15. I would be home when the babe was more scrambling to get sub plans done at 4am or arguments about who needs to adjust their work schedule (this was a disaster in December when the stomach flu hit. I was home with the babe for 3 days in one week. The following week, she couldn't go to daycare due to illness at my sister's house so The Bee stayed home with her in the morning and then the babe came to school with me in the afternoon...thank God it worked that day due to special events so I was not teaching regular classes!)
  16. I would be able to take the babe to doctors appointments without having to miss work/make sub plans
  1. Lapse in my teaching license
  2. Lapse in employment
  3. Isolation of being home instead of in the working world
  4. Losing touch with the real world (this doesn't happen to all SAHM's, but I know a few who are so out of touch with everyone/everything except their own little families)
  5. Less income
  6. No breaks (at school right now I get 50 minute lunches 2 days a week, 25 minute lunches 3 days a week)
  7. Long stretches without adult conversation
  8. No more Caribou and Starbucks giftcards at Christmas from students (Ha - I am seriously going to miss this! We haven't had to pay cash for coffee out for the last 5 years. Mind you, we maybe go to coffee shops once a month, but it is still a perk I will miss!)
  9. Missing teaching. I do find some real joy in making art with my students.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Decisions, decisions...

So, since my last post approximately 2 weeks ago, I have started to come around to this whole "staying home" business. It still scares the s*** out of me, but there seem to be a lot of pros, and a few cons (although the cons seem REALLY BIG). The main con is getting back into teaching after being away. A second con is what happens to me if my husband turns out to be an awful human being like my dad and leaves me desolate. I don't think my husband would do that, but it is something that creeps into my mind every now and again when I am emotional, tired, when we are having an argument, etc. I mean, my mom never thought she'd be where she is, but here she is.

In my worry over the decision I have been talking to a lot of husband, my mom, my sisters, my friends, stay at home moms that I know, working moms that I know, teachers at my school (only the ones I trust with the information that I am considering not signing that coveted contract in the spring). In a moment of freaking out while drinking my morning coffee last week, I posted to a teacher chatboard that I frequented as a new teacher and still check in on every once in a while. For your reading pleasure:

My post:

Our daughter (first and only child at this point) just
turned one this week. I was lucky to have about 7 months
off with her before I returned to my full-time art teacher
job in August. With my husband's long commute, our desire
to buy a house near his work (which is about 25 miles away
from my school), the cost of childcare, the reality that
enrollment is way down at my Catholic school and I haven't
gotten a raise in 5 years...

We are considering having me stay home next year. My
husband has much more faith in my art abilities (I feel
rusty at "adult art" and haven't been in a show since my
first year teaching 6 years ago) and thinks I could take
this opportunity to get back to what I love: making my own
art. This prospect both excites and terrifies me.

Have any of you taken a break from teaching and
successfully gotten back into it? I just re-upped my
license in June so I am licensed until 2018, although we
want 1 or more kids, so it might be a while...

And the 2 responses I got:

You are SO LUCKY! you have the support of your husband to
pursue your own artistic endeavors, you get the chance to keep
your daughter with you, all while trying to purchase a home.
This is a dream for many art teachers out there. Cherish this
new adventure, nurture and trust your artistic abilities, and
enjoy this amazing opportunity. Good luck!!! 


I did the same thing when my daughter was born. I worked the first
year and had such a hard time with it. My husband said we would
try a year with me home, and that turned into 2 which turned into
6. I was ridiculously lucky that I could take parental leave for 
that long (I had 2 more children and took 2 years for each child.
(It wasn't written in our contract that we had to return between
each child.) I did end up returning to my job when my oldest was
in 2nd grade, middle in kindergarten and youngest was 3 years old
(pre- school.) It was absolutely difficult financially and I lost
all of my seniority, but it was hands down the best decision I
ever made. I don't regret it for a minute and treasure that time I
had with the kids especially now that they are getting old (4th,
6th, and 8th grade.) I say go for it.... It could turn into a
wonderful opportunity where you end up doing something other than
teaching---something you would have never tried if you didn't have
a reason to leave. You DO have a reason---a big one, and if you can
swing it financially, you'll never regret having that time with your

So, who knows how I will feel in a week, a month, when I get my teaching contract (or when I don't, it isn't a guarantee), on the last day of school in June? Right now I feel like staying home might be the best option for my family. I know we can't relive this year without being very stressed and unhappy. As Einstein said, 
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." We'd be insane to not try something different next year...but is staying home the right different thing to try?!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Long time, no post (again).

I am home today due to the cold temperatures. School was supposed to resume yesterday after 2 weeks of Christmas break, but the governor closed all schools in the entire state for fear of kids getting frostbite while trying to get to school. Boo to the cold, yay for extra days with the babe (who is currently napping in her CRIB! 2 weeks of nap training are [slowly] paying off!).

Life's been full with school, the holidays, The Bee's atrocious work schedule, and almost 2 months of continuous illness for the babe. We were so lucky for the first 10 months of her life...a few little sniffles and some diaper rash was about it. Now we've experienced a horrible bout of the stomach flu (3 full days of vomiting. You know you love a child when they can throw up peaches into your bra and you keep your cool to bathe them while only being able to change your clothes and wipe off with a clean towel until your husband gets home to give you a chance to shower), a seizure scare that led to an EEG (which, PRAISE GOD! revealed no seizure activity or abnormal brain activity), a horrible cold that only allowed the babe to sleep propped up with pillows or sitting up in our arms (3 cheers for co-sleeping,,,not sure how we would have gotten any sleep otherwise), and an ear infection that brought us to the ER from 11pm-3am.last Friday night/Saturday morning.

Our girl will be one on Monday. I cannot believe how fast the last year has gone! We are finding more joy in her every single day and still can't believe how amazingly blessed and lucky we are to be her parents. She is so close to walking, which is exciting and terrifying!

In other news: The Bee is fed up with his long commute to work. I am fed up with his long hours. We are both feeling the drag of the crazy running around we do Monday-Friday with drop-off, pick-up, working and normal life tasks. dinner feels like a chore after I get home with the babe and The Bee isn't around until 10pm or later. I also have extreme mom guilt about how sick the babe has been, I keep asking, "Would she be sick like this if I was home with her? Should I be spending so much of my time with OTHER PEOPLE'S kids when we waited so long to have our own baby?"

Which brings me to the generous and scary proposal my husband made to me recently: I can choose to keep teaching OR stay home with the babe and (eventually) work on my own art work again. Seems so appealing, but teaching has become part of my identity and I worked darn hard to get where I am. We are still paying off my masters degree and I don't want to lose my teaching license because I am away from work for too long (I just renewed last spring so I am current until 2018). Also, my mom stayed home with me and my siblings starting when I was 7. She had (and still has) her own barber shop that she runs out of her home, but it has always been part-time. After all those years of raising us and running her own business, my dad filed for divorce and took her to the cleaners. Now she is 55 and works 3 jobs just to keep from losing her house and barber shop. I know my husband is NOT my father, but I am sort of afraid of ending up in my mom's shoes.

PLUS, I know how isolating it can be to stay home full-time. AND, I know I'd need to get my act together if I actually want to have time to get back to my own art making (which I miss like crazy as I haven't had much time for it since I started teaching 6 years ago. I would love to be in shows again, but feel rusty and have no current work!).

One of my requirements if I am to stay home is that we need a house first. I refuse to stay home full-time in a 2 bedroom apartment! In a state where it is so, so cold, this size of space leads to serious cabin fever. Why don't you go out and about? you wonder...Because less than 5 minutes of skin exposure outside right now leads to frostbite. Not worth the risk with a little one. So, right now the plan (if you can call it a "plan") is for me to hopefully work part-time next school year, we'll start the process of buying a house while we both have income and then I will be home with the babe starting during the 2015-2016 school year. In a perfect world, we would have baby #2 on the way near the end of next school year, but we know that trying to plan babies is nonsense. (That is another fear of mine, staying home, losing my license and having to deal with secondary infertility and then trying to find work after the babe is preschool/school age. However, if it is in God's plan for us to expand our family, my income is too small at my current school to make it worth working with 2 kids in daycare. Arg. So much uncertainty).

Anyways, if you have stuck with me through my blogger absence and this scattered post, thank you. And sorry for any typos...this is being written in a bit of a rush. I will be attempting to catch up with all of you! Hoping 2014 is good to all of you!