Thursday, October 9, 2014

People pleasing

You know who I really envy?

I envy those people who just don't give a damn.

I have spent many months and more money than I would care to admit in therapy discussing my issues with people pleasing. As much as I'd like to tell you that I have clear boundaries and priorities and don't let other people's expectations shake me, I don't. I've gotten better- you have to when you juggle parenting, working, graduate school, and family.  I know I can't please everyone, but I spend a lot of time agonizing over how to juggle life- asking permission from two out of three superiors to take this night off or turn this in late or leave early. 

Who's been there with me? Your kid gets sick, can't go to daycare. You take the day off. Your hubby gets sick and now you're taking care of two with a paper due in three days. Just as everyone is feeling better, your throat feels like it's on fire and you have to take another day off. 

While you're out, you miss two important deadlines and your kid eats goldfish and yogurt for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

I realize that I may be perceived as a flake, even when I feel like I work my ass off everyday. 

My parents have been so wonderful to keep reminding me that it's a season. And I'm sure when and if we have another child, I'll wonder what the heck I was so stressed out about back then when I only had one. 

I guess what I'm hoping is that my husband and I aren't the only jugglers here- that other people out there feel pulled in twelve different directions. 

And I'm also hoping that I can extend the same grace to you as I hope you do to me- because I know we are all doing what we need to in order to keep it together.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Here's to all the things you won't remember...

At precisely 10:58 am (or 10:57?) tomorrow, you will be exactly a year old. I do not have your father's way with words, but I do have a year full of memories that I want to make sure I record before they disappear.

Here are 365 things I remember about this year, one for each day you have blessed us with your life.

Just kidding. That would be ridiculous. Here are eight things I remember about this year.

1) You were a spitfire from the first minute I held you. I remember thinking you smelled really good, and that you were really pretty, and that I was so happy that you were actually a girl and I didn't have to go back and figure out a boy's name.

2) The nurse's first instructions to me as she wheeled me to the recovery room were to feed you every 2-3 hours during the day and 3-4 hours at night. What a joke. You didn't sleep a 4 hour stretch until you were 6 months old. You also didn't go 3 hours without eating until maybe last week. I took this picture of you on our first night together. Everyone had left, and I was awake with you. You refused to let me put you in that weird hospital Tupperware, so I spent two nights holding you in my arms, but terrified I would drop you, so I didn't sleep. This was the moment I remember falling in love. I still think you look really pretty here.

3) You still love it when I babywear. Thank goodness, because sometimes it's the only way this mama gets anything done.

4) You turned me into a hippie mama. You slept on me for the first four months of your life. Yes, on my chest. For months. (I thought I would miss that but...I don't. It was really sweet but also exhausting.) You also were a nursing champ. I'm not going to get all militant about breastfeeding, but it has been the one thing in this entire year I have felt that we really got the hang of.

5)  From day one, you've always made your will very clear. I spent countless hours with you wrapped in a Moby, doing mini-squats and lunges to keep you from crying. You used to hate riding in the car until, that is, we discovered your love of Taylor Swift music. I will forever be indebted to her for quieting my sweet baby. Sometimes you yell at me until I get down on the floor and play hide and go seek with you. I think you're a force to be reckoned with.

6)  You love to play the piano, the xylophone, the Baby Einstein's hoping you got some of your daddy's musical genes, because your mama can't carry a tune in a bucket.

7) I'm really thankful that you like to laugh with me. Otherwise, I'd feel even more awkward about the silly faces I make in public, or the number of times I jump out from behind a door and yell "BOO!" to your utter delight. I hope I'm not on The Truman Show. 

8) You turned our worlds upside down. This year hasn't been easy. If we had sat down with a financial planner in 2013, he (or she) would have LAUGHED at us for getting pregnant while we were both in school and employed as a writer and a public servant.
But you know, this year has taught us more about God's provision, the blessings of family, and the importance of keeping your priorities in check than we ever could have learned on our own.

So here's to you, my darling Scarlett fox. To celebrate, I have baked you a cake (allergen free, of course), thus finally showing you that my love language is truly carbohydrate based. May we always share a love of chocolate cake and sarcasm.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stress Eating

This is the list of books I read this summer for graduate school and in preparation for my new job:

The Accidental Teacher by Eric Mandel
Drive by Daniel Pink
Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
Everyday Teacher Leadership: Taking Action Where You Are by Michelle Collay
Effective Supervision: Supporting the Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano
Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of the Great American School System and a Strategy for America's Schools by David Kirp
Multiplication is for White People: Raising Expectations for Other People's Children by Lisa Delpit
Reframing the Path to School Leadership: A Guide for Teachers and Principals by Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal
Interactions: Collaboration Skills for School Professionals by Marilyn Friend and Lynn Cook
The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn from Each Other by Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
Purposeful Co-Teaching: Real Cases and Effective Strategies by Gregory Conderman, Mary V. Bresnahan, and Theresa Pedersen

(A side note for nursing moms: download the Kindle app on your iPhone. Load all required reading onto said app. If you're nursing 6 times a day for roughly 15 minutes each time, you have just gained 90 minutes of quiet reading time. Make sure you make an eye appointment, however, as it is guaranteed that your vision will deteriorate at a more rapid rate thanks to the constant eye strain.)

 A stack (or in my case, a Kindle home screen full) of books can provide useful tools to these important conversations.

But sometimes working together for a common goal can be difficult. I'm learning how to communicate a shared vision and support and serve teachers in a new capacity, but I'm only a few weeks in. I struggle with hoping I'm doing a good job. I'm not sure if this is people pleasing or being a reflective learner, but either way, it can lead to one eating one's own weight in candy corn. Not me, of course. It's just a possibility of which one should be aware.

This evening, as I sit tensely on my couch enjoying the fermented fruits of California while I pray my daughter will settle herself to sleep and thus my blood pressure will return to a healthier level, I am thankful for the opportunity to grow.

As I coached my students, no one has yet arrived. In my classroom, I attempted to create a safe environment in which mistakes were accepted and viewed as springboards for change. But that advice can be hard to swallow. The vulnerability required to humbly grow is challenging. I hope I can work to create the safe environment that allows for meaningful change.
Struggle by Krissy.Venosdale, via Flickr

Monday, September 22, 2014

Balancing Act

Well, friends, for those of you following along at home, we have just completed month one of my New Job.

I spent six wonderful and challenging years as a classroom teacher, but this year, I was given the opportunity to work four days a week and coordinate our magnet  program and also work with intervention.

There's thankful, and then there's thankful. And that is how I feel about this new opportunity.

I love teaching, and my heart will always be in the classroom. But this is also my thesis year, and my girl will only be this little once, and I needed to take a break. The thing about classroom teaching, as I'm sure you all know, is that it is rarely confined to the hours of 8 am to 3:30 pm. The hours spent on parent conferences, extra duties, lesson planning, grading papers, writing report cards, and general worry for each child can be exhausting.

Friends, I can't tell you how good it does my heart to have time. 

This weekend, I met a friend at a park. I bought bread and sweet potatoes at the Farmer's Market. We went on three walks and played on the swings in the backyard and also made two batches of pumpkin muffins. I did not grade a single paper or plan a single lesson.

 It wasn't all sunshine. I had to wake up two hours before my family on Sunday to do my grad school work. There is still a huge pile of laundry that is not folded, it's just relocated.  This little one was super fussy. The darling hubs and I had an argument. But we had time to connect with her and work out our conflict and go to bed Sunday evening with peaceful hearts (and a mountain of laundry that has yet to be folded).

There are seasons of life, I know (thanks Ecclesiastes and the Byrds), and I'm hoping that this is one of balance.

Monday, September 1, 2014

How I spent my Labor Day vacation

Last night I was awoken at 1am to the familiar sounds of my daughter fussing. For those of you who know us, Joel and I seemed to have bred an energetic spitfire who doesn't take to sleeping on her own. Yes, I have tried that and no it did not work.

The funny thing is, I was rejoicing because she had slept from 7:30pm to 1am, the longest stretch I have gotten in a few weeks. Imagine my surprise when I was met with every bodily fluid- we had to change pajamas twice. How nice.

Of course, being the nervous mom that I am, I was terrified that she would puke again and I, in my sleep deprived stupor, would not hear it. So naturally, I kick Joel out of bed and make a baby safe area for her to cuddle up sweetly as she drifted off to sleep in the arms of her loving mother. 

Well, that was the plan.

Instead what happened was no less than 2 hours of Crazy Baby climbing all over me, kicking me in the chest, and literally jumping on the bed. 

Some of you know I used to sleep with her. For three months straight she slept upright on my chest, easing what I now know to be common colic. In month four, I returned to work and she slept in the crook of my arm, which sounds idyllic when Dr. Sears describes it but was a nightly battle to make sure I didn't lose circulation to my fingers. 

I remember wistfully thinking of the day when she would no longer want to cuddle, reminding myself that "The days are long but the years are short." That day came approximate five months ago. This kid wants her freedom. 

So, at 3:45 in the morning, I relented and set her down in her crib, where she slept for the next 3.5 hours until something deadly escaped into her diaper.

Needless to say, we both got showers this morning.

As I was typing this, my daughter was allowed to eat apple snack sticks (read: sugar coated apple flavored chips) for breakfast because shut up. That's why.

And to top it all off, I spilled coffee onto our beige couch, thus presenting the current dilemma: 
Do I spot clean that area, leaving the rest of the couch to look dingier by comparison, or do I leave said coffee stain in hopes people will think there is a permanent shadow on our couch?

Today was supposed to be a date day for Joel and I. We don't get out much and I can count on one hand the times the two of us have been on a date in the last year. We carve out time here and there, but with the two of us working and in grad school, it's not so easy.

On this Labor Day, I want to acknowledge all those mamas out there who are covered in puke, folding their third load of laundry this morning, and succumbing to the sweet silence that an episode of Curious George can bring. 

We may not get a day off today, but...

I don't have advice. I just have commiseration.

Monday, August 25, 2014

New favorite!

Last week, I  had this tickle in my throat. You know, the kind that fills you with dread as you picture the next week and a half of congestion and late night coughing fits. I drank tea. I took naps. And still, it felt like the Jaws theme music was playing in my head as I just felt...icky. Duh nuh. Duh nuh. Duhnuhdunuh!

Enter this new favorite product-the On Guard beadlets. This cute little package included some sort of immune boosting wonder, because I took a couple a day for a few days and I'm happy to report that nary a tissue was used!  It wasn't an instant cure, but I definitely never got the dreaded cold that invariably follows the sore throat. Bonus: they taste like Christmas! 

Let me know if you want to know more!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I've Got This

For the past couple of years, our household has lived in a state of uncertainty. We rarely know what to expect from month to month or week to week. Our modus operandi has been to step forward without even seeing the path on which we walk.

We have made huge, life-changing decisions without much of worldly security. 

I am not a poster child of faith in that I have basically freaked out at every twist and turn. I'm not going lie: it can be a scary place.


In my years of teaching and working with children, I have had some kids who struggle with anxiety. A common theme for these kids is always wanting me to post the day's schedule on the board. They are the ones who walk into the classroom and immediately ask what we are doing. When disruptions in our schedule occur, they are the ones who sit, fidgeting, and ask a million questions  about how this will affect our plans.

Often, in a moment of exasperation, I answer, "Don't worry- I've got this."


I am a problem solver. When there is a crisis, my first instinct is to make a list.

A physical list.

 I am not exaggerating. In the hardest times in my adult life, I have made more lists than I care to admit, and I rely on these lists to create calm in my life. With each check mark I feel calm returning, but only temporarily.

Lately,  I think God is telling me to stop relying on these lists- these daily plans and schedules. My prayers revolve around endless questions and concerns as life disruptions have come.

The thing is, lists are good. Schedules are good. Plans are good. But I have made them the Ultimate. Rather than seeking Him, I seek the Plan. The next step. The security of being able to check every box. 

"Don't worry. I've got this."

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.- Matthew 6:33