Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jackson the Cat

Jackson has been acting more and more like the cats.  His latest hobbies include bathing in the cats' water dish, snacking on cat food, playing with shoes, and using the toilet to pull himself up to a standing position.  Oh dear!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Conversations at Recess

Student: Ms. Robinson, do you have a car?
Me: Of course.  That's how I get to work.
Student: You could take the bus.
Me: Well, the bus doesn't stop where I live.
Student: Does Jesse have a car?
Me:  Yes.
Student: Y'all have two cars??  Whoa!  (sounding genuinely shocked)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Student: Is anyone in your family in jail?
Me: No.
Student: Oh. (sounding disappointed)  Well, would you feel bad for them if they were?
Me: I don't know.  I guess it would depend on what they did to get in jail.
Student: Well my mommy couldn't pay her parole.  I feel bad for her.  I'm saving my money so I can pay it for her.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Student: What are you doing this weekend, Ms. Robinson?
Me: I'm going to my niece's birthday party.  Do you have any plans this weekend?
Student: I get to spend the whole day with my daddy.  He promised me we could spend the day together since he took my DSI to the pawn shop.
Me: Why did he do that?
Student: He had to pay the bills.  He took my bike, too.

A Lesson on Voting Rights

One of my guided reading groups was reading a Time For Kids article on the Iowa caucus and S.C. primary.  The article discussed the Republican frontrunners, the different political parties, and requirements to vote.   Here is the conversation that took place:

Student A: What does "convicted felon" mean?
Me: Someone who has committed a serious crime and is in jail because of it.
Student A: Oh, well my dad can't vote then.  He's in jail.
Student B: My mom is, too.  She can't vote neither.
Student C:  My parents aren't citizens. 
Student D:  Wait, you gotta be a citizen?  That's messed up.  Nobody in my family can vote!
Student E: What is "mentally ill"?  Is that like retarded or something?  My dad's retarded.
Me: (knowing that this child's father is indeed mentally ill) Right, so your dad isn't legally able to vote either.

Do you know how hard it is to teach students about their duty and right to vote when their parents can't vote and many of them won't be able to vote??

An Afternoon in the Park

I can't get over this near 70 degree weather in January!  Jesse had a closing shift on Saturday, so Jackson and I ventured to a local park that afternoon.  Jackson is still too small to enjoy the slide but he liked it enough. 
Jackson's true love was for the swings!  He seemed initially hesitant and was grabbing the chains for dear life.  He had a blast once he realized he was safe and he could kick his legs and swing high in the air.  He was especially amused when I got on the ground and pretended he kicked me each time he swung forward.  He already has such a little boy's sense of humor.   
Jackson was beyond distracted by the many children playing nearby.  He is very inquisitive and observant, which I love, but I wanted to spend some secluded time together.  We were able to have fun safely playing on the bridge, in the mulch, and going for a jog.

It was another lovely Saturday afternoon with my boy.  I can't wait until spring when the whole family can play at the park together.

How to Make a My Little Pony Cake

When my soon-to-be 7 year old niece requested a My Little Pony cake, I was quite nervous.  I somehow managed to make a cute Olivia the Pig cake for her last year, which set the bar high.  After some online research, I settled upon this cake.

I have never worked with gum paste before.  Thankfully I decided on the cake design in advance since it takes 48-72 hours for the gum paste to harden and dry.  I followed the directions on the mix, but it still didn't turn out as well as on the YouTube videos.  I separated the pound of gum paste into six sections and dyed each section using Wilton food coloring I already had.

Next, I used the palms of my hands to roll out snakes of each food coloring.  I used a basting brush to brush water along the sides of the gum paste so they would stick together.

I molded a rainbow (just like on the blog I saw) and stuck half of a toothpick in each end.  Then I used a small star cookie cutter to cut out seven stars, in honor of the birthday girl turning seven.
The actual cake baking itself was more complex than my typical cake.  I fell in love with the rainbow idea I saw so I purchased two white cake mixes to color.  Some tips I used to make the store-bought cake mix taste better is to use eggs at room temperature, add an extra 1-2 tablespoons of oil, and freeze the cakes after baking.  All of these things make the cake more moist and easier to frost.  I dyed 2 cups of cake mix each of the colors below, and baked them on 350 degrees for 18 minutes.  Like always, I leveled each cake before frosting and stacking the layers.
After the gum paste hardened I was able to frost the cake in purple buttercream, arrange the stars along the side, and insert the rainbow into the cake.  Obviously I cheated and used a plastic Rainbow Dash from Wal-Mart instead of attempting a gum paste pony.  I was pleased with the final product.
 Thankfully, the birthday girl seemed to like the cake, too!
The best part was cutting the cake open to see the rainbow surprise.  If I were to make this cake again, I would be sure to put more red food coloring in the cake since it turned out much more pink than I would prefer.
And there you have it...a tasty, decorative My Little Pony Cake.  Yum!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oh, Fifth Grade!

In the past few weeks, the following incidents have occurred at school:

Apparently one boy has been teaching other boys how to jerk off under the table.  The girls not only know about it, but they were the ones who told us about it.  The best part, the ring leaders of the masturbation club are sons of a preacher.

One of our boys is selling razors on the bus and playground.  Another student's mother called the school to inquire how her son got a razor on the bus.  We aren't sure if it is gang related or not.

While coming in from recess, one boy was drinking water at the water fountain.  The boy who was waiting in line behind him came up and pushed the kid's head forward, giving the child a busted lip and cracked tooth.

Another student was allegedly showing a bag of weed to his fellow 5th graders at the bus stop.

Several of our girls have tried to request the 5th grade teachers as friends on Facebook.  Even though we don't accept their request, we can still see the profanity and slutty pictures.

My teammates and I have confiscated multiple sexually explicit notes written by our students.  Some of them even include labeled diagrams.

The sad part is that I am so numb to these type of events that nothing is shocking or hard to believe. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

9 Month Stats

Jackson had his 9-month well check on Tuesday.  He's gained three pounds and grown two inches in the last three months. 

8 lb, 15 oz
21.75 in
14 in
1 Month
11 lb, 1 oz
23.25 in
15.25 in
2 Month
12 lbs, 15 oz
25 in
15.75 in
4 Month
14 lbs, 4 oz
25.75 in
16.5 in
6 Month
16 lbs
27 in
17.5 in
9 Month
19 lbs
29 in
18 in

We asked our pediatrician about Jackson spitting up so much.  As previously mentioned, his "spit up" is now just straight up smelly, colorful vomit since he is on mostly solids.  She prescribed Zantac for him to try for two weeks.  If the reflux does not improve then we need to call and she will prescribe Prevacid.  If Jackson is still spitting up he will be referred to a GI doctor.  I really don't like the idea of Jackson being on prescription drugs at only 9 months old.  I've contemplated taking him back to the chiropractor to see if that helps any.

Jackson had one shot at his appointment.  He wailed for about 45 seconds after the shot, but recovered quickly.  For the first time in months, he slept that entire night without waking up to eat. The next day he had a foul diaper blow out while we were at church.  Jesse and I were completely unprepared.  We had fed and changed Jackson before we left.  Since Bible study is only an hour, we didn't bring a diaper bag.  I had a nice bonding moment with the pastor's wife as we scrambled to clean Jack up with wet paper towels.  Luckily we found some ancient plastic diapers that we made temporarily work.  I love our church family!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Monday Off

I can't say enough how much I enjoy having our family spend the weekend together!  This was the first weekend since October that Jesse had off.  Toys-R-Us is officially closed (in the mall) and he will begin working at Babies-R-Us across the street in a week.  We got to sleep in, eat, run errands, and lounge around the house together.  It was perfect.  I especially enjoyed having today (MLK Day) off work.

Our morning began with a free breakfast from Ikea.  This was the first time we got Jackson a plate of his own.  Of course, Jack didn't eat the entire servings by himself.

We spent the morning home, then headed to pick MawMaw up for lunch.  She has only seen Jackson a handful of times, but we are happy for Jackson to know his great grandmother.
The rest of the day was spent browsing Goodwill, eating, getting my hair cut, rearranging the laundry room, and playing with Jackson Lee.  Tomorrow is his 9-month well check. 

I really, really hope this week doesn't drag by.  Somehow 4-day weeks seem to feel the longest. 

On the Move and Chomping Away

For someone who doesn't crawl, Jackson sure can move quickly and get into trouble.  His latest hobbies enjoy rearranging the DVD's and riding on his lion.

He has also developed an odd habit of putting his foot up while he eats, despite being strapped in his high chair.
Jackson's most recent two teeth are growing quickly.  Here's the best I could do to capture all 8 teeth.
Jesse and I have been inconsistent at offering a sippy cup, but Jesse bought one that has a soft top.  We are still working on tilting his head to get anything out of it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Much to Celebrate

Jackson just cut his 8th tooth.  I can't even imagine nursing for a year with that mouth.

After tracking everything I've eaten on SparkPeople and staying within my calorie/carbs/fats/protein goals every day the past week and a half I've lost NINE pounds!  (Yeah, my diet really was THAT bad.)  That's more than some of the contestants on the Biggest Loser lost last week and they weigh significantly more than I do.  I am currently ranked 6th out of 43 in my online competition.

Our family had a great time on Friday night celebrating my nephew's 7th birthday.  My siblings and I recreated childhood memories by sitting at the same table  that we all grew up in.   

Jackson and I have enjoyed nightly ice cream (okay, he's had 2-3 licks).  I bought 18 Skinny Cow bars at Sams for $8.  They are delicious and only 100 calories.

We had our monthly playdate with my former co-workers and their children.  Besides eating yummy chili and corn pudding, we got to love on one anothers babies (including the newest addition who's 3 weeks old) and swap advice and stories.  It turns out that Jackson adores my friends larger dogs.
Jesse brought home this $75 baby gate/playpen from work for FREE.  Apparently it has been sitting in the back all season and it wasn't for sale because it was shipped out of the box.  They were going to throw it out so Jesse took the gate home, along with 200 packs of SillyBandz for my students.

Despite a high temperature in the 30's on Tuesday, it was 70 degrees this weekend!  Jesse, Jackson, and I jogged around the neighborhood.  I had a hard time jogging with the stroller since I couldn't swing my arms at my sides, but Jackson liked going fast and I liked working out with my boys. 

The fifth grade had their first field trip of the year and the kids were great.  We went to see the Romare Bearden exhibit at the Mint Museum.  We had a very patient tour guide and he answered all of their questions.  I love when our kids are exposed to successful African Americans that are not athletes or rappers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Christmas Break Updates and Outakes

Cowbell and Jackson have taken their relationship to a new level.

Jesse likes to impersonate Where's Waldo.

After 8.5 months of napping on Mommy and Daddy, Jackson has finally become a crib napper.  This was very much forced as I can't keep the house clean with a child literally attached to my hip all waking hours.  He goes down screaming, but it only takes a few minutes before he's asleep. 

Jesse's mom always gives us a Hallmark ornament each year, so we knew she would carry the tradition on with Jackson.  I put Jesse's favorite Christmas picture of Jackson inside.

Jackson still isn't crawling, but he is still very agile and can get around quickly.  He frequently rocks on his hands and knees.  He can go from laying down to sitting up on his own.  Also, Jackson can rock a track suit. 

Most of the meals Jesse, Jackson, and I ate together as a family were in the back room at Toys-R-Us.

This Is What 9 Months Looks Like

And I absolutely love everything about this age and this boy.  I love Jack's outfits, appetite, mobility, curiosity, laughter.  Jackson has the absolute funniest, sweetest personality ever and it shines through more and more each day.  I can hardly stand how much I love this kid!

Instead of Blogging...

I have been:
  1. Driving to work at 6 a.m.
  2. Teaching
  3. Working through lunch and eating on the playground during recess
  4. Busting my ass to get home between 4:30 and 5:00
  5. Playing with Jackson while Jesse is at work
  6. Doing dishes and cleaning up
  7. Exercising (either or Gazelle or jogging around the neighborhood w/ Jack in the stroller)
  8. Getting Jackson ready for bed
  9. Tracking all of my food intake on SparkPeople
  10. Showering, getting ready for bed, and sleeping
Jesse stays just as busy as a stay-at-home-dad, nanny, housekeeper, and part-time manager.  We continue to readjust to our new routines.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Wanna Get Physical, Physical

One evening last week I impulsively took down all of the Christmas decorations, shuffled some furniture around, and brought the Gazelle downstairs.  I bought Tony Little's Gazelle while in college.  It was the QVC Today's Special Value on New Yeat's Day several years ago. 

Since I've always had a gym membership, I never actually used the equipment.  While I still have a gym membership, I can't find the motivation to go to the gym before work (I already leave at 6 a.m.) or go after Jackson goes to bed.  I refuse to go after work and compromise my time away from Jack.  My plan is to workout for half an hour each night before/after dinner.

I've gained so much weight that I am a mere 10 lbs shy of my weight when I was 41 weeks pregnant!  It took a long time for me to decide to jump on the healthy wagon, but alas I am back on track.  I went to the grocery store and bought fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy lunches, and Skinny Cow ice cream.  (I won't give up nightly ice cream.)

The most critical element to successful weight loss for me is joining a Biggest Loser competition on http://www.weightlosswars.com/.  I competed in a BL Challenge two years ago when I was training for the half marathon, won $75, and conceived Jackson two months after its completion.  I am excited to get back in good health and strengthen my body.  The competition works based on weekly weigh-ins.  You must post a timestamped photo of your feet on the scale each Sunday.  The person with the lowest percentage weight loss will be eliminated each week.  A $30 contribution was required to participate in the challenge, but there are so many people that the first place winner will receive $900.  Smaller cash prizes will be rewarded to the second and third place winners.  The final weigh-in is on March 31.  I don't expect to win but look forward to trying.

Cheers to a healthy 2012!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Traditions

Traditionally, I welcome in the new year by eating junk food with  my sister and friends, count down while watching the ball drop, and make toasts.  This New Year's Eve Jesse and I decided to keep it low key and stay home.  We still wanted to go out to eat, so we went to the K&W, knowing that it wouldn't be crowded.  Jackson had a fantastic time being wheeled around in their high chair.

I really was bummed out about our plans to stay home, but we ended up having a fantastic evening!  Once we returned and put Jackson to bed Jesse and I cracked open the sparkling wine and began making toasts.  I'll spare the details of the evening, but it felt a bit like I was in college again.  The only exception was that I was asleep by 11, completely missing the official turn of the new year.

Jesse and I began the tradition of having his family over for the traditional New Year's dinner.  Jesse takes pride in spending hours cooking ribs, black-eyed peas, and collards.  I wasn't sure what to do this year since Jesse had to work all day.  I decided I would take care of the meal if Jesse would promise to take an hour lunch and come home.  We worked things out and invited the family over.  Since we had church this morning, I ordered 2 lbs of pulled pork from a local BBQ restaurant and picked it up right after church.  I had already prepared dessert and the mac-n-cheese, so I just had to heat up the black-eyed peas and baked beans.  Jesse made slaw before going to work and his mother brought cabbage so we would be sure to have our greens.

Jackson was in some kind of mood.  I'm not sure if the incessant crying was attributed to a cold, teething, ear infection, or fighting sleep, but it was u-g-l-y!  We eventually let him cry in his crib and quite a good bit later he was his usual smiling self.

We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the company of one another.  Levi and Jackson's interactions are especially fun to watch now that Jackson is able to play more.  We all had a great afternoon.

Bring it on, 2012!