Saturday, February 25, 2012

Waffles and Sunshine

We have had the craziest weather this week.  Sunday night it was hailing with snow flurries, Wednesday and Thursday had near record highs in the upper 70's, and there was a tornado warning on Friday!

Our family definitely took advantage of the sunshine by having breakfast night outside.  The weather was perfect.  I look forward to eating outside regularly when the weather is consistently warmer (before it gets too terribly hot and humid).

Jackson is able to take bites off his food now.  He was happy as could be chowing down on his waffle and eggs. 

The best part of eating on the deck is our outside cats took care of all the food Jackson dropped.  It's too bad Cowbell and Nibbles won't clean up Jackson's mess indoors.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Man I Used to Know

I wrote this poem when I was twelve years old (November 1998):

A Man I Used to Know

A man I used to know died a year ago.
To me he was a hero; a hero that you'll never know.

He'll never go over your homework with you, or teach you right from wrong.
You'll never hear his scratchy voice sing along to Hank Williams songs.

Never again will he say prayers before bed with you each night.
He'll never show you the north star or explain why it shines so bright.

Never again will you laugh at his jokes, 'cause he's not here to tell them.
Never again will he send my mom flowers.  Never again will she smell them.

You'll never hear his stories from when he was in the Navy.
The only think you'll see are the pictures that he gave me.

The man I used to know who died a year ago,
was a man no other than my father--my father, my hero.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Fourteen years later this poem is still true.  Daddy will always be my hero, though he is a fading memory of a man I used to know...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent Q&A

I found these questions to help guide me in what I should give up/add to during the Lenten season:

What habits do I engage in that are destructive to my spiritual health?
·         Gluttony
·         Self-centered prayer
·         Hoarding money

To what material things am I too attached?
·         Internet/computer
·         Sweets

What areas in my life are unbalanced?
·         Financial
·         Prayer life/reading scripture
·         Diet

To what do I devote too much or not enough time?
·         Too much mindless time on computer/TV
·         Too much time eating junk
·         Not enough time with Jesse (no TV/computer/Jackson)
·         Not enough time in prayer/reading scripture

Based on my responses, I will make every effort to:
·         Abstain from sweets (Monday—Saturday)
·         Write a prayer for 2-3 people per day and send it to them through Facebook/e-mail
       (That’s 100+ personalized prayers during the Lenten season to express gratitude and concern for loved ones.)
·         Follow daily scripture reading/study before bed
·         Make monthly financial commitment to the church (set-up automatic online deposits)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pulling Up

For many months, you could put Jackson on the couch, bed, floor, etc and he would simply lie there.  Then he finally started rolling and he rolled everywhere.  Then he finally learned to sit up.  And for many weeks, you could put Jackson anywhere on the floor and he would simply sit there in one place.  It took just over nine months for Jack to finally master crawling, and he now crawls everywhere.  Now he has learned how to pull up, and you can put him anywhere and he will simply stand there.  He doesn't seem to fully realize that he can hold onto an object and move his feet at the same time.  I know it's just a matter of time, though.  To be utterly clear, I am in no rush for this walking stage to begin!

Here are my attempts at catching Jackson in the act: 

Diaper changes have literally become a wrestling match!

Time for a baby gate!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Park: Take Two

I couldn't resist taking Jackson to the park in this near 70 degree weather.  When Jesse and I lived on the opposite side of town, we used to take my nieces and nephews to this amazing park.  I happened to be in that area, so I took Jackson after work on Saturday.  Even though he just went to the park three weeks ago, this experience was rather different.  Now that he's mastered crawling and pulling up, he was all over the place.  He still loves swinging and spent half of his time in the swing.
This park had those tunnels that you crawl through.  Jackson was hesitant at first, but was amused when I crawled in on the opposite side.  He enjoyed exploring the equipment.
If you recall, Jackson was unimpressed by the slide last time.  He was still content going down the slide (with me holding him).  However, the real fun began when he figured out he could climb up the slide.  Of course he kept sliding back down after a certain point, but that didn't stop his persistence.

I wish I had thought ahead and brought a picnic lunch to have in the field.  We stayed over an hour before returning home for lunch.  Jackson must have played hard because he was knocked out before leaving the parking lot!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Weekends in Review

I have been a total slacker when it comes to updating the blog about miscellaneous outings and events.  I rarely ever actually blog on the weekdays, though I write multiple posts on the weekends and just publish them throughout the week. Lately, my weekends have been so busy that blogging has fallen down on the priority list.  I've managed to leave out lots of random trips.  Here are my Top 10 highlights from the past few weekends:

1. My brother's birthday party. 
I texted him ahead of time and asked if I could make him a German chocolate cake.  He was so sweet and seemed genuinely appreciative that I remembered it was his favorite.  (It doesn't take a lot to make him happy, though.)  My kitchen smelled just like my Granny's kitchen while making the frosting on the stove.

2. Bringing food to a former church member who had surgery. 
This guy is quite a character.  He's a slightly unstable Vietnam veteran with a heart of gold.  I baked him a huge lasagna and coconut cream pie before heading over to his "house".  It turns out he lives in this green trailer right beside the railroad tracks.  He has a key to the warehouse behind him that serves as his only access to the restroom/shower.  I seriously felt like I was in an earthquake when the train went by, as his whole trailer shook.  He told entertaining stories and enjoyed his food. 

3. Levi's birthday party. 
Apparently I like to take pictures of cake.  Unfortunately, I didn't actually get any pictures of Levi or Jackson, but everyone had a good time.  It was quite the packed house between the enormous amounts of food, crowds of people, bubbles, toys, and balloons. 
4. Superbowl
Jesse and I gorged on an entire family size bag of tortilla chips with a crockpot full of queso.  I graded over ten sets of papers while watching the game.  Neither one of us particularly cared about the teams playing, but we watched the entire game.  Despite losing 18 lbs (as of today), I haven't tracked anything on SparkPeople since the Superbowl and am slowly going back to poor eating habits.

5. Reviewing fire safety
Strange, I know.  We have five students who are participating in a Fire Safety Bowl in March.  They basically have to memorize a 17 chapter manual that teaches everything you would ever want to know about fire safety.  The fifth grade teachers provide transportation and breakfast for the kids during our two hour  Saturday review sessions.  Jackson stays in his high chair for half the time, then roams the classroom. 

6. Irwin Reunion
There were at least 30 former staff members that gathered together at a friend's new house the other Saturday evening.  It was so very nice to be in an environment where everyone truly respects one another professionally and actually enjoys their company.  We exchanged stories and gossip about our new schools and snacked on an unlimited supply of food.  Last school year, six of us were pregnant (one with twins), so there were lots of babies to pass around as well.

7. K&W
Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but the K&W is not only one of my favorite places to eat; it's also one of my favorite places to take Jack.  Why?  Because old people cannot get enough of him!  Every elderly couple that passes by stops to talk to Jackson.  They always admire how handsome he is and what a good eater he is.  I don't care much for comments from people anywhere else.  Of course, Jackson eats it up and just smiles and flirts with whoever talks to him.  There's just something about the K&W and older people's sincerity and genuine happiness.  Plus, Jackson can easily eat everything they serve.

8. International Market
Jackson and I ventured to my favorite international market.  It's like a WalMart but each aisle has specific nationalities.  The produce and meat sections have all kinds of exotic finds.  I've never even bought anything there, but I love browsing.  I could seriously people watch in this store for hours.  Jackson was intrigued, but no more than he is at Aldi or any other store.  I guess everything looks bright and shiny with foreign writing to him.

9. Park
The warm, sunny weather has been incredible!  I took Jackson to the park for the second time and he was way more adventurous and curious this time.  I won't post pictures since I'm working on an entire post for that.  I love taking him places where he can explore and interact with other children.

10. Niece's Dance Recital
I was skeptical about how much I would enjoy the dance recital while entertaining a 10 month old.  Luckily, my sister, brother-in-law, and I passed him around to keep things interesting.  I was quite proud of my niece for rocking her clogging solo. I obviously didn't get to talk to my family very much, but it was still nice to be around them.  Jackson and I left shortly after her last dance because Jackson was getting cranky.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Here Comes Trouble

Holy cow, now that Jackson has finally mastered crawling, he is wasting no time at all on pulling up and taking steps.  He is definitely not ready to walk.  While Jackson has great balance standing and holding onto things, he leans forward too much while trying to take steps. 

I was sitting on the living room floor calling for Jackson, who was in the dining room slapping the back door.  Even though it was close to bedtime and Jackson was getting tired, he was still all over the place!  I took the sequence of photos below within five minutes.

"Mommy!  I'm coming.  Hold on..."

"Hmm, what's this?  You know I love shoes."
"Why did you put the phone up there?  Is Daddy going to call us?"

"Ugh.  I'll just get it myself."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bobcats Game

Last Friday, our principal told the 5th grade teachers to select four students each to go to the Bobcats game on Monday.  I selected four of my students who consistently make good choices.  I didn't realize that we were the ones who would be taking the kids to the game.  Mondays are tough no matter what, but working a 16-hour day makes it especially long.  This was the first day I literally did not see Jackson awake the entire day.  I felt incredibly guilty for putting my students before my child.

Despite internal struggles over balancing teaching and motherhood, I had a really fantastic evening.  We had Papa Johns delivered to the school at 5:30, ate, then drove uptown to the arena.  Each of the students were excited, but one of my homeless students made some especially precious comments.  He asked if we were watching the game from the inside or outside.  I didn't understand what he meant.  He clarified, "Do we get to go inside or are we watching it on the TV?"  He was referring to the jumbotron outside facing the street.  He had the absolute biggest grin on his face after I assured him that we would be sitting inside the coliseum.

Our seats were clearly in the nosebleed section, but the kids knew no better.  It was really amazing watching their enthusiastic reactions.  Their innocence and playful nature was highlighted during the halftime show watching inflatable character and eating popcorn and cotton candy.  Amidst all the attitudes and disrespect I deal with on a daily basis, it's too easy to forget that my students are 11 year old kids who just want to have fun.  I am grateful to have shared the experience with my teammates and some of my favorite students.

The Bobcats lost but they were neck and neck with the 76ers throughout the game.  I drove my students home and finally made it home myself around 10:45 p.m.  I woke Jackson up to cuddle with him before crashing in the bed. 

(Sidenote: The following morning my teammate informed me that the student she took home violently threw up three times in her new car.  I can't even begin to tell you how poorly I would have reacted had I been in her shoes.)

Oldie But a Goodie--Dominican Republic

Jesse and I can't figure out why, but both of our cameras are not working.  (Hence the lack of recent blogs and pictures.)  I went digging through the closet for my old camera I used in college.  To my excitement, not only did I find my camera but it still had an old SD card inside.  I've spent the past hour browsing through photographs from college. 

My favorite photos are from our mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2008.  I had forgotten the details of sleeping in mosquito nets, seeing the rainbow after the torrential downpour, catching tarantulas, and making arts and crafts with the children of the orphanage.  One of my favorite memories from the trip is hiking to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise over the coast.

It's hard to fathom what a different place Jesse and I were in four years ago. 
I can't wait 'til we have the opportunity to travel and serve on another mission trip. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Valentines

After a very late night last night (more on that later), I was exhausted and struggling to get out of bed this morning.  Jesse brought me two sweet surprises.

1. This adorable card "from Jackson" which had a thoughtful message inside:

2. My engagement ring, which I literally have not worn in a year.  This was initially due to my swollen pregnancy fingers, and later because I misplaced it.
I absolutely loved spending the evening with my boys.  It is such a blessing to be loved and to have two sweet boys to love.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

10 Months Old!?!

At ten months old, Jackson:
  • has ten teeth (6 on the top and 4 on the bottom)
  • has finally mastered crawling, though he enjoys rolling, too
  • eats anything and everything, with the exception of applesauce
  • laughs when he is told "no" or to "stop"
  • enjoys playing in the cats' water bowl and food dishes
  • rearranges our DVDs, CDs, spices, and pots and pans
  • still uses a pacifier throughout the day
  • wakes up once a night to eat (courtesy of Jesse)
  • naps three times a day for about an hour per nap
  • takes Zantac twice a day for reflux
  • is just becoming interested in pulling up, standing, and attempting to climb the stairs
  • makes a variety of sounds, including "MaMa", "DaDa", "ticka-ticka-ticka" and "dig-ah-dig-ah"
  • loves splashing in the bathtub, but hates getting his hair washed
  • had to have his crib mattress lowered due to pulling himself up
  • is as playful, social, and happy as always
Thanks for the last picture, MiMi.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Over the past few months, I have realized the following things:

1. I seriously H-A-T-E trying to conceive.  I hate the uncertainty, the paranoia, the disappointment of seeing only one line.  Mostly I hate how obsessive and impatient I become.  I hate not having control and not being able to plan my life according to my timeline. 

2. I love being in school.  I am book smart.  I like learning.  I like research.  I went through 13 years of public school, then immediately completed my undergrad.  I took a year off before working towards my Master's Degree.  I completed my last class Feb. 14, 2011 and am very eager to go back for my doctorate.

3. I really enjoy baking and decorating cakes, though I also get especially frustrated trying to make things look exactly the way I picture them in my mind.  I know plenty of people who are much more talented than I am, but I take pleasure in pleasing others with sweets.  I used to think I could make cakes for money, but I don't think I would be very good at it or make enough money for it to be worth it.

4. I LOVE being a mother, much more than I thought I could.  While I was pregnant, I was very nervous about bonding with Jackson.  I was never a fan of infants and I still don't especially love other people's babies all that much.  However, I absolutely love motherhood and am amazed at how much I care for Jackson.

5. One of my greatest talents is gaining and losing weight.  Seriously, weight just falls off when I try to actually lose weight.  And the pounds pack back on when I stop caring.  I pretty much fail at maintaining a healthy weight.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Best Part of My Day Is...

Coming home to this guy! 

 By the way, we are officially on the move!

No Accountability

Note: I in no way claim to know how to fix this cycle of failure and poverty.  I do not consider my students to be failures, though I fear their circumstances will determine their future.  I suppose there's little good in complaining when you aren't part of the solution; I just don't know what the solution is. 

Each of these incidents have occurred within the past 24 hours. 

Our kids rotate to each teacher throughout the week to receive the science content in various formats.  I am responsible for weekly science labs.  This week was a fun lab on human impact of land and erosion, specifically mining.  Each student received a cookie, took the area of the cookie, used a toothpick to excavate the chocolate chips, then took the area of their cookie afterwards to determine amount of land loss.  The lesson went ideally, with the exception of the last three minutes in one class.  Of the 60+ students that completed this lab, four students thought it would be cool to line their cookie crumbs up, close one nostril, and snort the crumbs as if they were snorting crack.  The students were coughing and one student even got a nosebleed.  Their parents were notified by their homeroom teacher and talked to the principal.

Oh, and remember that kid who was selling razors?  He has learned not only how to disassemble pencil sharpeners, but also scissors.  His new hobby includes breaking scissors and passing around the blades to various friends, threatening to jump other students, chasing his peers off the bus, and lying repeatedly.  I caught him with the blades during literacy class and we all spent a good portion of my afternoon in the principal's office with his mother.  His consequence was having his parents notified.

In addition to the cookie snorting and blade distributions, two students had a yelling match that resulted in throwing chairs and another fifth grader slapped a first grader on the bus. Each of these students received silent lunch and had their recess taken away.  The latter events were not under my supervision, though they very well could have been. 

Our students are not allowed to receive an F on their report card, even if they fail every single test and don't complete homework or classwork.  Our administration doesn't want to discourage students with "negative labels".  I forgot to manually change one student's grade so his report card was withheld until the secretary returns to school on Monday.

There is absolutely no accountability or consequences for our students regarding behavior or academics.  And we wonder why the school is the lowest performing elementary school in the district and in the 5% lowest performing in the state.