Normal Day Treasures

6 10 2015

normal day

The sun is back. It’s been a long time since we have caught even a ray of it! Today can pretty much be chalked up to a perfect “normal” day. I thought a lot about how grateful I am to have a generally positive attitude, as I was pulled in a million different directions at work while my sons were away from me at daycare. I began to look for the treasures hidden in the day, reflecting on each one as its own silver lining. I hope to collect these thoughts later in my journal of blessings (inspired by Ann Voskamp).

The fog settling over the valley was so pretty during my drive to work this morning. Stumbling over my words as I tried to explain fog to my 3-year-old.

IMG_5738

My 12-month-old waving goodbye to me from the comfort of his teacher’s arms. A tear-free transition. Finally.

Arriving to work 10 minutes early and using the time to walk a prayer circle behind the school. Still in awe that I get to work in such a beautiful place.

IMG_5740

And feeling blessed that at my new job, I get to be a full-blown counselor. Almost 100% of my time is spent directly with students individually, in small groups, and in the classroom (I log my hours in NoteCounselor after school every day). When I’m not directly with students, I’m talking to their parents or conferencing with their teachers, also direct hours. It makes for busy days, and my principal has begun to exclaim, “You came back!” after some of the most eventful days.

Getting a handwritten card from my principal, just thanking me for being at the school and being a positive light.

Having one of the most respected teachers in the school, the one who never speaks when I teach in her classroom, seek me out in my office later just to say, “Thank you. You have such a calm and soothing voice for the kids, you talk to them in such a way that they have no choice but to want to follow your directions.”

Me: an awe-struck puddle on the floor.

Missing lunch to facilitate the toughest small group of them all, and seeing the boys’ tough exteriors begin to crack as they slowly trust each other. Finding a pocket of 10 minutes afterward to eat a bowl of hot soup and a full-size Hershey bar.

At car rider duty, a parent sincerely telling me, “It’s so nice to see a smiling face every single day. Thank you.”

Staying after school to coach a running club, running alongside a new coworker who is exactly my pace, and finding out we grew up in the same hometown.

My 3-year-old, after spotting me at daycare, running toward the gate with open arms, not yet too cool for such affection over Mommy or for falling head over heels to hug me.

Finding a free book for the boys in our mailbox: “Llama Llama and the Bully Goat.”

Wolfing down leftover Greek dinner my husband made last night before leaving the house one last time for the evening.

Driving through my favorite canopy of trees today…

…six different times.

The first and sixth trips with cups of hot coffee.

Opting to let my hairdresser straighten my hair before I left. (I ALWAYS leave the salon with wet curly hair.) Laughing with her about the 3 wiry white hairs I found on my head this week.

Teaching my 3-year-old how to play a board game before bed. How to roll a die. How to take turns and play fairly.

Watching his excitement as he taught his daddy how to play the same game while I watched, nursing the baby to sleep.

Trying on pretty Stitch Fix items, debating what to keep and what to send back.

Finding quiet time to blog and do laundry.

Grateful for my decision to cloth diaper as I hung them to dry. Looking forward to having a new friend over next week who wants to learn about cloth diapers.

Thinking about the 5 cute little cloth diaper pails, lined up all in a row at daycare.

Being able to answer my toddler when he asked, “Mommy, are you coming to the pumpkin patch with me and my class?”

“Yes, Mommy is coming.”

I’d rearrange the world for you. 





oh hey Friday | linkup

15 08 2014

Linking today with Karli and Amy for oh hey, Friday and a quick recap of our week!

oh hey ONE | 

8-11-14 1st day of school

This week we were back to school for real, and E is back to his school (daycare) and in a new class. He seems to like it – a lot of the kids and teachers are the same. He has to wear Pull-ups and make trips to the potty now that he’s 2. I also got a new co-counselor this week, and we’ll be sharing an office before/after my maternity leave. I already miss my friend who left, but this new guy seems great, too! Side note: This pic of E is actually Day 2 – my laptop erased Day 1 pics (where he was in dressy clothes) after I transferred them from my camera… 😦

***

oh hey TWO |

IMG_7635

This happened. So adorable. They were making… 

***

IMG_7636

oh hey THREE |

…this dessert pizza. We went to an engagement party for my husband’s brother and his sweet fiancée and brought this dessert – one of our favorites! Fresh fruit on a homemade cookie crust. 

***

oh hey FOUR |

34 weeks pregnancy 2014

This week, I hit 34 weeks… we are getting so close! Read my recap of how I almost went into early labor last Friday night HERE. I see my midwife every week now!

***

oh hey FIVE |

Looking forward to celebrating my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary with 70 friends and family this weekend, then doing our maternity/family photos before this little guy comes along for real!

Happy Friday!





{Five on Friday}

8 11 2013

I’m enjoying the Virginia Counselors Association conference for work at The Homestead Resort and Spa right now to finish out my work week (rough life!).

Homestead 1

My friend and I split a room – she is a counselor, too. This is only my second overnight trip away from my sweet little boy, but he is in wonderful hands with his daddy. Separate blog post to come, for sure!

Joining Darci, April, Natasha, and Christina for their weekly linkup!

***

Expo 2

Expo 3

 {one}

My husband set up a booth at a craft expo this past weekend selling his handmade paracord bracelets and had a very successful first show! I walked around with lil E, who charmed every crafter he encountered. His favorite booths were the Scentsy-type booths where he wanted to smell every individual scent! Adorable! Many dealers took a liking to him and gave him free stuff! He came away with lots of free little trinkets – a handmade wooden car, a beloved book, and even a 10-year-old porta-potty that once belonged to one of my current 5th grade students… E was pushing it all around the expo as if it were a jet ski! (Grosssss!)

Expo 1

***

November table

 {two}

Halloween is over, and I’m not ready to decorate for Christmas, but I found a way to decorate my dining table for the pre-holiday transition! I snagged the shimmery gold pumpkins and striped vase on clearance at Michaels after Halloween last week for 80% off. I typically pull this table runner out for Christmas, originally purchased at HomeGoods. The dark mirrored-finish vases were on clearance there a few years ago. Before this, my dining room table was littered with baby utensils, newspapers, crumbs, coupons, and even towels and clothes (too embarrassing for a before picture, even!) – and this new décor has been sooo relaxing!

***

birch

 {three}

Speaking of décor, I was able to bring home two bags of beautiful white birch branches that fell neatly outside my office door during a recent storm. My husband and I love birch because it reminds us of our honeymoon at Glacier National Park in Montana. I have a few ideas from Google on how to whiten the bark, and I have several thoughts on displaying the pieces in our house for winter. What are your suggestions? {Keep in mind that we don’t have a fireplace!}

***

crazy hair day

{four}

My son’s school had wacky hair day/pajama day on Tuesday. He’s only 16 months, but we did the best we could with hair gel, and I was SO happy (a bit teary, even?) to discover that his strawberry blonde hair might just be curly like his momma’s as it gets longer and fills out! The middle picture was taken before church on Sunday, serving as the baseline here in this trio. 🙂 I.love.this.kid.

***

finish

{five}

Marathon training is in full swing – 10 weeks to go!! – and on Sunday, I ran over 20 miles! Recap here. It took me just under four hours. I’m excited to do a bit of running around the Homestead property this week for a change! (Is it weird that I’m excited? Maybe I’m just excited to be at a resort?)

Have a great weekend! I am off to cheer hubby at a half marathon Sunday!





{five on friday}

13 09 2013
THE GOOD LIFE BLOG
It’s been so fun linking up with Darci from
The Good Life Blog to share my five thoughts on Fridays! Here are my latest!
Happy Friday the 13th!

{one}

This week launched a new 7 -week women’s Bible study for me on “Wonderstruck” by Margaret Feinberg. We took home pixie dust on the first night to remind us to have a child-like faith. I went home feeling compelled to process everything I had been thinking lately between church, Sunday School, this new study, and my life; they all connect! I was craving that immediate alone-time to journal, but my little one knew better. Because I had stayed out one whole hour past his bedtime, he wanted extra cuddle time. Two-point-five hours more. I savored every second of rocking, nursing, and cuddling my sweet boy, and THEN filled 8 pages in my birthday paper-and-ink journal from my mom.

Five on Friday 1

{two}

As it turned out, E was not only off-schedule that night, but sick with a fever of over 103! His fever came about despite a little impromptu dance party in our living room just an hour before, where he was WIRED. I was able to take a sick day Wednesday to stay home with him (that’s how I accomplished #4 on this list, below). He spent the day napping, cuddling with me, comfort nursing, playing, coloring, and generally making a mess of Mommy’s bedroom! Needless to say, he was back at school on Thursday.

Five on Friday 2

{three}

I took the plunge and signed up for my first box from Stitch Fix! Have you seen this??

A stylist is putting together 5 pieces (clothing and accessories) to fit my style and sending them to me. I pay for what I want to keep and send back (with free postage) what I don’t want. There’s a $20 styling fee that I can put toward each purchase. I’ll get to try on clothes without worrying about a toddler in the dressing room with me, and I can accessorize straight from the comfort of my own closet!! (Target is the only place I’ve found so far where the dressing room doors go all the way to the floor!) I’ll get a 25% discount if I keep all 5 items. I carefully tweaked my individual style profile and pinned favorites (mostly from polyvore.com) to “My Flair” board on my Pinterest, so my stylist can get a feel for what to send me! I’m so excited – my first fix arrives in October! I requested casual chic/professional items to wear to work this time. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs to see what people have gotten in their boxes – so much fun! Want to order a box of your own? (link written out – https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3182570)

Five on Friday 3

{four}

Free photo books! Shutterfly continues to be my go-to photobook site, and I always wait to order until I have free codes. I had so many codes at the end of the summer and not enough time to make all the books before they expired! I was able to crank out two books this week: one for E’s 1st birthday (it arrived Thursday in the bright orange box!) and the other of our end-of-summer trip to Myrtle Beach (code is “BCFREEBOOK” good thru 9/20/13). I still have a Huggies code and a LivingSocial code to use by the end of the month! And we don’t even use Huggies, we cloth diaper! 😉

Five on Friday 4

{five}

This week, after four weeks at daycare, my 14-month-old demonstrated a sweet gesture he picked up on there – clasping his hands while we pray before eating! And after the prayer, he claps wildly! I saw all the toddlers doing this one day when I popped in during their lunchtime, and it was the sweetest thing. It’s just a reminder that kids can pick up on so much more than we think and want to model those behaviors. I am so happy he is in a place where he can learn small gestures like this. I don’t have a picture (yet), but here’s one of his hands clasped in excitement over his birthday cake! My sister caught both of these precious moments for me while I was enjoying my own birthday smash cake right next to him.

Five on Friday 5

Five on Friday 6

Love her eye for the small things!

Not compensated for any posts, although there’s a Stitch Fix referral link from me! 





Five on Friday!

23 08 2013

It’s Friday! That means “Jeans Day” at work, plus I’m linking up with Darci over at The Good Life Blog for my very first “5 on Friday” post.

Here are 5 things on my mind this Friday!

1} The most stressful 2 moments of my day happen after dropping off and picking up my son at daycare… (which I refer to as “school” or “daycamp”). Without a stoplight, I have to make a left turn across oncoming traffic, cut across FIVE lanes, and get into an immediate right-turn lane for a cross-over street. It’s near-impossible, but a must-do if I want to drive past #2 on this list:

2} Panera Bread is now on my way to work! And it has a drive-thru! My old hometown has one, and my college town has one, and now we do! So I can fantasize about picking up coffee and chocolate pastries as I drive past to get on my interstate exit ramp. Because honestly, who has time (or money) to stop every day? But a girl can dream… as I nurse my home-brewed Dunkin Donuts coffee in a travel mug. (Yum!)

Image

3} Today at school, one of my 2nd graders asked me an awkward question. I believe our convo went something like this:

Student: “I’m going to [a sleepaway weekend grief] camp in a couple weeks! Are you working there again this year?”

Me: “No, I’m so sorry, I can’t go this year! I have a baby at home who needs me at night.”

Student: “Oh [nodding understandingly]… are you breastfeeding?”

Me: [stunned, baffled, and slightly speechless…] “…well…yes…I am…”

Student: “Eeeeewwww, that’s nasty!”

Me: “Well, my son eats other things too, like vegetables and macaroni. How do you know about that stuff?”

Student: “I have a baby cousin who does that. He tried to lick me right there once.”

{But you know what? Maybe someday, years down the road, she’ll remember this fleeting conversation, and maybe it will let her know that it’s not nasty, and in fact, quite okay.}

4} My 13-month-old LOVES everyday tasks and seeing how things work. We check the mailbox together, we watch the washer fill up with water when washing a load of cloth diapers, and he helps me unload the dishwasher. He likes to pull out the utensils one by one and hand them to me; it takes him a full 6 (most precious of) minutes to finish his “chore.” If I’m just opening the dishwasher to load it, he cries, wanting to help unload it.

Image

5} I’m now a “traveling” School Counselor. I gave up my classroom this year in favor of a more private office/counseling space. So I teach classroom guidance on location now, where the students are in their own element. So far it’s been way better than I expected. Teachers have been so welcoming and accommodating, and it only *slightly* feels like I’m being observed by the homeroom teachers if they choose to stay in the room to plan while I’m teaching. And as much as I loved, loved being a tour guide at Colonial Williamsburg and speaking in front of groups of teachers as a kid, it’s much harder when they’re suddenly your peers!

Image

Happy Friday! 🙂





My Turn Monday!

19 08 2013

I must be of the “get it over with” mentality, because I tend to load up my Mondays with all the stuff I don’t like to do, so that the rest of the week doesn’t seem so daunting. Plus it’s the night I took on to cook each week.

This week, Monday was also the day that students returned to my school, and the day I got a call at work to come pick up my sick baby from daycare. Then I was stuck on hold for 45 minutes with the pediatrician before their line disconnected, while my dog had painful spasms that left him frantic all evening, and it was a perfectly crazy Monday!

So tonight, in the middle of slicing up some onions, I decided to turn off the oven, turn off all the burners, and sit in the middle of my kitchen floor, rocking and kissing my sick toddler and waiting for my husband to come home. Of all days to choose to make Philly-cheesesteak stuffed peppers (Pinterest inspiration here) and chocolate croissants! Once he got home and took the baby to get a bath, I did get it done. I really loved the peppers and will definitely keep this recipe. I followed it almost exactly, except that I used Swiss cheese instead of provolone and I doubled the entire thing.

Image

Philly-cheesesteak stuffing for the peppers

Image

My Monday – nothing that couldn’t be fixed by a loving husband, a phone call with my mom, cuddles with a (hot-to-the-touch) sleeping baby, lots of whispered prayers, and some freshly baked chocolate croissants!

And hopefully, this will be the last time I cook until next Monday, and I’ll get to post about running some far-more-interesting and rather unconventional races in the meantime. 🙂





Cloth diapering in daycare

9 08 2013

When we were pregnant with my son, my husband and I made the personal decision to cloth diaper him. There were a lot of reasons — cheaper, better for the environment, softer, cuter, and no chemicals, to name some of the top reasons. I spent time visiting 3 cloth diaper stores, talking to people who’ve done it, and researching online about brands, fit, and wash cycles. I entered tons of contests and shopped using lots of deals, and came away with a nice stash to start with with not a lot of the upfront cost that dissuades some people from considering them. We have been more than pleased with them. There have been a handful of times when we’ve used disposables (a week at Disney, a week at the beach), and I’m always relieved to get back into the cloth habit once we get home. For some reason, disposables always smell dirty to me, even if they’re dry, but maybe that’s just me because I’m not used to their *distinct* smell.

I was very fortunate in that at every single daycare (or home) we interviewed, people were open to the idea, which otherwise would have been a deal-breaker. I only brought two diapering items with me to these interviews, a wetbag and a diaper. Once people saw how easy they were, and the only difference (for them) was where to toss the diaper after a change (into a zippered wetbag instead of a pail or the trash), they would say things like “oh, okay! I didn’t know it was that easy. Cloth diapers have changed, haven’t they?”

Image

One of the Planet Wise wet bags that I sent to his babysitter last year.

If you get on cloth diaper store listserves and wait for deals, you can occasionally get these free with a purchase, or with points accumulated from buying diapers, etc. I’ve never paid full price for any of these diapering accessories (or the diapers themselves, for the record). I also used wetbags at the pool this summer and to carry milky pump parts home from work last year.

I read somewhere that a daycare refusing cloth diapers would be like discriminating against certain brands of disposables. Today when I took my son to visit the new school/daycare again where he’ll start next week, they were agreeable to using the cloth diapers, as promised. They have several other, younger, babies in cloth, and the directors even used cloth diapers (the same brand, even!) on their own children, so they  agreed to continue them here, as long as I provided a sealed container for the dirty ones. That’s where the wetbags come in.

Here are some of my favorite pocket diapers. I have used these for over a year now, and they still look squeaky clean!

Image

ImageI love that they’re adjustable in size, so I don’t have to buy more as my son grows. When we’re all done with them, I’ll sell them on ebay and make back most of what I spent initially (which wasn’t much, since I won a lot of them!). I know this because sometimes I’ll buy them used for super cheap at a consignment sale and then sell them on ebay, and make a lot more than what I paid, because there’s more of a market online for them than at these small consignment sales, where people might not know what they are or how to price them.

When I asked the teacher today how often they do diaper changes, she said once every hour. I can’t imagine how many dry disposables they waste!

On wash cycles:

Cloth diapers are much easier to clean than people think, at least the way I do it. People probably think I spend a lot of time swirling them around in the toilet, or in Woolite or something, but no! I don’t really touch them much. When I get home from work, I empty the wetbag straight into his lined diaper pail, which is just a 13-gallon trashcan with a lid, and the pail liner (link is similar to mine, but cuter prints!) into the washer every other day. In the machine I do a warm rinse, a hot wash, and another rinse, then hang them up by the window to dry. (I could use the dryer, but I choose not to.) It’s very rare that they stain, but if they do, the sun bleaches anything out. If the diaper has poop, I just plop the poop into the toilet (no touching required), with the disposable liner that it’s stuck to. The diaper stays pretty free of residue that way. There have been about 2 times where the diaper has been so gross that I’ve had to use a diaper sprayer, but twice in 13 months isn’t bad.

I use flushable liners to catch the solids, which makes it easier for me, but people do different things. The liner looks like a dryer sheet and is soft. I tend to wash them with the diapers if they don’t get soiled, so I’ve only gone through 1.5 packs in the last 7 months:

ImageAnd here is my happy toddler in his diaper after visiting his new school today!

Image

What questions do you have about cloth diapering? What is your favorite type of diaper, or favorite brand?

Not compensated for links used.





Go ahead, move my cheese.

7 08 2013

My husband and I have been toying with the idea of moving for about 7 months now (and not, like, over to a different neighborhood. We’re talking, I-would-need-to-get-licensed-in-a-different-state sort of move). But with all of the changes we’re starting this year, it practically feels like we’ve moved without the burden of buying and selling a house:

1) I moved into a new office this summer! In the process, I decided to makeover my new space. I got rid of TONS of 30/40-year-old teaching materials, a process that has taken me the last 4 years to tackle. No matter how much I throw away each year, I am still finding bins full of old transparencies, faded bulletin board borders, outdated VHS tapes, and crusty puppets!  It must be multiplying! I swapped out some furniture. I revamped old plastic shelf units (circa 1970s…) with hot pink and navy plastic-friendly Krylon spraypaint (found at Wal-Mart*, not sold at Lowe’s!), and refurbished the cork boards I’ll use to display the inevitable paperwork I’m sure I’ll need to reference all year. I did this by covering plain square cork boards with leftover scraps of fabric I had, hot glue, staples, and ribbon embellishments. Oh, and a little wooden crab. All free stuff I already had!

photo

noname

2) I have new administrators (a new Principal and Assistant Principal). I hope they still let us wear jeans on Fridays and give us awesome Christmas gifts as per tradition! That’s what’s important, right? 😉

3) Our son is starting “school” at a new daycare on Monday. (And after reading this blog post today, I custom-ordered some labels very similar to these by babyfables for his stuff!)

4) We are visiting a new church

5) We are both pursuing new hobbies

6) We made up a new cooking routine

So…. we are excited to see where this year takes us!

 

*All opinions are original, and I was not compensated for any of the links/reviews I made in this post!