Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back to school

It's almost that time of year again!  I'm having very mixed feelings about going back after spending all day, every day with my sweet Rae.  A huge part of me just wants to stay at home with her and, not going to lie, homeschooling her through kindergarten has crossed my mind.  I'm so in love with showing her new things, making her nutritious breakfasts and lunches, reading whichever books she hands me, and just watching her grow up in front of me.  This summer has been so rewarding and I don't want it to stop.

But I know that I love teaching kindergarten.  I remember being so thankful for a career that I love and being surrounded with children that I love even more.  I remember the times that I laughed so hard my principal peaked her head in to see what was so funny.  I remember feeling the love from heartfelt "thank you's" from parents and former students.  Teaching really is the most rewarding career I could have chosen and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to touch so many lives.

I decided to take a walk down memory lane today to try to bring all of those great memories to the forefront again.  Trying to help myself prepare for the weeks coming up ever so soon.  These are a few of my favorite moments from my classroom...

This is one of my very favorite back to school activities where the kids listen to No David then write about what David can do in the classroom.  This student thought that David can play and listen to the teacher.  Precious!

These are a beautiful way of teaching the children about community.  Each layer is a different part, starting with "self" and ending with "state".

Experimental play is so crucial in kindergarten!  I like putting magnets out in the beginning of the year.

Real world objects are fun and what can be more fun than comparing and contrasting pumpkins at Halloween!?

I loved watching my students complete my first worksheet that I ever made for Teachers Pay Teachers.

My favorite graph of all time!  I still have this folded up in a cabinet.

 Fostering a love of books is one of my main goals as a teacher of young children.  Here, they are drawing the covers of their favorite books in preparation for book reviews.

This is my all time favorite bulletin board display.  We started off our Spring unit on plants with a reading of the book Tops and Bottoms and made our own garden with descriptions of what each plant is, like "flower", "root", or "stem".

 This was a Pinterest victory!  Sight words scroll by on a digital picture frame. 

 These chick glyphs are so silly, what's not to love?

 I love to listen to students working cooperatively.  Here, they are writing about their favorite part of Bear Snores On.

Our countdown to the last day of school is legendary with a small strip of paper inside each balloon detailing a quick and fun activity for the day.  
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summertime

This summer has been a wonderful summer.  I have never experienced a summer quite like this one before in that I'm not bored and lonely at all.  I've kept myself busy with birthday projects, painting rooms in our house, taking trips with friends, enjoying family visiting from Michigan, and playing with my lovely Rae.  This summer has been absolutely perfect.

Here are a few shots of our summertime fun.

Having some fun at a local splash pad.
Rae's favorite animal at Old McDonald's Farm.
Kerbey Lane cafe was our favorite breakfast place in Austin.  Cinnamon roll pancakes were out of this world!
About to go into Longhorn Caverns, excited!
The entrance to Longhorn Caverns.  Rae didn't make it much further than this, haha!
I painted over the hideous 'Venetian plaster' job in Rae's bathroom.
Rae helped.
I tore down the crazy tea-stained paper treatment that was in the game room upstairs and got very brave with this new color, 'Expressive Plum'.
Finally, I made these fun decorations for Rae's party.  The lemonade stand was so easy to make it shocked me.  Can't wait for August 9th!
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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Homemade baby purees

How the time has flown by!  Rae is just over 10 months now and starting to eat more and more solid food but this kid still loves her purees.  I started out with the goal of simply attempting to make her own foods at home.  I thought that I would at least give it a shot and buy her jars if that didn't work out, no biggie, never thinking that I would make it this long.

I have loved making her baby food, it has been a great point of personal pride for me through this journey of new parenthood.  It has also been important to me to have some sort of creative or motherly outlet to feel, I suppose, needed.  Switching to formula has been harder than I ever expected and preparing her baby food at home has helped me to feel necessary again.  It's weird to describe, maybe baking and cooking is how I express my love.  Anyways, this whole process has been very cathartic for me and I'm so glad that I can share it with you.

I need to start by telling you that I didn't buy a single thing to prepare baby food.  I registered for a special baby food maker that would steam and puree, I registered for the trays to put that wonderfully prepared food into, I registered for a cookbook to use with that wonderful baby food maker.  I was so excited to nest!  And then along came baby and countless thoughtful and fantastic gifts but no baby food maker, no trays, and no cookbook.  Sure, I wanted all that but I knew in the back of my head that it was ridiculous and apparently everyone else did too!

So I searched all over the baby blogs and recipe sites for how to get started and discovered that I already owned everything necessary to make baby food.  This is what I found to be needed:

  1. Steamer basket, either with a stock pot or in a rice cooker
  2. Food processor or blender
  3. Ice cube trays for freezing
  4. Freezer bags for storing
I then found a fantastic site for food ideas called WholesomeBabyFood.  It is an outstanding source for figuring out how to start feeding solids to a baby!


I love the ice cube trays because they produce perfect little 1oz portions of food.  This makes it so easy to combine different foods for a new flavor every day.  The possibilities are endless and can be somewhat daunting.  If you are a little worried, just do what I did and walk down the baby food aisle to see what those master chefs put together!  

***Tip: the food doesn't pop out like ice, wedge a knife along the side and it will pop right out.  

The cubes are also easy for transporting to daycare.  I simply put 3 cubes in a little reusable storage container and they set it in hot water to heat up.  I also heat up two cubes of fruit purees and mix in plain whole-milk yogurt for a great snack.  

You can adjust the level of smoothness and thickness by adding water to the food processor.  Just be careful about adding too much because freezing can cause some vegetables, like carrots, to become watery.  Speaking of carrots, did you know that carrots spark in the microwave!?  I never knew until I put some steamed carrots in there for a few seconds and they popped like fireworks.  Turns out, it's the high levels of minerals that causes it.  Crazy!

I'm off now to mix a few cubes into Rae's oatmeal.  Have a great weekend!
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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Six Months

Rae turned six months old this past weekend.  She is still the most amazing thing in my life and I am astonished that she is already half a year old!   

It is so incredible to think that she is already this old but at the same time I find myself thinking that she's only been in my life for six months yet I can't imagine it without her.  Estevan and I are head over heals in love with her!



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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weaning from the pump

I have reached my breastfeeding six month goal!!!!!


I'm so thrilled to have made it this long after the emotional start and the grueling journey through exclusively pumping.  It has been very hard on my body, my emotions, and my job but I have finally made it.  I'm so proud of myself for making it this long but then I start to question myself for quitting now that I've come this far.  I keep tricking myself into thinking that it isn't THAT hard.  Don't I want to give my daughter the best?  My supply is good, there are so many moms out there that would give anything to feed their babies breast milk; so why am I calling it quits?  I'm still an emotional mess about the whole thing and every few minutes I change my mind about quitting and continue to beat myself up about it.  

So why am I stopping?  I need to stop analyzing my pumping output and stressing about whether I will have enough milk for the next day even though there is plenty in the fridge.  I need to allow myself the time to sleep in past 4:50am.  I need to socialize with my coworkers instead of sequestering myself in a tiny little room with my pump.  I need to go to bed again without so many layers.  I need to give myself the opportunity to do anything that I want for longer than 4 hour increments. 

I'm stopping because I need to feel like myself again.

I'm so much more than a source of food for my daughter.  I am a wife, a teacher, a daughter, and a friend.  I have forgotten some of those aspects of myself along this emotional roller coaster.  It's time to step off and stop worrying so much.  

I'm going to start being proud of myself for achieving my goal.  Besides, I have one amazing little girl who is thriving and happy.  THAT is the important thing.



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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Baby Food Making

I miss you, it has been too long.  I fear that it will be like this for a while, me taking crazy long breaks from blogging and then showing up out of the blue with a bazillion new photos to share.  So let's get the photos out of the way first...


Now that I have that out of my system we can move on to the exciting stuff like baby food!  Ok, maybe it's not that exciting for you but it was big news in this household.  Rae loved every part of her first time eating food like a big girl.  Cue another photo (sorrynotsorry).


A lot of people like to start out with rice cereal, making it as thick as their baby likes it while still being able to spoon feed.  The rice cereal is great for getting baby used to putting something in their mouth but does not provide any nutrition  Some people like to start out with whole pieces of food that can be easily held and gnawed on by their baby, i.e. baby led weaning.  We decided to do a combination of both, skipping the rice cereal completely but still spoon feeding her.  Our reasoning behind choosing to skip rice cereal was that, either way, she will be getting used to putting something in her mouth besides a bottle and with actual food she might glean a small amount of nutrition.  

Rae's first food was yummy avocado, mashed up and smoothed out with a little bit of breast milk.  She has been very eager to put whatever I have been eating into her mouth, this made it very natural for her to open her mouth and accept a spoonful.  Of course, she barely swallowed and most of it was just pushed around by her tongue but she seemed to like the whole experience.


My goal is to use fresh foods to make all of Rae's foods instead of buying jars of baby food from the store.  It might be a lofty goal and I will soon figure out if it is achievable but I feel very strongly in the benefits of making fresh food.  Have you seen the color of jarred green beans?  

So far, I have made pureed butternut squash and green beans.  No outrageously priced baby food making equipment necessary, just a stove top for boiling or oven for baking and a food processor that I already owned.  I make her food in large batches and freeze the rest in, get this, ice cube trays!  Ice cube trays are the best!  They are perfectly sized little one ounce containers for freezing any kind of puree.  I pop them out once they are frozen solid and place in freezer baggies like this...


All I have to do at meal time is place one in a bowl and microwave it for about 20 seconds.  Voila, a perfect little portion for dinner!  These will stay good for a couple of months but once we get into eating them every single day they will be eaten at a faster pace.  For right now, it's very easy to make a batch every other weekend.  We will see how this whole experience goes, I'm taking it one day at a time.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Two months

Rae turned 2 months on October 9th.

She is growing remarkably well, weighing in at 11 pounds, 14.5 ounces.  She's right on track with all of her measurements which makes this momma very happy and extremely relieved.  I'm always very nervous in the days leading up to her doctor appointments, scared that something is wrong and I'm not catching it.  I'm hoping there will be a time when I don't worry so much about her but I don't know if that day will ever come.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Our struggles, part two

Continued from Our Struggles...

Rae took perfectly to the bottle from the instant it touched her lips.  There was no more crying that night... from either of us.  She finished off 2 ounces within 3 minutes, eating as if she hadn't eaten in days.  In fact, this may very well have been the case.  She clearly was not getting the milk she needed, not after losing nearly a pound in two weeks.

The relief I felt was like nothing I had ever felt before.  I thought I had felt relief before in my life but nothing compares to going through the devastating heartache I felt and then finally knowing that my baby was getting what she needed.  That knowing was the absolute best feeling for a new mom who doubted herself through every step.  That knowing was the one shred of control that I felt in my life at the time.

I very quickly came to grips with the fact that Rae was going to be bottle fed.  I was perfectly content with my new decision.  It was, actually, quite shocking how OK I was about it.  However, the little voice in my head, that voice that constantly second guesses everything, was wondering why I was so OK with this switch.  Was I being selfish because her latch hurt and her nails dug into my skin as I held her writhing body to mine?  Was I selfish in wanting to pump because the responsibility of feeding her wouldn't fall solely on my shoulders anymore?  Had I given up too easily?

I quickly dispelled those thoughts in favor of knowing that I was doing what was best for my daughter.  She was still getting the very best, breast milk, even though it was not coming in the traditional way.

I talked to a few family members about our new routine, expressing how extremely relieved I was that Rae was eating so well.  I was happy to share the good news that she was gaining weight.  The response I received about pumping completely opposed that feeling of relief I felt.  They were sad for me, they sent me links to websites for help on latching, told me to go back to the hospital to see a specialist, told me to watch videos on positioning.

They told me to not give up on breastfeeding.

That's what hurt the worse.  Had I given up?  There it was again, that voice in my head.  It was coming back and in the worse possible way.  Was I giving up on the most important experience for my daughter?

I thought about this for days with the guilt returning to my heart.  All these people were telling me that what I felt as relief was wrong and that I was somehow giving up.  Of course, nobody ever said those words.  Their words were meant to be encouraging but they were anything but.

Undaunted, I continued to pump and bottle-feed Rae.  She continued to gain weight but better yet, she was finally content.  She stopped needing a pacifier every second of every day, she fell asleep with a peaceful smile instead of a furrowed brow.  I was headstrong in the conviction that, by any means necessary, Rae was going to get what she needed to be happy.

You see, that's the thing about me...I am very stubborn.  I'm headstrong to a fault sometimes but that's what I needed.  I finally dispelled the nagging voice in my head and brushed off the words that were tearing me to pieces inside.  I certainly had not given up!  If I had given up, my child would be fed formula.  Screw those people telling me to not give up.  And while I'm at it, screw that voice in my head telling me I'm being selfish.

Becoming an exclusive pumper is extremely hard.  It takes hours of dedication and it's certainly not the easy way out.  It is a selfless act.

I have been pumping for 6 weeks and am very proud of my dedication.  Some days I wish it would all be over, that maybe formula isn't all that bad.  But then I look at my smiling girl and remember that as long as I can produce the best, I'm going to give her the best.



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Monday, October 7, 2013

Our struggles

This is a post that I have been putting off for weeks.  I keep thinking that I should put this experience into words but never know exactly how I feel about it.  I never know if I feel like a failure or a success, it's hard when so many people keep telling me what to do but I feel totally opposite.  The experience I am talking about is breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is one of the most amazing things in this world for a new mother.  You, alone, can give your child everything she needs.  Your body is no longer just yours, it's sustaining life for this incredible little human that you just brought into this world.  But what happens when that little person isn't getting all that she needs?  What if your best and your doctor's best advice isn't working and isn't enough?  That is what happened to me. 

Rae was born 7 pounds 14 ounces and she seemed to have a great latch.  All the nurses were amazed at how quickly she latched and how powerfully she seemed to suckle.  She loved to nurse and would continue sucking on her hands when she wasn't at my breast.  One of the nurses gave her a pacifier to sooth her so she wouldn't get in the habit of sucking on her hands.  

She was perfect in the hospital and was still going strong once we got home.  I felt so powerful and overwhelmingly happy that my baby was flourishing with my care.  That all started to change after about a week at home.  It started with her ferociously latching and then quickly detaching herself.  We would continue like this for a few minutes at the beginning of every feeding until she would finally latch on for good.  She was acting like she was starving but then becoming very annoyed at the lack of milk.  I couldn't understand because I could see the milk and could even drip some into her mouth.  It was there!  We continued like this for a week, she was not sleeping well and needing to feed almost constantly.  I was not deterred, I thought this was normal.  Thinking this surely happens to everyone as they begin to breastfeed.

I was so happy to get out of the house with my perfect little baby girl on the morning of her two week checkup.  The doctors were going to ooh and aah over how cute she was and how well she was doing.  She was perfect after all.  

We waited in the special room for infants and the nurse called her name for us to come back.  She placed her on the scale and told me she weighed 7 pounds.  I knew she was going to be less than birth weight, that's perfectly normal to loose a little.  But almost a pound?  Was that normal??  

The nurse seemed concerned about her weight loss; she should have only lost a few ounces, not 14.  That's when it all started to change for me.  I immediately thought to all the times she cried hysterically at my breast, not latching for an hour and then sucking for a few minutes until drifting off into exhausted sleep.  I thought about how I couldn't sooth her against my chest, Estevan had to be the one to take her and calm her down before trying to latch yet again.

I couldn't look away from my baby girl, the nurse was asking me questions but I couldn't think straight.  Tears were coming and I desperately wanted to be anywhere but that office.  As soon as the doctor entered the office, I was in full blown ugly crying mode.  She was so nice to me, she even made me laugh a little saying that doctors fully expect new mothers to be leaking out of every hole.  She was very reassuring to me but still told me that if my daughter lost another ounce, she would have to be readmitted to the hospital.  

My entire mind switched into survival mode, not for me but for my baby girl.  We went into a special room with a rocking chair and my doctor helped me position myself for nursing.  She gave me lots of tips and advice for ensuring a good latch.  Rae was exhausted but latched for a little while, giving the doctor and I hope that her tips were working.  I continued trying for the rest of that day, nursing whenever Rae was awake and even waking her up after a short time to nurse again.  

I was physically and emotionally running on fumes.  I don't even know if there were fumes to run on.  I couldn't stop crying for the rest of that day.  Literally, couldn't stop.  I was failing my daughter, either I couldn't produce enough or I couldn't help her to latch properly.

That evening, Estevan sat with us as I tried feeding her for three hours.  He would take her when she cried so hard her face turned purple and she stopped breathing.  She was so distraught it was breaking my heart.  Finally, he suggested that we get out the breast pump.  We had bought it weeks before she was born as a backup plan.  In fact, we had registered for all sorts of bottles and all the accessories to go with them.  Bottles, whether with breast milk or formula, were always our plan B.  I knew this was always an option but hadn't wanted to accept it for some reason. 

I immediately started crying harder when he suggested the pump.  I was terrified that my baby was going to starve that evening, that somehow I wasn't producing enough and the tiny amount I did produce was going to get stuck in the pump.  Now we can look back and laugh but I was cowering in tears and hysterically crying that my milk would get stuck somewhere in the tubes of the machine and that she would get even less than just trying to latch her again and again.  I was at my lowest point and absolutely terrified that I was making every possible mistake.

I held onto my sleeping girl as he went downstairs to figure it out.  My dad read the manual as Estevan cleaned the bottles and pump parts.  Within ten minutes he was back upstairs with a working knowledge of how to pump.  I have never been more thankful to have him as my husband in my entire life.  He was my coach throughout all the struggles, looking up videos to help and reaching right in to make sure Rae was in the best position, soothing her when she was starving and frustrated, giving me the reassurance that I was doing a good job.  Now he was showing how the pump worked and helping me to properly place the flanges.  I was still scared that there wasn't going to be any milk but his help was the gentle reassurance that I needed to get started.

I started the pump.  

We sat there, staring at the bottles as the milk slowly dripped down, saying silent prayers that it would all work out.  It was 11 o'clock at night and my breasts hadn't been properly emptied for days.  I'm sorry if that is too much information but I think you get what I'm saying.  I definitely had enough milk for Rae, it did not get stuck somewhere in the tubes of the machine!  

That night, she dined.

To be continued....  I need to feed my baby ;)


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Friday, September 13, 2013

One month

'Rae' turned one month old on September 9th.  

She's getting so big, already growing out of her newborn clothes!  I'm excited for all of her milestones but it's hard to describe the feeling I get when I look at her tiny sleeper with the scalloped frills that she will never fit into again.  I know there are beautiful dresses and adorable shoes waiting in her closet but I just want to hang onto that sleeper forever.  

In the end, she's growing at a fantastic pace and I couldn't be happier that I'm giving her everything she needs.  Here's to experiencing all the firsts that month two has to offer!


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Friday, August 30, 2013

Our Little Girl

Our little girl has arrived!  She was born on August 9th at 3:35 pm.





She has truly completed our life, can't imagine it without her now.  Estevan put it very well, it's like she has a part of our souls in her.  She's a dream come true. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Gray and yellow nursery

We are just about finished with putting together and decorating the nursery for our little girl.  I am 38 weeks and 5 days, she could come at any moment!  I can't wait to see her and bring her home to this cute little room.

Before we found out if we were having a boy or girl, we decided to paint the nursery gray and yellow.  We love how the colors are bright and cheery while still being gender neutral, this was important because we wanted baby items to be neutral enough to be passed from one child to the next.  Check out some pics!
I love walking in and seeing the morning sunlight pouring through the plantation shutters.  I finally hung up the hot air balloon mobile that I made for our sweet baby girl.  
We placed a bed in her room for me to sleep in for the first few weeks when she is waking up in the middle of the night for on demand feedings.  Here's to hoping that she can sleep in her crib from day one!  Bonus is that the bed will be her big girl bed some day.
My dad has made some stacking toys in the shape of a rainbow, cloud, and sun which I will place on the top floating shelf.  He's driving from AZ next week to be with us, so happy!
We fell in love with this small painting in New Orleans.  Perfect way to bring a little girly charm to her room.
You knew her dresser drawers wouldn't be arranged all willy-nilly, don't act surprised.  Top drawer contains changing table essentials (more to be added as we figure out what she needs), pacifiers, hair accessories, bibs, hats, mittens, and socks.  Basically, all the little odds and ends of her wardrobe.
 Second and third drawers contain onesies and rompers arranged by size.
Good golly, all of these diapers came from diaper cakes that were given as gifts at the baby showers.  Took me over an hour to remove rubber bands and unroll each one but we are set for a good amount of time!  By the way, this is one of the drawers in the daybed; yay for storage!
I love the closet space in our home, this is a huge closet!  Inside, we have dresses hanging up with blankets, burp clothes, and sleep sacks placed on the closet organizer.  Her larger stuffed animals are sitting inside the oak chest.  I'm head over heals in love with my Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag!
I found these baskets at The Container Store for about $5 each, they fit perfectly on these small built-in shelves.  They contain toys for her carseat and toys for when she gets a little older.
These baskets also came from The Container Store, we have soft toys in one and hard/teething toys in the other.  These are stored right above her changing station for instant distraction if she starts fussing while being changed.
I can't wait to sit in this glider with her and read some of our favorite stories.  The ledges are actually picture ledges from Ikea!  I like how the books easily conceal the cord to the video monitor attached to the wall above her crib because I'm picky like that.

Details
  • Wall colors: Valspar Cheerful Hue and Natural Gray
  • Crib: Pottery Barn Kids, Hayden
  • Dresser and daybed: Ikea 
  • Swivel glider and ottoman: Best Chair Inc., Dolphin color, bought at Baby's and Kid's 1st
  • Floating shelves and book/picture ledges: Ikea
  • Crib bedding: Pottery Barn Kids, Harper Gray
  • Organizing bins for dresser: Ikea
  • Various baskets: The Container Store


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Monday, August 5, 2013

Frozen meals

I have been stock piling my freezer in preparation for baby's arrival and the chaotic times that are sure to come.  Estevan thought I was nuts when I told him that I wanted to make meals for the sole purpose of freezing them.  He was also worried about the food budget getting jacked, a worry that I can't blame him for.  Preparing for a baby is very expensive!  So, instead of buying a bunch of food to freeze on top of food for our normal consumption, I decided to split every big meal in half.  Since it's just the two of us, we always have leftovers and those leftovers sometimes do not get eaten.  At least one portion of every meal ends up getting thrown away!  I have been able to stock up a lot of food by simply baking one half right away and storing the other half in the freezer.  Behold the yummy goodness...
We have chicken spaghetti, stuffed shells, stuffed chicken breasts, marinade for lemon rosemary chicken, and a small meat loaf.  I wrote the name of each dish, cooking instructions, and the date it was frozen on each package.

Here is a breakdown of the recipes that I chose, click the titles to see full recipe:


Most of the foods have been prepared up to the point of baking.  I will set my oven to a lower temp and bake the chicken spaghetti and shells for about 20 minutes to warm up and then raise it to the normal temp and bake for the normal time.  The stuffed chicken breasts will need to be thawed then wrapped in the puff pastry and baked as normal.  The marinade will simply need to be thawed and the chicken pieces plopped right into the bag.  I cooked the meat loaf almost entirely to ensure it will not be overcooked and dry when reheated, it will be thawed and then baked until the internal temp is 170. Pin It Now!
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