Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Preparing for Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house.

Mom, can you help me write a letter to Santa?? ---Evie with the Toys R Us ad
  Apparently, it's inherent that kids know where to find the toy ads and catalogs that come with the Sunday paper.  Evie had no problem finding this, walking around with it pretty much all afternoon, and paging through it when she felt like sitting down.  M and I thought it was hilarious. 

I'll take one of everything!!
 M loves Christmas.  He decorates the whole house, and doesn't even ask for my help!!  (If it was left up to me, our tree probably wouldn't go up until December 23-ish.  It's not that I don't like Christmas, I'm just lazy about decorating for the holidays.)  He even put up our outside lights in the rain on Saturday afternoon.  What a trooper!

Christmas tree, 2011 version
We were worried that we were only going to be able to decorate the top part of the tree that is out of Evie's reach.  :)  But she has been really good about not picking at it. 

I can't believe that it's almost Christmas!?!?!!?!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Post-Partum Hair Loss

Same tract of new hair growth...soooo annoying!!!
It's kind of hard to tell from this picture,
but it's about an inch and half wide
tract of hair above my forehead.
That's where it's the worst.

About 3 months after Evie was born, my hair started falling out.  It came out in clumps in the shower, around my house, in my classroom...I was disgusted!  The hair loss waned after about 3 months, and things were pretty much back to normal, except that I was totally paranoid about leaving a trail of hair behind me wherever I went.

 I didn't realize how bald I must have been until all of the hair started growing back.  At first, it was just a bunch of spiky hairs that wouldn't stay laying flat.  Now, it looks like a layer of my hair that is about 2 inches long, and covers my whole head.  It's too short to pull back into my ponytail, but it's too long for my falls forward over the headband and is incredibly annoying. 

I can't wait for it to grow just *little* bit longer so that it's not so weird looking.  I can't do much with my hair right now and it's driving me a *little* insane.

Did anyone else have CRAZY post-partum hair loss?  How has yours grown back??

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Getting my priorities straight

I was cruising the headlines on Yahoo! and I found this article, Loving the Husband More Than the Kids is Key to Good Life.  I am a sucker for relationship-related articles, and this obviously piqued my interest.  The author supports putting your husband ahead of your kids as crucial to a happy family.  Often, women feel that they must put their children ahead of their spouses (and themselves) to prove to the judgmental world of other women/mothers that they have their priorities "straight."  It's all supposed to be about the kids, right??  She says that if women put their marriage ahead of their children, the whole family will be happier in the long run. 

As a mother/teacher/human being, it's been driven into me that the kids (my students, the starving children of Africa, my own child, etc.) have to come first or I will be a bad person.  Obviously, my child is important; I'd do pretty much anything if I knew that it would help her.  Most of us probably feel that way, right?  DUH!  I'm not promoting leaving your kid to cry in his/her crib in a dirty diaper so that you and your husband can have a quiet dinner, but I do think that creating couple time is essential to a happy family.

As much as I believe that, M and I have been doing a pretty poor job lately.  Before Evie was born, I thought that our first year of marriage was the most difficult.  And it was difficult.  We had lived together before we got married, but something about making it legal changed things for us.  We weren't always very considerate of each other, and we had to find our groove.

About a month after our first anniversary, we were out for dinner one night, and we were laughing and having a great time.  I looked at him and it hit me that we had gotten past the rocky, newlywed period.  I said, "Being married to you is really fun."  He said that he thought so too, and from then on, it was the two of us: married and loving it!!

Of course, we both knew that having a baby would change our relationship, but I didn't think it would take us this long to find our groove again.  I still love being married to M.  He is my best friend, my biggest supporter, the only person I want to talk to about my biggest dreams, and my biggest fears.  After Evie is grown up and living her own life, he's the one I still want to be with. 

Reading that article really made think.  Who have I been putting first?  Have I been giving so much to Evie that I don't have anything left for M?  How must that make him feel???  I showed him the article, and we had a long talk about it.  I hope that it changes the way we think about our family.  I want Evie to learn what a loving marriage looks like, and I want to start putting M first.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

16 Months

I can't believe that it's been a year since this:

This is one of my favorite pictures of her of all time.  My dad took care of her so that I could go shopping early on Black Friday last year when she was 4 months old.  Evie was a bit of a crab for him...but he did manage to get this picture.  LOVE it!

But now, Evie is 16 months old!  Crazy how time flies!!!

At 16 months:
  • Evie's new words are "no" and "book."  "No" is not exactly a great development, but it's kind of nice when she's not using it to try to scold me.  She will tell me "no" to more food when she's done eating, etc.  That's kind of cool to be able to communicate with her more.
  • Walking is so totally last she's picking up speed.  Running is where it's at these days.
  • She has mastered blowing kisses in the past few weeks.  This is something M has been trying to get her to do for a while now.  I'm not sure that she completely understands what she's doing, but it's still pretty cute.
  • Evie went trick-or-treating for the first time.  We didn't actually ask for any candy.  We just stopped by a few neighbor's houses.  Evie loved walking around with all of the other kids.
  • Evie ate her 1st Thanksgiving dinner.  She loved the turkey and the dinner rolls!!  She didn't care for the mashed potatoes or stuffing, but she did like the brownie I shared with her for dessert.  :) 
  • She has started throwing more and more tantrums...not a good milestone, but it's all part of asserting her independence.  For the most part, I can distract her or ignore her so that she quits.  We haven't had any serious meltdowns in public yet, but I'm sure our time is coming.  
  • Evie is working on animal noises and finding her nose, ears, etc.  Hopefully I can post about some of those milestones next month!!
Playing with the dog last week.
 Each month, she keeps growing and growing, and I am more fascinated with this little person that she is becoming.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgivings Past

Two years ago on Thanksgiving, M and I found out that we were going to be parents.  M had to work that day, so we couldn't drive to either of our parent's houses for the holiday.  We went to big Thanksgiving buffet at a local country club, and celebrated the holiday just the two of us.  We didn't want to announce our pregnancy until Christmas, so it was kind of nice to spend the time with each other, without our families. 

It's hard to believe that it was two years ago already.  In other ways, it's hard to believe it was ONLY two years ago.  This year, we are going to M's parent's house; Thanksgiving on the farm, as I like to call it.  It will be fun.  I love my in-laws and they don't get to see Evie very often.  But lately, I've been thinking  that it would be fun to tell each of our families that we are going to the other one's house and just spend the holiday here, as our own family.

I could never really do that.  I'd feel way too guilty.  Plus, as Evie gets older, I know she'll want that time with her grandparents and her cousins.  The holidays are so hectic sometimes.  I guess I'm just feeling nostalgic for that Thanksgiving a couple of years ago when it was just me and M. 

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011


It's pretty simple.

I'm thankful for 

a supportive extended family, 

a career I love, 

a healthy, beautiful, growing daughter

 a loving husband who is my best friend

 and a family to come home to every day.

What more could anyone possibly ask for?

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Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Over

I'm officially done breastfeeding.  Last night was my last time nursing Evie for the foreseeable future.  I might nurse to relieve pressure in the next week or so....if there is any pressure.  I went from Wednesday through Sunday without nursing, and my boobs barely even felt full last night.

Evie is ready.  I'm ready.  I'm looking forward to having my body back to myself, but it's kind of strange to think that I'm done.  I never thought that breastfeeding would become such a huge part of my life.  Everyone's experience is different, but breastfeeding became part of my identity for the past 16 months.  Especially in the beginning, my life was completely centered around feeding Evie: perfecting our latch, keeping up my milk supply, pumping, cutting out dairy, nighttime feedings, etc, etc, etc.

I don't really feel sad about it right now.  I did a few months ago, when I felt like we were being forced to quit, but now I know we are ending on our terms.  Now, I just feel grateful that we were able to successfully breastfeed for so long.

Even when it was difficult, I wouldn't change a thing.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tell me I'm crazy

Over then summer I set up homestays for some students from Spain to stay with some of my students here in Wisconsin.  In the process, I met the Spanish students' teacher.  She is a woman who is originally from Wisconsin, who married a Spaniard.  She has lived in Spain teaching English for about 10 years.  She and her husband have two kids who are a little older than Evie. While she was here, she offered a place for me, M, and Evie to stay for a month in Spain next summer. 

I didn't think much of it at the time, but it's been rattling around my brain since August.  I emailed her last week to ask about details, thinking that she probably was just being nice.  On Thursday morning she wrote back with 3 options for homestays for me, M, and Evie, all free of charge.  Our biggest expense would be the plane ticket over....which I could just buy for myself because Evie could still ride on my lap.  Because of his work schedule, there is no way that M could go with us for anything more than a week. 

I'm a world traveler.  I'd go pretty much anywhere I had the opportunity to go. M, on the other hand, is much pickier.  I feel lucky that, in less than 30 years, I've been to 3 continents,  and 7 countries.  He would be content to stay in our little suburb forever. 

It seems like a no-brainer.  Go.  How could I possibly pass up this opportunity?  It's been almost 10 years since I lived in Spain, and if we have another child in the near future, it's very possible that it will be anothter 10 before I have this chance agan.  The problem is that I can't imagine even a week without Evie, how can I ask M for 3- 4 weeks without her??? 

We're discussing it pretty intensively.  I know that there are many difficulties to travelling abroad with a 2 year old.  I'm ready to take them head on if I can have this opportunity.  I just feel so selfish for wanting this so badly.  Tell me I'm crazy, whether it's crazy to pass this up, or crazy to even think I can do this. 

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

I'm back into my usual reading pace (a book every two - three weeks) since I stalled out on The Tudors over the summer.  Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (Holt Paperback, 2009) by Rhoda Janzen was an easy read.  It is subtitled (A Memoir of Going Home) and that's exactly what it is.  Anyone who has ever left home for any amount of time will easily relate to returning and finding that while nothing has changed, nothing is quite the same either.

Rhoda Janzen was raised in the Mennonite faith, but left to pursue a life in academia.  When her marriage fell apart (because her husband left her for Bob, a guy he met on, and she was in a terrible car accident in the same week, she felt that she had little choice but to return to her roots to heal her body and soul.  Her stories of her quirky family, with its quirky religious traditions, are hysterical.

Being an academic, Janzen is a rebel in the Mennonite community, which prides hard work and a simple life.  She explains many Mennonite customs as she goes through the book to help those unfamiliar with the religion understand.

She explores her failed marriage with her abusive, bi-polar husband, addressing both of their faults in its demise through the context of being raised as a submissive Mennonite woman.  She also delves into her relationship with her family.  Leaving the Mennonite community made it harder for her to relate to her brothers, but he mother always accepted her with open arms.

The stories of Janzen's mother are the highlight of the book in my opinion.  Her mother seems so matter-of-fact about everything in life, and her cheery outlook help the author through this horrible time.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about the Mennonite community (not necessarily a history of it, but some of the customs), or anyone who likes "going home" stories (this is the reason I picked it out).  It's very funny, and a quick read!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

I thought it would be different

In the past, I've alluded to my rocky relationship with my mom, but lately it's been worse.  I have no reason to feel major angst towards her, she was not abusive, neglectful, selfish, unreasonable, or in any way a bad mother.  We just don't really ever see eye to eye.

When I was in high school, it was at its worst.  Obviously, that's not unusual; many teenagers and parents don't get along.  When I went to college, something changed.  In high school, we never really just talked.  My freshman year of college, we could talk on the phone for 30 - 45 minutes without any awkwardness.  I was so happy that I finally had the relationship with my mom that I had always wanted.  It just took time, and maturity on my part. As time went on, we've slipped back into our old roles though.  It's hard to just talk to her most days.  I feel like we don't have much in common, and I feel like she's very judgmental of me and M. 

While I was pregnant I hoped that becoming a mother would bring me and my mom closer again.  I've been disappointed that it hasn't.  I want to be able to talk to her about anything and everything.  We're both part of the "mom" club now.  We've both given birth, dealt with newborn sleep deprivation and colicky babies, and been through all of those rites of passage that come with having a baby.

But nothing has changed.  Some days it bugs me more than others.  I wish that I could just get over it and realize that she and I will never have that mother/daughter "best friend" type of relationship.  It's hard because I think deep down, we both want that.  We're just too different to know how to create that relationship with each other. 

I could delve into all of the ways this scares me about my future relationship with my own daughter, but that's another post for another day.  I should feel lucky that my mom is still in my life, a lot of people don't have that.  I need to take our relationship for whatever it's worth, and try to develop the best relationship I can with my own daughter.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Top 5 of the Week

I've seen this on a few blogs that I frequent, and I thought I'd give it a try.

Here are my top 5 laughs/moments of the week:

5. Evie was walking around the kitchen with a dish towel.  She has been into hiding behind things and then "jumping" out and saying boo.  She did this several times with the dish towel as she was walking around the kitchen.  I was sitting at the table, and she was walking towards me.  She put the towel in front of her face just in time to walk into my chair.  She fell on her butt, pulled the towel down and said, "Boo."  M and I both laughed hysterically that the fall didn't ruin her concentration, and she was still able to "scare" me.

4. Watching as M put Evie in her snow pants for the first time.  I'm not a huge fan of winter, but it's coming whether we like it or not!

3. Seeing the final results of my students' video projects for El Cid.  They did a great job!!!  Teaching amazes me every day, and seeing my students excel is the reason I keep going when it feels like the whole world is down on my profession. 

2. Hanging out with M...just hanging out.  He is my best friend, and sometimes life gets in the way and we forget that.  He won me over by making me laugh, and now I love it when he makes me and Evie laugh together.

1. Seeing Evie blow kisses for the first time.  Seriously, how awesome is that!?!?!!?

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Enjoying the Present

I have never been the type of person who could just enjoy the present.  I have always thought, "I can't wait until _____." Or, "It used to be so much better when ________."

I hate to admit it, but I've caught myself doing the same thing with Evie on many occasions.  When she was a newborn/very, very little, I would catch myself thinking, "it will be better when she doesn't cry all the time."  "It will be better when she sleeps through the night."  Etc, etc, etc.  I was jealous of moms whose babies were 6, 8, 10 months old.  I figured they didn't have to worry about all of the stuff that I was worrying about.

Evie at 4 months.  How could I have ever wished she would just get older?!?!?!
Of course, when Evie reached those ages I realized that those moms just had other things to worry about.  Now, Evie is going on 16 months, and I find myself looking at the little babies who aren't running away, attempting to pull everything off of store shelves, and throwing tantrums and I'm still jealous of the 6/8/10 month old mommies.  Only now, it's in hindsight and I'm wondering where that time went.  (Ok, she's not that bad, but some days....) 

9 months old.  She still puts her socks in her mouth like that.  :)
Sometimes the "wishing for the future" is really just wondering what it will be like.  I look out of my classroom window and see all of the elementary school kids on the playground at recess and wonder what Evie will be like when she's that age.  I stop and I smile thinking of her as sassy 3rd grader playing on the swings with her friends.  I beam as I picture her playing jump rope in her snow suit. 

Earlier this week.
I wish that I was better at fully immersing myself in the moment.  As much as the tantrums (which are growing in intensity and frequency these day) are frustrating, Evie will only be this age once.  I love her at this age, and I love all of the things we can do now that seemed like a dream only 6 months ago.  We're teaching her new words, and watching her walk all over the house.  She hugs us back, and blows us kisses.  Right now is what it's really all about.  Every day truly is amazing.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Goofing Around

We didn't do much over the weekend.  Sunday, Evie and I went on a shopping excursion to escape M's football bonanza.  Other than that, we just spent the day goofing around.  I love relaxing weekends.  :)

Trying on snow pants.  We're supposed to get 1 - 2" today. 
I love Wisconsin, really, I do. 

I'm ready for my close-up!

Posing for the usual.

Mom, I can do it...let me have the camera!!
No, really.  Give me the camera. 

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Baking Wonderful-ness

I have been baking up a storm lately. I think it's just this time of year that puts me in the mood to bake.  In the last three weeks, I've made Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Icing, two loaves of banana bread, a loaf of bread in the bread machine, rhubarb muffins, and this weekend, my project was Cookie Dough Brownies.

I should have written about the "red" velvet brownies as another baking disaster.  I ran out of red food coloring, so I just put in all of the colors that I had.  They turned out a sort of greenish-black.  M said they looked "like calf shit...and I don't know if the calf was healthy."  Of course, he was raised on a farm and would know what that looked like.  I just took his word for it.  Food coloring doesn't affect the taste, and they were wonderful!!  (Bad blogger...I didn't take pictures!)

The cookie dough brownies, which I found through a crafty/recipe blog hop, turned out great!!  As I'm typing this, I'm biting into my 19384745756th brownie since I made them yesterday.  They took a little effort to make, but it was TOTALLY worth it.  ;)

That's right, they have a layer of brownie on the bottom, a layer of cookie dough (no eggs, totally safe), and then a chocolate glaze on top.

M and I have finished off half the pan since yesterday afternoon.  I'm a little ashamed of us, but it's getting closer to the holidays, and calories don't count during the holidays, right!?!?!?

Oh well, I'll bring some to school tomorrow to spread my caloric intake to others.  Teachers are like vultures for sweets.

Here's the recipe for anyone else who wants to participate in some pre-holiday gluttony with me!!

Found at Chef in Training


  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1-1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 3/4 cups walnuts, optional

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs and blend well.  Add vanilla, salt, cocoa, and flour.  Don't over-beat.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until done.  Cool completely.

For filling, in a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light & fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Spread over brownies (works best to just press out with clean hands.); chill until firm.

For glaze, in a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, until smooth. Spread over filling. Immediately sprinkle with nuts, pressing down slightly.

Let glaze harden before cutting in.

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