Saturday, April 18, 2015

To my students...



Dear Students,

I owe you a bit of an apology. Until now, you were my main focus - you were my kids - your successes, your failures, your learning was my top priority. You are still so important, but if I'm being honest, you just aren't number one anymore. You've been replaced. You used to consume my thoughts all the time, even when I was not at school. I would spend hours wondering how to make my classroom environment more welcoming, how to make my teaching more relate-able, how to help the few of you who just don't get it and the list goes on. My Facebook feed was filled with articles and witty blog posts about education. I would worry day and night about all 100+ of you.

Don't get me wrong, I still do all of those things, just not as frequently. You've been replaced by two little boys who need me more. Two little boys who are going to make an appearance this summer and steal my heart forever. This will happen after you have graduated, after you have moved on from high school and all your teachers, myself included, but that doesn't mean you weren't affected before then. Even now, these two little boys need me - they need my focus and my time outside of the work day. They need me to get ready for what is coming and they have already made their presence known in so many ways. They have stolen my energy, my attention and my sleep. All the things I need to be an effective educator.

To each and every one of you I am grateful; grateful for your concern when you didn't know what "was wrong with me" those three months that I was too nauseous to stand up and teach every day. For your encouragement on those days I was too tired to function, so I utilized student led learning or small group discussions to teach you. For making me laugh by suggesting I see the doctor because, "I didn't look too good" (morning sickness for 9 weeks will do that to you). To some of you for not pointing out the obvious and for having the grace to let me share the news in my own time. For being so understanding when I had emergency doctor appointments, and needed to move deadlines or throw together a sub plan at the last minute. Thank you, for embracing me and sharing in the joy when I was finally able to tell you the news. For always telling me I look cute and "oohing and ahhing" over my belly (for real, y'all are my self esteem boost on a daily basis). I am especially grateful to those of you who continue to challenge me as a teacher and hold me accountable to doing my job. For those of you who expect things from me and raise the bar by being so on top of your work. Thank you for still asking the hard questions, but also for not faulting me when I don't have the answer or have a bout of pregnancy brain.

I hope that my experience has taught you a few things, most of all a lesson in priorities, responsibility and humility. It's okay to shift your priorities, but not to abandon your responsibilities. It's okay to admit you can't do it all and to focus your energy on what REALLY matters. Sometimes the bare minimum might be all you can do but make sure that minimum fulfills the requirement and don't be afraid to admit when you are wrong or need help. You don't have to be superman/woman just be you and let that be enough. I will miss you class of 2015 and you will always hold a special place in my heart.

Love,

Your Very Pregnant and Emotional Teacher

Friday, April 17, 2015

Why Cloth Diapers


Lately I have been feeling the pressure to explain our decision to cloth diaper and I figured why not just blog about it? Please hear me when I say this isn't a post about why YOU SHOULD cloth diaper but more why we have chosen this as a family.

Some of the comments we have received lately are listed below with my responses. A lot of the reactions I have received are pure curiosity or well meaning concern for my time and energy, but some border on judgement. While I have a lot of friends who cloth diaper all but one of them live somewhere besides Belton, 'Merica so I can understand the curiosity and disbelief that we would be attempting to take on such a "monumental task" as one person put it.

"You're going to have a diaper service right? It's so much extra work"
  • No, that actually negates the entire cost saving reason for doing cloth diapers. I'll just wash them at home. I'm already going to be doing laundry what is one more load? I have a feeling I won't be sleeping much anyways.
"What do you do with the poop??"
  • Their poop won't be anything but sour milk for awhile, so we will wash it, and then when it's not just the sour milk I will either rinse it in the sink or flush it down the toilet. I have recently discovered they make flushable liners too which I will definitely be using. When this question is asked in combination with a disgusted face I have to restrain myself from asking "What do you do with your poop?"
"Ew.... you're going to put poop in your washing machine??" 
  • See above. Also, how is this any different than when a child has a blow out and you soak their clothing in the sink or just wash it in the washing machine... that is poop in the machine, is it not?
"What about when you go out in public?"
  • They make these neat things called wet bags that you can put the cloth diapers in until you get home to put them in the washer. Seriously, I think they are really cool. It's like a portable diaper genie. The best way I can relate it to disposable diapers is it's about the same as when a kid in disposable diapers soils themselves and you have to put their clothes in a plastic grocery bag, except these are designed specifically to keep the moisture and the smell in, and I would be using it daily instead of on occasion.
"Can you not afford regular diapers?" 
  • I'm actually not even sure how to approach this one, and it's more common than you might think. We made the choice for me to stay home this next year which obviously makes money tight, and we most certainly could afford regular diapers, but why would we do that when it's an easy way to cut money out of our budget and use it for something else, like the occasional date night or gas money to go see the grandparents :) 

So.... WHY are WE choosing to do this extra work?

IT SAVES SO MUCH MONEY... This is our number one reason for doing cloth diapers. After doing all the research, for us it just seemed like the best decision. With twins on the way and switching from two incomes to one, money will be tight. Cloth diapering will allow us to save anywhere between $5,000 and $7,000 over the next two years. While that seems like a large margin it really just depends on brand of diaper, length of time in diapers, and number of succeeding children. One of the best things about cloth diapers is that I can reuse them with future kids, or resell them for about 50% of the original cost. In fact I have built our initial diaper "stash" for $180. I also recently discovered I can make my own cloth diapers which cuts down on the cost of cloth diapers saving us more money. Just to give you an idea, I can make diapers for anywhere between $5-7 that retail for $15-20. So in summary, this really just seemed like an easy way to cut our already tight budget. If you don't believe me... check out the cloth diaper calculator (there are plenty out there I just found this one easy to customize and fill in). This guy also has a really great post on the cost saving glory of using cloth versus disposable.

It's good for the environment... honestly this factor is more of a perk than a reason for us. We don't recycle, we occasionally compost, and I wouldn't claim to be the "greenest" house on the block. Yes, with cloth diapers you do use more water, but when I'm already running 3-4 loads per week, adding one more doesn't compare to putting 2x as many diapers into landfills. I have done the math, and with two newborns we would go through about 24 diapers per day changing every two hours, and that's not counting the occasional blow out.

**side note: I would love to recycle but since we technically live in the county and not city limits there currently is not a service for recycling that picks up at our address, as for compost I chalk that up to my laziness. I have yet to find a way to compost that doesn't bring a million fruit flies into the house or require me walking to the back corner of the yard every time I want to dump it. I'm open to suggestions on all fronts, as I would love to do more of both.

Cloth diapers are good for the baby... I have a lot of friends who cloth diaper and they were helpful in providing me with good reasons to cloth diaper. One of them being their testimonials on how great they held in leaks and blow outs. I started researching cloth diapers to present the idea to my husband and I kept finding testimonials on how great they were for babies' skin. Less rashes, less blow outs, natural materials/fibers, the list goes on. I think disposables are perfectly safe, and I am not against using them chemicals and all, but less rashes and less blowouts sounded pretty good to me.


LAST AND MOST IMPORTANTLY It's our choice... Just like anything else with parenting, it's a personal choice. I'm not a granola mom or into new age parenting, BUT I'm not going to judge people who are. I don't plan on putting my children on an all organic diet or preventing them from having fast food or sugar until they are teenagers, but I would like to be able to afford to put them through college and if we can benefit baby and bank account at the same time, it sounds like a win/win to me!

What about you? Any parenting choice you made early on that you felt like you had to defend or justify?


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Barefoot in the Kitchen

A few weeks ago we had  the 1 year anniversary of CHOPPED! Unfortunately we could not afford to have Ted Allen there to commentate and host but we did have a barefoot pregnant lady in the kitchen and lots of yummy food concocted.


A little background on Chopped... My husband and I got the idea to "play" chopped from his sister and her husband. While we have always enjoyed the TV show version, we both love getting creative in the kitchen and it was suggested as inexpensive date night. If you are playing with just two people, you go to the store and each pick out 4-6 ingredients for your mystery basket. When you get home switch baskets and you each have 30-45 minutes (depending on your preference) to create a meal out of what is in your basket. You can use anything in the fridge or pantry to supplement. When we have more than 4 items we allow for at least one veto of an item.

Our first solo chopped experience we created Siracha pork meatballs over a prickly pear poblano hash and pork street tacos with a baby corn relish and ginger cheesy potatoes!





So delicious.

Since joining up with a group Chopped has evolved somewhat and we have created numerous sauces, delicious fried everything, multiple salads and all kinds of meats. I have to say chopped has really helped me to be more creative and adventurous in the kitchen.

I would highly recommend Chopped as inexpensive group date night as long as you don't mind people digging through your pantry and using all you cherished kitchen gadgets. When we play with a group each group is assigned a course to cook and a basket to bring (appetizer, entree, dessert). Obviously you bring a different basket than you are cooking, baskets are revealed right before cooking each course and those not cooking can partake in conversation and spirits while waiting to sample each delicious course.

I would say Chopped is very similar to a traveling dinner just all in one house. Sometimes we even have guest judges show up, which revs up the competition factor. We don't always pick a winner but usually there is a clear consensus on whose dish is the best.

Some of our more interesting/unusual ingredients have included:

Crickets
Goat Meat
Venison
Chicken in a Can
Marmite (a salty cracker spread)
Frozen dinners that had to be re-purposed

Our Anniversary Chopped included the following:
Appetizer made by Matt and Meredith: a deconstructed hamburger salad with a brown mustard vinaigrette

 Basket provided by me: Frozen burgers, spinach, green chiles, harvest shandy, crackers



Entree made by yours truly: venison and bacon meatballs over a garlic/lemon cauliflower mash with a cranberry wine sauce, creamy alfredo/mozzarella egg noodles, and cornbread on the side. 

 Basket ingredients provided by Becca: lemon, cauliflower, bacon, ground venison, cornbread, alfredo sauce and boxed pasta which was tossed out.



Dessert made by Becca: Soft Pretzels two ways, with homemade super fruit syrup and caramel marmite cream sauce

Basket ingredients provided by Matt and Meredith: frozen soft pretzels, super fruit spread, marmite and caramels



What would you put in your mystery basket?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April Mid-Month Confessions

I've decided to link up with Heather and Elizabeth to share my mid month confessions because as Elizabeth says, "It's good for the soul".

This month is a little bare in the confession department because I didn't keep my running list, but I'm excited about having a monthly feature on the blog, and will try to keep a better list of my confessions for May. Feel free to link up as well if you have your own blog, you can find the button and instructions on Heather and Elizabeth's blogs.


 
Fast food is my weakness
I may or may not have eaten some form of fast food once a day for the past 3 weeks - in fact the other day I ordered a #4 from Freddy's Frozen Custard and added chili and cheese to the hot dog. That's one burger, one chili cheese dog and a large french fry... I could've have gone for a chocolate shake too, but was afraid it would melt before I consumed my massive dinner. I am pretty sure I will gain all my preggo weight in the third trimester.

Speaking of Nutrition...
I ate 3 cupcakes yesterday, two for breakfast and one for a pre-dinner snack. Again, not sure where it's going but I would bet my boys will have an appetite when they make their debut.

Laziness at it's finest
We had our first baby shower last weekend in Austin and the cars are still both loaded with gifts that haven't been unpacked yet. I have resigned myself to being a week behind for the rest of my life, hello parenthood.

 What about you, any mid-month confessions to get off your chest? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Second Trimester Recap

For those of you who unfamiliar with the trimester breakdown - don't be ashamed I just googled it myself - 0-13 weeks is the first, 14-26 is the second and 27 - DELIVERY is the the third. I also keep hearing about this elusive 4th trimester aka the after child birth mess that is your postpartum body... however, I refuse to dive further into that until it gets here, call it denial if you want, I call it ignorant bliss.

I understand now why some people refer to the second trimester as the golden period, but I prefer to call it "the calm before the storm..." Overall my second trimester has been pretty easy. My bump turned into a belly pretty quickly, and even though some of the third trimester symptoms started sneaking in around week 23 for the most part I have felt pretty great. I wouldn't say my energy ever really came back but I learned to function on less than 5 hours of sleep (which I assume will come in handy later) and I've gotten used to my nightly restroom breaks.

Symptoms: heartburn, kankles, the return of morning nausea, and nightly leg cramps. The first leg cramp I actually woke up screaming, but I have since taken a less dramatic approach. In fact I've become such a pro at flexing my foot I don't even have to get out of bed to stretch the cramp. Still no stretch marks, but I feel them coming.

 Cravings: chocolate milkshakes, ice cream, candy, fruit and really anything sweet. This is big for me since I am not normally a sweet eater. I may or may not have inhaled a cupcake in two bites at a teacher appreciation softball game. Surprisingly I passed my first glucose test but will have to take another one in a few weeks. 

Aversions: Pickles, Raw Meat, anything with a really strong odor

Things I miss: Margaritas & cold beer, standing up without help, bending over, seeing my toes.

Special happenings: My second pregnant ER visit when I contracted whatever 24 hour bug was going around the school. Let's just say vomiting and pregnant not fun. Especially when you can't really get up and down off the floor on your own. Selling our boat and paying down some debt so I can stay home next year.

All of the doctor appointments in the 2nd trimester were fairly routine - I love getting to see the boys every time we go. I will definitely be going through sonogram withdrawals with my next pregnancy.  

I have to say the coolest thing about the second trimester is feeling the babies move. They have become so active and in just a matter of weeks the movement went from faint flutters to full blown kicks and flips. The best way I can describe the feeling is that it's like having fish swimming around in your belly. 

Below is a progression of belly pics - I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself only missing one week. Sorry week 23, I was having too much fun in Colorado to take bump pics.

14 Weeks
Still sleeping on the couch for this week, pretty hard to get comfortable anywhere else.  Also first sonogram with the Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist where we learned the boys were Di, Di.

15 Weeks

16 Weeks

17 Weeks
Busy week for mama, wrapping up the swim season with Regionals in Rockwall. 1st stay in a hotel while pregnant... not going to lie, best nights sleep of the entire pregnancy.

18 Weeks
Switching over to maternity clothes full time this week, lots of flutters from the babies.

19 Weeks 
Gender Reveal party where we found out we are having two BOYS - photo from the target dressing room trying to pick out a new dress.

20 weeks
 Date night to celebrate selling the boat and paying off most of our debt! WHOOP!

21 Weeks

22 Weeks
Texas weather decided to be indecisive, and freezing! Back to maternity sweaters. This was also taken a few days before the dreaded stomach bug hit!

 24 Weeks
Favorite non-maternity dress - going back to school after a not long enough Spring Break

25 Weeks

26 Weeks
The boys definitely had a growth spurt between week 25 & 26! 
I feel like they double in size every week.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pregnancy Confirmation


After discovering my pregnancy via an at home test my doctor mentioned that I would need to have my pregnancy confirmed and bring that information to my first appointment. Their suggestion was to  head over to the local pregnancy center to get a clinical confirmation. Before you start asking why I didn't just go to my regular doctor, I didn't have one and my really awesome OBGYN didn't feel like they could squeeze me in. So, I called our local pregnancy center and headed over one day during my conference period.

Now, let me start by telling you I had very few expectations going into this. I had heard of places like Hope Pregnancy Center over the years. Always volunteer opportunities through my youth group etc. What I did not realize was that I was walking into the Christian version of planned parenthood. Don't get me wrong, this is an amazing place that I fully support, but I felt guilty for using their free service when I could have easily gone to a regular doctor and paid for my visit.

I began to feel awkward when filling out my welcome form but I just kept telling myself, you'll be in and out in no time just pee on the stick and have them sign on the dotted line. WRONG. I could tell by the form you fill out that this center caters to a certain demographic and I was not their usual customer for multiple reasons. 

After I turned in my form, I met with a counselor, a very sweet woman, who asked me lots of personal questions and was surprised to have someone in her office who was excited about their pregnancy. In fact because I often don't pick up on social cues and I joked about how it must be a new thing for them to have someone who is actually excited about being pregnant. She did not find that funny... I have to admit though, the counseling part of my visit was not as awkward as I anticipated, the counselor prayed with me and shared her struggles with infertility, and asked that God bring me peace no matter the result of the test. I felt extremely supported and loved by this stranger and for that I give Hope Pregnancy 5 stars. If I was experiencing an unwanted pregnancy I would have wanted to visit with her. 

The actual confirmation was the most awkward part of my visit, if you have ever taken a clinical pregnancy test, you know that you actually have to use a dropper to put your urine from the cup into the reader thingy... I'm obviously using all the correct terminology here. Let me just say, it's weird enough to be doing a pseudo science experiment with your pee, but to have someone you met 5 minutes ago staring at you while you do it? Not something I'd like to repeat in the future.
After what felt like the longest 30 seconds of my life, the test confirmed I was indeed pregnant! I squealed and hugged the counselor, although judging by her stiff reaction I'm not sure she was expecting that, nor was it protocol. 
The counselor then took me on a tour of their center, including a room where new moms can come and "shop" for what they need for their baby. She gave me the information on parenting classes etc, and handed me a blanket from Project Linus, a charity that donates blankets to children in need (for more info on that charity click the link above). I almost didn't want to take the free blanket - again the guilt complex - but I thought, I can just pass it on to someone in need, and like I mentioned before this was the sweetest woman and I didn't want to offend her by refusing the clinic's generosity.  After leaving with my folder of information and a happy heart I decided I would be doing two things, getting a regular physician and looking into volunteering at the center in the future.
If you want more information on donating to or volunteering for Hope Pregnancy Centers you can visit their website here

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Choosing a New Doctor

Early in my pregnancy I knew I wanted a different doctor but I wasn't even sure how to begin looking. I already felt overwhelmed enough that we were SURPRISE having twins and that we were SURPRISE pregnant after thinking we had another year of waiting. I didn't even want to begin thinking about the stress of picking a new doctor. Especially since I'm not what you would call good or efficient at making decisions.

I knew I wanted a different doctor for many reasons a few of which are below...
  • Our first doctor's bedside manner left something to be desired
  • I was never able to ask questions without being interrupted
  • He only really addressed me when my husband wasn't in the room
  • He asked me if I was trying to get pregnant after I had been in the same room with him 1 month before going over test results for fertility
When we found out we were pregnant, at three and a half weeks Halloween weekend, I called my doctor first thing Monday morning at 8:00 am. The woman who answered the phone was somewhat underwhelmed at what I thought was the most groundbreaking news ever. Side note: I recognize that it is not her job to celebrate with me, and that my expectation of celebration was completely irrational - I blame hormones.

The receptionist calmly told me to have my pregnancy confirmed by my regular physician and to schedule an appointment for when I would be around 10 weeks. When I told them I didn't have a regular physician and asked if I could just make an appointment with them they said that would be difficult and suggested I contact the local pregnancy center for a free confirmation. They failed to mention that this free confirmation would be the most awkward experience of my life.

I hung up that phone call feeling disheartened and frustrated - not unlike many first time moms I have talked to. I mean here I was experiencing this miracle and all they could tell me was "have someone confirm it and then we will see you when the heart starts beating". I have since found out that like almost everything with pregnancy, this is different depending on your doctor and your medical history.

To keep my mind off of everything that could go wrong in those 6 1/2 weeks I tried to keep busy - I started my secret Pinterest board, changed my Pinterest board to reflect twins, started following a million and two mommy blogs, joined about 7 million facebook mom groups, planned how to share the news with friend and family, etc.

There was also a lot of praying going in those 6 1/2 weeks praying for patience, God's plan and safety for our growing babies, and mostly for Ben's sanity while he put up with me and my rapidly multiplying hormones.

I only made one frantic phone call to my doctor's office, convinced I was going to lose the pregnancy, I blame the hormones for my crazy.  I'm pretty sure what the nurse was picturing on the end of the phone looked something like this:


After being reassured by two nurses and my doctor that I was fine, and the baby was fine I hung up and continued with my day, still feeling very uneasy. It took a lot to even get my doctor on the phone - in fact I'm pretty sure they put him on there because they were afraid I would just keep calling. Let's just say I did not feel any better after my call and actually felt pretty ridiculous for calling in the first place. I will admit the frantic phone call was not my proudest moment, but I also knew this wouldn't be the last time I would have concerns over something that could go wrong and I wanted to be sure that I would have someone supportive on the other line. It was this phone call, coupled with my overall feeling of not loving my doctor that made me switch.

I did end up going to my 10 week appointment because at that point I had no idea who I was going to switch to. There was a whole mess with my insurance which I won't go into here, it deserves a post of its own. After that appointment however, I knew for sure I needed to do what was going to be best for me and my babies and that meant finding someone I was comfortable with.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, trust your gut - if you aren't loving your doctor it's okay to find a new one. It can be a scary process to start all over. But you don't have to stay. If you are anything like me and hate confrontation there are plenty of excuses you can use but I would also say, don't be afraid to be honest. I assume Doctors would want to hear if and why their patients aren't happy. In the end it will be worth it for you to feel comfortable with who you are seeing. After all, this is the person you are trusting to catch your baby and welcome them into the world... not to mention inspect your lady parts post delivery, do you really want that to be someone you feel "meh..." about?

UPDATE: I found out at my 24 week appointment that my new doctor, who I LOVE is now leaving a couple weeks before my due date... not sure how I feel about this upcoming switch but we'll see.