Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Message to Parents from Teachers

I considered writing this post this time last year, but I was still only a few months out from teaching so I thought maybe I should give it some time. Now that it's been two years (how??) since my last "first day of school," I figured I was far enough removed from the trenches to have some perspective on this topic.

I remember, during my first year of teaching, reading an article by Ron Clark that contained several statements to parents from teachers. Even though I'd only been in the classroom for a few months at the time, I was vigorously nodding in agreement with each one! It doesn't take long to figure out that a successful year with each student requires a cooperative, communicative relationship with each parent. Obviously, that doesn't always happen, and it's a shame, but in my experience, I've found that most teachers just don't have the nerve to say- in love, of course!- some things that parents need to hear. So since I'm now on the "outside" so to speak, I thought I'd be the voice of the people. (Sorry, people.) 

(I totally understand that a) as a teacher, I see a student, but as a parent, you see "your baby" so we have different perspectives and b) some teachers are genuinely "bad" and cause problems. However, the majority of teachers I know and have worked with are dedicated, caring people so we're placing the "teachers" mentioned here into that category. =) AND I was very fortunate to have had relationships with some truly wonderful, kind parents who remain my friends to this day.) 




1. If you have an issue with me, please speak to me first. Nothing is more frustrating (or confusing!) than getting a call from your administrator that says, "This kid's mom says that _________ happened," followed by a scenario that has probably been blown out of proportion by this point. It puts both the administrator and the teacher in a tough spot to have to defend and/or contradict one another when the whole story hasn't been told. Obviously, if you're dealing with a recurring issue, then the principal should get involved, but talk to me first. I'll feel a lot more cooperative if you speak openly and honestly with me and give me a chance to explain the situation, whatever it is.

2. Give me the benefit of the doubt. Again, I'm not excusing poor treatment of a student or anything else that's inappropriate, but if you give me the benefit of the doubt, I'll do the same for you. Trust me, we'll both benefit from it over the course of the year! It may be that I did forget to update an assignment or that I did deal harshly with your child. But if you were not present, then my "yelling" at your kid that he described as "for no reason" may very well have followed an entire class period of asking him to listen. (Also, I have never raised my voice to a student, but for some reason kids, especially teenagers, love to describe any lecture as "yelling.") And speaking of your child's version of the story...

3. Know that your child will lie to you. I had a parent who absolutely refused to believe this for months, but the day she finally caught her kid in a lie felt a little like the heavens parting and the sun breaking through the clouds. It was a shame that he lied, but when she finally chose to believe it, it made the discipline problems nearly a thing of the past since he knew he wouldn't get away with his little "stories" at home anymore. I've told many parents, "Why would I make this up? Why would I lie to you?" I'm an adult- you can't ground me or punish me in any way other than making me uncomfortable with your anger. (I'd prefer to be grounded, honestly.) However, you CAN punish your child and he knows it, so he'll lie to you. Don't be ashamed- all kids do it. Just accept it.

4. Find a balance between helping your child with his work and doing it for him. I know this is hard. Some parents are WAY too hands off (as in, their kids never do their homework and they don't seem to care) but some parents, probably fed up with nagging, just do the work themselves. I had a mom get mad at me (at ME?) because I made so many corrections to her kid's rough draft. Turns out she took it so personally because she had written it herself. Ha! True story. Your child needs to be reminded, nudged, and even helped along- please do those things- but don't do the work. It's not helping your kid and usually it's glaringly obvious that you did it. Obviously sometimes there will be emergencies/late nights/extenuating circumstances, but making a habit of this is not "helping."


5. Don't ask for tutoring/extra credit if your child isn't even trying. I know this is a touchy subject, but if your kid never does his homework, doesn't pay attention in class, and puts forth little to no effort, then why on earth would I need to stay after school to repeat everything I already said? Better yet, don't ignore all those issues all semester and then ask for tutoring or "extra credit" (my least favorite words) at the end of the grading period. I can only think of a couple of students who did all their work, paid attention, and tried their best who were still failing my class, and you better believe I did everything in my power to help them pass. Even my students with learning disabilities saw HUGE improvements when they simply did their work instead of constantly trying to get out of it. When your child isn't trying but you swoop in and attempt to persuade me to "work something out," you're just teaching him that hard work isn't important as long as you have someone to bail you out.


6. PLEASE don't disrespect me in front of your child. If you allow him to badmouth me all the time (or worse, you join in!), just realize you're not only teaching a disrespect for authority but you're also telling him that he doesn't have to listen to me. "Mom thinks Mrs. McNeese is stupid... I don't have to do anything she says." This is so dangerous! You don't have to think I'm the greatest teacher in the world- especially since I'm not- but allowing or encouraging disrespect creates some very toxic attitudes that are hard to reverse. Go ahead and agree with all the "I hate my teacher" stuff, but just know that you're effectively tying my hands when it comes to impacting your child in a positive way.


7. Speaking of respect, treat me with respect. I'm a professional and this is my job. I can't imagine most people going to the dentist or mechanic or even Target and telling the employees how to do their jobs, but for some reason many parents think they can talk down to teachers or tell them they should things differently. If you genuinely have a concern, again- be honest and tell me. But being kind and respectful is not too much to ask. For example, telling me your kid is failing my class "because it's boring" is hardly kind or respectful, is it? (I'm still a little bitter about that example since my class was many things but boring was never one of them! Ha!) Just treat me like you would want to be treated in a professional environment. I know emotions run high when our children are involved, but ask yourself if you would want to be on the receiving end of whatever tirade you have planned.

8. The smallest recognition or sign of appreciation will make my day/week/month/possibly year. I've always said that even though gift cards or other presents are great (keep them coming! =), I wouldn't trade anything for the heartfelt notes and emails I've received from parents who want to thank me for working with their kids, whether it's been extra help or just doing my (admittedly very hard) job. I'm spending nearly as much "awake time" with your child (or maybe more!) as you are and it makes me feel great when you acknowledge that. Even a parent sticking her head in the door in the morning during drop-off and saying, "Have a great day!" is a blessing. I've gotten rid of lots of gifts over the years (sorry!) but I still have all my notes from students and parents. Two seconds to say thank you or that you're praying for me makes a huge difference, I promise.

9. Know this- I genuinely care about and want what's best for your child. It broke my heart when parents acted like we were on opposite sides of a battlefield. Trust me, I love that kid. I never pushed a student to do more than what I knew he was capable of doing, but once I saw that potential, you better believe I was going to try to help him reach it. What possible motive would I have for trying to make things difficult for you or your kid? That only makes my job harder. I've lost sleep over trying to help kids do better in class, how to break through an attitude problem, how to reach the heart of a "hard" student- and all of that feels pointless if we're not on the same team. Back me up and I'll do the same for you.

These are just a few of the things I wanted parents to know (but somehow could never bring myself to really say.) Like I said, there will be legitimate problems to deal with, but most teachers really and truly do love your child and want what's best for him, not to mention they are working long hours with little pay to do an extremely important job. Educating the next generation is a huge responsibility and it will work so much better if the greatest influences in a child's life are working together for their good. (By the way, for more information on this topic I highly recommend Ron Clark's book The End of Molasses Classes. The chapter on parent/teacher relationships alone is worth the purchase of the book.)

Happy Back to School! Parents and teachers, let's work together, pray for one another, and resolve to be kind. We can do it! (And by we I mean you because I'll be playing with my baby at home and not grading a single paper. Woohoo! =)


Ash

Thursday, August 20, 2015

32 Weeks

Y'all, this pregnancy is winding down and it's starting to hit me that in a few weeks I'll have an actual baby to take care of... currently I'm nearly equal parts excited and TERRIFIED but I'm trying to be more excited than anything. (It's a work in progress.) 

Speaking of works in progress, the nursery is coming along slowly but surely. I feel like I don't get much accomplished in there for days and then I'll have a burst of energy (or stupidity) and attempt to complete an entire project in an afternoon, but at least some of it is getting done one way or another. Now that my prints are framed and everything is cleared out (as much as it can be for now) I'm at the point where I need someone else's opinion to decide where everything goes. (Brook and Sara, where are you?!) 

This past weekend we had my shower with our church ladies and it was SO nice. Everyone brought the prettiest presents and we got lots of cute stuff for Alice, plus there was amazing food (and I got to bring home leftovers!) and the decorations were beautiful. The ladies at our church are so sweet and they definitely love Alice already! We're very thankful to have such a great church family.


Several people commented on my dress... it's Gap Maternity. =)


These awesome friends hosted the shower and they are the bomb! Love them all!


Anyway, everything's good and moving right along- at a frightening pace- but we're just thrilled that Alice is healthy and that my pregnancy has been uneventful, no matter how melodramatic I am about my lack of sleep. =) 


This pic is the best I could do (frizzy hair and all) since we walked out of our appointment this morning into a monsoon. Yikes!

How far along: 32 weeks and 2 days.
How big is baby: 19 inches and nearly 4 pounds!
Weight gain: the doctor said it was "perfect" so I'm taking that to mean that I don't look as large as I feel. Maybe? I don't feel terrible but it kind of depends on what I'm wearing. 
Sleeping: Sleep? What is sleep? =( I feel like I'm having sleep regression... It was getting better but the last week has me back to waking up every 1-2 hours and feeling totally uncomfortable the majority of the time. 

Food cravings: still a lot of sweets, but also Spicy Nacho Doritos. (Don't judge me.) Oh, and taco stew which I'm making for supper tonight. I'm SO excited about it! (Here's my recipe if you want some yourself! SO good.) 
Food aversions: popcorn. Sad, right? It's always been one of my favorite snacks but I just don't want it now. Bleh.
Symptoms: just being uncomfortable most of the time. If I sit up in a chair or on the floor for very long I'm going to be in pain, and finding a good position to sleep in is nearly impossible. I know that I'm only going to get bigger and more uncomfortable (swollen ankles, stay away!) so I guess I should just count my achy blessings. 
Miss Anything?:  Sleeeeeep.
Doctor’s appointment: Great! We went this morning and her heartbeat and growth are perfectly on schedule. 
Clothes: I'm still reaching for dresses 90% of the time since they're just so easy! I wrote too many paragraphs on my maternity wardrobe last week if you want to check that out.
Movement: quite a bit... she's been a little quiet the past couple days but I think it's because I've been so much more active than normal (with the nursery work and cleaning going on)... she's always more active when I'm resting (and vice versa) but she still gives me plenty of kicks throughout the day (and lately has been resting herself riiiight on my ribs (or something) and that feels just great. Ha! 
Best moment of the week: my beautiful shower =) and getting all (most) of the junk cleaned out/organized in the nursery and finally (after a seriously ridiculous series of unfortunate events) getting all my nursery prints printed and in frames. Yay! Oh, and finding out that Rainbow Chip icing (my favorite) is back in stores seriously made my life so much better. Jonathan and I promptly purchased it and had funfetti cupcakes for several days. 

AH. 

What I’m looking forward to: finding the last few pieces of furniture for the nursery so that we can get all the decorations on the wall!
What I did / Got for baby: organized clothes/blankets/other gifts, did some nursery decor stuff, drank nine million ounces of water (you better appreciate that, Alice!). Oh, and I've been reading a bunch of baby and parenting books which I'm sure I'll discuss here at length before too long. 

Read ALL the books! And these hydrangeas from my shower make me smile every time I see them.

Prayer requests: As always, health and safety for the baby and for me... keeping my fluid up is still a concern in this heat and of course as the actual birth approaches I get more anxious of things going wrong. (You know how I love/hate to worry!) Maybe you should just pray for my peace of mind... If I can chill out then things will probably go much better. =)
That's it, everyone! Thanks for sticking around through this adventure... only a few weeks to go until Miss Alice joins us! Woohoo!
Ash 

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Whirlwind Weekend in New Bern

A couple years ago, Janssen did a series on her blog called "A Whirlwind Weekend" and accepted guest posts from readers who wanted to highlight the best restaurants and sights in their towns. (You can see all the posts here.) I always intended to submit a post about New Bern, even going so far as to drive around downtown to take pictures one Saturday, but then I got lazy busy and never sent it in.

BUT they say absence makes the heart grow fonder and even though I was quite fond of New Bern when I lived there, nothing has made me appreciate it like being away. I love big cities and more "urban" areas (not complaining about lots of restaurants and a real mall!) but there is something so convenient and easy about a small town (especially for someone like me who really struggles with directions/traffic.) Going downtown to walk around, peek into shops, enjoy the view of the river, read library books, sit on our favorite bench, and (most importantly) drink Mountain Dew from the Pepsi store. (For some reason, it tastes better than anywhere else in the world.)


Obviously you can't tell but this was taken on our favorite bench downtown. =)


So here's what we'd do if I could take you (or just myself!) on a weekend trip to New Bern, North Carolina: (these are my favorites, but they don't even include all the fun available with boats and jet-skis on the river or the multiple art festivals, etc. that go on too... again, just my picks =)

1. I'd take you out for breakfast at Baker's Kitchen, which has theeee best cinnamon rolls, French toast (according to Jonathan), and pretty much everything else you can think of. It's all delicious, but you have to get the Dutch potatoes (a cheesy, rich hash brown casserole-type dish. I'm nearly drooling just thinking about it.) This also puts us right in the heart of downtown so a stroll around the shops can burn off all those (totally worth it) calories. If you have kids, there's a park down the street or you could go around town to count the bears. (They're kind of the town mascot.)


Manna!


2. It's famous for a reason! I'd say we're headed to the Tryon Palace but... shhhh.... I've actually never been. Isn't that awful? I'm told it's gorgeous but I genuinely don't know, so instead we'll head to another famous New Bern landmark- the Pepsi Store. (Billboards around town boast that it's the "Birthplace of Pepsi" and most restaurants serve Pepsi products.) If you've ever been to the Coke Factory in Atlanta, well- this is nothing like that. It's a tiny corner storefront but it does have a looping video of the history of Pepsi and a ton of cool vintage Pepsi and Mountain Dew memorabilia, plus you can get a fountain drink and popcorn for $1.50. That little treat has been our Saturday lunch many times.

3. Since calories don't count on vacation, we'll head down the street to Cow Cafe, an adorable shop (with cow-printed walls) that has "real food" but is most famous for its hand-dipped ice cream. If it's not too hot we can sit outside and people watch but I'm usually one to grab a table inside and enjoy the AC. They have all kinds of yummy concoctions, but my go-to is a mint chocolate chip cone. Mmmm. Or we could grab some homemade fudge or other treat at Bear City Fudge. (Eat all the chocolate!)

A milkshake and library day.

4. The weather is perfect and getting outdoors is a must. We'll walk over to Union Point Park, where there's lots of lawn, swings, a gazebo, and best of all a walkway along the river where we can watch the boats, feed the ducks, and just enjoy the water. That view never, ever got old to me. Also, the park hosts lots of cool events, including movie nights and the annual MumFest in October, which is a huge fair-like event that takes over al the downtown streets but is mostly an excuse to eat a ton of fried food. Even on the hottest days, there's a breeze coming off the river and it's just perfect.


Another fun downtown Saturday- the Dragonboat Races!




5. The locals would stone me if I didn't take you to Tryon Palace, and since I've already mentioned I've never been, it could be a first trip for both of us! The original Governor's Mansion now features lots of historic attractions and interactive displays, as well as being a gorgeous venue for weddings. Fun fact- it was also used to film part of the television series Sleepy Hollow! Or, if you're feeling a little more casual, we could stop by the Farmer's Market for gorgeous produce, handmade items ranging from cutting boards to doll clothes, and delicious baked goods (or, you know, a hot dog.)



6. You didn't ask, but I'll tell you anyway that a trip to New Bern wouldn't be complete without dinner at one of the many excellent seafood restaurants downtown. There are several good options, but our favorite (and one of the cheapest!) is Stingray Cafe. It's not much bigger than a hole-in-the-wall place but it's SO good and is conveniently across the street from both Tryon Palace and the Farmer's Market. I have dreamed of the shrimp basket about a million times since moving away. And if you're interested in taking some fish home, they sell fresh seafood in the little shop next door. (Or if you're not in a seafood mood, 37th Street Pizza is absolutely wonderful- my favorite is pepperoni and pineapple!)

Now that I'm feeling good and homesick, I think I'll pop over and check out flights into New Bern (yes, you can fly into the town at what has to be one of the world's tiniest airports.) Ha! I won't be flying out there anytime before the holidays, but you better believe that our next North Carolina trip will include a visit to my favorite little waterfront town.

 If you're in North Carolina or passing through, consider coming through New Bern- maybe on your way to the beach! It's worth the stop, I promise. (Actually Baker's Kitchen cinnamon rolls alone are worth the stop- everything else is just a bonus.)



Ash

Monday, August 10, 2015

My Summer Maternity Must-Haves (and New Favorite Dress!)

You've missed my outfit posts, right??? I knew you had. =)

I've always been a bit of a shopaholic (understatement? perhaps) but my shopping tendencies have dropped waaay off during pregnancy because dressing a pregnant body is quite different than dressing a non-pregnant body (shock!)... during the first trimester I didn't feel like buying anything because I felt horrible all the time and by the time that passed I was slowly outgrowing stuff and while maternity clothes were HUGE, buying a size up in regular clothes wasn't working either so the majority of the time I would just put things back on the rack with a sigh and wait for my belly to grow enough that I could reasonably wear maternity clothes. (What a life!) I never understood people who said, "Just go up a size!" because for most things that just doesn't work... especially in tops, the fit will be off in the arms, chest, shoulders, etc. and just look awful. And when you're not quite showing or barely showing, the last thing you want is a big billowy top with no definition making you feel even bigger.

Now that I'm quite large (although larger days are coming soon...ha!) and wearing mostly maternity clothes, it's been life-saving to have found some pieces that work for me, make me feel reasonably good about myself, and don't take a ton of effort to put on. I've never been an outfit repeater but that's gone out the window for SURE in the past few months. My maternity wardrobe isn't huge but I like it and it's all comfortable... what more could I want?

When I was in Georgia, I tried on this dress and (stupidly) passed it up even though it was on sale for $12. Then I searched for it at the Old Navy stores here and couldn't find it in my size anywhere, so I began waiting for a sale online even though paying for shipping absolutely pains me. Finally it was marked down a couple weeks ago and I anticipated its arrival... and it did not disappoint. I thought that this shape would make me look bigger (and it did when I first tried it on, but now my stomach is so big that it hangs better if that makes sense. (Minus the bump I would probably belt it and will in the future.)

Anyway, it's SO comfortable, the fabric feels so good, I love the color, it will work for pretty much every season, and any time I can wear something that feels like pajamas I call that a win. (When it's marked down again I'll be very tempted to buy it in another color.) Oh, and I ordered it in a tall size for the extra length.


It's not quite as bright as it is in this picture... more of a violet-y than cobalt. And in hindsight it occurred to me that the color kind of invited whale-type jokes but I didn't even care.  (Although, a pregnant friend and I were just discussing that for some reason people find pregnancy a license to comment on someone's weight/size when they wouldn't dream of doing so otherwise. Very strange.)


There's no zit on my chin... just weird lighting in this picture. 


If I had to make a list of must-haves for my pregnancy style (at least in this heat!) it would be these (ideally I'd be wearing them all at once, but I'm not very forward-thinking and did not plan such an ideal outfit. Oops!)

-tshirt dress: Something like this one is perfect but my more fitted ones have been nice too. Sometimes the idea of putting on a whole outfit, even if it's just shorts and a shirt, seems exhausting and being able to throw on one piece and go is marvelous. (You know your life is too easy when you're exhausted by the idea of putting on two pieces of clothing instead of one. Ha!)

Options: Old NavyTargetJ.Crew Factory (on major clearance!)

-maternity shorts: a partial band that just goes under the belly is SO much more comfortable than a full panel! Plus- real talk- sometimes you just don't want your legs touching, right??

Options: Walmart (a great deal!), Gap (mine are rolled down =), Old Navy

-cute sneakers: I have 3-4 pairs that have been in heavy rotation- my feet aren't swollen yet but dealing with sandal straps is uncomfortable because it requires bending and my bending days are over. Ha! Slip-on sneakers are much easier for me and give more support.

Options: Target (love the polka dots!), Target (such a versatile print), and Sperrys- I linked to Belk but you can buy them several places. I know they're expensive but one style or another is always on clearance and they last such a long time that it's worth it to pay a little more.

-light cardigan: It seems counter-intuitive to mention a cardigan along with the summer heat BUT every restaurant and store in this state cranks their AC up- or is it down?- to subzero temperatures and while a denim or utility jacket is little too heavy, having a light layer like a thin sweater really helps keep me from freezing. Last summer I bought a cardigan from Ann Taylor in a bright greenish-chartreuse color and I've worn it so much I just bought a similar one for when the first wears out. The color is summery and tends to go with almost everything, but something in a neutral would be great to have for any season.

Options: J.Crew FactoryTargetOld Navy

-simple jewelry: If I leave the house, I'm wearing my watch and probably a necklace. Even just the watch makes me feel more put together, but a simple necklace helps a lot too. I've got quite the collection of statement necklaces and I still love them, but for running to Target (or wherever) most of the time I'm more comfortable with one of my 4-5 gold pendant type necklaces. I have a couple of different "A" necklaces, a little feather pendant, and my gold bar necklace with my name engraved. I also bought a little jeweled pendant from Loft a few months ago and it has just enough color (two little splashes of orange and neon green/yellow) to add a little brightness to something simple like a gray dress or tshirt. None of these are heavy or hot to wear but they make me look like I put in a little effort, you know?

Options: there are so many that I couldn't narrow it down, but Forever 21 and Charming Charlie always have a million little necklaces like this, and GroopDealz has lots of customizable pieces available every other week or so.

-stretchy pencil skirts: These were awesome even pre-pregnancy... I love something as stretchy and comfortable as shorts but that looks a lot nicer (and can be dressed up or down... I don't think you can really dress shorts up). All of mine (and I have at least four) are from Old Navy. I usually size up because the stretch also means they are quite, ahem, form-fitting. But I love the look and polish of a pencil skirt without the stiffness. Best of both worlds!

Options: Old Navy- all you need!

I haven't bought very many maternity shirts and have gotten by with mostly my non-maternity stuff... the only problem is usually the length. Especially at this point, I need stuff to be long enough in the front and much of it is not, but fortunately I've always preferred long tops so many of mine work. My Merona tank tops have really come in handy since they don't need anything underneath and lay nice and smooth. And I rely on my ever-growing collection of hats (baseball hats, mostly)... I know not everyone likes hats (and I don't know how well I pull them off myself) but they're really helpful when the humidity has destroyed my hair. (I just found one at Old Navy the other day for 68 cents- WOW!)



Shorts, tshirt dress, hat, stretchy skirt/tank top... no tennis shoes or cardigans but they're useful, I promise! The white dress isn't really any of these things I just like it. =) Also, I'm fully aware that my hair is out of control- a cut is coming soon! (Nothing drastic... calm down, Gigi.) 

So, if you're pregnant maybe you'll get a little help from some of these ideas... Although honestly all of these were favorites of mine before pregnancy too! And even though August ushers in the roaring of "I want fall!" across the internet, let's be honest- lots of us are still looking at a good two months of warm (or in my case, blazing) temperatures so it's still tanks and short sleeves for a while. (Boo!) 

I've shared my tips for dressing pregnant- now if you can teach me how to magically fall asleep and STAY asleep all night I will love you forever. 


Ash


Linked up with Lindsey!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

30 Weeks

Last week's appointment was the very first one that didn't end with the doctor saying that everything was great/wonderful/perfectly fine, and I realize how extremely fortunate that makes me, but it was still stressful to hear that my amniotic fluid was low. (The fact that I brought this on by not drinking enough water has brought me much shame and guilt, I promise.) SO, that was supposed to be remedied by drinking a ton of water this week, which I dutifully have (accompanied, obviously, by about ten million trips to the bathroom.)

I've been a very good girl and not had any soda at all outside a few sips from Jonathan's drinks- my only respite from water has been the occasional Powerade (which the doctor okayed.) That doesn't sound like a huge deal but I knew it would take something as drastic as having a child to get me off soda for more than a day or two. Oh, and it turns out that my preference for salty snacks over sweet has only ever been because of my soda drinking, because after about a day of water only I was craving all the sweets in the world! (Good thing I had already taken and passed my glucose test.)


After last week's appointment- 29 weeks.


I've already mentioned that I'm a terrible, incurable worrier (it's my besetting sin!) so given an actual problem to worry about, not just my usual hypothetical problems, made for a stressful week. I hate being this way but we all have our vices, I guess. The good news is that even though I was inwardly freaking out at any given moment, we did get quite a few things accomplished and purchased for the nursery! This included buying our crib and getting it set up, clearing out a ton of stuff in the nursery to be thrown away or stored elsewhere, AND having a friend at church find us a beautiful armchair-type glider and ottoman FOR FREE! Ah! The similar chair I looked at at Target was $300 (without the ottoman- nearly $400 with) so this was a huge steal. Even paying to rent a professional steamer will be practically nothing in comparison. Plus the chair so pretty- and pink! Yay!

And... praise the Lord... at my appointment today everything looked great! My fluid was way up (turns out when you drink your weight in water every day it makes a difference!) and the baby is fine. Also, last week she was turned in the ultrasound so we couldn't see her face but today she was facing the right way and we got a great look! She's so pretty! (I know, it's a blurry, watery image but she's beautiful. New mom bragging rights.) So, once again, all my worrying was for naught and maybe one day I'll learn how NOT to live from one nervous breakdown to the next. (Slight, but only slight, exaggeration. =)


Right before the appointment and "looking queasy" according to my sweet husband. He was right! Ha!


How far along: 30 weeks today!
How big is baby: 3.1 pounds and around 17 inches- she's tall and skinny like her daddy! =) 
Weight gain: eh, I'm feeling it a little more these days, mostly in my legs, but overall it hasn't been too much so I'm counting my blessings while also reminding myself that I still have two months to go. I'm thinking the soda ban will help in this area. But my ultrasound tech/best friend said I look "really good" so there's that. 
Sleeping: Pretty much, if I don't wake up 2-3 times to go to the bathroom (tmi?) then I'll sleep until about 6, go to the bathroom (ugh... sorry) and then maybe sleep for another hour and a half if I'm lucky. (More like if Jonathan's lucky since I tend to wake him up earlier than he prefers with my restlessness. Poor guy.) 

Food cravings: holy cow, all things sweet this week! Cookies, ice cream, shaved ice... have I mentioned I think I'm gaining weight? Ha! 
Food aversions: salad... a shame, right? I have been eating vegetables, don't worry... just not salad because ew.
Symptoms: I guess this isn't a symptom but any bending down at all requires quite a bit of creative maneuvering on my part. My charger fell behind the dresser the other day and I thought I might have to wait until Jonathan came home to get it back. 
Miss Anything?:  Sleeping through the night, which seems like a distant memory now. 
Doctor’s appointment: Wonderful! I'm so relieved that everything looks good and Alice is growing right on schedule.
Clothes: I just ordered a maxi skirt that I've been wanting for a while (reviews say it runs big and it has an elastic waist so my hopes are high) and this swing dress that's all over the internet right now... I got a tall for the extra length so we'll see! Old Navy had a great sale the other day so I got them both for a steal.
Movement: more than ever! I've recently started playing music (including this playlist) onto my belly through my headphones and she loves it! Lots of kicks and rolls and general merriment goes on in there- Jonathan insists she's dancing. =) 
Best moment of the week: Getting that awesome chair for free, buying our crib, and most importantly PASSING MY GLUCOSE TEST. Oh, and seeing Alice on the ultrasound today... it was the  first clear picture I've gotten of her face and it was so awesome. 
What I’m looking forward to: getting the nursery cleared out to the point that we can actually decorate AND my Texas baby shower which is next week!
What I did / Got for baby: bought the crib, set up the crib (well, Jonathan did), cleaned out the nursery, did a couple "crafty" things for the nursery. 
Prayer requests: As always, health and safety for the baby and for me... hopefully my fluid stays up and I don't get dried out again in this heat! Temps are going to be over 100 all through next week (yay!) so if you need me I'll probably be in the bathroom. (If only that were a joke.) 

Thanks for praying and for following along on this crazy adventure with us... only ten more weeks to go! Crazy!!


Ash


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bulletin Board Ideas!!

This time last year, I was seriously depressed about not going back to school as a teacher. I had always figured that if I weren't teaching, it would be because I had a baby, and obviously that wasn't the case, so it was a huge bummer and I was very gloomy for most of August, September, and October.

This year, things are quite different (obviously!) and while I'm thrilled about Alice and eagerly anticipating her arrival, it's still pretty sad to me to walk past all the "back to school" displays, cute classroom decor, and school supplies. (School supplies have been my kryptonite since I was about six. Weird kid.)

 Anyway, while I'm very content with not teaching and staying home with my baby, there are aspects of it that I miss terribly and the number one thing I'm dying to do is bulletin boards (or decorating a classroom in general.) I get how planning, lesson prep, and collating tests and quizzes (shudder!) can be less than thrilling, but decorating my room was always the best part of the job for me. I took a lot of pride in making my room look good and even though I'm not at all a crafty or artistic person, I found the hours of cutting out letters, arranging things with sticky tack, and deciding on just the right border to be oddly soothing. (Weird kid, weird adult.)


Me in my classroom =)

I shouldn't romanticize it all too much; sometimes I forget what it was like to deal with four English classes worth of books...




Strangely enough, many (or most) of my teacher friends don't share my love for bulletin boards. SO even though I'm too far away to take over decorating for my little sister (it's her first year! ah!) or my Aunt Peggy (the best of the best!), I thought if any of you needed a little inspiration for the coming year, I'd put all my past bulletin board posts in one post (this one.) Obviously, some of these are seasonal and won't really apply to the beginning of the year, but you might find something useful!

1. Fall Classroom I

2. Fall Classroom II

Fall Captions:

"Carve Out a Smile" (with a jack o'lantern.)

"Punctuation Patch" (punctuation rules on pumpkins)

"Catch the Gratitude Attitude"

"Fall in Love With Jesus"

"Our Class Is a Real Scream!"

Psalm 56:3 "What time I am afraid..."

"We're Nuts about Learning!" (I also did this by taking pictures of the kids making crazy faces and sticking them on big acorns.)

"My Students Are Such a Treat!" (Apply as much or as little sarcasm as you want there. =) I did this on a big poster board cutout of candy corn.)

"Kindness Leaves Others Encouraged." (With leaves... obviously. This is my most pinned fall board!)

"Persistence" (with definition and Charlie Brown- ah! My all-time favorite.)


3. Dr. Seuss Classroom (this was for Dr. Seuss's birthday in March but I also did a Dr. Seuss theme at the beginning of the year when I taught third grade. Tragically, those pictures are nowhere to be found!) I highly recommend buying a set of Dr. Seuss letters- I used them for this theme of course, but also for Christmas and Valentines. Very handy!

Dr. Seuss Captions:

"Think Left and Think Right! Think Low and Think High! Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!"

"Hats Off to Great Students!" (Names on Cat in the Hat hats)

"Things to Remember" (I did this with Dr. Seuss quotes, as you can see, but I also did "Things to Capitalize" in third grade and surrounded it with capitalization rules. You could apply that to just about anything.)

"A Person's a Person No Matter How Small." (I also added "Jesus loves us, one and all." for one of the boards.)

"Hats Off to Great Work!"

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, Oh! the place you'll go."


4. Christmas/Winter Classroom I

5. Christmas/Winter Classroom II

Christmas/Winter Captions (notice there are no "Frozen" references here- that was after my time and I feel like I kinda dodged a bullet! Ha!)

"Rudolph in the Dark" (always a favorite- red dot on a dark background)

"Frosty's Baby Picture" (just a tiny snowflake)

"Don't Be a Cotton-Headed Ninny-Muggins" (from Elf- using the face of someone the kids know is a big hit! =)

"What a Cool Class!" (Anything with the word "cool" and snowflakes works.)

"Sweet Students" (with Christmas candy/candy canes)

"Welcome Christmas as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand." (I did this by having the students trace their hands and using the shapes to form a tree one year and a wreath the other. Cute!)

"Chill Out! This is a drama-free classroom." (I loved that!)

"It's a Winter Wonderland!"

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but English class (or whatever class) is so delightful!"

"Read, read as much as you can!" (with gingerbread men)

"Why fit in when you were born to stand out?" (with Rudolph, Herbie the Elf, and the Jack-in-the-Box from the Island of Misfit Toys... this was my favorite last year.)

"Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." (Grinch board)


6. Social Media Classroom

Social Media Captions:

"Before you (Facebook, text, tweet, call, Instagram, etc.), THINK- is it true? is it helpful? is it inspiring? is it necessary? is it kind?"

"Are you using the right filter?" (with Instagram logo- ideally this would also have Philippians 4:8 with it.)

"Trending Topics at (School Name/Grade)" (with little birds- I loved this and you can have a lot of fun with the hashtags!)

"There is no autocorrect in life- do things right the first time!"

"Learn it now > Google it later."

"The best way to have a friend (in Facebook font) is to be one."

7. Spring Classroom I

8. Spring Classroom II

Spring Captions (bugs, baseball, picnics, Easter, etc.)

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard..." (with a picnic blanket background)

"Home-Run Students" (I did a "roster" for each grade.)

"Don't bug me; I'm reading!"

"Writing to be 'hoppy' about!" (with frogs)

"Jump for Joy! ____ Days until Summer!" (also frogs)

"Bee Yourself!" (my nod to Aladdin =)

"Sowing Seeds of Springtime" (gardening)

"Blooming into ____ Graders" (each student's name was on a flower stuck inside a little paper flowerpot.)

"We've Got the Writing Bug!"

"You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart!" (student's date of salvation/testimony on hearts or just hung around the words.)

"Our future's so bright, we have to wear shades!" (I bought some neon sunglasses at the dollar section in Target, had each student pose for a picture in them, and attached them all to bright paper. I loved this.)

There you have it! Notice I don't have a lot of "themes" (western, jungle, etc.) but I just found it was easier to go by seasons or holidays sometimes. If you are doing a theme and need ideas, though, let me know, because I love coming up with ideas! (Again, some people probably think it's weird that it's my idea of good time. Fine by me. =)





Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hello, Third Trimester! (28-Week Update)

You guys, I cannot believe my third trimester begins today. I mean, I've never been good at math but I can count, and I still am in shock that these weeks have actually passed and here we are. I know we still have a while to go (thank goodness- so much to do!) but it's the home stretch now. In just a few months Alice will be here and my humdrum life will suddenly be far more interesting. 

As she grows, I feel myself getting anxious about actually meeting her. I can't wait to see what she'll look like, who she'll look like, if her hair will be dark like Jonathan's or her eyes will be green like mine. Ah! Even though there are a million things to do before she comes, I am constantly daydreaming about what it will be like when she's here... it does make the never-ending process of figuring out baby stuff a little more enjoyable. (Although buying her clothes is no chore, that's for sure. =) 

It's been a busy couple weeks since I got back from Georgia- in particular, our church had Vacation Bible School last week. It was awesome but exhausting- true of VBS even before I was pregnant but especially this year. (The 90+ temperatures and a finicky AC in the car added to that, I'm sure.) But we did have a wonderful week and spent the last few days recovering. =)



Best children's pastor ever!


Alice's first VBS =)


So, on to the update! 





I wore this dress on Sunday (it was my FAVORITE maternity dress of April's and when she gave it to me on my trip home I nearly died of gratitude- really! I love it that much) and I don't know if it was me or the dress or both but I got a ton of "Wow, you're really looking pregnant!" comments. Ha!



How far along: 28 weeks today!
How big is baby: 15 inches (woah- but I can definitely feel her stretched out!) and around 3 pounds. We'll have a better idea after our next appointment!
Weight gain: I put on some shorts that I last wore about two months ago and they were... quite a bit more snug than before. Ha! But overall I feel okay; obviously some days more than others. =)
Sleeping: It's getting better- mostly because I bought a body pillow last week and it's pretty much the best ten bucks I ever spent at Target. It's not a "maternity" one but it just really helps cushion my stomach when I lie on my side. I have always slept on my stomach so turning over even a little has made it harder to fall asleep but this helps tremendously. Yay!

Food cravings: Dill Pickle Lay's (I know, they sound so nasty but they're SO GOOD) and ice cream- specifically Oreo concrete (similar to a Blizzard) from Freddy's, a restaurant/ice cream (technically custard) place right around the corner from us. They also have theeee best fries and fry sauce... okay, maybe those are a craving too. (For my NC people- I'd say the menu is pretty similar to Andy's.)
Food aversions: nothing really- dangerous, right??
Symptoms: lots of sharp little pains where Miss Priss is apparently tossing elbows into my spleen or something. (I know that's not how it works, okay? I just picture her boxing out like a basketball player in there... maybe she'll be a defense star like Daddy. =)
Miss Anything?:  This is totally shallow but I did see the cutest dress the other day and it made me sad that I can't wear anything with a normal waistline. Other than that, not really!
Doctor’s appointment: Our next appointment is still a week away since my doctor is out of town this week. I'm really looking forward to it because we'll have another ultrasound and get to see our girl!
Clothes: okay, let me take a second and share my good fortune with you... I mentioned last time that I had finally found a pair of maternity shorts but like I said, last week it was HOT and this week (and all of July and August, apparently) will be no better. SO, I knew one pair of shorts that actually fit was not going to cut it. Our local Baby Gap has a great maternity section (and great clearance!) so we popped in on Saturday, and (cue heavenly music and sunbeams) I found another pair of maternity shorts marked down to SEVEN DOLLARS. What?? I changed into them as soon as I got home and let me tell you- I am still over the moon about it. Maybe I care too much about clothes but when it's pushing 100 degrees outside, it's a major win to be able to wear something that's actually comfortable and FITS. God bless Gap!



Best day ever!

Movement: well, I mentioned the elbow jabs, didn't I? =) Really, she moves a lot- it's so weird to watch my stomach bounce around when she's really active. Of  course I love it though! 
Best moment of the week: Is it crazy to say finding those shorts?? Oh, and buying my new pillow too. =)
What I’m looking forward to: Well, I got some money in the mail from consignment clothes I dropped off months ago, so I'll be using that to buy a few things I've been eyeing for the nursery. Item number one will definitely be this print... isn't it so pretty! (That's a quote from Alice in Wonderland, in case you were wondering.)
What I did / Got for baby: we found a few little clearance items this weekend (clothes- guilty!) and a couple of decorative things for the nursery.
Prayer requests: As always, health and safety for the baby and for me. And, this is kind of a long shot but it doesn't hurt to pray- we're really hoping and praying that Jonathan can be transferred to branch of his bank closer to our house (specifically, the one that's less than a mile away.) That would be AMAZING for a lot of reasons, the least of which is not that we'd have so much more time together, which would of course be really nice when the baby comes.

There you go! Between the nursery, books to read, and a million other things, these next few weeks will probably go by super fast! But I'm thankful to be healthy and, as I've said before, having a fairly boring pregnancy which is totally fine by me! Some days I do feel pretty rough, but I guess I don't look quite as haggard as I feel since a lady at the pool today told me, "You'll be a very young mom!" and when I told her I was probably not as young as she thought (26), she gasped in her beautiful Spanish accent, "What!! You look so young! You're just a chicky baby!" (Maybe that's her way of saying baby chick??) Ha! I'm glad to know I haven't lost my youth entirely. ;)'


Ash