Monday, August 31, 2009

Fired Up

Before school started, every single employee of AustinISD was invited to a convocation. One of the lows of this convocation (other than the hour it took to get there in traffic) was hearing the superintendent congratulate Austin ISD on its achievement and then hear her "hit home" with statistics about the failures of Austin schools. I would have much rather had this kid.

Seriously, it is very difficult to honestly answer this question for all of our students. The challenge of believing in every single one of our kids is large. The challenge of believing in every single colleague is perhaps even larger. Really, have you heard a ten-year-old recently with words more powerful than his?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Riding in Style

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Shop til she drops?

Robin and I have been pretty careful not to make Lydia into a girly girl. I am pretty girly myself, but we're holding off on the super, super girly stuff. Regardless, there are certain things I enjoy that I hope my little girl will share an appreciation for: coffee shops, maybe yoga, and of course, the little boutique.

I have been dreaming of a bracelet at Solid Gold since I saw it there about two weeks ago. Solid Gold is a small boutique on the east side of Austin. The owner, Katie Friedman, is really nice, and she does a great job of finding small designers and really cute clothes and accessories. A lot of the clothing is made with sustainable materials and it's all created using ethical labor practices--pretty impressive. I also like that the prices range from affordable to splurge-worthy. It's a great, great shop.

I am getting a bit of supplemental pay for the two days of meetings I was asked to attend before our contracted year started. Upon completion of my first week of school, I decided I deserved a gift, especially considering the little extra chunk of cash that will be coming with my paycheck on Monday, so I went back for the bracelet. I had promised Robin a day in which I would take care of Lydia so that he could get some work done, so I decided it was time for a milestone. Forget those consonants and recognizing her name. It was time for Lydia's first boutique experience.

Unfortunately, Katie wasn't there, but the woman working gushed and gushed over Lydia, who was sporting a very cute dress given to her by her Auntie Brittany, and Lydia hung out while I tried on the bracelet. She even started crying when we left. I think she might be a boutique girl, just like her mama.

-- Post From My iPhone

Just Chillin

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, August 28, 2009

Congratulations, Rhanda and Mark!

My cousin Rhanda married a lovely man named Mark today in one of the most romantic weddings ever. Their ceremony was in the courtyard of the church Rhanda grew up attending, and the reception was in our grandparents' backyard. The distance and my work schedule kept us from making it, but according to the bride and groom, whom I talked to on the phone, everything went perfectly. When we met Mark last summer, we all felt that he was a keeper and hoped Rhanda would agree. Welcome to the family, Mark!! Congratulations to the two of you!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"You May Notice This Week..."

I really like the book Your Baby's First Year: WEek By Week. I read it while I was pregnant, and now I try to read Lydia's current week and the upcoming week every Thursday. I like the book because it seems to address questions as we have them, and it also gives suggestions for playing with your baby. (Sometimes it's not so easy trying to figure out what to do. One can only hand her a rattle for so long.)

Every week has a Developmental Milestone section. It lists physical, social, and developmental milestones that the baby should be hitting. I try to take these timelines with a grain of salt. Lydia is always ahead on physical milestones; she's a bruiser. She usually is right on track with the social milestones. This generally makes me feel good.

This week, it said, "Baby should be uttering several consonant sounds." Lydia utters no consonant sounds. Next week, she should be able to turn when her name is called. Robin is convinced she does this already, but I think she would turn if I said "Telephone" in the same tone that I usually say "Lydia."

I know that I shouldn't have any anxiety about this. As Robin and I have discussed, comparing babies to other babies does not help anyone and really, one week is not a big deal. We're doing everything we're supposed to be doing. We are constantly reading to Lydia, talking to her, even making fools of ourselves emphasizing consonant sounds. (Buh-buh-buh-buh-baaaaaay-beeeee!!! Muh-muh-muh-muh-mooooo-mmmmmyyyyy!!!) She'll get there, I'm sure. In the meantime, I am trying to ignore the paranoia in my head.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back to School--and Daycare: Day One

The students arrived yesterday which meant Lydia's first day at daycare. Robin and I both went to drop her off. I had met her teachers, Ms. Vicki and Ms. Denise, at Orientation on Friday and had warned them that I might be a wreck come Monday morning.

We brought Lydia in and gave her teachers three bottles and some peas, and I turned into a crying mess when I went to put Lydia on the mat to play next to one of the other babies. (Robin was steady as a rock, of course.) Lydia immediately became very interested in the box of rattles in front of her, and we said goodbye and left quickly before I turned into a heap on the floor.

All in all, Lydia did really well. Her teacher said she cried in the morning when she heard another baby cry, but other than that, she was a happy girl. She didn't nap very well there, which isn't a surprise, as she usually naps in her quiet nursery. I'm sure getting used to the sounds of other babies will take a little bit of time. This was a little frustrating because it messed with her sleep Monday night, but I am hopeful that she will work things out with a bit of practice. Lydia spent today with Robin, and they did wonderfully together. I am already counting the days until the weekend so that I can spend an entire day with her.

On the work front, school has gotten off to a really good start. My mindset this year is completely different. I am working to stay as organized and efficient as possible, since by the time the bell rings at 4:20 (yes, 4:20--our kids don't start until 9 in the morning), I am ready to get home to see Robin and Lydia. Between getting to school a little later than last year and leaving 30-45 minutes earlier, I am having to work really hard to get everything I need to done during my prep time on top of taking time out to pump. Most of my students seem to be alright, and I think we have gotten off to a good start.

I think we're all going to survive.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hanging with Grandma

Here are some photos from Lydia's time with my mom. Lydia is lucky to have grandmothers who looooove spending time with her!

Like Mother, Like Daughter

For those that don't know, I started playing piano when I was five and continued taking lessons through tenth grade. When my mom wanted to buy Lydia some toys, a piano came first on the list. Here she is, tickling the ivories--or the primary colored plastics.

Thursdays with Lydia - Week 22

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Good Knight

On a date at a great Austin restaurant--quite the find!

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Making it a Priority

Since last Thursday, I have been doing teacher inservice, professional development, and planning for this upcoming year. Lanier is undergoing some major changes this year as we move into four "houses" (smaller teams of teachers that plan together and teach the same students). Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday have been filled with back-to-back meetings, lectures, professional development sessions, and even a "webinar." (A seminar on the internet. Super exciting.) My mom is here taking care of Lydia during the day so that Robin can continue working until Lydia starts daycare on Monday.

These work days have been really difficult for several reasons. House planning involved discussing, negotiating, what have you with nearly 20 teachers. Some are talkers, some want discussions to last 2 minutes. My role as house leader hasn't been very clear, so it was hard for me to figure out how to facilitate things. The professional development was not received well, so even though there were elements of it that I agreed with, it was all-in-all a negative experience. On Tuesday, I along with four other teachers spent 2 hours in the car in stop-and-go traffic to attend a convocation. And today I had to watch a power point while listening to presenters talk via the internet. All of this has involved sitting in student desks or on bleachers with the exception of one hour spent in an office chair. I physically hurt, and my mind is fried. This is all compounded by the fact that I had to move classrooms this year and have been given exactly 1 hour in my classroom to unpack, set up, and get organized and that only happened because a session finished early. In past years, I've gone in during the days leading up to our work days and meetings, but this year I took Lydia so that Robin could work.

While I am happy to report that pumping is going well, and I have only had to use about 10 ozs. of my freezer stash to get Lydia going on the first day I was gone, it has been very difficult to work out pumping amidst the three-hour long meetings. We are generally only given 5-10 minute breaks which hardly gives me time to set up and pump, and forget about frivolous things like using the restroom and getting a drink of water. This problem is made worse by the fact that we set punctuality as a team norm in my house, so when I show up late for a session or step out for 10-15 minutes, I feel uncomfortable, especially as house leader that went off on my team about holding each other accountable. It all becomes more tricky when things run late or, at the end of a meeting, people want to talk for "a few minutes," which inevitably turns into 20 or 30, and I need to pump and get home to spend a few hours with Lydia before she goes to bed. I'm just really tired.

Let me say that the community of teachers at Lanier, especially in my English department, have been incredibly supportive and interested in Lydia. Co-workers constantly ask how she is doing and patiently look as I show picture after picture. I'm sure they have no idea how good this interest makes me feel and how much easier it has made it for me to come back to work. (Lanier teachers and staff who may be reading: Thank you!) All of this interest and support still hasn't been able to calm my fears about combining teaching and motherhood. Last night, I had a dream that I had become a "bad teacher" because I had to leave school at 4:30. Co-workers were talking about me, and my classroom was a disaster. (I'm sure the dreams that I have had prior to every other school year where I get so angry I start crying and my students all laugh at me will hit later this week.) On Monday, when a teacher said, "I'm so glad to hear you're still nursing. Make that a priority," I almost started crying, because I'm really not sure how I will prioritize time between working at a very demanding school and being a good, attentive, present mother.

Let's just say it's been a hard week.

Here's My Excuse

Between day-long meetings and spending time with my mom while she is here, the blog has fallen by the wayside. I will update it soon!

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Last night I came in and mentioned to Robin that it felt warmer than usual in our house. Sure enough, the temperature continued to climb into the late evening and then dropped back down to 78--still 5 degrees warmer than the where we had set the thermostat. Today as the heat hit triple digits yet again (101 degrees), our AC has stopped working. It got as warm as 86 in our house and now is dropping again. We are calling the HVAC people tomorrow.

For those that don't know, I am not a huge fan of heat. (Yes, I live in Texas, and I should have gotten over this, but I haven't.) This has put me in an insanely bad mood, so I will save blogs and pictures for life post-AC repair. We have some great photos of Lydia playing with her first piano (purchased by my mom on our Babies 'r' Us shopping spree) and other stories, but for now, I'm going to go sweat it out in the living room.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Props to Grandparents--and Milking Mechanics

We have been really fortunate to have had Robin's parents visit last weekend and my mom here for the next week. It is so much fun for Robin and me to watch them with Lydia, and it is a welcome relief from constant baby care.

Today and tomorrow, I am at school working with the members of my house at school, the community within a community that we are implementing this year as part of the restructuring we must do for No Child Left Behind. (Yes, we are a low-performing school and are required to do this. I could go on and on, but I won't right now.) On top of the general anxiety and melancholy that accompanies going back to work and starting daycare with Lydia the week after next, I am "house leader," and I wasn't sure exactly what that would entail or how our first house meeting of the year would go.

Today went better than I expected for several reasons. 1.) We made some good headway in our house with meeting norms, expectations, and classroom procedures while avoiding unproductive conflict. 2.) Lydia and my mom had a great day together, which I will talk about in a bit, 3.) I was able to pump enough milk so that we won't have to dip into my frozen store for tomorrow, and 4.) Mom took me shopping, which is fun, even when you're way closer to thirty than fifteen.

For those that have never nursed a baby while working (or nursed a baby at all), preparing enough milk for the day can be a huge source of stress. I had been perhaps unfairly harsh on my mom for the last time she took care of Lydia when the baby blew through twice as much milk as I was able to pump. Since then, I have been dreading going back to work and trying to keep nursing. For many women, the pump isn't as effective as a baby, so the milk that can be expressed (that word makes my skin crawl) and stored in bottles doesn't match what the baby actually takes in. For lots of moms, this isn't the case, but for me, it seems to be it. I would sit and try to focus on what I was doing and think of Lydia and even look at pictures of her to try to get my milk to let down, but sometimes I would only get two or three ounces, sometimes even less.

Like the fabulous parenting partner he is, Robin did some research and rigged me up with the perfect solution. When I pump, I use my phone and watch the video below. I pumped everything I needed to for Lydia tomorrow, AND my mom rose to the occasion and followed the feeding (and napping) schedule we left her to a tee. Lydia's sleeping is a little thrown off with the change, but all in all, she ate exactly as we'd hoped today (and I was able to replace what she ate), and she went to bed at her usual time. Mom did a great job, Robin's video was the perfect solution, and I think I did a pretty good job, too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


--Diapers: We have settled on Whole Foods' brand, 365. We tried Earth's Best, but Lydia developed a bit of diaper rash when we switched, so we moved on to 365. So far, so good!

--Nighttime: With the fantastic support and encouragement of my friends on the internets as well as on the advice of my doula (doulas are for life, I'm telling you!), I have given up the 2 AM pumping session. I can already tell a difference in my energy level! I'm still managing to put a bit of milk in the freezer each week, so I'm hoping that between pumping before bed and at work, I'll be able to keep up with Lydia's demand. If not, we'll consider our options then. Lydia has still been sleeping 8-10 hrs. consistently with the occasional 11 or 12 hr. stretch thrown in, so she goes to bed around 7:30 and usually wakes up between 4:30 and 5:15. I have been nursing her then and putting her back in her crib. She almost always goes back to sleep right away and sleeps until 7 or 7:30. We're going to gradually move this up to 6:30 during the next week, because she will need to get up then to make it to daycare by 8 so I can get to work by 8:15.

--Rolling: Lydia rolls over ALL THE TIME now! We had one rough night when she kept rolling onto her tummy, waking up, freaking out, and getting too worked up to go to sleep. She figured everything out over the course of a couple of hours and now
promptly rolls over and goes to sleep nearly every time I put her in the crib.

--Solids: We have introduced rice cereal, sweet potatoes, and peas with great success. Lydia is a huge fan! Last night, we learned that she actually does have preferences when we tried to give her avocados. She kept grimacing, turning her head, and actually gagging. We're going to try again later this week, but apparently there will be no guacamole for Lydia for now!

Finally, here is a video of Lydia loving the jumperoo lent to us by Jessica, Aaron, and Aidan. Until yesterday, she would pretty much just hang out in the jumperoo and play with the toys on it, but yesterday I put her in it while I took a shower (hence the strange hallway location of the video), and she started jumping away. I especially love the way she goes nuts at the end!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Courtesy of the Taxpayers of Austin

Robin, Lydia, and I spent a great afternoon at our local branch of the Austin Public Library and at a neighborhood pool. I am absolutely in love with our library. They have a great selection of children's books, and today we discovered their rack of CDs. We have acquired a great collection of Baby Einstein but have been looking to find some more. We picked up several Rockabye Baby CDs, including lullaby versions of Coldplay, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys. Lydia seems to particularly enjoy the Coldplay CD; she must be alternative.

Yesterday when we took Lydia to the playground, we passed a neighborhood pool. We had seen it before, but hadn't realized that it was both public and free. We really love Deep Eddy, but because babies can't wear sunscreen until they are six months, her time in the pool has to be limited, and when we go to Deep Eddy, we usually spend more time getting ready and traveling there and back than we do swimming. The pool by our house was small and filled with families. The water wasn't as wonderful and refreshing as Deep Eddy, and unlike Deep Eddy, it's chlorinated (Deep Eddy is a concrete pool that is spring-fed), but it is a great evening option! It is so much fun to have things to "do" with Lydia!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thursdays with Lydia - Week 21

Lydia Goes to the Playground

Today we took Lydia to the playground. I had been wondering for awhile if she was ready for swings. She seemed to enjoy swinging, especially when her arms were over the front of the swing. She did not seem quite as enthused with the slide, but watching Robin try to get through the slide entrance with her was well worth it for me.

The Green Monster

This is what happens when Lydia eats peas. I have a video I will post soon, but here is a preview. The girl loves her produce!


Robin's parents were here for the weekend, so I put blogging on hold to spend time with them! Robin and Dale are working together on a project, and Marie, Lydia, and I enjoyed hanging out, going for a swim (including Lydia's first touch of color--she may have gotten too much sun-- oops!), and we all went out to dinner on Thursday (to Sago, a great Tex-Mex place close by to our house) and on Saturday (to Moonshine, a super yummy Southern-style restaurant downtown). They also babysat Lydia while Robin and I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Part Two in our Three-Part Anniversary Extravaganza. We don't get to spend nearly enough time with our families, so the visit was really nice. My mom will come on Wednesday to care for Lydia while I do teacher inservice, so I am really looking forward to that also.

Here's Lydia, hanging out during our visit, in the new dress sent to her by Auntie Brittany!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


It has just hit me that I will be going back to work in one week. I am so glad that Lydia will be with Robin two days a week; it makes it a lot easier. Still, it is hard to think of all that I will miss. Today Lydia rolled from her back to her tummy for the first time. She started crying during her nap, and when I went to check on her, there she was on her tummy. She got so excited when I walked in and saw her! If this had happened one week later, I wouldn't have been there to see it happen for the first time. The odds that I will miss her crawling, her first steps... it is really hard to think about. I am terrified that the people at her daycare won't be as patient or gentle with her as Robin and I try to be, or that she won't be as happy. On most days, I love my job, and I know that ultimately the balance of maintaining the life I built before Lydia joined us will make me a better parent. For now, though, I am not happy about the idea of leaving her and interrupting the lovely routine I have worked so hard to create.

The other thing I am stressed about is how I will continue breastfeeding. I originally said that I wanted to go for six months, and that I would reevaluate then. Lydia turns five months next week, and so far, breastfeeding has gone really well. Some of this anxiety stems from the two weeks I went back to school in May, when Lydia blew through 75 ozs. of stored milk in one week on top of everything I was pumping during the day. (I'm sure this had NOTHING to do with one maternal Grandmother who hated the sound of Lydia crying so much that she would feed her with every whimper... looks like the Grandmother spoiling is already in full swing.) I have nearly 200 ozs. stored in the freezer right now, but I have been able to do this by pumping before I go to bed and getting up in the middle of the night. Lydia is a champion sleeper, but I am still waking up at 2 AM every night to pump. As many of you know, I am a girl who needs her sleep, and this whole nighttime interruption thing is really taking it's toll on my energy level. (My non-presence in photos has a lot to do with the fact that I look kind of ghostly, and it's not too pretty.) While I am tempted to try discontinuing this middle-of-the-night pumping session, I am nervous because I want to make sure Lydia has enough breastmilk at daycare, and I don't want my supply to go down. I am going to do some research and consult my breastfeeding gurus and see.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


They're what's for dinner.

-- Post From My iPhone

Four Years!!

Today Robin and I celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary! In four years we have:

Moved three times (and lived in four different houses!)
Traveled to the Midwest at least 11 times. (We have lost count!)
Taken an Acroyoga class.
Laughed a lot.
Welcomed an amazing baby girl.
And just generally loved being with each other. Hooray for four years!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flower Child

My good friend Anna made Lydia these headbands way back in October, and they finally fit! The band is made from women's nylons, and the flower is attached with a button. I was expecting Lydia to resist, but she had did not even seem to notice them. I think Anna needs to go into business on etsy!

Sweet Potatoes

We have decided to try making Lydia's baby food. This week we introduced sweet potatoes. Robin steamed them and pureed them in the food processor, and Lydia was a huuuuuge fan! Can you tell?

Thursdays with Lydia - Week 20

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sitting Up - Outtake

I sat Lydia up in her crib and ran for the camera (all the way downstairs and back), and she was still sitting up. Not for long, though...

If you're looking for a more triumphant sitting video, click here.

Lydia and Stanley

As I mentioned in a previous post, Stanley is Lydia's best friend. We are very lucky that he is so good with her and tolerates her picking at him. Listen carefully, and you will hear some giggles. They are the best sound ever!


I bought this drum for Lydia over a month ago, and she has finally decided she likes it. A lot. It has three settings, but she really responds to the ABCs, when the drum lights up with each letter (and says the letter) when she hits it. In the video, it is set to the Spanish alphabet, but it does English also.

We are very excited that she is into her toy, but I am a little worried that we might have a percussionist on our hands... perhaps we should have bought her a flute or clarinet.