Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Best Part of Me

I read a blog post this morning that has really gotten me thinking. The blog, www.donteatus.com, is written by a high school (and junior high) classmate, and he is doing a really great job of chronicling their family's journey, specifically as they address their son's special needs. It's definitely worth a read.

The post talks about the importance of setting a good example for our children, about our obligation to give our children the best model possible for healthy, whole living.

Years ago, I remember a discussion Robin and I had when my life was seriously out of balance. Between work and the two programs I was enrolled in at U.T., I was perpetually exhausted, irritable, and generally short-tempered. I would get home and not have the energy to give Robin even close to the amount of patience, energy, and enthusiasm that I gave my classmates, students, and colleagues. He said the most heartbreaking words to me that I've ever heard come out of his mouth: "Everybody else gets the best part of you."

This feels like possibly the most personal thing I've ever shared on this blog, but I think it's really important. I spend my day expending energy, patience, enthusiasm, and careful guidance to my students. My challenge to myself all year has been to maintain enough of myself to give the same energy, patience, enthusiasm, and guidance to Lydia when I get home. I'm not sure if I have succeeded--certainly not every day. It's really hard. I am a working mom. I will most likely always be a working mom, but this oh-so-necessary duty of giving the best part of me to my family--it takes some time to learn.

I work in a profession in which parents are often the recipient of pointed fingers. Children can't read because their parents didn't read to them. Kids miss school because their parents aren't keeping track of them. Parents don't this, parents don't that. I'm the parent now. I'm on both sides of this fence, and as the post I mentioned said, the stakes are high to fulfill my duties. As the post said, I will not be a stumbling block to my child's potential.

I think Robin and I model a lot of things well for Lydia. We take good care of our bodies, we maintain good relationships with each other and with our friends, Lydia is read to every day, all of the basics, but I am raising the bar for myself.

As a teacher, and now as a mentor for a student teacher, I talk constantly about the necessity of being hands on, of constantly giving kids feedback and interaction, of patience and understanding. I have been wondering today if I hold myself as accountable for this at home as I do at work. If anything, it has been a good reminder that Lydia and Robin deserve the very best part of me.


We have a standing Sunday evening date with our good friends the Luthers which has come to be one of the highlights of our weekends. Normally, we share dinner and a bottle of wine, but this Sunday we switched it up and met at Terra Burger in North Austin to give the kiddos a chance to be outside and play.

Aidan is exactly six months older than Lydia, and he has provided the best foreshadowing for the great things that are to come. On Sunday at Terra Burger, the little daredevil braved the slide!!! Meanwhile, Lydia showed off her less dynamic but equally exciting going-from-sitting-to-standing skills. It is hard to believe that in half a year, Lydia will be climbing up steps and going down slides on her own!

I think Aidan is saying, "What's the big deal, guys? The slide is only ten times my height!")

(Lydia heard us cheering for Aidan's brave sliding and started clapping herself!)

Hahn Grandparents Visit!

As I mentioned in a previous post, my parents were here to celebrate Lydia's birthday and spend some time with her. And maybe some time with us. But mostly some time with her. :)

We had a really great time with them!

Mike and Brittany Visit!!!

Lydia's godparents and our very good friends, Brittany and Mike, came down for Lydia's birthday and stayed through Wednesday. We had such a good time and were so glad they were here to share some time with Lydia and some time with us!!!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Lydia was the proud recipient of three blog shout-outs for her birthday! I was so excited to see each one, and thank Elizabeth, Jessica, and Carly!

Here is Elizabeth's at And Baby Makes Eight:

Happy Birthday, Lydia Cecille

Here is Jessica's at AJAKB: The Luthers:

Happy Birthday to the Gansers

And here is Carly's at My Life in Cocktails

Fieldwork: Lydia's Birthday (This one is more party-specific.)

Lydia is battling a cough and hasn't been sleeping well, thus we haven't been sleeping well. I promise some good posts this weekend!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


In all of the commotion and emoting surrounding Lydia's birthday, I have failed to mention three significant milestones:

--We are 85% certain Lydia is now saying "Dada" in reference to Robin. It's not perfectly clear, but almost... She also says something sounding similar to dog (da!) but it is not clear. (Elizabeth, I swear I am not copying you on this! Lydia and Oliver are right on track together!)

--Lydia can cruise along furniture but prefers to crawl. Pulling up is easy for her, so she will pull up, play in one spot, get down and crawl to another spot, and pull up again.

--On her birthday, she climbed our entire flight of stairs--17 steps! I was behind her the entire time, sure she would somehow fly off the steps and down through my hands.

--Today she stood for about 30 seconds. She was right next to Rachael, our cousin, but she stood up on her own and stayed standing on her own!!!

The Credits

The Cake:

Carrotcake (Icing was from Red Velvet Recipe below) from Ellie Krieger at the Food Network
Chocolate with Buttercream Icing at Cakes on the Brain
Red Velvet with Creamcheese Icing from Throwdown with Bobby Flay on Food Network

Yes, we made them ourselves!!!

The Balloons--Robin found a helium balloon kit at Target. It was $20 for a tank filled with enough helium for 30 balloons, as well as the balloons and ribbon. (The link is not the exact kit we bought. Ours was a smaller tank and less expensive.)

The Tutu--Found on Etsy at Hannah's Tutus, I bought this six weeks ago! I love it!

We had delicious appetizers made by Robin, my dad, and me, and Robin even created the Lydia, her first signature cocktail (for us to enjoy, not her!)

Cupcakes and Cocktails

On Friday, Lydia turned one, and yesterday, we celebrated going from this

to this.

Lydia dressed in her finest

We filled balloons

Made some snacks

Did lots of baking

And together with friends and family and friends that have come to feel like family

celebrated all that has taken us from this

to this.
**Special thanks to Jessica for taking the role of photographer. You're awesome!!! The pictures are perfect!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Tomorrow morning, Lydia will turn one. The past week has been full of reminiscing, reliving, and remembering the week before Lydia was born and reflecting on our birth experience. My parents have been here all week which has been fun since they were here last year during this time also. We have gone to several of the same places, and it is a lot of fun for me to be able to share the memories of Lydia's first hours and days with them as well as the week before the first anniversary of her birth.

I have found myself tearing up at the thought of singing her "Happy Birthday," as well as at the end-points that this birthday brings. I have received my last "Your Baby This Week" email from Babycenter; next week, it will read "Your Toddler..." We are gearing up to cut out her last few breastfeeding sessions during the next few weeks, and today her booster arrived, so the high chair will be relegated to the garage and brought out only when needed for guests that are eating with us that have little ones. We have a carseat ready to be installed in my car, facing forward not backwards.

It is impossible to get my head around all that this year has brought us. I had hoped that I would get my head together enough to write a profound post, something that reflected how profound the pat year has been. I just can't do it. As cliche as it sounds, I just can't put my thoughts and feelings into words in that way. Hopefully when I do Lydia's official birthday post, I'll be able to do it in pictures, but I did want to post my reflections, what's been on my mind during the past week.

My greatest fear when I was pregnant was that I wouldn't love my daughter. I didn't enjoy being pregnant, and when I heard other people describing their feelings towards the experience and their children, I just couldn't relate. Kristin, my doula, told me that she didn't think I needed to worry about loving Lydia--that I didn't appear to be a sociopath, so I would probably be okay. She was right, and so were the people that say that it just gets better. When I looked at Lydia for the first time--when she was seconds old, I didn't feel the rush of love that so many people describe, but wow, has it come over time. This year has taught me to love like a mother.

This year has also taught me to roll with the punches in so many ways. Babies and children teach you that a lot of good fortune in life is just that--good fortune. I used to be a person that believed if you plan well enough, try hard enough, obsess enough, it would all work out perfectly. While I still am guilty of obsessing, I think I've realized that in a lot of ways, especially with kids, the cards fall where they do, and we love our children no matter what.

Similarly, I used to believe that if we just worked hard enough, stayed dedicated enough, pursued our desires with enough consistency, we would get what we want--that it was all a neat equation. If I still believed that, I would be searching frantically for what in the world we did wrong; we've been slammed pretty hard this year in lots of ways, and I'm pretty sure it is just how it worked out, not a reflection of my or Robin's work ethic, or anything. We happened to be relying on and working hard in a field that was hit hard by the recession; we were vulnerable and were nailed. Not like some people have been, but enough so that it's been stressful, frustrating, and just difficult.

What does this have to do with Lydia's birthday? Because through it all during this year, Lydia remained to be the best thing we had going. When people have said things like, "You've got so much on your plate--and the new baby," Robin and I have both shared the feeling that the new baby has really been the saving grace, not a source of stress. I don't say this very often, largely because so many of the people that read this have little ones of their own, but in case you weren't aware, she's pretty much the most perfect baby ever. I don't know if we'll ever separate the economic anxiety from Lydia's first year in our minds, but today as I reflect, I think the thing we'll take away is that family, love, all of those things matter more than anything related to a recession, and I'm not sure we would have learned those lessons without Lydia.

One year ago today, it was raining and I spent most of the day on the sofa. After eating dinner with my parents, Robin and I crawled into bed, ate ice cream, and watched TV. I thought to myself, "I think I can handle this for a few more nights. This whole cuddling with my husband, eating ice cream, and watching Friends isn't so bad." I went to sleep, and two hours later at 1 AM, my water broke and labor started.

One year ago tomorrow at 7:55 AM, well... we got this:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lydia's Jam

Lydia has recently started dancing when she hears music. It's so great!!!

Lydia Gets a Scare

Lydia has started taking interest in stuffed animals. She sleeps with her sock monkey and loves her stuffed toys. The video below doesn't do justice to how she can enjoy her stuffed animals, but it does show her newest fear. Her only fear, really: the brown and white dog. More specifically, the brown and white dog that sings "I Can't Stop Loving You."

Watch this:

Just to prove that it is the dog, not some fluke, watch this:

She really hates that dog!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010


On Wednesday, my students will take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or the TAKS. As Robin said in his earlier post, this is without a doubt the biggest source of stress for our high school as a whole.

I have been thinking about this post for a long time. Thinking about writing about how the TAKS completely ignores growth. How a student can jump over 200 pts. from one year to the next and still be considered a failure, both individually and for the school. How I wonder what it would feel like to be at a school in which the average student entering as a freshman could probably pass the exit-level test without much teaching at all. Would I feel like a good teacher?

I feel pulled between two ideas: the side that says that all students deserve to learn, to acquire basic knowledge and skill in high school, that it's not ridiculous to require schools to be measured based on student performance and the side that tells me that the human experience and thus the educational experience cannot be standardized. The system we operate under fails to acknowledge different starting points both high and low, let alone the circumstances and cards students are dealt. It ignores the student who could enter the ninth grade with the ability to pass their exit-level TAKS taken during the junior year and not learn a thing in the walls of their high school--and still be considered successful. It ignores the student who catapults themselves upwards over 200 points on a 1000 point scale over the course of one year--and still is considered a failure. Which student exhibits your definition of success and which teacher should be recognized for outstanding educating?

I feel a strange combination of frustration and pride watching my students test. Pride in how hard they work, in their ability to overcome adversity, in the effort that 99% of them will put forth on Wednesday morning, Wednesday afternoon, and some on Wednesday evening because yes, for a student who works full-time and goes to school full-time, it can take upwards of 7 hours to finish a test when you are are struggling to focus and read and do your best. For the student who is taking a test in a language that was completely unknown to them four or five years ago yet is still expected to test at appropriate age- and grade-level, it can take upwards of 10 hours to look up the words they need in the dictionary, to translate in their head, to do all of the things that they are doing to get their education and their diploma. Yes, these are the kids that will eventually be accused by someone at some point in their lives of not wanting to learn English if someone hasn't accused them of this already. On Wednesday when I watch them test, I will be a proud teacher.

I feel frustration that some of them, despite working and working and working and growing and growing and growing, will not pass this year and will feel like a failure, largely because the test tells them that they are. That a silent room full of kids with standardized test booklets and #2 pencils has come to mean so much in our education system. That it means the difference between doors staying open or closing permanently. It is terrifying.

I don't understand how a state that ranks 35th in the nation for high school graduation rate--in which nearly 30-40% of high school students drop out depending on the source--became the model for national education reform. I worry it won't change soon enough.

That, my friends, is T-Day.