Saved by the Bell

October was a stressful month for me. Deadlines galore. Fall Festival planning for my church. Finishing up a fundraiser for the children and youth ministry. And people keep speeding in the 4th Ward. My mind was busy. Joseph was busy. I was tired.

Then my grandfather died and I put everything on hold. I stopped planning and I stepped away from my to-do list. When I came back to my to-do list I noticed it had gotten longer. Apparently it did not get the memo that I was tapped out.

I was so tapped out that when my friend sent me a thoughtful text last week,

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I didn’t respond.

Which is unlike me. Even if I respond later in the day, I try to respond because not responding is just rude in my book.

I didn’t respond because I didn’t want to send a text that read,  “I am overwhelmed. I have been in the middle of the same set of unfortunate circumstances for 6 months and I am trying really hard to hold on to my faith that God is going to work this out for my good. However, I am starting to feel hopeless. I need help and I feel like when I ask for it no one is there to help me because everyone is used to me making it happen.” I couldn’t bring myself to fake the reply, “I’m fine. Thanks for asking.” So…I said nothing. I thought about the text from time to time. How it was nice that she asked. How I wish I had time to really tell her how I felt. But the days passed and I left it alone.

Then yesterday happened. Ugh. Monday. Things were going wrong. A vendor did not meet a deadline (for the 4th time). I was over budget on an event and needed to scale back. Joey spent too much time in the pack-n-play and mommy guilt was creeping in. Then I got 2 text messages with more pressing “to-do” items. Enough was enough. I texted my husband and asked him to pray for me. He did and he told me to breathe. In my head I was thinking, “Forget breathing, I need some actual help!”

Literally 10 minutes later my phone rang. It was the aforementioned friend. My battery was at 5% and I thought about not answering because surely the phone would die during the conversation. I really didn’t have time to talk anyway.

I answered the phone and my friend said, “How are you? I texted you last week? I am checking on you. How can I help? I am here to help.” WOW. She insisted that there was something she could do to help me and she was right. She came through for me. She did what I needed her to do, she followed up.

Follow up with someone you have been meaning to check on today. You could be the answer to their prayers.

Added bonus my friend also showed me a well timed meme that made me laugh. A well timed meme is golden. No…I am not sharing the meme with you. Get your own meme.

My Favorite Things

Disclaimer: I receive no compensation for the items listed below. I am not that big time yet. When I get there, I will let you know.

Christmas will be here soon. If you are expecting or looking for gifts for a new mom, here is a list of the items I found the most useful. They are listed in no particular order of preference.

favorite-things

  1. Fisher-Price Rock n Play – I used this item more than anything else. Joey loved napping here as a newborn. There is a vibrate option and it is easy to rock with your foot as you sit on the couch.
  2. Fisher-Price Kick n Play – I have many videos of my son kicking this piano and trying to reach for the toys overhead. He still loves this toy but he sits up and plays the piano now!
  3. Back Seat Mirror – I bought more expensive mirrors but this is my favorite because of its adjustability.
  4. Nose Frida – Much less fuss when I used this contraption over the traditional bulb. I recommend purchasing the saline spray as well.
  5. Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water – Perfect for getting rid of hiccups, which my son had a lot. My aunt hipped me to this.
  6. Muslin Swaddle Blankets – Throw it on the floor for tummy time. Swaddle baby for a nap. Drape over a car seat to keep out the crisp fall air. These blankets are breathable, soft, and versatile.
  7. Halo SleepSack – This was a gift from the hospital. We ended up buying 2 more just like it. Love this thing. When baby can roll over there is an arms free version.
  8. Chicco Keyfit 30 – I bought the Equinox which is discontinued by the manufacturer but you can still get other colors. This carseat is easy peasy to install. Added bonus…
  9. Chicco Jogging Stroller – You can snap your Keyfit carseat into this jogger stroller for a nice walk in the park. It is not recommended that you run with the baby until 6 months.
  10. Summer Infant Booster Seat – We have limited space in our dining room so a high chair was out of the question. This booster seat works perfectly for our space and our boy.
  11. Fisher-Price Jumperoo – Joey loves working out his legs in this Jumperoo. It rotates 360 degrees with interactive toys on all sides.
  12. My favorite diapers are from Honest.com. My second choice Pampers. Third, Luvs. I prefer Parent’s Choice wipes.

 

Happy Shopping. Tell them I sent you.

The Tale of Two Schools

If you check the list of National Blue Ribbon Schools (http://nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov) you will see the school I taught at last year listed.  blue-ribbon-centralThis is a phenomenal accomplishment but it makes me sad.  Why? Because I went from teaching at a school that was at the bottom of the bottom to teaching at a school that is now a National Blue Ribbon School (and rightfully so because Central is nothing short of amazing).

Juxtaposition this news with the fact that my previous school recently made headlines as well… for high lead levels in drinking water. High lead levels found in drinking fountains

I often think about the kids I left behind. How they deserve a school with a literacy curriculum in place. A school that doesn’t let first year teachers just figure it out standard by standard. What can I do for my babies still in St. Louis Public Schools or the Normandy Schools Collaborative and other failing districts? Right now, I’ve signed up to volunteer and read in early childhood classrooms. I am also working on developing literacy guides for African American themed books. I want to replicate my previous classroom work with literacy, math, and entrepreneurship using The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies at my community school.

Ultimately, I am working toward opening an Early Education Learning Center because an adult or team of adults miserably failed my students who started third grade on a kindergarten reading level. I want to help. At times the burden for change is so great it suffocates me. Then I take a deep breath and I say, “One day, one step, one child at a time.” 

My New Classroom

For the first time in 3 years I will not walk into a classroom and welcome a new group of students. Out of habit I saved all sorts of classroom organizers and first week of school activities on Pinterest. Then it hit me…I am a stay-at-home mom (also known as a domestic engineer). POW!

SLPS Badge
ID from my first year teaching.

 

I have traded the often dreaded BBC (bulletin board configuration for my non teacher friends) for a updated whiteboard calendar with family activities and weekly meal plans.

I have traded trips to the teacher store with trips to Once Upon a Child and Babies “R” Us.

I have traded planning field trips for weekly trips to the library and visiting the MO Botanical Gardens, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Forest Park, and more.

I have traded beloved third grade novels such as Charlotte’s Web and the I Survived series for First 100 Words and a slew of board books.

I have traded The Daily Five for sensory bags and tummy time.

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Enjoying sensory bags at playtime.

 

I have traded lesson plans and professional development for…..wait. I haven’t traded these. My lesson plans are the learning opportunities I create for my son. My professional development comes from the Bible, parenting books, support groups, my mommy friends, and countless conversations with my mother.

My classroom hasn’t disappeared; it has shifted. I am still a teacher. I am my child’s first teacher, his mother. I wouldn’t trade this job for anything.

 

 

 

 

Check out the link below if you are interested in creating these fun bags for your little explorer.

DIY Sensory Bags

I Won’t Pretend

One of my sorority sisters is coming over in about an hour and I am going to resist the urge to pretend I am perfect. I get the urge to do a full Spring cleaning any time I am expecting a visitor.

I am going to leave the dishes in the sink and the toys on the kitchen counter.

There will be unfolded laundry in not 1 but 3 baskets.

The mail bin will continue to overflow.

The bags that need to go to the Goodwill will stay prominently displayed on the dining room floor.

My seventeen piles of books will remain.

The dusting will not be completed.

I want my neat and tidy home back. Each day I wake with a “to do” list full of chores and I am eager to attack them. I love checking items off my “to do” list. It makes me feel like I am the master of the universe.

Then my baby gives me that longing look. He opens his mouth and demands attention. He is teething and his usually mild mannered demeanor becomes a constant need for cuddles, snuggles, mommy’s milk-sicles, and all kinds of teething toys.

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So each day I skip a couple of items on my “to do” list and by Friday…well, see above.

Instead of feeling anxious and canceling my plans, I will welcome my friend with enthusiasm. Because we live in our house and I am sure she lives in hers, too.

 

 

 

 

……………but let me go fold some laundry real quick……….

 

 

 

And on the sixth day…

…he nursed.

As a brand spanking new mom, I had plans on keeping my little one swaddled in my arms for at least 6 weeks. We would not leave the house. He would not so much as breathe a breath that was not first breathed by me.

If you ask my husband he will tell you I am known for my Disney like fantasies.

This indeed was a fantasy. Reality hit with a bite from my precious newborn only an hour old. Nursing was not going to be an easy feat. In fact, it was harder than the morning/noon/night sickness that plagued me for 3 trimesters. It was harder than emergency surgery and bed rest. It was harder than 27 hours of labor. It was harder than pushing. It was and still is hard.

I was pumping every 2-3 hours which was a nightmare but I was grateful to be producing milk for bottle feeding. Pumping brought a whole new set of worries. What about nipple confusion? Will he reject me? He’d already been given a pacifier by a well meaning nurse, although I wanted to wait until breastfeeding was firmly established before offering one. I mean, that is what the experts say you are supposed to do after all. The pacifier turned out to be a blessing because my baby boy thought anything that entered his mouth was supposed to be bitten. OUCH.

On day 6 of my son’s life I bundled him up and I asked my husband to take me to the breast feeding support group offered at the hospital. I needed help!

I walked into the class late, of course.  (I have not been on time for anything since my son was born.) The room was filled with nursing moms. Most had their boobs out and were effortlessly feeding their children. I wanted to be them.

My breast were full and sore as I listened to each mom introduce herself and her baby. What am I going to say when it becomes my turn? Hi. My name is Kim. I have no clue what I am doing. HELP!!!!!!

I had no pride. I felt no shame. I gave no care about what others might have thought.

I anxiously awaited my turn, fighting back tears of stress and anxiety. Then another mom spoke. Her baby was born one day before mine. She had the exact same struggles I had. She burst into tears.

And so did I.

The lactation consultant offered her a one on one. From across the room I said, possibly yelled, “Me, too! Can I go, too?” Sensing my need, her sweet reply was, “Yes, lets go into the consult room now.”

With the gentle but firm hands of the lactation consultant guiding me, I was able to nurse my son for the first time. I heard him swallow and in my naivety I asked, “Is he doing it?”

“Yes,” the consultant said, beaming with joy.

I cried. Oh, I cried an ugly cry. I am not sure how my baby stayed latched. And then…

The lactation consultant cried with me.

Oh the sweet joy of motherhood.

I-Make-Milk.-What-Is-Your-Superpower

 

Do You Dream of Me?

My dear son, do you dream of me?

bw-11-srus-6846I watch with wonder as you sleep.

The tiniest twitch of your mouth brings me joy.

What does your silent smile mean?

Or the gentle way you sigh?

Do you dream of me as I dream of you?

I have longed for you for years.

Now that you are here I still dream of you.

Do you know how often I have prayed for you?

Is the peaceful look on your face an answer to my prayer that you will find safety and security in your mother’s arms?

Am I everything I need to be for you, my son?

Will I rise to the challenges of motherhood?

Do you see the uncertainty I feel?

Do you feel the love I give so freely?

Do you dream of me as I dream of you?

I watch you in awe.

12 days ago you shared my womb.

Now you are here.

An answered prayer.

And I still dream of you.