When Life Hands You Lemons #sol15

First, Charlotte got pneumonia.

Then, Evelyn ended up taking a trip to the ER at midnight.  Croup.

Of course, I was the next sick one.

During all of this we were scrambling to determine a new childcare situation, buy an additional set of car seats, and a more reliable car for Ted’s long drive to work.

It was crazy, but we were muddling through.

Then Monday happened.  On Monday, Ted and I were out enjoying a kid-free afternoon when the universe decided we needed a whole basket of lemons.

Ted’s new job fell through.

We are picking up the pieces and moving on as best we can, but we are still reeling.

Thankfully, Ted will be able to go back to his position with Trader Joe’s.  Not much will change other than we are now paying more for childcare than we were previously.

Everything will be ok.  But this was a tough blow for our family.

When life hands you lemons, sometimes the only thing to do is snuggle up with tea and a book.

  When life hands you lemons, sometimes the only thing to do is get froyo.

 When life hands you lemons, sometimes the only thing to do is take goofy selfies.

So, that’s what we are doing.  We have our home and our health and each other.  Everything will be just fine.

But…I’d like to avoid the lemons for a little while.

Mother Knows Best #sol15

I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write for the past couple of days because my poor Charlotte has pneumonia!  It’s been a tough few days.  Unfortunately, having a very sick little girl was made even more difficult when faced with a doctor who wasn’t listening to us.  Without rehashing all of the details, suffice it to say that we had to fight with the pediatrician to do the chest x-ray and give us an accurate diagnosis.

The whole experience left me reflecting on how we simply do not value parent input or trust that parents know their kids best.  It’s true in medicine, it’s true in education, and it’s just not okay.  How many times have you heard a colleague complain about “that mom” calling again?  Or heard a teacher say that a child would be so much better off if the teacher could just take her home?  How many times have you seen educators get frustrated with parents for wanting more support for their student?  Or for pushing for a general education placement when the team thinks the student  belongs in special education.  You’ve maybe even said or thought these things yourself.  I’ve always connected well with the  parents of my students and considered them team members, but even I’ve had those frustrated thoughts.  I’ve thought that I’ve known better.

If being a mom has taught me anything it’s that parents, for the most part, are truly doing the best they can with what they know.  While there are always exceptions, most parents love their kids fiercely and will do whatever it takes to support them.  While I valued parental input on my students before I became a mom, it wasn’t until I had my girls that I truly understood what it meant to partner with parents.  I expect Evelyn and Charlotte’s doctors and teachers to listen to me, to value my input, and to recognize that I come to the table with a certain level of expertise that they just don’t have.  Becoming a mom has really helped me to walk in the shoes of other parents.  To see that the constant phone calls aren’t meant to annoy me, or that they aren’t disagreeing with me for no reason.  Being a parent myself has helped me see even more clearly how important it is for us to work together with parents and to see their questions and concerns for what they are: parents advocating for their children.

Parents are the experts on their children.  This doesn’t mean that as educators we don’t have expertise of our own.  Rather it means that we need to collaborate with parents and combine our expertise in order to provide the best support for each and every child.

 

It’s Been A Day #sol15

It’s been a day full of worry because Charlotte is sicker than she’s ever been.

It’s been a day full of giggles while pretending to be dinosaurs with Evelyn.

It’s been a day full of multitasking as I try to follow up on nanny applications, send out agendas for work, entertain my healthy kiddo, and snuggle my sick one.

It’s been a day full of coffee because how else do you get through the day?

It’s been a day full of wonder with Evelyn asking me all of the questions.

It’s been a day full of heartbreak as my Charlotte has been in constant tears.

It’s been a day full of helplessness because I can’t make my little girl better.

It’s been a day full of pride as Evelyn bravely went to school without her sister for the first time.

It’s been a day full of balance (or lack thereof) while I attempt to give all of the people and things in my life the attention they deserve.

It’s been a day full of open windows and fresh air.

It’s been a day full of coffee which deserves mentioning twice.

Basically, it’s been an average, ordinary day for this mama.

 

During March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers.

Grateful #sol15

My house is a mess. 

The dishes aren’t done. The laundry isn’t folded. Everything is covered in dog hair and toys. 

I’m not cleaning, though. 

I’m sitting in the rocker in my girls’ room. Just listening to them breathe while they rest. Just looking at their sweet faces. Just marveling at these magical gifts I have been given. 

An Exciting New Change #sol15

Oops!  I missed posting yesterday, but to be fair we got some exciting new around here.  Ted got a new job!! Always exciting, right?  For us, though, the most exciting part of this new job is that it means more time for us together as a family.  Ted has worked in retail management for the entirety of our marriage, and it has always meant needing to be creative about finding time together.  When the girls were born, we took advantage of him being able to work nights and weekends so that we could pay less for childcare.  At the time, it was a lifesaver, and we’ve made it work for years now.  Still, over the past year, it has really begun to wear on both of us.  We have no days off together, he solos with the girls most mornings and I solo with them most nights.  It’s hard to be the only parent at home and it’s hard to miss your partner so much.  But all of that is about to change!

Ted’s new job will have him home every evening, and he will only work Saturdays on the weekends.  We will have a whole family day every week!  Family dinners!  Family stories at bedtime!  I can’t tell you how happy this makes my heart.  There are going to be some new sacrifices, for sure.  It’s a long drive for him and we will need to figure out some additional childcare.  But his new salary will more than cover the additional childcare costs and the regular time we will get together as a family is priceless.

I feel so lucky that our careers have allowed us to be home as much as possible with our girls while still carrying two full time jobs, but I am so ready for us to be together as a family more often.

During March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers.

I’m Sensitive and I’d Like To Stay That Way* #sol15

I’ve always been a sensitive person. I pick up on emotions.  I feel things intensely. I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I’m sensitive.

For the longest time, I thought this was a problem.  I needed to get a thicker skin.  Stop taking things so personally. Toughen up.  I saw my sensitivity as a deficit rather than an asset.

Sure, being sensitive has meant that I’ve been sad, angry, or hurt unnecessarily.  It’s meant that I’ve taken things the wrong way or over-thought things. It’s meant that I’ve cried in the bathroom at work more times than I’d care to admit.  But I’ve learned to recognize and manage over-sensitivity.  I’ve also learned that my sensitivity is not a weakness.  It’s an essential piece of who I am.

Having stepped into the role of instructional coach these last two years, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on working with adults in various roles and situations.  One thing that I have come to realize is that my sensitivity is a huge asset for me in this role.  My sensitivity allows me to connect with the teachers I serve and to better understand where they are coming from.  While it can sometimes be exhausting for me feeling all of those feelings, I think (I hope) that it makes me a better coach.  I’ve learned that my sensitivity helps me see things from others’ perspectives.  By putting myself in others’ shoes, I can better reflect and plan for ways to push their thinking.  It helps me know where, how, and when to push.

It’s not always comfortable and it can be downright challenging at times, but I’m grateful that I’ve learned to appreciate this part of me so that I can raise my girls to appreciate their sensitivity as well.

*Thanks for the song lyrics, Jewel.

During March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers.

The Quiet #sol15

I thought I didn’t have anything to write about tonight.  It’s Wednesday, and my Wednesdays are crazy.  I coach, I have professional development until 4:30, then I rush home to get my girls to dance by 5:30, at 6:30 we pick up dinner, eat, and then it’s time to tuck the girls in.  All day I thought about how I didn’t have a plan for what I wanted to write tonight.  I honestly thought I’d end up just telling you about my crazy Wednesdays in order to put something down on paper.

I thought I didn’t have anything to write about tonight, but then I put my sweet girls to bed, sat down, and suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to say.

My girls are in bed, my husband is at work tonight, and I’m finally sitting down in my quiet house with a cup of tea.  This moment right here is what replenishes me.  I love my work as a coach, but it is taxing on an introvert.  It’s taxing on my sensitive soul because I often experience the emotions of the teachers I support as deeply as if they were my own.  At the end of the day, I need the quiet.  I need to sit and just be.  I need to take a hot bath.  I need to read a book.  I need the quiet.

It’s taken me a long time to realize just how important this down time is for me.  There have been countless times that I didn’t realize that I was cranky at the end of the day because I needed my space.  There were years that went by when I didn’t take advantage of the quiet or know that I needed to ask for it.  I now recognize just how much I need this space in my day.  It’s my recharge, and without it I can easily start to feel like I’m drowning in the world around me.

There is laundry to do, a paper I need to write for class, dishes that need to be put away, and a dozen other things I should take care of before I go to sleep tonight.  But for now, I’ll sit here in the quiet and just breathe because that’s the best way to help me be me.

During March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers.

 

Snippets #sol15

The girls have been in preschool for a couple of weeks when their teacher approaches me.  ”Charlotte and Evelyn are so cute and sweet, but….ummmm…about how many words do you think they can say?”  Even though I know it’s a serious conversation, I burst out laughing.  At two and a half, both girls are chatterboxes at home.  Like their daddy, they are quiet and reserved in public, but still full of energy and wonder.  Two-year-olds who use the word “humongous” accurately likely don’t have a language delay.  They’re shy…that’s not a bad thing…right?

———-

The girls spent the afternoon at a Frozen party at their dance studio.  Snacks, games, dancing, singing, and plenty of sugar.

“Did you have a fun time at dance?” I ask.

“Yeah, mama.  But my tummy is asking for snuggles now.”

———-

“So, Charlotte and Evelyn are doing really well with all of their academics.  They know their letters, colors, numbers, and shapes.  It’s just that they are still really quiet at school.  I wish they would open up more.  I mean, I’m ok with them being quiet, but I wish they would talk more at school.  It’s really ok, though.  They’ll grow out of it.”

I sat in our parent-teacher conference wondering exactly who the teacher was trying to convince that being quiet is ok.  It’s ok with me!

———-

“My girls are pretty shy and quiet.  They’re a lot like I was when I was a kid.”

“Erin, there is no way you were ever shy!”

It’s funny that this is how people see me.  I can recall any number of times where my stomach churned and my heart thudded in my chest when I had to speak up or meet new people or just go somewhere I’d never been before.  I still self-identify as shy, quiet, introverted, sensitive.  I’ve learned how to manage our extroverted society, though, and I’ve learned to see my quiet traits as strengths.  Now…how do I help my little girls to do the same while staying true to themselves?

———-

During March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers.

 

 

Hello! #sol15

My friend Jen participates in weekly Slice of Life posts hosted by Two Writing Teachers, and I happened to read her posts yesterday and today that she is participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Color me intrigued.  I have been trying (and failing) to get back to my writing, and it keeps becoming that thing on my to-do list that just gets pushed until tomorrow…and tomorrow…and tomorrow.  Maybe a daily writing challenge is just the kick in the pants I need.  So…here I am…

Since I’m participating in the challenge and that may lead to some new friends, I thought I’d start by introducing myself.

Hello!  I’m Erin.

Let’s see…isn’t it funny how introducing yourself is hard?

I’ll start with my family.  I’ve been married to my husband, Ted, for nearly eleven years now.  ELEVEN.  We have two fantastic, goofy, sweet, amazing daughters, Charlotte and Evelyn who are four and a half.  Yep.  Twins.  It’s basically as cool as you’d imagine it to be.  We traveled a tough road to become parents, and while that isn’t the story I’m telling this month, it is a story that’s well-documented on this blog, and I’d encourage you to check it out.  In addition to Ted and the girls, I also have two furry family members, Rufus and Kaya.  They are smelly, old dogs, but I love them anyway.

In addition to parenting and devouring as many books as I can read, I do have a day job.  I currently work as an instructional coach, which is kind of a fancy way to say that I support teachers in their practice.  Prior to coaching, I taught early childhood special education for 8 years.  Education is a huge passion of mine, and what excites me daily about my job is getting to geek out having conversations on teaching and learning.

Reading is a huge passion of mine, and I spend a great deal of time with my nose buried in a book.  I also love all things Harry Potter, both book and film, Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, coffee, and tea.  Oh, and colored tights.  I really love colored tights.  And sparkly nail polish.  And cheese.

That’s me in a nutshell.  I’m a little nervous about embarking on this writing endeavor this month because I’ve decided to jump in on a whim, whereas I’m normally more of a planner.  Hopefully, though, this will let me get my story out and my ideas flowing without worrying too much about things being polished.

What’s the story I want to tell this month?  Well, it’s a bit about me, a dash about my girls, and a fair amount about parenting and teaching.  I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow to find out more!

 

Scenes from a Monday

“Hey mom!  Um, my hair is feeling kind of dirty, so I think we need to take a bath.  But just a playing bath, not a washing hair bath, ok?  Does that sound good?”

I get a bath ready for my formerly bath-hating girls so they can splash around like mermaids for a bit.  I go to sit down and as soon as my butt hits the tile, “Um, mommy?  Can you go do some laundry or something?”

That’s kid-code for, “Please get out of the bathroom so we can splash like crazy and you won’t get mad.”

———-

“Oh!  Mommy!  I need to tell you a question about my birthday.  In five days it’s going to be my birthday and I’m going to be five years old so that means I’m growing up fast.  At my Strawberry Shortcake birthday it will be summer and it will be a party at our house not at dance class.  I think I’ll get green eyes for my birthday so I can be like Real Strawberry Shortcake.  And Wyatt is going to bring me a Real Pupcake and Real Custard that will make noise and move by themselves just like Rufus and Kaya.  And I think I’ll get a scooter like Strawberry Shortcake so I can drive to my cafe.  Actually, I think our house will turn into my cafe on my birthday.  Ok?  How does that sound?”

———-

The girls ask if they can watch The Little Mermaid, so I decide this is the perfect opportunity to work on a discussion post for my class.

“Mama, what are you doing on your ca-puter?”

“Homework.”

“What kind of homework?”

“I’m writing an answer to a question.”

“What question?”

“It’s a question about teaching kids who speak a different language.”

“MOM. I need you to tell me the words of the question.”

“Ummmm…what are the implications for Krashen’s hypotheses and Collier’s prism model?”

“Ok.  That sounds good.  Can you get me some fresh, cold water?”

No homework was completed during the course of this film.

———-

“Mooooooooooooommmmmmmmyyyyyyyyy!  We’re hungry!  We’re starving! Can we have chicken and couscous for dinner?”

I make dinner exactly as requested and set it on the table.

“So, how many bites do I have to take?”

———-

It’s time for our nightly dance party! Listening to our favorite song, “Blank Space”* by Taylor Swift, Charlotte announces that she now knows all the words.

“It’ll leave you breakfast! Or with a nasty car.”

“Gotta love all these blubbers, they’ll tell you I’m the same.”

“Boys only want love if it’s your turn.”

*Both girls think this song is about a baby called Blank Space Baby.  They frequently ask to write her name.

———-

The girls are in bed.  I should be using this time to work on that discussion post, but instead here I am writing about and missing those crazy, goofy, sweet ladies.

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MERMAIDS IN MY BED!”