Friday, October 30, 2009

Phone Photo Friday- BOO!

So ready to get Halloween on this weekend. We still have pumpkins to carve and treats to put out, but the house is decorated and we are ready to celebrate. Tomorrow is Ben's Halloween parade and party at school. It's a teacher workday for me so I get to GO before heading in to work.

Ben is a spaceman this year in an outfit I bought at a local consignment sale when he was 9 months old. It looked so big then, but perfect on my smiling, growing, funny 3 year old. I love that every pic from a friend's Halloween party last weekend his little tummy is poking through the suit. I also love that he took a knight helmet and turned it into a space hat by himself!

Here's to a 48 hour sugar high for the Vinson family.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lordy, Lordy We Got the Fancy Water

As of 9pm last night my 3.5 day adventure in roughing it is over. I am proud to announce that my "getting bigger by the day TX hair" was been washed and has returned to it's normal SC self. Still no verdict on how much this is going to set us back but the tally so far to our water heater only 2 months out of warranty: 3 service calls 2 broken parts (including one missed on the first call), an overnight part that never arrived, Bill's numerous angry calls to the gas company, and the many baths I have taken in the last 3 days that made me wonder how long I would last if I suddenly were dropped in the middle of a wagon train? And THIS coming from someone who wants to camp, hike, paddle on a dream family vacation.

Today has been a surreal day starting somewhere around 2 am when I was awoken by what I can only describe as felt like contractions. Knowing that I am not even to the pre term labor concerns part of pregnancy, I got up walked around, drank water, and tried to get comfortable again. No luck for the next hour as the pains came every few mins. I called the OB and they worked me in believing it was displaced gas. After an hour wait it was validating knowing it was worth it to come in and be checked out. I really, really like this new OB practice.

Out the window were my original plans to chaperone Ben's field trip to the pumpkin patch. Bill is going Thursday as I collect a quarter's worth of late work from my kids and give them a midterm, while making oodles of parent contact for all the absent sick kids. I totally got screwed on that arrangement! Gone was my leisurely lunch and book at the Weathervane over in Chapel Hill. Gone was getting my hair cut as I instead I took a squirmy Ben who pooped on himself to the grocery and then cried when his balloon floated away.

All was not lost, it was a good day. A normal, average day filled with typical frustrations but also the joys of being able to get up and be there day after day. I got exactly what I wanted minus the shrimp tempera rolls.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday Gumbo

I had thought of calling this post, "things to do with the time NOT showering". But then since that conjures up images of hippie, dread-locked folk I figured not to share the ick factor. We woke up Sunday morning to realize that the pilot light on our just over one year old new water heater was out. No big deal, Bill lit it again and we moved on with the day.

No so at 5:30 Monday am when I was greeted with an ice cold shower. I walked out to the garage and discovered it was out again. One service call later and lots of frustration we are now waiting on a part to arrive on Wed. NICE!!! I feel like Little House on the Prairie with my pots on the stove heating up water to bathe Ben.

Add to this fun double poops in the pants in 2 hours once home. One while at the library reading a book on pooping no less when I discovered it. We had one successful poop on the potty Sunday so I was so hoping for some progress this week. We have worked with our school to have Ben evaluated by Project Enlightenment at the suggestion of his teachers.

I was so looking forward to chaperoning his school trip to the pumpkin patch Wednesday, but alas with forcasted rain it's been moved to the ONE day I can't go this week. I'm super disappointed since we didn't plan a pumpkin patch family trip separately. I had planed to take the whole day off to chaperone, knock out a couple of appointments, and mainly have tomorrow as a gift to myself.

I hesitate to even write this and if common sense befalls me I will likely delete it later, but tomorrow is 20 years out from a date that matters to no one but me. You know, those little dates in time that are not celebrated with cake or flowers but that you know the significance.

Years have come and gone with no fanfare and tomorrow will be the same. No long blog post, or mentioning of it to family or friends. It's my day to let it pass for another year. I thought about picking up shrimp tempura rolls as I have been craving sushi after my sample California roll at the grocery of all places. After all 20 years should be a celebration of sorts? I prefer just an average day with average events. Feeling the baby kick and kissing a sleeping Ben are about the best gift I could ask for.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Roundup

Why is that every single weekend seems jam-packed with busy activities that by 11 pm on Sunday I regret that I didn't sit on my butt watching mindless TV at some point?

Round up since leaving school on Friday:

Met up with my friend Katie from school to go to Raleigh Jr League Christmas Shopping Spree. This is the 3rd year I have gone and it never disappoints to check out all that monogrammed, pearl wearing, sterling silver paradise. You can take the girl out of SC but never her love of a passed down Chantilly pattern.

I managed to only buy foodie items for a gift basket for each of Ben's teachers for Christmas as well as this poster for Ben's new room. This vendor (a retired high school art teacher no less) sells hand drawn posters all with alphabet themes. Perfect for his new transportation themed room. Here's the hitch, the poster is black and white leaving me to get artsy with the color choice. I am excited to do something as special as his framed children's books themed art pieces currently in his nursery.

Saturday am I was up early and cooking, all 4 straight hours of freeze ahead cooking with my friend Elizabeth. End total: 70.00 for groceries (almost all on sale) creating 4 chicken pot pies, 4 Chili Macs, 4 Pork Chops with Apple/Herb Stuffing, 3 pans of Ziti, and 2 large containers of Taco Soup with 4 pans of Mexican Cheese Cornbread. My goal is still to get the freeze ahead blog up by end of the year. I did buy the rights to so I feel compelled to get it up soon.

Also on the cooking front I also planned my book club menu and prepared a shopping list for later in the week. Not preparing a whole themed meal for your month to host is similar to being voted worst book of the year. On the menu: Pimento Cheese Biscuits with county ham, Braised pork roast with apple cider glaze, endive and cranberry salad, brown sugar baked acorn squash, PW apple Pie and maybe a 2nd dessert if I have time, and a cheese board for nibbling throughout the night (more than just me, I will share).

I followed up marathon cooking by cleaning the house (downstairs only) and prepping a dessert for our friends that came down later that night for our monthly game night. They brought their 10 week old daughter, Gretchen, who let me get my baby love on all night. What a cutie and how much fun to listen to Ben talk to and about all things baby.

Sunday I slept in, we realized the pilot light was out on the water heater :-(, had lunch out at a new place we loved, and then I prepped for the upcoming busy end of the quarter at school. At to that a Halloween party for Ben and adding cobwebs and spiders to our already loaded down outside decorations we called it a day. Whew I am tired just recalling all this.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Phone Photo Friday- No One's Catching H1N1 edition

A huge thanks to Bill for braving the crowds on Monday to stand in line for 2 1/2 hours to get the H1N1 vaccine for Ben and attempt to get it for himself. I credit our network of moms from our new baby 2006 group for continuing to post to our listserve who had vaccine, who didn't, what limitations, and an long ongoing debate about preservative.

Bill headed out to the closest location which luckily was only 10 mins away. Based on earlier reports that the clinics were starting distribution as soon as lines formed, Bill got there about 45 mins ahead.

Recipe for disaster: bored, hungry child, with litte to do/play with while waiting in line. Add to this not being able to reach me at school after 10+ phone and text messages were not sent due to a jammed network.

In a perfect work we were hoping to get a preservative free vaccine for all of us, but by this point of waiting in line and also hearing that none were in this shipment and there was speculation that they would never be sent we opted to go ahead and just be thankful we got it. Bill indicated that unless you met CDC guidelines no adults would be allowed to get the vaccine. Bill told them I was pregnant, a teacher, and that he had major surgery in the past 3 months. He got it and while we both feel a bit bad knowing people in the line including friends didn't get it, I also know that the mama bear in me doesn't want my family to have this mess at any cost.

I called my OB who had gone through their dose of regular flu vaccine in less than 4 days immediately and was told they expected it later this week and to call back. Through a total chance my girlfriend who is also pg emailed me on Tuesday to say, they had returned her call and had actually just gotten 100 dose in.

So on the way to the fair we stopped by, I ran in got my vaccine (unfortunately NOT preservative free), changed Ben's poopy pants and we took off for the fair all vaccinated and feeling a little better.

I typically don't buy into media hype, remember the Monkey Pox? But with the rising number of kids hit (yesterday projections that 1 in 5 kids already have shown symptoms) as well as the fact that flu can be fatal for baby and mom in pg patients I wanted to get this vaccine.

Ben has sworn to wearing his band aid all week since his arm hurt the first day. Somehow seeing him sleeping, holding his motorcycle, and looking peaceful made me so thankful that the number one item on the to do list this week was successfully achieved.

Sending out short lines and a large supply of vaccine to all my friends still waiting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seperate and Unequal

I recently wrote a post about a recent school board election in the county where we live and I teach. Our district of close to 150,000 students is likely going to experience a massive change in the 30 year diversity policy in the next few years.

Not to belabor a point, but this week the final contested seat was conceded instead of opting for a recount. Too bad the the run-off will go on as the deadline passed to save the county $30,000 in ballot printing and organization. Nice to be reminded again of the big changes to come and government bureaucracy at work.

On the way through Charlotte last week I stopped to see a old high school friend and her girls. Her oldest started kindergarten this year. She brought up the recent election in our county and then went on to say, this is the LAST model you would want to follow. It's a total mess and a major story here in Charlotte that you are following suit with dismantling a successful diversity plan for what? Sunday our local paper featured a great editorial from a PTA president of one of the schools in the middle of the Charlotte schools battle.

What I took away from both my conversation and the article was changing policy will not fix the underlying issues and tame the irate parents. From the article, "in the 8 years since the school system moved away from mandatory busing, there have been multiple fights in which neighborhood have continued to fight reassignment to schools that are less crowded, and no father away, but have higher poverty rates." If anything dismantling this program will only create more racial tension and strife among the families and school officials.

Statically the Charlotte district is experiencing white flight similar to other metropolitan cities that abandoned diversity policies in favor of neighborhood schools. Throughout the 1980s/90s concentrations of high poverty, under enrolled schools and overcrowded, suburban schools replaced well-functioning schools that used a variety of tactics to ensure that all schools provided a sound, basic education to all students. What to come in my county sounds EXACTLY like this same school system in the years prior to combining the city and county schools merger in the early 1980s.

This will not the first time I have experience with white flight in a job. As part of my major in public policy, I did a semester long internship with the City of Birmingham, Housing and Urban Development Office. While there there was ongoing experimentation with the Federal Section 8 housing voucher program move from large scale public housing tenements being rezoned for mixed use community development.

I was working on a major research project in which I used the community reaction and response to public housing being moved out of downtown into the suburbs as part of my research. Birmingham remains a very racially charged city, you can imagine reaction in many town hall meetings of the impact on schools in particular to moving large numbers of students from the large, almost 100% minority district to the almost 100% white suburban schools. Interestedly enough each major suburb in Birmingham runs its on independent school system. Separate and Unequal, you bet.

Once again, I am watching what is happening with sadness and disgust that the system I have believed in and been a cheerleader for to friends and neighbors, and ultimately want my children to participate in may look NOTHING like what it does today. As our family makes decisions in the next few years about moving to a new area of town, if I will return to work after the baby, kindergarten options for Ben I feel like the stakes are higher than ever.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Can You Fry It or Put it on a Stick?

Bill texted me this am that after looking at the beautiful (and lately rare) warm day ahead we headed out to the fair this afternoon. For those unfamiliar with the NC State Fair, it is awesome in every way that fried dough is Food of the Gods. We have gone every year we have lived here, including with a bundled up 4 month old Ben in a stroller. There is not much that would keep me from enjoying a night of fair food coupled with the best game of "is she or isn't she" carny-tastic style. Seriously, People of Walmart should have had a walk-up booth!

We were going this weekend, but it was just too perfect today to chance any rain this weekend, so we headed over after school today. We made a plan to only hit the kiddie rides, eat dinner and leave. No petting zoos or aimlessly wandering around looking at the same 800 lb gord that usually sucks the same as last year. We parked closest to the the kiddie ride gate, had already bought our tickets online, and hit the rides first with gusto. Ben rode almost all by himself and expect for one ride was not scared but super excited and was giving us high fives and begging to go again. Check, Disney next month is going to ROCK!

We all feasted on treats for so-called dinner: cotton candy and ice cream for Ben, roasted corn and a country ham biscuit for me, a 1/2 hot dog and real Coke for Bill.

Great afternoon under some awesome NC weather. Oh NC State Fair, I will miss you until next year. What will top this year's gross out food? Can you top fried butter or bacon covered in chocolate. As long as the funnel cake batter is fresh and the carnies can still say, "gits them children behinds the line without removing the cigarette from his lips", the fair is ON like Donkey Kong!

Pork Rind Paradise

Yes, I admit I indulged in not ONE but TWO bags of bags of pork rinds while in SC. One eaten in about 5.7 sec in the car. After a weekend of the bologna and Dukes mayonnaise sandwiches my mom kept giving Ben, the good food rule was shot.

It was a good trip that included seeing 2 different high school friends and their kids, helped with lots household chores for my mom, took dinner and visited with my fav great aunt that is in late stage Parkinson's, took mom to church, saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, placed the new floral arrangement I had made for my dad's grave, and did I mention that I had mad 17 freeze ahead dishes for my mom that I hauled down as well as a older 32 inch TV were were giving them?

Here we go with lots of pics of the weekend trip:

Thursday I stopped by my long time high school friend Jamie C and visited her and her daughters Campbell and Evy. Too cute and Ben loved their play kitchen just before he pooped on himself. SCORE!!!

Friday we helped out (ok I helped out) around the house and did a bunch of chores for my mom. We took dinner out and visited with Aunt Luella and Uncle Henry on their farm. Ben loved the cows and tried to feed them crab apples. Seriously I always wanted them to be my grandparents.

Friday night I made dinner for my mom while Ben attempted to push her around the dining room table about 900 times. Notice that there is NOTHING in the cabinets. That's right, on THIS trip my mom had put all her kitchenware all over the living room and dining room while the cabinets were about to be painted. Cooking was a real treat with this arrangement as well as keeping Ben from disconnecting the disposal that was loose. Last trip I showed up after a long drive to find my entire bedroom set had been sold leaving only a matress and boxsprings for future visits. What will it be next time? I'm taking bets that my room will be rented out to a vagrent.

Friday night, I did opt out of watching Mom's fav show, Toddlers and Tiaras with her after about 5 really long minutes. I was wiped out from being in at out of the car all day with a 3 year old and a disabled parent. I have a new found respect for doors that open automatically.

Sat am I took mom to dialysis and then headed over to meet Laura W., another good high school friend at Gatti Town Pizza for Kids to meet her and her older daughter Lydia. I loved this place and SO wish we had one here. I ate so much pizza, it felt like old times with Laura on a date-less Friday night, just now with two 3 year olds clamoring for more dessert pizza! We also got to stop by to see her younger daughter Claire that was up from a nap. Super Cuties and were adored in Princess wear, including Ben.

I picked up Mom and we headed to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I took a nap at one point only to be awoken by Ben trying to push my mom to the front of the theater. NICE!

We had planned dinner out, but my mom was too tired and wanted to go home. Instead I made dinner and we settled in for a night of football. Again, mom's choice. Gotta love watching the USC Cocks, only in SC! I got Ben to bed and caught on some grading. I also finally got around to telling her before going to bed on Sat night that we were expecting another baby. I think she was happy, it was hard to tell given the very long silence. She did ask for one of the ultrasound photos so I will take that as good sign.

Off to church then Sunday dinner that I had made in advance, Brian got in from the out of state wedding he had been at since I arrived, and then finally headed home! We stopped at IKEA on the way in Charlotte and I think I found a bed and dresser for Ben's new room. Very excited at this prospect. After Ben ate both our lunches and played in the children's area, we hit the road for home. My bed never looked so good, and Bill had done the laundry and run the dishwasher. SWEET! Overall a good weekend, but really tired way to start the week.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Dropped off a 3 year old, and Picked up an 18 year old

Long, busy day and I still have to hit the grocery and catch up on household chores since I've been gone to SC since Thursday. Good weekend and big pic post coming tomorrow. On the super positive I got to catch up with 2 of my best high school friends while in town!

I had to choke back a stifled sob when I saw Ben's school picture proofs today. He looks SO mature in the proofs. Every year I try not to get sucked into buying them. One year, knowing they were using a Christmas tree in the background, I intentionally put Ben in a Halloween shirt only to have the teacher change his clothes ruining my potential plan.

Must buy for 2009 for the grandmoms as well as one for us.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

4 Month Check In from Baby V, Part Deux

Baby V part 2 is looking good at month 4 check up yesterday. He/she had a nice strong heartbeat and was kicking up a storm. I have to wonder is this a BOY? Actually we find out on November 12th with a level 2 ultrasound.

After the past year we are happy at whatever the 12th shows. I also got to meet the other doctor in the practice and also really liked him. How can I not? He drives my dream car with a licence plate reading "stork 1." One of things like best about this practice is they are not treating me as high risk with all the extra testing, so far no daily blood testing, and pulled me off my PCOS meds as they didn't think I needed them. I did agree to weekly blood testing as I am at a higher risk for gestational diabetes given my family history and own history.

Earlier this week the NY Times ran a second in a series about the Cost of Infertility. Since I read the first piece I felt compelled to read the second on the sharp increase in the rise and complications associated with multiple births due to advances in infertility treatments. As hard it is to think about this side of fertility technology advances, clinics that peddle high pregnancy rates should also include readings like this or the recommend the book Everything Conceivable.

I read this book as we were deciding to do IVF and it literally changed my idea about how many embryos to put back as well as the potential cost of a multiple pregnancy and birth. Bill and I agonized when the time came to decide. We did have the discussion as to what we could live with in terms of selective reduction, how many to put back, and how long to keep going if the first round didn't work. I didn't think we could proceed with something that important without having a really uncomfortable decision a potential pregnancy would create an even more gut wrenching decision.

The emotional side to IVF pales in comparison to any of the pain and discomfort of all those shots or the procedures to retrieve/transfer. Even knowing girlfriends that have gone through this doesn't prepare you. As I said back in Feb I can't imagine going through all this an not being pregnant in the end, and for so many couples it ends in even more heartache.

I feel incredibly blessed to be carrying this sweet baby and while I can't wait to find out if Ben is going to get a brother or sister, I welcome early April more than anything to just get the chance to do it all again. So many times in the past year I believed I had my only shot.

There is nothing sweeter than getting baby kisses from Ben every night. He changes his mind daily if he wants a brother or sister, and told me the other day he wanted both. Sorry honey, that only happens in Vegas and we've already been there this year. Anyway, we bet the house and won.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Foot Loose and Cable-Free

Last night Bill took out all the boxes from our switch to a cable-free house. So it's official, there is no turning back. One of the many things we gave up during this unemployment was cable. Bill started talking about the logistics back in January, but due to hold up of my need to watch the 2nd season of In Treatment on HBO (and it was so worth it), we didn't get around to doing it until the summer.

We have gone without our 100 plus channels since August and I really haven't missed it. Bill hooked up a flat screen monitor into the bedroom, but not until last night have I actually watched any TV in the bedroom, minus the recent Ken Bunrs installment. I justified it that I could watch the season premier of Frontline and the Good Wife as I was changing out seasonal clothes and trying on my stash of maternity clothes.

With the addition of Netflix streaming to pick up kids shows for Ben and a season pass through i-tunes for The Daily Show and Colbert I am happy we made the change. I seem to go to bed a bit earlier and now spend less time being a couch potato at night.

So here's what TiVo is watching 2009-2010 at Casa Vinson (that I am watching)

Monday- How I Met Your Mother, American Experience (if it's of interest)

Tuesday- Frontline, the Good Wife (very predictable but yet I am sucked in to watch Chris Noth and Josh Charles)

Wed- Law and Order SVU -I finally gave in last season and watched a single episode of the franchise when I was couldn't fine the remote, yeah I'm hooked like the other 35.4 million Americans. So You Think You Can Dance- Somehow after watching it this summer, I again am sucked in now that auditions are done.

Thursday- Office and CSI (giving it a few more episodes before I delete it, I didn't watch since Grisson left in the spring and don't really care any more it Las Vegas is overrun with murders)

FlashForward- Bill and I are totally into this show this year even with the total suspension of disbelief in some of the plotlines. One of the few shows we watch together outside of Daily and Colbert.

Weekend- 60 Minutes (insert social Security jokes here), but I'm telling you this is one of the longest running shows I've consistently watched since I was in high school with my grandparents. Perfect to bring into class for relevancy.

Will pick up Lost in January, but we have to first finish last season.

Dropping- Cold Case, Amazing Race, likely CSI, glee (I tried, but there is just too much singing and frankly I see all the drama I want at school)

Watching online when they return- Project Runway, Obsessed (A&E), and please o please nip/tuck

I am ok picking up Mad Men after the season run as there was no justification for paying for cable for one show. Note to self, if In Treatment does come back in 2010 re-read this post and don't pick up cable again. You can live without it! Repeat about 900 million more times.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Think My Book List Needs Lithium!

First off I am proud that my goal of reading 25 books in 2009 has been surpassed. For me this is a real record! I started book #36 although technically 3 books didn't make it past the 50 page rule, but who's counting. I attribute this major increase in reading to 2 things: ending cable TV, and strangely Bill's lay off has made us redefine how we spend our time/money. Our weekly library trips for Ben have resulting in our entire family reading more. I thought I would do a little check in with my fav and not so fav books to date.

Favorite Books:

The Tortilla Curtain- T.C. Boyle
Raising Cain-Dan Kindlon
Possible Side Effects-Augusten Burroughs (Audiobook)

Honorable Mention- Outliers- Malcom Gladwell

Just Couldn't Get Into Them-
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle-Barbara Kingsolver
Home Safe-Elizabeth Berg
The Corrections-Jonathan Frazen (Audiobook) MAJOR disappointment I've tried 3 times to finish it and now throwing in the towel.

Funniest Book (this is hard folks as I really loved several),But I keep coming back to My Custom Van by Micheal Ian Black

Worthy note, I re-listened to When you are Engulfed in Flames for a 3rd time this summer and as always David Sedaris you have just about running off the road laughing.

Most Disturbing Plot, would even go as far to say book I've read this year
Still Life With June- Darren Greer

I am about half-way through The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. I picked this for my book club due to getting decent reviews, thought it would lead to a good discussion. I have been voted, "worst book of the year", twice. I now try and pick something not too out there. Note to self, these ladies do not think David Sedaris is funny (except Eileen).

I must admit from looking at my 2009 personal choices I think I can classify them into 3 groups: Parenting, Satire/Humor, WTF is Wrong with These Messed up People, I'm perpetually sucked into their Drama!

Make your own conclusions. I just requested a book called Belong to Me after my friend was reading it this weekend. As she stated, it's as far away as the title suggests a love story as you can get. Just what I like!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What 8 Years and 5 Kids Looks Like

What do you get for 8 years friendship that started at my first school? A treasured friendship that started when I was assigned to teach/suffer through a windowless, cinder block paradise. Most days we came up with ways to try to stay cool and come up with some way to survive the administrations penchant to watch Love Connection during the school day more than assuring that the teachers they were backed up.

Over the past 8 years we have we been through too many school discussions, shared infertility in our own ways, the deaths of parents and grandparents, issues with siblings, complaints about spouses that need common sense knocked into them at times, the sadness of miscarriages, a shared RE, many a trip to the beach to catch up, 2 sweet babies born 9 months apart and now a pregnancy together.

Laura is due with twins around Valentines day to my Easter baby. Had we been able to do our IVF as Bill and I originally planned in June we would have been going through all the shots and procedures on almost the same day. Having Laura as an IVF resource made the process more manageable as I knew what to expect knowing she had been through it with the beautiful outcome that is her son Eli as well as her future sweet sons to come.

She drove up yesterday to hit Triangle Area consignment stores for extra baby gear as well as pick up the GENEROUS amount of items that friends had donated.

By end of day we had picked up 2 mobiles, a double stroller, a pack/play, breast pump, bouncy seat, jumping exersaucer, a swing, preemie outfits, clothes for Eli, another bouncer/glider that she swore by with Eli's infancy. Add to that lunch and a Trader Joes Run and we made the most of 5 hours to catch up.

There are friends that pass out of your life and only keep up through obligatory holiday card. When Laura's husband famously mentioned that they were moving to the beach because, "the fluorescent lights are sucking out my soul," we somehow managed to keep our friendship going.

For all the discussions we've had over these years, many when we were at a point of despair and frustration, I cannot begin to express how happy I am for her family and to share the same joy. I would do just about anything to be able to go next door at school any given day, question why there are 25 paper mache mummies littering her back wall due to another project that surely surpassed any and all teaching techniques.

She is an amazing woman, mother, spouse, teacher and I am very proud to call her one of my oldest friends. Lots of love to you and the babies-

Friday, October 9, 2009

Phone Photo Friday- Dancin' Pants Edition

I HAD planned to take a picture of the flu (regular)shot that I finally got yesterday, Alas after being told at a 5th, yes 5th place they had preservative free shots I waited and again didn't get a shot. Time now spent waiting to get a flu shot now exceeds 4 hours and at least a tank of gas including driving to Chapel Hill.

So, with that I move to the picture I AM posting. A very excited Ben wearing his poopy dancin' pants after he pooped on the potty last night. After the last weeks of regression this is a step (baby at that) in the right direction.

I somehow inherited this pants that only a child would love and only a good friend would give to you. They are covered in wagon wheels, cowboys, and FRINGE. I don't know if they were part of a costume or heaven forbid an actual outfit. Since we celebrating with the poop dance, I thought how about trying to make it an incentive to get to wear the pants to bed when we read the Pajama Dance book most nights.

Worked like a CHARM and moving to a new reward chart this weekend, including these pants!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What Does 11% Buy You?

In my school district the reversal of the past 30 years of attempting to equalize schools on grounds of socioeconomic differences. Without going into a long, lengthy diatribe about boring school policy. Or that given that I work for our local system and try to watch public negativity about my workplace, this is a disappointing defeat to have in one extremely low voter turnout election, to allow now a majority of the school board seats filled with new single-minded folks backed by a local political party's propaganda machine.

I truly can see both sides. As a parent I want my child to go to a school that has quality teachers, administration that cares about the families, and if possible be located as close to my home as possible.

When I started working in this district, enrollment was around 100,000 students. This year, it is a little over 140,000. We are now the 20th largest district in the nation and have been recognized by the Federal Supreme Court in a recent decision involving WA state schools as "a model of how to achieve student diversity" by using student socioeconomic (SES) status instead of the more controversial student assignment based on race.

Simply put, the growth in this area of the county has fueled an influx into the public schools, and to maintain this balance the system must have a method to balance schools from resegreagated themselves to the have vs have not schools.

I started my career in a have not school and can testify first hand the impact of student learning when you have a concentration of students who come to school living in dire poverty. You become part social worker while also trying to get your kids to pass the holy grail of state tests. It leads to quick burnout and I am guilty of wanting to be a better district that paid better and was closer to home when the opportunity beckoned. When I moved into the county I took a job at magnet high school that serves some of the brightest students and also students from some of the city's roughest housing projects. It was a challenging and extremely rewarding place to teach and I miss my kids dearly. To clarify, I miss ALL my kids, and learned more about teaching from the neighborhoods kids than anything I ever could in grad school.

In the early 1980s our district merged the almost all minority and under enrolled city schools with the bursting at the seems suburban county schools. As a result a competitive magnet system was put in place at the most of the inner city schools to attract families back as well as to maintain some type of balance. Also the county chose to upholding the constitutionally tested right to bus students (mainly out of the inner city into the suburban schools that has sorely been misrepresented in this election) to attempt to equalize the number of students designated by poverty level. Again, not the specifically using race using the code word of SES to stand for race has turned this into a nasty protracted fight.

What I fear more than anything is for the past 30 years of slow and steady progress to make all schools in the district more of the have schools and close the gap between kids to be dismantled by select, small group of disgruntled parent groups backed by local political party organizers.

I truly believe and have seen 1st hand that education IS the vehicle for success in life. I believe this for my own child as much as I do for the kids I teach. It saddens me that in 5-10 years we could very easily return to a pre Brown v Board Status with students in under enrolled schools, taught by long term subs/ non certified teachers in the majority of their classes, a total lack of arts/sports extra curriculum programing in some schools, a rotating circus of administrators brought to "fix things" when what is broken has little to do with the school itself but the policies that dictated how things must work in an inherently unfair system.

This is the recipe that Jonathan Kozol writes about in Savage Inequalities, a reality for many kids that will truly be left behind.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What's For Lunch?

Thanks for all the supportive thoughts on my blog as well as FB yesterday. It means the world to us to be able to share in this happiness.

I am in need of lunch ideas. We are having issues with Ben not wanting to eat at school. We have a couple of issues 1. the school is completely nut free 2. school can refrigerate but not heat up food 3. Ben likes the same thing everyday pbj, goldfish, applesauce, and cereal bars and refuses to even try a new food.

I have gotten him back to eating waffles and yogurt in the am by making a smile out of syrup or raisins and dinner is typically the meal above with milk and maybe, just maybe if I make muffins or rice he will eat a little.

But lunch, oh lunch! From talking to his teachers I found out that Ben would rather play with the manipulative works or talk to anyone he sits with. Sound like someone else that still hasn't eaten lunch as I write this? Kids have 30 mins for lunch and with 2 teachers and 25 kids ages 3-5 they are expected to be self sufficient to open packaging, set out their cloth napkin, eat, and clear away trash.

I have been trying sunflower butter pbj(allowed), cut up fruit, yogurt, raisins, more applesauce, cheese in shapes and most days I am greeted with a full lunch box.

I know he is hungry and typically asks for the raisins or animal crackers on the way home (just before passing out from also a lack of a nap). He does eat snack at school and since it is self directed I believe that he may be filling up at snack and not ready for actual lunch.

I am desperate to get something healthy in him. Enter some online research and looking at some books for ideas. I LOVE Wendolonia's blog about using bento boxes and plan to order a few if I can't find them locally. I was amazed at how easy she makes it and what's not to love, less waste, creative way to show you care while at school, and hopefully more ideas to get Ben trying something new.

Last night I let him help me make his lunch. I suggested we make a smiley face cheese sandwich using my indispensable Pampered Chef Cut and Seal sandwich maker (makes Uncrustables without the price) as well as my reusable Rubbermaid juice box.

He genuinely seemed interested I included him in making the decision about lunch, that was until he discovered decorating the pumpkins Bill had bought for him.

Monday, October 5, 2009

From 24 Eggs Comes 1 Big Fat Easter Bunny!

This has taken over a year to be able to announce and the words couldn't be sweeter, Ben is going to be a big brother!!!

We are expecting a baby somewhere around April 12, 2010.

While the cat is kinda out of the bag (more like running loose about town by now), we wanted to wait until after our 1st trimester to officially announce that IVF was a success.

If you didn't know here were the details. This is more for me to remember dates, although how could I forget. This is truly an ACC baby as we have been up and down the East coast from Boston to Florida with milestones a plenty.

July 7th (day after Bill's surgery) Started 1st IVF cycle a year after trying for a 2nd child. By January 2009 we moved to a fertility clinic given: We had unbelievable insurance coverage and my latest PCOS labs showed that waiting was not in our best interest. A very emotional spring with MANY setbacks.

Week of July 11th- Start 3 daily injections to stimulate egg production. I was at Harvard that week and while wouldn't have missed a trip of a lifetime, by end of week had to fly home early due to carrying 24 eggs.

July 20th- Egg Retrieval: 24 retrieved, 17 fertilized, 11 divided, 5 perfect embryos

July 23th- Transfer of 2 back, bittersweet that we didn't get to a day 5 transfer as we planned. Needed one more cell on only one embryo to make waiting 2 more days worth the risk to the whole lot. It doesn't get any more of a close call than agonizing over a 6 am phone call with the lab supervisor over what to do. We decided to bet the house and just do it, even at Day 3. If we had twins I know we could have handled it somehow and after the past months, we wanted a pregnancy more than anything else.

August 3rd- Positive pregnancy test in Florida. I was certain that is was going to be a big fat negative after taking a HPT that seems to give me no results. On the way home after driving in torrential rain from the lab, I saw a double rainbow stretching across the sky. HOPE! HCG was 108 and my reaction was not expected joy but uncontrollable sobbing. Even Ben told me "it's ok mommy, don't be sad." It wasn't sadness, but a year of emotion to let go of and the idea that anxiety was about to set in.

August 5th- Repeat blood test, found out HCG was rising at 317 while playing Goofy Golf. Indeed pregnant!!! Note to self, screaming and jumping up and down in the parking lot will tip others off that something is up.

August-18th First ultrasound has us very panicked when no fetal poles were visible, the Dr thinks it could be we are too early by a couple of days. She is right after a very long agonizing week we see brilliant white spots on August 24th and see a beating heart on August 31st. We are released to our OB!

Sept 16th and 28th reveal a healthy growing baby that even did a little flip at the 12 week screen. I like the new OB practice we have moved to for ongoing care. I like even better that they are supportive of our decision to use a labor doula and hope for another natural birth.

Next up finding out somewhere in mid-November if Ben will have a little brother or sister, or a brother-sister as he keeps telling me every night at bed when he kissing my tummy.

We are thankful beyond belief to our friends that have supported us over the last year of trial and tribulation. Infertility is not a path I would wish on anyone and frankly am surprised at myself for being as open as I have on this blog and to friends in real life. That in itself is a major milestone for me personally.

I would also not recommend anyone take on IVF in light other major life stress, but as I hoped as I wrote in June of what would become of the next months, we made it with a beautiful blessing to show for our determination and indomitable spirits.

Thank You for your prayers, support, and for sharing in this miracle.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Double Post Friday!

Call this the making up for a lost week edition.

If this is not progress, what is? Almost 85 lbs lost since July 6th. Plus I came home to find the grass mowed, dishes in the dishwasher, dinner almost ready (including KFC biscuits). SCORE!!!!

So, So, So Proud and lovin' the new dress clothes. I am going to BURN any gray t shirts I find in this house.

Tales from the Little Potty: The Throwing in the Underwear Edition

There is a disclaimer to this post. Multiple ones:

1. In the scheme of things, this too shall pass. There are much more real issues in the world. Everyone has static in their lives, with kids, spouses, jobs, with themselves.

2. This has been part of a larger group of issues both child related and other causing a temporary bad patch lately. I tend to hunker down and become totally focused on the problem at hand and try to reason, compartmentalize, and micromanage my way out. Not always a good strategy, but my MO for as long as I can remember.

3. I can make any situation 100 times worse by relying on this strategy and failing to realize that sometimes you just need to change course.

Backstory- A year ago at our old daycare we made the decision to go diaper free. Ben was staying dry during the day at at the teachers prodding we agreed let's start to work on pooping on the potty. What has ensued for the last 12 months has been daily pooping, most days more than once in underwear. I should have bought stock in Borax.

We have tried everything: Sticker charts, potty only toys, special treats, character undies with a focus on keeping them clean.

As we started a new school I fully expected this to be an issue resulting in the eventual note from the teacher. It came last Friday in the form of a suggestion that we use pull ups as Ben while sitting everyday, continues to poop most days on the playground at both am/pm outside time. I asked if someone is prompting him to go even in the midst of play and they are. Ben seems to have built a good relationship with one of the teachers from his summer camp week and will sit for her.

I talked to this teacher as well as his lead teacher and got the same message of the school wants to do what is most supportive for your family, but we think some type of change is needed. At first my immediate reaction to push back and I voiced that I worried that we would loose the hard fought pee battle and regression would set in. Ben treated pull ups like a diaper when we had tried them before and since he couldn't wear them at school we opted to not do them at home. In hindsight I would have rethought continuing undies when come last January no progress had been made.

We talked to Ben over the weekend told him no undies until he could make a poop in the potty. We packed up all the undies and explained he was going to be wearing a diaper again until he could poop on the potty. We bought plain, no character super cheap pull ups that frankly once leaky would make him uncomfortable and more ready to admit pooping. Ben lost it when we put them on Sunday. Ben kicked, hit, and slapped me and later Bill. We stood firm and he wore them.

I sent a note to the teachers to which led to more confusion after my resistance on Friday. I tried to catch them both Monday and Tuesday afternoon but due to a super fun week at school, missed them. He repeated pooping behavior every day this week added to ongoing not napping or eating a substantial lunch. Truly a intersection of some of the worst of 3 year old triggers for nightly meltdowns.

I wish I could say that only Ben was the one throwing tantrums, but alas all those "I'll never be like my mom/dadisms" have seriously reared their ugly head this week in particular. I am so put out and tired, I feel like I am totally running on empty and would do just about anything for a chance of scenery.

I took Ben to the park earlier in the week to enjoy the fall weather. As planned we stopped at the potty on the way in and I continued to ask while there if his tummy hurt and needed to go sit. On the way out I discovered one of the worst messes ever. It was so bad that it was all over the toilet, in his socks, shirt, shorts and all over his legs and back. It was even on his face. I didn't bring wipes with me so I cleaned up the entire poopy public potty and then Ben using most of the bathroom paper towels. I carried him to the car wearing only shoes and shorts. classy.

Seriously this was the last straw for me, as I refused to talk to him on the way home afraid that if I opened my mouth, there was no telling what vile things would come out to regret later. Ben got the bath of a lifetime and super early bedtime for continued slapping and hitting both of us once he had a throw down in the door tantrum. Just as we got him to bed the power went off just to add insult to injury.

A friend reminded me that that it's his success and not mine. I also know that it's not for a lack of trying to be supportive of the steps to get to the end goal. Not since my total failure to breastfeed have I felt more like recipient of the loser parent award. Even in that miserable time I knew rationally that I did everything in my power to make it work.

At some point I will have to come to peace with this too. No one poops in their pants on the first day of high school (or admits it) and I know that given time this too shall pass and he will get there.

Prayers, Thoughts, Suggestions, Drinks in my Honor!