Hello! My name is Randi and I blog at Bring on the New. I know Ashley through her husband Chris - I worked with him in high school and still remember when he started dating Ashley, and how he said that even though she was the only girl he'd ever dated, he knew she was "the one." And he was like, 16. So cute. My brother was in their BEAUTIFUL wedding, and now I love keeping up with their lives through Ashley's blog!
Like Ashley, I married my high school sweetheart, Rick. He's a full-time graduate student pursuing his masters in Architectural Engineering. Yeah...he's pretty smart. He's also a stellar musician and works at our church as the worship leader. We have been together for thirteen years and married for eight and a half. Three years ago, we welcomed our son Charlie, and three months ago, we welcomed our daughter Lucy, who was born six weeks earlier than expected. (Any other premie moms out there?). I am in my 7th year of teaching 7th grade reading full-time at the middle school that I (and incidentally, Chris and Ashley) attended. It's sort of strange teaching in my old English room with many of my former teachers, but honestly, there isn't a place on Earth I'd rather teach. In an attempt to truly document a "day in the life" I chose to document the last Wednesday of the 2nd quarter, December 19th. (The past few Wednesdays I have been on break, which has been utterly glorious!)
NICU for almost three weeks means that nursing was a bust. She ate through a tube for the first week and a half or so, but by the time we started nursing, my milk supply was so high that I was having to pump afterward. It was also very exhausting for her, and since we wanted to get her strength up as quickly as possible, we opted for the bottle. I did this with my son too, and even though it is incredibly exhausting and a huge pain, we have decided to go the pumping and bottle-feeding route. It works for us. My supply has dipped significantly since my return to work, but I still score 15 oz. Not bad.
4 15 AM - I am back asleep. Normally I would be up and getting ready, or perhaps just laying in bed waiting for my alarm to go off at 5:30, but the night's excursions have worn me out. I think Lucy was back awake again, but my husband took care of her that time. He's on winter break and doesn't have to go to work in the morning. Thanks, Honey.
6 15 AM - I am ready, the car is packed with my purse, pumping equipment, and lunch, and I make a cup of milk and a cheerios-to-go for my son. I go get him and he is surprisingly upbeat for 6:15 AM. Generally, if waking up is his idea he's in a great mood, but if it's not, he's just like his daddy - cranky-pants in the morning. We take off jammies and get jeans, a shirt, socks, shoes, and a hoodie on. (He doesn't want to wear the hoodie, but I make him.) We go downstairs, put on a coat, grab his breakfast, and head out.
|Sorry it's so dark - the sun still isn't up at this hour!|
7 00 AM - I have dropped Charlie off with Darci. Three days a week he is here and the other two days he spends with his grandmas. With me working full-time and Rick being a full-time student, staying home with our kids is not possible. The next best thing? Family. We are so blessed to have that option.
7 10 AM - I am walking into the building and even before I have a chance to stow my lunch in the fridge in the workroom, I am met by a student with this:
7 18 AM - I am locked in my classroom and pumping. When I returned to work a few weeks ago I sent an email to my team teachers and my principals listing the three times I pump at school and kindly asking that they call or email if they need me during these times. A little awkward, as all my administrators are males, but it's a lot less awkward than having them walk in (which happened once with my son :). Pumping at school is a pain, but it's a way for me to love my baby while at work.
7 40 AM - I'm cleaned up and writing the agenda on the board:
7 50-11 06 AM - I teach 46 minutes of reading four times. Our lesson today includes some housekeeping in which the students grade each other's ISNs (Interactive Student Notebooks). This takes awhile, as it's done as a class. Once we are finished, the kids get out the rough draft of a letter they are writing to a soldier overseas. It's a new project - this is the first year we've done it - but the kids are really enjoying it. Some of my boys in particular are really interested and have great questions for the soldiers. It's been an adventure for me too - not having any immediate family in the military, I am learning right along with them. Today's task is to edit their papers and begin final drafts. They are also turning in their pages for Independent Reading. At the beginning of the year, I sit down with each kid and look at their Instructional Reading Levels and their state test scores. Together, we set a goal for how many pages they should read on their own during the nine week quarter. I was on maternity leave at the end of 1st quarter and not many students met their goals. I am happy to say that pages have been coming in for the past few weeks but, as 7th graders will do, many have put it off. I check goals and totals for kids and I mill about the room, correcting errors here and there. I also get this picture via email from my husband with the subject "Don't I look pretty Mommy!":
11 15 AM - It's my lunch break, but I am pumping again. I try to be as productive as possible, but it's hard to do with just the one hand. I enter the kids' pages into the spreadsheet and make a list of kids who still need to turn them in. Normally, I eat and call to check on my daughter, but I didn't get either of these things done. I'm sure Lucy is fine, but I miss her.
11 45 AM - I have washed up, and am sitting in our team meeting. I will eat lunch during my plan. We team at our school, and I never want to work in a middle school that doesn't. We have 122 kids on our team, and all of them have the same teacher for math, science, social studies, language arts, and reading (my class). All of the team teachers meet every day for one class period to call parents, plan events, discuss strategies, etc. It is such a great support system for kids and for us. Today, we discuss a behavior plan for a particularly difficult student (no details) and we plan for the Positive Reward Party tomorrow. The kids who met their pages goal will get snacks in each hour and, since it's the end of the quarter, we're shortening the schedule and showing movies at the end of the day. Students who have missing work will be getting caught up during that time and (lucky me) I get selected to stay and work with them. The kids who have all their work caught up get to be rewarded with a fun afternoon of snacks and movies.
These are some of the gifts I got from kids today. They are so sweet to think of their teachers :)
12 30 PM - 6th hour is probably my most challenging group of kids. They are hyped up from lunch and I have lots of talkers in this class. Fortunately I have another adult in the room, so together, we get them through the ISN check and the editing. The final draft is due tomorrow, and most kids buckle down and get to work because they don't want homework.
1 30 PM - This is my planning period. I have to pump yet again, but before I do, I help a student with a late assignment. I also manage to enter the grades from the kids' ISN checks while I'm pumping. As I'm washing up, I remember I did not eat lunch. Such is the life of a teacher. I do have a second to check my phone and Darci has sent me a text that one of her kids came home sick during lunch. She's going to try to keep him downstairs and Charlie and the other kids upstairs. All the kids are down for a nap right now. I call Rick and we agree that Charlie should stay. He is at home with Lucy who isn't supposed to be out due to her premie status, and I just took 42 days of non-paid sick leave. Charlie usually sleeps until 3 or 3:30. We can make it to the end of the day.
2 50 PM - Kids leave. I don't - I add up all the kids' pages and determine that 84/122 of them met their goal - MUCH better than last quarter when I was on maternity leave. I stay and handle a minor crisis for our team. It ends up taking until 3:30 to wrap up. I still have a stack of late work to grade and enter in the computer. I want to give the kids progress reports tomorrow so they can see what their grade will be on their report card in the hopes that it will prompt those few who have missing assignments to get them in!
4 00 PM - I am picking Charlie up. He and the other kids are having their snack at the table. He's happy to see me but he wants to finish. I chat with Darci about Charlie's behavior. He did well, she said, but didn't eat much lunch. No surprise there - he is not a very good eater. We are back in the car by 4:10. I call my husband about dinner (I am hungry since I didn't eat lunch). He ate a late lunch (of course) and we agree to each fend for ourselves for dinner.
|Isn't this the sweetest smile?|
5 15 PM - We are home. My wonderful, fabulous, amazing husband has cleaned the house and says to me "I know you had a long day with little sleep, so you have two options - you can go to sleep right now, or you can spend the evening with Lucy and then go to sleep. I will take care of everything else." He is a rock star. I tell him without hesitation Option 2, and then I remind him that one of has to take Charlie to Awana tonight. His face falls a little - I can tell he forgot all about Awana and had planned to stay home. He says he will go, and that while he's at the church he'll get some work done. Good plan. I kiss him and see that Lucy is sleeping peacefully in her swing. She is so precious. I sit down to eat and since I am eating, Charlie wants to eat. Rick makes him a plate and sits at the table with us while we eat.
5 45 PM - Charlie stays downstairs to play with Daddy, and I head upstairs and get hooked up to pump. I play with my new Kindle Fire (Rick bought me one on Cyber Monday when they were $129!). I haven't had a chance to play with it yet because it didn't come with a charger. Rick figured out how to charge it for me. It makes the 15 minutes of pumping go way faster.
6 10-8 20 PM - More than two whole hours of just me and Lucy time. Rick cleaned the house, I got everything done at school before I left, and now it's just her and me, and she was awake for more than an hour of it! We talked, sang songs, and snuggled.
I get a text from Rick with this picture:
on the lap of his Awana teacher. So glad he follows directions there! I text back a picture of Lucy.
8 20 PM - Boys are home. I volunteer to put Charlie down for the night. I like doing this. He's a good sleeper. I mean a gooooooood sleeper. (Last night's wake up was way out of the ordinary!) He will sleep twelve hours if you let him. He likes to sleep and likes his bed. He doesn't always like to brush his teeth, but he does well tonight. He's still on an anti-biotic for his ear ache, but he likes to take medicine so that's an easy task, too. I undress him and change his diaper. We talk about how pee goes in the potty and not his diaper. (Potty Training 101 starts on Day 1 of break!) He gets his monkey and picks Goodnight Moon to read before we go to bed.
8 35 PM - I am pumping again - last time today. I pump, deposit the milk in the fridge, and kiss my husband and daughter goodnight.
And there you have it. I know it's a bit different from what most moms post, but as the wife of a full-time student, a full-time working mom is what I have to be. I spent the first few years fighting it, but now I realize that my children are able to love and be loved by so many others than they would if I stayed home with them. I would love to stay home some day, but this thought is what keeps me going. This, and knowing that I'm taking care of 122 other mommas' babies every day!
What is the most surprising thing to you about being a mom?
The most surprising thing to me about motherhood was the fact that everything is not instinctual. I was so naive, heading into motherhood with no idea what it was really about. I thought that if my baby cried, I would just know why. I thought that if my child did wrong, I would just know what to do to discipline him. I thought that if he was sick, I would just know what to do for him. Um...not the case. I was so overwhelmed my first few years as a parent because I didn't always know what to do. The perfectionist in me was dying a slow, painful death. I finally learned that I cannot be a perfect parent - there's no way on Earth. Instead, I have to do the best I can using the guides set before me - God's Word, my parents, my community, and experience (which has made Take Two MUCH easier!).
What advice would you give to new or soon-to-be mamas?
Do what works for you and take no shame in it. You are the parents and you decide together what is best for your child. Those early months are so precious and stressful - don't "borrow trouble" as my mother always says by worrying and stressing over what someone else thinks you should be doing. Some people thought I should have nursed my daughter instead of pumping and bottle feeding her, but that didn't work for us. And that's okay. We sleep-train our babies because that's what works for us. And that's okay. Our almost three year old still hasn't been potty-trained because we had a full-time student-daddy, a bed rest mommy, and a premature baby that put it all on hold. And that's okay. (I'm especially telling myself that last one is true right now!) I believe you are chosen by God to be your child's parent on purpose. Be informed, be intelligent, but ultimately, do what you think is best and don't let anyone tell you different.
What are your top three baby products?
1) My Medela breast pumps and breast milk storage bags - These babies are gold. I have used an Ameda pump and an Avent pump, and I am telling you the Medelas are worth every penny. (I didn't pay for either of mine though - got them from moms who decided not to do it after baby was born...AND THAT'S OKAY!). As for the bags, I had more than 400 bags of milk with my son. I used Lansinoh, Nuk, and Medela. Four out of five of the Lansinoh bags leaked and probably two or three out of five of the Nuks. I didn't have a single Medela bag leak. That stuff is liquid gold - it's worth the extra few bucks!
2) Signing Time DVD - When my son was six months old, a woman in our church gave us Baby Signing Time. She said to start immediately and we did - we started watching every night with his before-bed bottle. He was riveted as a six-month-old. I think his first sign was when he was 9 or 10 months old - "more." I can't tell you how nice it was to have him sign that he wanted milk or that he was hungry. He just stopped signing "please" every time he said the word a few months ago, and I was a little sad to see it go. Can't wait to start in with Miss Lucy.
3) Swaddlers - the one thing that both my kids love/d. Charlie was swaddled at night until he was six months old and Lucy loves loves LOVES it. Sometimes we swaddle her during the day because she just likes it. A soon-to-be-mama friend of mine told me she would never swaddle her baby (which made me giggle...I said a lot of things like that before I had kids, too) because she thought it was "mean." We did not follow her logic. In fact, at the NICU they always swaddled. They told us that babies love to push against mommy's tummy inside, and they love to push against blankets outside.
Thanks for sharing your day with us Randi!