30 April 2011

Nerd in Utero Project: Week 14

In honor of this week's news, we made our poster pink.  This is about as "princessy" as it gets with me.

How Far Along: 14 weeks, 4 days
Size of Baby: The size of a lemon.
Total Weight Gain/Loss: Somewhere between 6-8 pounds.  It's packing on faster than I anticipated.
Maternity Clothes: Still not quite, but I can't button my jeans anymore and I had to buy a bigger belt.  Oh, and I bought 2 more B-cup bras.  Thank goodness for Target's $8 bras.
Baby-related Purchases: I haven't bought anything with my own money, but check out our first baby gifts:
Our very first baby present from our friends Damon and Jessica.  Jess said she couldn't resist buying baby clothes once she heard the news.  It blows our minds that a human will fit into these clothes.

These are on lend from our friends Robert and Sandra who have an almost-3-year-old named Maelee.  The infant seat will save us a bunch of money.  And our daughter is sure to look darling in the Braves get-up when we take her to her first game.

Gender: A GIRL!
Movement: I can't feel her move, but we sure saw a lot of movement on the ultrasound.
Sleep: Haven't had as much nap time lately, but I do fall asleep around 9:00 every night.  I'm used to an 11:00 bed time.
Belly Button In or Out: It's attempting to make its way out.
What I Miss: After going to our friend Heather's wine tasting party last night, I really miss wine, and I'm not even a huge fan of wine.  I had a sip of 3 different kinds of wine out of Dixie paper cups, and they were amazing.
Cravings: I just want to stuff my face 24/7.  My grocery list keeps growing each week because I run out of snack foods so much faster these days.
  • Peeing…it pretty much rules my life.
  • A little heartburn here and there.
  • An expanding waist and bust line.
  • Very tired and wanting to have more of those scheduled naps.
  • My skin is starting to itch around my belly and my boobs.  I assume that means my skin is stretching.
Managing the Stress: Let's see…I did one night at the gym (shameful, I know), and we worked in the yard and planted lots of seed.  I've also allowed myself to sleep a little later in the mornings, including work days.  :)
Worries: That the doc was actually punking us when he announced the baby's sex.  Will Ashton Kutcher appear from behind the sonogram machine at our next appointment?

  • Finding out our baby is HEALTHY and that it's a GIRL!  We can finally use feminine pronouns.
  • Announcing to our parents that they were going to have a granddaughter--through a delivery of pink flowers.
  • Watching the royal wedding of Will and Kate while pregnant, just as my mom watched the wedding of Charles and Diana while pregnant with me!
  • We had a cook-out with Jessica (Damon's car went kaput, so he had to fix it) to watch the last episode of "The Office" with Michael Scott's character.  We had steak, salmon, fresh corn, mashed potatoes, and salad (most of which was cut from the garden).  It was a fun evening.
  • I took our next-door neighbor's daughter, Ariana, out to lunch to celebrate her 10th birthday.  We ate at the finest chicken restaurant on God's green earth: Chik-fil-A.
  • My brother, who has been in Savannah since last August, has accepted a job in Alpharetta and starts soon!  He'll be much closer to home, which will give him the chance to see his niece more often after she makes her world debut this fall.
  • I received my first Mother's Day card--from A. Hab and her husband!  I didn't realize there were cards designed for mothers-to-be, but that's exactly what she found.  It absolutely made my day.  Even better than the card: the fact that she and her hubs were safe after the tornadoes hit near them in Alabama.
Favorite Quote of the Week:  While my students were packing up to catch their buses 2 afternoons ago, one of my boys (a sweetie from Honduras who can name all 44 American presidents in order without taking a breath) looks over at me and says, "Mrs. Wynne, I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but you're getting kind of big."  He slung his bag over his shoulder and braced himself for a verbal lashing.  I giggled and replied, "I'm supposed to get bigger.  If I didn't, then that means the baby isn't growing."  He then proceeded to wipe the "sweat" from his brow, relieved he hadn't offended me.

PS--Keep those in the South in your thoughts and prayers after these devastating tornadoes ripped through the land and killed over 300.  There are families without homes, students without schools, individuals without their creature comforts.  It makes you incredibly grateful for what you have when you witness such an awful disaster.  And bless those who are volunteering their efforts in relief work in the hardest-hit areas.

26 April 2011

Boy or Girl: The Big Reveal!

Yesterday was the big day, and we were 2 days shy of being 14 weeks pregnant!  I had to remind myself that we may not find out the sex of our baby and that I would be fine with that sort of news if it came to that.  At the very least, the doctor would tell us if everything looked normal and if we were clear of any signs of Down's syndrome.

As before, I hopped up on the table and braced myself for any and all news.  I had been amazed at the tiny peanut Baby Nerd was at 7 weeks, but I knew we would see limbs and facial features at this visit.  Here's a little of what we saw:

You can see the top of Baby Nerd's head and right arm.  Look at those FINGERS!!!

We have a nasal bone and normal neuchal fold.  No sign of Down's.

In 3-D, Baby Nerd told us to "rock on".  This gave Michael a huge laugh.

Seeing our baby--and such a normal, healthy one--was incredible.  I'd like to say I was rendered speechless, but I was the annoying mother-to-be on the table repeatedly saying, "Look at that!" and "Holy cow, is that its ear?" and "There's the heart just beating away!"  I wanted to eat that moment with a spoon.

Then, the moment of truth.  The doc poked around my abdomen with his magic wand, and Baby Nerd's legs sprawled like frog legs.  Within the first 5 seconds of looking for "parts", the doctor could tell.  Yet, instead of just coming right out and saying what we're having, here's a photo of the proud grandmother getting her flowers at work today:

My mom with her bouquet!  Notice the PINK?

That's right, folks!  We're having a GIRL!

Surprised?  ;)

Yeah, we were surprised, too, but not at all disappointed.  What had been a low heartbeat at the 7-week visit (in the 120s) was now at 165 bpm.  So between seeing the girl parts and hearing that fast heart rate, all 3 of us in that room were certain it was a girl.

I thought finding out the baby's sex would have me in tears on the table, but they didn't come until after Michael and I walked out to our vehicles.  We hugged and kissed over our happy news, and then he exclaimed, "What am I going to do with a girl?  I mean, I have to give her away one day."

Bring on the waterworks.

Through misty eyes, I looked at my husband and reassured him, "I'm not real sure about how to handle raising a little girl either, but you're going to have such a wonderful daddy-daughter relationship with her.  That's a relationship that's incredibly special, one that I had and then lost.  You're going to be a great father to our little girl."

When we arrived home, we promptly ordered our flowers and then spent the rest of the night thwarting texted requests from friends to tell them what we were having.  There were promises of not telling and even a little name-calling (love you, Brittany!), but my mom (as well as my in-laws) was going to have this little victory come hell or high water.  And as you can tell from the picture, she's one happy grandmother.

24 April 2011

Nerd in Utero Project: Week 13

Weeks 24 and 32 have been claimed!  Let me know if you would like to create a poster for one of our Nerd in Utero posts.  We are really enjoying that our loved ones are taking part in this journey.  :)

Happy belated Earth Day!

How Far Along: 13 weeks, 4 days
Size of Baby: The size of a peach.  By the way, every time I have bought peaches at the grocery store over the last couple of weeks, they are way too firm and not sweet at all!  I've moved to the country.  Now I want to eat lots of peaches.
Total Weight Gain/Loss: Still about 5 pounds.
Maternity Clothes: I know I mention Target all the time, but seriously, their clothing department is the best thing that has ever happened to my wardrobe.  I found another cute loose-fitting top, as well as an empire-waisted jersey-knit dress.  Neither were from the maternity department.  I found them in juniors.  And guess what?!?!  I was able to purchase my very first B-cup bra this week!  And it was a perfect fit!  I'm still in shock.
Baby-related Purchases: Not this week.
Gender: After doing lots of research, it seems it is possible that we will know our little nerd's sex at Monday's appointment, but I can't help but think that there's a chance that Baby Nerd won't be turned the right way or that there will be a shadow on the ultrasound that covers important "parts".  I'm trying not to get my hopes up...
Movement: Still nada.
Sleep: I have enjoyed the amount of sleep I have had this spring break!  I have slept until 7:30 every day, and I take a nap whenever the housework wears me out.  Yes, while my co-workers have been on cruises and sunned themselves on the beach, I have been cleaning toilets and mopping floors.  Soon, I will be tackling paper-grading.
Belly Button In or Out: In, in, in.  My waist has expanded to 30 inches, though.  I think my navel might pop pretty soon.
What I Miss: Not having to think twice about the air I'm breathing.  I mean, I always hated breathing in other people's cigarette smoke or exhaust fumes from our lawn mower.  In either case, I can usually relocate my physical being and all is OK in the world.  But now, if something other than plain ol' air enters my lungs, I am left worrying over the possible effects on Baby Nerd.  What about the nail polish and acetone smells when I get a pedicure?  Or the smoke of a roaring campfire?  Should I hold my breath when pumping diesel into our VW?  Pregnancy books talk about "dangerous fumes" and how they can be controlled while gestating.  Even though we started long ago, this is one of the many reasons we have gone green with the cleaners in our household.  You won't find bleach or ammonia anywhere in our house (yay for vinegar spray!).  There's always something, though, that I'll be forced to inhale simply because I will be in breathing distance.
Cravings: So every time a food commercial comes on, I want that food.  Taco Bell commercial?  I immediately crave a ranchero chicken soft taco.  Pizza Hut commercial?  I want a slice of pepperoni-black olive pizza.  Carrabba's commercial?  Hit me up with a plate of mezzaluna pasta and a huge Caesar salad.
  • I thought the sleepiness was supposed to start tapering by now...
  • B-cup boobies!
  • I'm so thirsty all the time, I carry a squeezy water bottle of ice cold aqua almost everywhere with me.  Here at home, I still keep a glass at arm's length.  Water is the first thing I consume when I wake up to cure my sleeper's cotton mouth.
  • I pee so much, I should buy stock in Charmin TP and Kohler toilets.
  • I'm beginning to experience heartburn every now and again.  It's not to the level of leaving me incapacitated, but it's uncomfortable and kind of gross.
Managing the Stress: I have worked in the yard quite a bit this week.  I was able to plant a few bell peppers, some tomatoes, and 3 rows of bush beans.  It also feels REALLY good to get caught up on housework.  I still have to organize and store some bills, but I'm glad to have had this week away from work to get so much done.
Worries: This next visit is Baby Nerd's first "health" visit, so I'm still concerned about what the doc could find.  I'm way more concerned about this than the chance of not finding out the baby's sex.
  • Celebrating Reeve's (my grandmother) birthday with my her, my mom and my grandfather up in Gillsville.  Papa made BBQ chicken, which went well with sides of green beans, potato salad, and fluffy dinner rolls.  All Reeve talked about while Mojo and I visited was the baby.  She's so dang excited about being a great-grandmother, especially since she probably loves her grandson-in-law (yes, I'm talking about Michael) more than she loves sweet tea.  And she really loves sweet tea.
  • Not being so far behind on housework.
  • Had lots of time to experiment with food and recipes with my spring break.  Michael and I got to grill strip steaks and corn on the cob one night earlier in the week.  We even sat at the table to eat.  :)
  • B-CUP BOOBIES!!!  Maybe I should throw a party in their honor?
  • Seeing the overall results of this year's 5th grade writing test before going back to work.  There was a 14-point gain between last year's and this year's passing scores!  It has been a blessing working with this 5th grade team, not because of its successes, but because we do everything as a unit.  They are my family at work.
  • Seeing my father-in-law preach for the first time since I met Michael.
So since we were very open about our struggles to get pregnant and we have had followers of our story, Michael and I sort of "missed" our chance at announcing our pregnancy to our family in a unique way.  You girls out there know what I'm talking about.  You dream about the way you'll tell your mother she's going to be a grandmother the way you dream about your wedding or your husband's proposal…  I had concocted a few dorky ideas of my own in telling my mom: giving her a picture frame just for the hell of it but with a sonogram picture already in it or presenting her with a "World's Best Grandma" coffee mug on Mother's Day.  But when I was giving her the latest about my menstrual cycles and doctor's visits, I lost the opportunity to really surprise her with our pregnancy news. Well, I wanted to come up with a unique way of revealing Baby Nerd's sex to my mom, as well as Michael's parents.  IF (big, big "if" here) we find out the sex tomorrow, we will send a bouquet of flowers to my mom at work and another to Michael's parents at their house.  If the flowers they receive are purple or blue, then they're having a grandson.  If the flowers are pink, they're having a granddaughter.  We won't announce Baby Nerd's sex until our parents know first, so it might be the end of the week before they get their grandbaby flowers and everyone else gets to find out!

21 April 2011

Blackberry Lemon Balm Vinaigrette

We have lemon balm growing in our herb garden that we inherited from our friends' garden, as they had quite the surplus of it.  It tastes the way it's named: lemony.  It grows strong and quickly, and clipping off stems from the plant encourages more growth.  Since we added it to our herb collection, I have used it exclusively for sweet tea.  Adding several stems of the balm to your pitcher of tea gives it a light, lemony taste that's not as sour as actual lemon.

Lemon balm in our herb bed.
I clipped a few stems for my co-worker, April, who had never worked with this herb before.  It wasn't a huge surprise.  Lemon balm is one of those more "abstract" herbs.  Heck, I had never even heard of it until just a couple of summers ago when we were given the herb.  The only "balm" I was familiar with before that was the kind that comes in a cylindrical tube that you apply to your lips when they're chapped!  I told her how I used it in my tea, but she asked, "So what else could you use this herb for?"

I had just read in my herb cookbook that it was great for vinaigrette dressings.  I shared the info with April and started thinking about how I might incorporate this citrusy herb into a dressing myself.  Last night, the experimenting began!

***REMEMBER: I don't usually follow recipes because it's all about experimenting!  Don't be afraid to play as you go.  If you are unsure about amounts (since I don't typically list them), be sparing and add as you taste your concoction.  You know what you like.  Make it yours.

Ingredients I Used:

  • roughly 1 c. blackberries (mine were frozen from last year's harvest, but you can use fresh)
  • sugar (as much as you want to sweeten the berries)
  • honey (either in addition to the sugar or as a sugar substitute--I used it supplementally)
  • juice from large lemon
  • 3-4 stems of lemon balm, finely chopped
  • canola oil
  • raspberry balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic vinegar, if the raspberry flavor is hard to find)
  • sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper, to taste
Materials I Used:
  • sauce pan
  • silicone spatula
  • medium-sized glass bowl
  • cheese cloth or fine-mesh sieve
  • cruet
Heat the sauce pan to medium-high with the blackberries and sugar in it.  As the sugar melts and the berries begin to break up, add the juice from the lemon.  (It acts as a preservative in both color and flavor, so don't worry about it overpowering the flavors of the berries).  If you are using honey, you can add it at any time.  Allow to cook--stirring often--for about 20 minutes.  If the berries and sugar get too thick--like toothpaste--add water to thin it out.

Meanwhile, cut up your lemon balm on a clean cutting board.  Add to the glass bowl.  Pour in canola oil (if I had to guess the amount I used, I'd say between 1/8 and 1/4 cup) and lightly mix.  Add balsamic vinegar (this will be roughly double the amount of oil you used) and mix again.  Cover the the glass bowl with the cheesecloth (secure with a rubber band) or place sieve across the top (depending on what you have in your kitchen).

Once the blackberries and sugar are syrupy thick, pour into the cheesecloth/sieve.  You can use your spatula to press the liquid into the bowl, or let it drip (this will take forever, so I recommend pressing).  This rids the dressing of annoying seeds.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste.  Pour everything from the bowl into a cruet and give it a hard shake.  It should store well for 7-10 days.

The finished product!  I love the dark purple color of blackberry.

We used our dressing on fresh-cut mesclun and rocket salad from our garden.  It made the perfect sweet-tangy side dish at dinner.

And there you have it: blackberry lemon balm vinaigrette!  The berries and sugar make the dressing sweet, and the balsamic vinegar gives it a kick.  The chopped lemon balm adds color and a slight citrus flavor to the mix.  Give me a shout if you try this recipe!

18 April 2011

Sexier Legs from Your Kitchen? Try This Salt Scrub

When some of my girlfriends were learning how to shave their legs in 5th grade, I became jealous.  My mom wasn't going to teach me the ways of the razor until I was at least a 6th grader.  This was most likely due to the fact that I'm naturally a klutz, and the thought of dragging a sharp object across my knobby knees gave her visions of trips to the emergency room.  Still, I didn't care.  I just wanted smooth legs like all the other girls.  I wanted my rite of passage.

And got it, I did…along with the an awful case of razor burn.  Now, my 6th grade definition of "awful" would be a bump here and there around my thighs.  As I got older, the level of "awful" has gone from "I can deal with this" to "people are going to think I have chicken pox on my bikini line".  So I tried a variety of things to deal with the break-outs after shaving: richer shaving creams, more expensive razors, thicker lotions, lidocaine sprays, scrubbing with a loofah.  While some combinations worked, I would still deal with bumps and irritated hair follicles.

Winter time became my gams' favorite time of year.  I wouldn't be subjecting them to the punishment of the razor more than once or twice a week when pants and knee-high socks would hide any growth.  But when summer time rolls around, my legs begin begging for mercy: "You don't really have to wear that jersey knit skirt, do you?"  What was worse: going to the beach and donning a bikini.  I literally have to shave every day in this scenario.  It was either offend fellow beach bums with an embarrassing bikini line or blind them with pink on white contrast of my razor burn.  I chose the latter.  Yet, I noticed that every time I went to the beach, just being out in the sand and salt water seemed to ease the spreading rash that ran from my hips to my knees.  So I got an idea.

I turned to my kitchen pantry for a do-it-yourself salt scrub remedy for razor burn.  Here's what I use:

Extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt.

I use a wide-mouthed screw-top Ziploc container to store the scrub in my shower.
I pour a layer of salt into the container (about a third of the container), and then follow with the olive oil.  You don't have to mix it, but I do anyway.  The layer of oil usually sits higher than the salt, which is fine because--truth be told--you'll lose some in the transfer from container to application onto your legs.  You can keep a small scoop in the container (like from your Folger's coffee), or just apply by hand.  When I shower with the intention of shaving, I scoop out enough scrub to concentrate on my upper thighs and bikini area.  The salt dissolves, but the olive oil leaves a lubricant layer on your legs that help your razor glide across your skin with more ease.  Even after your shave, you can still feel the olive oil's effects on your skin.  Your skin is velvety smooth and shines brighter.

  • It's a natural exfoliant, and because it dissolves as you rub it around, you don't over-exfoliate.
  • It's healing.  You hair follicles that normally are red and irritated from razor burn will have a chance to relax.  It is also said that salt is a great treatment for psoriasis.
  • It's easy to come by.  And it's cheap!
  • It has a larger grain than table salt, so it doesn't dissolve as quickly.  Sea salts could be used if you can tolerate the sheer size of the grains.
  • It's more aromatic than the other olive oils.
  • It holds in skin moisture without clogging pores.
  • Its antioxidants and vitamins help slow the process of aging.
  • It's unlikely to cause allergic reactions.
So there you have it: an easy make-at-home salt scrub that will ease your razor burn and make you more confident to wear your bikini beyond the confines of the dressing room at Target.  I have used this remedy for the last 4 or 5 years and love it every time I use it.  And because it's something you can make, you can forget about those $15-20 containers of scrubs from Bath and Body Works that are made with alcohol and fragrances that will only worsen your dermatitis!  Give it a whirl and let me know how you like it.

PS--If you're a bottle tanner, like me, this is the perfect scrub to keep your knees and ankles from looking darker than the rest of your legs!

17 April 2011

Nerd in Utero Project: Week 12

90s flashback with some neon colors! 

How Far Along: 12 weeks, 5 days
Size of Baby: The size of a plum.
Total Weight Gain/Loss: Between 4-5 pounds.
Maternity Clothes: I bought a loose-fitting top from Old Navy last weekend I thought I could wear comfortably in the desert next month.  Other than that, no.
Baby-related Purchases: My next-door neighbor, Jennifer, invited me to go garage sale shopping yesterday.  She was on the hunt for furniture for her daughter's room, and I figured I could shop around for baby-related items.  Sure enough, I found an antique fold-up crib that I can keep at my mom's house when she keeps our little nerd.  It was in great shape and was easy to get into the back of our VW.  I get to give it to my mom tomorrow!
Gender: Every time I mention a symptom to someone new, they always say: "Sounds like a boy!"
Movement: No, but I can definitely feel my uterus when I press on my abdomen.
Sleep: I fall asleep faster than ever.  Heck, I fall asleep faster than Michael, and anyone who knows my husband's sleeping habits knows he could win Olympic gold with how quickly he can zonk out.  Staying asleep--with all the peeing and light REM stage of sleep--is about impossible.  But my very considerate husband ordered the Snoogle pillow for me this week to help me rest a little easier.  I must say, this sleeping tool is quite an amazing companion.  I mean, my head can be on the same pillow that props my on-top knee when I lay on my side?  Yes, please.
Belly Button In or Out: Still holds water like a mini-reservoir, so in.
What I Miss: Being able to make it to dinner without snacking.  Lunch is at 12:30 on work days, and we usually don't eat dinner until 6:00 or so.  If I don't eat in between those meals, watch out.  I exude a kind of grouchiness even I have trouble handling.
Cravings: Now that the herb garden is in full swing, I want meals and drinks accented with fresh herbs. I put mint in all of my drinks.  Oregano is great in pasta and on pizza.  Chives are great in potatoes.  Once my basil plant gets a little bigger, we'll be making some PESTO.
  • Sleep…it's taking over my life.
  • The acne comes and goes.  And when it comes, it flares up like crazy on my upper arms.
  • Incessant thirst.  I already drink a lot of water, but I crave it the way I used to crave sweet tea or a glass of milk.  I keep glasses in almost every room of the house now so I can make myself a drink straight from the tap.  Michael says it reminds him of the little girl from "Signs".
  • With all the fluid I'm taking in, I have an awful lot to give back.  I'm up somewhere between 1 and 2 times each night to pee.  I have to make sure to go before committing to any long-term event, like walking around the garage sale yesterday or before I leave for the grocery store.
Managing the Stress: Sleeping and gardening.  Gosh, I need to get back to the gym.  How am I going to hike around the Grand Canyon next month if I'm not in shape?
Worries: Health of the baby.  The appointment we have scheduled for 25 April is to check for abnormalities.  Yeah, we have our eyes on you, chromosomes 4 and 21!  We are stinkin' excited that we're pregnant and that we have gotten this far on the pregnancy timeline.  It sure would be nice to bring home a healthy baby.  The gender check is just supposed to be the "bonus" of this visit.
Celebrations: Two words: SPRING BREAK!  I have a week to get caught up on everything I'm behind on with my time "off".  So yeah, floors will be mopped, weeds will be pulled, papers will be graded.  Heck, I might find some time for me somewhere in there, and I can sleep past 5:00am.

10 April 2011

Nerd in Utero Project: Week 11

This week's poster was made by fellow nerd and lovely co-worker, Bree.  Yes, it's cooler than any poster I could make.  Yes, she chose Week 11 because it's her favorite number.  And yes, it's laminated. 

I figured it's hard to read the poster in the first shot, so I took a shot of it by itself.  There are 11 different facts, and they are nerd-tastic!

How Far Along: 11 weeks, 5 days
Size of Baby: The size of a lime.  That must mean my uterus is really getting big.
Total Weight Gain/Loss: Roughly 4 pounds.
Maternity Clothes: I bought 2 BeBands at Target earlier in the week, but mysteriously, only 1 came home with me…pregnant brain in action yet again?
Baby-related Purchases: Allow me to tell you a little story about how we came to buy our first baby item.  Michael and I were in the Mall of GA area so we could buy him some new jeans and other miscellaneous clothing.  I knew there was a Babies R Us in the area, and my sister-in-law had given me a gift card to this store as a part of my birthday present.  It made sense to spend it while in the general vicinity.  We find the store, park, and walk in.  The both of us immediately go into shock.  Starry-eyed pregnant women are waddling around every aisle with their husbands two steps behind carrying a baby registry gun.  We mosey from one aisle to the next, trying to avoid having a stroke at the sight of prices of car seats and strollers and high chairs.  My husband, who has never bought any gift for anyone's baby that was more complicated than a 3-pack of onesies, gasps at every price sticker and proceeds to ask me if there's a 5-in-one set that covers stroller, high chair, car seat, bouncer, and pack-and-play.  I tell him he'll have to invent it if he wants it.  Then we venture through the furniture (mistake), the bed linens (holy crap, to be gender specific or not?), crib mattresses (to which Michael asks, "You mean those don't come with the cribs?"), and nursing items (egad, pumps cost $150?).  So we go to the least overwhelming aisle of all: the baby healthcare aisle.  It doesn't have a a visual war of pink vs. blue.  It's not covered with annoying wall decor.  It is simply a section of the store that focuses on baby wellness, and this is something we can handle.  We decide on a 1-second read ear thermometer and a baby first aid kit.  I tell Michael that if we decide to register here, I'll come back with a girlfriend that has been through the process and he can stay at home.  For the first time since we enter the store, he actually breathes.
Gender: We find out in 2 weeks!
Movement: Nope.  This should start in a couple of weeks.
Sleep: As easy as it is to fall asleep, I cannot make it through the night now.  I have to get up at least once a night to pee.  Looks like frequent napping is going to be my new hobby.
What I Miss: Being able to wear a belt without it getting on my nerves.  I feel like the old, surly uncle at Thanksgiving who complains about being hungry, scarfs everything in sight, and then complains about being stuffed to the point of needing to unbutton his pants.
Cravings: Apples, cheese, citrus, and soda water.  Occasionally, I eat some ice cream.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Increase in trips to the bathroom.  Yay for urination!
  • Constantly hungry.  I couldn't make it through proctoring a 2-hour session of CRCT without eating something.
Managing the Stress: I haven't been to the gym this week, and my right wrist/forearm hurts horribly after all the digging I did last weekend.  I need a massage and about a half-hour on the treadmill.  I'm starting to feel like a blob.
Worries: Will I be able to survive our 10-day trip from Las Vegas to Jackson, WY in a few weeks?  We want a "last hurrah" kind of trip since we won't be for a while after the baby is born.  Yet at the same time, I worry I'll poop out really quickly or sleep so much in the rental car, I'll miss all the neat scenery along the way.
Celebrations: I have a few to name from the last couple of weeks, so bear with:
  • I received a gift from childhood friend and fellow blogger, A. Hab (see my blog list to the left), a couple weeks ago.  It is a pewter bird's nest bracelet charm with a pearl egg inside.  She bought it from a funky little gift shop in Auburn, and it symbolizes home, family, and fertility.  Since I don't wear things around my wrist, I threaded it onto one of my silver necklace chains.  It is so pretty!
  • I also received a card in the mail from a former co-worker, Tracie.  She and I worked as parapros in a special education classroom back in Clarke County with lead teacher, Leah.  The three of us were inseparable.  When Leah announced her pregnancy when I still worked in Clarke, she gathered the 3 of us together to share the happy moment.  I wanted all three of us together for my announcement, but since Leah, Tracie, and I all live and work in different places now, we had to do the best we could to "gather" us together for the moment.  Leah and I met for lunch and called Tracie from the restaurant.  And despite the heartbreak Tracie has since experienced in losing her father in his battle against cancer, she radiated her positive energy and shared joy by sending me the card with a loving letter inside.  I miss working with you every day, Tracie!
  • Friends and co-workers are constantly looking out for me and asking how the pregnancy is going.  It feels good to be loved.
  • I received word that my high school friend, Kenneth, will be visiting Georgia in a couple of weeks!  His older sister, Christina, lives 5 minutes from our house, so I'm looking forward to our visit.
Best Quote of the Week: While eating lunch in the teacher's lounge on Friday, Mitzie (SPED teacher and friend) looks across the table at my chest and exclaims, "Is that your bra or is that the pregnancy?  Dang, girl!"  This kind of remark would be a first for me--EVER.  :)

04 April 2011

Nerd in Utero Project: Week 10

Can you tell yet?  Several co-workers say than can!

The words are a little blurry, so here's what we have for 10 WEEKS:
*10 lunar months in a pregnancy
*10 fingers and toes
*"Ten" is an album by Pearl Jam
*10 is a triangular number (think bowling pins)

This Week in Nerd Growing:
How Far Along: 10 weeks, 6 days
Size of Baby: The size of a prune.  Maybe that's where I should get my extra fiber...
Total Weight Gain/Loss: I've gained somewhere between 3-4 pounds since the beginning.
Maternity Clothes: So I wanted to get myself a BeBand to extend the life of my jeans while I was out with my mom on Saturday.  There wasn't a Target in the area where we met up, but there was a Kohl's.  We thought we would try our luck there.  Disappointingly, their maternity department could fit inside my bedroom closet--clothes and jammies combined!  And no BeBands.  This will give me an excuse to go shopping at Target.
Baby-related Purchases: I would have bought the BeBand if Kohl's was a little more mommy-to-be friendly.
Gender: The online Chinese gender predictors say "boy".  Those have to be right, right?
Movement: Still haven't felt any movement, but I find myself caressing my belly more.
Sleep: I fall asleep at the drop of a hat.  It's making me fall behind on everything.  My papers don't get graded as quickly, our house is a wreck, the poor dog needs his nails clipped…I think I'll have to hire a part-time maid when our baby comes to alleviate some of the pressure of general upkeep.  We're going to end up living under mountains of Mojo hair if we don't!
Stretch Marks: Still no new ones, but I love my Palmer's.
Belly Button In or Out:  In.
What I Miss:  Not getting worn out within the first 5 minutes of engaging in a physical activity.  Michael and I worked in the yard all weekend since the weather was beyond perfect.  He cut and edged the yard, but I needed him to help me with planting flowers in the beds after he completed all of his yard tasks.  I'd dig a hole or two and then run for the comfort of the porch shade and drink half of my giant squeeze bottle of water.  It wasn't even that hot outside!  Somehow, I managed to pull off a few hours outside each of the two days, but it came with frequent breaks and a yearning for a nap.
Cravings:  Cheese still reigns supreme.  I also crave soda water more than regular water (to which I add a twist of lime or lemon--delicious).  Apples are more appealing than they used to be, so I have added them to my breakfast.  I've always loved potatoes, but I want them morning, noon, and night.  Any way you can make them, I will eat them.  I look forward to our first potato harvest.
  • Head, meet Pillow.  Pillow, meet Head.  You two will get along nicely until the baby comes.
  • Feed me.  I'm always hungry.
  • My OCD seems to be taking a backseat to my fatigue and hunger.  I miss my clean, tidy house and being on top of my game.
Managing the Stress:  OK, so maybe I complained about wearing myself out in the yard over the weekend, but I really did enjoy it when I didn't feel like passing out from thirst or exhaustion.  Working the earth is such a beautiful, poetic affair.  I came in the house wearing more dirt on my skin and under my nails than I put around the roots of my freshly-planted phlox and dianthus, and that makes me a content woman.
Worries:  That I will gain too much weight.  Is that stupid to worry about?  I guess it's because I'm afraid of the health risks that come with gaining too much weight--high blood pressure/pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, joint pain, etc.  I guess we'll have to wait and see where this one goes.
Celebrations:  There are only 2 more weeks of school until spring break!  Maybe I'll clean my house then…anyone want to loan me their carpet shampooer?

03 April 2011

Feeling the Love from Fellow Teachers

It puts fear into the hearts of students, parents, and teachers alike.  It evokes judgment from government officials and those who have never walked a mile in a teacher's shoes.  In some places, it unfairly determines an educator's salary.  And in our school district, it will torment our lives for the next 5 days the same way a foreboding black cloud torments the spirited on a beautiful summer day.

This unrelenting force is better known as standardized testing.

I have been particularly tense over the CRCT this year with it being my first year teaching 5th grade.  Any grade change can feel like your first year as an educator all over again, especially when moving from one high-stakes grade to another.  You see, in the state of Georgia, students in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades have to pass certain sections of the CRCT in order to be promoted to the next grade.  The "Big Test" has stressed me out enough for the past 2 years while teaching 3rd grade to send me to the doctor with gut-wrenching stomach spasms.  While I have spasm-free so far this testing season, I have been witness to my fellow teachers experiencing rises in their blood pressure, loss of sleep, extra sessions with a therapist, and increases in anxiety meds.

In other words, we take the CRCT so incredibly seriously, we internalize everything related to it.  And that's just from the pressure we put on ourselves!  Think about the pressure from the child who cries every day because they think they will fail the test.  Consider the parent who thinks you're making it up when you express your fear that their child may not pass.  Imagine the sorrow when one of your students suddenly has a drop in their motivation because their parents divorce or their dog dies or they lose their house.  Everything--and I mean EVERYTHING--has an affect on us as it relates to this test.

No wonder we have to be on meds and have shrinks.

And sometimes, you might be pushed past your CRCT stressed-out-beyond-all-reason limit because even your fellow teachers want to throw your last shred of positivity under the bus.  I have heard such horror stories, but thankfully, that is not even close to the kind of school environment in which I work.

On Friday, the 5th grade team was presented with what I call the Bucket O' Goodness from our teacher friends in 2nd grade.  This blue tub of fun was filled with sodas, chips, fruit, Play-Doh, Crystal Light, bottled water, chocolate, and more than I could even see through the sides.  And like any memorable gift, there was a card attached, signed by all the 2nd grade teachers and their words of encouragement for their friends three grades up.  They realize the stress we all put on ourselves, but they are even more aware of the anxiety we 5th grade teachers cannot shake due to it being a high-stakes grade.  Not only that, but they realize that our 5th graders aren't just tested on dates in history and scientific methods.  They are the culmination of every math and reading standard taught from grades kindergarten all the way through 5th, making our students have to reach that much deeper into their prior knowledge learned in past years.

The thought alone was enough to make any teacher feel the love and sheer blessing of being in a supportive working environment.  And when I thought the feeling of love couldn't go any deeper, we were informed that the kindergarten and 1st grade teachers would refill the Bucket O' Goodness once we consumed everything in it.  I stepped out of my classroom for a moment to bow down to two of the passing 2nd grade teachers, Debbie and Alicia, to show an immediate thanks.  Alicia smiled and pointed toward my belly, "We have to take care of each other, especially when there's a baby to feed!"

Yes, we teachers stress ourselves out over the CRCT enough to go grey before we reach the age of 25.  We bring some of it on ourselves.  It can also be passed down from politicians, parents, and X-factors over which we have no control.  But I am confident to say that in my school, the teachers are in this battle as one working unit.  We have each other's backs, even if the support comes in a blue plastic bucket.

Bucket O' Goodness.  Who knew love could come in the form of salty snacks and Diet Coke?  :)
Here is what I chose from the Bucket O' Goodness.  Baby Nerd and I were very satisfied with my choices!
So to all the teachers who so thoughtfully gave this Bucket O' Goodness idea a go, you have our deepest gratitude!  That's right, from all 6 of us 5th grade teachers--Tamara, Tamela, Diane, David, Shante, and myself.  It sure is great to be a Critter at County Line Elementary.


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