December 31, 2010

a new year's resolution (i think) i can keep

I've never been one to make "New Year's Resolutions."

It just always seemed silly to me to take the time to make a list of wants, desires, goals etc. for the new year ... I mean, if it has to be written down, is it really that important?! And why can't a person resolve to be better at any point during the year? Just because you don't start something at the beginning, doesn't mean you can't make changes in your life later on down the line ... It shouldn't be all or nothing!

But anyway, this year, I'm hopping on that New Year's bandwagon and starting 2011 with a major goal in mind.

Life has been so busy these past couple of months, and not just because of the holidays and their approach. My transition from stay-at-home mom to working mom has really been a challenge for me ... One that I hadn't really expected.

Maybe I was being naive and/or too optimistic in thinking that I could handle both roles with little interruption or effect on my mental state ... Whatever the case, I have found that each day that passes is dominated by one or both of my two jobs ... Sometimes in equal parts, sometimes not.

During the day, I find myself struggling to keep a child happy while fulfilling my many teacher's obligations. When Malcolm is occupied, even if it is only in small bursts, I answer emails, create "catch up" plans for failing students, grade papers, and even correspond via instant messages. During his naps (when all is blissfully quiet) I call students by phone, hold my "office hours" where students can be guaranteed to reach me, and run virtual classroom sessions ...

At night, once school is over and my husband is home, I am still "on the job," although my son (and not my students) becomes my central focus.

There is hardly a moment when I feel like I am not working at something.

There is hardly a moment for me to just breathe and do nothing.

So, one night over my Christmas Break (which also happened to be a "vacation" week for my husband), I finally put all of my thoughts and feelings about this dual existence into words. As much as he probably didn't want to deal with me and my weepy ramblings, I finally expressed to him that I'm feeling overwhelmed. That, although I love being a mother to our son, I find myself wishing for simpler times and struggle through the days to make everything work. That I need more help. That I need some time that is mine. Just for me.

This is not to say that my husband is a lump! In fact, I'm pretty sure he does more than an average husband (but correct me if I'm wrong) ... In addition to the more "manly" duties of taking out the garbage and keeping the yard presentable during all seasons of the year, he also hand washes all of our dishes (we, very unfortunately, do not own a dishwasher), does all of the grocery shopping, cooks delicious meals with the groceries he buys, takes care of our cats' litter boxes, and often keeps our floors clean by sweeping or vacuuming ... Not to mention all the time he spends entertaining Malcolm every night.

I know that I am very lucky, and that he also deserves his down time, but, even so I still yearn for mine. In only three months, my two jobs have really taken a lot out of me! But I take full responsibility ... I'm a perfectionist by nature, so I can't only go "half way." Everything has to be done impeccably, even to my detriment.

That is why, this New Year, I'm finally making a resolution:

I'm going to allow myself to be fully honest and ask for help when I need it.

No longer will I silently suffer and wait on others to reach out to me ... My family and friends aren't mind readers!

No longer will I feel guilty if dinner isn't ready (or even started!) when my husband comes home from work.

No longer will "not doing it myself" be considered a weakness.

If those closest to me catch on to the fact that I'm not Superwoman, that I can't do it alone (nor do I want to), then that is okay.

I can live with that.

And hopefully my husband can, too!

December 29, 2010


Someone got a LOT of gifts for Christmas this year ...

A piano shaped like an alligator.

Multiple puzzles.


Croc winter boots.

A baby tool bench.

A plastic shopping cart.

Lots of play food.


Stuffed animals (including a "Pillow Pet").

An educational baby cell phone.

More light up, noise-making toys than I would prefer.

Not one, but two riding toys.

It's a good thing Malcolm won't remember this Christmas ...

The bar would be set quite a bit higher than I think we could achieve year after year!

That, and we'd seriously need a bigger house to hold everything!

December 28, 2010

the best gift

Although I didn't "get him" this year, Malcolm is by far the best gift I've ever received.

It is honestly difficult to describe just how much I absolutely love this little boy ...

Or how adorably cute I think he looks in a collared shirt and sweater vest!

Dress shirt: Kenneth Cole Reaction (thrifted for $2.00)
Sweater vest: Old Navy (thrifted for $1.00)
Corduroy pants: Okiedokie (thrifted for $2.00)
Socks: Circo (gift)
Shoes: Faded Glory (thrifted for $3.00)

I wish it were practical to wear them all the time!

December 24, 2010

some digital cheer

Just a quick post to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

And to show off our family's first ever Christmas card!

I hope you get everything you asked for ... And more!

December 22, 2010

all i want for christmas

I was just saying to my husband how I couldn't believe it's been six months since Malcolm grew any teeth ... And lo! and behold, two molars magically appeared!

A Christmas miracle!

The funny thing is, I didn't notice that anything was happening. I just took a peek in his mouth one morning and there they were ...

Either this is a case of very poor parental instincts on my part, or a very agreeable and "go with it" attitude on Malcolm's.

I swear, this kid is something else.

All I have heard from other parents for as long as I have been one is how difficult teething is ... And, specifically, that molars are the worst! My sister-in-law told me horror stories of her daughter refusing naps and staying awake for twenty-four hours at a time! She told me how she wouldn't eat, she cried nonstop, and that even baby Tylenol didn't seem to work ... I was all set for a week (or more?) of complete and utter chaos ...

And, here, I have a kid that seems to laugh in the face of teething. Or rather, to ignore it completely!

Sure, Malcolm has been waking up in the middle of the night lately (something I probably should have taken notice to, since he is usually such a great sleeper), but he hasn't been cranky. And, while he isn't sleeping, he isn't crying or fussing either. It's the same old "happy noises" that I hear when it comes time for him to take a nap.

So, it could be worse.

Much, much worse.

I take back all the things I said in yesterday's post.

My son is a perfect angel and has definitely earned his spot on Santa's "Nice List" this year!

Bring it on, baby teeth. Bring it on.

December 21, 2010

the naughty list

With Christmas right around the corner, you'd think that Malcolm would be all about behaving like a perfect, little angel ...

It turns out he didn't get the memo!

Onesie: Baby Gap (thrifted for $1.00)
Corduroy overalls: Osh-Kosh (thrifted for $2.00)
Socks: Old Navy (gift)
Shoes: Faded Glory ($6.00)

Either that, or his very "boyish" skull and crossbone socks have sparked a little rebellious streak!

December 20, 2010

night light

This weekend, I made it a point to spend a lot of time just enjoying the dimly lit atmosphere of the living room.

Even with toys all over the floor, there's just something about a glowing Christmas tree that puts you in a peaceful state of mind.

It's definitely one of my favorite things about the season!

December 17, 2010

the fuzzy pillow

My mother-in-law made Malcolm this pillow for his first birthday.

Little did she know it would be the prop for countless adorable photo opportunities!

December 14, 2010

window watcher

Some days, Malcolm is just GO GO GO ... Tearing through toys, wandering the house, and generally making mischief in whatever way he can.

Other days, he is content to take it a little bit easier and quietly read a book or snuggle on the couch for a while.

One of his favorite things to do on a "slow" day is to stand by the window. With the Cleveland days being darker and more dreary this time of year, and the daylight disappearing faster, there usually isn't much to see. But, just recently, the sun was out and there was more room in front of the windows than usual ... We had made space for the Christmas tree, but hadn't brought it into the house yet.

Malcolm loved standing guard, watching the cars slowly moving down the street and the sun falling behind the trees.

"Where's Daddy?" I would ask whenever he'd step away from his post. "Is he coming home soon?"

And he'd go right back to his spot.

Tee-shirt: Old Navy ($2.00)
Long-sleeved onesie: Old Navy ($1.50)
Fleece pants: Athletic Works (thrifted for $0.50)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)

I couldn't imagine a nicer greeting, a more perfect homecoming, than seeing this little face waiting in the window!

It's almost enough to entice me into taking another job!

December 13, 2010

one of those kids

Last year, Malcolm was all about Santa.

He snuggled right up, looking quite innocent and adorable, and gurgled lots of gift ideas into his ear ...

This year, Malcolm wasn't so sure about the Jolly Old Elf.

Standing on his own, and taking it all in from a safe distance, he was all smiles until it was his turn to meet the man in red.

"Let's go see Santa," I said cheerfully, taking his hand to guide him ... But he wouldn't budge.

Instead, he clutched my leg and wouldn't let go.

After being carried over and gently placed on Santa's lap, his face took on a fearful gaze. He clutched at my shirt and squirmed toward me.

Who is this person?! His eyes screamed.

Not wanting a tearful photo, I joined him next to Santa ...

What else could I do?

I guess I'm going to have one of those kids on my hands.

The kind that likes to look from faraway, but doesn't want to get any closer ...

Maybe this will save us from the ridiculous mall lines if all Malcolm wants is to look from beyond the crowd of people.

December 10, 2010

getting ready for christmas

With the holiday season approaching, I find myself looking for ways to "get ready."

This doesn't just include the physical sense of readiness ... As in a cleaned and decorated house, wrapped presents, sent Christmas cards, or baked goods and the like. For me, at least this year, it also means a spiritual sense of "readiness."

I have said it many times before that I am truly blessed.

I have a wonderful, supportive husband, an adorable little boy, a family that loves me endlessly, indescribably awesome friends, a healthy body and mind, a warm home, and a good job (during which I can stay at home with the aforementioned adorable little boy). Truly, I don't think that things could get much better ... And I don't know what I did to deserve it!

So, this Christmas, I really wanted to get in the mood spiritually. To truly envelope myself in the feeling of the season, and what it really means to be Christmas.

No, it doesn't mean presents or gift giving.

Or delicious food.

Not even time for family and friends and fellowship.

Rather, Christmas means the coming of Christ into the world and into our hearts.

I have friends who are preparing for this most joyful of occasions by selflessly offering up their gifts for an even greater cause.

I read blogs where giving to those who are less fortunate is at the forefront of the season.

All around me, I see people becoming "ready" for this holiday by giving back in true Christmas fashion ... So, this year, I wanted to participate.

In my own attempt to "give back," I decided to donate my hair to Locks of Love this year.

It's something that I've always wanted to do, but never got around to really pursuing ... And, for once, I knew I could make it happen. My hair was getting long. Probably a little too long. It was time to just make the change and get it cut.


I honestly can't remember the last time my hair was this short.

If I had to guess an age, I'd have to say that I was around four years old ... And that was only because my hair was finally growing out (I looked like a boy until I was about three).

Ten inches is a lot.

It's both an adjustment and a big deal for me ... I'm totally outside of my comfort zone! But I know that it will be an even bigger deal to the little girl that gets "hair" this Christmas.

And that's what makes the whole experience worthwhile.

Even if it is completely crazy to reach back and feel my bare neck instead of a pony tail ...

December 9, 2010

what a difference a week can make

Just last week I began composing a post about how Malcolm is content to "walk" around the house on his knees (instead of his feet). I didn't get very far, but figured I'd have some time to iron it out ... The kids seemed like he was in no hurry to figure out the whole walking on two feet thing.

He was happy doing his little knee shuffle.

Not anymore!

This week, things are different.

Very different.

The usual 70/30 distribution of knee to feet walking has completely flip-flopped. Now, instead of shuffling around on his knees for a majority of the time, he is walking full force ...

Two footed.

Just going for it.

Sure, he still slips and falls or basically belly flops onto the carpet, but he's definitely getting the hang of it. And you can tell he's loving every minute of it.

Once he figures out how to stand up from a sitting position without the aid of a piece of furniture (or a wall, or a toy, or a person) we are in so much trouble ...

December 7, 2010

'tis the season

My husband and I are Christmas tree people.

Real Christmas tree people.

There is just something about a living evergreen taking up half of your living room that says the holidays are here!

So, this past weekend, we bundled up the boy and headed out to locate our tree. We kept it simple, opting to go to a nearby Lowe's instead of a "cut your own tree" farm or nursery. The selection wasn't spectacular (nor were the prices), but there was just enough for us to pick something that could make the long haul to Christmas and into the new year ... I insist on keeping our tree up until the Feast of the Epiphany, which happens twelve days after Christmas, and marks the end of the Christmas season (at least as far as the Catholic church is concerned ... Have you ever noticed that stores seem to mark the end of the Christmas season before December 25th has even passed? But that's not the point of this post ...)

Last year, Malcolm slept right through the tree-selecting festivities.

This year, he was wide awake and agreeable, as always ... You never would have guessed that he was bundled up in two pairs of pants and various other layers! He really seemed to enjoy himself as he clapped, pointed, and squealed his way through the aisles of trees in his stroller.

Shark Hat: The Children's Place ($6.50)
Mittens: Old Navy ($5.00 for a hat/mitten set)
Coat: Little Me (thrifted for $5.00 as part of a coat/pants set)
Jeans: The Children's Place (thrifted for $2.00)
Socks: Old Navy (gift)
Shoes: Stride Rite (thrifted for $3.00)

His happy little face brought me right back to the outings my own family would take when we picked our real tree each year ...

My sisters and I would run through the aisles of trees, running our gloved hands across the needles (to make sure they weren't too prickly), and shouting back to my parents when we found the "perfect one." My Dad, upon inspecting it himself, would take it by the trunk and hold it out an arm's length for us to investigate. If it passed the test, it would be strapped to the roof of our car and proudly brought home. After a day or two outside, it would be lugged into the house and adorned with the biggest modge podge of lights and ornaments you ever did see.

No, there will be no artificial tree for us, either ...

Just the 100% real (pine-smelling, sap-sticking, water-leaking, needle-dropping) thing.

We're not quite sure how a nearly-walking toddler is going to fit into the equation ... He won't be strapped into his stroller when we are in the comfort of our own home! But we'll make due.

Hopefully, when all is said and done, we will all be left with some pretty great memories.

December 6, 2010


To quickly set up this post, I need to first explain the levels of organization at my virtual school ... At least as I have come to understand them.

Each student that enrolls in the high school is set up with their classroom teachers, a guidance counselor, and an adviser ...

Classroom teachers (like me) are the people that are responsible for running the courses, teaching the lessons in an online format once a week, grading assignments, and basically communicating with students and their families as often as possible.

Guidance counselors, much like those at traditional schools, help the students with their course schedules and force them to look beyond high school at the bigger picture ... Will they attend college? If so, which one? What graduation tests are required for admittance?

Advisers, although they also work with students, focus more on the parent end and keep track of a student's attendance and overall performance in the virtual school ...

So, all of that to say ... As my work day wrapped up on Friday, I received an email in my work inbox from an adviser that is assigned to one of my students. The email itself was super short.

Merely three sentences long ...

But the message inside was so, so much bigger:
Hi Emily. I spoke with student's mom today and she gave you a big compliment. You are the best teacher student has ever had.
That was it.

Short and syrupy sweet.

It's hard to explain the feeling that swept over me.

While I was (and still am) extremely humbled, I couldn't help but feel sort of undeserving at the same time.

I've only been "teaching" at this school for a little over two months.

I don't ever see these students face to face ... I am lucky if I get to work with them during a live, online classroom session or if I get to speak to them by telephone once or twice a month.

I can't say that I've ever seen this student at any of those online sessions.

I've never spoken to this student on the phone (although I talked with the student's mother at length before our Thanksgiving Break).

All I have done is answer a couple of questions through the school's email system. I have extended deadlines and offered alternate assignments to bring up grades.

I have done nothing that I would consider remotely above or beyond ...


And yet, to this mother, I am the best teacher her child has ever had.

It's honestly small moments like these that pull a teacher through tthe doldrums that often encompass the educational system. It's moments like these that validate all the hard (and often unforgiving) work.

It's moments like these that tell me I've truly chosen the right career.

Maybe I'm doing an okay job, after all.

December 2, 2010

lucky shot

It almost looks like he's saying "cheese."

That is, if he could talk.