Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Perfect Snow Day

We accidentally had a perfect day yesterday!  I know, I know, I just pledged to document all my mess-ups, but this wasn't my fault.  Blame mother nature and the 8 inches of snow she dumped on Milwaukee.

At 6 AM I tiptoed upstairs to tell Nick (who was in the shower) to come back to bed.  I was too excited to sleep (I'm really like an 8-year old when it comes to snow days) so we read in bed until Callah woke up.  Bam! Reading on a weekday morning, already totally awesome.

After brewing coffee in my french press and making breakfast for the family, I walked Zadora before Nick had to leave for work.  Then Callah and I promptly made the most of our day!

The old stand-by: noodles and beans. 

I introduced shaving cream to Callah's world.  At first she just kept putting gobs of it into her mouth, but after trial and error she figured out that it was super fun to squish between her fingers.

The start of our adventure.  

No snow day is complete without baking cookies.  Here's the link to the recipe for these yummy snickerdoodles: 

By 6 Callah and I were totally exhausted, so we had an early bath, lots of stories and snuggled in bed.  She was asleep before 7:30 and Nick and I had some TV time before ending our day much like we started it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Words of Wisdom from Callah and Winnie-the-Pooh

Snow Day

Snow Day! Picture by Nick Woods 

My Blog's New Focus- the Imperfect Life

 You may have noticed my blog has a new tag line, "Perfectly Imperfect."  The other day as I was stumbleupon-ing my way through the Internet I came across a website that detailed, across pages and pages of text, how to clean your house each week.  My first thought as I read it was, "ooooh I should do this."  My second thought was, "what the hell?"  I relish my role as wife, mother and keeper of the home above all other things in my life, but come on! Weekly toothbrush scrubbing between tiles in the bathroom?  I'm not doing that.  Probably ever, most certainly not weekly.

It's a common theme across the web; blog after blog of home baked goodies, intricate meals, hand knit sweaters, decoupaged end tables and mobiles made out of paint samples (5 of them, yo).  And I'm not knocking them, I admire these people whole-heartily, I just can't do it.

My hope for this blog is a place where you can find meal plans, parenting and working mom stories, something to think about or if nothing else a sense of superiority to my woeful attempts to knit Callah a sweater or make dinner every night.

Eventually I'd like to have horizontal tabs organized by cooking posts or mommy posts, but true to the nature of my blog, I'm not there yet.  In the meantime, stick with me as I embark on a blogging adventure fraught with mistakes and imperfections!

Monday, February 25, 2013

High Needs Baby (Read: Colic!!!)

We were blessed with a high needs baby, a baby stuck in the "fourth trimester," a fussy baby, OK fine, a screamer!  From about 2 weeks to 10 weeks, if she was awake she was fussing, if she was asleep she was on me. If we stopped moving she started crying. She hated her car seat, her crib, her bassinet, and her bottle.  For about 10 of the 24 hours in a day she was swaddled in a sling and bouncing on an exercise ball.

I'm writing this post because as a mom with a new baby who seemed to be never content, I was desperate for support.  I gave up dairy and sugar in hopes that it would calm her tummy.  I gave up the notion of setting her down or sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time.  I accepted that we could not take her places after 5 pm.  I stopped going to my mommy-baby group because the happy babies who slept through the night caused me anguish.  I trolled the Internet for stories similar to mine and relished the ones that were worse.  Thank God for the mom who spent all night for a month driving on the freeways of Los Angeles.

The strain of having a baby that cries all the time was felt in our marriage and in my friendship with others.  I didn't want to talk about my baby with other moms because I felt insecure in my own mothering ability.  My neighbor Patti was my saviour, she would hold Callah so I could go to the bathroom or put away clothes, but most importantly she listened to me and hung out with me.  It was a lonely time being away from colleagues, friends and my family.  I felt isolated by a baby that I loved so fiercely that no one else (even her daddy) could say a negative word about her.

The funny thing is, as I write these words it seems like another person another lifetime ago that had those experiences.  Even though most evenings after 6 were spent with a pacifier, a bouncy ball, and a CD that played a hair drier; I still cherish those memories of the days (and nights) I spent with Callah as an infant.  In retrospect, what didn't I love about watching Netflix for 20 hours a day?  I couldn't push her in a stroller because she hated the stroller (I forgot to mention that before) but I got to wear her in a Bjorn as we walked around the neighborhood on sunny fall afternoons.  I loved that!  Yes, it was unpleasant to listen to fuzz blasting on the car radio to attempt to drown out the screams (which worked by the way), but compared to all the tiny little wonders of her new life it was a small price to pay.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

From Baby to Little Girl- the birth of a person

Today I twisted Callah's thin hair into a teensy pony tail on top of her head.  That and her jeans, sneakers and sweater morphed her from baby to little girl.  It's hard not become nostalgic for the sleepy infant born almost a year and a half ago.  
Once you have a child your life quickly becomes separated into two parts--after kid and before kid.  Suddenly things that seemed important before she was born drop into oblivion.

My husband is writing a blog about photography and his last post talked about the feeling he wants a photograph to convey (  In this picture taken immediately after Callah's birth I am brought back to the moment the doctor held her up to me and said, "do you see what you had?"  In the emotion of the moment I felt a rush of panic.  This is a test!! Don't fail.  Ok, it's ok, this is a girl.  Right, a girl?  I looked at my husband and he nodded his head.  Phew, passed.

Just a few hours before she was placed into my arms for the first time, I was sitting at home on the couch watching family members read the names of loved ones who died in the World Trade Center.  It was September 11, 2011 the ten year anniversary of 9-11.

Since Callah's due date was still a week away, my brain, novice in the ways of childbirth didn't recognize what was going on in my body as early labor.  I sat on the sofa and sobbed--for the victims and for their families.  By eleven that morning we were on our way to the hospital.  After a terrifying few minutes in which my room suddenly filled with five people talking anxiously about heart rates, I had an oxygen mask on my face and was wheeled through the hallway to a birthing room.

As seems to be the theme with most birth stories I read, the day didn't go how I planned it in my head.  I had made a carefully researched play list, intended to labor on the exercise ball and in the bath.  Nick and I thought we'd play Scrabble (ha) as we waited to go to the hospital.  Our classes told us labor could last days and we would most likely be at home in the early stages of labor for 8 hours.  As it happened we left our bag in the car and Nick was afraid he wouldn't have time to run and get the camera before our baby was born!  Needless to say the ipod and exercise ball were completely forgotten.

I don't want to ever forget the amazing day Callah Mackenzie Woods was born.  Although she shares her birthday with an infamous and sad anniversary, I hope that she, like the meaning of her beautiful first name will bring peace into the world.
All grown up.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

6 Word Memoir

A professor interviewed on npr today mentioned that her first assignment for her students each semester is to write a 6-word memoir to present to the class.   I thought it was a cool idea, and it got me thinking about what 6 words I would use to describe myself and my life thus far.  
Here goes:


I gave my husband the assignment tonight at dinner (see number 6 on my list).  I don't like to be bossy, buuuuut... everyone should do this and post me your list.  GO!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Blogosphere and ME! Crafting, cooking and parenting in the modern world

In 2012 "twitterverse" cracked the list of most annoying words (following "whatever" and "like" among others).  The first time I heard the word twitterverse was when I heard about this awesome list, but I hopped right on the bandwagon of being completely irritated by it.  So I feel a little hypocritcal now telling you about how much I love, love, love the blogosphere.  Don't worry, while twitterverse is super obnoxious, blogosphere is like totally awesome.  Or whatever.

Anyway, here are a few cool things I've done this week thanks to blogs.

Gifts in a Jar!! Genious.  From my new friend at The Gunny Sack blog.

I made this for my partner(ish) teacher Sarah who came back to work on Tuesday after her mommy time home with little Charlie!  Inside is hand sanitizer, lotion, lip gloss, protein bars, candy and tylenol.  What every teacher needs.

After spending months looking up teaching ideas on pinterst, it JUST occured to me yesterday to use pinterest to entertain my toddler.  Great idea!

Pom poms in muffin tins provides half hours of entertainment.

Beans and tupperware kept her busy while I made playdough and enchiladas AND cleaned the kitchen.  Huzzah Internet.

Making Grandma's Waffles on a Sunny Sunday Morning

My grandma had one sister, a fixture at every meal and cup of tea at my grandparent's house when we would visit, whom we called Auntie.  She never married and lived most of her life in the house she grew up in on what was once a dairy farm in Waterford, CT.  Auntie was famous to my brothers' and I for her love of the beach and her uncanny ability to float sitting up in the Long Island Sound.  She was also famous for her quirky gifts at Christmas time.  One of my uncles as a young boy upon unwrapping Auntie's gift said, "wrong again Auntie," a quote I have heard repeated many times in my life always followed by hearty laughter.  But once in awhile Auntie would hit it out of the park as she did over 25 years ago with the Mickey Mouse Waffle Iron.  Saturday mornings my parents would often make a big breakfast for us, my dad was the official pancake flipper in the family and my mom would occasionally whip out some Mickey Mouse waffles.

Sadly Mickey retired a few years ago, but not before making waffles in three states for many years.  This morning I had a craving for waffles and pulled out Grandma's Cookbook for a recipe I have never made before and to the best of my knowledge never eaten.  Breakfasts at grandma's were more often the fan favorite blueberry muffins or toast and cereal.

As waffle recipes go, it is fiddly--you have to separate eggs!  But Callah and I went all in this morning as we hooked Nick up with some OJ and set him on the couch with a magazine for a much deserved daddy break.

Separate 3 eggs.  Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside.

Mix Together:
3 egg yolks
2 T sugar
2 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
2 cups flour mixed with
4 teaspoons baking powder

Fold in the egg whites.

I don' t know about you, but something about whipping egg whites gives me a thrill, and folding them into batter is about as satisfying a feeling as writing with a sharp pencil or pulling on a pair of crisp, clean bluejeans.

We added super fruit (!) blueberries, poured batter (about 1/2 cup) on to the waffle iron and let cook for about 3-4 minutes.  Grandma says to serve on warm plates with warm syrup.  They used to line their plates up on the radiator in their dining room.  I popped mine in the warm oven for a few minutes.

Since I was busy ensuring Callah didn't scald herself AND making waffles AND making some delicious veggie sausage AND drinking coffee, I didn't remember to take a picture until I'd already started eating.  They were fluffy and delicious.  It makes an obscene amount of waffles for a humble family of three, so the leftovers are in the freezer ready to cheer us up come a dreary weekday morning.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

My Valentine's Day memories are sitting at the dining room table agonizing over which Valentine to give to which boy, opening a homemade card from my Grandma Scott with a crisp $5 bill tucked inside, and frosting pink cookies with my mom.  In the spirit of these happy Valentine's Day Pasts I endeavored to make Callah's Valentine's Day Present special.

Anytime someone tells you to do a craft that invovles scissors, frosting, and sprinkles with a 16-month old, please laugh in their face and then run away.  I do this sort of thing in my classroom all the time.  I stand admist the chaos wondering firstly, how did I get into this mess?  And more importantly, how am I going to get out of it?  Fortunely at school the bell rings, the bus pulls up and the engineer comes in with a broom.  No such luck at home.  I think I will be swiffering sprinkles for the next 10 years.

Chocolate cut out cookies, pink frosting and sprinkles--oh my!
I had a craving for molasses cookies, so to make them more Valentine-y, I rolled them in pink sprinkles and sugar.  

I had great intentions to deliver these to neighbors, mail them to grandparents and in general parade around the neighborhood bestowing love and goodwill to all.  The molasses cookies I didn't eat myself are sitting in the freezer next to the Christmas stollen I still need to give to my neighbor.  But Callah's wonderful babysitter and my assistants were the lucky recipients of some homemade goodies.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bath Time

Every other night I have a forced half hour exile in the bathroom watching Callah splash around.  Each suggestion that perhaps it might be time to get out is met with an emphatic "uh uh" and a vigorous shake of the head.  There are only so many times you can quack the ducky or pretend to disappear behind the side of the bathtub before your brain starts to atrophy.

In lieu of brain decay I've opted to spend the time pampering myself.  Last night I gave myself a facial, the time before that I painted my toenails and the time before that I blow dried my hair with such care and precision that it might well be what magazines call a "blow out."  I don't know for sure.  

It amazes me, though, as I watch her play in the bathtub how self contained one year-olds are.  She is perfectly happy to amuse herself dumping water from one cup to another for upwards of 30 minutes.  She sings along to the music in the background and is in general just the cutest little thing you ever did see.  So much so that I endeavored to catch it on video.  I recently spent the entire bath time trying to surreptitiously record her being adorable.  Every attempt was thwarted by her cheesy grin that she whips out any time she sees an electronic device, an old lady, a dog or a car driving by.

I tried turning off the flash, pretending I was talking on the phone, and hiding only to be outsmarted by my child at every turn.  Thus, the picture above.  Callah and her smile (it's the best I could do).  Even though I wasn't able to definitively prove it to all of you, it's still true that, if you have to spend a half hour somewhere, its really not a bad place to be.  And best of all my hair and nails agree!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Zoo

What is a really good idea is to go to the zoo late on a Sunday afternoon in February.  
While it's true that the bears are hibernating and I couldn't locate the flamingos anywhere...
The tigers and jelly fish were awake.
The buildings were empty save the animals and a little girl in a bear suit.
We had a great time!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Keeping a Toddler Busy

Me and Callah, we like to stay busy.  Mostly Callah, but when she's happy, I'm happy.  This week I have been exploring fun ways to keep her entertained that don't involve emptying the contents of my pantry into the living room.
We've come up with:
Boxes and bubble tape.
Putting our balls in this bag and then dropping them on the floor.
Underwear!  I'm not sure what it is with kids and undies, but any time she sees them, her first impulse is to put them on her head.  

Anyone else have any fun and free ways to keep little ones happy?

155 Screams

I'm thinking about making a sign for my desk that reads: "____ Days without Losing My Cool!"  I am pretty proud that I would have been able to flip the number over to 13 as of yesterday afternoon.  Even when Student informed me 16 times (I counted) in less than a minute that it was in fact February 1st.  Even when a urine saturated pull-up was wiped on my desk chair.  Even when Student spilled milk on my pretty black boots.  Even when Student vomitted all over his coat, snowpants and scarf (which I then had to remove).

I have become kind of numb to those little annoyances, in fact, I often just think, "this will make a funny story to tell my mom."

The title of my blog will one day be the title of my memoir.  I had a student, a little boy, who came to my room in first grade and didn't want to be there.  He was a screamer.  An ear piercing, blood curdling, shiver-inspiring screamer.  Not just every once in awhile when things weren't going his way, but all day long.  I asked for help, then I begged and pleaded for help, then I turned to drinking.  After work, don't worry.  Then I went back to asking for help.  Apparently what I needed to do was establish a baseline. So I was given a chart and a hand held counter that ticked numbers away with the click of a button.

At this time we ate lunch at 10:45 in the morning.  The start of the day is around 8.  Between those times, I clicked away 155 times.

Although this was many years ago now, I still remember sitting at my desk at lunchtime filling out the chart with the baseline data.  I remember thinking, "I thought he was screaming a lot."

I feel like in the 7 years I have been doing this job, I have learned a lot of things, but mostly I've learned to not sweat the small stuff.  Eventually the screamer and I came to an agreement of sorts, he came to school, I taught him, and we all survived.

This isn't a post to talk about how patient I am, it's more to remind myself that despite my 13 days of relative calm, I have been struggling this year to enjoy my job.  The small joys; like following youtube dance videos with Student, building block towers, knocking them down and listening to them laugh, and watching Student sound out a word all by himself and observing his grin of pride.

So even though there have been many times when I've been the one to scream in frustration (at least in my head) it's my job and most days I really do like it.  And that's worth remembering.

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