Thursday, February 15, 2018

babysitting and teaching preschool helped prepare me for motherhood

At the beginning of January, my hard drive crashed and i lost all digital proof of the last eight years of my life. High school, college, engagement, wedding, first pregnancy, Mallorie's entire life thus far, all gone.
more on that later, but long story short i was really grateful that i forced myself to keep blogging the past few months against my preference because now, it's the only digital record i have of my life! And it's made me want to blog more regularly. So here are just some thoughts about my journey to motherhood that i keep putting off writing by hand because it takes so long. i type faster than i write. so here. Just for me to remember, but feel free to skim if desired:

I have wanted to be a mom for as long as i can remember. I've specifically wanted to be a stay-at-home since probably second grade.

I have always loved children and loved the idea of teaching children, and i've always loved the notion that mothers are actually the most powerful people in the world because they raise the next generation of the world. Caretakers shape the future. That is a huge deal, and while i seriously considered a few other professional careers, being a stay at home mom was the "career", "lifestyle", whatever you want to call it, that always rang true to me, and always remained a priority.

I have always wanted to run my own preschool. At seven years old I used to write lists of theme ideas and flesh them out; each station, books on the subject, field trip ideas. I would make flyers for special activities and tape them on all the windows in my house so my family would know about the grand opening of my preschools and day-cares hahaha.

I started babysitting at age eleven. (Jennifer C., i don't know how you trusted an eleven year old alone in your house with your six-month-old baby, and each baby after that, but i applaud your confidence, appreciate your trust, and am indebted to you for the near decade of experience with your family alone <3) I LOVED it, and prided myself on being an "awesome babysitter". I got the kids to bed on time, and actually asleep, 98% of the time, and after they went to bed, instead of watching TV I cleaned. I organized all the toys and did the dishes and as many other chores as was appropriate. I learned to cook meals that those kids liked and i practiced them at home afterward so i would improve. I was awesome. I wanted all the moms in my congregation to like me and trust me so when i was 13, i invited all the 3-5 year olds at my church, and their moms, to come to my house for a 'playdate'. I planned and prepped the whole day. We had games and snacks and art, it was great. For years I kept that up. In high school when i got really into water polo and theatre, things slowed down a little but i still babysat a lot, and loved it.

By the time I graduated high school i had seven nieces and nephews, and while they cannot produce the same kind of love that one experiences in parenthood, i deeply loved all of those seven tiny humans. I still do. They were so special to me and i cherished the time i got to spend with them. They made me look forward with happiness toward my own future children. I've learned countless lessons from them, and their parents my wonderful siblings.

That excitement for children never faded, and in fact deepened. I changed my major from elementary education to Preschool Education, because i preferred the developmental emphasis. I thrived in those classes. Let's be real, i totally kicked butt in that program. i devoured every class and curriculum model, i went to the observation labs every day in between classes and watched the student teachers in the preschools. I took notes about what methods i liked best, and worked them into my own plans for the future. On the months i was off from school, i was a substitute Paraprofessional Aide in my home school district at local elementary schools. I mostly did long-term jobs, so i got to really experience it as a normal Aide, working with the same kids for months in a row instead of one or two days like a normal sub. I adored those kids and those jobs.

The semester before i taught preschool, i took a developmentally appropriate curriculum class specifically to prepare me for the preschool labs. Our final project (semester-long final project) was a "resource file". We had to research ten developmentally appropriate activities for all the various subjects. Then out of the ten activities we researched, we had to make and prepare one in each subject to keep for the future when we taught preschool. We also had to make a puppet. (I made 10. all Harry Potter characters.)
My teacher was extremely strict and a very hard grader. I worked my tail off for a 'B' on most of her assignments. She straight up told us, concerning this final project, "If you try, you'll get a 'C'. Do your very best."
SO Y'ALL, I DID MAH VERY BEST. AND I GOT A 100. DANG. PERCENT. ON THAT RESOURCE FILE. ONE HUNDRED. PERCENT. I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE PROUD OF AN ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT. hahahaha. but seriously. she wrote impressed comments by every single category and wrote, "The best!" at the bottom of my grading sheet. I literally fell to the ground and cried when i saw it, i was so thrilled.


The next semester, i taught my own class. And there were only 3 of us student-teachers. (most labs had 5-8) so i got to lead-teach a LOT. I got way more experience making my own full lesson plans than i would have in any of the other labs. I loved it.
I was in. my. element.
At the end of the semester we were supposed to write letters about each of the children for their parents, highlighting things the children learned throughout the semester. Our professors encouraged us to start early on this and make a web for each child, and take notes throughout the semester about their improving skills. Most of my fellow student teachers wrote things here and there about their favorite kids, and at the end of the semester ended up writing one or two performance letters that were generic and a paragraph long.
Every Wednesday for the entire semester, i stayed after my labs for 1.5-2 hours updating the web of each child in our class, writing examples in each subject for improvements they had made, or obstacles they were facing.
At the end of the semester, my co-teacher Ciara and I split the kids evenly, so i wrote half our class. But my detailed webs helped her, too, and we were able to write genuine letters to each of the parents giving actual documentation of what their specific child had learned that semester. It felt so good. My letters were personal and detailed, and a page long size 10 font, single spaced, 3/4" margins. *cough cough*
those letters don't mean i was a good teacher, but they represent my work ethic.
I WAS SO GOOD AT TEACHING PRESCHOOL. And it showed. and i loved it all. and my professors noticed. i stood out because i worked so hard, and i had a natural talent for it. The day i taught my first solo lesson, the professor observing from the booth (who was also the head of the department) came up to me afterward and complimented some things about my lesson plan and execution, and said, "That was your first time as lead?! Wow, you're a natural". Before i even finished that first semester teaching, he approached me about being one of the few hired alum to lead teach in the labs full-time after i graduated.
I didn't get to do that, because i got married and moved to Utah the semester before i graduated, and had to finish, in a different emphasis, online. When i emailed him letting him know, he said, "Of course i'll write you a letter of recommendation. But for the record, i think he should move here so you can finish, and then work for us. We need more teachers like you."

How does this all lead to me being a mom?

Because as much as I thrived in that environment, and loved those children and that work, there was always something missing. When the parents came to pick up their kids, i always felt a pang. I loved what i did, but i wished i could do both. I wished i could teach and raise my own children.


True, it's 24/7 instead of 10 hours a week, so there's no break to plan and prep and foolproof. And i don't have thousands of dollars to spend on resources and books and field trips, etc. But i DO get to have sweet teaching moments and experience development through this tender lens and it's incredible. While studying Piaget i mused about copying him and making crazy detailed records of each of my children's development. hahahahahahaha. You go, Piaget, but that's not for me. Not to that extent anyway.
All through Mallorie's infancy i've loved watching her learn and grow but I've longed for this age to start, when we could do way more interactive activities and i could see her make connections right in front of my face and i could USE MY EDUCATION and skills hahahaha. My area of expertise has begun and i am REAL HAPPY ABOUT IT.
I've always tried to make her learning interactive, but you know what i mean? Toddlers are more fun to me than babies in terms of interaction and activities. haha.
It's been a new challenge to approach it from the role of mother instead of teacher. Because as i said i don't have hours to prepare a daily perfectly executed activity every day that can be presented attractively and cleaned up in 5 minutes or less and meet all of Mallorie's developmental needs. haha.
But also, I've learned that I, and all stay at home parents, CAN and DO prepare and execute daily activities that DO meet all of our child's needs and DO help them grow and CAN be attractive and easy etc. but it doesn't have to look like preschool, and it doesn't have to be a big production, and it doesn't have to be as cute as pinterest, or as detailed. You get it.

I am livin' the dream right now, and sometimes i just have to remind myself of that so that i can fully appreciate it. I am living the life that my seven year old self dreamed of, and my ten year old self, and 13 and 17 and 20. And it's complicated, but it's wonderful and I'm grateful for the road that brought me here and seemed convoluted. Looking back it all makes perfect sense and i can see exactly how i got here, and the stretches that helped the most.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Thanksgiving 2017

My sister Katrina invited us to her house near St.George for Thanksgiving! It was a really fun trip! I was determined to still have a good time even though i was still sick. I took a lot of naps, was sick every time we drove in the car, and i felt like a bit of a wet blanket some times, but overALL i still had a happy trip. I especially like staying with Katrina and Phillip because i don't get to see them as often. 

The first day, we played at a park before dinner with my sister's family, and Mallorie was extremely cautious about the sand, hahaha. but then loved it. 

selfies with dad, trying to let me sleep in a bit one morning:

the day before (?) Thanksgiving, we all went on a hike and my brother-in-law warned me it was 1.5 miles, but i was picturing 1.5 miles like, on a straight mild incline. 

I was wrong. i made it through the first half in a haze, literally just focusing on my feet moving and trying to listen to my sister talking to me. 

When we got halfway (The top of the mountain) I decided to sit under a tree with Mallorie while the rest of the party climbed the last rocky steep part to the summit. a teensy bit so Mal could nap, but mostly so i could rest because i was dying. But when i saw how quickly another group went up and back, i thought i'd regret being so close to the top and not going all the way. 

I felt really strong while at the top, and was definitely grateful that i got to see the view and be up there with Karl, etc. 

the hike back was TERRIBLE. I was blacking out at parts, i tripped and rolled my ankle and almost dropped a sleeping mallorie onto rocks. The last bit is uphill in sand. Karl took Mallorie and went ahead, because i told him to. I was feeling i would be sick at any moment and i was sobbing pathetically hahaha. 
I got in the car and just cried for water. 

Note to self:
Do not climb a mountain at 10 weeks pregnant unless you're already in like absolute peak shape. 

okay this post turned into complainville. ha. 

Thanksgiving was really a lovely time, Karl and i stayed up way too late laughing with Katrina and Phillip every night, i love being with my family, and i love good food. 

Mallorie was an angel the entire trip, even car rides:

Monday, February 5, 2018

November at home

November started off really fun and chill, and then like right at 5 weeks pregnant, the deathly death sickness death hit and i literally don't remember anything about the majority of these pictures haha. everything from between Halloween and Thanksgiving is a totally blur, and even most of December. 

Mallorie looks so old lately!

Mallorie got a lot better at cuddling, because i was laying on the couch seriously most of the day every day for a solid month. 

She was so happy and independent the whole time. I feel a little guilty looking back. I was not trying to neglect her. And i still read her like 7 million books every day and would sing songs, "play" with little toys etc, i was just laying down for all of it haha. 

she is obsessed with my glasses and tries to take them off of my face 1325732843 times a day. So she loves fake glasses, sunglasses, etc. 

I posted this caption on instagram:
"I forgot to post this last month when I finished. I did one of those "one year in pixels" charts. Every day when I wrote in my journal, I would also color in one little square that represented the previous day. I started October 6th 2016. It's really interesting. You can see my baby blues, Happy Times, sad times, but what impresses me, is that overall it looks yellow. The yellow meant "good or normal". And there are also a lot of orange and red which were "great" and "amazing" days. Compared to all the warm colors, the cool greens blues and one black seem few. Life is over all good, I think. Bad things happen, but I am trying to focus on the Happy Days"

the days with hearts were Valentine's Day and our anniversary. The pixels with thick outlines are our birthdays, the one black day was my miscarriage. i felt vulnerable when i first started in October 2016, because i was definitely depressed after Mallorie's birth, but was embarrassed about it, so i colored a lot of those Oct days yellow though they should have been green. ah, well. 
I've done that before in journals - censored myself and regretted it. STOOPS, YALL. ITS A JOURNAL. ITS MEANT TO BE GENUINE. If necessary, have a "normal journal" and a journal that is really truly just for you, maybe you need to rip out the pages after each entry or scribble over them or burn it when it's done, but have some place where you genuinely write whatever you feel, even if you can't keep it. 

A falconer came to a church activity we had and i loved it! hahaha i do like small birds. at. all. i think it's so creepy when they look straight at you and hop from one foot to the other. *shudder* i DO NOT LIKE THEM, SAM I AM. but i think big birds are really cool. Owls especially, i think are beautiful and interesting. We had an owl box growing up and i loved seeing the babies owls grow over the summer and leave the nest. Mallorie loved the owl, too, and we even got to touch it! It was SO SOFT. 

Mallorie wanted this weird elf headband at Walmart one shopping trip so i let her wear it around the store. haha. 

I don't like our couch, but i do like that it holds patterns. you know what i mean? Like if a pillow is pressed against the couch long enough, the sticking of the design shows up in the like, shadows of the couch? hahah idk what its called. One day Karl stood up and his butt was imprinted onto the couch and i laughed for like twenty entire seconds

our pumpkins before i threw them away. 

I was so sick that most nights we didn't have dinner, we just scavenged (I stayed committed to making Mallorie real food to eat, so she stayed healthy, but not for me and KArl. right before i got pregnant i had been working through a cook book, making lots of new exciting things, or just fancier versions of things we eat, so that's what we were used to. and then BAM, pregnant.). My mom came to visit around Halloween and bought KArl some easy frozen foods that he could make on busy school days when he needed something to eat but i didn't want to make dinner. (aka the month of Nov) THANK YOU MOM. they saved his life. 

Karl is totally capable and fed himself in college before we got married, he knows how to cook for himself/a family. but right now he is working and finishing his master's degree. He is a great dad and husband and spends as much time with us as possible, all of that just doesn't leave much time for making full 3-course meals if youknowhaddamean

Karl's ideal dinner:

(I added the fruits and veggies, haha)

maintenance came to fix our bath faucet and Mallorie was adorable. peeking around the corner at him, hiding behind chairs and slowly getting braver and closer to him the longer he was here. haha. she was curious about what was happening, but is a little nervous around men, especially clean shaven men??? haha ) so was cautious. 

we watercolor together at least once a week, but we did it a LOT in November because i had Christmas orders to do and couldn't always wait until nap time to paint. So Mal joined the fun. 

Monthly bath documentation:

Over Thanksgiving break, we set up the tent in our living room and Mallorie was in heaven playing peek-a-boo nonstop

We love our little life!!