The Write Timing

My voyage toward publication

Always August 18, 2016

Filed under: Classroom,Family,Parenthood,School,Uncategorized — michellephillips @ 9:48 pm
Tags: , ,

Today was the first day of school.  As a teacher, I have always loved this time of year.  The excitement of finding out who is going to be in your class, the sun streaming in the classroom windows, and the school supply shopping – oh the school supplies!  And as much as I love teaching and love this time of year, today was difficult for me.  Because back-to-school doesn’t just mean I get to start a new school year with my students anymore.  It means I have to end a summer spent cuddling, reading to, laughing with, and loving up my babies.

 

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Last night, I figured I should probably rid my purse of its “mom” contents.  I removed a tiny tube of Aquifor, two pacifiers, and a couple of crunched up Goldfish.  But this morning, as I was searching for my lanyard that Olivia surely took out and hid somewhere, my fingers brushed a  mini Minnie Mouse.  And that’s the beauty of being a mommy, especially a working mommy.

 

Even though you aren’t always with them, your children are always with you.  They are in the stories you tell – how Olivia had the time of her life at the splash pad and how Nate’s new favorite game is patty cake.  The lunches you pack that now include food in an assortment of Disney Princess containers.  The coffee you grab because someone woke up more times than normal last night.  The frames on your desk and the videos on your phone.  They are there.  They are always there.

 

But what makes it easier is working with a beautiful group of students.  Students whose parents are thinking about them all day.  In their stories, while eating their lunches, drinking their coffee.  They leave their child and entrust them to me.  And I promise to take care of that child and help him or her to grow.  Because I know that when each parent leaves their child at school, they aren’t just leaving a 7 year-old.  They’re leaving their heart.  Because that’s what I did.

 

 

#momlife July 12, 2016

There’s a funny little hashtag out there that I’m currently enjoying with every ounce of my stretch-marked, hip-widened, pony-tailed mom being.  #momlife  is the go-to when a mom experiences one of those moments that only a fellow mom can fully appreciate.  The moments where you look around and think, Where is another adult with whom I can share an eye roll?  After yesterday’s heartstring pulling story about the birth of my sweet baby boy, the “beauty” part of my story, I thought it would be a perfect day to talk about the “beast” part.  The part that makes me sigh.  The part that sometimes makes me huff (in an exasperated, but not too loud voice so as to keep the children relatively calm), “Come on, life!”  They are the #momlife moments.  And this one’s a doozy.

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#momlife moment #1:

 

I’m trying to get back in shape after the birth of Baby Phillips #2 (Nathan, who we fondly refer to as “Nate Dogg,” because: Class of ’99).  I’m training for a 5K, which to many of you, may sound like a silly thing for which to feel the need to train.  But those of you who know me personally, know that I am no runner.  I have never been a runner.  My non-running days go all the way back to elementary school when I would feign illness to skip out on running the mile in PE (sorry Mr. Lebeda).  But even though I have a long relationship with hating running, I always think it seems fun when I see families post about doing 5Ks and fun runs together.  I want to be able to do that for Olivia and Nathan, not just wait at the end with a sign.  So I’m training.  (Which, by the way, I’m using the Couch to 5K app and absolutely love it!)

 

When I’m in workout mode, I prefer to do my exercising in the morning.  I have always been a morning person, plus, I like starting my day with a workout.  It immediately makes me feel like I accomplished something that day, and then I can’t spend the entire day coming up with excuses for why I can’t work out later.  One of the joys of being a nursing mother is that you wake up with a very heavy chest.  Especially if (knock on wood), your child is doing a good job of sleeping.  So I can’t exactly workout before feeding Nate.  I have to feed him, sometimes pump, get dressed, and then finally head out the door to work out.  I have to try to time it so I can be showered and ready around the time my husband leaves for work in case our daughter decides to wake up early.  He leaves for work at 6:30, which gives me a fairly small window of exercising opportunity.  Do I use this as a excuse not to work out?  No.  Well, mostly no.  Okay, it may be half and half.

 

One day, about a month ago, I didn’t get up to work out.  However, I knew it was going to be a lovely day and I needed a loaf of bread for dinner.  We happen to live about a mile from Great Harvest, so I thought, what a perfect idea!  I’ll put my darling dears in the stroller and we’ll walk to get some bread.  The walk was as lovely as I thought it would be (with the exception of GH opening about 8 minutes late, which totally messed up my timing, but I digress).  We got a loaf of dakota and a loaf of apricot almond (both were a-mazing), I threw them in the bottom of the stroller, looked online to figure out how to recline a sleeping Olivia’s seat, and we headed for home.

 

While it was a lovely day, it was still a summer day, which in Nebraska meant humidity.  By the time we got home, we were all a bit sweaty, particularly me.  And it was time for Nate to eat.  I used to love to nurse Olivia in the bathtub, so I thought, okay, we can all just take a bath!  That night was bath night anyway.  I was sure I could save us some time by bathing them with me in the afternoon and my husband would be so impressed with my time management skills!  So I ran the water, got everyone undressed, and we all hopped in the tub.

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Image courtesy of Pexels. My bathroom is far less luxurious.

It was marvelous.  Olivia played and “helped” wash her brother’s hair.  Nate ate like a champ.  When everyone’s fingers and toes had adequately pruned, I thought it was about time for us to get out.  This was the part I hadn’t quite planned.  I thought, maybe if I just wait an extra five minutes, my husband would get home and could take the baby while I dried off and got Olivia ready.

 

As always, my children had other plans.

 

Olivia stood up from the bubbles she was blowing.  She looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes and proceeded to pee in the water.

 

“Livvy!”  I exclaimed, “Did you just go potty?”

 

“Uh huh.”

 

Since we want to potty train in the near future, I was careful about my response.  “It’s okay to go potty.  But next time, tell mommy and we can sit on the potty chair.”

 

She gave me an olibgatory “uh huh” and then sat back down to play.  Ew.  Probably time to get out.

 

I was just about to stand up with Nate when I looked down at my precious boy.  He looked back at me with adoring eyes and sent forth a giant poo from his adorable bottom.  All three of us were now immersed in poop and pee water.

 

This time I couldn’t help it.  I gasped.  I jumped up, careful to hold on tight to my poopy boy.  “Don’t move!” I said to Livvy.  “Stay on that side of the tub.”  I grabbed my own towel, wrapped Nate in it and put my non-rolling baby safely in the very center of our bed.  Knowing he’d be safe and warm, I went and grabbed Olivia out of the water and started the process of drying her off.

 

I wish I would’ve taken a picture of the aftermath.  The amount of poo in that tub was incredible.  Perhaps the water made it appear to be more than it was.  Or perhaps he had been holding onto it for a while, waiting for the right moment.  But either way, it called for additional bathing.  And a lot of Clorox.

 

When my husband (finally) did get home, I told him the whole ordeal.  His immediate response was, “You should blog about that.”

 

So here I am.  Blogging about this very #momlife moment.  Stay tuned for more.  After all – I still have two children under the age of two.  #momlife indeed.

 

Birth Day! July 11, 2016

Filed under: Blogs,Family,Parenthood,Starting Our Family,Uncategorized — michellephillips @ 4:30 pm
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This is a cheater blog post, because the actual post just appeared today on Pregnancy and Newborn’s Birth Day blog!  Please check it out and read about the day our sweet baby Nate entered the world.🙂

 

Loving Them June 1, 2016

I’ve been meaning to get back to my writing.  Truly, I have.  Writing for Pregnancy and IMG_0219Newborn’s Knocked Up blog (find my posts here!) made me feel like a real live writer, and that’s a feeling I had been longing to have for a while.  You’d think I’d be more motivated to write every day.  But, you see, there is other important work I’ve been doing.

 

In fact, it’s much more important work.

 

It’s the work of being a mother.

 

And I don’t just mean the washing of bottles and the changing of diapers.  Sure, all of that is part of it (especially the diapers part – I have two kids under age 2 after all!), but it’s not the real substance of motherhood.

 

I’ve been busy loving them.

 

My two little dreams come true.  I’ve been busy holding my tiny baby so close that it feels like our hearts have one beat.  Kissing his cheeks over and over; willing him to feel the immensity of my love.  Staring at his perfect face and listening to the gentle snores that sound sweeter than music.  Letting his chubby hand grasp my finger and keeping it there just to be close to him.  Still holding him an hour after he’s finished eating, just so I can watch him sleep and take in his beautiful baby smell.  I’ve been savoring these precious baby moments because I realize they are so fleeting.

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And then there’s her.  The beautiful girl who made me a mother.  His big sister, who is really still a baby herself.  But who is also wanting to be such a big girl.  I’ve been talking to her, listening, even when I don’t understand a word of it.  Playing with her babies and giving them so many kisses when she asks.  Huddling into her play tent.  Reading the same book three times in a row just because she loves it.  Embracing the moments she’s sleepy and wants to be carried upstairs, so I can steal the cuddles she used to give so freely.  Loving her up as much and as often as I can.

 

So yes, I’ve been wanting to write.  But right now, I have much more important work to do.  I’m loving my babies.

 

 

Goals for the 2015-2016 School Year August 8, 2015

Filed under: Classroom,Goals — michellephillips @ 9:24 am
Tags: , , ,
Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

It’s about that time!  School supplies fill the aisles, my Pinterest account is dominated by lesson ideas, and I’ve ordered my first ever Erin Condren planner (I cannot WAIT for it to arrive!).  That means it is time to set some goals for my 2015-2016 school year.

I am a firm believer in setting goals and in documenting those goals.  If they aren’t written down, it is a lot easier to let yourself slack (at least it is for me!).  So, I’m posting my goals today.  In addition, I will be posting the list of goals by my desk at school and the cabinet at home.

1.) Complete lesson plans for the following week before I leave the building on Friday.

My lesson plans have to be turned in by the end of the day on Monday of each week.  Last year, my first year in second grade at a new school, I had them turned in on time (almost always) and even had them turned in by Friday during some weeks.  I noticed that my weekend was so much more relaxing if my plans had been completed and emailed before I left school on Friday.  In the interest of relaxing weekends this year, my goal is to submit my plans by Friday afternoon.

2.) Implement a Math Workshop model.

I’ve read a lot about math workshops on some of the teacher blogs I follow and in other professional reading.  I have a difficult time teaching whole group math to a mixed ability group of learners, and I think a math workshop model will help me feel like I can better serve the students I teach.  I know in the beginning of a new method of teaching, there can be a learning curve, so I hope I can adjust quickly and my students will be game to try this new model along with me!

3.) Write every week.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

It is incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of the school year.  Once that bell rings on the first day of school,

many other things in my life that I enjoy get pushed to the backburner.  This year, since I am dedicating more time to submissions with the hope of finally being published, I know I need to dedicate time to my writing.

4.) Read for pleasure.

One of my favorite parts of summer is being able to read what I want to read.  Don’t get me wrong, I love reading professional development books (I love the new ideas!), but there is nothing like picking out a book and reading the whole thing just for fun.  After all, that’s what I want my students to do!

5.) Stay positive.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a positive person.  I smile a lot, I’m friendly, and I always try to look on the bright side.  In the education field, that isn’t always an easy thing to do.  I can sometimes fall into the negativity trap (especially on a gray or rainy day).  This year, I will surround myself with positive people, try new things, and keep smiling.

I’m certain I’ll come up with more goals as the year progresses, but for now – this is where I’ll begin.  It’s the 2015-2016 school year.  Here we go!!!

 

Journey to Joy – Part 2 July 31, 2015

It had been two years.  We had tried all of the things we could – from ovulation predictors to testing and medicine.  And let

me tell you – it was stressful.  The process of “trying” becomes less and less exciting the longer you are at it.  It goes from being a fun adventure (Maybe this will be the month we get pregnant!) to a job (Looks like I’m ovulating…I’ll meet you in the bedroom.).  It became a chore: the endless counting of days, the feeling that if I was ovulating we were “on duty,” and the monthly disappointment when I got my period and we knew we had failed again.

So we stopped.  We stopped actively “trying” to conceive.  We stopped counting, I stopped peeing on ovulation predictors, and we stopped going to see the fertility specialists.  I had heard countless stories from people about how once they stopped thinking about it and relaxed, they got pregnant!  So instead of focusing on making a baby, we took trips, we made home improvements, and I started taking more graduate classes.  And it was great!  It felt so nice to take a break, but that hope was always there.  The break, the relaxation that worked for so many couples?  It didn’t work for us.

We were now almost six years into our marriage; three and a half years into unsuccessfully becoming parents.  We were ready to take a big step since the break wasn’t doing the trick.

We started the adoption process.

A colleague and close friend of mine and his wife had adopted their daughter through the Nebraska Children’s Home Society.  He had nothing but the highest praise for them.  After a great deal of conversation and prayer about it, Dave and I decided to begin the adoption process.

I have nothing but the most wonderful things to say about our experience with the Children’s Home.  We started by attending an informational meeting in Lincoln about what we could expect should we decide adoption was the right route for us.  The next step was an initial interview with a case worker.  We went to two days of training where we learned about the blessings and the challenges of adoption.  Our families were invited to attend a session about how to support couples who are pursuing adoption.  We filled out our extensive questionnaire and made decisions we never thought we would have to make (Will you accept a child of a different race?  Will you accept a child who was exposed to drugs or alcohol?  Will you accept a child with a disability?).  We went through a series of interview and a home visit.  We wrote our profile letter (the most difficult letter I’ve ever had to write) that a potential birth mother would read to help her decide if we were the right parents for her child.  Finally, in April of 2013, we entered the adoption pool.  Now, it would be a waiting game.  Which mother (if any) would select us?

Throughout this entire journey, we prayed for a child.  We continued to help our friends and family welcome their own children into their families.  We watched as Facebook friend after Facebook friend announced their pregnancies (and second pregnancies!  Third!)  I attended countless baby showers, every time experiencing such a mix of emotions – the tremendous joy of seeing my friend pregnant and glowing, ready to welcome a new baby, and the absolute sorrow that I was not able to experience it for myself.

During one particular baby shower for a friend from high school, the mom-to-be received a framed print of a beautiful quote, “This is the child we have prayed for.”  When she opened it, I could feel tears stinging the back of my eyes.  We had been praying too.  For so long.  And as we jumped into the adoption pool, my daily prayer for a child changed.

“Dear Lord, please let whatever child we are supposed to parent find us however they are meant to find us.  Amen.”

Because the fact of the matter is, while I may have given up hope of ever conceiving a child, I never gave up hope of becoming a parent.  I knew that I was meant to be a mother, and I was ready to welcome a child however that child arrived.

 

Journey to Joy – Part 1 July 16, 2015

Filed under: Dreams,Family,Goals,Starting Our Family — michellephillips @ 8:04 am
Tags: , , , ,

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to sit down and write about something incredibly personal and close to my heart.  What’s held me back is not being sure my words can capture these experiences.  In fact, I’m certain I can’t capture them as fully as I’d like.  However, what I know for sure is that they have to be shared.  Our journey may encourage others and give them a gift I’m sure many have left behind: hope.

My husband Dave and I met in 2003 in the most romantic of locations: the juvenile justice unit of a group home for boys age 12-18.  I know – how could we not have fallen in love against such a backdrop?  We dated for two years before getting engaged and then married in August of 2006.  We were young: 24 and 25.  We had so many goals and dreams: buying a house, traveling, finishing Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and eventually – having children.

As newlyweds, we decided we would wait two years before starting our family.  Two years seemed like a decent amount of time to accomplish some of our goals and settle into married life before bringing a little one on board.  We moved into our house.  We visited Jamaica, Washington, D.C., and Italy.  Dave finished his degree and I continued taking classes toward my Master’s.

The summer of 2008 arrived – two years had passed! – and we decided we were ready to start trying.  Each month, we waited; we hoped.  Each month, we were disappointed.  The first few months weren’t bad.  We knew it often took a few months for conception to occur once couples started trying.  But as summer turned into fall and then winter, we started to get a bit discouraged.  Every month, I’d fool myself into thinking I was pregnant.  Oh – I think my sense of smell is heightened – I must be pregnant.  I’m tired today – maybe I’m pregnant!

Many of our friends were announcing their pregnancies.  We waited for the day we would announce ours.  But as the calendar turned to 2009 and then 2010, our discouraged feeling turned into concern.  Why wasn’t this working?  We thought we would have a baby in our arms by now.  Heck – we thought we’d have a toddler!  What was going on?  Something had to be wrong.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

I talked to my doctor.  She ran some blood work and didn’t find anything amiss.  She recommended going to see a specialist who could complete additional testing.  So we made an appointment at a local reproductive center ($$$).  We got tested.  The results: We can’t find anything wrong.  But we can try a hysterosalpingogram.  (For those who don’t know, a hysterosalpingogram is a procedure where dye is injected into the uterus and fallopian tubes to see if the tubes are open or blocked.  For those who do know about it, I’m sorry.  It probably means you’ve had one and they are hella painful.)  The results:  You have a beautiful uterus.  Okaaaaay, that’s nice to hear?  Weird, but nice.  And now, dear doctor, tell me why I haven’t been able to conceive a child in my beautiful uterus.

The doctors could not find anything wrong with my husband or me.  But they decided to treat me anyway.  Six years later, I still have a problem with that.  How can you treat symptoms without knowing the cause?  Because the fact of the matter of this: infertility is not a diagnosis.  It is a symptom.  It is a symptom that SOMETHING ELSE IS GOING ON.  But, this doctor was not of that same opinion.  So he decided I should go on Clomid.

Here’s the thing – you cant just “go on Clomid.”  Oh no.  You have to come into the office for an initial ultrasound ($$$).  Then you take your Clomid like a good girl and deal with the wonderful side effects of nausea, weight gain, etc.  Then your husband has to give you a shot to make you ovulate at the appropriate time ($$$).  Then you have to come back in for another ultrasound to see how many follicles have developed ($$$).  And it goes on and on – every time you arrive at the office, you take out your checkbook – and you are totally willing to hand over the cash if it means you’ll end up a parent.  Every time you hope and pray it’s going to work.  Something that they’re doing, something they’re trying is going to work.

But it doesn’t.

The testing, the procedures, the medication – none of it works.  There is no resolution.

There is only heartache and arms that remain empty.

Attribution at bottom of post.

Image attribution at bottom of post.

Teddy bear photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/61629383@N08/16133347587″>Flash of the Blade</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

 

 
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