Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sidewalk Chalk

This week has been a busy one.  A rat race.  One of those weeks where everything takes longer than I think it's going to.  One of those weeks where I just get caught up with something, and another takes its place.  My to-do list is out of control, and somewhere between taking pictures of Farm Bureau agents with NU basketball players, counting ballots for graduation speakers, grading thirty-six multi-genre papers, writing lesson plans for a project on To Kill a Mockingbird, paying an overdue daycare bill (oops), sending four swimsuits back to Victoria's Secret (gross), and shipping a defective flash drive across the country...

I remember this.

And I know that it's all o.k. 

Because after a day is done and I rush like mad to daycare to pick up my little sprout, my to-do list just doesn't matter all that much.  My little six-month-old has taught me so much about what's important in this life of ours.  He reassures me over and over again with his accepting smile and innocent love.  

Babies are amazing that way.  They don't care about how the house looks, or how much money's in the bank account, or the number of hours punched on a time card.  They just want to be loved, and accepted, and played with.  Every time I look at his face, he reminds me of this.

Lately, I've been thinking about sidewalk chalk.  A long driveway, a barefoot baby, and a bucket full of red, blue, green, and purple.  Afternoons spent outlining our shadows, drawing smiley faces, and perfecting our names in bubble letters.  This week, I find myself longing for chalk-dust covered hands, a glass of iced tea, and simplicity.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It happened again...


Well, it turns out, flash drives don't have elbows.  Praying my guys at Flash Drive Pros can 'straighten' this out...

I guess you live and learn...but sometimes it takes a couple tries :(


Monday, March 28, 2011

Happiness is...

... a weekend at home.  A weekend with no plans other than catching up, making a mess, and cleaning it up again.  A weekend with Cruz and his dad.

...Happiness is a Friday afternoon post parent-teacher conferences.  An early pickup, a happy baby boy, and an overdue request for Size 3 diapers :)

...Happiness is a Thai Chicken Pizza at Doey Joey's.  The sweet and spicy peanut sauce reminds me of one of the first 'cool' meals Beau and I cooked together in our hilariously bad kitchen at 'the duplex.'  Thai chicken, marinated in a sesame peanut sauce, sprinkled with cilantro, and wrapped in crispy lettuce leaves.  They were amazing, even though they took us two hours to make.  We tried them a couple summers later.  They took half the time, and tasted half as good.  Skills and expectations...skills and expectations...

...Happiness is 'Cruz at PLAY.'  He is an explorer and a discoverer.  We spent a large portion of Saturday morning unpacking toys I had purchased for him and 'put away' for just the right day.  He was mesmerized by the blocks, but still sees everything as a teething device.  

...Happiness is a 'sitter.'  Still not too fond of the falling over thing, so we surround him with soft objects like pillows, blankets, and Ron Sockos.  He can sit for pretty long periods of time before falling like a Jenga puzzle.  You never know which way he's gonna go, but it's similar to the last second shot in a basketball game in the fact that it seems to occur in slow motion.  

...Happiness is a home-cooked meal.  Chicken roll-ups, my favorite green beans with basil and cherry tomatoes, and some good ol' Stove Top.  Happiness is eating our dinner to the tunes of 'Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,' thanks to Cruz's jumper.  We don't even notice the sounds as we inhale the food in front of us :)

...Happiness is reusable grocery bags.   I'm a fan.

...Happiness is the best baby toy on the planet.  There's a reason this, and Sophie the Giraffe are on Amazon Baby's Bestseller List.  This toy gets us through tired baby diaper changes and the Nose Frida snot sucker experiences. 

...Happiness is devouring a bag of Whopper Robin Eggs.  I have a love/hate relationship with all that is Easter candy.

...Happiness is sweet baby feet that blend together with plush baby blue like cookies and cream.

...and a kitty who timidly wants in on the Sunday afternoon action (or is just vying for a spot in the sun).

...Happiness is a baby in bibs.  A baby who is working on those teeth as if it was his job.  Before I had kids, I always said I would never be a mom who let her children run around with snotty noses...

...then I had kids :). 

...Happiness is watching Michael Scott's proposal to Holly on The Office.  Either motherhood has made me more emotional, or that was a tear-jerker!  Definitely one of my top five best TV moments...ever.

...Happiness is this...

...and this...

...Happiness is a Sunday morning in pajamas, a Sunday afternoon in pajamas, and a Sunday night in pajamas.  

Have a good week :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A False Alarm

Last Monday, I couldn't wait to pick Cruz up from daycare.  After a wonderful Spring Break week at home with him, Monday was kind of rude-awakening, back-to-reality for me.  My attempts to balance were put to the test yet again, especially after having an entire week at home to see how much I've been missing.  So, after saying goodbye to the last sophomore to leave my classroom, I hurried to daycare to say hello to my favorite little pupil.

When I arrived at daycare, I immediately noticed twenty or so adorable little munchkins lined up perfectly outside the main doors of the center.  Some seemed excited to have a breath of unexpected fresh air; however, others looked scared and worried, evidenced by a few fresh tears and white knuckles clasped tightly around the daycare employees' hands.  I wasn't used to this sight and my first thought was that it was a little chilly for recess.  

"The babies are in the back entrance of the church," one of the college girls said to me, recognizing me as 'Cruz's mom.'

"What's going on?" I asked, growing just slightly worried.

"Fire alarm," she replied.

After receiving the o.k. to enter the building, I went in search of my little.  I ran into Kari, the director, whose eyes immediately calmed my nerves.  

"Our system had a circuit issue.  No fire.  Cruz is holding down the fort in the baby room."

As I entered the baby room, I immediately went back to my daycare-working-days, particularly one that involved a tornado warning, a storage closet, and the task of occupying twelve, confused one-year-olds.  Empathy is a powerful tool.

Cruz's college 'girlfriends' looked flustered and beat.  They went in and out of the baby room, carrying babies on each hip.  Some cried, some literally screamed, and all looked utterly confused at the change of pace.  I immediately scanned the room for Cruz, but didn't seem him.

"Here we come!" shouted Chas, down the hall!  I watched as she pushed a crib into the room, one with wheels on the legs and clear plastic on the four sides, which allowed a perfect view of another add-to-the-baby-book sight I hope I never forget.  

There was Cruz, my brave little firefighter, on his tummy with his head up high, as if directing and overseeing the entire event.  On both sides of Cruz were two of his 'daycare friends,' two sweet little girls sound asleep in the crib.  He was protecting them, of course.  

It was one of those moments that begs no explanation, just lots and lots of laughter.  The girls and I stared at Cruz's big eyes and laughed until we were blue in the face.  He had no idea what was going on, but after seeing the smiles on our faces, cracked a sly smile himself.  A funny moment for Mom, a not-so-funny moment for the three girls who had to haul seven babies outside for a fire drill.  

It was a moment I wished I had my camera permanently attached to my hip.  My Cruz, the protector.    

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happiness is...

...the weekend. 

Happiness is...

After a long weekend of parent-teacher conferences, deadlines, five a.m. alarms, and piles of unfinished grading, Friday has arrived.

A Friday that involves a Doey Joey's pizza, a trip to Target, and a Wood Wick candle.  A set of wooden blocks, a big boy who can now sit on his own for a full minute before losing his balance, and some much-needed cuddle time.  I love when we just can't make it through that last bottle, only to crash on my shoulder.  Sound alseep.

Life is good.

Happy Weekend!

Exploring Twitter

For quite some time, I've been a slightly intrigued by Twitter.  I owe it to The Regis and Kelly Show.  A couple summers ago, I was an avid fan of the show (ok, more like an avid fan of Kelly's shoes), and watched and laughed along at their process learning how to 'Tweet.'  I was slightly intrigued, enough so to log on and make my own account.  My Twitter circle consisted of four other people: Regis and Kelly, Ashton Kutcher, and Oprah, and the virtual friendship was unfortunately a one-way street.  It was kind of cool that I knew what Ashton and Demi were doing on the weekends, and whether or not I needed to DVR Oprah's show, but other than that, I just didn't see a whole lot of value.  At this time, I saw Twitter as nothing but a place to let the world in on ridiculously random information no one really cared about.  

Hence the typical Facebook statuses...

"(Insert Junkie #1) is going to bed."

"(Junkie #2) hates two-faced people."

"(Junkie #3) is depressed."

Although I guess you could consider this all 'networking,' I found this practice boring, and somewhat awkward.  I'm all for the connections and accessibility F'book has to offer, but it seemed like it was becoming a place to stalk people you would never pick up the phone to call, or an easier place to break up with your boyfriend.  

Then, Megan, a teacher at NU, asked me to 'publish' a blog post for our school's faculty blog.  Thinking this would be a post read by my fellow colleagues, my husband, and maybe my mom, I typed, proofread, and hit the send button without dwelling or stressing.  "It's All About the Questions," examines my use of essential questions when planning and guiding my 10th grade language arts curriculum.

Megan, as well as Bridgette, aka, Twitter extraordinaire, immediately 'tweeted' my post, and within literally minutes, it was out there for the world to see.  Megan's tweet ended up posted on a Twitter page entitled, "Tech News Daily." A principal she knows then shared it with her language arts teachers.  Within a half hour, I had reconnected with a fellow English major from my days at UNI, an English teacher I've gotten to know via ICN in my former Master's classes, and some great reading material from other teachers in my field.  Now this is what I call 'networking.'

So, I am now an official member of Twitter.  My twitter name is ajorgensen13.  I am currently overwhelmed, as I have no idea how to 'RT,' or re-tweet, but hope to play around this weekend.  I'm already seeing some really neat things that could happen if I would open this up to my students in the classroom.  I'll be sure to blog about my trials and tribulations in the Twitter world, and have posted a sidebar on the bottom of this blog to track my tweets.  And if you already call Twitter a home, followers and navigation guides are welcomed and encouraged :) 

P.S. Did you know Brad Womack and Emily Maynard from The Bachelor each have a Twitter???  Have I convinced you in its worth yet???  Just sayin'...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Fever

Last night, I rocked Cruz to sleep in the middle of a thunderstorm. I rested my cheek on the top of his blond head and listened to the rain wash away the long, cold winter. I love a good rain storm, especially at night…the raindrops that rest on the windows, the sounds of cars swishing through the puddles in the streets, and the power and mightiness of a good crack of thunder. Cruz slept like a baby (go figure) during our first rainstorm together, and after nestling him in his cozy crib and retiring to bed myself, I silently praised God for the blessings of a warm house, a little baby, and a new Spring.

Aside from the mid-thirty degree temps that just won’t seem to go away, spring is indeed here and I have the fever...


Spring is the green grass that’s starting to envelop our front lawn. Those unnoticed window boxes just waiting for some fresh dirt and pretty blooms. The need to open my freshly cleaned windows and suck in the fresh air outside. Spring is that salad with cucumbers, that burger on the grill, and that neighborhood walk at 6:00 in the daylight. Spring is a no-coat-necessary, buy-a-new-pair-of-flip-flops, wear-a-cute-summer-dress, and be-outside-as-much-as-possible mentality, even if it’s just grabbing the mail, pulling the garbage out, or walking into school from the parking lot. Tasks that are so hard to do in the winter become easy in the spring. Moods become lighter, days become longer, and life just becomes sweeter.

So what's screaming Spring to me at home this week?  

...A trip to Bath and Body Works to scope out the seasonal Wallflowers, including scents that smell so good, you'd rather pour them down your throat instead of plug them into your wall.  Scents of Peach Bellini, Caribbean Salsa, and Pink Sangria now fill my house and each room becomes a new destination.  

...Pastels.  A pink cardigan, a bottle of Victoria's Secret lotion, and a brand new baby food cookbook, covered in fuzzy baby chick yellow.

...A new salad.  Fresh greens, some craisins, bacon (of course), and a warm Gorgonzola cheese dressing.

...A baby dressed in (baby) blue.  A baby who loves to 'talk,' and looks at you so intently, trying his best to communicate with you, as if his language makes absolute sense to him.  I often imagine him as one of the babies in "Look Who's Talking," and wonder what he's thinking about in that little head of his.

...Cruz has this new thing.  Lately, whenever we lie on a blanket together, he'll reach up high on his tummy, shoot me this wide-mouthed grin, then turn his head the other way and bury his face into the blanket.  Then, he'll turn his head, glance at me from the corner of his eyes, reach up, and attempt to put a spell on me with the same smile all over again.  It works every time.  

...A walk in the neighborhood.  Hooded sweatshirts, cozy blankets, and one content baby.   

I can't believe it's just about April.  I've just about made it through another school year.  Cruz is just about six months...a half year old!  Seriously, where does the time go?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Our First 'Getaway'

I am always a bit torn when it comes to traveling for Spring Break.  One part of me longs to pack my family up, settle in the car, and just drive.  Escape for a week to somewhere warm, somewhere without cell phones, deadlines, and to-do lists.  But a bigger part of me craves a week at home, a week to regroup, relax, and clean windows.  This year, I especially craved a week at home with Cruz, a week to do normal things like feed him cereal, go for a walk, and watch Kathie Lee and Hoda in our pajamas.

Last week, I got just that.  Time to live at home with Cruz.  Time to be a mom.  Time to drag out his morning cereal, lay around in pajamas, snap picture after picture after picture, and peek in on him sleeping soundly in his crib during naptime to the sounds of his Rockabye Baby CD.  We had time to frost cupcakes for St. Patty's Day, sit as a family at the table for dinner, and get those windows cleaned.  We made up for lost time this week and now it's on.  On to summer break...

We also found some time to go on our first little getaway since having Cruz.  We've been blessed with a great little sleeper and I have been extremely weird about breaking his cycle; therefore, Cruz has not spent one night away from his 'crib routine' in five months.  Call me superstitious, but every time Beau mentions Cruz's sleep habits, good or bad, I demand he find a piece of wood to knock on immediately.  Weird, I know, but sleep has always been highly important to my productivity and overall mood.  My own mom would cringe every time I was invited to a sleepover, as it meant nothing more to her than a late night, followed by a crabby, sleep-deprived daughter in the morning.  If Cruz is anything like his mother, we both need our beauty sleep...

I digress. 

Beau took the day off on Friday and the three of us traveled to Williamsburg, Iowa...a perfect 'prequel' or trial round before more daring family trips in the future.  Packing for a baby is exhausting!  I packed my own washcloths and towels, a crib sheet for the pack 'n play, books, toys, and outfits for a week's stay instead of a night's.  I debated how many bottles to pack, how much formula to pack, and purchased my first pack of 'Little Swimmers.'  Yes, the three of us were shacking up in a hotel room, complete with a continental breakfast, two queen sized beds, and an indoor pool. 

We shopped 'til we dropped on Friday.  Bought out Banana Republic, found some steals at Baby Gap, and was delighted to find one of my favorite outfits for Cruz in size 6-12.  He now has the same exact gator shirt in size 'newborn,' '0-3,' 3-6,' and now, '6-12.'  Cruz was such a good baby.  He sat front-facing like a big boy in his stroller, drank a bottle in the handicapped dressing room at Banana, and gave the flirty eyebrow lift to several female sales associates.  We had lots of fun with him and I'm convinced Beau is a better shopper now that he has a buddy to hang with.

After a full day of shopping, we scoped out our hotel room.  Cruz was so cute.  I laid him on his very own, queen-sized bed, and he immediately rolled to his tummy, laid his head on the soft comforter, and flashed me a satisfied grin.  He approved.  He liked his new home.  In addition to the bed, Cruz was a big fan of the elevator, the long hallways, and the frequent smiles from strangers, including a strange, but friendly hotel 'wanderer' we coined as, Moes, Dwight Shrute's brother from The Office.  It just goes to show that babies don't care where they are as long as they're fed, changed, and loved. 

One thing Cruz was not so sure about was the crazy big 'bathtub.'  He got super serious when we explored the pool room.  It would be Cruz's first experience swimming and I was anxious to see how it would go.  As much as he loves splashing in his bath, I figured he'd be a maniac in the pool; however, I failed to consider the temperature of the water.  He looked like such a big man in his little swimming trunks, and tried his best to act like a big man once those little tootsies graced the water.  The look on his face was priceless.  He was scared and a little stressed, obviously, but never once did he cry.  It's as if he was trying his best to be brave and trust his parents; however, it didn't stop that bottom lip from popping up!  It wasn't too long before we decided to wait for '85 and sunny' conditions to introduce Cruz to swimming.  

Looking pretty confident in their matching trunks :)

The first dip...

"What the heck was that?"

Friday night, we met Rob and Jill for a nice dinner at Monica's, a great restaurant in Iowa City with a crazy menu.  I couldn't decide whether I wanted the lobster penne or the 'Mama's Meatloaf.'  Cruz was a trooper once again, but so sleepy by the end of dinner.  He couldn't keep his eyes open!  By the time we got back to the hotel, he was fast asleep in his carseat...Vacation was a lot for the Cruz dude.

Overall, our first little getaway proved to be a successful one.  We learned a few things, as we always do, like how to occupy a bored, restless baby in his carseat during the last leg of the car ride, how to feed a baby in a clothing store, and how to transform a queen-sized bed into a secure crib, but were proud of ourselves and proud of our Cruz.  And although little getaways are a nice change every now and then, home felt that much sweeter for the three of us.  

Cruz took a two and a half hour nap in his crib that afternoon.  He was glad to be home...  


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