Friday, September 28, 2012

Vincent Jude--15 month old Extraordinaire

Yesterday, we took Jude for his 15 month check-up (even though he turns 16 months in about a week). This was our first trip back to the pediatrician since his 12 month check-up. You read that right. Jude has not been sick in months. My pocketbook thanks him. Let's just keep this streak a-goin.' Anyway, he got three shots, none of which he particularly loved. As usual, he didn't hesitate to make us aware of his strong feelings toward the shots. Another part of the visit that had him come apart almost as much included the head measurements. That kid will wear a hat to bed if I would let him, but put a measuring tape around his noggin, and prepare to hear screams loud enough to alert DHS. So here are a few stats: Height--32 in. 70th percentile Weight--24.3 lbs. 50th percentile Head Circumference--can't remember, but a healthy sized egg head for sure Teeth--more than the entire population of Alabama (Seriously, kid's got a lot of teeth. Doc thinks he'll have them all in before the year is up.) His weight is up more than it has ever been. He usually fluctuated somewhere between the 25th and 35th percentile, but now we're dead on average. I guess I feed him pretty well. I don't quite understand the rapid weight gain since I closely monitor his eating. The child has never met a french fry or chicken nugget and won't for a very long time. Of course, Doc seems quite pleased with the weight gain, so therefore I'm happy with it too. I actually experiment a lot with his diet. Weird food that Jude seems to enjoy includes beets, anything with leeks in it, butternut squash and apple soup, hummus, lamb, and roasted eggplant. Of course, he loves a banana, so much so, that he learned to say "banana" before "mama." We're even thinking of dressing him as a banana for Halloween. We still don't walk yet, but Doc says no big deal. Truthfully, I hadn't been too terribly concerned about it. I know he has the ability, but he's a very cautious child. I've never seen a baby play with toys as carefully as Jude does. He picks them up, examines them from every possible angle, puts them down, and then plays. He does the same thing with his feet. He'll slowly put one in front of the other, stay that way for a second, and then ultimately decide "Nope. Not today" and bring that foot back. So yeah, I imagine walking will take a while. He crawls like a champ, though, and he can walk pretty good if he holds on to the edge of something. I did score some wicked awesome mom points for not giving Jude a night bottle any more. In fact, he kicked that habit before he turned one. He's also a very good water drinker--probably because I won't give him anything else, except for milk no more than twice a day. I actually need to start doing this for myself as well. Of course, as proud as I am of his development, he's not perfect. (Oh, who am I kidding? Of course he is!)He still likes to get into the cat food, which always results in none of us being happy. I fuss, he cries, and Weezy sulks. So far, I like the toddler stage, but I do miss my infant. God blessed me with a child who has been more or less easy from the moment of his conception. I pray every day for his continued happiness and health.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Ever have one of those days where you just realize you've chosen the right path? Today proved that kind of day for me, and what a great feeling, too. My seventh year at Holmes has not gotten off to such a hot start, not because I hate my job or anything, but because I've had to endure so many changes at once, from a friend retiring to a four day school week to teaching both eight AND sixteen week courses to learning a new software writing program that, quite frankly, stinks. About two weeks ago, at about the time I spent two hours of my precious office time working through some software kinks and chewing out the company's tech support, I made a decision. I would no longer let any of this get me down. Sure, by the time I get home these days I would like to worry less about getting supper on the table and just pass out instead, but I had to find a way to roll with the punches or lose my sanity completely. Therefore, I took the ol' take-it-one-day-at-a-time approach. It has been no easy feat for sure. I still stress out on a daily basis, but today, I realized that it didn't matter what problems I had with work because I realized that I really am in the right place! This semester, I teach an eight week Beginning English class. This course is for students who couldn't score high enough on the ACT to go into Comp. 1, so they take two semesters of Pre-Core English to finally get to the point where they can take the college level class. In short, the average ACT English subscore probably averages out to about a single digit. While I can't promise these students will be the next Pulitzer Prize recipients, I can pretty much guarantee some proficiency when they leave my class. Working with this clientele isn't easy, and it isn't for anybody. Some days, I walk into a very hostile environment, and other days they don't complain; they don't take notes, but they don't piss me off either. Every day, though, they just want me to care about them whether they realize it or not. This semester, I've had the "pleasure" of teaching two young men who, quite frankly, have made me want to rip my own face off since week one. They do just enough that I can't kick them out, but talk about a couple of jerks. Anyway, this morning, to get the students ready for their next test, I would randomly pose questions throughout today's lesson and throw pencils at the students who answered the questions correctly. This seemed to awaken my two fellas, as they pretty much dominated that game. Of course, I ran out of pencils but wanted to keep the momentum going so I just started throwing random pieces of chalk and Post-It note papers at them, which thrilled them just as well. Anyway, I don't understand why such a thing changed their tunes, but it sure did prompt one of them to stay after class, look me dead in the eye, and apologize for his behavior over the last couple of weeks. It seriously brought tears to my eyes, so I had to quickly kick him out before he could see. Right after that class, I met my British Lit. class. This group consists of several with ACT scores in the high twenties and low thirties. (And since I meet this group immediately after Beginning English, it takes me a few minutes to regroup.) For the most part, they are a very bright group of individuals--a little lazy at times, but it doesn't take them long to figure out that Mrs. Brown doesn't play that game. Anyway, I found out yesterday that we get to go on a field trip in a couple of weeks! We will sojourn to Memphis for the Tennessee Shakespeare Company's production of The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged. Now, I was excited when the opportunity presented itself this week, but I wasn't sure if my students would get into the idea. However, every single one wants to go, even though we're leaving at seven in the morning. (Of course, they want to get out of school for a day, but they really did seem excited about the play.) Then after discussing the field trip, they pretty much kicked ass on their Middle English translation project, and I think they are looking forward to starting Chaucer next week. So it occurred to me that even though my stress levels have gone through the roof a time or two this semester, I'm proud to have a career as rewarding as what I have. God has looked after me all these years and put me where he needs me, even though I fought tooth and nail while in college to not teach. I guess what I realized today is that even though I go through some hard times at work, at least I feel at home. My band director from Ole Miss used to tell us every day in practice, "You motivate me." I can still see his tall lanky self standing over all three hundred of us in that treehouse of a band tower with his hands clasped together taking just a few seconds out of our otherwise busy agenda to tell us that (along with "Bringaponchobringaponchobringaponcho"). Took long enough, but I finally get it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Whirlwind Fall

I have a love/hate relationship with the fall season. I love it because the air feels slightly (only slightly) cooler, I can put out my Weezy-cat Halloween decorations (that admittedly, I leave up until Christmas because--well, come on--the decorations look like Weezy!), the State Fair comes to Jackson, and of course, Ole Miss and Green Bay Packer football. Of course, I have many other reasons I like the fall, but these just happen to top the list. Fortunately, the good reasons outnumber the bad ones. One thing only keeps me from declaring fall my favorite season: time (read: lack thereof). As Jessi Spano from the critically acclaimed show "Saved By the Bell" so famously proclaimed, "NO TIME! THERE'S NEVER ANY TIME," I feel her pain as I too sometimes feel like popping a few No-Doz from time to time. Last week alone, we attended three--THREE--football games, went to swimming lessons, attended the visitation of a friend's father, and got home by 11:00 p.m. three of those nights. I also encountered some more issues with the writing lab software my online class uses. (In case anyone wonders, I have a hate/strongly hate relationship with that lab software). None of that even includes my day-to-day routine of waking up at 5 a.m. to run, teaching from 8-3:30, helping with the band's colorguard after school until five, or teaching Sunday School on Sunday mornings. Yeah, fall's kind of busy. At this point, someone may wonder, "What about Jude?" Well, from 8-3:30 he plays with his buddies at Ms. Lily's house while Jeffrey and I work. The rest of our activities, however, he comes with us. As it turns out, he loves a football game, mainly because he won't miss an opportunity to become the center of attention, but I've caught him looking down at the field and following the action. He shines in swimming lessons. I've never seen a child love the water so much. Jude even sits in my lap while I work on my online class. Of course, he gets a little perturbed at the glaringly obvious grammatical errors in the papers I grade, so then he gets down and crawls off to play with his bead maze. I guess if I saw Jude looking distressed over the busy-ness of our schedule, I would probably shuffle some things around and give up other things. However, he seems to enjoy going with the flow. I do make sure he has a decent bed time (although I slack on the weekends some), is bathed every night, and eats meals packed with nutrients cooked by moi even if I have to pack them in to-go plates. I do love fall, but I look forward to Thanksgiving when the activities slow down a little. I guess every family has a busy season, and right now, we're at the peak of ours.