We had a pretty big announcement for the extended family this Thanksgiving - I'm nine weeks pregnant! I'm due in late June and I feel great (other than a little nausea and some major fatigue). Sylvia has become obsessed with babies of all kinds lately. She'll point to my tummy when asked "Where's the new baby?" She takes care of her own baby doll like her life depended on it, and she finally warmed up to her new baby cousin, Claire, who was only three weeks old at our Thanksgiving get together! So all systems are go for Fasciotto Baby 2!
Also, we're closing on our house this week! I'll be sleeping in my own bed in no time.
All that's left is to find a doctor and a hospital. Oh, and get ready for Christmas while moving into the new house. No biggie. Should be a fun month!
Whew! Today was a doozie. It was one of those days where everything happened in just the right order so that by the end of the day my heart just couldn't take any more reminders of how blessed and lucky I am.
It didn't help to start my afternoon with a showing of Toy Story 3 in the classroom! That has got to be the saddest child's movie on the planet. I got choked up at the beginning and I was downright weepy at the end. I've seen it before, of course, but it was so much sadder now that I know how much Sylvia LOVES her Woodie doll and her baby doll. Phew! I had to hold back tears so my kids wouldn't think I was crazy.
But THEN we read Chapter 3 of Three Cups of Tea and I just couldn't hold those tears in for one more minute! My kids are really getting into this story, and I've read the book a million times, but today it just really hit home for all of us. In Chapter 3, Greg discovers that the children in Korphe don't have a school. He finds them kneeling in the frozen dirt, practicing their multiplication tables with sticks in the mud, BY THEMSELVES. No teacher, because they can't afford to pay the teacher his $1 per day salary. I read the last paragraph where Greg asks the question, "Could you imagine a fourth grade class in America working on their lessons with no teacher?' and then he promises the village chief that he will build them a school. (This quick summary doesn't do the book justice - it is so beautifully written, especially for kids.)
I closed the book and said, "Wow, guys - what a great chapter for us to read on the day before Thanksgiving break!" (Because I totally didn't plan for it to work out this way, but it did!) I looked at one of my sweet little boys and his eyes were filling up with tears. I knew he could feel what I was feeling - that sudden, overwhelming sense that we all have so MUCH. You know how it is when you see someone else crying - I just couldn't hold it in any more! Luckily, the rest of the kids saw me crying, so no one looked at the crying boy, but before I knew it, we were ALL sniffling and talking about how lucky we are to have such luxuries as pencils and books, and a ROOF. I asked my kids, "What does this tell you about those kids in Pakistan? What character traits do they have?" And my AWESOME kids said things like, "They really care about their learning!" and "They must be really responsible." Then one of them said, "Hey, Mrs. Fasciotto? They only pay a dollar a day for their teacher? Our teachers are worth way more than that." She didn't say her teachers MAKE more than that, she said her teachers were WORTH more than that - and I'll consider that sentence out of her mouth my early Christmas present. (I explained, of course, that the teachers in Pakistan work just as hard, if not harder, than teachers do here, it's just a different culture and a different country.)
The rest of the day ended as usual, with a little more excitement as the kids started talking about their plans for the break. After school, I had to stay until 7:00 for parent-teacher conferences, but after the wonderful conferences I had last night, I was actually looking forward to sitting down with these parents and chit chatting about how great their kids are. I am so grateful for parents who say things like, "What can we do at home to help?" and (gasp) "Thank you for what you do in the classroom!" And you know what? ALL of my parents said thank you. All of them. Even the ones I was worried about - the ones who have kids that are struggling beyond belief - they said Thank You. Those two little words make a world of difference and this community really understands that. They are so gracious and I felt so blessed to be around such wonderful parents. All of them. Wonderful. Can't say it enough. They're amazing.
So, as if the book and the conferences weren't enough to remind me that I'm the luckiest person on the planet, I happened to swing by the Giving Tree in our school lobby before I left. It was put up yesterday morning and I've been meaning to stop by and grab some ornaments for the needy families at our school. I sent home the paperwork for the Giving Tree a few weeks ago, and I know I have at least a few students who sent it back with their family's requests for Christmas gifts. Of course, there's no way of knowing who's who on the Giving Tree, so I was just going to find some items that we could get easily and that would be fun to send in for some kids. The first ornament I saw said, "#11, Girl, 2yrs, baby doll." I snagged that sucker right up, because I instantly thought of Sylvia. She loves her baby doll more than anything and I thought it would be fun to get one for another little girl. I also grabbed ornaments for the same girl: "baby doll accessories" and "learning toys." Then I got in my car, looked at the ornaments in my hand and started crying again!
There's a little girl in our community - who has a brother or sister at our school - and her parents can't afford to buy her a baby doll for Christmas. Sylvia got a baby doll a month ago for NOTHING. Just because. Because she has a doting Grammy who thought it would be cute. And when I thought about all the joy that doll brings to our little one, how she puts it to bed every night and gives it a kiss only to snatch it up every morning and drag it around all day smothering it with hugs and kisses, all I could hope for was that this 2 year old will have the same joy. I couldn't help but weep tears of gratitude and thanks for all that I have and all that my family is able to provide.
I complain about teaching in a trailer, or not having our own house yet, or all the extra work that comes along with my job. Then I make it through days like today, exhausted and red-eyed, and I go to sleep with a smile of deep appreciation on my face. How could I ever want anything more than this job, and this community, and this family? Life doesn't get any better than this.
Okay, so we haven't officially started Potty Training (with a capital PT), but Sylvia's been doing some major research in the bathroom arena for the last six months or so. She follows me into the bathroom every day and she knows exactly how everything's supposed to happen. Our own training potty is sitting in a box in my Grandma's basement, so I wasn't planning to introduce it until after we moved, and most likely not until after Christmas. (I've read that you shouldn't start during times of major transition, so I thought we'd wait until after the moving/holiday dust had settled).
Mom came home with a froggy training potty a couple of weeks ago, and it looks like this potty training business is about to start itself! Sylvia's been sitting on it, fully clothed, whenever I go into the bathroom and she makes a "pssss!" noise with her mouth and laughs and laughs! Sometimes, when she's running around in a diaper, she stops, points to her nether region, and shouts "PEE PEEEEEE!!!" or "POO POOOO!!!!" after the deed has been done. I always ask her if she wants to sit on the potty and she always says no, but this morning, she said "YEAH!" and decided to give it a try FOR REAL!
So in we went, she lost the jammies, stripped off the diaper and sat on that potty for a good twenty minutes, while I sat on the floor next to her clapping and snapping pictures and getting all excited. We weren't lucky enough to have any action in the potty, but this is progress! I'm still not going to push it until after the holidays, but maybe at this point she'll just potty train herself? Wishful thinking, I know.
Whenever November rolls around, and the countdown to Thanksgiving begins, it's hard not to stop and reflect on all of the blessings for which we should be thankful. Tonight my heart is so full with gratitude for my family that I thought I'd sit down for a minute and write about it.
One of the biggest reasons we decided to move was to be closer to family. And one of the biggest perks of being around family is all the free babysitting! But the free babysitting is just a small slice of the family pie. The reason behind the free babysitting is what makes me stop and give thanks nearly every single weekend. The bottom line is this - these people love Sylvia so, so much.
In the last month, we've been to three UK football games, and for two of them, my dad and stepmom agreed to take Sylvia. The first time, they kept her overnight and today they kept her for the afternoon and we picked her up late this evening. Mom and Jay have also watched her many, many times in October, and since we live with them, their babysitting services are usually rendered on the fly, as in - "We want to go to a movie that starts in 15 minutes, can you watch Sylvia?" Both sets of Grandparents are more than willing to take her whenever they can, and I'm sure that sometimes they don't really feel like it, but they do it out of love. They all just really love being Grandparents!
I'm so grateful for their love for us and for Sylvia, but I'm more grateful for the way they've taught her to be independent and confident no matter who she's with. Today, we dropped her off and within two minutes of her feet hitting the floor, she turned around and waved to us, shouting, "Bye-bye!" She has her clingy moments, but she knows when she's being left behind and she doesn't seem to mind one little bit! I think she knows she's about to be spoiled. The good news is, she's always happy to see us when we come back, so whatever these grandparents are doing while we're gone - it's working!
I can't wait to celebrate the holidays this year with our sweet Nugget and our wonderful family. Thanksgiving will be a little bittersweet, though. It'll be the first year we won't be trekking miles and miles from another city to spend a long weekend with the family, but we won't all be together this year. My brother, Evan, will be in Georgia, working on his basic training for the Army. I miss him a lot more than I expected I would. I miss him because Sylvia doesn't really know that he's gone or for how long, but I do, and whenever we're out at Dad's house and Sylvia's being super cute, I wish he was there to play with her.
So, when I go to bed tonight and count my blessings for all the wonderful family we have around us, I'll say a special prayer for Uncle Evan. I hope the family of soldiers he's found in Georgia is treating him as well as our family here is treating us!
I'm Rachael. My occupations include, in this order: daughter, sister, friend, teacher, wife, and mother. I may seem like a grown up, but don't be fooled - I have no idea what I'm doing. We have lots of family around the world, so this blog is our way of saying, "Here's what's going on in our little corner."