Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Another Year Gone

Today was the last day of school for students and I must say, it's been a while since I've been this sad to see a class go.  Every class I have is my favorite, but there was just something special about this one!  My kids were amazing this year - cooperative and kind, just mischievous enough to keep me on my toes, but not disastrously bad enough to make me want to quit.  I always gravitate toward loving the boys in my class more than the girls, because I usually can't STAND fourth grade girl cat fights and would much rather deal with fourth grade boy insult fights.  They're way more fun.  But this year, I was so impressed with my girls!  I was worried at first, because they all showed up on the first day with a "Best Friend" picked out, and I've watched girls run down that road before.  But believe it or not, we really didn't have any major girl fights this year.  There they were, on the last day of school, telling me that they're ALL friends with each other.  Can you believe that?  They really seemed to get it this year - the idea of friendship.  What an awesome group!

As much as I loved my kiddos, I was equally in love with their families!  I had a handful of parents who were always willing to help out in the classroom.  I had constant communication and support from nearly ALL parents, regardless of whether or not they could volunteer time in the classroom.  It's amazing how much good work can get done in a classroom when parents, students AND teachers are all on board the same boat! 

There are a couple of families, though, that I never want to forget.  I don't want to compromise anyone's identity here, because this is just my little family blog, but I want to look back and remember the parents in my class who are facing some pretty significant health issues.  There were two of them, and they happened to be close friends with each other.  I have more respect and admiration for them than any adult I've ever met, because in spite of their hardships, they were at school ALL THE TIME.  In a good way!  Volunteering in the classroom.  Eating lunch with their kids and their kids' friends.  Everyone knows them and everyone LOVES them because they are a shining example of kindness and perseverance during what must be a terrifyingly difficult situation.  And you know what the best part is?  Their kids are AMAZING.  I want my kids to turn out as amazing as their kids.  Not once did any of them, kid or parent, mention the health issues they have or use it as an excuse.  Their kids always turned in homework, always participated in discussions and group work, always scored well on tests and assignments.  Never fought or argued or pouted or complained.  Never.  They're just simply amazing.

I also had quite a few students in particular who had very difficult lives at home.  They may not have had all of their basic needs met on the weekends and they often didn't have any homework help or support from parents.  Through no fault of their own, they were pretty much ON their own, all the time.  At the beginning of the year, I was pretty worried about two of these kids, in terms of behavior.  I knew it could go either way.  But right around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I could tell a tide was turning for them.  I could see them making choices that would help them in the future.  Choices like doing their homework on the bus.  Letting someone else take the lead in an experiment instead of starting an argument.  Putting an arm around a friend on the play ground.  Raising a hand to say, "I need help."  By January, the test scores of these students had gone through the ROOF and I have never been so proud of two kiddos in my life!  I knew things were hard for them.  And I knew they were making a conscious effort to change their lives for the better.  They have big plans and big goals and they decided this year that they weren't going to let their family's disadvantages get in their way.  They are so inspiring!

These are just a few examples of the amazing kids I was able to learn with this year.  Every single one of them was an inspiration to me in one way or another.  I watched so much growth this year, more than I remember seeing before.  They had their moments, like any fourth grader does, but when they walked away today, I was so confident that they would all go on to do great, great, things and I felt so blessed to have taught them for one short year.  Teaching isn't easy, but on days like today, it's the best job in the world!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Words for Baby

Oh Sweet Girl,

We're approaching the end of our special time together, just you and me.  You have no idea how excited I am to see you, but I'm just a tiny bit sad that soon you'll belong to everyone else, instead of being just mine.  You are such a part of me and I know I'll never be this close to your every move again.  I can't wait to see the elbows, knees and feet that have been kicking me for months.  I can tell by your movements that you are ready to be out!  You are one go-getter of a little girl and you have some big plans for your time here.  I'm so lucky to be a part of your story.

I want you to know what a gift we consider you to be.  I remember when we found out that Sylvia was a girl.  I certainly had to let her "girl-ness" sink in for quite a while.  I was terrified, really.  The thought of raising a girl was probably the scariest thought I've ever had to think, but mostly just because I'm a girl myself, and I know how hard things can be.  But when we found out YOU were a girl....ooooh heavens, I breathed such a sigh of relief.  You're not just any girl, my dearest.  You're THE SISTER.  You're the gift.  You're the one that turns Sylvia into THE SISTER, too, instead of just a girl.  We are giving both of you the gift of each other and I couldn't be more grateful.  I know I still have lots of work to do, raising two girls, but I feel like my job will be much easier down the road.  You won't just have a Mom to lean on when things get tough.  You'll have a sister!  And when Sylvia meets life's challenges and triumphs, you'll be there for her, too.  What a blessing you are to all of us!  I'm so glad you're joining our little family.  I really think we need you desperately.

No pressure, though, little one.  I don't expect you to be perfect because I know I won't be perfect either.  I'll try not to compare you and Sylvia all the time, but the truth is, she's the only experience I have with raising a kid so far.  I've come to the conclusion that comparisons are inevitable.  I'm excited to see how different you both are as well as how alike I know you'll be.  That's just the nature of siblings, I suppose.  You'll both have your talents and gifts to give, but let's face it, you came from the same parents, so you'll probably both roll your eyes at me the same way when we go shopping and I tell you that you're not allowed to buy a skirt that short so don't even THINK about it, young lady!

Judging by how much Sylvia is like Daddy and his side of the family, I'm really hoping you resemble the Humberts or the Neltners.  Then again, Sylvia is pretty darn cute, so we already know the Fasciotto genes make good looking babies!  It's a win-win.  All of this is to say that we just can't wait to SEE you!  And hold you, and kiss you, and snuggle with you and sing to you and act like fools around you.  Sylvia and Daddy are downright giddy about your arrival.  Maybe they're a little jealous that I've been allowed to spend all this sweet time with you and they haven't yet.  Between those two and all the other family members lined up to hold you, I doubt I'll ever get to see you again!  So take your time in there, okay?  Let me enjoy these last four weeks of our time together.  Let me soak up your movements and let me feel good about giving you everything you could ever possibly need at this moment.  I already love being your Mama.  And I know it's only going to get better and better.

Love you forever,

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hooray for Summer!

Where a French lesson quickly turns into a lesson in being ridiculously silly...

...and a visit to Grammy's includes a jaunt in the sprinkler with our best buddy...

...followed by a good Thomas book read by Uncle Matt...

...during which, this one coos and smiles like she knows something we don't.

 On another day, this is what happens when I try to sort baby clothes during "dress up time," (which is really "any time we're in the house for more than five minutes and Sylvia finds her princess dress").

Notice how her bangs aren't in her eyes anymore?  That's because I broke down and let this happen:

First Haircut!
A little snip in the back and a very little snip in the front, and there you have it!  In all honesty, I could have done it myself, but I was s.c.a.r.e.d. to try.  I was also scared to let this professional lady take too much off, so she really doesn't look much different at all, she just has bangs.  I think I can manage those from now on, but we'll see.

Sylvain and Sylvia are officially on summer vacation.  I can't wait to join them on Friday!  Yippee!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Mom and I took Sylvia to the Butterfly Show today at the Krohn Conservatory.  We went last year and I was AMAZED at all the butterflies.  I was no less impressed this time, and I made sure to dress us both in bright colors.  We got some great pictures, and even managed to get a good side shot of the ol' belly that I don't absolutely hate. 

This little buddy wasted no time.

Checking out the butterfly on the railing.

Grammy found a big one!  Or rather, it found her...


Hunting for ants

Kiss the Sis!

Her new favorite thing to do is climb all over us.

Look at that little finger wrapped around mine!  *Sniff*  So glad we got this shot!

Smelling flowers...or pulling them, whatever.

My sweet girl

Deep thoughts
It was such a beautiful day!  I'm so glad we spent this time together.  The closer we get to baby time, the more I appreciate every last second we have as Mama-Sylvia.  She's growing faster than I can keep up with and she amazes me every single day.  I can't wait to see her turn into a big sister!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Type A Control Freak + Raging Pregnancy Hormones...

= One Hot Mess of a Mama!  Last week and the week before were by far the hardest weeks of my pregnancy.  It had nothing to do with the mild discomfort I've been feeling physically, either.  In fact, I think this pregnancy has been even easier than the first, and I breezed through the first one!  Those two weeks were incredibly hard emotionally, and I know it's because my hormones really got the better of me.  On top of that was the stress of State Testing, which was all this week at my school, so I became one giant ball of a crying mess almost every night.  I started to write about it twice, listing all the crazy things I was worrying about, trying to put into words how deeply heavy I felt all the time, even though I knew that I was blessed beyond words every day.  I was having a very hard time being happy, yet also having a very hard time trying to pinpoint why I was so sad. 

The upcoming birth has me all in a tizzy, mostly because I just want everything to go as well as it did with Sylvia.  I'm also in a tizzy over how Sylvia will handle all of this madness at the end of June.  All in all, it occured to me that I'm much less settled and at peace with my pregnancy at this point than I was last time.  Last time I had the baby room done.  Last time we had taken all of the Bradley classes and read all of the books.  Last time I felt so ready and so excited, and this time I'm just praying that we get everything done in time.  Don't get me wrong - if this baby shows up tomorrow, we'll be ready!  She has a place to sleep, she has clothes to wear, and she has plenty of arms in which to be snuggled, so I know in my rational mind that everything will be FINE.  But I'm just not as organized or prepared as I was the first time around, and it's driving me CRAZY!  Until now...

Here's a sneak peek at the baby's room.  That's my hubs, drilling holes in the dresser to fit the fixtures I bought over the weekend.  You can see the painter's tape on the chair rail because I painted it last night and finished up the second coat tonight.  All that's left is to arrange the furniture, hang some pictures, and fill the drawers and shelves with our cute baby stuff!  Phew!  I feel so much better tonight than I have in a looong time.  Things are getting much less heavy.

We've also made a couple of executive decisions about the birth and the babying that are very different from last time, and very different from most people, I suppose.  These decisions weighed so heavily on my mind because I (like every other mother in the world) don't want to be seen as a nut case.  I figured out, though, after long talks with Sylvain, that the harshest and scariest judgements about me as a mother come only from myself.  No one else really cares what I do or how I do it because everyone else is doing the same thing - just trying to make the right choices for their family.  So here you have it - our two, big, please-don't-call-us-hippies decisions:

1.  We're hiring a doula!  A doula is a birth attendant who meets with you at home twice before you give birth, stays with you the entire time while you labor and deliver, helps you establish nursing, and visits you once at home after the baby arrives.  I repeat: she'll visit us once at home after the baby arrives.  I understand that in most countries, this service is provided by the government.  If I was having this baby in France, someone would be coming to my home to check on us and see how we're doing.  Isn't that nice?  I know I won't be completely alone or without help or anything.  I have a huge, wonderful, loving family who will support us unconditionally after we get home.  But the fact that someone who knows a lot about new babies will drop by to check on us is very reassuring to me and well worth looking like a hippie.  I've spoken to a quite a few families who used a doula and they all raved about the one they used, claiming it was the best thing they could have done to have a happy birth.  We spoke with a couple and settled on a really wonderful lady, who happens to be French and has a two year old at home!  I can hardly wait for our first prenatal visit.

2.  We're switching to cloth diapers!  I think.  I'm 95% on board with this idea, but we have yet to pull the trigger because there are SO MANY ways to do this.  I think I found the right brand for us.  I think I know what kind of accessories we'll need.  I'm having a hard time shelling out the cash to pay for them, even though I know we'll be saving TONS of money in the long run.  It's been really fun experimenting on Sylvia because she's old enough to tell us exactly what she thinks of them.  I've been using one cloth diaper a day, putting it on her when she gets home from school, and we've explored three different brands of diapers, which has helped narrow down the choices.  She's getting to the point where she expects it and if I forget, she asks for it!  Do you know a kid who asks for a particular diaper?  After an hour, I always ask her, "How's your diaper feel?" and she always smiles up at me and says, "Soooooft."  If that's not enough to convince me, I don't know what is!  I'm getting more and more comfortable cleaning them and managing them - we've even been out of the house a few times in them and we've had no major issues.  Maybe tonight I'll get online and actually place our order.

So that's it!  Posting it on the bloggy blog makes me feel so much better already!  I was talking to a friend the other day and I came to a great conclusion, which will likely be my mantra for the rest of this pregnancy (I think I've posted this exact sentiment on the blog before):

I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, but neither does anybody else.

It feels good to repeat that to myself once in a while.  So bring it, baby!  We're as ready as we're going to be.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I'll Let Someone Else Say It...

I'm not sure what to write about Mother's Day.  I'm overwhelmingly blessed with the most beautiful and funny little girl any Mom could ever want, and we spent the whole day together swapping giggles and kisses.  I got to see my Mom and Stepmom today and give them big hugs and pretty flowers.  But my husband was sick on the couch all day with a stomach virus, which meant I still had to change diapers and do dishes.  Oh well, you can't win 'em all.  He totally owes me a Free Day. 

Anyway, Tina Fey says it best.  I pee in my pants cry-laughing every time I read this prayer, so I thought I'd post it.  For both of my girls.

The Mother's Prayer for It's Daughter

“First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her

When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.”

~Tina Fey, Bossypants

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Birthday Season!

This weekend we ventured to Lexington for the third birthday party in our slew of babies born a year ago!  I'm so sad that my camera battery died last weekend at Clover's party.  We had oodles of fun at John and Megan's Cinco De Mayo De Derby De Clover!  Sylvia loved the tiny sombreros and shakers and we all giggled when the babies put on their moustaches.  It doesn't get any cuter than that, so you'll have to use your imagination instead of a picture.  Sorry.

Today, though, my camera was up and running!  Audrey's party was a roaring good time.  Emily and Michael pulled out all the stops to provide a circus themed extravaganza in their backyard, and I've never seen so many kids in one place before.  Someone mentioned that our parties sure have changed, now that all these little ones are running around.  So true!

We were the first ones there, which meant we had first dibs on the hat making table.  There were also balloon animals, provided by Emily's brother, and hot dogs, so...Sylvia was in heaven all afternoon.

And just when she thought the party couldn't get better, they busted out the cupcakes!

Audrey opened all of her wonderful presents and ate some delicious one-year birthday cake.

During the present opening, Sylvia got drenched in the baby pool so I changed her into her spare dress (which, by some miracle, we remembered to toss in the diaper bag), and then I let her drink from a bottle of water, so she drenched dress number two!  Thank goodness it's spring and she's only two years old, because I just whipped the second dress off and let her run around in her diaper, which she LOVED.  We tossed both dresses in the dryer and they were done by the time we left, so she didn't have to ride home naked, thank goodness!

Clover contemplates the meaning of life.  She'll have it figured out in no time.

They had a really cute photo booth set up, but of course, by the time we got in it, Sylvia was playing "naked baby" and all she wanted to put on were the necklaces.  All of them.  Girl wasn't satisfied until the prop table was completely cleared of beads.  Look at that ding-dong!  She makes me laugh.

It's all fun and games when you're two, but I better not see this same picture in 16 years!
As always, it was a great time visiting with friends in Lexington, some of whom we haven't seen in a very long time!  Sylvia was pooped when we got home, and frankly, so am I at the moment, so I'm going to log off, take a bath, and go to bed early so I can sleep in LATE tomorrow!  (That's all I want for Mother's Day - sleep.  Which is hard to come by when one daughter wants to jump on your bed and the other one wants to kick you from the inside.  We'll see how it goes.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April's Over Already??

Oops.  We've been having way too much fun playing with our new "family members" and playing outside, so I haven't been keeping up with the blog AT ALL.  We've been exploring our neighborhood and Sylvia has made herself known to anyone and everyone she sees on the street.  Girl's a talker - imagine that.

Now that Sylvia's a big two year old, we decided it's time for her to start taking care of something.  And she loves fish, so it's a win win.  Say hello to Freddie:

 Sylvia feeds him every night before we eat dinner and we clean his water together every weekend. We have the same conversation every time we feed him.  I say, "Wow!  Freddie's hungry!" and Sylvia says, "Yeah, Sil-ya hun-ree too!"  Then we climb up to the big table to eat supper.  It's a pretty smooth routine at this point.

After supper, if she's had a lot to eat and she's tried at least one bite of everything on the table, we take a walk or play outside with a yogurt popsicle.  Here's a picture of the Nugget hiding from the Mama-razzi.  But take a look at her mouth...

...y'all, that's MY mouth!  I spend so much time gawking at this little clone of my husband that I rarely get to catch a glimpse of my side of the family in her.  But sometimes her mouth is all Neltner - sweetheart shaped and LOUD as can be!

She's digging those yogurt pops.  And she insists on walking through the front yard barefoot no matter how cold it is outside.  I can't deny her, it's one of my own favorite things, so....we're a barefoot family. 

A couple weeks ago, we spent a few after-dinner hours putting together baby's bookshelf.  Sylvia helped.  The room is coming along, but I'm still not quite ready to share pictures.  I have to paint the chair rail, finish the dresser, and hang some art.  Also, I need to hem the curtains and Mom's whipping up an idea for a cute crib skirt.  Once I get all that done and throw a few books on the shelves, I'll post plenty of pictures. 

Sylvia's been loving all the flowers in bloom around the neighborhood.  She has no qualms about wandering into neighbors' yards to "smell" the flowers, which she does by blowing air OUT of her nose, which is usually accompanied by plenty of snot and sometimes spit, too.  It's pretty funny to watch.

This Saturday, while Sylvia was enjoying "Sesame Street Live" without us (thanks, Grammy!), we went to buy our newest suburban homeowner purchase - a riding lawn mower!  It arrived yesterday and Sylvain could not WAIT to get out and cut that monster of a backyard.  He's been push mowing it about every other day, because by the time he gets down to the bottom to finish up, the top needs to be cut again!  He was awfully happy on this baby...

I was surprised at how nostalgic it felt to hear a riding lawn mower in the backyard.  It reminded me of summers at my Dad's house.  Sylvia and I sat on the back deck and watched Sylvain climb up and down the hill, smelling the fresh grass and listening to the birds sing.  It was glorious!  And you should see our freshly mowed yard, it's quite a sight!  We stood on the back deck after she went to sleep and Sylvain said about a hundred times, "Look at that yard!" 

So the month of April was sent off with a bang.  Now onto May....only eight more weeks until baby's here!  Yippee!!  I have so much to write about this little one.  She's a party animal, that's for sure!