This weekend was your first birthday weekend. We love celebrating for more than just a day so that it lasts longer.
I already am feeling the emotions of a mother whose baby is growing up. That’s sounds melodramatic and all the moms out there with kids going off to college can laugh at me. But they’ve been here before.
I look at you sitting on your dad’s lap not blowing out your candle because you don’t know you’re supposed to, and I see your little face changing from baby to toddler, the goofy stage; with two teeth showing in a picture; hair that’s starting to come in but not fully there yet; and the most beautiful sounds in place of words. That’s our one year old.
“Ba” for ball.
“Boo-a” for book.
“Da Da” It’s obvious.
“NaNaMaMa” It’s almost obvious.
My newborn is gone and you, this baby-toddler, are bee-lining for stairs and pots and pans and dog food and toilet paper and drawers to empty and everything you’re not supposed to. You’re also the sweetest thing to enter our lives.
Eight months or something like that. Eight months since I last posted.
This feels like my journals from when I was 8 years old. I would make a commitment to write in my journal every day with entries such as “we played dodge ball today in P.E. (the rest of the page blank) or “we had art today (the rest of the page blank). I would write for two to three days, and then the next page would say, “it’s been a year again since I wrote, but I’m really going to do it this time. Today we played dodge ball” (the rest of the page blank). I really liked dodge ball apparently.
Well, I make no commitment to write every day at this point. Not even every week. Not even every month. But I will tell you what the Plants have been doing the last while.
We’ve been on an adventure called The First Year as Parents: Mixed with Teaching, Away Rotations, and Lots of Driving To See Each Other.
There has been The Office, books, and family to keep me company; for Parker, medical school interviews, which means lots of flying and a new hospital every four weeks. He is loving Pediatrics! Meanwhile, Elsie is loving her teachers at daycare and is growing at what seems like lightning speed.
There have been diapers and baby food and learning to crawl and first words (more like sounds), and right now, she is pulling up and I’d wager walking within a month.
She was proud to reach up and grab something.
But it fell into the box on the way down. 😦
She loves bath time and swinging. She swung for an hour on Election day, even starting to nod off once she was sleepy. So stinking cute!
Last night she exerted her independent streak already by only eating on the condition she be allowed to feed herself. When I would bring the spoon of pumpkin (trying to be festive here…), she would clamp her mouth tight and furrow her brow. “Yogurt bites or bust, thank you very much.”
This reads like a Christmas card or letter, but no matter. I wanted to write (for catharsis) and say we’re here! Trucking along. Both of us are counting down to Christmas because for one, who doesn’t love Christmas? And two, life will normalize a little and we can go back to living in the same spot, taking out one of the crazy variables.
I am so grateful for family and for the opportunities God blesses us with. Sometimes when life seems this hectic, we have to take it one day at a time, sometimes even one hour at a time, simplifying as best we can and prioritizing what matters most. God has been taking care of us. The last few months have shown us that we really are in His hands. On Instagram, I saw a quote which said, “the Savior has promised angels are on our left and on our right to bear us up, and he always keeps his word” (Eyring). That has definitely been true for us. We have had living angels and probably others helping us along.
Just two weeks until Thanksgiving! “Just keep swimming.”
These are long overdue! Elsie was under two months old when my friend at Tara Rhodes Photography took her newborn pictures the weekend of her baby blessing. Since I went back to work the following day, it’s been one learning curve of balancing work, home, and mom. I haven’t found time to post these here, but since school is out in a week, I was able to carve a little time tonight.
We love these pictures and are excited to share them finally! Thank you Tara for your beautiful work!
We love our little girl! She’s growing like crazy! Just wait until our next post. Tomorrow she will be 4 months old. Thanks again Tara!
In full disclosure, I should tell you that the point of this blog post is to have a picture overload of Elsie Karen Plant, who graced the world on January 20, 2016. Now in generations gone by, you were lucky to have a few baby photos. Take Elsie’s grandpa for example. I only know of a handful of pictures from his childhood. That’s not because his mother didn’t love him, but because the accessibility of constant pictures wasn’t quite there. Some could even argue that my generation (I’m 29) had less pictures, though I’m not a good example to support this since my mom has tons of pictures of my siblings and I. BUT! Back to the point. Our daughter is a week old today, and we have so many pictures of her. I should probably count them to prove my point and maybe I should have saved the deleted ones (which are few), but alas, why spend my time doing that when I can just show you!
Ready for the grand debut? Great! So is she!
Meet Elsie, born at 12:02 on January 20, 2016.
First Picture Taken
Her swelling went down quickly.
Elsie was really comfortable in the womb, considering she came a week late and had to be pushed out with the help of medicine to induce me. Parker and I went to the hospital on Tuesday night, expecting a long delivery process since we had heard that many women who are induced take a long time to actually progress through labor.
However, once the medicine took, Elsie must have decided to come quickly, though she protested throughout the contractions by still kicking my right ribs.
Elsie stole our hearts from the beginning. She met Mom and Dad, who both thought, “who does she look like??” Everyone who meets her says she looks like Dad. I kept thinking and still am thinking, “how did something her size come out of me?” The miracle of life is an enigma to me. How can something so “large” grow for nine months inside of me? And how did they get her precious and long body out of me? Everyone who has asked me how she is has received the same answer: “she is a perfect angel.”
Now that she’s been here for a week, she is a perfect angel who cries sometimes.
Elsie, Mom and Dad are trying to figure out this parenting business. We’re really new at this!
Taken on day one; they had just put antibiotic ointment on her eyes.
She met many family members and some friends including Grammy Patty, Pop Pop Johnson, Uncle Joe, Aunt Harvey and Uncle Charles, and Grandma Harwood!
Grandma Karen Harwood
Three Generation Photo
We stayed with Elsie in the hospital for two days and loved getting to know her. She seemed like such a good baby! She learned slowly how to nurse, she slept well, she enjoyed skin to skin time. It was a little haven I won’t forget, much like the day Parker and I got married. In the moment it was a blur, but in retrospect, I see how many special memories and moments began right there.
Take a peek into some of those memories.
Eventually, it was time to brave the snow storm and take our snow baby home. The doctors and nurses were trying to get us to check out the day before so that we could get home. I looked at Parker though, who is from the snowy land of Utah, and asked, “you can get us home right?” He of course said yes. (Note: I’m not trying to minimize the risks of driving in inclement weather; we don’t live far from the hospital.) As new parents, we wanted to have as much time with the professional advice for the practical things that come up with caring for a newborn; it was nice to have nurses around to answer my endless questions.
I didn’t want to leave however until we had our first family picture taken. It took a few tries. The ones with her in the purple outfit crack me up. Just chillin’.
Just hangin’ out…
We did make it home safely, thankfully. She made the trek from car seat to crib. You can’t get cuter than this!
During week one at home, my camera kept going!
She looks like an angel when she sleeps.
When she is awake, we’re trying to figure out what she likes; it’s not for long, but sometimes she’s hard to settle. Something about not being able to talk makes communication trickier (and remember that my experience is with teenagers, not infants). But, we’re learning her cues. Hopefully. 🙂
We love to snuggle her; this is usually her favorite spot.
Elsie had her one week appointment at the doctors on 1/27/16. And no, though she doesn’t have clothes on in the car seat picture, she did have clothes on in route. We just had to change her diaper and get her ready to be weighed and measured. Of course five minutes after being changed and one minute after being weighed, she wet her diaper again. Go Elsie!
One ounce from birth weight! Whoo-hoo!
Overall, even in just a little over a week, our lives have taken a turn. Adjustments are being made and this little girl is the center of the universe, obviously because she is our first child and we are brand new at figuring this out. In Babywise, my baby Bible -just kidding about the bible part- the authors say something like you know your life has changed when you spend a lot of time talking about “what’s going in” and “what’s going out.” How true that is. Also, I know my life has changed since I can’t stop taking pictures and am fighting the urge to over-post them.
On the inside
On the outside/ Though Uncle Joe says she is just covering her tears because she already misses him.
One of my favorite things from our week with Elsie is the further testament of God’s existence and love for His children. When I look at her and hold her, she is proof of His creative powers. There is no way that it could be some grand co-incidence in how her life came to be. Her little spirit entered a body that didn’t not happen by chance. I know some may disagree with my beliefs, but when I hold her, I feel nearer to God and feel His blessings and presence in my life, in my family, and in our little girl’s countenance.
In a children’s church hymn “My Heavenly Father Loves Me,” it says “He gave me my eyes that I might see the color of butterfly wings/ He gave me my ears that I might hear the magical sounds of things/ He gave me my mind, my life, my heart/ I thank Him reverently/ Of all His creations of which I’m apart/ Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.” How true those words are and how much they mean when we look at Elsie.
He gave her to us to nurture, guide, and protect, and we can only hope to live up to the task.
I have been MIA for quite a while. To be perfectly honest, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by life. Not sure if any of you have felt like you need a hiatus from life. I saw an eCard recently that said, “I drink coffee because grown-upping is hard!” My version of that is Diet Coke, but I can relate to that because sometimes I wake up and want to say, “world, I don’t feel like being responsible today.”
I have some exciting news that hasn’t been shared on our blog, and one of the reasons I have been silent on here.
I couldn’t tell my principal for a while because it was summer break, and I’m a firm believer in your employer knows before you tell Facebook or a blog. Professionalism in education dictates this maxim. Of course that’s all I was thinking about though so how could I sit down to write when I couldn’t write about the truth? (That is a rhetorical question my friends and my students can actually identify it this year because they are awesome! They are the best students a pregnant teacher could ask for. God knew what he was doing when guidance was scheduling their classes last year.)
Well, now that that’s out there! Let me tell you what got me wanting to write again. A book! Go figure. An English teacher feeling so strongly about a book that she had to share it. Well, that’s me.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime is a book that I had heard about for a while, nothing but good things mind you. Recently, a student was reading it in class and she reminded me that the protagonist is a 15 year old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. Right now, I happen to be teaching a 16 year old boy with Autism and Parker and I recently finished watching our favorite TV show to date, Parenthood, which features a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome (Parker just informed me that it may not be his favorite show…) Reading a book with that point of view caught my eye so I added it to my never-ending “to-read” list and put it on hold at the library, not realizing it would be delivered so quickly.
When I picked it up, I took a peek inside. Well, that peek turned into a 45 page peek by the following morning and a finished book by today.
The following paragraph is what did it. The hook:
It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mr. Shears’s house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they think they are chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog. The points of the fork must have gone all the way through the dog and into the ground because the fork had not fallen over. I decided that the dog was probably killed with the fork because I could not see any other wounds in the dog and I do not think you stick a garden fork into a dog after it had died for some reason, like cancer, for example, or a road accident. But I could not be certain about this.
What??? The dog is dead? With a garden fork? Call me what you will, but that opening made me want to keep reading and I’m so glad I did. It was so enlightening to read from Christopher’s perspective and see how his brain operated and viewed the world. While I won’t go as far as saying he should be the prototype for all Asperger brains, it was a fabulous look into at least one, even if only a fictionalized character. Mark Hadden did an excellent job in developing his character.
(One warning I will give to other readers is that it uses some strong language in parts of the book, when other characters, not Christopher, are angry or frustrated. They use the F-word in those circumstances, which bugs me personally, but I suppose since the author is British it makes sense because I have heard it’s a word more accepted in England; I’ve never really looked into that to find out how accurate that saying is. I know in the U.S. my students and many people love that particular word, but for me it’s still a jarring unnecessary thing. So just a word to the wise, it is in there for other sensitive readers.)
Also… below are my recent art projects. No English teacher mama can pass up an opportunity to put paintings of children’s books covers on the nursery’s walls. I painted these canvasses a few weeks ago. I’ll get better quality pictures tomorrow and swap them out, but these give you the idea.
We are very excited to welcome our little girl in January if you can’t tell. And hopefully, if I read to her enough, she’ll share my love of reading.
The past week and a half, I have had the urge to stand on top of a desk in the middle of my school building and scream to my students and all students that
Let me share with you some conversations that I had today:
Student A: “I don’t want your help. I don’t have to.”
Student B: “There is nothing you can do to change people’s minds.”
Student C: “I don’t want to today.”
Student D: “Teachers are the problem.”
Teacher: “What’s going on? Why did you make an A 3rd quarter and now you’re not turning your stuff in? What’s up?”
Student E: “That’s why I got an A last quarter: so I don’t have to do anything now.”
I don’t mean to gripe; there’s enough negative energy in the world, but it is disheartening to feel like you’re beating your head against a wall, talking to a deaf audience, putting in hours of work, willing yourself to have patience and faith in people, seeing the potential and not the current prevailing attitude when you are meeting such resistance without backup. Those conversations are hard to stomach day to day, especially when you consider yourself a reflective teacher, one who has tried new engaging strategies and read authors like Kelly Gallagher (Readicide; Write Like This); Jeff Andereson (Mechanically Inclined), Jeff Wilhelm (Reading Don’t Fix No Chevies); Deborah Dean (Strategic Writing), Doug Lemov (Teach Like a Champion), and so many more. On some days they work, and on some days, you want to jump on a desk and start screaming.
One of my students is writing about drug culture, the concept that people view drugs as “cool” or “desirable.” I am proud of him for being insightful; unfortunately, he is one of the few willing to speak up. And that has nothing to do with me; he deserves all the credit for that mindset. He gets it.
Similar to his observation though, there is another type of culture that terrifies me: “school is not cool.” It’s contagious and it’s infecting our students. At church last week, I leaned over to Parker and told him that I am afraid that no matter what I teach my future sons, the idea that “boys hate reading” will rub off on them in middle school, and I won’t be able to stop it. He chuckled because he was expecting me to be worried about peer pressure of drugs or something more grave like that.
Not reading or valuing education is not harmless! It is grave. It’s a numbing, willful ignorance; and its effects on an individual’s life and then society as a whole is frightening. Our kids are below reading level. They give up when a learning task is hard. And they laugh when you bring up mental endurance.
Teachers alone cannot solve this problem. I am with my students for an hour and a half every day. Some teachers only see their students for 45 minutes a day. We need more support from vigilant parents, from coaches, from other role models in the community, from older brothers and sisters, from friends, and anyone else who thinks they can help.
Another teacher the other day shared the old adage that you can lead a camel to water, but you can’t make it drink. That’s how it feels on some days.
Companies are already complaining that their prospective employees don’t have the communication skills they need. News to the companies. Give it 10 years because at our current rate with legislation, lack of parent support, and teacher burnout, I don’t see much changing.
In her autobiography, I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai says that she and her father went to the mountains to rural villages in Pakistan to teach about the importance of education itself. Her father told her that they would be “preachers of education.” How beautifully he put that. Malala was shot in the face by the Taliban because she stood up for girls’ education. Right now, her book is banned in Pakistan; that’s irony for you. Our students are counting the minutes until the bell rings.
Well, it’s not just in rural villages where we need preachers of education. It’s in our wealthy suburbs, in our low-income areas, in our cities, and in our small towns. Across the country, we need those preachers to be connecting with the youth of America to show them why they should value an education.
Teachers alone cannot combat this “school is not cool” business. We are trying. We need backup.
It takes a community to raise a child. It takes a community to educate a child. It takes a community to prepare children to be the successors of our nation.
Parker’s grandfather passed away last Sunday, March 22. He was a wonderful man, whose influence will be felt by those who loved him for years to come, even for eternity. His traditions and teachings will continue in our homes forever.
Last Christmas, he and his wife gave us a book titled The Dash, which is based on the poem “The Dash.” I can’t re-post it here out of respect for the author and the poem’s copyright, but please pause for a minute and go read the poem HERE.
You’ve read it? Okay, let’s go on.
I love this poem for many reasons, one of which is the power of grammar. People brush punctuation off, as if it doesn’t communicate anything. In fact, I bet some people are rolling their eyes right now, but give me a minute.
The dash is crucial. 1986–date of death? 1933-2015. How is that dash in between birth and death not important? It’s the middle. It’s the in-between life and physical death. It’s the childhood and birthdays. Adolescence and adulthood. It’s marriage and a first home. It’s middle age and arthritis. It’s retirement and grandchildren. It’s family vacations and hard work. It’s laughter and tears, good times and hard times too.
So much happens in the middle. That dash, that simple dash, is the way you spend your life. That poem has me asking:
“how will I spend my dash?”
What will be my middle? What will be my contribution on this earth?
He taught my husband to go to church and to have faith.
He taught my mother-in-law to carry on.
He taught my sister-in-law about love.
He taught me to welcome new members of the family.
He gathered his family around for the most important moments in life and ultimately in death as well.
His family looked up to him more than anyone I have ever known.
I wish I could have known him longer, but my prayers are with my husband and his family tonight, tomorrow, and in the coming weeks, as they put their patriarch to rest. Goodbye for now, until they meet again.
I am grateful for this Easter season. For the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His resurrection. I am grateful for the knowledge that this life is not the end of our relationships and that families can be together forever.
“I don’t think there should be just one day for Valentine’s Day. If I really love you, I’m going to show you every day.” -Parker
I can hear some people now. “Valentine’s Day is over. You’re a week behind.” “Are you kidding? Single Awareness Day continued?” Well, let me just say that I intentionally waited until after Valentine’s Day to write this. One because the message is meant to be acted on after Valentine’s Day, and two, Parker didn’t say it until this Valentine’s Day!
I understand what my husband meant, and in all reality, it’s a beautiful concept. It’s also a concept that’s true of many holidays. Take the following examples.
Mother’s Day shouldn’t be once a year. Father’s Day shouldn’t be once a year. Mothers and fathers are certainly not only parents on one day of the year. As they will quickly tell you, they know that 365 days of the year, they are responsible for keeping little human beings alive and healthy every single one of those days. So why would we only celebrate their service and love on singular days in that long year? If I truly love my parent, wouldn’t I show them on those days as well?
What about Christmas? If I really want to celebrate the life of Jesus Christ, wouldn’t it be important to do that all year long? Not just on Christmas morning or Easter Sunday, but each day of the year. That would truly be focusing on loving the Savior and honoring His life and gifts.
Now back to Valentine’s Day all year long. I don’t think Parker meant that Valentine’s Day is evil; it’s obviously not wrong to celebrate love, whatever kind it is–romantic love, friendship, family, etc. However, if we were to only show appreciation and love on that singular day, what kind of love is that really? How deep is it? How meaningful is it? We believe that if our love is real, then it’s an everyday process. Every day is our moment for celebration. All year long is a combination of the Five Love Languages.
It’s words of affirmation: “you are so beautiful.”
It’s quality time: “let’s take a break and go on a date this Friday.”
It’s acts of service: “let me cook you dinner.”
It’s physical touch: “honey, I’m home for my hug and kiss” (It’s cheesy but it’s our running joke because of a series of talks, For All Eternity, we love by John L. Lund).
It’s receiving gifts: “I brought you home a surprise” (something simple like Reese’s).
Our Valentine’s Date was so exciting and it was a double whammy! Parker bought my mom and I tickets to see one of my favorite musicals, Wicked! They were part of our Christmas presents and were scheduled for Valentine’s Day Weekend. Touche Parker Plant. Two birds one stone. I’m all about that!
Didn’t he do so well with those five languages?
Giving and Receiving Gift-check
Words of Affirmation-check
I was one happy lady and so was my mom. We decided that because of the ticket prices, we wouldn’t spend much on each other outside of that. A $5.00 budget, which I know is a bit extreme, but hey! I gave him the gift of hope in the form of inspirational talks as he powers through this last block of medical school classes, leading into the first step of Boards; and I got my DOVE chocolate.
The point, my friends, going back to the beginning, is to show those we love that we love them every day, all year long. Every day in many ways. That will ensure that not only are each other’s Valentines, but that we stay each other’s Valentines as well.
I think January forgot it was January. Today must have been in the 60s. The same was true on Saturday. Last January, we went to Myrtle Beach for Martin Luther King Day. This time, we decided to stay close to home, but still explore. We are so often gone when a weekend opportunity presents itself that we haven’t made the time to see the local sweet spots! Such as Cowpens Battlefield with some friends (no picture because I forgot to take one) and Chimney Rock with my mom and Joe and their dogs! Check it out.
The main thing to be remembered and cherished is that it was so good to get some Vitamin D! I LOVED being outside. I needed it.
Cowpens is located about 20-30 minutes from our house; it is the site where the Patriot Army had their first success in the South. The British apparently realized that the Patriots were being supported by southern agriculture, and so they concentrated their efforts on cutting off the supply, which would have been detrimental to the Revolutionary War–for the Patriots that is. This weekend just so happens to be the anniversary of this battle. I took tons of pictures because I love learning the details. The following are the ones that I cared about this time!
The first cookbook I liked. The second one (directly above) I didn’t. They were in Asheville’s Urban Outfitters. Farmburgers was a fun eat. My sister and her husband like it so we checked it out: good food, little pricy, but fun games and atmosphere.
2015, so far so good!
Thank you January sun!
P.S. The whole reason I wanted to go to Chimney Rock was to see the stretch of the trail where Last of the Mohicans was filmed. Due to potential ice crushing our heads, we couldn’t. But man I wanted to! It was so pretty the first time I came here.
Wrapping up 2014! Christmas came and flew away, and with it a wonderful break. We spent our first weekend in Tennessee without snow, but with a Lumberjack show, lots of family time, and lots of walking up the hill. Parker always says to me, “you walked up this after school?” I did, but not always. We had one of my family’s favorite German meal: Sauerbraten, red cabbage, and potato dumplings. That was our “Christmas” dinner with my family this year. My mom has to marinate the meat for a week ahead of time. My Grandpa Charles used to make it for the family.
We exchanged presents afterwards. My favorite gifts this year were the car table that we made Fischer, complete with Dollywood, the UT football stadium, and my parent’s house, and the cookbook we made of my mom’s sweet recipes, Patty Cakes Bakery.
Flash-forward to the Utah Portion of Christmas!
To make my mother jealous, we definitely had a white Christmas! And the snow waited until Christmas morning to appear. Though it was freezing, Parker and I went for a walk in the snow because I wanted to try out my new shoes, literally be in the snow, and counteract my Christmas crimes which I will happily commit every year! The snow was beautiful, though I didn’t manage to work in a ski day, partly because the cold was a deterrent and partly because we had limited days. Parker’s mom and friend Colby said that the cold waited for us to get there. Apparently, this snow was the first of the year for Utah, and the temperatures hadn’t dropped that low yet either. It’s funny to think that the week before Christmas, I was running outside, and that once here, it was too cold to venture out. Waiting at a train change at tracks was really fun in the cold the other night.
The best thing about flying into Utah is looking through the lights for the Temple and the Capitol building from the air. The next thing is looking at the mountains towering over the valley, decked in white. That’s the view I miss; even if I don’t always brave the cold to be in them during the winter, the white peaks are majestic every time. Each time I woke up while here, I would open the blinds in the bathroom (sorry Karen) so that I could see them first thing while brushing my teeth! You can’t beat it.
The Harwood family Christmas party was wonderful thanks to Karen’s wonderful hosting. As her mother (Parker’s grandmother) said, “you’ve been busy.” She not only had little party presents for the family, as everyone brings, but she also had party favors, Hershey nuggets that were hand wrapped in Christmas prints like “manger, Mary, Jesus, Wise Men,” and so on. That was aside from the full table setting, lasagna, and decorations. I have already told Parker that when I host parties, I can probably manage the party favors, but I’m not sure if they’ll be handmade.
I should also mention that she hosted Garrett’s homecoming luncheon after church as well. She had a full house this Christmas.
Highlights from the Utah portion of our trip:
Center Court! It was weird looking up in the Marriott Center.
Movie nights, though I’m ready for some girl movies (Since Garrett just got home from his mission, he has to catch up on his movies. Fast 6, Captain America, Man of Steel, etc. We did watch The Monuments Mentoo though; nice history one for me.)
Pedicures with Tori. I’d get one every month if I could justify the money. It’s not about the polish either; it’s the massage that I pay for! No picture of the toes; even polished, nobody needs to see that!
Temple trip with Parker’s grandparents
Brothers & Bad Lighting
New Year’s Fondue: cheese and Kneader’s bread, chocolate with the best fruit array thanks to Adam and Crystal.
2014 was a good year to us! We loved our Christmas and holiday season this year. Though I’m grumpy that I have to go back to work tomorrow, I am grateful for my job and for the blessings we have.