Udder Nonsense

WARNING: This post talks about boobs.  Divert your eyes if that makes you queasy.

Milk MeLast night I thawed the last three bags of frozen breastmilk for bottles and packed away my breast pump.  I was kind of surprised at the emotions that came with putting that pump away.  On one hand, I was happy to give the pump the official F-OFF because I seriously hate that machine.  What do I hate most?  Pumping at work while trying to reply to e-mails, grade papers, and attend meetings and conferences; the noise of the machine; cleaning flanges and valves; the expense of special freezer bags; people interrupting me.  And by interrupt, I mean unlocking my door and walking in as if they are invited to the party.

That happened to me twice–by custodial staff and a parent volunteer.  Yep, someone gave a parent a master key in the front office, and she let herself into my classroom.  Never mind the safety concerns there or the sign on the door that clearly said, “DO NOT DISTURB.”  But I digress…

On the other hand, it means Thing 3 is one more step away from babyhood, and that makes me sad.  At 11-months old, he has 10 teeth, including two molars, and I followed his cues to wean.  He’s my last baby (okay, maybe I’m still in denial about that), and we’ll never have those special moments again.  Waaahhhh…

Thing 3In honor of the occasion, I offer this poem to honor the hard work of those mammary glands and my pump.

Boobs being macerated by tiny teeth.

Relax and just let it flow.

Engorged?  Not anymore!

Adding to my


To keep my baby full.  Meanwhile,

Pulling and pinching my

Udders, I try to ignore.  Now

My lactation has come to a close, and that means it’s time for more


Lame and dorky, I know.

As a side note–I discovered Latched Mama nursing apparel with this kiddo.  Her hoodies are amazing, and she’s a local RVA designer. Check her out!

We will be celebrating Thing 3’s first birthday in less than four weeks!  I cannot believe how fast the year has passed, and he is turning into such a playful, opinionated little boy.

Thing 3 Pantry

“Feed me now!” he says.


WWII Meets Twitter

I teach seventh-grade U.S. history, and World War II is one unit students look forward to all year.  Because of snow days, I had to revise the unit, including cutting a project on FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech and shortening a couple classwork activities.  On one snow day, I brainstormed ideas on how to get my kids to interact with battles chronologically, while also understanding the meat of those events.

Hello, Twitter.

So I came up with this activity…Imagine Twitter existed during World War II.  I put instructions together on the fly, but it was a good start:

Imagine you are a journalist reporting during the 1930s and 1940s. Unlike those old-school reporters, you have access to Twitter. Report live from the battlefields in 140 characters or less to keep Americans informed on this war!  Choose any 8 of the following events to cover.

  • Blitzkrieg of Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, and France
  • Battle of Britain
  • Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • D-Day
  • Italian Invasion of Ethiopia
  • Japanese Invasion of Manchuria
  • Lend-Lease Act Signed
  • Battle of Midway
  • Pearl Harbor Attacked
  • Battle of Stalingrad

Put your events in chronological order and write a tweet for each one using the textbook, Internet, and primary source readers to gather information. Tweets are 140 characters max, including hashtags, and should provide meaningful information and a date. (Example: Don’t forget to study vocabulary for your SS quiz. #myteacherisawesome)

Students could use World War II and Winston Churchill primary readers from Teacher Created Materials, our textbook, and the Internet to find information for their tweets.

I picked the top 4-5 out of each class and put them on little cards to decorate the bulletin board.

WWII Twitter

WWII Twitter

WWII Twitter



Judging Fish

This post was originally written for Autism Speaks, which you can see on their website here.

The autism world is filled with acronyms, metaphors, and symbols. ABA, IFSP, IEP, SIB, puzzle pieces, umbrellas, and this insight from Mr. Einstein to name a few: “Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”


Preach, Albert.  Want to know what I REALLY think our symbols should be?

Blood, sweat, and tears.

My kids are learning how to function in a world that’s not exactly made to fit their senses or sensibilities.  Achieving acceptance is about having access to services and opportunities they need to effect that learning.  That said, I’ve been reflecting on how doors opened for us and appreciating the hard work of strangers that went into it.

Thing 1 was diagnosed with autism in 2010.  A few months after diagnosis day, we were quietly asked to leave the preschool he attended.  I will never forget the director’s words.  “He’s not potty trained, so he can’t graduate to the next classroom.  I don’t think your son is getting anything out of our program anyway.”  Once we figured out the lay of the land, what we really wanted for our son–a specialized day program for children with autism and intensive behavioral support–was financially unattainable in the state of Virginia.  This was our reality: Thing 1 was not speaking, meltdowns were daily, and by the time he turned five, the only educational option offered was a self-contained kindergarten class.

That was a low point.  Autism was kicking butt and holding my son hostage.

What I did not realize was strangers were shedding blood, sweat, and tears FOR YEARS to make services accessible to all Virginians.  I imagine these guys marching into the General Assembly year after year like Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, never giving up… “You tell them I’m coming, and hell’s coming with me.”

Seriously, who does not love that movie?

To call Virginia’s autism insurance mandate a game changer (recently expanded to cover children through age 10) is an understatement for our family.  It was by no means a free ride, but at least we had a fighting chance.  Thanks to intensive ABA, Thing 1 grew by leaps and bounds and started using words.  BEAUTIFUL WORDS like mommy, daddy, milk, potty, applesauce, no…a whole lot of “no.”  That’s definitely his favorite word.  He writes letters, recognizes sight words, and he can recite any Thomas episode like a champ.

Thing 1 to school

Thing 2, now 4 1/2 years old, was diagnosed with autism last year and also benefits from ABA.  He has friends in an inclusion classroom, he’s an awesome swimmer, and he knows all the Llama Llama books by heart.  This is our reality now: We have healthy, happy boys.  When they have bad days, we have a toolbox of communication and coping strategies to break through the frustration.  It’s like instead of treading water, we have a life preserver.  None of that would be possible without strangers (now friends) fighting for us–pounding the General Assembly and advocating for kids like mine.

Thing 2 snack

I’m looking at April and Autism Awareness Month with more hope than ever because I am excited to see Governor McAuliffe sign autism insurance expansion into law, I am inspired by my boys’ budding personalities, and I am resolved to continue to fight for them.  Tonight we went to Home Depot and bought our blue lightbulbs–for these little lights of mine.

PicMonkey Collage


SmartMom Review


While scrolling through Facebook, SmartMom keeps showing up as a recommended page.  Maybe you’ve seen it, too.  It shows a picture of a toddler playing in a giant inflatable swimming pool in some family’s palatial living room with the tag line, “Our moms have great ideas.”

Okay, whatever.

I installed the SmartMom app (which is free) without reading the reviews.  Mistake.  The entire app is just a message wall with moms posting various questions.  And by various, I mean different moms post the same five questions over and over again.

  • When can I give my baby solids?  Wait, you mean I can’t give my 8-week old cereal?  Why?  She’s big for her age and obviously has an advanced stomach.
  • I had my baby two weeks ago.  Why haven’t I lost 30 pounds yet?
  • My baby is drooling and gnawing on things and fussy.  What is this phenomenon?
  • My child has a cough/runny nose.  We’re going to the emergency room.  What should I expect?  I think it’s bubonic plague.
  • My husband refuses to change diapers, do laundry, cook dinner, or hold our baby.  All he does is play video games.  Is this normal?

As you answer these questions on SmartMom, you accrue points.  These points help you win their monthly giveaways.  Honestly, I lasted about 10 days on this app before I deleted it.  A free B.O.B. stroller just wasn’t worth it.

I get it, though.  Even though I may not be a first-time mom anymore, we are still discovering new firsts in our children’s development and have questions.  However, this app is seriously ridiculous and showed me nothing…besides the world has absolutely no common sense, and apparently no one uses a regular pediatrician anymore.  Instead of the inflatable swimming pool, SmartMom creators should consider this little guy’s wise words: