{Teacher Tuesday: Back to the Basics}

School is officially back in session for most teachers, which means the countdown for summer vacation currently sits at 289 days away. Thanksgiving Break is only 94 days away, and Christmas Break is only 128 days away, but who's counting? It's not like I have an adorable son to hang out with at home... oh wait!

For you non-teachers, the week before school starts is filled with teachers learning in professional development sessions (or trying not to fall asleep since it's hours and hours long - amIright?), setting up classrooms, creating lesson plans, prepping for the Meet the Teacher Night and the first day of school, running enough copies to take out a whole forest, goal setting, aligning teams, throwing piles of junk away, gawking over who is in your class and asking their previous teachers about them, trying to create rigorous lessons that challenge everyone at their own level (trust me, this is super easy --- I wish you could sense my sarcasm while reading this), taking things out of the junk pile you're afraid you might need at one point in your year despite NEVER touching it previously, and trying to cross items off an ever-growing checklist.

The beginning of the school year is like the life cycle starting over. Everything is fresh and shiny (unless you're using last year's paper on your bulletin boards). While it is refreshing to have a blank slate, I actually like the 2nd week of school better. Everything settles into routines and all the clunkiness of getting the wheels going again sort of dissipates.

With Wesson now in the picture, and wanting to spend every minute possible with him when I'm not at school, time management is going to be a big goal for me this year. I want to make every minute I'm at school count so when I leave my priority can shift from school to Wesson, Ryan, and our sweet border collies. (In previous years, I would stay at school anywhere from 1 to 3 hours after kids were dismissed prepping, planning, grading, socializing, cleaning, etc.,) Additionally, I'm part of a tripod now which means I see 3 classes per day. I am in for a butt whipping until I settle into this new routine, y'all. Send warm fuzzies my way. :)

As for you, sweet kiddos of classes 2B, 2C, and 2D I hope you're dusting your learning pants off and are ready to go to work. If the planning of our switching classes schedule is indicative of our time this year (it took us an hour to figure that bad boy out) we are in for a busy and fun ride. Your co-teachers and I are excited to embark on this adventure with you.

And to you, my fellow teachers, may the coffee be readily available and strong, the copier always in good working condition, your parent volunteers plentiful, your lesson planning brief, the printer fully stocked with ink, your students well behaved, and ... who am I kidding? Let's begin again... May the coffee always be readily available and strong, and may your year be blessed. Here we go!

{Oh Hey Friday - Mom Edition}

Happy Friday, y'all! I'm linking up with The Farmer's Wife and Sept. Farm today for Oh Hey Friday! This week I'm talking about my five favorite things about being a Mom! It seems only fitting given that's what I've been doing for the last 14 weeks.
ONE // Baby Smiles
There is seriosly nothing better than looking at your baby and having him smile back at you. Wesson started doing this a while ago, and now it's rare if it doesn't happen when he sees someone. I love knowing he realizes I'm his Mama, that it brings him joy, and he has to smile about it.

He also LOVES looking at himself in the mirror and smiling. Cue the "I love myself" song!

TWO // Baby Noises
This is basically a tie with baby smiles. It is awesome seeing this cute boy learn and develop. He's cooing and talking like crazy. I love when he looks at himself in the mirror and talks, and even more when I'm holding him and he talks to me and smiles. Melt my heart.

THREE // Mom Friends
Motherhood has given me a whole new friend group. I loved my Square One group this summer. [Square One is a first time Mom's group at Watermark Church that connects you with other first time moms and gives you a place to discuss new trials and joys that comes along with the territory. They connect you with small groups of women that are in the same zip code too, so you have insta-close-friends! You don't have to be a member of Watermark Church to attend, either.]

It is awesome to have people that understand exactly what I'm going through. Over the 7 weeks of getting to know our Square One group, I found myself easily sharing, nodding along to the struggles and joys of being a new mom, and seeking council from the group. There is no guilt in being late, or skipping an outing, or having to go home to feed the baby or because your sweet baby had a blowout (aka poopsplosion) because everyone is in the same boat.

These women are some of the nicest I have encountered; understanding, patience, and kindness exude from them. When we had a poopsplosion at one of our Square One meetings a mom offered Wesson a onesie to wear since I had forgotten. Today, we had a photoshoot for one of the mom's sister-in-law's baby item business and fellowshipped before, during, and after. [Check out Luna Lullaby - their stuff is awesome! Maybe you'll see Wesson on the website at some point!]

Wesson snuggling with Adelyn.

At the end of the photoshoot today.

It is just awesome because not only do I get to hang out with awesome ladies, I also get to bring my main squeeze with me and vice versa with their littles. :) This is another reason why I am bummed to be heading back to work. We're totally going to miss weekday playdates! I fully plan to arrange for weekend playdates too, though. :) Wesson needs his buddies and I need my mama friends!

FOUR // Bath Time
Our kid LOVES bath time. Love is an understatement really. If there's anything that will fix Wesson's mood immediately, it's bath time. He is definitely his Mama's kiddo. [I am currently blogging during bath time. :) TMI? Sorry!] I think he's starting to recognize the sound of the water running, too, because last night he went from groggy after napping to W I D E A W A K E! He definitely likes warm water, and enjoys splashing in it by kicking his little feet. Ryan thinks he's going to love the hot tub. He doesn't even seem to mind when he accidentally splashes it in his face. Sweet babe.

FIVE // New Normal
I loved our little life before, but somehow now I love the shift that has occurred with Wesson's arrival even more. Weekends used to be for sleeping in, and I was pretty sure the early factor was going to kill me, but now the 6 am wakeup call doesn't even really phase me. Most of the time he goes back to sleep after eating fairly quickly, or I get something done briefly or tummy time with him for an hour, and then we snuggle and snooze on the couch together for another hour or two (if I'm lucky!). He is seriously the best snuggle buddy. I don't even mind when he nudges me with his feet in his sleep.

I love the way our border collies have adjusted to life with Wesson. Oakley Mae thinks she's his Mama and licks him incessantly. She's convinced it will make him stop crying too, but we have yet to see that happen. She is always eager to be by his side, and is excellent at tummy time. I've tried to lay Wesson against her and snap a picture, but for some reason she's not too keen on that. Some mommy she is. Kidding, Oakley Mae.

Jetta loves on him in her own way. She's not much for snuggling anyway, but she is definitely loyal and always goes to his room with me. Last night she helped me put him to bed from bottle (eating time) to crib (sleeping time). She even sticks her nose between the bars trying to see him. I think she'll really enjoy when he's walking and she can retrieve things he will likely throw for her. Oh, little athletapuppy.

Finally, I love that Ryan and I are content just to be with our sweet boy. Ryan said once early on in our relationship that one of the greatest things we could do with our time on earth was to raise a wonderful, God fearing family. Boy, was he right! Everything is just better with Wesson. Does it make things more complicated at times and are there times when Ryan and I are frustrated? You bet, but it's definitely worth it.

GAH. I could talk about my sweet babe forever on end. He completes me. Cheesy, so sue me. Happy Friday!

{Motherhood Changes Everything}

I've literally retitled this post 3 times. However, I think I finally landed on the right one.

I cannot believe my summer is coming to a close. Naturally, no one feels sorry for me given my summer started on April 27th this year, but y'all, it's hard for this new Mama. I am not ready to leave my sweet boy.

I never imagined I would want to be a stay-at-home Mom. Really it makes no sense because my Mom was a stay-at-home Mom during my elementary days and I loved her always being there. Alas, here there I was three weeks from returning to my teaching career, googling "ways to make money as a stay-at-home mom" and "stay-at-home Mom jobs". Please don't get me wrong - I love teaching. I feel like it's 100% the career Taylor-made (see what I did there? ;)) for me, but I never in a million years imagined I would love this stage of life nearly as much as I am.

I feel like that still sounds bad, but allow me to explain. Pre-Wesson I told everyone, very matter of factly I might add, that I was undoubtedly coming back to teaching the following year, and how I couldn't possibly imagine being a stay-at-home Mom because:
a) I would be stir-crazy,
b) I would be bored without adult interaction,
c) that I wouldn't be putting my college degree and teaching certificates I had worked so hard for to good use,
d) I love teaching, working with kids, impacting lives in this way, and can't imagine walking away from it, and
e) that we would be down one income which isn't exactly feasible for us at the moment.

Okay... we could make it work, but we would have to cut way back on spending and make some big changes in our current lifestyle.

Regardless, I never imagined falling so in love with this phase of life. I love being a Mom. LOVE IT! I love my sweet boy, the way he smiles at me when he sees me, the way he lights up when he discovers something new or looks at himself in the mirror. I love seeing him hit new milestones and the way his little personality is starting to appear. I love praying for his future.

I just LOVE him, and I love who I am now because of him. I love that I am different such as putting this little man's needs and desires and hopes and dreams before my own. (Yes, I know he's not currently verbalizing those hopes and dreams, and those things may currently be to eat solid food and walk, but hey let him dream!)

I love that he makes me want to be better in every area of life:
- in the way I am a wife - the way I support, love, talk to, and care for my husband.
- in the way I look after our home, and by that I mean actually keep it a little cleaner.
- in my diet and exercise - eat better and stay fit and healthy.
- in my faith - to chase fervently after the Father and seek Him in everything so that I can show my son what it means to be a Christ-follower and so that he will pursue his own relationship with Christ.
- in the way I love others and foster relationships
I know that Wesson will look up to Ryan and me and learn from our examples. There's a little human watching my every move, and you can tell.

For example, I did something dumb the other night and got extremely upset about it immediately after the incident. I wished so badly I could take back those seconds and make a different decision, but I couldn't. Choking back tears while bathing Wesson, it became incredibly evident that he knew something was wrong, something was different. Mama wasn't smiling, she looked sad, and y'all, that made him sad. He literally made his sad, pathetic, I'm-about-to-lose-it face at me. Immediately, I smiled brightly at him and tried to push my sadness aside and move forward. He noticed that too, and his demeanor changed, and bath time was once again a joyous occasion.

The Lord is refining me through motherhood, and now as I approach an again new chapter of life I am anxious. What does it look like to be a working Mom?

Today when Wesson and I met up with some of our Square 1 group members, a mom and I talked about how there's so much guilt that comes with motherhood and how neither of us expected it. I experienced it when I quit nursing, among other things, and now as I move into being a working Mom I am experiencing it all over again. She said that even though she's staying home she is feeling guilt about her son thinking Mom's can't work, or isn't as strong, or silly things like that. It's amazing what eats your lunch as a Mom.

I can't let my anxiety get the best of me though. I am incredibly grateful to my mother-in-law for watching Wesson during the week while Ryan and I work. He's going to love Camp Gigi. I am also incredibly jealous. I feel like I'm going to miss out on so many more milestones, and that I'm going to be replaced which is of course nonsense, but what did I tell you about that guilty feeling? It's nuts! That is something I'm going to have to pray over a lot as I enter this school year. First and foremost, I am Wesson's Mommy and he comes first. I am going to cherish every moment we have together, though that's going to look a little different now. Additionally, I made a commitment to do a great job at school and teach some amazing kiddos, so I need to work my butt off to do both and serve joyfully. I've never been one to back down from a challenge, so here goes nothing!

Happy Monday, friends. What has the Lord been using to refine you lately?
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