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December 2007

November 2007 entries

Looking Back a Year Ago . . .

Tomorrow, little Baby Elle will be a year old!  It hardly seems possible, yet it is so.  I remember knowing that Gabrielle was a girl, even at a few months into the pregnancy.  To me, it was common-sense science: I was very sick with Aidan, and with this new baby, I wasn't sick at all.  I hypothesized that because my body was an estrogen-friendly place, I could tolerate baby girl hormones much better than all the testosterone Aidan was housing.  And I was right.

Aidan was 13 months old when we found out that we were on our way to becoming a family of four.  He didn't understand the concept, and it wasn't until my stomach grew noticeably large that he started to talk about the "baby in Mommy's belly." 

I was given two or three due dates for Gabrielle -- Nov. 27, then it was the 29th, then it was the 28th.  We just knew it was in that range.  I didn't have my hopes up for an on-time baby because Aidan was a week late and we had to induce labor.  The running joke was that since this baby was a girl, she'd be more like me and come exactly on time, if not a little early.   As it turned out, I went to the doctor on the 28th, and I had made no progress, so I went home, a little bummed.  I went to bed, and at 4 a.m., I began having very slight contractions.  Because the body will experience "practice" contractions (called Braxton-Hicks contractions), I didn't want to get my hopes up, but I couldn't go back to sleep.  Just as I had another slight contraction, Aidan called out from his upstairs bedroom, "Mommy!  Mommy! Come here."

I went up to his room, and the first thing he said to me was, "Mommy, are you OK?"  It was incredible; I didn't know why he woke up, but he was clearly in tune with what was happening.  I lay down in his bed with him, and he fell asleep in my arms.  A few moments later, I had another very slight contraction and he immediately woke up:  "Mommy, are you OK?"  There was no possible way that he could have physically sensed the contraction; they were more like light stomach cramps.

Later, when I realized that I was in actual labor, we called a dear friend, Linda, to come to our house to be with Aidan so that we could go to the hospital.  She arrived, and we were about to leave.  Linda said, "Aidan, do you know where Mommy and Daddy are going?"  And he said, "Yes.  Baby time."  He was only 22 months old, yet he knew exactly what was going on.

Once we were at the hospital, labor was not an easy experience.  I had a lot of back labor, which is very painful, but the worst part was that when I would have contractions, Gabrielle's heart rate would drop very low.  I wasn't allowed to leave the bed or the baby monitor because they wanted to keep a close eye on the baby.  The nurse who noticed the change in the heart rate called the doctor in, and as soon as she saw the heart rate, she was in scrubs in no time flat.  Because she could tell that I didn't like to be out of the loop, the doctor was straight with me:  "Sometimes this just happens for no apparent reason.  Sometimes it is because the umbiblical cord is wrapped around the baby's neck.  But don't worry, I will be here the whole time, and if the cord is around her neck, I will take care of it right away."

Reassuring words, but for a woman in labor, not exactly what I wanted to hear.  I was very apprehensive about Gabrielle's safety, and when she entered the world at 11:11 a.m. on November 29, 2006, I was relieved to hear that she was healthy, strong, and happy. 

Gabrielle, or "Baby Elle" as she has been nicknamed, is a joyous little girl who loves to laugh and crinkle her nose up in an adorable smile. She is smart and perceptive, she loves life, she adores her big brother and her daddy, she loves to cuddle with her mommy.

Happy Birthday, Gabrielle Rebekah Connor!


"These little things are hurting me, Mommy."

Over the past two or three days, our normally cherubic toddler, Aidan, has been a complete bear.  Tonight he was kicking, hitting, yelling, going to his room and slamming the door for emphasis.  He was been testing every possible limit with us.  Mike and I have been racking our brains, trying to figure out what has been going on with him...what possible differences in his routine might be causing his outbursts, etc.

As I was reading him a book tonight, he said, "These little things are hurting me, Mommy."  I said, "What little things?"  And he showed me FOUR NEW MOLARS IN HIS MOUTH!!  Well, gee, no wonder he has been so unbearable...these new teeth were not there two days ago!  Poor kid. 

And speaking of pitiable children, little Gabrielle (who will be turning ONE in two days) went to the doctor for her well-baby check up today and was mercilessly stabbed four times by not one by two nurses!  Oh, right, I mean she was vaccinated.  :)

A rough day for kids in the Connor household~!

Thanksgiving Break

Time off does a body good, doesn't it?  I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday break, despite the fact that I spent almost all of Black Friday at the school, getting caught up and ahead.  I think every teacher I know spent at least some of his/her break at the school or grading and planning at home. 

I experienced my first round of public criticism of the "easy life of a school teacher" when I went to my chiropractor appointment on Wednesday of last week.  One of the physical therapists said, "Are you OFF today?  Man, I should have been a teacher.  It is incredible how much time you get off."  Uhhh, thanks.  I know.  And part of me thinks, well, that is what I earned a professional degree for.  In fact, my response to this man was, "Well, I went to college for 6 years for something, didn't I?"  The doctor just smiled because I am sure he gets the same rap from time to time.  But, for those who think that we teachers really just work from 8:15 - 3:15, that is simply not true.  I am often at the school by 6:30 a.m. (and there are usually one or two teachers there already!) and when I leave at 4 to go get my kids, it is with a satchel full of papers, quizzes, tests, etc. to read and evaluate.  And, as for the summer break, I am already planning projects to enhance my current curriculum, research for new courses that I've proposed, and so on. 

At any rate, rest assured that your tax dollars are put to good use!  :) 

Humble Movie Reviews

As most of you know, I don't watch television except G-rated films with my kiddos, so I am usually a few months behind popular culture references.  My Netflix subscription has to accommodate Aidan's requests; I mean, how could I possibly put a "Mommy and Daddy movie" (as Aidan calls them) ahead of Classic Blue's Clues discs 1-3978

At any rate, Thanksgiving break has provided an opportunity for me to catch up on some movies.  We watched an excellent movie which was actually on the New Releases rack at Hollywood East, which makes me feel like I am on the cutting edge of home entertainment.  If you haven't seen Amazing Grace, I suggest that you do so --- soon!  It is a moving account of William Wilberforce's lifelong quest to end slavetrade.  More info, educational materials, etc.  here   

This evening, for a touch of comedy, I watched Hairspray.  Too funny -- yet it does an admirable job of critiquing social constructions of beauty, talent, and racial discrimination.  My favorite part is that when Tracy gets detention, she goes to a room where all the black students are dancing and having a good time.  Heck!  I'd want to get detention, too!  Queen Latifah has a great line when all the kids are hanging out together in the "black neighborhood," and Tracy's mom comes in, and Queen Latifah's character says, "If we get any more white people in here, it's going to be a suburb."  LOL.

So there are my two humble movie reviews on movies that everyone else on the planet has already seen because they have been out for 6 months or more.  :)

"I don't even like fish!"

Yesterday was our last day of class before Thanksgiving break, and needless to say, the natives were restless.  As we were reviewing our vocabulary homework, I called on a student to read aloud her answer to a sentence completion problem.  It was something along the lines of, "Coleridge once said, 'What is an epigram? [epigram was the vocab word] / A dwarfish whole; its body brevity, its soul wit."  Because the definition of epigram is a short, witty saying, I was trying to get the students to understand the quote.  I started with dwarfish, and asked the student if she knew what it meant. 

She said, "I'm really confused, and I don't even like fish!"

Also needless to say, we didn't get too much further with the quote after that . . .

Guess Who Should Be Writing a Test on Macbeth Right Now...

That's right: me.

Does anyone else REALLY wish it were next Thursday?  I can tell that I am working a little too much when I have a compulsive need to fill every minute of my life with tasks.  For example, tonight I had to meet some friends at 6:10 to go to Williamsport for a singing gig.  I found myself 10 minutes early, and since our meeting place was our local Wal*Mart, I caught myself thinking, "Well, I've got 10 minutes; I could run in and get ..."  I stopped and thought, "What is happening to me? Can't I just do nothing for 10 minutes?" 

So I did.

And it was great.  I listened to the radio, and simply sat in the car and waited for my friends.  10 unexpected minutes of silence, 10 unexpected minutes alone.  Why are we, as a culture, so petrified of being still?  Why do we feel as though we must be "doing" at all times?  Can't we just "be" every once in a while? 

Hmm...OK, OK.  My type-A brain is telling me to get a life and just write the darn test.  ;)

Listening Ears All Night

When Aidan is good at school, his little report card says that he had "listening ears all day."  His reward is usually a packet of fruit snacks, a staple for homes with toddlers.  We even have those gummy bear vitamins for him.  Yesterday morning, when Aidan woke up, I asked him if he wanted a vitamin.  He replied, "Yes, Mommy.  I had listening ears all night in my bed."

The Flamingo Finale

I remain triumphant!  No one captured my flamingo!  Not even when we went to Mass after hiding Pinky in a briar bush at the very edge of the yard.  Apparently, the yard was crawling with Key Clubbers looking for the flamingo.  In anticipation of this, I hid decoys all over the yard -- a pink bunny in the playhouse, a pink doll in the sandbox, etc.  And out front, hanging from the chicken wire fence was a sign that read, "LOOKING FOR PINKY???" 

When we returned home, we retrieved Pinky from the backyard and put him out front again.  And to make it fun, we removed the chicken wire.  We caught a couple kids going to for the traditional dash-and-grab approach, and at about 9:30 p.m., the motion light out back went on.  We waited.  It went off, and we waited some more.  Mike went to the bedroom to look out the window and hurriedly came to the living room to say, "Denise, you'd better get out there!  There is a ladder against the house ... someone is on the roof!"

I went outside, and the young lad who will surely dazzle Montoursville as "Danny" in this year's production of Grease was on my roof.  And his young accomplice, also in the musical, is the gymnast who once did a back flip in my classroom (Hey, it was Friday, we had a few minutes at the end of class, I mean come on...)

This story became MUCH more interesting today when they confessed that they didn't BRING a ladder to my house; they BORROWED ONE . . . FROM MY NEIGHBOR.  They thought their barn/shed was mine!!

All in all, the Flamingo Hunt was a good time.  Will I do it next year?  I'm not sure yet.  It's quite a commitment, and I've set the bar pretty high for myself . . . I mean, they wanted to BUY Pinky so they could be known as "the ones who got Connor's flamingo" after all.

I Know Why the Caged Flamingo Sings

Last night, while the Montour boys were bringing home a 3-0 victory over Mt. Carmel, I was guarding Pinky.  I decided to make it a little more challenging to get "Connor's flamingo."  I brought this full-scale war upon myself by hanging a sign outside my door that read, "CAUGHT PINK-HANDED" with a list of the three names of the students I caught Thursday night.  I even added a fluffy pink boa and a flower for special effect:


So last night, I wrapped chicken wire fence around our front porch railings, trapping Pinky in a  protective cage that can only be accessed by standing on the porch, in front of the aforementioned picture window, and reaching under the fence to pull Pinky down and out of the wire. 

Caged_pinkyI know the photos are small, but the dark parts on Pinky's neck are his bandages of electrical tape from his reconstructive surgery.  If you look closely, you can see the chicken wire cage.

Despite the challenge, a couple of students were foolhardy enough to try to get close enough to grab Pinky.  I caught 2 last night, bringing my total earnings to $25.  The first two students scared the daylights out of me, though, and we all had a good laugh. 

The latest technique to get me out of the living room is to call the house, hoping I'd have to go to another room to answer the phone.  This morning, the games began at 5:00 a.m.  Pinky was not hanging outside at 5, but I moved him to his front porch post at around 6:30 a.m. ... 5 minutes later, the phone rang:

Unknown Male Caller: "Why wasn't your flamingo out at 5 a.m.?"

Me:  "It was. It just wasn't out front."

UMC: "Why not?"

Me:  "I can put my flamingo wherever I want.  It's not my fault you can't find it."

UMC:  "We'll be back."

Me:  "I'll be waiting."


So far, as of 1:02 p.m., no one has made an attempt on Pinky today.  The toughest part will be from approximatel 4:30 - 6:15 when Michael and I got to sing Mass.  Because of the top secret nature of the plan regarding Pinky, I cannot post any further information until the Great Flamingo Hunt ends tonight at 11.    :)