Why I Worked, Part 4: Another Baby, Another Move, Another Job Search

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here

Here we are right after John Paul's birth - I was excited to go back to work for my first FULL year teaching, and not even a little bit concerned about leaving my newborn.  We had a sweet babysitter hired for the times when Andrew couldn't watch him at home, my freezer stash of milk was huge, and I was reeeeeeeeeeeally ready not to be nursing a baby all. the. time.

Dad in grad school = LOTS of father-son bonding time (when Dad's not studying, at least...)

Yeah, John Paul was one of those babies.  He would nurse for like, 45 minutes to an hour, and then 30 minutes later he would need to nurse again.  After all my pre-labor research and the information at the hospital saying "every 2-3 hours" I was a little disheartened.  So it was actually a HUGE help to my mental health that I could be at work and just have to take pumping breaks every 3-4 hours (which worked out really well with my schedule, and my body has always responded well to a pump).

My students were so sweet and SO excited.  Being a choir teacher is seriously the BEST job (if you're doing it right), because teaching kids who want to learn and want to be in your class is so rewarding!  I learned a ton teaching them that year, but there was a lot of uncertainty brewing underneath...

We were waiting and waiting and waiting for a job offer, any job offer for Andrew.  And my school was closing, staff being transferred to a new school that had just been built that year.  Meanwhile, my sister had moved in with us after a brief stint in the convent, and we were pretty cramped in our 2-bedroom apartment.  She was moving out that summer, but we needed a bigger place so that we had space for a new baby due in January!

We waited.  Still no job offer for Andrew.  I threw myself into visiting elementary students and recruiting for what *might* be my new choral program the next year, assuming we were still in the area.

We waited some more.  Still no job for Andrew.  I signed my teaching contract.  And got an ego boost when I found out that my program enrollment had increased by almost 100 students over the last year!  I took a tour of the school, including my gloriously huge classroom, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a pond.  We found an adorable condo in a nice neighborhood that would be perfect for our growing family.

Andrew graduated.  Still no job. We packed everything up for our move and a few days after our lease started at the new place (but right before we moved) in July?

Andrew got a job offer.

2.5 hours away.

Yeah, that condo wasn't happening.  I started searching for jobs in the area where we both grew up, but it was July already.  Pretty much everything had been filled.  We moved in with Andrew's dad and I resigned myself to "just" being a stay-at-home mom for now, until I could find another job (Andrew's job had a pretty low starting salary and no health insurance for us, so I really needed to find something if we were ever going to get out of his dad's house).

The school year started.  I was feeling, once again, really fabulous about the fact that I was AGAIN unable to find a teaching job.  And this time I even had experience!

Then of course on the first day of school, I got a call.  They needed a long-term substitute at a local high school because the teacher had to go on bed rest for her maternity leave.  They needed someone NOW!  And it worked out that that someone was me.  The pay was practically nothing (just enough to cover daycare for John Paul), but it was a great way to get into the district and hopefully find something for the next school year.

It was a blast, even though I had to teach show choir (don't even get me started. Those kids would sing SO well in rehearsals, and you put them on the stage and add choreography and 90% of them are just screaming the melody. Ugh.).  I got the lovely runaround when their teacher couldn't decide if she was going to come back from maternity leave or not, but I finished up my stint, we moved into a townhouse closer to Andrew's job (the hour+ commute every morning and evening was KILLER), and got excited about the prospect of a full-time job for me!

But apparently it was still not to be.

Cecilia was born and I got used to being a stay-at-home mom.  I joined a mom's group, a book club, met up with other moms at the playground.  I even started a blog!

I kept applying for jobs in the spring and summer, but nothing was opening up and I was kind of okay with "just" staying at home (despite the fact that we really needed the money, or at least the health insurance. I try not to think of what a horrible financial situation we were really in at this point...).

We spent a lot of quality time with "The Baby in the Mirror" that year

The summer was almost over, and I had no leads.

Then I got a call from a local high school director who needed someone to teach a class or two at the middle school.  It was a secondary school, and the choir position had never been full-time for middle school.  I took John Paul and Cecilia to a playground nearby where a sweet former student from my subbing watched them, and talked to this director to see if we were on the same page.  It seemed kind of perfect, so we set up a formal interview for the next week.

Incidentally, I got the call very conveniently while she was passed out!

Did I really want something part-time?  They didn't even know if it would be one or two classes...  After much prayer and deliberation, I accepted the position.  And then found out I would be teaching ONE class.  Thankfully it still qualified me for part-time benefits, so it was worth it financially.

I was so excited to be back teaching again!  We had a really sweet babysitter lined up.  And the schedule was weird, but nice - I could still do all my stay-at-home mom things, and every other weekday afternoon I headed off for a few hours to teach choir.

I was ready for a much-needed break from these two, no matter how adorable they were!

The only issue?  I got my final enrollment numbers shortly before school began.  69 middle school girls.  One class.

Coming up next: My last teaching job, the craziest maternity leave ever, and why I left teaching for good. (Read Part V here)

How (Not) to Potty Train Twins {Five Favorites}

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Twins!  I always wanted twins!" Say approximately 50% of women who find out we have twins.  And for the most part, yes, what they see of twins is rather cute and appealing.

Exhibit A: Twins admiring flowers while praying the Hail Mary together.

But if you're one of these people, imagine if you will what potty training twins might look like.  

Heck, you don't have to imagine - I'll give you a little glimpse into the wonder that is our lives right now!

How (Not) to Potty Train Twins

Reading Material:

Some people like to prepare with many, many "potty readiness" books.  But there are wiser ways:

Forget to throw away that very old, very annoying copy of Once Upon a Potty.  Cave to requests to read it over and over again, then hide it behind a cushion because the trash can is too far away.  Kick self again when copy is unearthed and the requests begin again.  Never learn your lesson.

Resign yourself to the fact that you will have to say, "Bye-bye poop, bye-bye pee!" every time you flush the toilet from now until the end of time.

Find yourself doing this even when you're by yourself.


It gets old sitting on the edge of the bathtub reading the same book over and over again.  That's what older siblings are for, right?

She may not know how to read, but she recites a mean Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Goodnight Moon

Heck, she even volunteers to escort her baby sister to the potty!


Never ever check their diapers for poop before you remove them in the bathroom.  This will lead to lovely fun when you go dashing for wipes at the changing table and they have the opportunity to explore site of origin!

They're going for yogurt here.  Let's just say the term "poop mustache" has unfortunately entered into our vocabulary...


If you are too tired to get up off the couch every time they ask to go to the potty, tell them "Just use your diaper!  That's what it's for!"

Then get annoyed every time they poop and you actually have to clean that out of their nasty diapers...


Get one "good" potty seat for the toilet, and one regular potty for the floor.  Watch fights ensue as they both fight over who gets to use the Lion potty and who has to use the bear potty.  Because twins.

Toilet paper:

For the love of all that is good and holy, DO NOT TEACH THEM ABOUT TOILET PAPER!  While it's fun to watch one twin very carefully pick every wad of toilet paper out of the trash can and try to wipe her sister, it's also disgusting.

And then, of course, when they run out of toilet paper they try to find anything they CAN use, including but not limited to that dirty hoodie that's been lying on the floor just shy of the laundry basket for far too long...


Be prepared to yell "HANDS OFF YOUR CROTCH" more in 5 minutes than you ever have in your life (and I have a 5-year-old boy, so that's saying a lot...).

What, you thought this was going to be a helpful post?

Okay, I do have some pointers, just so this isn't entirely a post about poop:

1. Books in the bathroom DO keep them entertained for long enough to actual sit still and take care of business.  But maybe consider keeping library books OUT of the bathroom...

Because twins.  And books in the toilet.  


We have a Baby Bjorn Potty and a couple Prince Lionheart potty seats that work great, especially for itty bitty kids who are just too small to sit on a big toilet by themselves without falling in.  It gets old holding them up, believe me...

But the wonderful thing about the potty seats that suction onto the toilet, like ours, is that our kids have been willing to stay on the "big potty" WAY longer than on the little one, because they can't just kind of get up whenever they feel like it.  And they can't stick their hands into the bowl to explore just how much they've managed to produce.  So yeah, potty seats FTW.

3.  Cloth diapers!

Even if you don't cloth diaper, I highly recommend finding some sort of cloth training pants or inexpensive fitted cloth diapers to use for this phase - it's SO much easier to make a toddler aware when she can actually feel the wetness.  We've got some cloth diapers that are "stay-dry" and the twins totally don't care if they pee in those, but they demand to be changed immediately if they're in a fitted diaper or a prefold.  

4.  Training pants?

Once our kids are dry during the day, they're in underwear.  Sometimes I'll stick a cloth doubler in if they're prone to pee accidents, but we don't do training pants.  I will do training pants at night, but not Pull-Ups.  Flip Training Pants have worked awesome for us - John Paul was always a really heavy wetter at night, and even when he had accidents these held everything, plus they're easy to wash and last foooorever (well, we've had two kids go through them and our one set still looks like new).  A starter pack seems pricey, but when you compare it to the cost you'd be saving over Pull-Ups?  Totally a deal!

5.  It doesn't have to work immediately!

If you find yourself getting frustrated by the whole process, give it a break.  Stick with diapers for a while and try again in a few weeks, or a few months.  We started trying to train John Paul a little before he was 2, and he wasn't fully day-trained until 2.5.  Loooong, arduous process.  Cecilia decided at like, 17 months that she wanted to be potty-trained, and she was totally day-trained before she was 18 months old.  

Mary Claire has been asking to use the potty since she was 15 months old and I only *really* started letting her use it on a regular basis in the past few weeks (she's 20 months now), and she probably gets about 50% of her waste in the potty.  Elizabeth is just along for the ride and almost never accomplishes anything.  I don't really care - not like we're buying diapers, since we use cloth!

Just don't put more stress on yourself than is necessary, and remember that there's a WIIIIIDE range of normal for this sort of thing.  Some kids make it CRAZY easy, and that probably has nothing to do with your parenting skills.  And the ones that make it crazy hard? Probably not your fault, either :)  

Linking it up with everybody's favorite, Heather at Mama Knows, Honeychild - go check out more favorites!

PS links are Amazon Affiliate links, so you can show me a little monetary love at no extra cost by purchasing items through my links so Amazon sends a few cents my way - thanks :)

What They Said: Volume 12

Monday, July 28, 2014

I've been collecting these quotes since MAY!  It's been way too long - I know a lot of you have done posts like this in the past few months, so feel free to link up any old posts too!  

A couple months before his 5th birthday:

John Paul: How can I drink cocktails?
Me: Well, you can't drink cocktails, but we can make you a mocktail...
John Paul: No, I need a COCKTAIL!

You and me both, kid...

Me: Well, then you'll have to wait until you're 21.
John Paul: That's... 17  and a quarter years... I CAN'T WAIT THAT LONG!!!

Cecilia, scooting away from John Paul at the dinner table: I'm moving FAR AWAY from you so you don't ARGUE with my FOOD!


Cecilia:  Mom, when you die will you be a second St. Rose of Lima?
Me: Well, my name isn't Rose and I'm not from Lima, so no.  But maybe I'll be St. Rosemary or St. Rosie. Will you guys take up my cause for canonization?
John Paul: Yeah.  You'll be canonized in 2107.  Two years before I die.

Glad he's got it all planned out...

John Paul:  Agh.  I'm...  Really hungry...
Me:  Then maybe you should eat your breakfast.
John Paul:  Aaaaaaaaagh...  My tummy is hurting...  I'm really full...
Me:  Then maybe you should go to the bathroom.
John Paul:  I just...  Need to look at my scientific data for a little bit.

Cures all my ills, too.

John Paul, first thing in the morning:  I have carbeen dioxide.
Me: Do you mean carBON dioxide?
John Paul: No, car-BEAN dioxide!  It's what a BEANSTALK HAS!
Me: Where did you read that?
John Paul: I just made it up myself!
Me: Shocker.

John Paul: Knock knock.
Me: Who's there.
John Paul: Elizabeth.
Me: Elizabeth who?

Elizabeth: Knock knock!
Me: Who's there?
Elizabeth: Who's dere?
Me: Knock knock?
Elizabeth: Knock knock!
Mary Claire: Banana WHO?

Yup, they've mastered this.

Cecilia: Mom, I want my tummy to hurt like yours.
Me: Well Cecilia, you're going to have to wait until you're older if you want to be pregnant.
Cecilia:  No, I want to have a baby in my tummy NOW, when I'm a KID!
Me: You need a husband for that, sweetie.
Cecilia: I'll never get married, I want to be a NUN! ...Do nuns have babies?
Me: No sweetie, nuns don't have babies.
Cecilia: But I want to be a mommy AND a nun!
Me: Like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton?
Cecilia: Yeah, like her.
Me: Well, we'll just have to wait and see how God calls you to serve him.
Cecilia: Mom, I heard him say dat.
Me: You heard God talk to you?
Cecilia: Yeah, and say dat I want to be a mommy and a nun.

Well, I guess that's settled.  Although a few days later she wanted to be a mermaid and a princess and a kid forever - guess her vocation changed.

Cecilia: Mom, is St. Michael the Archangel a saint?
Me: Yes, he is.
Cecilia: I don't WANT him to be a saint!
Me: Why not?
Cecilia: Because I want him to come to our HOUSE!
Me: Well, maybe if we have a special devotion to him, he'll come protect us at our house.
Cecilia, sobbing: But I want to SEE him!
Me: Well honey, you're just going to have to wait until you get to heaven to see him!
Cecilia, still sobbing: But I want him to come to our house and FLY AROUND!

Deep theological thinking going on over here...

John Paul: When will I get to make dinner?
Me: Well, maybe when you're a teenager you can start making dinner once a week.
John Paul:  Or maybe half a teenager.  Like, 6 and a half or 7.  But I can't wait 2 and 1/12 years!
Me: If you tried to make dinner when you were that old, you might have trouble because you wouldn't be able to use the stove or sharp knives...
John Paul:  Oh!  I could make COOKIES!

Too bad they don't count as dinner...  I'm all for it!

John Paul, bringing me a book:  Here, Mom.
Me: Do you want me to read this to you guys?
John Paul: No, just to yourself.

The book?  Humanae Vitae.

Mary Claire, seeing a girl in a head scarf: Little riding hood!!!

Mary Claire, seeing a man with a long white beard at church: Noah!!!

Mary Claire, looking at a picture of Mary holding Jesus: I love you Mary! Ah love you Jesus!

Cecilia: Mom, if I leave crumbs on the floor, a mouse can eat them!
Me: Well, we don't want mice in our house...
Cecilia: Why?
Me: Because they would poop everywhere.
Cecilia: Um, but I'll get dem a little mouse potty!
Me: They wouldn't use the potty, they're mice.
Cecilia: Well den I'll get dem a little stuffed mouse!
Me: How would that keep them from pooping?
Cecilia: Just a little stuffed mouse so I can LICK da little stuffed mouse!

So confused by this conversation...

Elizabeth:  Kiss Mom!
*kisses me*
Elizabeth: I yuv oo!

Heart. Melted.  Favorite child.


Me: John Paul, what would you like to learn this summer?
JP: How to drive.
Me: That's not going to happen...
JP: I need to learn how things move forward and backward... I need to learn more about FRICTION!


Me: John Paul, do you want to say anything to the baby?
JP: Yeah. I just got a new iPad!
Me: You did?
JP: I ordered it!
Me: Um... Where?
JP: On Amazon.
Me: How did you pay for it?
JP: I just used a nickel. It was very cheap.

And there you have it!  I'd love to read your posts, if you've got any :)

WIWS: 25 Weeks! And Answer Me This! And an Announcement!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

First: Here's what I wore today!

The dress is from ages ago - it's non-maternity and works great when I'm pregnant or not.  Don't you love pieces like that?

And the shirt was about to be retired for the remainder of the pregnancy, but then I saw that Lisa very cleverly tied her t-shirt to layer and get a few more weeks out of it, and I took a page from her book - works great!  

Bump: 25 weeks (yes, I was wrong last time I did a WIWS post...  Totally missed a week!)

And now to answer some questions, because all the kids are napping (or "napping" - you know how it is...):

1. What’s your favorite thing on YouTube?

Right now?  This:

Did you catch how the announcement was in there?  You may already have caught it if you follow me on Facebook...  Also how Cecilia is practically a teenager: "Mom?  I don't care!"

2. Who taught you to drive?

My dad (mostly) - my mom is rather...  High-strung?  So any time I tried to drive with her, there was a lot of terrified gasping and clawing at the arm rest coming from the passenger seat...
3. What’s your favorite thing to cook?
Most things - I really love to cook because I really love to eat.  I actually don't like baking that much because of the whole measuring of ingredients thing...  A lot of my favorites are listed here and here, and I also especially love the America's Test Kitchen recipe for roasted chicken (crispy skin! Yum!), and Pioneer Woman's pot roast.

And I keep longingly thinking of this recipe and trying to decide when I'll have the time to make something so involved again...  But ohhhh it was delicious and if I'm still longing for it 3 years later, it's probably time to make it again, right?

And now I'm hungry again.

4. Are you a hugger or a non-hugger? Why?

I used to be a hugger, back in middle school and high school when everybody hugged all the time because that's what peppy girls did.  And then at some point I realized that I don't particularly enjoy feeling obligated to hug people, mostly because sometimes people smell bad...  So yeah, mostly a non-hugger now.  I think in part because I get a looooot of physical contact all day long from the kids, so I don't exactly crave the physical contact from anyone else!

5. Where do you pray best?

It sounds weird, but probably on the couch with the kids.  Even though it's full of distractions, my prayer is ALWAYS full of distractions because that's how my brain works.  And praying with someone else helps me focus and pray better for some reason.

6. When is the last time you saw/spoke to your grandparents?

I only have one left, my grandmother, and my sister and I actually visited her last month!  Impressive, right?  She lives about 3 hours away, and is 94 years old and moves better than I do.

Well, 2 out of 5 are looking at the camera...

Linking up with Catholic All Year for Answer Me This and Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday.

And if you like link-ups, swing by tomorrow and link up any funny quotes you have for another edition of What They Said!

Quick Takes: Finally Friday!

Friday, July 18, 2014


It has been quite a week!  I think we're finally back into the swing of things after some seriously crazy days.  Just...  Potty training twins is not for the weak (or pregnant?).  And teething twins?  Also not for the weak.  And apparently John Paul turning 5 injected him with some extra disobedience for a few days, but I think he's mostly better now.  I was certainly not at my best, though.  So yeah, when I'm feeling cranky at the universe, blogging is not a good idea!


And with that, I present to you:

Kids shucking corn!

I hope we live somewhere with enough space to grow corn some day - not only is it tasty, but it takes them sooooo long to shuck it and they love doing it, and it gets them out of my hair when I'm trying to make dinner!

Also?  Peeling garlic.  And picking leaves off of herbs.  I was seriously kicking myself the other day when I cut a ton of basil for pesto and sent them all downstairs to watch TV without putting them to work taking all the leaves off for me!

Why did I have these kids, after all?

Rookie mistake.

In other news, lemon basil makes the most delicious pesto you will ever taste.  Plant some!  It grows SO fast and is super-easy and you will love it.

Love, me.


Elizabeth would spend the entirety of every day outside if I would let her.

Which I would be okay with, especially since the weather has been gorgeous lately.

Only problem?

ALL THE MOSQUITOS.  And she is an absolute magnet, and the bites make her miserable :(  I still need to remember to spray the bug spray *before* we go outside (we have this bug spray, which works well as long as I don't wait too long to use it...), because the poor thing is so bitten up and still too young to really obey the "don't scratch and they won't itch" command.


Mary Claire, on the other hand, seems to be entirely left alone by the bugs.  Lucky.  She makes up for it by STILL eating dirt when she's out there.  Seriously, 20 months old, still eats dirt.  Ridiculous.  We have this garden bed in the picture above that is the worst and we can't grow anything in it, so I just decided to let the kids go to down digging and "planting" and such.  I bought some fake dinosaur bones and they've been having a blast!  But yeah, it's kind of nasty and dirty because John Paul keeps spraying the dirt with the hose...  I think I might send Andrew for a couple bags of sand to keep the mud at bay!


I adore Cecilia's imagination.

She came out of her room after nap time the other day wearing this getup:

It's John Paul's purple chasuble, his purple stole around her head, and a stuffed dog and stuffed bear shoved down the front and covered with a wash cloth.

Me: Cecilia, what are you wearing?
Cecilia: Mom? Nuffin' excitin'.
Me: But why are those animals stuffed in your outfit?
Cecilia: I just needed to carry dem.

So there you have it.

She also spent a looooong time setting up a very elaborate birthday party for her pet, Lisa (all of her animals tend to be named Lisa or Rachel.  These are also her imaginary names when she's pretending to be somebody who isn't from a book.)  She lined up all the animals, made a cake, and invited John Paul (who had been digging in the mud all this time).  They were even happy to have their nap early because they were so excited to play birthday party during quiet time!

However, the addition of a boy to the situation means the game very quickly morphed into a new game called "Dinosar Explorers" which involved a looooot of stomping and yelling.

Gender stereotypes much?


Oh!  John Paul turned 5!

Most notable part of the day?  They were all going crazy and fighting over one of his presents, so I locked them all in one room and locked myself in another so that I wouldn't go totally crazy on them...  And when I came out, they had gotten out and John Paul had veeeery carefully skewered a bagel and hung it on a pretend clothesline in the playroom.

I just about lost it, it was so funny and weird.


Have you been closely following the maxi dress saga?  Okay, not really a saga...

It's perfect.  Well, it's too long.  I'm washing it and drying it to see if I can shrink it, but it shouldn't me too hard to hem if need be.

But it has TONS of room for my belly, and it's such a nice, airy material, and it can be dressed up and dressed down, and it's even prettier in person than on the internet!

The kimono?  Not so sure...  I'll take pictures soon and hopefully you can help me decide if I should send it back or not!

Check out more quick takes at Conversion Diary!

WIWS: Maternity Inspiration

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I was looking through my albums from last summer's pants-free challenge and trying to get inspiration for outfits using what I already have - here's some of what I came up with this week:

Shirt: Forever 21 - an awesome staple that I wear all the time, although it just got retired for the remainder of this pregnancy! (similar, similar)

Skirt: Old Navy Maternity, from my last pregnancy (similar regular, similar maternity)

Same shirt last summer, not pregnant:

Contrasted with 22 weeks a year later:

And this outfit is almost exactly one I wore last year (minus the belt):

Shirt: Uniqlo (similar, not maternity)
Skirt: Gap (not maternity, on sale today!!!)

Same outfit last summer, not pregnant: 

Here's what I wore to Mass with the kids today:

Shirt: J.Crew Factory (not maternity) via ThredUp
Belt: Banana Republic via ThredUp (similar)
Dress: Motherhood Maternity (old - from my pregnancy with John Paul!) (similar non-maternity)

Similar outfit from last summer:

There's one thing I'm certain of, looking at all these pictures:

1.  Pregnancy makes me look shorter than I am.
2.  When I'm not pregnant, I look way skinnier than I feel...

I took John Paul and Cecilia to Mass and found out just how much John Paul actually listens to the homily...  Father was preaching against contraception, and he pipes up, "Mom, what's contraception???"
"I'll tell you after Mass."
"But what IS it???"
"It's when someone puts chemicals into their body to try not to get pregnant." (not exactly, but just trying to get him quiet)
"I would make that against the rules!"

And thankfully that was as much of the conversation as we had to have...  Not ready to go there with an almost-five-year-old!  Thankfully Cecilia just sat quietly and snuggled me for most of Mass.  She DID want to know why the babies weren't coming, so I promised her that next week we'd all go to Mass together.  I think we might finally be ready, since the babies are less crazy than they used to be and John Paul and Cecilia are (mostly) better-behaved.  Pray for us?

John Paul went up with me to receive communion and, as always, tried to receive, but didn't freak out when I pulled him away, and just loudly whispered, "I received Jesus in my heart!"

So there's that, too!

Linking up with Fine Linen & Purple for What I Wore Sunday - go check out more Sunday style!

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