Well, everyone knows "Boy Toy," Ada's lovey that she spotted in Wal-Mart one day (at about 7 months old) and HAD TO HAVE. He got his name because, obviously, he is a toy for a little boy.... He's a rather large Lovey- about half of Ada's size. She was taking him to daycare for a little piece of home everyday, but their relationship was becoming rather dysfunctional. She carries him in her mouth when she crawls, so she was tripping all over him. She insists on holding him at mealtimes, so he was getting disgusting. And of course, all of the other babies want to play with him, too, and it was making Ada very paranoid about Boy Toy theives! So, they started to hide him when it wasn't naptime.... but my smart-as-a-whip daughter found him. EVERYTIME. They would take her out of the room and hide him, and she could sniff him out like a hound dog. She found him in an unused crib in the corner of the room. In her basket on a top shelf. In the supplies cabinet with baby locks on it- Miss Angel said she turned around to find Ada with the door ajar, holding on for dear life to Boy Toy's leg- unable to get him out any further! She was becoming hysterical and constantly in fear of losing Boy Toy. So we had to quit bringing him.... :( That was the worst day of Ada's life, I think.

Then Ada attached to this fuzzy pink blankie in her crib. Same scenario, different Lovey. Why am I surprised? Both of my brothers had Blankies until they were I-won't-say-how-old. (Drew had "Fruit Blankie" and Kyle had "London." Fruit Blankie even snuck off to college with Drew, I'm pretty sure! London eventually disintegrated in the washing machine.) So we have forced a new Lovey upon Ada- a more socially acceptable Lovey, one that is small enough to carry around, but still fluffy and soft enough to love on.

Everyone, meet Lovey Bunny. (The pink bunny next to Boy Toy in the picture.) So, the Lovey situation is solved and everyone is happy. And Boy Toy waits in the car for us all day to see his Ada Bug when I pick her up from daycare in the afternoon!

Back to School

School started back up on Monday- woowoo. I really love most of my kids already- my one class that is super rowdy already is actually one of my favorite ones- they might wear me out, but they at least keep me entertained in the process. They don't call me Mrs. Dowell- they call me Miss Do Well.... I hear them yelling it in the hallways, in the commons, at lunch, in class, everywhere! It's cute. They have big personalities, and I can tell 6th period will keep me on my toes and laughing!
3 of my classes are Co-Teach class this year (I only had 1 last year)- that means that any student with a severe learning disability or has been placed in Special Education, but has the ability to succeed in a class as hard as Chemistry, is integrated into my standard classes. My co-teacher is a Special Ed certified teacher who is there to help modify and accomdate the material for their needs. It's draining at first, but once we get back into the swing of things, and know everyone's needs and disabilities, it won't be so much to handle. They are such sweet kids, and so eager to do well!
Here are some pictures of my room- I love being in it!

My cheerleaders and drill team girls decorated my window for me.

LOVE this wall! (Those are periodic table elements that are spelling KAtY TiGeRS by the way- there is no "R" element, so I had to go with the Universal Gas Constant. R= 8.314 or .08206, depending on your pressure units!) My kids also drew Safety Cartoons, so I put up the cute ones. (My fave is the one with a horse in a barn saying "No horseplay in lab- EVER!)

The teacher before me had this sign- it says "The Top 10 Reasons to Love Chem." I'm going to have my kids do something or another for this eventually- there's not a ton of free time in Chemistry, but maybe on a day I'm out or something....

Here's my desk- with daily folders for extras and make-up work. Yeah right- let's see if I do any better about keeping up with make-up work this year! I was just banking on none of my kids missing school. Ever...
And my "Expectations" and my weekly schedule.... gotta have both, so might as well make 'em cutesy! The kids freak out if I don't keep my week updated- so they are looking at it!


Did that really happen?

So.... our Trailblazer was stolen right from our driveway last night. POOF. It just vanished. We are in the works of dealing with the cops and insurance for now, we'll keep ya posted. Let's pray it gets recovered (in the same condition we left it), with Ada's carseat and stroller, so we can just all be on our merry way!

UPDATE: The car was recovered- in the ghetto of South Houston late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. We assumed it was just taken for a joy ride and dumped in a parking lot, but the friendly officer who called to tell us where it was being towed mentioned there was SOMEONE IN IT! Boo-yeah! That dude's in jail for Grand Theft Auto!! When we picked it up, everything was still in the car (except a $75 insurance reimbursement that was going towards HOA and Christmas savings, but whatever); but it was TRASHED. Any identification (A&M decal, dealership decals) were scratched off; the back windshield wiper was snapped off; there was beer EVERYWHERE (including Ada's carseat- we are just going to keep the new one Grandma and Grandpa bought for us, and they are going to take Ada's old one and get it cleaned off- I just get too irked knowing that thugs were sitting right next to my baby's safe haven with pink flowers on it!); and it reeks of smoke and "miscellaneous" substances. The cops were very interested to know if we kept any weapons in the car, so I'm convinced these were more than just kids who came upon a car with a hide-a-key- I think they were being very naughty in our Trailblazer. We're just so blessed they didn't use the garage door opener to open the garage and walk right into the hallway with Ada's room attached to it. Pray that there are no underlying mechanical problems- but it appears to be OK!! Whew!



Here's a quick vid of Ada eating a big girl dinner- not much made it into her mouth, but she had a blast! And she didn't dislike it, which is a start. She will usually tell us "all done" if you ask her, but she was a little overstimulated at the moment, I suppose. Love that baby!

This was our 2nd "real" table food experiment- quesadillas were last week, which she was pretty fond of.

P.S. Notice the red eye? A day after daycare started, the head/sinus congestion began again. Boooooooooooooooooooooo. Just waiting for the ear infection....

Bug Hugs

My Mom took these pictures this summer and emailed them to me- I think they are precious, so I thought I'd share! I love this Lady Bug more than words can explain!


A Bug Bite

We all know that Ada is super affectionate- I mean c'mon... a baby that gives hugs and kisses at 5 months old is pretty lovey- dovey! She has this adorable routine when she sees a stuffed animal that she loves where she lays on him, hugs him, grunts, and gives him "kisses." Kisses in Ada's book are big, open mouthed, and slobbery ...with an occasional brush of the teeth.

Well, yesterday at daycare there was an infant laying on the floor (why there was a non-mobile infant on that side of the baby room is beyond me), and Ada decided it looked lonely. And like it needed some loving. So she crawled on over to her little friend, layed on top of him/her (they won't tell me who her victim was), hugged the baby, and kissed it. Leaving a huge set of teeth marks on the baby's forehead.

I feel SO GUILTY, and TERRIBLE for that baby and his/her Mommy.... I'm not making excuses for Ada, but I know she was just trying to be a good, loving friend. So now we have to pay close attention and intervene when she is loving on her animals- which breaks my heart! No one should be told they are being "bad" when they are just trying to be nice! That sweet girl- I know we will look back on this and laugh someday... but for now it's no fun! Say a little prayer that we can nip this in the butt soon so she doesn't have to get in trouble again at daycare, and no more innocent babies (that look like toys) get hurt!


Return to School: Update

Well, those of you that have a Facebook account saw my beligerent status updates yesterday about a big Grouch at daycare that did NOT help Ada's transition in the least.

Miss Angel (Ada's new teacher in the "Infants 2" room- we really like her, and are comfortable with her; since Ada and I have been going for regular play dates for the past 2 weeks) was out because her baby was sick. So the first unfortunate event is that Ada has to start back with all of these strangers, who don't even know us. Then, Kash and Presley are both out. Unfortunate even #2.
Unfortunate event #3 is what sent me over the edge. As I walked back into daycare I could hear my daughter hysterically crying from the front foyer. I get into her room and she's more upset than I've ever seen her, crawling in circles and bumping into things. Alone. Completely uncharacteristic of my friendly, happy, lovely little Ladybug. No one is trying to soothe her, no one is trying to determine what is wrong, no one is doing ANYTHING.
I turn to the ladies and ask if she'd been like this all day- and one gray haired old hag (yes, I'm that catty) had the GALL to tell me that Ada is a difficult baby. You read that correctly- difficult. Then she proceeded to tell me that the drop-in in Ada's bottle leaked everywhere, got all over everything, and how "atrocious" of an ordeal it was. (I wanted to tell her that I'd made those bottles yesterday morning, checked them the night before, and in the morning when I unloaded them onto Ada's shelf in the fridge- no leak.... must've been USER ERROR) but decided against opening my mouth to prevent any irrevocable verbal damage I might do.
So Ada and I came home yesterday, both a complete mess. Ada was clingy, anxious, starving, and exhausted. I was one email away from quitting my job and just letting the house foreclose- I'd rather live under a bridge with my baby than have to send her back near the hag again! We just snuggled, played, and prayed together all afternoon and evening. Ada eventually settled back into her typical happy-go-lucky persona; and I had a feeling that God would take extra good care of us today....
....and He did! I dropped Ada off (with Miss Angel- she's back and her baby is better!); and when I called mid-day to check on her, I was told she was sitting in her high chair, smiling, and casually eating her sweet potato stix and cheese I'd sent her for lunch. She'd slept for 45 minutes (with no fight!), and taken a (non-leaking) bottle. When I got there to pick her up, she was holding Boy Toy (whom she carried with her everywhere she went, and would let no one near him all day- not even Presley and Kash!) and playing with a group of kids.
Just thought I'd update everyone! We had a bump in the road, but survived it and are doing well. And my classroom is looking SO GREAT. I'll post pictures of it soon!


Last Day of Summer

Well, our summer vacation is officially over. I've been trying to convince myself for the past 2 months that Ada and I are bored at home, and both need some outside stimulation. That I need adult conversation, goals to strive for, people to please, kids to teach. That Ada needs a room full of toys, and to play with Kash and Presley. And although I do love my job, and Ada does enjoy daycare- those are only secondary to the precious time we have together. This summer has been so amazing; and I am devastated to be hitting the daily grind again beginning tomorrow. I will miss that sweet baby Buggaboo so terribly, I'm afraid my heart will burst! She is the total light of my life, and we belong together all day everyday! OK, I'm being melodramatic, but it's what I'm feeling at the moment. It will all be "normal" again to us in a few days.

On a lighter note, we decided to spend our last hours of vacation at the Houston Aquarium- and wish we'd have been going all summer!! All 3 of us had a blast- and will definitely be visiting again soon. We must, actually- Ada needs more exposure to fish. She kept calling them birds ("dids") as they darted about in their aquariums!

We began our day trip with a quick ride on a crocodile. This carousel is the real deal- I got a little motion sickness!

Next up: a train ride alongside Buffalo Bayou....


.....and into shark infested waters! We parked in the welcomed cool shade for a few minutes to shark watch.

Not quite sure what we think of these snaggle toothed things.....

Gotta have some good animatronics to wrap up the trainride! This scared me more than anyone- Ada was, of course, more interested in the inner workings of the technology.

Hanging with Daddy at the sunken Mayan temple exhibit...

Exploring a coral reef with Mommy- the Clown Fish were our faves.

We have a very advanced 10 month old- she's already scuba diving through shipwrecks! Teachable moment: no looting!

An aquarium wouldn't be complete without a lifesized statue of an endangered Indian white tiger! Ada is perplexed- since when are tigers aquatic animals!?

And NO Dowell family vacay would be complete without an extended stay in the gift shop, playing with the stuffed animals! My little Snake Charmer....

OK, this is Alicia, officially signing off summer blogging. It is quite possible my postings will become sparse and uninteresting for the next few months. I will do my best to keep everyone updated on Ada's ultimate cuteness, though!


Tree Huggin'

It aaaalll started when I declared my major at Texas A&M- Nutritional Sciences. That led to my 1st job at WIC (Women, Infants, and Children- where I counseled women on their health during pregnancy, postpartum, as well as their infants and children up to 5yo). There I learned the importance of breastfeeding over giving formula (for more reasons than you care for me to get into for this post, I promise).

So, when Ada was born, I dedicated myself to giving her only Nature's Best. Which inadvertently led to all homemade, organic babyfood. Which has ultimately to led to this: homemade household cleaners. After doing some research (actually instigated by an initial desire to save a few $$$- stupid economy), I was disgusted to realize how harmful the typical cleaners we use in our homes are. Fertility and reproductive problems, cancer, and environmental issues (duh) are just a few. Then, on top of the benefits to our health and earth, these homemade products benefit our pocketbooks as well. Here are the few I've begun with- as a novice tree hugger, there are still quite a few things I'd like to try!

This is the all purpose cleaner. All that this consists of is a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and tap water. I sprinkled a few drops of lavendar essential oil (known for its antiseptic properties- you could also use tea tree or lemon essential oils) for a fresh, floral scent. And I just mixed all of this in an old Clorox spray bottle.

*From what I know, oils are heat and light sensitive (will become rancid)- so I would keep your oil (and anything containing it) somewhere dark and cool.

This is dishwashing detergent. I'm not sure what I think about this one, yet. I've only used it once in the dishwasher, and a few dishes seemed a little spotty still. All that is in this is 1 cup washing soda (not baking soda- this is in the laundry aisle, and it smells like heaven) and 1 cup borax (also in the laundry aisle). I also put a few drops of lavendar essential oil in this as well- for scent purposes.

OK, this stuff surprised me. This is simply baking soda with a few drops of- you guessed it- lavendar essential oil. Baking soda neutralizes odors, so when you add the scented oil, it becomes an all natural air freshener. I have had this sitting by Ada's trashcan all week- and then tonight I sprinkled it onto the carpet before I vaccumed and it smells delectable in my house. (I chose lavendar because it's not only an antiseptic, it's also used to calm in aromatherapy- which we need around here at bedtime!)

And the most important of the things I made this week: laundry detergent. I knew that scented detergents and fabric softeners were not good for Ada- especially as she struggles with some allergies. Hypoallergenic, pure products can break the bank, though; so this one thrills me. Our clothes have never been softer! The formula for this stuff is: 1 bar zote soap (I couldn't find it- you can use ivory) grated up, 2 cups washing soda, and 2 cups borax. Then pulse all of these in your food processor or blender until its a fine powder. It gets surprisingly fine, surprisingly fast! I'm telling you, the washing soda smells SO clean and fresh- I didn't even add my customary lavendar!

*A little extra tid bit: if you add a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle (or in a Downy ball, or if your washing machine has a dispenser for it like ours, just do it at the beginning of the load), your clothes will feel like pillows. And NO vinegar smell, I PROMISE!

My friend Kimberly Hill (http://snakedike.blogspot.com/) led me to this blogger's post: http://www.supercinski.net/superclean/. This is where I got all of my recipes, and where I plan to go when I'm ready to try a new one!

Artsy Fartsy

Here is my latest brain child. It's hanging in our bedroom! Three "Love Birds" represent Casey (big guy in the left painting), me (top right) and Ada Bug (she chose to place her Birdie on the "b" of the "birds" branch!). The birds are white foam- for some depth and texture. Here are a few other paintings I've done that are hangin' around the house! I'm not necessarily "talented," but I do enjoy releasing some creativity on a canvas every now and again....
This is the "Black and White" wall.... our European pictures (and ones of Murphy) are gradually being replaced with shots of The Bug.

This is Casey's favorite- I'm not particularly fond of it, but he likes it so it stays on display! The newspaper behind the red paint is about the superpower of vegetables- needless to say this is hanging in our kitchen. :)

Oh, I like this one. I did this a few years ago when we lived in College Station- I was into red then. (In that duplex all of my black and whites were hanging on a red wall! Dramatic, but I don't have the guts to do it in this house....)