Expecting the Unexpected…again: Baby No. 2

Life always throws us for a loop when we least expect it, and this time I am expecting…again. Just as I had my life in order, bills whipped into shape, and a toddler I could ALMOST handle without pulling my hair out, that little blue line showed up on the strip in February. I am a science teacher by day, so naturally I SHOULD know how this sort of thing happens…but seriously??? Come on. Two under two? What kind of cruel joke is this???

That being said,  with one month remaining before my due date, I have come to terms with this unexpected addition to my life after almost having a nervous breakdown. Preparing for this little one has not been as stressful in some ways since I have a lot of stuff left over from the first go round.

Things I HAVE done to prepare for the new baby:

    1. Traded in my 2013 Elantra for a 2011 Santa Fe. Yea, I downgraded…BUT I get more room, lower monthly payment and insurance, and decent gas mileage. I am in LOVE with the storage space, and I don’t have to hunch over to get the babies in and out of the car seats. Winning!
    2. Completely reorganized my closet. Got rid of 5 garbage bags of clothes we don’t need. Instead of disorganized chaos, I now have one side for my stuff and one side for the boys’ clothing, complete with basket systems to keep it all separate so I don’t go crazy looking for the right size onesie. Plus, moving all of the clothes to my room form the nursery makes it easier for us all to get ready in the morning after I go back to work.
    3. Stocked my freezer with ready to go meals for the first month post-partum. I never got around to doing this last time, and I desperately wish I would have. Lesson learned! Menu includes: Chicken Doritos Casserole, Eggplant Parmesan, Jambalaya, Deer Chili, Macaroni and Cheese, Rotisserie Chicken Sandwiches, Bacon Egg Cheese English Muffins, Pork Roast and Veggies, Pancakes….and I then I ran out of room for more stuff. If it sounds completely random, it’s because it is. I took the opportunity to thaw and cook everything that had been sitting in my freezer or pantry for too many months to make space for the meals (and that included a 5 pound slab of unsliced bacon that may have been stolen from my husband’s job…long story).
    4. Weaned baby boy number one to give my boobies a break. I really wanted to let him self-wean, but it wasn’t as traumatic as I anticipated. Oh…and he sleeps TEN HOURS STRAIGHT THROUGH THE NIGHT NOW. Totally worth the three days of crocodile tears to get some much needed, uninterrupted rest. Getting him into his own bed…not there yet. But that’s why they call it baby steps.
    5. Invested in some ACTUAL nursing shirts. Now I can just whip the boobs out easily since I imagine I will forced to baby wear A LOT. Also, I keep remember the first time we went out to eat after my first baby was born, and how I almost smothered him trying to nurse discretely in public in my regular clothes. These are my favorites..super comfy and actually kind of flattering! The best part is they look like clothes I wear already, so no one suspects my nipple is one inch away from being exposed.
    6. Created baby registries with mostly just diapers and wipes. I have all of the toys, clothes, and accessories we could possibly need, and I can’t imagine the number of wipes I will need this time around after how quickly we blew threw my ridiculous hoarder stash last time. (Check out my first Expecting the Unexpected post here to see some budget saving tips!) Don’t forget to collect the free swag from Target and Amazon registries! They actually have some GREAT items. Collectively, I received 2 Brown’s bottles, 2 Advent bottles, 3 onesies, 1 blanket, and tons of sample nursing pads, diapers, wipes, and baby toiletries. And coupons if you’re into that sort of thing.
    7. Goodwill, Goodwill, and more Goodwill. Also some 5miles, LetGo, and OfferUp…Though I have most things I need, I decided to invest in a double stroller and scored a Joovy Caboose for $35 on 5mile that looks brand new!!! I had also donated my first baby’s swing and bassinet after the hurricane, and I picked up a gently used Mamaroo for $30 and a bassinet for $15 (also via 5miles). Do the math…that’s like $500 worth of baby accessories for less than $100.
    8.  Made some sensory boxes for my toddler. I am a realist and I know things won’t be the same for my toddler once the new baby gets here, but I want to make sure he has some activities that are special and engaging for those times when momma just doesn’t have time. Now…don’t get me wrong. I used to roll my eyes at all those Pinterest toddler activities, but they are actually on to something. Just find a bunch of random crap and stick it in a box…Wahlah! I made 7 different boxes to rotate through each week, and he loves them. Keeps him occupied at least twenty minutes, often times more…and that’s like an eternity in toddler time. Cleaning out my closet, I found a set of 5 smallish Tupperware containers with lids (Score!) that were the perfect size for some sensory boxes. Then I used cardboard boxes for two additional ideas. Everything I used came from my house or Dollar Tree.  Here are a couple that have been wildly successful.

 

What are some tips for getting prepared for a new baby from you other moms out there?

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VIPKID: How do I pass the Interview and Demo Class?

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Simple answer. PREPARE.

The interview was the most nerve wracking part of this process for me. I had never done anything like this before. It almost felt dirty, performing in front of a camera for someone halfway around the world. I had worked myself all up…and I shouldn’t have. Here is what will happen.

The Steps:

  1. You will receive an email congratulating you on making it to the next step, and then receive instructions on how to schedule the interview and first demo class. You will have several options, but try to do it as quickly as possible. Remember, *most* of the interviewers are in Beijing, so *most* of the times will be early mornings and late night. (They have started having a few American folks do the interview since I applied, so you might get lucky and score a normal time.)
  2. Make sure you review the material that they provide for you. You will immediately have access to the power point slides you will be teaching from. USE THE MATERIAL THEY GIVE YOU IN THE PORTAL. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. GO OVER IT AGAIN AND AGAIN. You will be teaching a lesson that targets a very young child with little or NO English ability. Keep that in mind as you prepare. Practice your pacing. Time yourself. Watch yourself teach (even if you just open the camera on  your computer.).  Watch other VIPKID teachers on Youtube (but be careful which ones…some are not so good…I will share a list of the good ones later on). Have some props. Nothing crazy. All I had was a whiteboard, a stuffed animal, and some dollar store flashcards. For my interview, I had also already set up a small, plain background with some good lighting (Check out my recommendations HERE. Get AN ORANGE SHIRT. Go to Goodwill. Spend a dollar. Wear it backwards if you can’t find one without a logo. That’s what I did (and still do now that I am teaching). It is VIPKID’s official color. If you look like you already have the job, chances are you will project that during the interview and demo class.
  3. The interview will be a total of 30 minutes. You will not have access to the actual teaching platform until about an hour before your interview time (or so they say). I was able to access it four hours early. Your email should have given you a .pdf with detailed instructions on how to get into the platform and use it! Get in there as soon as you can. TEST YOUR EQUIPMENT. Practice things like clicking through the slides, drawing lines and circling on the slides. This is an important skill to demonstrate. The first half of the interview will be basic interview questions…Nothing hard. “Tell me about your education” and “Tell me about your experience with children” were the only two things my interviewer asked me. I had a young Chinese man interview me. They are stationed in a busy call center with many distractions. He looked like he couldn’t WAIT for me to stop talking. Don’t let this intimidate you (because in the last half of the interview he has to pretend to be a 5 year old child in your class). SMILE. Bring lots of energy and animation. Talk at length about your experience with children. For the second half of the interview,  you will present the sample lesson as your interviewer takes on the role of a small Chinese child. My interviewer was easy going and did not give me a hard time. Greet your “student” warmly. Speak slowly. Be energetic! Remember to use SIMPLE LANGUAGE. Try not to add any words that are not on the slides. Use lots of hand gestures, and give praise often. Use the reward system. When I did my interview, you had to draw teeth on a smiley face. Some people may tell you to use your own reward system…Don’t go there yet. Keep it as simple for yourself as possible right now. Try to relax and have fun.
  4. If they cut you off towards the end, don’t worry. They have to keep a tight schedule, and you will (hopefully) soon find out that staying on schedule is a very important part of VIPKID. They will ask if you have any questions. This is your chance to ask anything you want about the company, the process, or even how you did! At the very end, they MIGHT ask you how much money you would like to make per hour. I have heard reports both ways. They asked me, and I told them. I got exactly what I asked for. Obviously, don’t tell them something ridiculous like $40/hour. The current range is $14-$22/ hour. Be sure you justify the amount that you wish to make with your experience. For example, “I would like to make $XX/ hour because_______________________.”.
  5. And that’s it. A little preparation will go a long way in this process.  You will do a lot of work to get hired, but then it will be smooth sailing!

After the interview is over, it could take up to 48 hours to hear anything from the company. I got the results in my email within an hour. They will provide a rubric with what you did well, and where to improve if you advance to the Mock 1 Class. Keep in mind, the Demo Class is where the majority of your points are scored from, WHICH DETERMINES  HOW MUCH MONEY THEY WILL OFFER YOU. Many people with advanced degrees have failed the interview due to lack of preparation for what VIPKID expects. They have standards and a company philosophy just like any other job you have worked at, and you must conform to those standards if you want to survive.

Here are some videos that I found extremely helpful, and in my OPINION, give a good idea of what the company is looking for. These three teachers all have different styles, so you can see some variety and different ways to do things. Click the links below to watch!

Nancy Taylor, Hope Williams, and Jennie Anderson are amazing!

 

So you got that happy email? Find out about the Mock 1 experience next time!

Interested in starting the process? CLICK HERE to apply!

Did you find this information to be helpful? If so, follow me in WordPress! I am full of good information you didn’t even know you needed.

 

Expecting the Unexpected: I’m a Mom?

I wasn’t planning on having a baby just yet. When I found out the news in March 2016, I cried. Not happy, “touched by an angel” cry. Ugly, “why me?” cry. It wasn’t the way I imagined it. I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t married. I wasn’t even speaking to the father at the time. I didn’t know anything about babies. I made it a general rule to avoid them at all costs. I was scared. I hadn’t even been sober a full two years. I was barely taking care of myself again. How in the world would I manage?

Luckily, I had fixed my credit in the two years I had been free from the “haze” and I was in a stable career. I also had put up a few thousand dollars in the hopes of buying a house one day before I died. I was literally in the middle of moving from my 1 bedroom apartment into a 2 bedroom town home the day I took the pregnancy test, so that was a lucky break. Honestly, I was in the best mental and financial shape I had ever been. My situation could have been much, much worse. Still, I knew it was going to be a hard road and I wasn’t completely confident in my life skills.

I threw myself into the preparation aspect of it all so I wouldn’t have to think about the  reality of my situation. I applied for every credit card I got an offer for to give myself ample emergency funds. Not going to be able to afford that damn house any time soon…so why stress about my credit?

Supplies. Babies need stuff. Lots of stuff. Amazon has great discounts and specials if you know how to shop. I signed up for Amazon Prime and slowly stocked up on as many diapers and baby supplies as I could afford to have auto-shipped each month. I calculated approximately how many diapers I would need of each size and started getting size 1 delivered, then size 2, etc. (So far it has worked out perfectly. I had a few extra size 1’s, but only because I did not factor in the surprise baby shower gifts I got.) I bought 75 packs of the fancy Huggies wipes when Kroger ran a promotion of Buy 5, Get them $1 each. (I had to visit five different Krogers three different times to make that happen.) I visited Goodwill. Every. Single. Weekend. I got brand new and barely used baby clothes size 0-12 months for $1 (or less) each. Floor gym $3. Boppy Pillow $2. Blankets. Sleep sacks. Toys. Baby books. You name it, I probably got it at Goodwill for 90% less than most parents paid for it. Crib? Craigslist.  A friend whose baby is a year older than mine gave me her swing, jumper, and stroller for a fraction of what she paid for it. The most expensive purchase I made was a nice Pack ‘n Play with a changer and infant bassinet. I paid $100 open box for it on Amazon…list price $180. (and it actually pretty much saved my life after an unplanned C-section and my brilliant upstairs nursery) I read the blogs. I joined the forums. I got the apps. I did everything a “good mom” should do.

That’s great…but what about the actual baby? I don’t think it hit me that a human was inside of me until his heart rate plummeted during my induction and I almost lost him. I didn’t even know it was a him at the time. (I had opted to wait and let it be a surprise because they are so few and far between as an adult.) As the nurses swarmed around me, reassuring me that everything was OK, NOTHING was OK…It became real. The gravity of it all hit me.  For over nine months, I had carried this baby inside of me and never really had that “magic mom” moment women always go on…and on…and on about. I thought I was different. Something was wrong with me. But the floodgates opened. I started shaking uncontrollably as they frantically prepped me for an emergency C-Section. Tears fell. Everything I had ever wanted changed in a single moment. The only thing I really wanted was this baby.  The second I heard his first cry was the moment I took my first real breath. My life started when he was born. As I read that last sentence, I am fully aware of the fact that three years ago, I would have laughed at the corny, lame ass person who would write something like that. But now I am that person. That mom. His mom. And even though I thought he was the last thing I wanted at the time, he is everything I need now.