Friday, October 11, 2013


What with this human growing inside me, I've been thinking a lot about the kind of parent I want to be, and really, I'm realizing, that I have to first think about the kind of person I'd like to be. Because the truth is....I'm not there yet.

For starters, I'm horribly selfish. I mean it. I'm the world's worst roommate. I never clean, I eat all the leftovers, and I nap on the couch- inconveniencing everyone around me. Seriously awful. It is a wonder anyone who lived with me in college still speaks to me, and even more of a wonder that I am still happily married to such a wonderful guy. To top it all off, I'm downright bossy and I can't control the volume of my voice. Seriously, I'm a delight.

Therefore, it's natural that when I think of this baby coming in March, I panic. I mean, there are so. many. ways. to parent. I've tossed and turned and thought a lot about it, and I'm still not sure what kind of parent I want to be, but I do know that I have a few things to work on before this human starts looking up to me as their first life example in this big crazy world. So I'm trying to make some changes.

I've decided I want to be a person that makes others feel good when they're around me. Sounds easy, right? Don't be an asshole, have a sense of humor, and people will like you. But making others feel good after spending time with you is a different beast. I've realized that I feel best around people who make me laugh, but not necessarily at others' expense. People who listen to me as much or more than they talk, and people who value what I have to say and make me feel important. I feel the best around people who make me think (especially when I don't want to) and who illuminate my bad habits by showing me a better way.

Spotting these kinds of people is really easy. Being one is really, really hard.

I talk a LOT. Like, a lot a lot. I think it's why I became a teacher- so I always have a captive audience. (seriously, it's a nice perk) But to make people feel good about themselves, I have to listen. I have to ground what I say in what was said before me, which means I have to listen in a more holistic way, instead of dividing my time. I have to work to make the people who are important to me feel that way, by inconveniencing myself at times to make them feel better. I need to be more thoughtful about holding doors, helping others, and being kind to strangers- even if they are the scary people on the bus.

I guess I want my kid to feel good about being with me most of the time, but most importantly, I want this baby to be the kind of person that is...well...kind. That helps others. That is better than I am at being naturally thoughtful. That adds to the world. But before that can really happen, he or she is going to need an example. Thank goodness these kiddos take a long time to cook, because I'm going to need the next five months to work on making others happy more naturally. In fact, I may need all the practice I can get.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Back from Summer Break!


So.... I spent the summer pretty much enjoying our last summer of complete freedom with my guy, and rather than a lengthy catch-up post (because the two readers I have left at this point don't really care....) I'm stealing an outline from BethAnne and getting pumped about the fall. Here's what's running through my brain at the moment, and hopefully I can manage to get more posts up soon :)

Currently I am…
reading When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead- I'm almost done with this amazingly suspenseful middle grades read. Part realistic fiction, part fantasy, with huge twists at the end, I am going to be demanding all of my reluctant readers read this as soon as they can pry it out of my hands. I also started the first Outlander book as my "adult" read because the fall always makes me want to get sucked into epic, chunky reads. On deck for October, I also want to re-read the first two Divergent books in celebration while I am patiently... 

waiting to read Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent trilogy. I cannot wait and am planning on going on lock-down in my home under covers for two straight days to find out what happens.I cannot seriously wait. Also, patiently waiting for March when, (if you don't know me in real life, this still may not be shocking) Baby Gas is going to make his or her appearance! In the meantime, I'm also waiting for the day when (if!) my RA goes into preggo remission, I can stay awake at night past 9 pm on a weeknight, and for the weekend morning when I still don't get up at 7. Can't a sister sleep in once in a while?
feeling gratitude. So, so, thankful for a so-far healthy 17 week old baby. So thankful for the man by my side who makes me dinner, doesn't complain when I fall asleep during "our" shows, and gets a little teary eyed when I come home with a pair of ridiculous puppy shaped slippers because Argon (the third noble Gas/working title for our little one since we aren't finding out the sex) needed them. Grateful for the support network of people who are so excited for us. Grateful for a work environment of loving, supportive people, even when it gets challenging.
eating pizza. We ordered pizza last Thursday, had pizza again on Saturday (deep dish, this time!) with my favorite father in law, and had free pizza at the bar while watching the Bears again on Sunday. Nibbling on leftovers this week. I think this baby may come out being part garlic/cheese/ranch.
dreaming of crisp fall days of boots and leggings, finding a day care that won't cost us an equivalent amount to our mortgage, cloth diapers, sleeping late, and quality time with my guy. Also, I had a really amazing dream last night involving me and Nick Miller from New Girl last night...thank you hormones. 
quoting Emerson in my classroom...and in my brain

working on writing two vocab quizzes for tomorrow, a pre-observation form for my boss, on prepping the rest of the Short Stories Unit for my language arts class, and on compiling my student-written updates for my classroom website. 
listening to Fritz and the Tantrums! On a major kick lately. Also, loving the whole Lorde ep.
wearing new shoes today! Also, stretchy pants, a dress, and glasses. Rocking the whole nerdy academic look today with oxfords and a cardigan. Also, how does one wear lady oxfords. Specifically, these: 

Am I cool enough to pull them off?
In October I would love to:

  • find fun, out of the ordinary date nights to do with Kev
  • blog three times a week
  • decide what the plan is for my maternity leave (regular length? extended?)
  • sleep in past 9 on more than one occasion
  • make more time for my friends
  • see my family more than once
Comment or post below so I know you are still out there! What are your goals/hopes/daydreams this month?
Thanks for sticking with me, imaginary friends. This summer I felt like I had everything and nothing to write about, so clearly I chose nothing. I missed you, though. I promise to be a better friend :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Baseball, Not the Mall

I'm sure I've mentioned it on ye ol' blog before, but Kev is a rampant Sox fan. Rabid. Hates the Cubs. Won't wear blue to Wrigley. Ironically, both Cubs games at Wrigley that he's attended this year, they've won. I think he is secretly their lucky charm, but I digress. We live in the city, and we are fortunate enough to attend baseball games frequently.

While I rarely sit and watch a baseball game at home, I love going to the stadium. I love the noise, the collective gasps of the crowd. I love being outside, in the open air. I guess what it really comes down to is that I love the tradition of baseball. In my mind, my grandparents, my parents, myself, and hopefully, my kids will all have a very similar experience or memory when attending games. Maybe we keep score. Maybe we eat peanuts. Probably, we eat a hot dog. Ideally, the Cubs don't choke.

One thing I love about Wrigley Field as it is today is that it preserves my time capsule of baseball memories. When you look around, you don't see more screens with ads. You mostly see the field. A scoreboard that requires you do actual math to figure out the score and that you actually pay attention, because there is no instant replay. Just by nature of being at Wrigley, you get away from the technointerference that can so permeate our world and chill. It is the antithesis to U.S. Cellular Field, which is covered in ads and at times feels like a mall with a baseball diamond.

I know that change is inevitable, and for the most part, I'm okay with Wrigley being renovated. Honestly, I think they should keep the red marquee in the front and replay the ivy. However, I think the old, green scoreboard needs to say. It is updated by hand, and mercifully free of all the electronic clutter that clouds the rest of my life. Plans are already in the works to add a jumbotron, and I'm going to cry. Sometimes, a baseball game should just be a baseball game. Taking away the old scoreboard just feels like another place where I can't escape technology when I need to. Sometimes, low-tech is better than high.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Changing the Conversation

This morning, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I noticed this conversation a girl I knew in high school posted between her and her two year old daughter. Names have been changed.

Me: So Peyton, can we try the gym play place again tmrw so mommy can work out.
Peyton: No. I love you too much. You r my favorite friend in the whole world. I miss you when you work out.
Me: I know. I miss you too but it will be fun for you and mommy can go get skinny.
Peyton: mommy, you are the skinniest mommy ever. You are so pretty too. 
Me: well played, kid. But we are still going  

Lets hope we have less tears tomorrow!

I was livid.

Granted, as a non-parent, I can appreciate that things may fly out of your mouth when you don't expect it. The girl in question is very small, and looks healthy. But why, why, why, why, oh, why would you tell your two year old daughter that the reason you are working out is that you want to get skinny?

Judging by this little peanut's reaction, she can already recognize that her mommy worries about being seen as skinny and pretty, and that these things are important. But more important? Emphasizing, from an early age, that skinny isn't as important as HEALTHY. We look at all the Dove beauty ads, and the articles about including more plus size models and applaud, thinking that the beauty norms are changing. I argue, though, that nothing will really change until we start changing the way we talk about how we look to our children.

Growing up, my mom told me over and over again that I was beautiful, that I should work out to be healthy, that I need to watch what I eat to ensure that I have a lot of years of life to do the things I want to do. However, she herself constantly gets dressed and comments on how this looks big or that looks fat or that she needs to work out to lose weight. While I feel like I could lose weight, I also know I need to do it for health first, and hearing my mom narrate her expectations for my body in terms of health but hers for herself in terms of beauty always bothered me.

I don't know what kind of parent I'm going to be someday, and I think raising daughters in today's world is an incredibly difficult task. After reading that discussion on Facebook though, I've realized that we need to start from the ground up. We, the well educated, multitasking, sometimes put together moms  and future moms of the world need to shift the focus in the way we talk about ourselves in front of our kids. Let's start today, shall we?

How do you talk about yourself in front of your kids? Am I crazy for thinking this conversation is horrid?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Things I've Been Doing with My Summer

....instead of blogging.

Even though I've been out of school for a few weeks now, I was still doing professional development and doing some pre-work for a tech class I'm taking this week and next. Throw a couple of weddings and a trip out of town in there, and things were crazy! Here's a little recap of some of the riveting things I've been doing while I haven't been here.

1) Graduations- May was full of graduations. My brother, Michael graduated from Eastern, sister-in-law Catherine from St. Mary's of Winona, brother Pete from law school (pictured below with my dashing husband and I) and sister Laura from Madison AND I had six eighth graders from my caseload move on to the high school. Whew! What a smart, educated bunch. While I'm extremely proud of them, those ceremonies do tend to eat up the weekend. At least I have a bunch of life lessons gleaned from the graduation speakers to carry me forward. Love them all. Anyone have jobs for a lawyer, nurse, biology major, or business communications major? I'm only half joking here.

2) Baseball On May 6th, Kevin turned 30 and we celebrated with a 55 person block of seats at US Cellular Field to see the White Sox. I've also been to two Cubs games (biked there! Sidenote: did you know they have a locked, manned bike valet for FREE? Love this city) and a Kansas City Royals game. Love that my summer has been full of lounging in the sun with beers, even if I've only seen one win (by the Cubs!) while I've been out there.

3) Drinking and Lounging with Friends. In between birthdays, graduations, and trips, I've been trying to spend some quality time with the friends that, sadly, get neglected when times get busy. Of particular note is the fact that two of my friends, Jason and Brad have been working for the past few years on getting a small brewery going. On my second wedding anniversary, I was drinking test batches of their home brew in Brad's backyard. Now, approaching my fourth, their beer is in stores and it is very tasty and strong. Shameless plug- you want some. Go get it. Also, see that guy on the label all the way on the left? That is one of my very favorite people. He's so famous now.

4) Spending time with my much neglected cats. I originally put that chair in the corner thinking it would be a great summer reading nook, but the cats have taken the space over as headquarters from which to organize their retribution towards the birds that sit outside the window and mock them. Poor kitties. Dante on the left, Felix on the right. 15 pounds each. The vet has told us they are the two biggest boned cats in her practice. Sigh.
 5) Walking other peoples' dogs. See that blob in the middle of the floor? His name is Ernie, and he is very melodramatic. For instance, when walking down a busy neighborhood street where many businesses have treats out for puppies, Ernie likes to pause and stare dolefully up at me near EACH DISH. As if his mommies didn't love him and feet him. He also collapsed in this pitiful heap immediately after going on a mile long walk. Silly puppy.

6) Housewifing Kev loves when summer comes. He gets his maid, laundress, cook, grocer, and all around errand girl back. The cats also like to spend more quality time together. They think I just make these nicely heated piles to warm their behinds.
7) Reading So far this summer, I've read Gone Girl and The Great Gatsby. Next up will be Somewhere, Somewhere, Maybe by my girl Lorelai Gilmore (I don't care, that's who she is) and Paper Towns by John Green. Sprinkled in there have been issues of Self, Womens' Health, and of course, my beloved People magazine. Sidenote: isn't this a strange ad for Fathers' Day?
8) Lovin' Oven We got a new oven! It is an LG, which is very entertaining because it plays a ten second song instead of beeping. Kev and I dance every time. Yahoo! We are getting so fancy! That griddle in the middle makes a mean grilled cheese.....
9) Big Girl Makeup I sucked it up and bought my first big girl lipgloss after trying my friend Lindsay's and subsequently begging for swipes from her all night. I'd show you a picture of what it looks like on me, but I don't do selfies. Ever. Trust me, it's better that way. Rest assured, that this color, loud and lovely, is indeed just that. Bright and trendy without being too obnoxious.

10) Wedding Celebrating! Kev and I have been to the weddings of both two dear friends and my cousin this summer, with two more coming our way later this summer and into the fall. Magnificent. I love a good opportunity to get dressed up, sit by my man and think about our marriage, and then to celebrate later with lots of champagne and dancing. Love, love, love. As I think back, it is hard to believe we started this blog almost five years ago to chronicle the days leading up to the big one. I can't wait to see what comes next :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jekyll and Hyde

@ell, folks, it's May. May is always an exhausting time of the school year. in addition to all of the mayhem (no pun intended) of walking around  a building full of roaming hormones, dress code violations, and behavior pushbacks on a daily basis, there is also the frenetic pulse of increased professional responsibilities humming in the background. Filling out end of the year data spread sheets, field trips, schedule planning, supply ordering and trying to purge and close down one's own classroom all suddenly need to be fit in around increasingly needy students. Quite frankly, it's a hot mess.

I find this time of year a little bipolar. Some days, my students are in great moods- funny, lovable, dazzling me with the learning risks they take and the journeys they've traveled as they near the finish line. These moments, I can't imagine how I will survive ten weeks without seeing them; I wistfully hope that they will visit me next year. I wonder who will light up my classroom for me the way so and so did after he graduates or she transitions. Other times...well....those times are trying. Every word I say is met with an eyeroll or an undercutting comment. Behaviors and routines that the students mastered in November are cast aside, and in their place comes a regression of the worst kind. Prepubescent whisperings and gossip coupled with a kindergartener's need to always have attention from SOMEBODY. Spring fever clubs us all over the head. Everyone becomes preoccupied with the lasts. The last project. The last dance. The last grades. The last yearbook.

What nobody ever told me before I started teaching was how much I would grow to love these disgusting (I mean it) balls of angst. How hard I try to savor the last moments of the school year. How frustrated I get when they don't appreciate an end of the year activity I've planned. How much it hurts to have them blow me off and run out the door on the last day of school. How proud I am when I compare their fall to spring data. How I worry about their familylivesstealinghabitsinternetviewingsdrugexposuredatinghabitshygiene when I don't see them every day. How relieved I am when they come back to me the next year. Taller. Friendlier. Full of Summer Stories. Because no matter how much they irritate me, or how ready I am for break, or how outwardly I brag about the small number of schooldays left to my friends, secretly I love this job. I a

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Things

1) Last week was Pie-a-Teacher-for-Charity day at my junior high (yep, exactly what it sounds like, run by the student council). After much cajoling by my kiddos, I entered my name in and lo and behold, ALL the punks on the bus entered for a chance to pie me, along with my usual peanuts. Even though none of my eighth grade "special bus friends" won the privilege, they did all make sure to jeer me as I performed my bus duty, whipped cream still in my hair. Punks. Hilarious punks, I tell you.

2) Did you know that having whipped cream in your ear feels like a wet willy you can't quite get rid of? Now you know.

3) I think that one of the unknown seasons in the Midwest has to be Rain and Road Construction. I really think it goes Fall, Winter, RainandConstruction, Spring, Summer. Let me tell you, Focus Pocus and I have spent a LOT of time together sitting between those orange and white cones. I may have to start listening to audiobooks. What should I start with?

4) I am mildly obsessed with the song "Cruise" by Florida-Georgia Line. Except, until I saw the band name in writing, I thought until today their name was "Florida-Georgia Lime." Explains why I can't add them to my summer Pandora station. Oopsies.

5) Spring has arrived at my junior high. Just this week during bus duty, I have received two proposals of marriage, one offer to buy me ice cream from the ice cream man, and several hearty booings as I ask them to sit down and not bring food on the bus. 26 school days.

6) We have graduations three Saturdays in a row in May. Pray for my sanity. I love my siblings, but sweet yeebus. Did they all need to get educated at the SAME time?

7) I've started a new fitness minigoal in May. Every day, at some point, I am going to do 10 minutes of holding a plank. I can start and stop whenever I want, but at the end of the day it has to total ten. Momma needs to get rid of this here muffin top before some upcoming weddings.

8) Speaking of weddings, I just bought this dress at a SUPER discounted price, with tags on eBay for summer weddings. If that's not workout motivation, I don't know what is. It is peeking out in silent judgement daily. So excited. Love it so much.

9) Over the weekend, we had Kev' s 30th birthday party at US Cellular  Field with the White Sox. Photos to come (maybe- I am an unreliable blogger at best), but we had a blast. The first really nice spring day, and we were out tailgating. Heaven. I could care less about the actual game, but I love all the EXPERIENCES of a baseball game. So apple pie. So classic.

10) I cannot, cannot believe that my guy is going to be turning 30 on May 6th. I remember his countdown for his sixteenth birthday. Yowza.