Wednesday, March 31, 2010


As I've mentioned before, we've been looking to become first time homebuyers, and we're getting pretty close to moving into a new, big kid place. I don't want to write too much about said place, for fear that I will jinx it, except to say that it is conveniently located by awesome public transit, it's still close to our family and friends, and it has a kitchen and dining room that will be awesome for our dinner parties. However, there is one truly amazing thing about our new place, and that is Sven.

Our lovely realtor, Kevin and I have visited the condo complex several times, looking at various units, weighing the pros and cons, and trying to figure out what the best for us will be. Each time we visit, we pass through a gorgeous front courtyard, where we are immediately shadowed by a small black cat. He has white paws, a dapper red collar, a perpetual scowl, and quiet feet that stalk us up multiple floors, across decks, and underneath trees. The first time we visited, he followed us to the front door of a building, then quickly darted around the side of the home, only to be waiting on the deck of the THIRD STORY UNIT when I opened the back door. Every time we visit, the cat is there waiting. He's like our home buying conscience, and he may be the fastest cat I've ever seen in North America.

When we returned to the complex a few weeks later for our second showings, the cat was waiting. At this point, I grew a bit concerned and checked the kitty's collar. It read


I have a lot of questions for Sven. Does his owner just let him out each morning as he leaves for work? What does Sven do all day? Does he go back home when he is hungry? Does he have a cat door? Does he worry about getting hurt- we live in a big city! How far from home has he ventured? Will he taunt our cats when we move in? I'm utterly mystified as to how he became an outdoor cat in one of the biggest cities in the world, and I plan on stalking HIM once I move into his hood. Watch out, Sven. The tables are about to be turned.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Music Night

Today is a big day in the land of kindergarten. We have our very first music night, and the kiddos couldn't be more thrilled about it. In fact, we've already had a great day, since my parents (a doctor and a nurse) came and visited us for Community Helpers week, and even gave them band-aids and pencils. Kids at this age are all about two things: official looking outfits, and the swag that they can get from people wearing them. Needless to say, the visit was a success, due in part to my mom bringing x-rays from work of a kid who swallowed a penny. I think I've safely scared them all into only putting food in their mouths.

Something about today inspires a post about my job, I'm not sure why. Perhaps, since I teach in a state where budget cuts are a real and terrifying thing, it is another reason to be thankful for the job I do have. I think it goes beyond that, though. Seeing all the kids in their best black and white outfits, nervously hopping around antsy-pantsy as they wait for the big performance always makes me smile. I love them all the more for being tone deaf, for making up their own lyrics, for biffing a dance move here or there. Even though they try so hard to be self-important mini-adults, the music night always shows them for what they are-kids. Little kids, one of whom will probably fall off the bleachers. It also shows me for what I am- a person who likes to fix things and pick them back up.

Spring break is coming, and I would be lying immensely if I said that I wasn't pining for it to come soon. While I look forward to a week of wearing sweats, going for runs, reading for large portions of the day, and indulging in an adult beverage or two at an inappropriate time of day, I'll also think about my lil' peanuts, and hope that they are getting into just the right amount of trouble with a fantastic partner in crime while we're off.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Married Fight (or She Married a Weirdo)

(Yes I know it's been forever since I've blogged, as Colie "subtly" hinted)

So we've been married for a while now, but there is one thing that we fight about all the time. It's one of those topics that people cannot fathom why we fight about it, but it's something that I am always on the short-end of! And what could drive to fight this every time, and get me to write about it?'s yogurt.

See, Colie and I grocery shop together most of the time and we agree on 99% of the things to buy for the house. We both love to cook, so we end up at grocery stores fairly often. We tend grab a few things from Whole Foods if we want to make something that night, or head up to local Mexican grocery store when we really want to make some amazing stuff (or just get produce that's 5x better than anything else but 33% of the cost). Our "big" grocery runs where we load up for a few weeks is done at Jewel, and that's where we buy our yogurt.

Here's the thing, we will usually buy 10-14 individual servings of yogurt and both will take them for lunch most days. But even buying that many, I always am the one that gets stuck running out of flavors that I like while Colie still has 3-4 cups! Here's why: I like really "boring "yogurt flavors: strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, cherry. I don't like all the "fancy" flavors that try to make things taste like cake or pie (I don't think they taste anything like them at all). But guess who does!

So here's what usually happens - I'll buy my 5 "boring" flavor (I put boring in quotes because I don't think they are actually boring but I'm also told I'm weird) and Colie will buy 1 or 2 "boring" flavors but then buy the bizarre 'Key Lime Pie' or 'Strawberry Shortcake' and those things. The type that the one really annoying commercial highlights when the woman's on the phone with her friend and she's all, "OMG, I had triple-chocolate cake and key-lime pie and blah, blah, blah." and her husbands this mope looking through their fridge that has like 250 things of yogurt in it.

Man that's a tangent...

Anyways, so the morning, Colie gets up before me and will pack her lunch and she will just randomly grab a yogurt because she likes all of them and doesn't care which flavor she gets! So she has a 100% chance of picking something she will like. This isn't a big deal the first few days, but after a few days, I can tell that she is still picking at random! So in like 4 days, I'm stuck having to pick between two flavors I hate because she took the last Strawberry!! And trust me, I've brought this up, and we've discussed it ad naseum, but I know that in the morning a truck could crash through the front window and Colie would probably walk past without acknowledging it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Best Ever

I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty sure I have the best job ever. I work at a big elementary school, and many of the families that my students come from can use a helping hand or two, so I feel like I make a difference every day. Also, teaching kindergarten this year has really let me hear some hilariously quotable quotes such as:

S: "my favorite country is Natalie."
Me: "Where is that?"
S: "You know, next to Scotland."

J: "Do you have kids yet?"
Me: "No, I have all of you!"
J: "Well, don't worry. Jesus will send them to you when you look ready."

But today's events really took the cake. You see, at our school, a class gets chosen every week to lead the pledge on morning announcements. The kids all get to introduce themselves, say the pledge in English and Spanish, and watch our principal make the rest of the announcements into the special microphone. This week is our class's turn. Because I don't have an assistant, I had to send four of my kiddos down to the office, and called the secretary to let her know they were on their way. After a few minutes, she called back and said that they hadn't arrived, but that she would check on them.

Where did she find them? Outside. While this is mildly terrifying in and of itself, in context it is quite funny.

She found them saluting the flag with military precision, in a straight line, slowly enunciating each word, and saying the pledge. To the flag of the United States of America.

Apparently kids really are literal thinkers.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Crash and Burn

March started a few months ago, and with it came the start of my running season. You see, unlike my friend Maria, who trained for and ran races pretty much year-round when she lived in Chicago, I have strict rules about running. It should be done when there is no ice on the ground. It should be done with as few layers on as possible. It should be done with two ultimate goals in mind: 1) to improve slightly time-wise and 2) to look good in a bikini. Since I live in Chicago, this makes my running season from March-October.

So, on March 1st, I laced up my shoes, dusted off my Nike +, and headed out to run before my book club. (We read The Glass Castle, in case you are interested) I battled out a few miles, noted how jiggly I felt during the whole process, and then saw my friend Lindsay's apartment in the distance and realized how invigorated I would feel when I was done.

Boy, was I wrong.

Ten feet from Lindsay's door, I skidded on a patch of ice and ate it. I'm not talking about a little stumble here, people. This was a full-fledged, fall down, skid on the ground, and pray my husband wasn't parking the car somewhere close by extravaganza. I mention this now because I have parent teacher conferences coming up, and I will be sporting both a very professional teacherly dress (sans Keds, thank you very much) and a maroon scrape the size of a Sacajawea dollar on my knee. Yipes.

In spite of all this, I signed up for two runs yesterday: the Wrigley Start Early 10k and the Soldier Field 10 mile. After making excuses for the last few days and sulking, I'm ready to head out after work today for what will hopefully be a much less painful 3.5 miles. Wish me luck. Hopefully, the only evidence I'll be wearing from this run tomorrow will be some poppin' hammies.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mom's in the House

My mom is in grad school for nursing. She shares my work-and-school pain, and to make matters worse (for her) she's going to take a lot longer to finish her degree than I will mine. Hurray for teachers! For one of her projects, she has to work with a family that shows many health risks and try to help them improve their habits. Because I work at a very high-risk school, she came to me asking for help. I forwarded her email to our school nurse, matched her up with a family, and went back to slogging through my own homework.

A few days ago, I got an email written only as a Catholic mother can. It was actually a forwarded email response that she had sent the mother of the family she is working with:

"Meeting at 3:00 in the office sounds great. Now we just need to hunt for a nice, quiet place to work."

No "Dear Colie" No "Do you know of any places we could work?" Just a sad plea for help. Naturally, I took this to mean that she wanted to work in my classroom.

I should say here and now that I love my mom. She's funny. She's smart. She usually doesn't give unsolicited advice. She let me shave my legs when I was in fifth grade. All excellent qualities. However, as soon as I replied that she could use my room once my students left, I panicked. Since then, I've been on a cleaning frenzy. Every pile of papers on my desk had to go. The tables had to be Cloroxed. The shelves of toys had to be reorganized.

Forget that I'm a successful, well-regarded teacher with a high academic success rate. Mom's coming, and if my room is dirty, I will SO be grounded.

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's A Small World After All

We had a little scare at our casa this weekend.

Friday night we stayed out super late causing mayhem and eating tacos with some friends, and so we slept in Saturday morning. For some reason, Kev likes to sleep with his itouch next to the bed, and before I was awake he rolled over and read his email. Then he paused. Then he nudged me out of bed and towards CNN.

Chile had been struck by an 8.8 magnitude earthquake, and my sister has been there since mid-January studying abroad. We spent a few hours checking emails, talking to my mom, and stalking facebook, until, finally, news came through an indirect source that my sis was okay and safe with her host family in their home, which had been undamaged, though the family suffered severe damage to other properties that they own.

Now, I don't think I need to bore you with how stressed, worried and sad I was on Saturday afternoon waiting for information. I am not a very patient person when it comes to these types of things. I love my sister dearly, and I am so very thankful that she is safe.

What continues to amaze me, in the aftermath, is just how quickly information came to us. Although my sister is half a world away, in a place where it is warm (unlike the frozen tundra I live in), emails from other girls in her program quickly reached us saying that my sis was with her family and unhurt, and people quickly posted pictures on their blogs of the damage. CNN was using Twitter to chart people's reports of damage, and to figure out which areas of Chile were the most severely impacted.

It seems that the internet has made it a small world after all. Though I know only a handful of people read this, it comforts me to know that we've staked our own small claim on the gigantic internet community, and that underneath all of the superficial emails and websites I spend hours on, that real information, that really makes life better, is passed on. I talked to my sister on AIM this morning, and I will never, ever again take this type of communication for granted. I'm thankful that though my sister is farther than she's ever been from me, we're communicating more regularly than usual. I have much more than her safety to be thankful for. I can also feel blessed that she lives with a family where internet is available, and that she has a working computer. I can be thankful that when we were concerned, a whole community of people reached out on my facebook page to post prayers, positive energy, and questions about my sister.

For all I curse technology when it doesn't work right, I now know exactly how amazing it can be when it does.