Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ten Tidbits

1) This week, we worked on video book reviews (a la Ebert and Roeper) for our final book projects in one of my LA classes. One of my students, a jolly and portly Asian fellow with a toothy grin, showed up in a starched, collared shirt and a festive tie. He explained that he "wanted to look handsome for Mr. Camera." Love.

2) My camera is slowly collecting dust and this is making me sad. Next week, I am off and Kev is working, and I plan to spend some serious time learning my craft behind the lens. Lord knows the photography on this here blog needs it.

3) I got the cutest tumblers for my mentor teacher, boss, and teaching assistant from Monogram Chick that look like this: (photo stolen from M.Chick- thanks!)
I am now super pissed that I didn't buy one for myself.

4) I am at the stage of Christmas shopping where I am seeing more for myself and less for others. It is getting hard to restrain myself from shopping for me. I'm such a selfish little grinch that way.

5) It is also starting to be the temperature where all I can think of is getting out of the midwest. We're planning to take a big abroad trip this summer (destination TBA, though I think we have it pretty much chosen), and the idea of not getting on a plane until July is frankly depressing.

6) Listen to me- bitch, moan, bitch. It's no wonder this blog has such a teensy following. Thanks for sticking around.

7) In my other LA class, we are working on writing critical reviews by writing food critiques. One day, my co-teacher was explaining some helpful tips for visiting a restaurant, and concluded with "there may be a small caveat to visiting a restaurant with a chatty friend- your notes may not be as thorough." Panicked, a (non-ELL boy) burst out "wait, WAIT! I don't even like seafood and you are asking me to eat CAVIAR- aren't those baby fish?!" Hilarious.

8) It is 50 degrees and rainy here. WTF snow? Where you at?

9) Peppermint Joe-Joes (Trader Joe's Oreos with peppermint candy cream) are my favorite thing in the world. I ate three of them at lunch and I feel no shame. Thank goodness for leggings and Uggs season.

10) Life is good, people. Life is really freaking good this holiday season. To say otherwise would be a lie.

What tidbits are floating around in your brain this week?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How To Kick a Cold

On Sunday, after a full weekend of holiday party-ing, I woke up with a throat tickle. Attributing it to a weekend full of yelling my witty insights to people in party- crowded rooms, I assumed it was nothing more than residual hoarseness. Alas, I was wrong. By Monday afternoon, I realized I may have a full blown cold on my hands.

The Christmas miracle? Today I am already feeling MUCH better. As a teacher, I have weathered my fare share of viruses that are just strong enough to make you miserable, but not quite strong enough to justify staying home sick and undertaking the loathsome task of writing sub plans. Generally, (knock on wood) I can kick said cold in about 48 hours. How do I do it you ask? Well, here is my arsenal:

First of all, I start chugging water like a madwoman. I am for 100-150 oz of water daily during my sick time. Yes, it is a ton of water. Yes, it makes me pee constantly. But for every little bathroom break I'm having, my body is flushing (hah!) away those nasty germs. It cleanses the system and helps kick my cold to the curb. It's free people, and it works.

Now these next few items will cost a teensy bit of cash, but they are so, so worth it. Most can be found at Walgreens. At work, I am talking constantly, and because of this, my throat gets terribly dry and scratchy. Over the years, I have tested many, many different cough drops, and these Halls Triple Soothing Action Cough Drops do the trick. Those little vapory guys in their assorted mint flavors make my nasty cold infested head into a little steam room. I also love that they come in multiple flavors and are sugar free. When you are consuming 5-6 a day, these things matter.

Next, I always snag the Vick's Sinex Day/Night Combo Pack I love that these bad boys don't require you to sign your life away at the register when purchasing, and having everything in one box is oh-so convenient. The day pills do a great job at opening up the sinuses and relieving headaches, while the night ones knock you out so hard that even your snoring husband won't wake you. Win-win. I use these round the clock, in conjunction with the Zicam Zinc Chewables. I find these to be much less offensively flavored than the dissolving tablets, and I've noticed that if used correctly (every 3 hours during the day, and for 2 days following the absence of cold symptoms) that they really do seem to help shorten the time you are wallowing.

The last three items on my walking dead survival guide are items of necessity. When I have a cold, I'm super paranoid about spreading it to others. Hence the Germ-X. I have a ton of people in and out of my room daily, and I'd hate to get them sick, which will mean I will get sick. It's a vicious cycle. I also hate having nasty cold dragon breath, so I keep Altoids on hand at all time. The zinc chewables leave you with nasty breath, and these certainly help. Lastly, when I'm sick I don't have much of an appetite, so these chocolate-mint Luna Protein Bars, weighing in at about 200 calories each, taste awesome and make sure that I get a good mix of protein and carbs.

So, there you have it. If you are stupid enough to go to work when you are under the weather like I am, use these easy, on the go tricks to get you back to your sassy self in no time. Your body, and your colleagues, will thank you.

I wasn't paid any money to endorse any of these products. I get asked often how I kick colds so fast, so I thought I'd write this post. I am also in no way a medical expert, so if you feel ill you should ALWAYS consult a doctor. Blogs do not have the answers. Doctors do.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

'Tis the Season for Your Teacher

During my last five years of teaching, I have taught many grades in many different types of schools- everything from kindergarten to 8th grade. As such, I have received many different types of gifts from many different families. While I'm not a greedy person, I am always shocked to realize how many parents have a difficult time choosing gifts for their students' teachers. Rather than letting your child choose the gift (I have received Webkins, teddy bears, and Lip Smackers because of this tactic), peruse these lovely options so that your teacher's heart will be warmed this year.

1) Think books! Most classroom teachers purchase books and teaching materials with their own money throughout the school year. Many of these same teachers are avid readers. When I taught elementary school, many thoughtful parents donated their child's favorite book to the classroom library as a holiday gift, or got me gift cards to Barnes and Noble. I've also recently discovered eBookFling, an online book rental community for users of PCs, Macs, Kindles, Nooks, or iPads. For $36 dollars, your teacher can rent one book a month for twelve months. Each title rented appears on your reader or computer for two weeks, then vanishes. Awesome!

2) Skip the lotions and go for office supplies. I'm fortunate enough now to work at a school with more than ample supplies, but I'm still a sucker for a fun notebook, or a fancy clipboard. Paper Source has amazing file folders, fun stapler, scissor, and notepad sets, and cheery organizational tools that any teacher would love!

3) Think about what you know about your child's teacher. Last year, I was teaching with a friend who was recently exploring a vegetarian lifestyle. She was also the teacher to a set of twins. For the holidays, the twins' mom gifted my friend with a few tried-and-true vegetarian cookbooks that they use often in their home. My friend was ecstatic. Does your child's teacher enjoy running? Cooking? Photography? Spa days? What small gifts could you give related to his or her interests?

4) Magazines, magazines, magazines. Almost every male or female I know reads magazines, and subscriptions right now are often less than $20 a year. Rather than splurging on that lotion gift set (of which male or female, every teacher I know has at least 12) go for literacy. Again, make it something that your child's teacher is interested in. If you don't know your child's teacher that well, go for a professional magazine or a current events type magazine. We will thank you. This year, I drew my school's principal in our Secret Santa exchange. I know he loves to run, so each day I've been giving him either a fitness magazine or a protein bar. For the "big gift" at the end of the week, I found a running coolmax long sleeved shirt on super sale. Rumor has it, he is quite pleased with his haul so far. Everyone loves magazines, and everyone hates paying for them.

5) Cold, hard cash. Gift cards to teacher supply stores, general merchandise stores, or the ever popular Visa gift card go a long way. We don't care what the amount is, we just love the inherent splurge promised in the gift card.

Above all else, remember that your child's teacher is an adult. He/she also teachers multiple students. Take ten seconds to go beyond the usual gifting. You will make his or her day!

What tried and true gifts are always a hit in your gift-giving circles?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Reads

Hey everybody! Can you believe it is time for another fabulous Friday Reads? This weekend, I'm hoping to finally finish the Everlost trilogy. I'm feeling a bit more inspired since hearing Neal Schusterman, the author, speak yesterday, but I'm still needing a little push. Then, to balance out my YA love, I'm going to sit down and read Schindler's List, in order to finally finish the Back to the Classics Challenge that I started earlier this year. I'm still not really sure what I'm planning to do as far as reading challenges, but I will keep you posted.

Last week, I finished reading A Gate at the Stairs by one of my all time favorite authors, Lorrie Moore. True to form, Ms. Moore did NOT disappoint. Her writing, quite frankly, humbles me, and she manages to find the poetic in the mundane. I loved here characters in this book, and the story, about a college student the year after 911 struggling with personal and societal identity crisis, veered into wild turns. Initially, I thought the book would be just another nannying-for-rich-people-helps-student-find-herself tale, but this book was so much more. While reading, I was forced to confront my personal attitudes towards race, war, and stereotyping, and I'm still pondering many of the themes of the book. Although A Gate at the Stairs was published 10 years after Moore's last book, it was hands down worth the wait. If you are an aficionado of thoughtful prose, or a lover of a book with themes that run deep, this is for you. It is the perfect antidote to all of the YA reading I have been doing lately.

What are you reading this week? Be sure to share on twitter with the hashtag #FridayReads to participate in an amazing community!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

From the Darndest Places

It is no secret that I love my job. I am passionate about working with kids and teachers who challenge me, and I often find that I learn as much, or more about life from them than I teach them in return. It's a beautiful thing, and I would never, ever work in another profession.

This week, some great things were brewing in the Language Arts Department (of which I am a teensy, sort of part, since I teach a self-contained ELL LA class). Several teachers have recently participated in a conference, and wanted to de-brief some of their big thoughts. We began discussing our own personal reading and writing lives. Apparently, a presenter at one of the presentations had challenged this national group of Language Arts teachers, saying that if a teacher doesn't have a rich reading or writing life, how do they expect to authentically connect with and ameliorate their students' literacy lives? My mind was blown.

It sounds so simple. We teach. They learn. We coach. They rewrite. They read. We question. But really, it is so much more complex than that. How are we to challenge students to push beyond their previous inhibitions with genre or craft, if we aren't constantly pushing ourselves in new and strange directions? How can we create lifelong learners if we are disengaged with the world around ourselves?

The truth is, I am not often good at this. I come home from work tired, and want to wrap myself in my domestic cocoon rather than engaging with the outside world. On the weekends, I want to spend time with friends, not ponder my intellectual life or challenge myself. But to be a better teacher, I have to get beyond that. I have to do things that scare me. Practice language. Take risks. Write. Rewrite. Learn a skill. Listen. Be TAUGHT. I'm not very good at these things. I break down, I get humiliated, I am a poor sport when asked to participate in a game I'm not good at. I don't try. And yet, I would hate this same behavior in my students.

Self improvement goals come from the darndest places.

Are you a risk taker, or a rut finder?
What are you doing right now to challenge yourself?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

10 Things-Randoms

1) Doesn't this blog look magnificent? I had been wanting to do a major blog overhaul for, well, ever, but don't have the html skills to really pull off doing it. Luckily Jessica at Diamond Doll Design ran a flash sale, and lo and behold, you are looking at the results. Thank goodness for the technologically savvy. I am certainly not one of them. Jessica was amazingly easy and speedy to work with. Huzzah!

2) Last night, I took a walk with a friend and we passed a festive Starbucks. In said Starbucks, there was an approximately four year old boy with his nose pressed up to the window and his tongue out, slowly licking the glass. Yikes.

3) Upon seeing said boy, I quietly thanked the Lord that I no longer teach kindergarten. My junior high kids have the good sense to keep their disgustingness a little more hidden.

4) As previously mentioned, we've been living a 90% vegetarian lifestyle. I've realized that while I have tons of energy, dinner options are limited. Leave a comment if you have a delicious meal for me to concoct.

5) I chopped my hair the Friday after Thanksgiving. Yesterday, had a poll open regarding Katy Perry's new hairdo. Methinks she stole mine. Harumph. See?

6) My mom would keel over if I showed up with platinum and pink hair for the holidays. I think it could be festive.

7) Kev has his fancy schmancy holiday party at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Friday. I may or may not have purchased a new dress that I may or may not now be concerned about fitting into.

8) I googled "ugly christmas sweater shops" and this popped up. What. The. Fudge.

9) I have been dragging myself out of bed this week and getting to school later and later. Oopsies. Bad Colie. Thank goodness traffic has cooperated and I haven't been late.

10) I have a meeting after school with a boss that terrifies me, so I spent way too much time this morning looking for a power outfit. Do other people do this, or am I a weirdo?

What random thoughts are you pondering today?
What does your power outfit look like? Mine almost always involves boots and a cardigan.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Reads

Happy Friday all! I spent last week reading Eating Animals, and I already updated you on how it changed my life. Then, for some brain candy, I read Are You There, Vodka? It's me, Chelsea by the sometimes hilarious Ms. Chelsea Handler to empty my brain out. Empty is actually a good word to describe the whole book. The first five essays in it are, well, meh. Not hilarious, not inspiring, and more self-indulgent than anything else. Though the book picks up some steam by the end, I'm still not exactly impressed. Her first book, My Horizontal Life, is much funnier, probably because everyone has awkward sex stories that are relatable. Lord knows I certainly do.

Anyway, this weekend I am going to try and finish two books, one of which I have been positively aching for.
I have a huge writer crush on Lorrie Moore, ever since I read her short stories in my college Creative Writing Workshop course. Bonus points to Ms. Moore for being a college English (not creative writing!) teacher in her professional life. While this means that we have to wait a long time for her books, they are always filled with gorgeous writing, feminist themes, and thought provoking memories. This lady is magic, and inspires me to put a little more extraordinary into the mundane things I write on this here blog.

While I am so stoked for A Gate at the Stairs, it is definitely a book that needs to be savored in a quiet place, and since the bulk of my reading is done on my gray couch, surrounded by my fat cats, with Kev playing video games or watching terrible movies in the background, I also have Everfound, the final book in the Skinjacker trilogy by Neil Schusterman, on the back burner. I have to admit, I read this trilogy on the recommendation of one of the kids in my 8th grade LA class, who ranted and raved about them, and asked me if I had started them every day until I had no choice but to start for my own mental sanity. While I haven't fallen in passionate love with this trilogy (they are a little too over the top for me, and some of the characters could be developed better), I am excited to see how he wraps things up.

Don't forget to tweet your Friday Reads with the hashtag #fridayreads. More importantly, don't forget to read!

What are you reading this weekend?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vegging Out

The reason I became a teacher is because I love to read. The reason I went through two years of grad school hell was to better help teacher struggling kids to love it, too. Reading transforms thoughts, reading inspires, reading changes you in ways you can't imagine.

Enter Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals:

In Eating Animals, Foer writes a well researched account of the many factors that have led him to choose vegetarianism for himself and his family, in the hopes that his infant son may one day grow up and understand the philosophies that drive his family's food choices. Foer goes into the practices that drive factory farms, which produce so much of America's meats, and then delves into the mental and physical health repercussions for both people who process animals into our meat, and the effects that factory farming have on our planet as a whole.

Now, I will tell you, I am a bacon girl. A seafood girl. A sandwich piled high with meat gal. But after reading this book, I have gotten a lot more thoughtful about how my food is produced. Kev (the previously staunchest meat-eater I know, who used to make fun of me in our early dating days if I didn't order chicken or meat) inspired me to read this book, and together we have made some big changes to our eating. We've cut out meat entirely from our grocery runs, and we have begun buying free-range eggs (Foer mentions that free-range is essentially a hoax, but in the absence of farmer's markets in the winter, it is what we are doing). From now on, when I do eat meat or seafood, it is going to be for special occasions only, and I am going to make more of a concerted effort to find out where my food is coming from, and at what cost. I think most Americans are woefully out of touch with the food to table process, and I'm thankful that I read this book to help me think about it.

Do you consider yourself a food-aware person? Why or why not?

Have outside forces ever forced you to confront ugly truths about your eating?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Organization? Me?

Oh, friends, let me tell you. I suck at organization. My house is often hanging on by a thread. My work can quickly disintegrate into a pile of papers if I am not ever vigilant. I am a fly by the seat of the pants person. A procrastinator. Charmingly flighty. A hot mess. Call it what you will, but it drives my loved ones crazy sometimes. Poor Kev.

This year, however, I have a brilliant plan and I can't even believe how proud of myself I am. I made a list on Google Docs of people we needed to buy gifts for, and ideas that I had. THEN I shared it with Kev so that he could add/edit. Let me tell you, just having the list and some ideas jotted down has freed me. It isn't even December yet, and I have more than half of my shopping DONE. All of it was on sale. I am so freaking pumped that I can't even believe it.

More than that, having the extra time has freed me to get organized in other ways. Kev and I have decided that we are going to eat vegetarian (more on that tomorrow), and so today I made a shopping list. I even found two new recipes online and (wait for it) added the ingredients to my list. Holy freaking shit. I don't even know myself anymore.

I know you longtime readers of the blog hear me say all the time that I am turning over a new leaf, but its amazing how these two free, simple, stupid ideas have cleared up so much mental space in my brain. Can it really be that much easier to stay organized? How do I maintain this bliss?

What easy tricks do you used to stay organized? What are some stupid things that you know you should do and never quite get to?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

As a kid, I never really thought about Thanksgiving. It was nice. There were extra mashed potatoes and stuffing to be had. We ate. We thanked. We waited for Santa. The End.

Now, though, Thanksgiving has steadily moved up to my favorite holiday. We don't run around in a crazy Mimosa fueled sprint to see both sides of both of our families. We don't have the pressure of keeping everybody happy, or the need to organize endless lists of gifts for everybody. Instead, we get to spend quality time with the people we love while sleeping late and wearing stretchy pants. We catch up with our college-aged siblings and get coddled by our parents. We stop and think about what we've been through since last year and where we are going.

My students who are new to the U.S. were very perplexed by Thanksgiving, so we did a lesson. Pilgrims, Native Americans, travels to a new land, reasons to be thankful for new experiences. We watched Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown, and the kiddos were perplexed by Lucy's meanness and Snoopy's lack of doglike qualities. Through it all, I was thankful for the new opportunity, and thankful for my professional journeys in the last year. When one of my kids said he was thankful for me, I realized that my own pilgrimage to a new school is starting to look like the best decision I never wanted.

As we started the Thanksgiving lesson, one of my students looked at me thoughtfully. "But, Mrs. Gas," she said, "why do Americans need one day to be thankful? Don't they just feel it always?" A million dollar question that I don't really remember having a good answer for. Why, indeed? Shouldn't we always be this vocal about our gratitude? Why don't we shout to the rooftops our love for our families, our gratitude for our physical situations and our thankfulness for life's changes? This Thanksgiving, I'm most thankful for the reminder to carry that attitude through more of my daily life.

I am truly blessed. Thank you, thank you, thank you to life and love and new friends and old friends, to family and students and kittens for reminding me of it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Friday Reads Updates and Newbies

Hey friendlies! Sorry for the lack of posts this week- parent teacher conferences are Monday, so I've been catching up with grading and so forth. Therefore, Friday Reads has now been moved to Monday this week, and I may try to sneak another one in on Friday, since I will be on a blissful Thanksgiving break and will have extra time to read. As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@Colie025) and to tweet your own weekend reading material with the hashtag #fridayreads. You can also find me on Goodreads, where I keep an updated record of what I am reading.

As of the last Friday Reads post, I was reading The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer and Positively by Courtney Sheinmel. I have happily finished both of those books, and while both were good, neither left me wowed. In The Uncoupling, a town is inflicted with a mysterious burn out of sex drive as a classic Greek play with similar themes is being rehearsed for and performed. My reading tastes have been leaning toward the fantasy/sci-fi lately, so I was intrigued by the supernatural elements in this realistic fiction book. I loved some of the couples featured (the gym teacher with small children, the married teacher couple), but overall I found their motivations and actions a little unclear. This book may have benefited from having the author explore fewer couples' sexuality in a more in depth manner. I do have a few literary-fiction minded friends that I would recommend this to as a way to dab a toe into supernatural fiction, but overall I wasn't wowed in any significant way, nor did I come away with any new ideas- a sure sign that this wasn't what I had hoped it would be.

Sadly, I felt even more apathetic towardsPositively. While I appreciated that Sheinmel tackled a challenging subject and chose to write about a girl that is HIV positive and struggling with the death of her mother from AIDS. Emmy (the main character) really irritated me, and I found her sudden switch to being at peace with her disease and her mother's death after attending a camp for HIV positive girls unbelievable. I think Sheinmel could have done a better job making Emmy's story more realistic, and that it all ended a little too neatly at the end. I would have liked to see some more research evident in the story, and the side characters were a little flat. I'm glad I have the book to add to my YA library at school, but I don't think I will be strongly recommending it to many students. Rats.

Since these books, I've also finished The Night Circus (loved loved loved) and The Leftovers (also fab). This week, I'm pouncing on finishing Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (who I have a huge crush on) and Everwild by Neil Schusterman who is coming to our school in December. More reports on those later this week.

Happy Reading!

What are you reading? Do you like this bookish talk, or should I go back to my usual crazy antics? Are you a reader? Would you like to be?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rewards, Sweet Rewards

Sometimes, I've been known to make terrible decisions. Like going out on a Sunday to watch the Bears game, staying through both lunch and dinner, and consuming at least 10 beers in the 6 hour span, plus shots. On a Sunday. During the school year. All of these things happened on Sunday. One of Kev's best friends, a guy he has known since kindergarten and an awesomely hilarious human being, came down from the suburbs. One of our other good friends, who Kev and I both met around the same time in high school, also came out. Together, we became a superhuman excuse for one another, and collectively decided to shun the fact that we had to work freaking early in the morning. The bar was just crowded enough to be fun and bring out the Miller Lite/Chi radio station folks to bribe us into staying, but just chill enough that we could catch up with one another. I haven't laughed so hard in quite some time. (Actually, that's a lie. I have at least one good face hurting laugh every day. It's sort of one of my guiding principles in life.) Sometimes the universe works in funny ways. Sometimes when you are in a beer and fried food coma, you hear your name being called by the Miller Lite girls. Sometimes you win TWO FREE TICKETS to the Bears game this SUNDAY in the Miller Lite PARTY DECK!!!! (random capitalization completely necessary) It just goes to show you that even if you've never won anything in your whole life of this nature, if you keep entering anyways, you will be rewarded. It also goes to show you, that sometimes God smiles on a little mischief.
It also went to show Kev that he should not make pacts while drunk with his friends. I say this because he apparently promised them that we would flip a coin to see who got the extra ticket, rather than automatically giving it to him. At least he can pick his friend Brian and I up from the game as our DD.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 Things Thursday

1) Today, when one of my students asked what American teenagers listen to, we had an epic debate on American music. Thank you Spotify. I love working with junior high kids- they have so many opinions and so many passions!

2) Thanks to one of my students, my professional laptop now also looks like this:

3) The first flurries of winter coincided with the first time I busted out my Ugg boots for the winter. Coincidence? I think not.

4) Thank you, veterans, for your service. Thank you, public schools for giving me tomorrow off to sleep late in commemoration.

5) I hate Penn State. Stupid institutions. The lack of social morals and responsibility is really disturbing me.

6) My co-teacher who I love just asked me if I like sushi. Apparently, her husband is a sushi chef and frequently brings rolls home. Uuuhh...yeah....I'm all about that.

7) We are throwing my parents a 30th anniversary party tomorrow night at their house. While the details were stressful to pull together, I am so beyond excited to celebrate with my family and all of my favorite people. This is going to be awesome. I now consider my parents the anti-Kardashians.

8) Kev is having a hellish time with the end of his quarter. Group projects never work out well for anybody. Ever. I am staunchly anti-group project. Especially for adults. Grrr....can't wait until Thanksgiving break when we can spend some quality time together.

9) I've been strongly considering a blog makeover. I think I could get more readers if I didn't have such a ghetto header, but I also don'tknow enough about HTML to fix things. I also can't decide on what kinds of graphics, etc. I would use....comment with ideas!

10) My mom just asked me for ideas for Christmas shopping. I was able to come up with a list pretty quickly. Kind of scary. Actually, I guess that's a good thing since it means I haven't been going out and buying myself this stuff. Right? Right?

What random thoughts are on your mind today?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fantastic Facebook

Oh, Facebook. For as much idiocy as I find on your stupid network, which I check more than any human really should, sometimes there are amazing gems to be found. Like these (sources included in photo):

It would be so much easier not to make fun of them if I knew what their concrete plans for change were....

This happens to me constantly. #Colieprobz If Kev knew how many morsels could be found in there, he would be in heaven. For more reasons than one.

Yes, Kim Kardashian. Divorce is tragic. For people who got married for real reasons. Maybe if she had more crumbs in her boobs, her marriage would have survived. Big amen to this one.

Or maybe if they had gotten hot more.....I love puns.

Best thing about facebook- the amount of awesome book nerds who live there.

Indeed, freaking awesome.

Thank you, Facebook.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Social Justice


First of all- thanks to all you friendlies out there who talked to me about last week's depression post. Honestly, there are a few reasons I write this blog. One of them being that it's cheaper than therapy. Often, I start writing about things that I need to think out for myself, and voila the answer works itself out.

Today was one of those rare days where I attended a professional development workshop and I walked away dazzled. I participated in an amazing workshop for ELL teachers given by a woman who has been in the business since 1974. She was energetic. She was passionate. She was real. I want to carry her around in my pocket all the time. So many of the things she said resonated with me, and she delivered her thoughts with so much love.

One thing stood out to me in particular. Dr. Guzman said that you can't be an ELL teacher without the hunger for social justice for your students. She noted that part of our job is to make sure that our students are enveloped in and protected by the great laws that the United States has for our ELL students. She said that we can't just be satisfied by giving them a good education- that we must work every day to make sure they have an equal opportunity for success, for social participation, and for the opportunity to help enrich and open their native English speaking peers' minds.

Yes, I thought this is why I teach.

Then, I took this concept back to my own life. Although I feel I've gotten myself out of my recent funk, I know I can slip back easily. Even though I have more than I ever thought possible for myself in my life, I'm hot tempered. I'm jealous. I can get whiny. I'm stubborn. I think it comes with the territory of being intelligent, passionate, and opinionated. In short, I'm a lot to handle. But if I really want to find peace within myself, I need to make sure that I am treating myself with justice. Because a lot has been given to me, a lot is expected of me, as the saying goes. I need to pour my energy more into working for others, into making things better and not worse, and to focus on all of the things I do have, and suddenly all this popularity and has vs have not bullshit will fall by the wayside. I also need to be fair to myself- I need to know when I need to give myself a break, and I need to give it. I know when I need to give my friends a break, too, and I need to give that as well. If you want peace, Nicole, you need to start working harder at justice.

Who would have thought the time I spent writing sub plans yesterday would have turned out to be so, so worth it?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

You Can't Have It All

I've been in kind of a funk lately, and I'm not sure why.
Thanks, Hyperbole and a Half

I'm not even really sure why, but part of the reason I write this blog is that it's cheaper than therapy, and writing has always been an opportunity for me to channel my emotions.

Anyways, I have a lot of friends who are pregnant roaming around incubating feti. A. Lot. Those of my friends who are married without kids, like Kev and I, are starting to talk about when they are having them. It's like every time I check Facebook, a giant "YOU ARE ALMOST THIRTY" sign starts blinking at me. Ack. I am so not ready for children, and Kev and I have a timeline that is going to work for us, but still. People are moving on, and their time will be limited, and I'm scared that I'm going to be left in the dust for playgroups. Woe is me.

My friends who are single, or dating someone but not married, on the other hand, seem to be getting closer and closer, and I'm not always sure where I fit in. I love them, and I'm pretty sure that they love me, but I keep finding out about times they have all spent together without me, and it makes me sad. Kev and I have a crazy busy life, and I can't often make it out, but I want to. I really, really want to. I snapped at a friend about it while I was in a drunken stupor, and I feel like such an ass about it now. Seriously, Colie, grow the eff up.

I guess that's just it, really. Growing up is hard. For all of the really important things in life, I've gotten more than I ever would have dreamed of. I have a beautiful, albiet messy, home. A great family. A passionate, wonderful and challenging husband. Friends that I adore. But it's really hard for me to realize that I can't have it all ALL the time. I won't always be included. I won't always include others. People may come and go from my life, and that just has to be okay. Growing up is freaking hard, but it has come with some of the best rewards so far that I've ever experienced. I have to let go, and trust that it will all work out. It's okay, I'm okay, and changes are okay. Now, I must go remind myself to quit being so damn selfish :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I love my friends for many reasons. They are smart, funny, sassy, creative, outgoing and always push the boundaries of good taste and good grown up behavior. On the other hand, they can pull it together when a situation arises. They are loyal, loving, and empathetic.

However, we're going to talk about the crazy, sassy qualities today.

This is the pirate ship that my lovely friend Coco rented for her 30th birthday party. Her birthday is October 30th, so she always throw really kicking Halloween parties, and this one was no exception. We ate. We drank. I remember the ship being a good time. Don't remember much else, oops.

This is my friend, Patrick, and I. He is a bar of pirate's gold, and I am a gold digger. Kev refuses to dress up with me ever since I had the brilliant idea of being a couple from the short-lived VH1 show Tool Academy. It was awesome, and now he says we can't top it so he won't even try. Harumph.

This is my friend, Carl, and I doing some awesome pillaging of some Bud Light.

And last, but not least, this is Kev, Coco and I on the ship, being awesome. I love that girl and probably would not have survived my wedding without her. Happy 30th, Coco!

Full Disclosure: I was not paid in any way for this advertisement of the totally rad awesome Gypsy Rose II, but I wholeheartedly endorse this ship. The top picture of the ship is from their website . I wholeheartedly recommend this for fun of all ages if you are ever in St. Louis, MO. You don't even have to be drunken idiots like we were!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Reads!

Ever since I was a little girl, I've been totally book obsessed. I started reading very young (Thanks Mom and Dad!), and not only did I love to read, but I'm told I loved to physically play with my books- stacking them into piles, sorting them by color, character, or genre. I love books.

Recently, my favorite book blogger introduced me to Friday Reads on twitter. Basically, Rebecca and some bookish friends have been working to promote literacy and awareness of the written word by having people tweet what they are reading each Friday. Reading not your thing? They have Friday Listens too, for the books on tape crowd. Simply tweet what you are reading: book, magazine, website, newspaper, textbook, children's book with the hashtag #fridayreads for some good reading karma. Show that you care about reading, that it is important, and celebrate how awesome reading is with a big group of people.

I've decided to take this concept and share my thoughts about what I'm reading, or things I love about reading, every Friday. Hopefully, you enjoy checking out what I'm dabbling into, and feel free to comment with thoughts or recommendations. Can't get enough? Follow me on GoodReads for more scoops.

Without further ado, here's what I'm reading this Friday!

Since starting my new job, I've found myself reading a young adult book simultaneously with a regular novel or book. I've been so fortunate to work with students who are constantly recommending titles to me, and interested in what I have to say about them. This week, I'm reading The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer (quirky fiction about a town in which the women are all cursed with having their sex drive eliminated as the town high school puts on a production of a Greek tragicomedy with similar themes) and Positively by Courtney Sheinmel, about a girl who is HIV positive and begins to come to terms with her disease. I'm about 100 pages into Uncoupling, and I'm loving it. It is quirky and original, and the quotes about reading and society's evolution are not to be missed. I haven't started Positively yet, but I'm looking forward to doing so.

What are you reading this Friday? Comment here!

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

10 Things This Thursday

1) This week has been crazy at work. I was out all of Tuesday morning for a meeting, we had a half day with the students and meetings all afternoon, and meetings all day again tomorrow. Not to mention, we are a week away from the end of the quarter, so it's just a mad rush to finish things up. My kiddos and school continue to be great- I really love working with the older kids, and my new staff is mellow and kind. Work life is good.

2) I've spent a lot of time in the past week with my gal pals. You know, the ones that you can go two months without seeing (literally) and then you sit and talk for four hours straight as if you saw each other every day. Or the ones that you are pretty sure are yourself, just in another body. I love my girls. Nothing can take away Kev's and my bond, but a girl has GOT to have girlfriends in life.

3) I've been really, really bad about working out this week. Like, I haven't worked out since Friday. Oopsadoodle. I did, however, go buy myself some protein powder today. I'm just not sure if I'm getting enough in my regular diet, and I figure it can't hurt, especially with my crazy immune system.

4) Speaking of, on World Arthritis Day I posted a facebook message:
which led to a co-worker of mine with JRA commenting. We got together yesterday morning to compare treatments/doctors/experiences and it was awesome. I've never met anybody who is struggling with this before, and it was nice to have someone who got it.

5) Although, if I'm being honest, my dad has RA, but he's too stubborn to see a doctor. Doctors make the worst patients, and he is proving it.

6) One of my students asked me today why I have cats, since all they do is hide. To be honest, sometimes I wish my furbabies would hide a little more.

7) Today Felix jumped up on the sink while I was getting ready. I pushed him off and he landed in the toilet. He is still peeved with me 11 hours later. I am the worst cat mother ever.

8) Speaking of mothers, my life is being inundated with babies lately. People I didn't think were having babies soon are. People who want babies can't. My facebook feed is full of uteri (score! that IS the plural! Thanks for making me feel smart, spellcheck)

9) When I hear these things, all I can think of is, "Man, I am freaking old. Aren't we too young to do this?" 30 is creeping up on us, folks. It's scary and good all at the same time.

10) I love blogging, even if I don't get to do it often. It's my pensive, my brain dump, and its awesome. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Day Off

My house is messy. Like, really messy. And yet, I have my feet up.

You know why? Because I have the day off today. I can sit here in my underpants wearing one of Kevin's t-shirts and get things cleaned up at my own pace. Because today is MY day. And Felix?

Well, he doesn't seem to mind.

In all honesty, I'm a pretty terrible wife in terms of housekeeping. My biggest flaw is that I say I'm going to do something around here, and I just don't follow through. It's not an attractive quality, believe me. I AM planning on cleaning today in a bit. But maybe while watching trashy t.v. that Kev doesn't like. I can fold laundry while watching and tidy on the breaks.

Yeah....that should be my plan. Of course!

In all honesty, while I love my husband, I also love the random three day weekends I get as a teacher. I can work out, clean up, get my life back in order, AND sleep in. I can work at my own place. I can putter, lounge, peruse, and organize without having to explain the order I'm doing things in to anybody else.

Don't get me wrong- I adore being married. It is my proudest achievement, and my favorite title. But sometimes, I need time at home alone. I think that when people get married, there is an idea of forced togetherness that is sometimes really hard to live up to. I think the happiest couples that I know are the ones who know how to give each other space, and time to themselves, and to just let each other be. I'm pretty darn stubborn and independent, and sometimes I like the space to just do my thing. Make my own schedule. Remember who I was, and who I want to be.

And if I can put this shithole back together today? More power to me.

Happy Columbus Day!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here's to the Nerds

I did something really brave this week, people. I spent three days and two nights at outdoor education with the sixth graders from my school. I ate with them, shared bunk beds in a room with my (still very new to me) colleagues, and I didn't get to take the edge off with any alcohol either. Luckily, the weather was beautiful, and I realized how much I really do enjoy being out and about in a camping type environment.

Beautiful view looking East.

Same location, looking North and South. A true test of my ability to find zen in the midst of chaos.

Before I left, Kev told me he thought it was super strange that our school expects teachers to give up their lives for three days for an extremely (less than minimum wage) minimal extra duty stipend. He thought it was even stranger when I came home and told him that I had enjoyed myself.

My mom even called to check in and make sure I had survived. I told her that I had, and explained some of the quotes from kids that had made me laugh. Mom skipped a beat and then replied

"Colie, I thought you were insane when you left elementary teaching to willingly work at a junior high, but you know what? I think all your students, especially your super awkward nerdy ones, are so lucky to have you to appreciate your inner nerd. I think you are so good at it because you never really lost yours."

And you know what? She's right. I think this world would be a much better place if we all embraced our inner nerds. If we celebrated the weirdos, acknowledged the anti-grace of the klutz. I'm not really good at a lot of things. I have very little patience with myself and I don't like to work hard at things I'm not good at. I have a bad temper. I gossip.

But I'm really good at being different. I'm a fantastic nerd. And maybe, I can be okay with that if it helps an awkward kid at the most terrible stage of life start to see that they are okay too.

What "aha" moments have you gotten from your families? What geeky things do you love?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hiatus Ended

So, I haven't blogged in over a month because I've been busy, and also because I've been in a creative funk. I think I put too much pressure on myself to design lovely blog posts with pictures and fun designs and such, but really that's not how it needs to be. The blogs I love are ones that have fab content, ideas that inspire me, but mostly people just being themselves.

Quite frankly, I haven't been making enough time lately for the things that make my heart sing. Things like good quality unplanned exercise, reading books instead of skimming the internet. Eating lunch in the teacher's lounge instead of hiding at my desk trying frantically to get things done. Really talking to my husband, and even better listening. Reaching out to old friends. Writing what I feel regardless of perfection.

When the world crowds in on me and the house gets messy, the to-do lists pile up, and I'm confronted with lots of evidence that I'm not perfect, it paralyzes me. I spend way too much money shopping online looking for things to make me better, instead of focusing on how to make myself better. I'm mad at myself, so I'm mean to other people. The stress makes my RA flair, and I hobble about like a surly crone. It's not cool.

I slowed things down a notch the last few weekends, and I've decided to return to blogging. It helps me feel like myself. I'm going to read more, and get myself back to the gym for some unstructured workouts, rather than regimented training. I'm going to get outside, take pictures, and hone my craft. I'm going to start focusing on a few things, instead of running around like a madwoman. I'm going to cook. I'm not going to go to events that I'm not excited about.

I'm back, bitches, and I'm myself again. And I'm going to be better than ever

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ten Things Friday

I was at school late for open house yesterday, and you know I already pushed it back from Tuesday, so I thought...meh....I'll post it today.

1) In case you couldn't tell from my rambles, school has started. I love my new job, but holy cow it's exhausting. I've been in bed before 9:30 more times than a gal in her twenties should.

2) Speaking of age, the older I get, the more I appreciate an early bedtime. Kev and I have been going to bed super early and reading until we go to sleep. The quiet is bliss.

3) Kev and I went grocery shopping at our favorite local Mexican grocery on Monday. We were terrible about grocery shopping this summer, and I forgot how nice it is to have many food options each night.

4) Because we hadn't grocery shopped, we'd been eating garbage foods all summer. I didn't lose a single pound despite training for a freaking half marathon. Oops.

5) I saw a number on the scale that was terrifying yesterday. See above.

6)Thank goodness my sister and I decided to do a half together at the end of October. I may need it.

7) Teaching junior high is awesome. They understand sarcasm, and their awkwardness makes me feel so much better about myself.

8) Although, I will admit, I don't think I could do some of their math homework. I need to re-learn the rules of positive and negative numbers.

9) Or do I? When do I really need to know if a quotient will be positive or negative in a given equation?

10) On my birthday, I found a sheet of kitten pictures on my desk.

If that's not a junior high sign of affection, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Growing Up....Together

**Ten Things Tuesday is coming tomorrow because I wrote the post and then left it on my work computer and now I'm at home. Oops.

Kev and I have a unique story in many ways, in that we were high school sweethearts that never really dated. We met when I was a freshman and Kev was a sophomore, when he tried to sell a frisbee to my then-boyfriend and I. I think we declined. Then-boyfriend and I broke up a few weeks later, and I began an epic AIM flirtation each night that ended with a magical date at Great America and the promise that when Kev got his license the following week, that I would be his girlfriend. The license was acquired, and with it, the realization that sophomores with cars are way too cool for freshman girls. Through it all, though, we continued our nightly AIM conversations. We talked about his girlfriend, my boyfriends, and argued about books, bands, and people we both knew.

Although we didn't date, and went to different colleges, we got together to catch up the summer after I finished college and the rest, as they say, was history.
Kev and I, first summer dating, 2007

When I look back at our year of dating, our year of engagement and our first year of marriage, I remember endless nights at bars. Spending time with a core group of friends every weekend that got bigger as we spent more time together. Date nights where we wore sweatpants and champagne and played video games and Jeopardy against each other. We were out nearly constantly, and we looked forward to meeting up with the group, getting belligerent, and then coming home and gossiping about it the next morning.

Now, though, things have changed.

Somewhere in the subsequent two years, Kev and I have grown up. I'm not sure if it's the fact that we have a place of our own now, or that we started grad school, or that we just appreciate each other more, but cooking a dinner in and hanging out on our deck with a glass of wine has replaced the rounds of shots. We've become a little slower to recover from the nights we do get crazy, and we are better at saying no if we just don't feel like going out.

And you know what? It's pretty heavenly. I really, really like being more grown up and slowing down. If the last four years have brought about this much change, the next four and the four after that will be pretty good too.

I really, really love being married to the guy I'm married to.

Us, June 2011, making a rare appearance at the bar we used to nearly live at.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Job = Crazy Busy

Today was the first day of school, an Institute Day where I sat in lots of meetings designed to get me pumped for a new school year. The people at my new job seem awesome, although the workload is shocking and overwhelming. I came home today with a whopping headache, threw up from the nausea that ensued, took a nap, and then finished a rad book, and now I think I'm ready for tomorrow. I'm equal parts thrilled and terrified, but for now, I'm trying to be.....

Source: via Beck on Pinterest

....more Ginny than Bella.

Thank you imgur
Longer post tomorrow, until then, goodnight friends

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Oh, friends. After all of my lamenting that I wasn't prepared, I went in and did it. I came. I saw. I conquered. I finished the Rock N' Roll Half Marathon in 2:26.

Now, I know that this is not the fastest time, or even the time I was hoping for when I started training. But is it a time I'm proud of? Yes, undoubtably. Would I run this race again, even though it meant training during one of the hottest summers in recent Chicago history? Yes. Was it worth attending a bar crawl for four hours the night before and not touching any alcohol in preparation? Also yes.

Overall, I was really pleased with the course itself. I thought running through the loop was fun, and ending with glimpses of the lakefront was also great. I thought the course itself was extremely well organized, with lots of water stations, drizzle stations, bands,and mile markers staggered about. Somehow the locations of all of these things seemed to break up the miles for me, so that it went by a lot faster than I thought it would. I also ran my first race with a pace group, whom I stumbled upon at around mile 6. The group was running with a pacer from Fleet Feet Sports, a great running store in Chicago. The girl had us running 5 minutes and walking one with a goal time of 2:30. I think the run-walk strategy also helped to distract me, and I got to hear a lot of random conversations about people's daughters' periods and such. Strange, but interesting.

My one beef about this race as a whole was the incredibly long gear check wait at the finish. I had to wait nearly 15 minute in the line- way too long when I still had my hot boyfriend (yes, I try to get away with calling Kev that still) to find. Special thanks to him for showing up at the finish line at 9:00 am after staying out until almost one the night before at previously mentioned bar crawl.

Finishing this race (my first formal one in two years, since my pre-RA days) was big for me. Last year, I had a terrible year professionally at work, with lots of drama. I let myself get bogged down, and I wasn't always the best that I could have been for the students. I know, also, that my biggest problem is follow-through. I say I will do something, but often I wait until it is convenient for me, or until I have to at the very last minute (hello, training). When I was diagnosed with RA, I thought my running days were over. And yet, I put my mind to something, and even though I wasn't perfectly in shape, I went for it. Despite my 10 pill a day RA regiment, I did it. Despite my self-doubts, I did it. And through it all, I learned that the only one standing in my way is myself.

I'm hoping to take this mentality into the back-to-school portion of August. I want to have a kickass year. More on that tomorrow.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Family Vacation

Let me tell you a little bit about my family. I am the oldest of four kids (spawned in seven years, no less). My parents are quirky, hilarious, and still happily in love after thirty years of marriage. My mom recently graduated from a three year masters' program in clinical nursing. Kev fits right in. We are pretty awesome.

To celebrate my mom's recent graduation, we headed up to my parents' lake house on a teensy lake in Wisconsin. Kev stayed for the first weekend, and I decided to stay a few extra days. Because, you know, I can. Go summer vacation. During this extended period of time with all of us in one place. I made the following observations.

Water trampolines are awesome.

I am getting too old to wander around without makeup on. Especially compared to my model-esque younger sister.

Going on vacation with my parents automatically makes me act like a child. I think I left this glass of blackberry lemonade out all day long, much to my mother's consternation.

The Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin makes the best bloody marys ever. Oh, and smoked string cheese. String cheese that tastes like summer sausage? Yes, please.

The lake is unbelievably beautiful.

I hope my dad catches the big one someday. His perseverance is amazing.

I love my weirdo family. Why must you all go back to schools far away when summer ends?

What are your favorite family vacation memories?
Do you regress around your family? Or are you still adults around them?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ten Things Tuesday

This photo is random, just like our usual Tuesday chats.

1. I am feeling incredibly lazy today, which is sad because I was super productive yesterday. My to-do list is not shrinking. Nor is my ass, because I'm also not running today apparently. Curses.

2. I discovered an ab machine at the fancy new gym I joined. You kneel on this thing and then rotate a bunch of weights to work the obliques and abdominals. Today it hurts to breath. Maybe this will be the cure for the slight beer/food belly I am sporting.

3. I filled out a ton of paperwork yesterday for my new job, and holy crap is it weird to have everything filled out as Nicole Gas. Even though it's been two years, I still find it kind of crazy to see my new last name in print, especially when I have to fill out big things.

4. It's also weird to put Kev as my emergency contact and not my mommy. He's terrible about picking up his phone. I hope in case of emergency that I won't lose my ability to text him, otherwise he'll never know to panic.

5. I was just looking through my blog stats and somebody found my website by googling stripper poles. I have so many questions that I'm afraid to ask about that. Yikes.

6. I just started reading Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad today and it's awesome. I would love to make a soundtrack to that book- music is just so alive on it. I'm also a sucker for a good book told from multiple perspectives. That's totally my jam.

7. I have to run ten miles tomorrow. Ew. I'm really hoping my mojo will come back and I can get up and do it in the morning so I can take a nap before going to a friend's cookout at night. My eight miler on Friday went pretty well, so I'm hoping this one will too. Eek. The half marathon is less than two weeks away.

8.I feel like every time I go on facebook someone I am friends with is announcing a pregnancy. I'm okay with this, but for the love of all things holy please, people, refrain from making an ultrasound photo your profile pic. I have no need to see your uterus. Thanks.

9. I just remembered why I'm so unproductive today. Kev and I had a bottle of wine at dinner, then went to play bar trivia with some friends, where I had way more than the one beer I was going to allow myself. Damn you, summer, you sneaky minx.

10. I have spent way too many calories and dollars on stupid things this summer. Off to go find some moderation.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Here Comes August

Today is August 1st, people. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I am a teacher. You also know that I had a very rough year at my old school, that ended in me taking on a new position. Next year, I'm going from teaching sheltered English Kindergarten to junior high ELL. The two work environments so far seem to be completely different from one another, and honestly, that might be just what my career needs right now. A fresh start, a new challenge, new friends and frenemies at work.

The arrival of August usually inspires a mix of dread and hope in my teacher friends and I. After six weeks of relaxation, occasional babysitting, drinking more than usual, and spending way too much money, I'm growing excited for the routine that the school year brings to my life. I'm looking forward to the challenges and mental puzzles that come with learning a new curriculum, and I can't wait to get to know and love my new students. And yet, August also makes me feel a little nostalgic. Another summer is winding down. I should have read more books, done more photographing, spent less time on pinterest (let me know if you want an invite). I should have blogged more, spent more time with my grandparents. Ran more. Drank less. The list goes on.

Teaching is one of the few jobs that comes with its own New Year, separate from the calendar. Each August, we go back into our classrooms with new resolutions, new ideas. We vow to be more patient, less gossipy. More focused, less stressed. Give more feedback, give fewer sarcastic remarks. We, as teachers, want to develop systems for ourselves that really work, that allow us to work smarter, so that we can juggle the balance between teaching and being part of our own families. All of these resolutions brew all summer, and then really start in August.

If you are a teacher, what are your new year's resolutions? If you are a parent or friend of a teacher/student, what do you think my resolutions should be this year?

Happy August!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Harry Freaking Potter

I've been in a slight depression lately, because the last Harry Potter movie is out and about. I saw it. It was good. Actually, it reminded me of my real depression after I finished the last Harry Potter book.

Have I ever told you about my reading of the last Harry Potter book? It came out while I was on a monthlong trip to Costa Rica shortly after Kev and I started dating. I was brushing up on my Spanish before starting my job teaching bilingual ed. I was super sad that I would be missing the release, but Kev promised to buy me a copy of the book. Even better, he promised to wait to read it until I got home, so that we could read it together and talk about the ending.

"What a guy," I thought.

Until we were chatting late one night, and he revealed that he had opened the book to read the description on the inside front flap and accidentally read the first 150 pages. Then he got a beer and accidentally finished the book.

I love that he gets that into reading. I love that he didn't spoil the ending for me. I hate that he didn't wait for me.

Luckily, he redeemed himself today with this video he found. No need to thank me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Things


Hi Friends! I'm back. See? I told you I wouldn't abandon you in your time of summer unproductivity need? You're welcome.

Without further ado, here are ten things I'm thinking this Tuesday.

1) Today while I was babysitting my cutie pants distant cousins, we played with water guns. Chicago is in the middle of a heat wave, thus making the water guns awesome. I had an amazingly good time, and I'm glad that water gun fights are one of those things that don't get less fun or cool with age. Also, a two year old getting hit with water guns makes hilarious faces. Just sayin'.

2) I discovered Picasa yesterday. In a rare show of productivity, I backed up all of our photos from 2007 (when we first started dating) onwards. It's awesome, and easy. Goodbye flickr. Hello Picasa.

3) Looking at all my photos re-ignited my need to take some more. Pictures are freaking awesome, no? Somewhere after our wedding Kev and I stopped taking pictures together, which makes me rather sad as we are never going to look this young and hot again. SOMEBODY TAKE OUR FREAKING PICTURE PLEASE. thank you.

4) Thoughts of the upcoming school year are starting to creep in, which leads me to believe I'm starting to get excited. I'm sort of nervous excited. What if I don't make any friends? What if the kids won't play nice with me? What if everyone thinks (more like finds out) I'm a total spaz? Yikes.

5) It's so freaking hot. I really need to make some gazpacho. This is definitely gazpacho weather. My cats and I are all shedding like crazy. Praise the Lord that we are in a place with central air conditioning.

6) My mom has been strongly hinting that I am too old (at almost age 27) to wear a bikini. Is this true? Mine has nautical stripes on it...not ruffles or flowers. Doesn't that make it more mature?

7) This heat wave is killing any momentum I had for half marathon training. I fear this race is going to suck. Tonight I'm going to go consult my favorite running book to re-vamp my plan. Yeeps. How do you get motivated to work out?

8) Summer makes me compulsively spend money. Today I went to Target for the L and T to make BLTs tonight and came home with some new undies, a new (more modest) bathing suit top to rotate into the above mentioned bikini set, a new nightgown (starting an obsession- they are like sundresses you sleep in!) and pajama pants. What's my issue?

9) I have a new obsession with Vitamin String Quartet. They are a group that does orchestral interpretations of pop songs. I'm super obsessed. If I let my kids listen to them while we work next year, will that make me cool in the junior high world?

10) I missed you imaginary friends out there. I'm ready to get back to a regular scheduled routine.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Catchup Post

I cannot believe I've let a month go by without blogging. I am a terrible person. Here's the thing: as a teacher, I still have summers off. You would think that this would mean that I have expert knowledge on how to structure my time to do fun things, while also doing all the things (photography, half marathon training, etc) that I SAY I am going to do. Truthfully? notsomuch. I always end up spending the first half of my summer in complete sloth and the second half of the summer trying to get all the stuff done that I said I would do all summer long. Oops. I've missed all of you invisible friends though :)

So, here is what the first half of my summer looked like:

Kev and I went to Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland to visit our friends Paul and Amanda. We did the museum thing (loved the Newseum and Smithsonian American History), the Mall (loved the WWII memorial) and got to see the marine band play on the Capitol's steps. We ate dinner together every night, spent the weekend at a fabulous house on the Chesapeake, and it was fabulous. I wish Paul and Amanda lived closer, or that Kev had summers off so we could travel more. I've also decided that if we ever left the midwest, I'd definitely move southeast. I freaking love that area.

I've also been babysitting a ton for my cousins. I totally forgot how awesome it is to work for a day and get handed a fistful of cash at the end of the day as a direct result of your labors. Also, is there anything better than hanging out with little kids in the summer? Parks = awesome. Popsicles = awesome. Sprinklers = awesome. Naps = awesome. Kids rule. I've also gotten a good tan from playing outside with them. Winner, winner.

When I'm not kid wrangling or travelling, I've been enjoying all the fabulousness that summer in Chicago brings. Baseball games, free movies in the park, drinking on porches, watching Kev's terrible softball team (sorry, Great Balls of Friar, but it's true), and generally making mayhem.

So, fret not, I am alive and I'll be getting back to a regular blogging schedule this week. Thanks for coming back after the hiatus!