Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mental Space

Oh, hello strangers. I'm sorry I haven't written in a whole week, my mental space has been cluttered. My thesis was due on Tuesday, and I spent Monday writing, editing, polishing, and getting things under control. It feels phenomenal to be able to see the finish line on my grad school horizon.

Along with seeing the finish line on grad school, though comes seeing the finish line at my current job. I've been feeling low about it lately, possibly the lowest I've felt since realizing I should leave. It's hard. I love many of the people I work with. Now that the announcements have been made about who is teaching in what positions next year, the general public knows that I'm leaving, and are processing the information in a way I processed it many moons ago. I've been truly touched by the number of people that have come to me to say that they will miss me, that they love the way I work with my students, that they feel I am an amazing teacher. On the other end of the spectrum, two of the people that made it necessary for me to go have been unspeakably cruel. Ignoring me. Not asking my opinion regarding instructional decisions being made for my students for next year. Calling me unprofessional and disappointing to my face over something trivial. All of it. Knowing I had so many people that loved and supported me in a place I'm about to leave. Knowing that people I work with daily have such a misconstrued opinion of my motives. Not knowing what I'm walking into next year.

All in all, I think the change will be good for me. I walked into my current school feeling cocky, with six months of teaching experience under my belt, sure that I was God's gift to teaching. Over the last four years, I've learned to be humble about my skills, to admit my mistakes, to grieve for and laugh with my students without letting the tough times define me as a person. I've learned how schools really work, about special ed and gifted ed and ELL and native language transfer and more acronyms than one profession should really have. I've learned how to take marker stains off of almost any thing. I've also learned that I am a force to be reckoned with, while also learning to choose my battles wisely. Yet, on some level, I think that on some level, my current co-workers will always see me as that disorganized, impulsive 22 year old, and not the thoughtful, hard-working teacher I've grown into. Maybe moving on will help me to find my voice as a teacher, in a way I've only really begun learning how to do this year.

Processing all of these upheavals in my career has been taking up a lot of mental space. I'm only now starting to clear the cobwebs that two years of accelerated grad school and school changes have left behind. Writing this long post today really helped me to put my emotions in check. So thanks for reading, friends.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

First Comes Love, Then Comes?

One of my co workers recently had a baby, a beautiful little girl with a head full of hair and some chubby cheeks. Her husband is also a teacher in our school district, and together they sent a video to their students of them with the baby. It was the cutest. I happened to be in the room when the video was played, picking up first grade students for their ELL time. Walking back to our classroom after watching the video, the following discussion was had between students I, E, and myself.

I: Mrs. Gas, do you have a baby?
Me: No babies, just you guys.
I: Not US! You need a baby that you can keep in your house.
Me: Someday I will, but not today.
I: You are too skinny to have a baby. Your baby will be too small if you have it right now. (Note: I am NOT pregnant. I am also not making this conversation up.)
E: You need to eat a lot with your husband to get a baby.
I: Yeah. Eat together. Do the eating. Do it in the kitchen. Do it in your bed. Do it in the bathroom maybe. My mom does it all the time. That's why we have lots of babies.
E: Then, you need to bring the baby to us after you get super fat and it jumps out. We can play with it for you.

It's good to know my unborn children are in such good hands.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shipping Mysteries

I love online shopping. It is ridiculously convenient, especially since I am crazy busy these days with grad school and other assorted mayhem. Of course, I prefer to shop locally when I can, but for my chain stores like Express, AE, or Toms, it's sometimes easier to go online. I love many, many things about the city, but often when I want to shop at one particular store, I find it easier to do so online, since I get too lazy to take public trans and too skeptical to try and find a place to park my shiny red Focus.

Of course, online shopping comes with hazards. Clothes that don't fit the way I imagined. Mishaps with what has actually been shipped, versus what was ordered. Thankfully, I tend to have very positive shipping experiences when I do shop online. I also love to track the packages and see when they are coming in. Recently, though, with Old Navy, I had a package tracking mystery. Check out the dates and locations of this package below:

This really, really boggles my mind. My package started in Ohio, went to Georgia, came up to Highwood, and then decided to CHANGE LOCATIONS and go back to Atlanta? Maybe the weather wasn't warm enough for it. I'm totally stumped. Good thing I only ordered some basic tank tops and not anything really valuable.

How does this shipping stuff work, anyway? Postal workers of the world, please explain it to me. Mil gracias.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Morning Warm Up

As I alluded to yesterday, I'm not the greatest morning person. In fact, I hate mornings. My brain needs until about 10 am to wake up- which is a major buzz kill when you are a teacher and have to be "on" as soon as the kids walk in. To help my brain wake up, I've had a very similar routine for the past four years upon arrival to my classroom that I thought I'd share.

The first thing I do when I walk in the door is to do a quick temperature check. My room is used after school by the homework club, and has a fire door that leads to the outside. Because of this, my room is often freezing or boiling, depending upon the whims of the teachers using the room or how many people have snuck in and out of my door to avoid being caught by our principal.

Next, I fill my gigantic water bottle. As a result of my Game On! diet days, I have become extremely concerned with making sure I get 100 ounces of water over the course of the day. My "suitcase of water" as my friends on staff have dubbed it, is a giant hot pink water bottle with a straw from Target that holds 50 ounces, which I try to drink over the course of a school day.

After that, I go for some brain candy and skim the headlines of I'm a sucker for anything royal wedding related, or related to the gals from Teen Mom. I also have a strange love for the Kardashians and Bethenny from Real Housewives of something. Don't know why. Can't explain it. But somehow, this morning dose of brain candy helps me to get my ideas flowing and my mind in order.

Following my brain candy, I go to This site is totally rad. For doing simple searches, they reward you randomly with "swagbucks" totally FREE dollars that you can spend on different things. Although my heart belongs to google for searching, I try to do a few searches a day on this site to earn my bucks. Typically I earn one buck a day for voting in the daily poll, one buck a day for checking the surveys, and a few for searching. I tend to save mine for $5 Amazon gift cards or for free magazine subscriptions. Score!

Search & Win

All of this takes about ten minutes. The rest of my morning (typically about an hour before the students arrive) is spent in a frenzy of coping morning routine or assignment papers:

and trying to find my happy place. If it's a Friday, we have a staff provided breakfast in the lounge, where I go try to get a few minutes of grown up time in before the kiddos come. If I have extra time, I'll browse a blog or two on my Google reader before the kiddos come in. (Let me know if you want to know what I'm reading on the interwebs.) It's funny, but having the routine I do lets my body go on autopilot for a few extra minutes while my mind wakes up. Often, I find myself subconsciously brainstorming activities and tweaking the plans I've made to get things done.

Am I weird? What websites do you visit first thing? What routines at work could you not function without?

Monday, April 18, 2011


This weekend was super fabulous. Kev and I met up with some friends at one of our favorite places on Friday to watch the sad, sad opening series of the Blackhawks playoffs. Let me tell you friends, it has only gotten worse since Friday, too. Stupid Canucks and their stupid physical playing. Or, more accurately, stupid salary cap for forcing us to get rid of my boyfriend and role model for defensive playing:

(Thanks, ESPN)

See how he is using his booty to prevent scoring opportunities? That's how I solve all my floor hockey woes, too! I also use that move to close overstuffed kindergarten lockers and kitchen cabinets. My booty is multi-talented. See how Buff has a Hawks jersey on? That's how it should be.

Anyways, I digress. So, I had a major lament on Saturday when it was cold enough to necessitate my trusty sweater boots with a dress and leggings combo instead of the sultry sandals I had planned for my date night outfit with Kev. I moaned, I groaned, but I persevered so that we could visit a favorite restaurant and check out a new bar nearby. (Sidenote: this bar has my favorite beer, Victoria, ON TAP. Totally rad.)

However, the above lamenting is nothing compared to the laments I have regarding today's weather.

It is April 18th and there is snow on the ground. Snow that makes my trusty sweater boots once again necessary, instead of the cute five dollar dress I have been yearning to wear. Aggggghhhhh. Woe is me. Lament. Lament.

At least my kindergarteners are eternal optimists. The weather discussion of the day during morning calendar yielded this consensus:

My fingers are crossed.

Friday, April 15, 2011

5 Things Friday

1) The above scene made ma laugh out loud this morning. Which is a hard thing to do, because I am a beast in the morning. I hate them all. I do, however, believe that this is the politest house near us. They also have a sign on their gate that says "please close me." Although, I must admit, I think I now qualify as a large pet because I stepped right where the sign gently admonished me not to in order to capture this photo. Oopsie.

2) Why does my entire facebook feed revolve around people getting pregnant, their babies, or their uteri? (uterus-es? what the butt is the plural of that wretched word?) Facebook might as well just have put a big magenta sign on my home page that says "YOU ARE GETTING CLOSER TO THIRTY! BEWARE!" Yeesh.

3) We are going to one of my favorite dive-y northside bars tonight to watch the Blackhawks playoff game. All I can think about is eating my body weight in their fried pickles and buffalo chicken tenders. Thank God I went to an abs class yesterday. I think I have the soul of a 12 year old overweight boy. Or any of the kids from the movie Heavyweights. I love my inner fat kid. Or at least accept it.

4) Felix (orange cat) pushed out the screen from our second story window this morning and sat on the sill wrestling and playing chicken with Dante (black and white cat). Good thing we have two cats just in case an accident happens.... Our neighbors, I fear, think we are insane and/or permit our cats to do such things. Kev was ticked, to say the least.

5) Speaking of my dearest husband, his 28th birthday is coming up and I have NO idea what to get him, as the art supplies that I thought were such a brilliant gift for Christmas have gotten zero use. Message/email me if you have suggestions.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rock 'n' Roll

Spring is my favorite time of year for many reasons. I love living in Chicago and trying to figure out what the weather will do. Will I wear flip flops? Snow boots? It makes a really nice spring day even better because we don't take it for granted out here in the Windy City. Mostly, though, spring means that a new running season has started.

Last summer I took a little hiatus from running. With my RA, I wasn't really sure if I'd be able to train for anything serious, and quite frankly, I was sick of running and training. This year, though, I'm back in action, and I'm training for something exciting.

Excuse the crappy banner picture, folks. I just don't really have another pic to go with this at the moment. I'm registered and training for the Rock 'n' Roll half marathon in Chicago! I love to run. I love the pacing, the pushing yourself, the opportunity to be alone and just listen to my music and plan routes that let me check out different parts of the city. I love the squeaky clean feeling you get in your lungs when you are done running. I love having a schedule to work out to, especially in the summer when I need extra structure. Love. Love. Love.

I started my training on Monday, when I ran a whopping three miles. I used this as a little test, to check out where my body was at. You know what? I rocked it. I think all of my Game-on diet and exercising and cleaning up my act this winter helped me do more than just drop 12 pounds. I think (gasp) it ACTUALLY MADE ME MORE FIT! So, yesterday I ran 4 and finished two minutes above my goal pace. Woop woop! Today is a day off since I have grad school, but I am feeling absurdly proud of myself. I also like to know that I am doing something good, since summer is coming and I plan on spending as much of it on or near the water as humanly possible. Plus, with Kev getting up early to workout in the mornings now, I feel like less of a slacker if I get a good run in.

I'm planning another post in the near future about running tunes, but I have to ask. What is your favorite running/workout song? I'd love some new tunes for my new lil baby iPod.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Senior Slide

Oh, friends. It was 75 degrees out today after a long, cold blizzard-filled winter in Chicago. Kev and I went for a walk after church, and then I came home and did grad school homework. Really, if I'm honest with myself, I should still be doing said homework instead of sitting around with magazines. Senior slide has hit full force with me this last term of grad school. I have a thesis to write and one more class to take, and somehow I cannot seem to get motivated in the slightest to finish any of it. I'm the laziest of lazy beasts.

Spring is definitely in the air. The countdowns to summer break (42 days!) have begun, and soon my principal will announce staffing for next year-which will not include me. It's hard to believe that in 8 weeks I will be finishing grad school and ending the last four great years I spent at my former school. Next year I'll be moving to a new place, with new people, and I'll have left the kindergarten world behind for the world of junior high ELL. I have to keep reminding myself that change is good. My friends are also all moving on- moving to new, far, neighborhoods. Seeing us less. It's a strange, crazy season in my life right now, and I'm alternately thrilled and terrified.

Friday, April 8, 2011

5 Things Friday

1) I am meeting up with one of my favorite people and bestest friends tonight for sushi. Not the chill, byob sushi by my place, but a trendy sushi place in my old trendy neighborhood. I am greatly looking forward to some swanky drinks. I'm not, however, in the mood to look terribly cute. Skinny jeans, t-shirt and scarf it will be!

2) Speaking of jeans I have a terrible pair of mom-ish jeans with wide legs that were in style about five years ago. Even though they are hideous, I keep them around to wear on Friday jeans day at work. Today, however, they busted a hole in the upper thigh. Thankfully, you can't see them. Also thankfully, I'll be working with older students next year so I can buy a cute pair of trouser jeans without fear that they will end up ruined by purple glue stick. Junior high teaching may have more secret joys than I realize.

3) I need to learn how to use manual focus on my camera. Last week I went downtown and practiced shooting. While I ended up with some cool pics that I will post soon, I somehow couldn't get the camera to capture the vision I saw. This is for sure my fault. Reading and practice would help. Being done with grad school would give me the time to do so. Good thing June is around the corner....

4) My parents came to school today to talk to my kindergarteners for "community helpers" (career) week. They are a doctor and a nurse. It was really weird to hear them call me Mrs. Gas. Even though everyone else at school has been for almost two school years. So odd.

5) Speaking of Mr. Gas: the other day, Kev asked me a tough question. Namely, if I were to be stranded on a desert island with only three ice cream flavors to eat, what would I choose? I chose Moose Tracks (fudge and peanut butter cup chunks in vanilla) dark chocolate fudge, and vanilla with raspberries. Kev argued that vanilla with raspberries is not a flavor. I disagree. I know there is a raspberry vanilla swirl out there somewhere, and that is what I would want. Kev picked strawberry (his fave), moose tracks, and cookie dough, arguing that if you got sick of ice cream, you could get the cookie taste. I love the way that man's mind works. What would you choose?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spoils of Shopping

I love to shop. Always have. As a baby, my mom and grandma would take me shopping, and when I fell asleep they would just buy me pajamas and keep on going. However, I don't let myself near most major stores for fear of going overboard, so I frequently go on binges at my favorite store of all time...Target.

I talk about Target so often, in fact, that all I have to do is mention that I went shopping, or that I got something from the classroom, and a few teensy Mexican children will curiously ask "a Tar-git?" or "did you buy Target yesterday?" Let me tell you, the joys of kindergarten ESL teaching are many.

Back to Target. I talked my sweet, loving, adoring, devastatingly handsome husband into the necessity of a new ipod for me for the running season. Specifically, the new ipod nano with the handy teensy size and little clip to put on my shirt or pants while I run. I also pointed out that if i purchased said ipod at my favorite location of my favorite store, I would save 5% with my Target visa (I know, it's a sickness. They don't even pay me to write with this level of passion) and I would ALSO be in the suburbs, just avoiding the obscene Cook county taxes. Double win. So I came home with this....

(Please excuse the blurries. I was trying to take the photo with my phone. Plus, the blurries hide my hideously swollen hands. I haven't been being very nice to my arthritis lately, and it shows. Thank you for putting up with my semi-intentional terrible photography so you can see my new toy.)

Now, this is freaking sweet. Seriously freaking freaking sweet. I cannot wait to go on my very first run of the running season tomorrow with this bad boy. BUT THEN...the day got better. I happened to stop by the clearance rack to see if there were any fabulous pieces of clothing. (Kev, remember how much you loooooove me? and how you ENCOURAGED me to go to Target??? I do) Behold....a cute teacher dress!

Covers the goodie bits, cute color, slight style, long skirt so I can sit on the floor with my peanuts- this dress needed to be purchased. And, wait for it.....IT ONLY COST $5.05. YES! YES! YES! A win for everybody. A five dollar dress....and a 5 dollar times a billion ipod. Rock on.

Dante even likes it.

Triple win.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Date My Friends...If You Dare

Lately, my friends and I have been on a bit of a hiatus. Nobody's fault, but it's true. Many of my friends have new significant others/jobs/apartments, and it seems that we are all growing up a bit, and becoming more absorbed in doing our own things.

For a long time, Kev and I were among the few of our friends in significant relationships. When we got married, I heard a lot of "Oh, when you're married, you will never come out." "You're going to be so much busier after you get married." "You're going to move far away and just stay in together all the time." "You will never let Kev out." Believe me, I've heard it all.

Now, though, my friends are starting to look at things through their own (mostly) rosy relationship-tinted eyes. As the old (one and a half years!) married couple, people often ask me if I like their new-found dating partner. The truth is that I almost always like the new people in our group, because they usually meet the criteria I've set forth below.

I want my friends with people who make them a priority. With a boy or a girl who plans fab dates for them, is happy and sad right along with my friend, even if not always in agreement. This person needs to be flexible, as when he/she gets introduced to me and Kev, Kev will probably harass them. The ideal dater of a friend of mine must therefore must have a hearty sense of humor. Most of all, I want to see my friends with people who make them happier than they've ever been before. Even if they are wearing sweatpants.

....because really, I've found a great guy like that, so I want, more than anything, for my friends to be as happy as I am. And who doesn't like sweatpants?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Soothing Repetition

I'm slowly working my way through the MCP 52 photo challenges, and one of the assignments was to photograph around the theme "soothing repetition." I had a hard time thinking of things for this challenge. Initially, I wanted to shoot a bunch of churches, or something to do with prayer, because that has soothing qualities for me. However, when I started taking pictures, I started thinking about sunsets. The day comes, and it's often crazy. Then things start to slow down, Kev comes home from work, and we end the day together. Somehow, during the sunset, the day's troubles melt away, and we end up just us, together. Calming each other. Hence, today's photos of sunsets. Enjoy!