Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Saving Halloween

Happy Halloween invisible friends! A lot has been going on in the old personal life, and I just got hit over the head with a hammer when I realized that grades were due this morning, but I finally feel like I'm caught up on life and ready for action. My kiddos are watching Corpse Bride, and we are writing spooky stories and playing with spooky Mad Libs. So, I finally find myself with the leisure to post. Happy Halloween, indeed.

I always find myself a bit out of sorts about Halloween. The last few years, I've found myself stuffed into crowded bars looking at girls dressed as a slutty so-and-so and the guys wearing the bare minimum costume necessary to be able to go out tramp-or-treating. Halloween seems to set the women's rights movement back decades.

But then I look at my students. So excited. Hopped up on sugar. Trying to express themselves with something funny or unique. 8th grade football players squeezed into child-sized Spiderman outfits. Girls as Disney princesses, or the more ubiquitous something-in-a-tutu. The ever eye roll inducing regularly clothed kid who proudly announces that he is dressed as a student, or a student genius, if he is particularly plucky.

As much as I hate the adult version of Halloween, my heart is continually warmed by the kid version- even if my "kids" are verging on snarly teenagers replete with a "don't-eff-with-me" attitude. I like to see them drawn out of their hard shells by the promise of sugar and bright colors, howling jack-o-lanterns and a day at school that breaks the routines. Today's teenagers aren't impressed by much, not because they don't care, but because they literally have the entire world at their fingers instantaneously. As teachers, it's hard not to feel the pressure to bring your A-game daily, because if you DON'T grab their interest, something else will. Sometimes we're treated as though we're obsolete. I appreciate the excitement with which my students greeted me today, eager to see what I had decided to dress up as. In short, it's lovely to see kiddos being kiddos, tricking and treating away. So I guess I can't hate Halloween after all.

Halloween in Junior High

Happy Halloween invisible friends! A lot has been going on in the old personal life, and I just got hit over the head with a hammer when I realized that grades were due this morning, but I finally feel like I'm caught up on life and ready for action. My kiddos are watching Corpse Bride, and we are writing spooky stories and playing with spooky Mad Libs. So, I finally find myself with the leisure to post. Happy Halloween, indeed.

I always find myself a bit out of sorts about Halloween. The last few years, I've found myself stuffed into crowded bars looking at girls dressed as a slutty so-and-so and the guys wearing the bare minimum costume necessary to be able to go out tramp-or-treating. Halloween seems to set the women's rights movement back decades.

But then I look at my students. So excited. Hopped up on sugar. Trying to express themselves with something funny or unique. 8th grade football players squeezed into child-sized Spiderman outfits. Girls as Disney princesses, or the more ubiquitous something-in-a-tutu. The ever eye roll inducing regularly clothed kid who proudly announces that he is dressed as a student, or a student genius, if he is particularly plucky.

As much as I hate the adult version of Halloween, my heart is continually warmed by the kid version- even if my "kids" are verging on snarly teenagers replete with a "don't-eff-with-me" attitude. I like to see them drawn out of their hard shells by the promise of sugar and bright colors, howling jack-o-lanterns and a day at school that breaks the routines. Today's teenagers aren't impressed by much, not because they don't care, but because they literally have the entire world at their fingers instantaneously. As teachers, it's hard not to feel the pressure to bring your A-game daily, because if you DON'T grab their interest, something else will. Sometimes we're treated as though we're obsolete. I appreciate the excitement with which my students greeted me today, eager to see what I had decided to dress up as. In short, it's lovely to see kiddos being kiddos, tricking and treating away. So I guess I can't hate Halloween after all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday- Butthead Edition

Sometimes when I make Kev take pictures of me, he doesn't take the pictures I think he is taking. He thinks he's hilarious....I think he's a butthead. Take this example from Lima, Peru.

I thought he took:

But first he took:

Such. a. butthead. He claims I've never been more attractive.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Shit Sandwich

I've been avoiding you, imaginary friends. Mainly because things have kind of sucked lately. I don't think I realized how many crappy things had been going on in the past week or so until my co-worker, H, complimented me on my sparkly shoes.

"Thanks," I replied. "IneedsomesparklebecausemylifesucksandmygrandpagotmovedtohospicecareandKevandIgotjumpedintheparkonMondayandIjustNEEDEDtowearmyglitterTomstoday."

Yep, because that's how rational people respond to compliments.

Sorry, H. Thanks for being a pal. I guess I need to get it all out there.

So, anyways, things have been kind of crappy lately. A real shit sandwich. To make two long stories short, last Sunday my grandpa fell and hit his head. He hadn't been doing so hot before then, but he had to have emergency brain surgery, which he had a 30% chance of coming out of without brain damage. He was in a coma for most of last week, and things have been touch and go since. Knowing that the man who gave me my love of family, hyperbole, ice cream, storytelling, gin, and troublemaking is slowly riding the tide out is tough. It hurts really badly. I just feel like a piece of my childhood is going to. Growing up blows sometimes. Shit sandwich.

Then, this past Monday, Kev and I were cutting through the large, well-lit park at 8:45 pm during the halftime of the Bears game to walk the four blocks home from a friend's house. Laden with work bags and a grocery bag full of leftover snacks, we pass two skinny teenage boys in hoodies who are sitting on a bench together not saying a word. Weird. We walk by, then hear a flurry of footsteps. One punches Kev in the face. He staggers, then they immediately run away. Kev's nose gushes blood, we walk to the corner bar and file a police report. Terrifying. I hate that it happened in my backyard, I hate that I was scared to ride the train and take the bus home after dark (at 7 pm). Most importantly, I hate that Kev got hurt and I was helpless to do anything. Shit sandwich.

But, as with any good sandwich, the shit sandwich is not really about the filling. Which, in this case, is metaphorical poop. Any sandwich is really a good or bad middle surrounded by a soft pillow of bread. As I'm writing this, I'm realizing there is a nice cushiony bun surrounding all this nasty stuff.

My grandpa came out of his coma with no brain damage, and has recognized everyone who visited. Yesterday, when discussing his discharge options from the hospital, after they declared they can't do much for him anymore, he very clearly said "enough's enough." He over and over said he wanted to go home, he was ready for hospice, he knew these were his last days and he was ok with letting go. He gets to end his life the way he has lived it- with bluntness, dignity, and class. In the meantime, I've talked to my siblings nearly daily, a minor miracle considering two of them are in college and the other is in law school. I didn't realize how much I need more of them in my life. Kev has instinctively known what to do for me, and I've realized I can handle the crap with a helping hand.

Which leads me to the other shit- my swollen faced guy. Who immediately after the attack, while he was bleeding, asked me if I was ok and said "I'm fine. I'm just glad they didn't do anything to you." Who does that anyway? My guy. Not to mention they didn't have weapons, nobody was seriously injured, they didn't take anything AND we got the chance to warn a guy walking into the park when we were leaving. We are safe, we have a very secure home, and we learned a healthy lesson about exercising caution. Not to mention, the police called Kev back the very next day to follow up. In the middle of Chicago's most violent year in decades, they responded to our tiny incident promptly and with respect. Thanks, CPD.

So all in all, I think I need to pick my head up a bit. This is life. It is messy. But sometimes, your shit sandwich comes with really delicious bread that makes you appreciate the act of eating all the more.

Thanks for the therapy, imaginary friends.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Shoes as Self

I'm going to DSW today, which means I have to clear about an hour of my schedule. You think I kid. I do not. For me, going to the Designer Shoe Warehouse (not Da Sale Warehouse or Da Shoe Warehouse as my brothers used to truly think it was called) is an exercise in finding a persona.Yes, these shoe marketeers have got me right where they want me.

Shoes are safe. In a world where fat is reviled and youth is coveted at all costs, there are very few shoe options out there that are veboten to my slightly plump, slightly scarred, not-quite-as-young-as-I-used-to-be self. No matter how much extra weight I've found, my shoe size stays the same. Even if I'm squeezed into something up top that I have no business trying to still pull off, I know that the right pair of favorite shoes will still make me look and feel comely, if only from the knee down. The right pair of shoes can not only change an outfit, but change a mindset.

Speaking of mindset, I truly believe you can infer a lot about a person based on their shoe choice. For instance, a young woman teacher wearing pumps or kitten heels all day at work has almost certainly been teaching less than two years. We veterans grow out of that phase quickly, and our feet thank us for it. A guy wearing Toms is almost certainly confident, loyal and happy. Just ask my husband, who lives in his madras pair three seasons a year. The sandals wearers in any weather over sixty degrees are innate optimists here in Chicago, while the boots-wearers in early September have a deep and emotional connection to their favorite pair; they love the style without the hassle and are practical. My favorite thing to do when I am bored at a large meeting is to look around the room at people's shoes. If you look at a person from the ankle up, you often get a total surprise by the time you arrive at the top: the face doesn't always imagine the chosen shoes in ways you think. Footwear may be the true window of the soul.

Which leads me back to my current DSW conundrum: I need new formal shoes. Previously, I had been rocking my sister's prom shoes. Gold stiletto sandals that matched almost everything. I'm not sure what this borrowed pair said about me: thrifty, with a penache for tacky? Formerly athletic calves with a slight ladylike inclination? I know I'm never going that high again with shoes (not if I'm paying for them, anyway) but I loved the gold because I could use them with multiple dresses. What am I going to choose to reinvent myself as, now that I have successfully worn out my last persona? Classy lady? Vintage vixen? Practical Patty?

To heel or not to heel- that is the real question.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wedding Attire Dilemma

Oh, friends. I adore a good wedding. So good for the heart and the soul. I love seeing my guy all suited up, holding my hand and charming the friends of mine he has yet to meet. I love listening to the ceremony-silently recommitting in my mind all the reasons I will never, ever give up on this marriage of mine. I love seeing my guy friends grovel into melty mush as their gorgeous ladies come down the aisle. I love the non-traditional weddings with their very realness. I love it all.

But I do NOT love figuring out what to wear for a wedding.

When I was a few years younger, this decision was very easy. I had two go-to dresses (both of which I still own, and both of which fit with some spanx and some oh-my-god-please-cooperate-thighs-its-just-because-I-workout-oh-wait-no-I-have-big-fat-legs-because-they-like-to-chill-on-the-couch-under-an-arm-holding-a-beer) and I attended around two weddings a year-one with family, and one with friends, so life was grand. Now, notsomuch.

This year we have five before the end of the year. Next year, we know of two for sure already. Many of these weddings have a few friends that overlap, so my dress rotation options are limited. I have more dresses now, but I waffle often over which ones I want to wear. I sort of view dresses as the grownup equivalent of high school dances. You get to wear a little more makeup, do something super sweet with your hair, spend the night bopping around the dance floor and hopefully sneaking kisses with your date, and you probably end up with one friend puking. However, some of my friends have had weddings with little kids around. Some are bringing their little kids. Thus, the full fledged cocktail dress of my early 20s is suddenly seeming a little less appropriate.

Case in point: I have a gorgeous, square neck, tulip skirt red dress with pockets that I adore that I bought for a Kev holiday party a few years ago. I love this dress, and people, believe me when I say I look hoooooooooot in it. I wish I had a pic to show you, but I don't. I desperately want to wear it to an adults only wedding next weekend where the reception is at Gibson's downtown. But red? wedding? too much? Too va-va-voom? Probably..... sigh

Then there is the wedding in three weeks. Kev is standing up. The bride has lots of little nephews, nieces and friends with kids who will be attending. Thus, less cocktail-y. Less glam. More family fun, at least to start the evening. Hot red dress....definitely not. But I still want to look good and remind that boy of mine why he locked this down. What to do? How to walk the line?

Ladies in the crowd, how do you decide what kind of dress to wear to a wedding? Yipes.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Thankfuls month went by with no blogging. A month full of time with friends, professional development opportunities, a trip to Vegas with the Gas crowd, and all the general craziness of starting a new school year. Add to that two malicious kittens who are angry that I am back at school and peeing accordingly, two new students who are very high-needs and moved in a week after school started, and a generally ginormous caseload, and I feel like this is the first time I've sat down in a month - let alone to blog. Then, I got super stuck in my head about what to write.

The perfect topic came to me this morning, however, while I was driving to work in Focus Pocus, listening to my very favorite morning radio show. Eric and Kathy are hosting a radioathon for a big children's hospital in Chicago, and along with that, they were broadcasting stories of families with sick children. One story in particular really touched my soul. In it, a woman and her husband discussed the life, and death, of their four year old daughter. They said a lot of really moving things, but mostly they talked about how thankful they were. To take their daughter home on what they thought would be the last night of her life, only to have three months with them where they focused on being happy. "We knew we had the rest of our lives to grieve," said the woman, " but we wanted to focus that moment in being happy, and thankful that we had her." Now, the couple says they still feel they are parents to their daughter by giving back to the hospital and throwing a giant New Years' Eve party there every year. So awesome. But I digress.

This past month, I've been feeling some anxiety. Anxiety over watching my grandfather slow down. Anxiety over managing overwhelming situations at work. Anxiety over worrying about my students on the weekends. Anxiety about my flaring RA. Anxiety over our finances. Gack. So I'm calling today as a time-out day, and I'm going to really try to be thankful instead. To slow down. To re-set the dial and get back to what really matters. I need to zoom out, and see the big picture. So, before this post gets any longer, here are a few of my many thankfuls (in no particular order):

  • A job that challenges me and inspires me
  • Students that make me think
  • Having real, strong, enduring relationships with both my grandmas and my grandpa that continue to today
  • Kevin- the string to my flyaway kite
  • a family that I get closer to as we get older- not the opposite
  • a hilarious host of inlaws- especially the Vegas crew and B & B. Love them all.
  • two cats that are so happy to have me home with them that they flip out when I leave (I thought only dogs did that?)
  • more than I need. In food, in possessions, in money. How many people can say that?
  • the opportunity to travel- so important. Points of view have been forever altered
  • the ability to read and write in not one but TWO languages
  • my faith- even when I question it.
  • a body that I can keep healthy(...ier)
  • Passions for reading, writing, health, cooking, photography, communication 
  • friends, friends, friends near and far who enrich my life
What are you thankful for?
Should this be a weekly/monthly update?
Is anyone even still reading this thing? 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

10 Things Thursday: Class Edition

I've been in a 9-5 one week, four credit-hour intensive class on emotional and behavioral disorders this week. Yes, that explains the silence over here. Yes, it is as terrible as it sounds. To make up for it,  here are ten observations from my time in class.

1) Someday when I'm pregnant, I'm just going to hide in an all natural vegan cave. There is a LOT of crap in the environment that can mess a kid up big time.

2) People will do anything for a reward. I, personally, will take an entire semester of coursework in one week to be rewarded with more free evenings over the total summer. Man, are people (me) fools or what?

3) Why is it so hard to find healthy food in a vending machine? And why can't there be a student fridge so that I can just bring my own darn food?

4) I drink way too much water. Consequently, I foten sit by the door so that I can dash out as needed. Super awkward.

5) Sitting for four hours straight between breaks does not make my rheumatoid arthritis happy. My knees were so stiff yesterday, I tried to get up and almost fell out of the chair. I feel like the freaking Tin Man. Awesome.

6) I have definite pen preferences. Most preferred: Clicky top smooth (ball) point. Next: cap top, smooth tip. Last: scratchy pens that make noise when you write. Hate those.

7) I've invented a new word. classhole: (def) a person who repeatedly moopolizes a class discussion with personal, often arbitrary or unrelated thoughts, ideas, arguements, or diatribes. sample sentence: Mary was a real classhole today when she spoke for 11 minutes straight about her son's journey with ADHD and how much she hates her son's school.

8) Mary is in my class. So are two of her classhole friends. Help. Me.

9) I really miss undergraduate classes' uniform policy. I wish I was wearing a hoodie and pajama pants right now, holding a cheese bagel and ogling hot guys in my class. Strangely enough, summer teacher education coursework doesn't usually draw the hotties. Go figure.

10) TGIT. Or, TGAF. One more day 'til freedom.

What would you rather be doing right now?

What do you wish was more socially acceptable to wear out in public?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

No Girls Allowed

On Monday, I opened up my Amazon account and found the pictured item for "school must-haves" very confusing.

"Surely Amazon has made a mistake," I thought, "because that outfit definitely looks like a naughty schoolgirl costume I purchased for a bachelorette gag gift a few months ago. Also, it isn't the late '90s- Britney Spears' 'Hit Me Baby' video is no longer en vogue. Is this a joke?"

So I clicked through......

This is what they are actually advertising as a 'stylish saving' for GIRLS. 

If we actually have any girls one day, I fear Kev might have a heart attack. Better yet, no girls allowed at all. Period. I absolutely refuse to dress my future daughters in shit like this some day. 

Oshgosh Begosh 4 life.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saturdays in the Chi

I had a helluva Saturday this weekend; the kind of weekend that makes you question your life choices and reminds you how terribly awfully lucky you are to be celebrating your summer in a world-class city with your kick-ass friends.

It all started with a street fest. We went to hear a friend's awesome band play at the summer on Southport fest. If you've ever lived in or visited the wonderous city of Chicago during the summer, you know that it magically morphs into a walking party in sporadic pockets. Walking down the street you can find a totally random fest nestled between bookends of buildings. Burger fest, bacon fest, beer fests- this one happened to be a "our street is awesome" fest. Kev and I happily trotted out around five, grabbed some beers on the closed-off street, and settled in from some truly grungy funk rock. Along the way, I gained a healthy buzz, lost some dignity, had a poem commissioned and written for me after bumping into an old high school friend, and almost drowned a pocket puppy with half a glass of red sangria while trying to discern whether or not it was actually "the fluffiest puppy at the fest." True story. Countless drinks later, our hot, sweaty troupe headed to the bar down the street with live country music. We drank, we danced, and way later in the night, Kev and I stopped for ice cream on our two am walk home.

It is nights like these that make me remember why I live in a small condo in a big, expensive city. Other friends of mine are starting to make their way into the suburbs- lured, no doubt, by the amount of home they can get for their money, less obscene taxes, and a non-traffic snarled commute. And yes, they can still come down for summer fests, but by moving they lose something else: serendipity.

I love this city because it is expensive and unpredictable. Because it is big, and loud, and you have to keep your head about you while navigating. I love that I have an honest to goodness tiny corner bar, with bartenders who know my name and have my icy Crispin and order of guac ready before I even ask. I love the tiny carry out places for late night food, and the fact that I can get ice cream at two am shitcan drunk and the guys behind the counter don't even bat an eye. I love that stopping by to see a band play and have one singular beer can turn into a late, irresponsible night. I love that one day my kid or kids will dance in front of a loud stage to music with wildly inappropriate lyrics while the band members soak them with SuperSoakers. I love the languages on the crazy bus route by my house, and the people that commute on the train who I wave to in the mornings.

A part of me knows that some day I, too, am going to head to the burbs in search of better schools and a yard to put a swingset in. But until that day, I need to get off my butt, get out the door, and give the world the opportunity to present me a day like yesterday: a day where the group kept getting bigger, the music louder, and the night longer. A day and night to remind me that I'm here, it is now, and you don't get memories: you make them. One sangria soaked dog at a time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

10 Things I Was Doing Besides Blogging

So.....its been six weeks. Here's what I've been up to:

10) Napping. A lot.

9) Babysitting two adorable little ladies and being the adult in the house for my junior high cousins. One of these jobs yields a lot of playing at the park. The other yields a lot of pretending to play at the park while really watching to see what girls are around. I'll let you decide which is which.

8) Spending time with my family. My sister is living with us this summer, which has actually been a blast, and I've been seeing a lot of my parents and city-dwelling brother as well.

7) Eating too much. This chick is getting downright portly. I should have fewer teacher friends that like to lunch out. Or live in a cheaper city.

6) Staying up until 2 am THREE NIGHTS IN A ROW. True, this just happened this week, but my twentyeight year old self does not appreciate me pretending to be my eighteen year old bar floozy self. Oops.

5) Bopping around up at the lake house in Wisconsin. Drinking at a slow pace all day while out on a boat. Playing Rummikub and Gin. Eating more foods with artificial ingredients than can possibly be counted. Showing of my portly physique in a two piece that I am entirely too old to be wearing. Life. is. good.

4) Ignoring my to-do lists. This includes cleaning, blogging, doing school work, working ahead on homework for my summer classes, and any and all real obligations.

3) Watching ridiculous YouTube videos. Some examples:

2) Reading, reading, reading. I have read SO many great books this summer, and hope to read even more. My favorite read this summer so far might be Imagine: How Creativity Works. Just read it. Trust me. Amazing. Read it and never wish to be more creative again. I am about to start a new chunky book today and I couldn't be more excited about it.

1) Traveling to Peru!!! Some picture recaps will be coming shortly, but for now please enjoy this gem:

Regular blogging schedule, inasmuch as I ever have one, will resume this week. Thanks for being patient imaginary friends!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Advice for Next Year

Last week, I had my junior high ELL students write some pieces of advice that will be handed on to my students next year. Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom I gleaned as I graded them today. I think they are pretty darn smart!

I had my students write advice letters to next year's kiddos. Quote from 7th grader DK "Never ever make Mrs. Gas angry. She is really a nice person, but when she is angry, she is scarier than your mom and dad put together."

Don’t give teachers lame excuses about your homework and just finish it. Actually, most of all I think that you should have fun in school. That’s my real advice.

If you are late, the teacher will mark you tardy. If you are tardy three times, you will have a detention after school where you can’t do your homework- you just sit and do nothing. So then you will have less time for your homework, and you will not finish it and you will stay up late trying to finish, so you will be late and then you will get another detention, and so you will be in the late/bad homework/detention cycle and you will never get out.

If you write your homework in your homework notebook, bad things will not happen to you.

When I saw some people studying while I was having fun, I felt pity for them- but I was wrong. I got a B- because of stupid time wasting.

It will make your life easier if you are honest. Lying will make things worse and eventually you will get caught lying.

One time, there was this pitiful guy who stole my money. He always deined it and never gave my money back. I was really angry and I was ready to take revenge, so while he was in the office, I took his shoes, backpack, wallet, MP3 and everything he owned and threw it in the dumpster. Later, I saw the garbage truck driving away and I smiled. Sweet payback is always acceptable.

I never realized doing things by myself was important. If I kept asking people for help, I would never learn anything by myself. Now I learn on my own and use my knowledge when I need it. I don’t depend on others.

I usually don’t challenge myself because it’s not fun, but I’ve learned that the beginnings of challenging yourself are always hard but there’s joy waiting for you right after you are done changing yourself. Challenges are bittersweet.

Sometimes people say really mean stuff to you and ignore you. Most people get their feelings hurt by it. Why? Why do you need to listen to people who insult you and ignore you? It just makes you unhappy. Be yourself and do what your heart says. Don’t listen to those ugly words. Listening to yourself makes you happier and lets you shine more. Be yourself!

Sometimes you forget things quicker than you would think.

If you really need something signed, ask your parents and never do it yourself, or else you will get in big trouble. It will also be a forgery which means you could go to jail.

Giving up is the worst thing you can do when you are in school. If you give up, you will feel like you don’t want to do your homework. So, never give up!

If you ever make Mrs. Gas cranky, watch your head.

Always tell your mom yes even if you won’t end up doing something.

Definitely don’t shove stuff under your bed. Are you really that lazy? Just throw it where it belongs.

Don’t get your teachers mad at you for something stupid that you could have finished in five minutes.

Try to raise your hand and answer some questions in class because if you won’t do it, your teacher will always tell you to answer the hardest questions.

When you have a big project or many things to do, think about summer break.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Me Party

It is Thursday night. The house is quiet. Kev is at class, and I arrived home a few minutes ago from a great retirement party for a very inspiring colleague and friend. The cats are bumbling, and the only sounds are the burbling of the keys as I type. I'm having a teensy party, just for myself.

Twice a week for the last year, Kev has had night class for his MBA while I've been enjoying being finished and adjusting to my new job. The first few months in the fall, I was so busy putting faces with names and figuring out my new crop of kiddos that I didn't have time to really relish the peace. I desperately missed Kev in the evenings; I was anxious to tell him about the new cast of characters in my life and to bounce ideas off of him. Slowly, though, my attitudes towards my weeknights alone began to change.

While I still feel a tiny sliver bit of incompleteness when we're not together, I've learned to relish these nights alone. I either leave the tv completely off like a crazy hippie, or I watch trashy television. I start new books. I feed the cats too much food. I clean in small bursts and dye my hair colors that are slightly too much-loud-brassy-red-awkward. I eat M&Ms for dinner and hummus afterwards. I sing. I do sit-ups. I grunt. Mostly, though, I recharge.

I've learned that for as much as I want to put into my marriage, my family life, and my friendships, I need to give myself some space, too. When I'm alone in my house, I listen to myself in a way I can't when my dearest Kevo is around. I remind myself of the person I was before I got married, before I became a teacher, before I had others' voices on my radar. I remind myself that I'm amazing company, and I spend hours stalking on Facebook and pinning an impossible lifestyle. I make a space in my life for me.

Things get crazy. Working in a junior high at the end of the school year is insane. Living in a gigantic city surrounded by friends I've known for years and two giant, loving families leaves little time for me to have my me parties. And secretly, to be completely honest, I'm dreading Kev's graduation a bit, and having future kiddos someday, because I know I won't have this kind of me-VIP time automatically scheduled. I'm writing this post to remind myself that it's okay to take a break, to schedule that time, and to shoo even my most favoritest person out the door once in awhile.

Because really, I rule. Sometimes I just need to be a party of one to remind myself.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

10 Things Tuesday

1) I think I work the hardest for my money in May. Between trying to wrangle crazy students, getting the end of the year "stuff" done and grading and assessing all the final jazz, it is one crazy ride. I am pooped.

2) I'm going to the eye doctor today. I think if I could be any kind of doctor, I would totally be an optometrist. They have all the coolest toys. Going makes me nervous, though. Better one? Better two? I have no freaking clue.

3) Friday was the official first sundress day of the season. I am OBSESSED with sundresses and have a really hard time not buying them in March. So far this season I have purchased four that I just couldn't resist. I love that first day when you really realize that it is hot and it is going to stay that way. The midwest is full of charm that way.

4) Speaking of summer, that means new recipes. Tonight, I'm making gazpacho and maybe some corn salsa. This weekend I also want to try a crab, avocado and corn salsa that I found on Pinterest. I love, love, love the fresh veggies and summer nibbly dishes that summer brings.

5) Does Memorial Day weekend sneak up on everybody, or is it just me? Both Kev and I forgot that we have a three day weekend this weekend for the holiday and I am beyond pumped. Such a good teaser to get me through the last few days of school.

6) Speaking of the last days of school, recently I started a new twitter feed for professional, teacher, education related items. If you are a teacher, follow me @theycallmemrsg. Now I have all of my favorite YA writers, publishers, education news people in one spot, and not mixed in with other zany hijinks. If you are a teacher, you must follow me!

7) I'm thinking about doing a giveaway when I get to thirty followers....if you have a google account but don't officially follow me, you should get on that. Leave a comment, too, while you are at it. You'll make my day.

8) My crazy beasts are shedding like CRAZY lately. I know it is the heat, but my house is repulsive. GoodNESS they are fuzzy. Needless to say, I will NOT be wearing black for a while. Does anybody know any good pet hair cleaner-upper type products?

9) I just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird with my eighth graders, and they GOT it. They LOVED the Boo mystery, they adored the trial, and their takeaways were profound and inspiring. I love teaching junior high; I get to expose them to so many truly great books, and they can really articulate some passionate opinions back to me. Leaving my last school was the best thing that ever happened to me professionally, even if I didn't realize it at the time.

10) I cannot keep a manicure fresh. I just bought a special new 10 day wear topcoat from Sally Hansen, and applied it over my pink on Sunday. I already have three fingers chipped. What gives?

Leave me your magical secrets in the comments. Happy, sunny, wonderful Tuesday!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

28 for 2012: A 5/12ths Report

Good gracious, it’s mid-May. How in the world did that happen? In the interest of keeping myself in check and publicly accountable, and because I’m in the throes of some spring cleaning mania, I thought I’d post my original list from New Year’s.

Fitness and Eating
1. Hire and work with trainer Thwomp (real name: Steve) once a week to make my gym workouts more effective.
2. Track my food and water on SparkPeople at least four times a week to avoid long periods of unhealthy eating. revision: keep some sort of food/drink diary daily.
3. Cook one meal per week- no more letting Kev do it!
4. Try to log 180 minutes of exercise a week. 180/week = 730/month = 8760/year. YAY!
5. Register for and complete a sprint triathlon this summer            revision: go to two exercise classes a week during the summer, and one a week during the school year in addition to the trainer.

Notes on Fitness: The fitness stuff is certainly not terrible. I've been exercising 3-4 times a week for 40 minutes, but I certainly haven't been doing so with any sort of plan in mind. While my trainer sessions have definitely built some muscle, the scale isn't budging. Not a spec. SparkPeople can get tedious, so I'm thinking about carrying around some sort of notebook that I can keep track of food/water/spending during the week. Maybe awareness is the first step?

6. During the hour after school, when you don't have meetings, grade papers! Avoid those pile ups.
7. Finish Special Education classes (3 to go!)
8. Update certifications- move from initial to standard teaching and add your Reading Specialist degree.

Notes from Work: Let's face it, the grading daily just isn't going to happen what with meetings and so forth. Considering we have three weeks left of school, I'm just going to try to do one assignment a day, and then we can re-evaluate in the fall. Huzzah for getting my standard, big girl teaching cert, though!

9. Print and frame black and white photos. Hang.
10. Write down the money you spend daily.
11. Clean 2 hours per week (ideally divide into 20 minute daily chunks so you don't self-destruct)
12. Get a recycling bin and use it.
13. Sort old books. Take to MarketFresh Books in Evanston to sell. Open account and buy your new books there.
14. Get rid of random crap. Donate or eBay it. In progress.

Notes From the Homefront: We have too damn much crap in our home. I shop too much, and I getting really tired of walking into a hot mess. I seriously need to re-evaluate my current plan. Maybe do 10 minutes of tidying while I leave in the morning and another ten when I get home during the week, then do an hour or so of deep cleaning on the weekends? We need to start living like the adults we are.

15. Read 52 books this year.
16. Read 10 non-fiction
17. Read 10 recommended titles from BookLust
18. Finish A-Z and Chunkster reading challenges.
19. Post bite-sized reviews of each book finished on twitter.

Notes: Goodreads tells me I'm currently 3 books behind the pace I'll need to finish by the end of 2012, but I'm not worried. I usually make up for it during the summer. I know I need to read a lot more non-fiction, and I think instead of BookLust, I'll revise to the 1001 books you should read before you die and crank out 10 from that list. Good plan. Go me. As for the bite sized reviews....welp....hopefully soon.

20. Use Groupons for date night photo class and Chicago photo class prior to going to Peru.
21. Practice! Take camera out with you more often!
22. Start a habit of posting nearly wordless posts on blog.

Notes: I was doing so well with the Wordless Wednesdays....sigh...I need to get back to that.

23. Make a plan to study and practice more Spanish. If you don't use know...
24. Plan a weekend getaway somewhere new in the U.S. with Kev.
25. Do something spiritual daily.
26. Go to mass twice a month.
27. Go to PERU!!!
28. Talk to each grandma once a month.

Notes: Some of these are in progress. I have a groupon for summer Spanish classes, and I can easily hop back on the daily Bible emails I get. As for mass, I really have to stop and think about this goal. I'd rather read something spiritual and reflective once a month or do some sort of volunteering instead......must ponder...must ponder.

Overall, I think I've got to get my rear in gear.

What are your 2012 goals?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

10 Things Tuesday

1) I am currently resting from a giant cleaning project involving a large closet of my classroom. I took everything out, sorted, and put everything from 2000 or later back in. I donated a gigantic pile of 70s and 80s workbooks and text books. Why are teachers such hoarders? I found stuff from three teachers before me in my position. Yeesh.

2) The good news is that I now know what I have so I can do my favorite for supplies for next year. Huzzah. Huzzah. Huzzah.

3) My kids are being total punks. All of them. Grrrr.....17 days left. 16 wakeups left. The waking up ass-early is totally the worst part of teaching.

4) I love, love, love buying office supplies. New pencils, notepads, markers, binders. Heaven. If only I could muster the same joy towards cleaning my house and organizing it. Maybe it's just because my room is so teensy compared to my home. Must seem like a more manageable project.

5) We are inching closer to sundress season. And sushi season. And drinks on patios and porches and beer gardens season. I cannot wait.

6) I visited my RA doctor yesterday, and I just have to say that she makes my day. She's so upbeat and positive, while also being blunt and actually forthcoming in what is happening and what my treatment options are. Considering I found her online, I really lucked out. I'm so thankful, because if I have to see someone every four months for the rest of my life, it might as well be her. She also told me that I'm "not a complainer" about my pain. My doctor and nurse parents would be so very, very proud.

7) I went online the other day to find a fun, PG rated end of the year movie that my kids would love to watch on the last day or two while I packed up my classroom. I had to go all the way back to movies from when I was that age to really find something that would work. Actually, three somethings: Cool Runnings, The Goonies, and The Sandlot. Are there any more recent PG rated movies that will appeal to 12-14 year olds out there that I'm missing? I refuse to believe that they don't exist anymore. Have our kids really gotten that reality-crudeness thirsty?

8) I have so many games in my classroom that we don't play. I'm strongly considering doing some sort of end of the year raffle giveaway type thing. Or maybe I should auction one off each quarter next year as a that. For now, they stay.

9) I can't even imagine how scary my brain would be if I didn't blog/journal. I figure out so many things when I write. Go me.

10) Kev has started a tumblr account for all of his instagram adventures, just in case you can't get enough of us. Visit!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Graduation Thoughts

This weekend, Kev and I traveled with his family up to Minnesota for his younger brother Bobby's graduation from college. His fabulous girlfriend, Becca also graduated that day, and we spent all of Saturday bopping around to parties and celebrating the end of one chapter in their lives. Winona, Minnesota is a beautiful place in the springtime, and I found it easy to be festive in the sunshine.

Some people, on the other hand, weren't feeling so festive. What is it about a college graduation that inspires people to say horrible things? Some of the gems I overheard as people were "celebrating:"

So, do you have a job yet?
It's all downhill from here, buddy.
The real world sucks, it's definitely not the same.
I can't wait for you to start working so you can see what we all deal with.
College were the best years of my life, you're never going to have that much fun again.
Have all of your friends scattered yet? They will.

I'd like to say that I'm exaggerating, but I'm really not. Quite frankly, this kind of negative talk irked me. Yes, moving on from college to the next steps can be scary. For the first time, you are in charge of starting your life. Yes, the economy sucks and these kids probably won't get their dream jobs right out of school, but at the same time, there are so many options to learn from out there, and things have a funny way of working themselves out. I think you can tell a lot about a person from the advice and commentary they give graduates.

I personally felt ecstatic for Bobby because I know that the best is yet to come. I had an amazing time in college, but the years following have been the best of my life. I reconnected with Kev, got married, made amazing friends in Chicago, learned a new city, gained independence, landed two jobs that made me extremely happy most days, traveled, learned, read, and bought a house. Tried to manage money. Bought my own wedding dress with money I earned with my own hard work. Became a mother to two pesky hairballs. Watched my siblings grow. Grew myself. Cried. Loved. Lost. Gained.

I think that anybody who says college were the best years of their life probably is missing out on amazing opportunities in front of them. I miss my college friends, as we've moved to different states and drifted apart. I miss having instant access to my friends whenever I wanted, and the freedom to organize my days as I saw fit. But I am much prouder of the person I am now and the life I live then I was back then. I may be a little more arthritic, and a little more outspoken, but I've made a life for myself with my amazing husband that I'm proud to call mine. I've made mistakes I've learned from, and some choices that I would make again if given the chance. But they've all been mine.

I can't wait to watch more of my siblings become themselves in this way. I can't wait to watch as they stumble, then walk, then run towards the things they want in life. I can't wait to see where life takes all of us, and I know the truth- after college, the best is yet to come.

Were college your best years? What were some of your favorite years in life?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May Lessons

Two of the most important men in my life, my father and my husband, share the same May birthday. They call it "Stud Day" and count George Clooney and Albert Einstein among their members. Between the two of them, these studs have taught me a lot about living.

My father teaches me to be confident.
My husband teaches me that people will love you for it.

My father teaches me the hilarious art of sarcasm.
My husband teaches me not to abuse it.

My father teaches me to take care of my health.
My husband teaches me it's never too late to re-vamp your routines.

My father teaches me to pursue a job I love, even if I won't get rich.
My husband teaches me the moderation necessary to live on my earnings.

My father teaches me that sometimes dreams take a long time to come true.
My husband teaches me to focus on today while I wait.

My father teaches me to take pride in being a smart girl.
My husband teaches me that smart girls are really the hottest ones.

My father teaches me that size and height don't matter.
My husband teaches me that people can make you feel taller than you really are.

My father teaches me to meet people where they are in life, even if they aren't ready to hear what you have to say.
My husband teaches me that sometimes, you just have to come out and say what you mean.

My  father teaches me that family comes first.
My husband teaches me to take time for our little family, also.

My father teaches me that kindness and loyalty are how people remember you.
My husband teaches me to think before I speak.

My father and my husband are two amazing, powerful, and hilarious men; I'm beyond blessed to have them both in my life, and I'm thankful for them every single day. Celebrate on, you crazy studs.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Reads- Why I Do It

I'm between two books at the moment, and it's making me uncomfortable. I just finished The Solitude of Prime Numbers, which alternately disturbed me, haunted me, and ultimately left me unsatisified, and I'm about to start Insurgent- the second book in the Divergent series and what my school librarian would deem a "twinkie" - a light fun quick read. So I thought instead of doing my typical (long neglected) Friday Reads post, I'd begin a deep think about why I read. Why it's important. Why it is such a part of me.

I don't really remember learning how to read- it just came. I cannot remember a time in my life where I saw words I didn't know. I played with my books, too- building castles and forts, lining them up like lily pads and frog-hopping my way over, around, and through the titles. The day I learned to read cursive, I was around eight and sneakily reading chapters of The Babysitter's Club during Sunday mass with my family. Usually, my mom read those diary entry pages to me, but I persevered during that interminable homily to both entertain myself and escape my parents' ire.

Soon after I started school, this passion translated to writing. I used to hoard quarters until I could buy notebooks at the PTA's school store, and I was the odd duck who secretly loved indoor recess. I'd curl up in a corner of the overcrowded, manic gym and write. And write. And write. Growing up in a houseful of many kids close in age, I've learned to shut the world around me out and get lost in reading. In writing. In words. As I grew, I became convinced I would be a writer or journalist when I grew up. I went to college with this intention, only to find that my foundational journalism classes sucked the life out of stories. I thought again. Where could I surround myself with books and writing and still make a living? I became a teacher- a choice that baffled my family and friends.

Now, I make time to read. I don't really have time, but I make it anyway. I get irritated with people who say publishing and books are a dying art. I take pride in cracking the tough anti-literacy students I encounter. I place the timeline of significant events in my past by what book I was reading, as in "I was still in my Babysitter's Club years, it must have been first or second grade." "To Kill a Mockingbird in a blue library- eighth grade" "100 Years of Solitude- Mexico." The list goes on.

I blame reading for many things in my life. My unshakable belief that people are inherently good and things happen for a reason. My obnoxious habit of embellishing stories beyond belief. My ability to talk to almost anybody- I just try to imagine what book character they remind me of and proceed. My terrible procrastinatory streak. It's all there, in those smooth, woodsy smelling pages. I'm a book hoarder, a book boss-er (you HAVE to read this). I'm the irritating older sister who gives  a book with every gift. I get lost in the world of fantasy. I think I know everything because I "read it somewhere."

I'm a reader, it's who I am.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

10 Things Wednesday (oops)

I started this yesterday but fell asleep on the couch at 9 and didn't have time to put it up until now. Whoops.

1) Yesterday I made a special trip to Target just to get this granola. I'm obsessed. It's delicious in my greek yogurt, and has become my go-to lunch staple. Here it is, modeling on my desk.

2) I have been having a hard time getting into the workout zone lately. I'm kind of dragging myself to the gym and it shows. Trainer James kicked my rear end yesterday. We basically ran stairs for thirty minutes. So not cool.

3) I've already purchased a few sundresses for this summer and they are sitting my drawers, taunting me. So not cool. Come on, midwest. Get with the month. It's MAY!

4) It's MAY! When did this happen? I guess school years fly when you are actually enjoying your job with relatively little drama.

5) Kev's birthday is this weekend. I bought him three presents, but had to show him one early because I was just too darn excited. Silly me. More on that later.

6) Some staff and I have been working on a dance something for an upcoming assembly, which involved me starting my day with a dance party and tons of staff. I think every day should start with a dance party.

7) I just discovered Amazon's Subscribe & Save program. Awesome deals, super convenient. This could be a problem. Despite how much I hate them sometimes, they have some smart ideas. If I buy local for 80% of my other products, I can enjoy convenient deliver of cat food, right?

8) God, that last sentence really made me sound like a crazy cat lady.

9) 26 wake up earlies for work left in this school year. I.Can.Do.It.

10) I cannot wait for all of our siblings to get home from college. They really have a good way of shaming the crazy out of us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Holy S That was A

On Saturday night, I attended a bachelorette party for a dear, dear, dear friend. I drank more in one evening than I have in years, and had such a college-style hangover that I awoke the next morning still drunk and craving Ramen noodles. Behold, a sampling of the email exchange between the blushing bride to be, myself, my seasoned mom friend, and my brand new mom friend who missed the hijinks:

Things lost at one very special lady's bachelorette party last night:
-my blazer
-my voice
-my dignity
-my sobriety THIS MORNING as we speak

Things found this morning:
-J's scarf
-an orange glow bracelet that I'm still wearing
-a headache that feels like tiny people in cement shoes are dancing in my brain
-an unidentified drinking bruise (UDB) on my thigh....the size of my palm
-a newfound hatred for purple grape vodka

Good lord, that.was.awesome.

New momma friend, WE MISSED YOU!

New Momma Friend:
Lists, Take II

Things lost last night:

- my days of free-wheeling out on the town, carefree
- hours of sleep as a wee angry elf took advantage of her cuteness to create havoc unpunished
- an ENTIRE Easter basket worth of chocolate eggs and jelly beans
- the end of a movie.....I swear I just closed my eyes for a minute!

Things found this morning:

- a newly awakened appetite for if only I could find that Easter basket.....???
- a great email summing up a great glad it was fun!
- the surprising truth that I still adore this tiny person even after her midnight escapades.  Who knew love could run so deep?

Love you girls!  I  hope it was wildly fun and irresponsible!  If you're reading this before Monday, you didn't do enough damage.....

Seasoned Momma Friend:


I DO remember the purple vodka, I do remember having a nice convo with Groom's sister. I do remember getting in the trolley. Everything else is blurry!! 

I remember being in the cab. Then I woke up on the couch with all my stuff on the floor!

I spent the first few hours of the AM thinking, how the hell am I going to tell the husband I lost my cell iPhone? He is going to be so PO'd!!! The scarf was the least of my worries. Par for the course, but the phone. SHIT!!! All shy and sorry I went downstairs, then shook his shoulder, and said, (whispering) "hi honey." He said, "hey, it lives. Are you OK?" I say, "there's my phone!" It was on his night table. He said, "yeah, you gave it to me last night when you walked in." 

I also lost all kinds of dignity!! Did we go through a back alley to get into a bar? Was there a chick all PO'd bc we were trying to get in? Nicole, I remember you were going to take someone down for talking to me in a harsh tone. I apparently took picture on my phone bc I found them last night. 

Today I am eating spreadable cheese and crackers and a pear. Nevertheless, I would do it again. But this time, no purple vodka!!

Also, I came home with more money than I left with. Did I not pay for anything? Or was I in the back alley for a different reason? Or did I forget to pay the cab driver? I assume the husbandwould have told me about the cab driver not leaving without getting paid. 

Other than an apology for... well the purple vodka... do I owe you money as well?

Can't wait for the wedding!!!! Where I will NOT be drinking. I've done enough of that!!

Oh, wedding season, how glad I am you are upon us. I REALLY need to start making better choices....

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Some days, I really have to slog myself to the gym. Between general RA exhaustion and general dealing with junior high drama exhaustion, some days I really have to talk myself into driving to the gym after work. However, I try to remind myself of some basic truth, and I usually haul my ever-expanding behind to inflict some torture upon myself.

When I arrive at the gym, I nearly always see something inspiring. As you all know, Kev and I have been personal training together. Generally, we spend half an hour running stairs, doing squats, wood choppers and burpees, and trying to avoid death by fitness. A few weeks ago, I saw a 60ish year old woman running stairs and doing woodchoppers in a forty pound weight vest. Trainer James just smirked at me, and I decided to up the level of my independent workouts.

Last week, I saw a visibly pregnant woman doing a series of complicated combination moves with free weights. Lunges with bicep curls, pushups with tricep pull-ups, side squats- this lady was killing it. She had to at least be five months pregnant. I'm really hoping her workout was doctor approved, and I can't help but admit her dedication. Girl had moxie.

This week, as I was leaving the gym, a kindly elderly man smiled at me and asked me "Did you have your best workout today?" His question really hit home. Not whether I did a certain amount of reps or how much I lifted. Not how many calories I burned. Did I do my best?

I've learned from my compatriots at the gym that getting there pays off. For every step I take with fitness, the universe seems to meet me halfway and send me some motivation to come back tomorrow. I'm never going to be thin, and I want to respect my RA. However, I can be curvy and healthy at the same time. I guess the slogging is worth it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Shopping Cart Game

I love to run errands, especially if they involve shopping; my favorite part, by far, is the shopping cart game.

My mom and aunt and I have been playing this game for approximately five years. We compete to see who can find the person in the store with the craziest assortment of items. When we find one, texts immediately zing through the air, and stealth pictures are attempted. When we are the perpetrators of a particularly strange cart combo, we wear the achievement with a badge of honor and call each other to gloat.

Valentine's Day is usually a particularly fruitful day for the shopping cart game. I've seen a man with baby formula, condoms, chocolates, and a six pack of beer. I've seen an older woman with twelve cans of cat food, a double bottle of wine, a Harlequin romance novel, and Cheetos. My favorite are the old people: on more than one occasion I've seen the dental toothpaste-fresh flower combo in action.
Frozen turkeys, frozen pizza, and a pair of Spongebob boxers. Waxing kits, hair dye, sweatpants, and duct tape. Newsweek, the second season of Sex and the City, and two Webkinz stuffed animals. The combinations are endless.  I love to speculate in line while investigating. Are these people shopping for themselves or others? Did someone ask them to pick up these strange items? Why would they need all of these in one trip?

I mention this because today I was the perpetrator of the random cart while trying to knock as many errands off of my endless chain as possible in Kohls. I looked down, and had the following in my cart:

One pearly, silky babydoll nightgown (for a bachelorette party gift)
One 15 space shoe rack (for our hovel of a home)
One large rubbery tub with handles (for a recycling bin)
A memory foam bathmat (hovel, again)
12 pairs of athletic socks (to replace some fallen soldiers)

All I needed were some cans of wet cat food and a trashy novel, and I would have been set. Next time you're out, take a look around. Once you've really spied on someone else's cart, you'll feel much better about yourself. I promise.

Am I the only weirdo around? What is the strangest combo you've collected in one trip? What is the strangest you've seen? Discuss.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday, April 14th

The soft, vacuum whiffs of Kev's snoring. Gravelly purrs from my kittens, and a polar bear of a robe so thick that I have to roll up the sleeves.

My house is asleep and I am awake, which never happens. Outside, the world is waking up, with cheeping birds and the sharp freshness of springtime rain. 10:22 on Saturday, April 14th.

The house is cluttered, the laundry still. Piles of tidying await, and several plan options exist for the evening. But for now, all is quiet. 10:23 on Saturday, April 14th.

Soon I will clear up the bottles, rinse the plates. Put the piles of clothes away. Dust. Tidy. Sort. But in this moment, my fingers whisper over the keys, and I want to capture this peace of my life. After weeks of self-doubt, teary breakdowns, and contemplating relationships and their continual backwards-forwards-slip-sliding, things are quiet. Calm. Right. 10:25 on Saturday, April 14th.

I've realized that I'm sensitive to relationship movement. That as I get older, I have a sharper eye on what is happening around me, the way the puzzle fragments are fitting, then breaking, then fitting again. But what I'm just starting to grasp is that things work out the way they should. There is a plan. The universe is orderly, and no matter how much I fret, it will all be strange and beautiful and challenging anyway. That is the way. Whether I like it or not. 10:27 on Saturday, April 14th.

So before I get up, become the helpful, thoughtful wife who caters to her sick husband, tidies the house, brings wine to evening parties with friends, and feeds my fluffballs; I need to remember that there is one plan. It's not always mine. Don't overthink, don't plan, today is enough- tomorrow will be too.

10:29 on Saturday, April 14th.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Three Planes

Three planes from the National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.
June, 2011


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ten Things Tuesday

1) It is definitely fourth quarter. My students are losing their minds, and slowly taking mine with them. Today one of my students told me "this is boring, so I'm not going to take the notes." I told him I didn't realize that I was a clown here for his entertainment. F*(&*%*&^%. Pray for my patience.

2) Speaking of patience, I got on the scale today and saw a number I haven't seen since my senior year of college. I'm hoping it's just a residual chocolate bunny hangover. I'll be at the gym.....forever.

3) In my eighth grade Language Arts class, we are starting to read one of my all time favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird. The students' incredulity over Jim Crow laws and Emmitt Till gave me great hope that we're moving in the right direction, even though I know we still have a long way to go.

4) I love going to the grocery store. I went this morning for some school day lunch staples, and it took me to a happy place. It's like a scavenger hunt for grownups. Especially when you have exactly 8 minutes to shop, thanks to leaving the house later than planned.

5) The temperature dropped this week, but due to the unseasonably warm temperatures a few weeks ago, all of the May plants are blooming over a month early. It smells like spring but feels like winter outside. How bizarre.

6) Does anybody have any cures for making blisters heal faster? After running outside during the faux summer a few weeks ago, my feet are still torn up. Such little things take so LONG to heal. Leave a comment with help. My tootsies will thank you.

7) Kev is off of work this week after finishing his last two weeks at his old job and before starting his new one. In the five years we've been together, he's never had a week off with no agenda. He keeps proclaiming it WEEK OF KEVIN with fist pumps. Watching him navigate so much free time is like watching a recently released baby penguin explore the wild. I shall keep you posted.

8) One of the worst things about moving out of a neighborhood is being farther away from your former favorite places. Tonight we are meeting some friends at a place we used to go to at least biweekly, and I can't wait. If they've changed the menu, I'm going to be VERY upset. Huzzah.

9) On second thought, I hope they only serve hummus and carrots (see #2 today). My pants would thank them.

10) I'm glad I'm back on the blogging train. I missed these brain dumps. Thanks for sticking with me :)

What's on your mind today?

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Wife, New Life

I admit, part of the reason that my blog posts have been a bit...ahem...sparse lately is due to the fact that Kev and I have been in a rough patch lately. At least weekly for the past few weeks, we had been getting in fights. Like most couples, it was all about the same damn things, too. Who does what for the other, who communicates, whose family gets more time around the holidays. Stupid, stupid stuff.

The worst part about fighting with Kev is that he's so much a part of who I am. We've known each other for almost half my life, and we've loved many different incarnations of each other. My prep phase, his poncho and long hair phase. His cocky soccer phase, my close-knit roll with my girls phase. We've helped each other learn how to be adults, and we've supported one another through some really cockamamy ideas, but we still manage to love through it all. So when we fight, it feels like I'm just fighting with myself. His words cut deeper than other people's do, because his opinions and feelings are so much more important to me. And so much truer.

While things weren't great, I think this weekend really helped us to turn the corner. We spent time with both of our families, the weather was gorgeous, we spent some quiet time at church, and we visited two friends with babies- a six week old and a two day old. Somewhere in the middle of all the trees blooming, powdery fresh babies, and the faces of other people who have loved me a long time, I realized we are going to be okay.

Yes, we fight. But we also clear the air, and as we get older we are getting much better at fighting TOWARD something; in other words, having an outcome of our fights. Maybe right now, we need the raised voices as a crutch to solving problems in our relationship, but hopefully someday we will get to a point where we fight less and talk more. Yes, we aren't perfect. But we are perfect for each other. I'd rather spend the rest of my life fighting and sometimes running in circles with that man than with any other person in the world.

Surrounded by all those brand new things, I realized that even when things look bad, angry, and dry, something new is popping up beneath the surface. A pregnant friend becomes a beaming mother. A pile of woodchips becomes a tulip bed. Empty baskets become filled with treats. Beneath these tired phrases and cutting words, something good and true is building in our relationship. All of these fresh new beginnings are reminders that underneath it all is a man who loves me and wants us to be the best we can be. Even though we travel down different roads, our destination is the same.

Thanks, Spring

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Break Wrap-Up

The Plan: To attack the epic piles of grading that come with the end of another quarter at school, and to work ahead on my April plans and activities.
The Truth: I never even took my basket out of the car. Instead, I slept in, lounged around, and buried my head in the sand-ostrich style.

The Plan: To get in some good, blood pumping workouts, and stretch them from 45 minutes to an hour because I had the time to do so.
The Truth: I only got three workouts in on my ten days off, and two of them were all halfhearted twenty minute routines on my living room floor. The third, with Trainer Thwomp, happened 45 minutes after I fell down my back, wooden stairs, bruising myself so badly in the process that I now look like I have a plum growing out of my behind. You're welcome for that mental picture.

The Plan: To change my name on my passport- the last remaining legal document with my maiden name- and to book hotels for the first half of our summer Peru trip.
The Truth: A very successful acquisition of a Groupon for five nights of luxury hotels. A very unsuccessful halfhearted gathering of the required paperwork for said passport.

The Plan: To clean my entire house at a leisurely pace, one room at a time.
The Truth: I sat on my leisurely behind, taking one, if not two, naps a day.

The Plan: To catch up on my reading backlog and to see The Hunger Games Movie.
The Truth: Success! I saw the movie twice, and read not one, not two, but three books! Stay tuned for some thoughts in this week's Friday Reads post. (Yes, I'm getting back on the blogging backwagon)

The Plan: was extensive, beautifully written on legal paper. It even accommodated for some of my weaknesses, like books and napping.
The Truth: They say that the road to Hades is paved with good intentions. If so, mine is paved with that new, super smooth low-maintenance-high-tech stuff they are using in Wisconsin. A major theme of this blog, and a major fault of mine, is making promises that don't always get kept. When I was younger, I thought being an adult meant having it under control and acquiring some amazing ability to organize. The truth is that I'm still a child in many ways. I want to be the kind of person that can be counted on; someone that Kev can trust to get things done the right way. The truth is that I still struggle. I can still do better. There is certainly room for improvement when it comes to my procrastination.

Yet I can't help but cut myself some slack, too. I'm beginning to realize that it isn't any easier to balance and to fight your feelings as you get older. What does get easier is anticipating what you need, and advocating for yourself. I think I'll always be fighting the procrastination beast, but I've also learned to listen, to trust myself more. When the voice in my soul asks for a second nap, I have to acquiesce. Maybe it's my body asking for some time to rest in order to fight an RA flare. Maybe it's my independent self, asking for some unscheduled me time. Maybe it's nose-in-a-book Nicole, the fourth grader who used to tune out her siblings and lose herself in stories on her way to church. The house will always get clean, the gym isn't going anywhere, but what I will remember as I get older are the moments that I really stopped and listened to myself with trust. So I guess I can't get too mad.

Even though Kev has next week off and will undoubtedly make me look bad with his productivity.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Radio Silence

My bad for not posting sooner. It has been sunny out, and, well I've been enjoying some quiet.

It all started when I was reading an article in Women's Health while elipticizing in a bass-pumping, grunt-filled gym. Essentially, this article claims that too much noise in one's life can have detrimental effects on one's body, and that even moments people perceive as "quiet" are really filled with noise. Traffic, shrieking birds, overheard iPod songs, and even casual conversations can harm not only your ears, but your total stress level. This in turn weakens your immune system and raises your blood pressure. Even if you don't feel stress, your body still registers all of these noises as stress and subtly bears the brunt of the impact.

I'm a loud person. I can't whisper, I love the chaos and bustle of both city living and my job in a junior high. But something about this article really forced me to sit up and pay attention. Even when I'm by myself, I enjoy reading with the tv or radio on in the background. I've spent so much of my life surrounded by noise and chaos, that I'm uncomfortable with the silence. I feel my body relaxing, but my mind just can't follow suit.

So, I did a little experiment. The last three days in Chicago, the sun has been shining, and yesterday we even hit a record 80 degrees unheard of degrees. In March. Freaking awesome. Starting on Monday, I turned the radio off on my way home or to the gym. I didn't get on my phone, I didn't start tapping my fingers. I just forced myself to be quiet. And it was heavenly.

Once I made the space for my brain to adjust to the quiet, my mind started appreciating. I really thought about the way the sun felt on my shoulders. I really noticed all the cute little kids kids clutching their doe-eyed mothers' arms. I felt thankful for what I have, and how far I've come professionally and personally in the last year. I started thinking about my friends, and resolved to make more of an effort to spend time with them. My Monday experiment has turned into a daily habit. For forty uninterrupted minutes, I make a conscious effort to eliminate the noise I have control over, and in the process, I can feel a difference. This "me" time has translated into a more productive self at work, and a calmer wife at home.

Have you ever tried to eliminate the noise in your life? Have you ever intentionally thought about the noises surrounding you? Or am I just a crazy hippie liberal?