Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Update

I'm not going to lie, I've got a case of the Mondays today. Maybe because I had such an awesome weekend, but still. The older I get, the harder it is for me to bounce back from a super booze-filled weekend. Let me give you a brief re-cap:

Friday night, Kev and I went to go see Rise Against, a band that we've (especially Kev) are getting more and more in to due to the social justice themes happening in their pulsating rock songs. I love a band that shares the same values of equality for all, eating mindfully, and rocking socks off. We were surrounded by mini-vans as we drunkenly staggered to the UIC pavilion after finding a bar with amazing liquor deals, which was weird. Thank goodness my lovely brother in law had enough sense to buy us seats, rather than floor/mosh pit spaces, when he purchased them as our Christmas gift. I'm too freaking old for that nonsense. Overall, it was an amazingly high-energy and thought provoking show.

Saturday, we went to a friend's baby shower. More and more, people around me are announcing pregnancies. Every time someone does, I think "wait, we're too young! Wow!" Then I realize that I am turning 28 my next birthday, which is a perfectly respectable age at which to have a baby. Maybe I'm just immature. For said baby shower for some dear friends, I purchased a Blackhawks outfit similar to this....
....because clearly I enjoy making the babies in my life look like old Italian men. Maybe for his first birthday, I'll get him some gold chains. This kid is certainly lucky to have me in his life.

Saturday night, we went and saw Bye Bye Liver, a semi-improv drinking play that I cannot recommend highly enough. Housed at Fizz restaurant's upstairs stage, this play features hilarious skits about drinking, whole-audience drinking "socials" and a cast that gets progressively drunker as the skit goes on. The ticket stub says "admit one person who should probably let their sponsor know where they are" and that says it all. If you've spent a large amount of time in your life at bars, you'll recognize the behavior they lampoon, and I don't think it was overly promotive of alcoholism. If you are in the Chicago area, you must go see this reasonably priced show with a group of friends. We went for a friend's birthday, but there were also many bachelorette parties and 21st birthday partiers in the crowd. I definitely want to take my younger siblings when they turn 21, and would love to see it again. Plus, they have an awesome hipster guy on a Casio keyboard providing musical backup throughout the show. What's not to love?

Overall, I'd have to say it was a pretty damn good weekend. Today, I'll be heading back to the gym to get my rear in gear after two particularly lackluster weeks of healthy eating/working out. Work is actually calming down somewhat, so I'm feeling a little more able to get back on track with my goals.

What was the best part of your weekend?
What is your favorite item of baby apparel to purchase for a baby shower?
Do you ever get friend crushes?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Found Downtown

Wordless Wednesday is a meme followed by photographers and lovers of art around the globe. Join in!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Daddy Daughter Date

One of the weird things about growing up is that you don't often get your family to yourself. One of the mixed blessings of having rheumatoid arthritis, is that if you play it right, you can fix that. Allow me to explain...

Kev and I have known each other since I was fourteen and he sixteen. As soon as he got his driver's license, he would drop by my house at odd times. Right after school. On weekends. 8:00 at night, it didn't matter. It wasn't too long before my parents just accepted him as a normal fixture in our home. When we started dating nine years later, it is entirely possible that he and I were the only two surprised by the outcome.

Now, after two and a half years of marriage, Kev is nearly always by my side when I spend time with my family. We live an hour south of them, and while we try to go home for major events, it's almost always accompanied by my siblings, grandparents, or cousins. While I love this, it makes it kind of rare for us to get some quality couple-to-couple time with my parents. Rarer still are the opportunities to spend time just with my mom or dad. Or just me and my parents. Etc, etc.

After my two year anniversary of my RA diagnosis, I began wheedling my dad into getting checked out by my arthritis doctor. My dad exhibits many of the same symptoms I do, and it seems to be getting worse with age. Finally, I convinced him to go. A few days later, he called me excitedly. "Colie," he gushed, "I got the appointment RIGHT AFTER YOURS for my follow-up! How cool is that?" At the time, I merely laughed. We would certainly be the two youngest people in the waiting room. Maybe we could even get a discount. BOGO? Twofer?

The appointment finally rolled around last night, and I have to admit it was pretty awesome. My dad and I got to hang out in the waiting room together, and catch up on life. My dad sat in on my appointment. As a pediatrician, it meant a lot to have him listen to what the doc was telling me, rather than regurgitating it to him on the phone days later. Afterwards, we went to dinner. We laughed, we joked. Just my daddy and me.

I've been a proud daddy's girl for most of my life. I'm so blessed to have him in my life, and today I find myself strangely grateful to my chronic pain disease for giving me the chance to get him all to myself. Just my daddy and me.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Reads-Love Times Three

Last weekend, Kev, me, and three of our friends headed up to Wisconsin for a fat kid, sweatpants, green shot drinking, Packers losing weekend. It was awesome. Even more awesome was the fact that somewhere in all the gorging, I managed to wipe the Cheeto dust off of my fingers and finish Love Times Three a book written by four people involved in a polygamous marriage.

I have to admit, the topic of polygamy has intrigued me ever since I read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer While I firmly believe that people are people, no matter what their views, I've always been sort of skeptical of the assertions that sister-wives (wives who share the same husband) really have a strong, emotional, and equal bond with their shared husband. The women of Love Times Three (heretofore referred to as LTT) really do seem mostly like normal folk. They rely on their shared calendars and BlackBerries to make sure everyone in the home gets where they need to go, they struggle with weight and faith, their teenagers drive them crazy, and they have strong opinions on faith, values, and family time. I respect the fact that these women braved the personal and professional perils to tell their story, after being concerned with all the recent negative media coverage. They are also the inspiration for the HBO series Big Love

The women acknowledge that three wives= three times the drama, but fail to go into real depth when describing their family struggles and sometimes I found everything a bit too peach-keene for my taste. However, one woman asks a question that really made me sit up and take notice:

How is my husband's love for me diminished if he loves another woman just as much? Does it cheapen my relationship with him to know that he has deep and abiding love for another? No, no it does not.

And this, my friends, is how I know I am meant to stay monogamous.

I've learned a lot about marriage in the last two and a half years. I've learned that being selfish doesn't serve anybody. That neither my husband nor myself are perfect. That jealousy comes from insecurity. And yet, I feel blessed every day that Kev and I have entered this agreement together. That come what may, he will love many other people in his lifetime but none with the odd cocktail of passion, silliness, intellectual stimulation and physical need that he loves me with. If I knew he also had another wife living concurrently in the same house as us, I don't think I'd be able to keep myself out of the equation. While I'm sure his relationship would be different with Polygamous Polly than it would be with me, we would all be sharing the title of marriage, and equally responsible for making it work EVEN THOUGH we only knew 2/3 of the story. Yes, parents often realize they can love a second or third child as much as they do the first, but I don't know that I'd be able to offer the same generosity of spirit if it came to another woman joining our covenant.

The vacillation of opinion that I've expressed already in this post (between appreciating that people in this great country are entitled to live their lives as they see fit, that everyone's lives are more normal than they seem, and that I believe that the definition of a marriage changes if you invite more than two people into it) characterizes my experience of reading this book. It wasn't terribly well written, or terribly deep, but it made me feel grateful for the opportunity to grapple with these questions. It also made me grateful to get my husband to myself most nights. Definitely an engaging non-fiction read, if not Pulitzer Prize material.

Are you a jealous partner? Do you agree or disagree with the quote above? Why? Respectful thoughts only, please!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday is a meme followed by photographers and lovers of art around the globe. Join in!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shifty Eyes

I've always known that I was an awkward person. When I was in junior high, I once lamented to my mom that I wasn't cool or popular. Sternly, she said me down and said, "Nicole, your father isn't cool. I'm not cool. Chances are, you won't be cool either. Challenge yourself to be something else instead." True story, and words to live by.

But this post isn't about heartwarming memories with mom. It's about the fact that the older I get, the more awkward I realize I really am. I find myself constantly saying "shouldn't I know this by now?" or "really, this still happens when you are 27?"

The big issue I have with myself these days is eye contact. I've realized that I'm really not very good at maintaining eye contact with others. I'm noticing it the most at work. I'm not sure if it is because I am in a new building where I don't know people well yet and I'm still jockeying to figure out my niche, or if it's because I spend most of my time teaching my awkward posse in a fairly secluded basement room, but I've realized that I often don't make or keep eye contact with my colleagues. Today, for example, I met with the Assistant Principal and a Special Ed teacher, both of whom I have spent time with socially and feel fairly comfortable with, to translate a conference call to a Spanish-speaking parent. I spent the whole conversation swiveling between forcing myself to look at the two lovely ladies, and swiveling to thoughtfully address my Spanish comments to the phone. Awk-ward.

In hallways, or meetings also, I feel like I'm really bad about looking at the people talking to me. I'm not sure if it is that I feel uncomfortable because I don't know them well, or if I feel like my glasses (which I've been sporting recently) are a shield or what, but I'm turning into a bit of a spaz.

Why is it that we find it so awkward to look people in the eyes? Are eyes really the mirror to the soul? Am I shyer than I previously thought? How do you force yourself to look at the people who are talking to you? I call my kids out on it constantly, but I can't seem to do it myself. I don't want to be the weird shifty-eyed girl at work. HELP.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (One Day Late)

Thus, I have worn leggings and drapey tops for the last week. Christmas is gone but the chub still remains

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fear of Failure

I am a teacher. i am also the most miserable person in the world to teach.

As the quarter nears completion, my students are stressing about grades. C, one of my trickier pals, checked his grades and bluntly announced "Mrs. G., I'm going to get a C in Science. There's no way I can get a B. I'm bad at Science. So, I'm not even going to try anymore."

As I gave C the whole 'are-you-getting-extra-help-put-in-the-effort-it-will-pay-off speech, I realized who he reminded me of. Myself. I get frustrated easily, and if I'm not immediately good at something, I give up. I tell people I don't want to play pool, or softball, or original Mario brothers, and then I sit lonely and bored on the sidelines while my friends hoot and holler and hustle. I get bored, and depressed, all while maintaining a too-cool facade. I know that with practice I would be a decent player; I also know it is no fun to lose or be the cause of a loss. I'd rather be bored than lose a trivial bar game or make my friends mad. How stupid is that?

Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. Why am I so afraid to be exposed as a fraud that I don't even attempt a single one? Why am I so insecure that I feel my friends and family won't want to play with me if I'm not perfect? Most importantly, why am I infuriated when my students are unwilling to try again after failure, but I'm of the same mindset in my personal life?

I'm done being content with excluding myself. With focusing on the things I'm good at, and hiding from the rest. I'm patient with my students, and now it's time to put in the slow, plodding, patient work on myself. I need to learn how to cultivate a less than perfect, more positive psyche.

Good things are coming for me in 2012- I can feel them. I'm ready to grow and learn. To make mistakes. To stop being such a pain in the ass. To start listening. To be teachable. Now I just need to find someone with the patience to teach me....

Friday, January 6, 2012

28 for the New Year

Hello Imaginary Friends!

My apologies for yet another list-style post. I promise I'll get back to some actual blog content soon. In the meantime, I've been inspired by other people's to-do lists to accomplish 28 goals for 2012. Why 28? That's how old I'll be on my 2012 birthday this year. Feel free to skim or skip, I know I'm one of 294083905 resolution list posts this week. I'd try to think of something more clever for today, but, well, if I don't write it here, I won't do it.

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.
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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 week.
27. Go to PERU!!!
28. Talk to each grandma once a month.

So there you have it, my big messy list of goals. I'm hoping to do a monthly post where I report progress, a la elefantitas alegres

What new habits are you attempting this year? How will they make life better for you?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Things I Didn't Do on my Winter Break

1) Blog....obviously. Oopsadoodle

2) Wake up early. Waking up in the dark, I sobbed. Why did awakening at 5:45 in January seem so much darker than awakening at 5:45 in December? Wah.

3) Go to bed sober. Our new trainer at the gym, a stern man shaped somewhat like this vintage Whomp-Whomp made Kev and I write down everything we ate and drank on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. AKA New Year's Eve Eve, New Year's Eve, and Bears Sunday Funday. Ack. After perusing our list, he informed us that we probably consumed 15,000 in our constant holiday graze while buzzed. Whomp-whomp, indeed.

4) Cook often. Though I did make a couscous meal that registered somewhere between pickled herring and pizza-for-breakfast on the delicious scale. I'm hoping next time I can make some tweaks and nudge it closer to the pizza side of things.

5) Stress out. I had a great, relaxing, lazy weekend filled with love and laughter. I acted like a giddy, tipsy toddler with my siblings, an outlaw with my husband, and a micromachine with my friends. It was awesome.

6) Wear pants that buttoned. Sweatpants, hoodies, robes, leggings, and tunics allowed me to live in full denial of my holiday binge.

7) Anything productive. My house was a whirlwind, my professional laptop lounged in my professional bag, and emails went unanswered- all so I could read five books and watch three seasons of How I Met Your Mother. Legen....dary indeed.

8) Find the two facial products that I lost. Goodbye facial serum and day moisturizer. Hello, further Target debts.

9) Look at my credit card or bank statements. Too scary.

10)Travel. That staycation was so flipping worth it