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.