Friday, October 11, 2013


What with this human growing inside me, I've been thinking a lot about the kind of parent I want to be, and really, I'm realizing, that I have to first think about the kind of person I'd like to be. Because the truth is....I'm not there yet.

For starters, I'm horribly selfish. I mean it. I'm the world's worst roommate. I never clean, I eat all the leftovers, and I nap on the couch- inconveniencing everyone around me. Seriously awful. It is a wonder anyone who lived with me in college still speaks to me, and even more of a wonder that I am still happily married to such a wonderful guy. To top it all off, I'm downright bossy and I can't control the volume of my voice. Seriously, I'm a delight.

Therefore, it's natural that when I think of this baby coming in March, I panic. I mean, there are so. many. ways. to parent. I've tossed and turned and thought a lot about it, and I'm still not sure what kind of parent I want to be, but I do know that I have a few things to work on before this human starts looking up to me as their first life example in this big crazy world. So I'm trying to make some changes.

I've decided I want to be a person that makes others feel good when they're around me. Sounds easy, right? Don't be an asshole, have a sense of humor, and people will like you. But making others feel good after spending time with you is a different beast. I've realized that I feel best around people who make me laugh, but not necessarily at others' expense. People who listen to me as much or more than they talk, and people who value what I have to say and make me feel important. I feel the best around people who make me think (especially when I don't want to) and who illuminate my bad habits by showing me a better way.

Spotting these kinds of people is really easy. Being one is really, really hard.

I talk a LOT. Like, a lot a lot. I think it's why I became a teacher- so I always have a captive audience. (seriously, it's a nice perk) But to make people feel good about themselves, I have to listen. I have to ground what I say in what was said before me, which means I have to listen in a more holistic way, instead of dividing my time. I have to work to make the people who are important to me feel that way, by inconveniencing myself at times to make them feel better. I need to be more thoughtful about holding doors, helping others, and being kind to strangers- even if they are the scary people on the bus.

I guess I want my kid to feel good about being with me most of the time, but most importantly, I want this baby to be the kind of person that is...well...kind. That helps others. That is better than I am at being naturally thoughtful. That adds to the world. But before that can really happen, he or she is going to need an example. Thank goodness these kiddos take a long time to cook, because I'm going to need the next five months to work on making others happy more naturally. In fact, I may need all the practice I can get.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Back from Summer Break!


So.... I spent the summer pretty much enjoying our last summer of complete freedom with my guy, and rather than a lengthy catch-up post (because the two readers I have left at this point don't really care....) I'm stealing an outline from BethAnne and getting pumped about the fall. Here's what's running through my brain at the moment, and hopefully I can manage to get more posts up soon :)

Currently I am…
reading When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead- I'm almost done with this amazingly suspenseful middle grades read. Part realistic fiction, part fantasy, with huge twists at the end, I am going to be demanding all of my reluctant readers read this as soon as they can pry it out of my hands. I also started the first Outlander book as my "adult" read because the fall always makes me want to get sucked into epic, chunky reads. On deck for October, I also want to re-read the first two Divergent books in celebration while I am patiently... 

waiting to read Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent trilogy. I cannot wait and am planning on going on lock-down in my home under covers for two straight days to find out what happens.I cannot seriously wait. Also, patiently waiting for March when, (if you don't know me in real life, this still may not be shocking) Baby Gas is going to make his or her appearance! In the meantime, I'm also waiting for the day when (if!) my RA goes into preggo remission, I can stay awake at night past 9 pm on a weeknight, and for the weekend morning when I still don't get up at 7. Can't a sister sleep in once in a while?
feeling gratitude. So, so, thankful for a so-far healthy 17 week old baby. So thankful for the man by my side who makes me dinner, doesn't complain when I fall asleep during "our" shows, and gets a little teary eyed when I come home with a pair of ridiculous puppy shaped slippers because Argon (the third noble Gas/working title for our little one since we aren't finding out the sex) needed them. Grateful for the support network of people who are so excited for us. Grateful for a work environment of loving, supportive people, even when it gets challenging.
eating pizza. We ordered pizza last Thursday, had pizza again on Saturday (deep dish, this time!) with my favorite father in law, and had free pizza at the bar while watching the Bears again on Sunday. Nibbling on leftovers this week. I think this baby may come out being part garlic/cheese/ranch.
dreaming of crisp fall days of boots and leggings, finding a day care that won't cost us an equivalent amount to our mortgage, cloth diapers, sleeping late, and quality time with my guy. Also, I had a really amazing dream last night involving me and Nick Miller from New Girl last night...thank you hormones. 
quoting Emerson in my classroom...and in my brain

working on writing two vocab quizzes for tomorrow, a pre-observation form for my boss, on prepping the rest of the Short Stories Unit for my language arts class, and on compiling my student-written updates for my classroom website. 
listening to Fritz and the Tantrums! On a major kick lately. Also, loving the whole Lorde ep.
wearing new shoes today! Also, stretchy pants, a dress, and glasses. Rocking the whole nerdy academic look today with oxfords and a cardigan. Also, how does one wear lady oxfords. Specifically, these: 

Am I cool enough to pull them off?
In October I would love to:

  • find fun, out of the ordinary date nights to do with Kev
  • blog three times a week
  • decide what the plan is for my maternity leave (regular length? extended?)
  • sleep in past 9 on more than one occasion
  • make more time for my friends
  • see my family more than once
Comment or post below so I know you are still out there! What are your goals/hopes/daydreams this month?
Thanks for sticking with me, imaginary friends. This summer I felt like I had everything and nothing to write about, so clearly I chose nothing. I missed you, though. I promise to be a better friend :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Baseball, Not the Mall

I'm sure I've mentioned it on ye ol' blog before, but Kev is a rampant Sox fan. Rabid. Hates the Cubs. Won't wear blue to Wrigley. Ironically, both Cubs games at Wrigley that he's attended this year, they've won. I think he is secretly their lucky charm, but I digress. We live in the city, and we are fortunate enough to attend baseball games frequently.

While I rarely sit and watch a baseball game at home, I love going to the stadium. I love the noise, the collective gasps of the crowd. I love being outside, in the open air. I guess what it really comes down to is that I love the tradition of baseball. In my mind, my grandparents, my parents, myself, and hopefully, my kids will all have a very similar experience or memory when attending games. Maybe we keep score. Maybe we eat peanuts. Probably, we eat a hot dog. Ideally, the Cubs don't choke.

One thing I love about Wrigley Field as it is today is that it preserves my time capsule of baseball memories. When you look around, you don't see more screens with ads. You mostly see the field. A scoreboard that requires you do actual math to figure out the score and that you actually pay attention, because there is no instant replay. Just by nature of being at Wrigley, you get away from the technointerference that can so permeate our world and chill. It is the antithesis to U.S. Cellular Field, which is covered in ads and at times feels like a mall with a baseball diamond.

I know that change is inevitable, and for the most part, I'm okay with Wrigley being renovated. Honestly, I think they should keep the red marquee in the front and replay the ivy. However, I think the old, green scoreboard needs to say. It is updated by hand, and mercifully free of all the electronic clutter that clouds the rest of my life. Plans are already in the works to add a jumbotron, and I'm going to cry. Sometimes, a baseball game should just be a baseball game. Taking away the old scoreboard just feels like another place where I can't escape technology when I need to. Sometimes, low-tech is better than high.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Changing the Conversation

This morning, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I noticed this conversation a girl I knew in high school posted between her and her two year old daughter. Names have been changed.

Me: So Peyton, can we try the gym play place again tmrw so mommy can work out.
Peyton: No. I love you too much. You r my favorite friend in the whole world. I miss you when you work out.
Me: I know. I miss you too but it will be fun for you and mommy can go get skinny.
Peyton: mommy, you are the skinniest mommy ever. You are so pretty too. 
Me: well played, kid. But we are still going  

Lets hope we have less tears tomorrow!

I was livid.

Granted, as a non-parent, I can appreciate that things may fly out of your mouth when you don't expect it. The girl in question is very small, and looks healthy. But why, why, why, why, oh, why would you tell your two year old daughter that the reason you are working out is that you want to get skinny?

Judging by this little peanut's reaction, she can already recognize that her mommy worries about being seen as skinny and pretty, and that these things are important. But more important? Emphasizing, from an early age, that skinny isn't as important as HEALTHY. We look at all the Dove beauty ads, and the articles about including more plus size models and applaud, thinking that the beauty norms are changing. I argue, though, that nothing will really change until we start changing the way we talk about how we look to our children.

Growing up, my mom told me over and over again that I was beautiful, that I should work out to be healthy, that I need to watch what I eat to ensure that I have a lot of years of life to do the things I want to do. However, she herself constantly gets dressed and comments on how this looks big or that looks fat or that she needs to work out to lose weight. While I feel like I could lose weight, I also know I need to do it for health first, and hearing my mom narrate her expectations for my body in terms of health but hers for herself in terms of beauty always bothered me.

I don't know what kind of parent I'm going to be someday, and I think raising daughters in today's world is an incredibly difficult task. After reading that discussion on Facebook though, I've realized that we need to start from the ground up. We, the well educated, multitasking, sometimes put together moms  and future moms of the world need to shift the focus in the way we talk about ourselves in front of our kids. Let's start today, shall we?

How do you talk about yourself in front of your kids? Am I crazy for thinking this conversation is horrid?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Things I've Been Doing with My Summer

....instead of blogging.

Even though I've been out of school for a few weeks now, I was still doing professional development and doing some pre-work for a tech class I'm taking this week and next. Throw a couple of weddings and a trip out of town in there, and things were crazy! Here's a little recap of some of the riveting things I've been doing while I haven't been here.

1) Graduations- May was full of graduations. My brother, Michael graduated from Eastern, sister-in-law Catherine from St. Mary's of Winona, brother Pete from law school (pictured below with my dashing husband and I) and sister Laura from Madison AND I had six eighth graders from my caseload move on to the high school. Whew! What a smart, educated bunch. While I'm extremely proud of them, those ceremonies do tend to eat up the weekend. At least I have a bunch of life lessons gleaned from the graduation speakers to carry me forward. Love them all. Anyone have jobs for a lawyer, nurse, biology major, or business communications major? I'm only half joking here.

2) Baseball On May 6th, Kevin turned 30 and we celebrated with a 55 person block of seats at US Cellular Field to see the White Sox. I've also been to two Cubs games (biked there! Sidenote: did you know they have a locked, manned bike valet for FREE? Love this city) and a Kansas City Royals game. Love that my summer has been full of lounging in the sun with beers, even if I've only seen one win (by the Cubs!) while I've been out there.

3) Drinking and Lounging with Friends. In between birthdays, graduations, and trips, I've been trying to spend some quality time with the friends that, sadly, get neglected when times get busy. Of particular note is the fact that two of my friends, Jason and Brad have been working for the past few years on getting a small brewery going. On my second wedding anniversary, I was drinking test batches of their home brew in Brad's backyard. Now, approaching my fourth, their beer is in stores and it is very tasty and strong. Shameless plug- you want some. Go get it. Also, see that guy on the label all the way on the left? That is one of my very favorite people. He's so famous now.

4) Spending time with my much neglected cats. I originally put that chair in the corner thinking it would be a great summer reading nook, but the cats have taken the space over as headquarters from which to organize their retribution towards the birds that sit outside the window and mock them. Poor kitties. Dante on the left, Felix on the right. 15 pounds each. The vet has told us they are the two biggest boned cats in her practice. Sigh.
 5) Walking other peoples' dogs. See that blob in the middle of the floor? His name is Ernie, and he is very melodramatic. For instance, when walking down a busy neighborhood street where many businesses have treats out for puppies, Ernie likes to pause and stare dolefully up at me near EACH DISH. As if his mommies didn't love him and feet him. He also collapsed in this pitiful heap immediately after going on a mile long walk. Silly puppy.

6) Housewifing Kev loves when summer comes. He gets his maid, laundress, cook, grocer, and all around errand girl back. The cats also like to spend more quality time together. They think I just make these nicely heated piles to warm their behinds.
7) Reading So far this summer, I've read Gone Girl and The Great Gatsby. Next up will be Somewhere, Somewhere, Maybe by my girl Lorelai Gilmore (I don't care, that's who she is) and Paper Towns by John Green. Sprinkled in there have been issues of Self, Womens' Health, and of course, my beloved People magazine. Sidenote: isn't this a strange ad for Fathers' Day?
8) Lovin' Oven We got a new oven! It is an LG, which is very entertaining because it plays a ten second song instead of beeping. Kev and I dance every time. Yahoo! We are getting so fancy! That griddle in the middle makes a mean grilled cheese.....
9) Big Girl Makeup I sucked it up and bought my first big girl lipgloss after trying my friend Lindsay's and subsequently begging for swipes from her all night. I'd show you a picture of what it looks like on me, but I don't do selfies. Ever. Trust me, it's better that way. Rest assured, that this color, loud and lovely, is indeed just that. Bright and trendy without being too obnoxious.

10) Wedding Celebrating! Kev and I have been to the weddings of both two dear friends and my cousin this summer, with two more coming our way later this summer and into the fall. Magnificent. I love a good opportunity to get dressed up, sit by my man and think about our marriage, and then to celebrate later with lots of champagne and dancing. Love, love, love. As I think back, it is hard to believe we started this blog almost five years ago to chronicle the days leading up to the big one. I can't wait to see what comes next :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jekyll and Hyde

@ell, folks, it's May. May is always an exhausting time of the school year. in addition to all of the mayhem (no pun intended) of walking around  a building full of roaming hormones, dress code violations, and behavior pushbacks on a daily basis, there is also the frenetic pulse of increased professional responsibilities humming in the background. Filling out end of the year data spread sheets, field trips, schedule planning, supply ordering and trying to purge and close down one's own classroom all suddenly need to be fit in around increasingly needy students. Quite frankly, it's a hot mess.

I find this time of year a little bipolar. Some days, my students are in great moods- funny, lovable, dazzling me with the learning risks they take and the journeys they've traveled as they near the finish line. These moments, I can't imagine how I will survive ten weeks without seeing them; I wistfully hope that they will visit me next year. I wonder who will light up my classroom for me the way so and so did after he graduates or she transitions. Other times...well....those times are trying. Every word I say is met with an eyeroll or an undercutting comment. Behaviors and routines that the students mastered in November are cast aside, and in their place comes a regression of the worst kind. Prepubescent whisperings and gossip coupled with a kindergartener's need to always have attention from SOMEBODY. Spring fever clubs us all over the head. Everyone becomes preoccupied with the lasts. The last project. The last dance. The last grades. The last yearbook.

What nobody ever told me before I started teaching was how much I would grow to love these disgusting (I mean it) balls of angst. How hard I try to savor the last moments of the school year. How frustrated I get when they don't appreciate an end of the year activity I've planned. How much it hurts to have them blow me off and run out the door on the last day of school. How proud I am when I compare their fall to spring data. How I worry about their familylivesstealinghabitsinternetviewingsdrugexposuredatinghabitshygiene when I don't see them every day. How relieved I am when they come back to me the next year. Taller. Friendlier. Full of Summer Stories. Because no matter how much they irritate me, or how ready I am for break, or how outwardly I brag about the small number of schooldays left to my friends, secretly I love this job. I a

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Things

1) Last week was Pie-a-Teacher-for-Charity day at my junior high (yep, exactly what it sounds like, run by the student council). After much cajoling by my kiddos, I entered my name in and lo and behold, ALL the punks on the bus entered for a chance to pie me, along with my usual peanuts. Even though none of my eighth grade "special bus friends" won the privilege, they did all make sure to jeer me as I performed my bus duty, whipped cream still in my hair. Punks. Hilarious punks, I tell you.

2) Did you know that having whipped cream in your ear feels like a wet willy you can't quite get rid of? Now you know.

3) I think that one of the unknown seasons in the Midwest has to be Rain and Road Construction. I really think it goes Fall, Winter, RainandConstruction, Spring, Summer. Let me tell you, Focus Pocus and I have spent a LOT of time together sitting between those orange and white cones. I may have to start listening to audiobooks. What should I start with?

4) I am mildly obsessed with the song "Cruise" by Florida-Georgia Line. Except, until I saw the band name in writing, I thought until today their name was "Florida-Georgia Lime." Explains why I can't add them to my summer Pandora station. Oopsies.

5) Spring has arrived at my junior high. Just this week during bus duty, I have received two proposals of marriage, one offer to buy me ice cream from the ice cream man, and several hearty booings as I ask them to sit down and not bring food on the bus. 26 school days.

6) We have graduations three Saturdays in a row in May. Pray for my sanity. I love my siblings, but sweet yeebus. Did they all need to get educated at the SAME time?

7) I've started a new fitness minigoal in May. Every day, at some point, I am going to do 10 minutes of holding a plank. I can start and stop whenever I want, but at the end of the day it has to total ten. Momma needs to get rid of this here muffin top before some upcoming weddings.

8) Speaking of weddings, I just bought this dress at a SUPER discounted price, with tags on eBay for summer weddings. If that's not workout motivation, I don't know what is. It is peeking out in silent judgement daily. So excited. Love it so much.

9) Over the weekend, we had Kev' s 30th birthday party at US Cellular  Field with the White Sox. Photos to come (maybe- I am an unreliable blogger at best), but we had a blast. The first really nice spring day, and we were out tailgating. Heaven. I could care less about the actual game, but I love all the EXPERIENCES of a baseball game. So apple pie. So classic.

10) I cannot, cannot believe that my guy is going to be turning 30 on May 6th. I remember his countdown for his sixteenth birthday. Yowza.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Weekdate Night

I have the best husband for me in the entire world. Even so, it's easy for us to flop during the week. We come home from work exhausted, frazzled moreso by our long commutes, and its easy to just throw on sweats, pop on a few hours of streaming Netflix shows, and veg before bed. Once a week though, without either of us saying it, we have a weekdate night.

Last night, we went shopping for a new stove. Purchased it. Celebrated with a more expensive than normal dinner out, where we talked. and talked. and talked. and talked. Later that night, when I suffered another round of frustration with my crazy RA body, he held me while I cried, made me laugh again, and played with my hair while we watched tv.

This past weekend, I went to a bachlorette party where we solicited marriage advice from everyone we came across for the bride to be. From the hot waiter advising her to "just not do it" to the cabdriver that mournfully advised us ladies to always "dress with jeans and makeup" around the house while simultaneously keeping his belly full, we collected some gems. Really, though I think a great marriage comes down to really, always making the other person feel important. Sounds simple, but hard to do. When you live with your one and only day in and day out, the tedious minutae can take over. It's easy to just flop, and take for granted. It's harder to listen when you are tired, harder still to go out of your way.

In the wake of a fall and winter full of losses I never thought I'd sustain, Kev has reminded me over and over to stop. To look around. To take things one day at a time. His biggest complaint about me is that I'm always excited about the next awesome thing. After we booked our Peru tickets and I speculated endlessly about the fabulous things we'd be doing in eight months, Kev slammed his hand on the steering wheel as he drove our battered Ford Focus down Lincoln.

"Just STOP," he implored. "Be HERE. Why do you always need to rush to the next best thing?"

Since then, he's had to remind me of that multiple times. Here isn't bad. Here is quietly wonderful. Six years after our second-first date, he knows what I need. When to listen. When to cut me off. When to let me veg and when to draw me out. I'm the hurricane and he's the eye- a quiet place to rest, a steady pulse forward. He makes me mindful. He reminds me to stop marking time and to start getting my damn head really, honestly back into writing. Into happiness.

And for that, I am a really freaking fortunate gal.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Brain Break?

If you have been anywhere near a teacher in Illinois, you know that this past week was ISAT week. A week in which students take multiple tests daily to measure how much we, as their educators have taught them. It is hard for me to explain to them why, exactly, they should do their best on these tests, particularly for the eighth graders, whose high school placements have come and gone, but I try. Many of my kids struggle- the linguistically modified version of the test does not appear to be particularly modified, and my people all read below grade level. It is stressful. But that's not really what this post is about- I'm trying not to dwell on the bs I can't change. It's a new thing I'm doing. I'll let you know how it works out.

During testing weeks, the students test in the morning and the rest of the day is truncated. The students are fried when they leave testing. Different teachers do different things with these slush days. Some show movies related to the curriculum. Others (like me) give a bigger, long term assignment for the week and lots of work time, so that the students can proceed at their own pace. However, on the Friday after testing, you can always find my students and I doing one thing: playing games.

Because my kiddos didn't grow up in the United States, they are missing some crucial experiences with Americana. They've never felt the sheer joy of bumping another pawn while delivering a sarcastically drawn out "Sorry." They've never agonized over which home to purchase in Life. They've never tried to cheat and use words creatively in Scattergories, or tried to figure out whether a classmate would deem Albert Einstein or bees are more cheerful in Apples to Apples. They don't know how to trash talk. I would bet none of them have ever threatened to flip a board game in sheer anger over the outcome of a game.

The truth is, when I stop to think about it, that I'm not sure how many "real" American kids have these experiences any more, either. Yes, my husband and I adore playing Monopoly on the iPad (it's fast! it does the math for you! you can auto mortgage), but in doing so, we miss out on the experience of actively plotting against one another. Of calculating and recalculating what to mortgage just to strategize based on the intricacies of the other's game. Games on the iPad feel cleaner, so the trash talking by extension becomes more clinical. Minimal. Cold.

Maybe I'm nostalgic, but when I think back of visiting my grandparents, we always played real honest-to-goodness playing cards. One of the few memories I have of my paternal grandfather is him teaching me how to play chess, slowly. Thoughtfully. Deliberately. Kev and I still play Gin Rummy at the highs and lows of our lives: everywhere from on our honeymoon to waiting in the doctor's office for scary news. When you are sitting and looking your opponent in the eye without turn timers and with literal objects with which you can defeat them, you gain an experience of shared joy and triumph that playing the same game on an iPad or tablet may not offer. It's more personal. You are more invested in the outcome because you've really seen every reaction to your moves.

So, we play. I get to appreciate my students in new and different lights. Turns out, the girl who cheated on a major test last week is a strategic whiz kid at Sorry, who can beat me handily twice before I even get one piece out of start. The quietest kid in my room is the best at reading people, and always collects the most green Apples to Apples cards. It might not help these peanuts pass the ISAT, but I'll fight hard for the opportunity for an occasional "brain break" any day. Playing a physically present game allows them to present their thinking to me in a whole new light.

Plus, sometimes I get to kick their butts.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

10 Things Tuesday

1) First and most importantly, we have a snow day today. Stolen from Jessica, I am currently documenting the day with one picture per hour. Really, I want to play with my new camera lens- I'm not actually expecting people to be fascinated by how little...I mean much...I do when left to my own devices.

2) I love to mess around in the kitchen, but I enjoy it the most when Kev is not home. You see, he is a beyond excellent cook, and he wants to help me, but he ends up just making me nervous. I will say, I am the by far better baker of the two of us.

3) Somehow, I have a butt ton of oats in this house. Send me your favorite recipes, please. They are taking up too much space on our counter. I think I bought them in a fit of I'm-going-to-be-healthy and then they lost the battle of I'm-too-sleepy-to-cook-myself-breakfast-at-5-am. Oops.

4) I'm reading my first Stephen King book, 11/22/63, and I have to say, I'm a bit underwhelmed by the writing. I know people are obsessed with him, and I even know a girl who has his face tattooed on his arm, but I don't get it. Plots? Maybe I need to get into this one farther before I judge.

5) I wish Smash and Nashville were on every day. In unrelated news, I also wish I had Connie Britton's hair and Megan Hilty's swagger. Oh, and that I lived in a world where everyone broke out in song constantly, not just me.

6) Do you read this blog and have rheumatoid arthritis? If you are an RA badass like me, take this survey. We are actually getting asked OUR opinions on something. Yay. Do it.

7) I made this amazing and easy beer mac and cheese for Kev's and my date day Saturday. Yes, date DAY. We started with brunch, napped, watched three movies, ate beer mac, and followed it up with Pixies and wine for dessert. So wonderful. So fat kid. This is why I have to be so darn healthy during the week.

8) My cats spent the entire morning FREAKING out at the approaching storm, and then when it actually started to snow, they curled up on the couch together and have been asleep for the last ninety minutes. I guess there are only so many times you can claw your owner's face and/or jump into the washer and/or sprint around the house before you wipe yourself out. Weirdos.

9) It really irks me when people give shout outs to their or other children on Facebook. Example: "Birthday shoutout to my favorite five year old princess, Avery" Um, no. This child is not on Facebook, you are doing it to impress her parent(s). If you really want to make the kid feel special, pick up the damn phone and call her. SHE IS NOT FOLLOWING YOUR STATUS UPDATES. File this under irrational social media irks next to people posting their ultrasound pictures. If I have to see another uterus on my newsfeed, I'm going to start posting MY internal organs. Starting with the spleen.

10) That's all I got. Time to go paint my toes. Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

10 Things Tuesday

1) I got my hair trimmed today in the suburb where I used to live, by the same gal that has cut my hair for nearly 10 years. She looks like Barbie, boobs and all, and I look We are an amazing team and have a surprising amount to talk about. Talk about an odd couple, but damn if that woman doesn't know my hair.

2) Afterwards, I went to Marianos and bought ALL OF THE THINGS. Discount Cheez-its, a teensy pot-pie for Kev and I, stuffed portabellos. Yes, I could make all of those things, but they were just so cute and affordable. I think I'm in trouble when the one behind my house goes in.

3) A fantastical work friend and I got roped into a committee with the person I am most scared of in my entire professional life right now. I made myself busy taking notes on google docs. Gotta stay out of the line of fire somehow.

4) Speaking of work, I put up the classroom March calendar on my door today and marked spring break. You would have thought I marked free-unfortunately-patterned-skater-hoodie-or-dark-eyeliner-plus-straight-A-giveaway day. Chill, people. We still have 6 weeks to go.

5) I vividly remember sitting on a bus to Jackson Hole with Iowa's Ski Club and shrieking "SB '05!!!" while clutching my first lukewarm beer of umpteen on the 18+ hour coach bus ride. Sweet yebus. I think this year I'm going to yell "SB '13" obnoxiously on my road trip with my husband and favorite father in law as we head up to Minnesota to see my brother in law and his gal pal. They should love that. Maybe I can bring a warm PBR?

6) Two weeks ago, I started a diet and exercise challenge with two friends. Winner gets $100 bucks. What came today? Why, my order of six boxes of Girl Scout cookies. For Kev and I. Self-sabotage, you are my truest friend.

7) We also have a two pound box of Fannie May Pixies in our fridge, courtesy of my mother in law. Help me.

8) Let's be honest, if I won that $100, I would probably just spend it on Pixies and Girl Scout cookies anyway. My inner fat kid rages are strong.

9) It's not like I need to be bikini ready for SB '13 BITCHES. Minnesota don't care none.

10) No, no. Sssshhhhh inner fat kid, calm yourself. Think of all the Bare Minerals and fancy hair products you could buy with $100. Actually, think of the gloating you will be able to do. That may be what really fuels you anyway. You do love to gloat.....maybe you should just gift Pixies and Girl Scout cookies to your competitors.

Yes, that's the ticket. Glad we had this talk, invisible friends. Thanks for the ideas.

Monday, February 18, 2013


We went away this weekend, just Kev and I, up to my parents' lake house in a very tiny part of Wisconsin. Usually when we go up, the house is filled to the gills with my family, or we choose to invite as many friends as will fit. But not this time. This time it was just us two.

We drank champagne and ate frozen pizza. We dove into a box of Pixies and made hot chocolate spiked with marshmallow vodka and added Frango mints to that. I whooped his behind at Monopoly, then again at cards. I wolfed down two cheesy YA novels (Crossed, by Allie Condie- disappointing end to a trilogy, and The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead, who I unapologetically love when I need Twinkie books). He read The Economist. We talked.

More than any of that though, we listened. To each other. To country music. To snow crunching on a frozen lake. To our eighteen (yes, I said eighteen) year old bartender's unspoken-yet-heard nerves about having her first party at her parents' house and getting ready for college. To an elderly man at the bar talk about his cheesemaking days on that same lake forty years ago, and his pride in his childrens' accomplishments. To how much we need each other. Love each other. Respect each other.

I'm trying to learn to value the listening more. I've always been known for being a notorious talker, but I'm beginning to realize how much I miss this way. I don't get to know other people's thinking or experiences, because I'm busy sharing mine. The truth is, sometimes I'm scared to listen. It's uncontrollable. Unpredictable. I might hear something I don't like, or something I don't like to think about. Putting myself out there is much easier for me. I can control the pace the conversation moves, what kind of mood we have.

I think listening is letting go. I'm always pleasantly surprised by what I hear, whether it be a plan to drink Mike's Hard Lemonade for 12 hours (oh, 18 year old bartender who has never had a hangover, I think your luck may have changed), or about hidden artesianal cheese wells in a tiny lake town. Most of all, I open myself up to letting my husband and others I love surprise me. For a teacher, especially, I suck at listening, but I'm working on it. It's hard, so hard, for me. I'm trying to get better.

I'm glad I had a weekend to re-learn to listen, and a husband smart enough to remind me to do it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


One of my favorite types of days in my classroom is a type that is hard to explain. I adore the days when the weather outside my windows is awful. One would think that this makes the kids ping-pong-y, but it doesn't. Not really. After the requisite 10 minutes of chatter about the weather, the switch flips. We settle into my narrow basement den covered, literally, in words, and we take a little break from the routine. We read what we feel. We write in our journals. We talk <> about what we are reading and writing. 

I'm not sure if it is because as a teacher, I'm not racing home to my lovehousekittensworkoutsnackserrands, but rather dreading the sure to be lengthy commute home. Maybe in the midst of procrastinating a commute, I can take a step back and really see the thoughtful, painful growingish kiddos I'm surrounded with. Maybe we are all just a bit more mindful of being warm and dry. Maybe we are all just in plain better moods because of the prospect of a snow day, so we appreciate each other more. I'm not sure what it is, but it happens without fail every time the lacy cornflake snow starts whispering down. 

I had a full on chat with a student today about music. What she likes. Pandora. What I like. Whether I sing in the car (duh). At the end of it, I was left thinking about the lovely person I've seen this student become. What lovely people are hiding under all of their stinky, hormone infested selves. What a lovely person they push me to try to be. And then I had a chat with a friend, came home, and wondered.

People from the Midwest wonder constantly: would we appreciate the winter if we had summer all the time? We Midwesterners staunchly insist that the winter makes us more appreciative, less likely to squander the sunshine. And yet, I don't think that's quite it. Rather, I think that winter offers us more chances to be better. It subtly refocuses us by re-arranging the timelines we get things done in. It tsks us via shrinking waistbands that we need to eat more vegetables before bathing suit season. We rest. We drink wine and eat rich foods. We cuddle. We read. We think deep thoughts and hibernate. We get ready to reinvent ourselves in the summer as people who go to funky neighborhoods and fests and wear sundresses and aviators and cowboy boots and glitter all at once. 

Winter pushes my buttons, but it also pushes me forward. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

10 Things Tuesday

1) I currently have a $50 wager going with two of my favorite people to clean up my act. Diet, yes, but fitness, healthy habits, and the like. Yesterday I was full of the euphoria that comes with the promise of cash winnings and a hot bod. Today I am still thinking wistfully about the cheese bagel that I didn't take at my team meeting this morning.....even though it's almost 11 hours later.

2) We got a Roomba for Christmas. I love this thing. A lot. Works wonders, even with our two cats. Super entertaining drinking game. Kev, however, is a little concerned about letting it roam freely when we are not home, so every once in a while I come home to find a barricade of laundry baskets confining Roombie to our living room. Hilarious.

3) I may be the only weirdo out there, but I am loving all the snow that Chicagoland is getting this week. Trees dusted in snow take my breath away. Stop bitching, people.

4) I have one streak of gray hair right in the front that I can not get to go away for any more than two weeks with box dyes. I really, really don't want to have to shell out money to the pros. Help.

5) I got a gel manicure the Friday before Christmas. I just took the polish off....yesterday. So classy. Good thing it was a subtle shade of.....glitter.

6) I re-read The Giver for the umpteenth time and my mind is still blown. I may spend my long weekend next weekend reading the three books in the (whoa) SERIES that have been written since I read it in grade school, then re-read it in college. Mind. Blown.

7) Tumblr might be the best thing ever. New favorite: Les Mean Girls... two of my favorite things combined.

8) I have a major girl crush on Jennifer Lawrence. I have decided I am growing my hair out because I think it is a similar texture, etc. to hers. I'd think about prying open my wallet if I could have rad highlights like hers.

9) Smash tonight? Anyone? I am stupidly obsessed with this show. Kev has purposely planned to do his two hours of traffic school online tonight while I watch so he has an excuse to not be in the same room. Hoping for lots of jazz and few power ballads tonight.

10) I cannot wait until my "day off day" for my diet. I am going to eat all of the things. All of them. On that note, I shall leave you while I go make an egg white omlette. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Well, long lost friends, I needed to take a breather there. For a while, bad things happened. And kept happening. And for a bit, I was thinking deep thoughts and feeling big feelings and I just needed some clear head space. I wasn't really ready to write about what was going on in my life, and honestly, I may never publish some of the things that happened. Grief can be a long, dark tunnel, and your brain has a funny way of shutting out all but the non-essential until you are ready to take shaky baby steps back into the strange new world that is your life. Honestly, I've never been happier to celebrate a new year than I was this year.

And so far, honestly, 2013 has been pretty damn good. I think my journey through dark scary uncertain times gave me the gift of mindfulness. Now, if you know me in real life, you know that I am not the most cautious, thoughtful person by nature. Kev always scolds me for rushing to the end of a situation, rather than appreciating the steps along the way. He often reminds me to slow down, take a breath, look around, think things through. Often, I get 90% of the way into a task, only to forget the last 10% because I've moved on to something else. It is terrible.

A funny thing happened in the middle of my hellacious December, though. It turns out that when you can only take one step, one day, sometimes one hour at a time, that you become more mindful of what that step contains. In taking deep breaths as I proceeded forward, I began to slowly appreciate where I am now. Loved by a fabulous man. Surrounded by an amazing, challenging, rewarding learning community. Enveloped by family and friends that love my flawed, sometimes broken self. I began to put on my mindfulness like a warm sweater, and the here and now began to push back the cold fingers of grief.

I find myself wanting to hang on to this feeling of mindfulness, and to be more present in what I'm doing. To unload the dishwasher while checking for stray tupperware lids in the bottom. To really listen to my students' questions- even the most mundane. To think before I speak, and to be thankful for what I have. It turns out, that in having a path I was traveling suddenly bulldozed by life, I'm becoming able to really experience what I do have slower, deeper, fuller. Funny thing, this life. I'm not sure where I'm headed, but at least I can appreciate the getting there.

A small but mighty gift, indeed.