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 like...well...me. 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.