My Saturday…

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Most people spend their Saturdays sleeping in…
My Saturday morning began at 4:30 with the shrill alarm of my cell phone going off.

Most people spend their Saturdays taking it slow; after all, there is no work today…
My Saturday was spent at job number two; a shift that began at 6 am.

Most people spend their Saturdays running errands and going to lunch with friends…
My Saturday was spent ringing customers up, placing special orders, and getting yelled at.

Most people spend their Saturday afternoons planning a fun night out…
My Saturday afternoon was spent trying to sneak in a quick cat nap.

Most people spend their Saturday night out with friends and spouses…
My Saturday evening was spent snuggled up on the couch with my cat.

Most people spend will spend their Saturday nights out late…
My Saturday night will end with today’s slice.

 

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Is This Okay To Write About?

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One of the hardest things about teaching middle school is that most of the time middle schoolers don’t have a filter.

One of the best things about teaching middle school is that most of the time middle schoolers don’t have a filter.

Why? Because sometimes, sometimes what flows from their mouths is absolutely profound. Words that make you stop in your tracks… Like today.

Today, while conferring with a few of my kiddos in an attempt to work on narrowing down topic ideas, one of my writers interrupted to ask if a topic was okay to write about. She didn’t know if it was appropriate; and it broke my heart. Very little is off topic in my class…

The topic? She has been noticing that TV shows are doing a poor job of promoting diversity through their programs, and the programs they did offer were pretty stereotypical. And she was mad about it.

Mad that every time she turned on the TV, she had to hunt for a program that she could find herself in- and sometimes, they were hard to find. Mad that every time she did see herself in a program, it did not always portray her race in a positive light. Mad that when she did see someone of color in a show filled with a predominately white cast, the characters were showcased in rich areas being raised by the “perfect” family. Mad that she couldn’t really find herself in a show…or a book… or a movie.

She was mad.

And then we started talking. Talking about a lack of diversity in books. Stereotypes that were unfair and hurtful. A lack of knowledge. Prejudices that people might not even be aware they had…

More students came over and joined our conversation. And they chatted and shared. I listened and encouraged. Internalized and reflected.

And felt so proud that these kiddos are my students. Because these kids…these kids are going to change the world.

Today, we didn’t just narrow down a topic…

Today, this student discovered a passion worth fighting for.

Lent Goals…

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Every Ash Wednesday, I choose to give up something that may not be the easiest for me. I try to push myself to think about a guilty pleasure I have that maybe is not so great for me; this year I’ve chosen to give up chips.

In the past, I’ve given up a ton of things…Well, I’ve attempted to give up at least.
-Sweets.
-Ice cream (my weakness).
-Salty things. Swearing.
-Wine.
-Pop (which was my biggest addiction at one point, and now, I can’t stand the stuff!)

This year I chose to not only give something up, but I always wanted to do something new. This year during Lent I hope to establish some new routines and to force myself to step out of my comfort zone.

A new routine I’m looking to establish? Packing my school lunch the night before. There is nothing I despise more than having to pack my lunch, and having to pack it in the morning just makes me hate it more. I’m always scrambling to try to get out of the house on time, and having to stop to not only think about what I’m going to have, but also get it ready, just adds unnecessary stress to my day.

I’m also choosing to work on my Target addiction because it is OUT OF CONTROL! The neighborhood I live in is directly across from the best Target ever. I drive past it multiple times a day and even though I try to mind my own business and ignore it, Target always seems to call my name and force me to enter its hallowed aisles of greatness. Annnnnnnnnd I was finding myself there multiple times a week. My bank account needs a break. So, just once a week is the goal. And boy, has that been hard!

And Finally, my goal is also to try something new….and this is where I am struggling. Lately, I feel as if my life has been in a rut. I do the same things, every single day which has made life a little monotonous. So I want to try something new, but I’m not quite what. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Let’s Go Play The Sluts…

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Whenever my grandmother is in town, we always try to plan a girls night- just her, my mom, and me.

Tonight was that night.

We decided to meet up for dinner and head to the casino, my grandma’s FAVORITE place in the whole wide world and a must each time she visited.

Dinner was great- girl talk, endless chips and salsa, yummy tacos, and half-priced margaritas that were making my eighty year old grandma a little tipsy. We laughed a lot, vented a little, and enjoyed each other’s company.

But, the thing about my grandma is, is that she can’t sit still for very long. She is always ready to move on to the next activity on her list- she can’t just sit, relax, and chat for awhile. And when she starts getting antsy and doesn’t immediately get her own way, her sassy side comes out. And my sassy, Polish, slightly tipsy grandmother can be a beast.

My mom and I began ignoring her many impatient demands to leave to go to the casino as we continued to carry on our conversation and finish our margaritas. Annoyed, she stood up and announced through the whole restaurant quite loudly in her decently thick polish accent:

“Enough. I want to go play the sluts. NOW!”

My mom and I stared at her for a good minute and just dissolved into laughter. The kind of gut wrenching laughter that left us with tears streaming down our faces and surrounding tables staring at us as if we were crazy. And my grandmother, not understanding why we were laughing began to get more agitated with us, and continued to announce that she wanted to “go play the sluts!”

So here we are…. Playing the sluts, or as we like to say, the slots.

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Frankie In Charge…

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I have a cat named Frankie. Well, I guess I should actually say that my cat Frankie, has a human- which would be me.

Frankie runs the house.

I have to watch where I walk, because this feisty girl just loves to dart in between legs and randomly lay down in front of me causing me to trip. How dare I try to walk across my house when I should be giving her my complete attention?!

Frankie also makes her own rules. I liked the rule of no laying on the dinning room table, because ewww. But Frankie decided that didn’t work for her so she revised the rule. She lays on the dining room table when I’m not home and when I walk in the door, she chooses to lay there until I scoop her up, snuggle her a bit, and set her on the ground. That lasts for a whole three minutes before she jumps up again. Sigh.

Frankie also isn’t allowed in my closet. She waits for me to turn my head and become distracted before she paws and nudges the door open, quietly sneaking in. She drags out shoe boxes and tears apart the paper covering my shoes. She lays on top of my clothes, folded and lining the shelves, and leaves her long, beautiful fur all over them. Not exactly the extra accessory I’m looking for when I get dressed for the day.

Frankie has her own bed- a cozy, plush bed in the shape of a fish. She can crawl in there, snuggle into the blanket lining the bottom, and snooze away. You’d think she’d just love to be in there, but no. You would be wrong. Very wrong. I don’t think she has even gone into it once. Her real bed is my bed. She has her own spot curled up on her own pillow near my head. And heaven help me if I roll over and infringe on her space- A quick bat of her paw and a bite to my arm and I am back on my side of the bed. Frankie doesn’t play.

Which is the lesson I just learned while typing this- a quick bite to my arm and my computer and I are back on our side of the bed.

She’s lucky she’s so cute.

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No Caffeine Saaaaay What?!

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While I absolutely need caffeine in my life, I am not a huge coffee drinker for a million reasons:

– I am always running late in the morning. No matter how early I get up or how early I leave my home, something (usually the insane Chicago highway traffic) gets in my way.

– I prefer Dunkin Donuts coffee and the one closest to my exit always has a line a mile long. Literally, cars spilling out on to the main road, lined up as far as they eye can see. Ain’t no one got time for that!

– I need a ton of sugar in my coffee. Like, a toooooooon, making it horribly unhealthy and a sugar crash is nothing something I need during a busy school day.

– I always forget about it! By the time it has cooled down enough for me to drink it, it has slipped my mind and become ice cold. And since I can’t step away from my classroom to go heat it up, its a lost cause.

So, instead I drink something called Amino Energy- a caffeine boost filled with vitamins and minerals. You add a scoop or two to a bottle of water, shake it up, and you’re good to go. Normally, my day revolves around this drink… I need it to function as a kind human being (haha kidding…sort of)!

I had tried for what feels like forever to give up caffeine cold turkey. I know its not a healthy addiction, even if it does make me happier. But every time I try to give it up, I’m greeted with nagging migraines, exhausting days, and a grumpy me.

But today, today is my FIFTH day of being caffeine free. No coffee. No amino energy drink. No other caffeinated beverages in sight. I may have had some help- battling the flu left me not wanting to eat or drink anything, but this morning when I made my drink and started sipping on it, it just didn’t taste good anymore. So down the drain it went. Instead, I chose to sip on some flavored water.

Caffeine free.

The Greatest Title I Hold…

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Seated on the carpeted floor leaning against the footrest of the couch, my niece Emersyn crawled onto my lap and snuggled herself into me. Neither one of us have been feeling our best and today was a long day spent celebrating the Baptism of her newest sister, my niece, Sawyer.

She smiled up at me and buried her head underneath my chin, wrapping her perfect little hands around my neck. “I love you, Auntie Sammy,” she whispered into my ear. “I love you, too… More than all of the stars in the sky and back again,” I said as I squeezed her tightly.

Before long my two other nieces, Sloane and Eisley, made their way over and forced their way into our snuggle session. With arms wrapped tightly around one another, we made silly faces, gave bear hugs, took funny selfies, and giggled our way through the rest of the afternoon.

A perfect afternoon spent with my favorite people who give me the greatest title I could ever hold…

Auntie.

 

 

 

Lower Wacker and GPS-NOT A Good Match…

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There are just some places people should avoid… Places that just scream trouble.

Places like:
-The back of an alley on a pitch black night
-Dark, abandoned buildings
-Any store on Black Friday. Really leaving the house at any point on Black Friday is just plain terrifying
-Woods or forest preserves of any kind when you’re by yourself

But here in Chicago, there is one place people know to avoid like the plague. A little place called Lower Wacker Drive. While a handy short cut for people in cars who know where they are going, for those less familiar or on foot, Lower Wacker can be a source of major stress. GPS stop working and the never ending, poorly labeled tunnels do not offer a lot to those who find themselves lost within.

My friends and I learned this the hard way last year. One chilly, January night we were headed to dinner and  The Chicago Theater to see Eddie B, a teacher comedian. We parked nearby, checked our GPS to see how far we were from our destination, and began what should have been a quick walk.

Several turns and a few city blocks later with our handy GPS leading the way, we found ourselves a looooooooooong way from our dinner spot, lost on Lower Wacker.

Walking along, everything seemed okay at first. We figured we would eventually get service and be able to find out way out. There were three of us and we felt pretty safe so we decided to keep walking. And we walked some more. Ideas for hailing a taxi were thrown out, and quickly waved off because, “My GPS says we are close.”

Spoiler Alert: We were not close. Not even a little close.

Annnnd then we began stumbling upon homeless communities huddled in blankets sleeping on grates. We maneuvered our way around, trying not to disturb or interrupt, our hearts breaking for those stuck out in the cold.

Again, the idea for hailing a taxi was thrown out- maybe it would be safer for us to just grab a cab. But noooooo, our GPS claimed, “we were close.” So, we continued moving forward, hoping that the end of lower wacker was in sight.

Pausing to wait for a walking signal, we noticed a scary sight. An individual with a blanket tied around his shoulder fanned out like a cap was quickly approaching. Hearts beating a mile a minute, we decided it was finally time to give in and grab a cab- three girls by themselves lost on Lower Wacker…not such a great combination.

A quick minute or two later of waving our arms, we were safely inside the cab and headed to our initial destination.

Literally just a block from where we parked. Dang GPS.

 

The Room Where It Happened…

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I had never really been to the theater until I started teaching. My sixth grade team not only welcomed me into their little family, but turned me into a musical nerd as well. Bring It On and Finding Neverland. Phantom of the Oprah and Aladdin. Pretty Woman and Waitress. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Lightning Thief.

And Hamilton. Ohhhh Hamilton.

My nerdy, history loving self had wanted to see Hamilton since it hit the stage… I could not wait for the show to make its way to Chicago. But what I could wait for was ticket prices to decrease.

But they didn’t. And then one of my coworkers shared an app she downloaded, The Hamilton Lottery, that you could enter in everyday in hopes of winning $10 tickets.

For weeks, I religiously entered. And everyday, the same response, “Sorry, you didn’t win a chance to purchase tickets today. We hope you’ll be back” lit up my phone. Until one day, November 26th when that all changed.

On this cold, November morning during my school plan when my Hamilton Lottery notification went off. I didn’t get too excited, after all that ping usually meant nothing but disappointment. I walked over to my table to sit down and do some grading until my phone went off again. And I saw it.

I had won two tickets for Hamilton! Two tickets for HAMILTON!

After a quick freak out involving some jumping up and down and shouting, a run down to my friend’s classroom to invite her to join, and a quick two days later, and it was time. Time to see Hamilton.

And oh, it was the most amazing show. From the staging to costumes to casting to the nonstop rapping. Oh, the rapping… it was everything I had hoped it would be and more.

I finally got to be in the room where it happened!

I got to see Hamilton!

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Sometimes You Just Need Your Mom…

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My mom has always raised me to be independent. To be able to stand on my own feet and not have to rely on anyone for help. Asking for help is not easy for me- its a stab at my pride and I always want to make my mom proud.

But sometimes, you just need your mom.

You need her to…
-Go shopping for formal dresses and brand new furniture; she’s the only one who will be really honest with you.
-Hold your hand and pull you in for a hug when your heart is broken and torn to shreds. She’ll happily sit there to remind you of how wrong she thought this guy was to begin with… that you’re so much better off.
-Be your biggest cheerleader and not let you give up, no matter how hard or how stressful the situation may be- she knows in her gut that you’re going to be just fine.
-Let you vent. She will listen and always be on your side. No. Matter. What.
-Laugh with you. Scheme with you.
-Try new restaurants and maybe have one drink too many together.
-Spend too much money shopping, cry through sad movies, and just be together.

Sometimes, you just need your mom.

Like today.

After feeling under the weather the last week or so and a very emotional afternoon yesterday, I woke to feeling like junk. Headache. Sore throat. Dizziness. A wheezy chest with coughs that made my body shake. Aches and pains… I mean, clothing rubbing against your skin should not hurt.

The only thing I wanted to do after surviving the day was go home, lay on the couch, and sleep away this yuckiness. But a run to Walgreens would need to be had. I needed flu meds and 7-up. Kleenex and chicken noodles soup. Vicks and Tylenol.

And, since I live alone and my mom is a very long hour away, I would have to stop and shop myself. Go home alone to lay on my couch. And sip away on canned soup.

Her warm hugs wouldn’t be waiting to embrace me. Her soothing hands would not be waiting to place a cold cloth on my hot forehead. Her loving voice wouldn’t be there to coax me to sleep.

Adulting can be hard.

And sometimes…Sometimes you just need your mom.