Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Emersyn…

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I became an auntie six and a half years ago when my sweet Emersyn entered the world.

Holding her for the first time in my arms absolutely took my breath away. Her precious little fingers wrapped around mine- and my heart.

I have gotten to watch her grow up. Learn to crawl and walk. Her first words. The first time she said “Auntie Sammy” and “I love you.”

Oh. My. Heart.

Emersyn is my cuddle bug. My birthday buddy (May 31st to my June 1st). The first to offer the biggest hugs and squeezes and battle me on who loves who more (I mean, its me for sure, but I let her think she wins)…

She is my book buddy. Oh, how we love our books. Curled up together on the couch reading together- She devours books; never quite getting enough.

Emersyn is the careful sister. The sister who follows the rules (to a fault). Who is quick to let me know when I’m taking care of her and her sisters that I am NOT doing something the way my sister (her mom) does…  (Insert eye roll here)

She can be emotional (she’s like her auntie in that way)- we feel things deeply. And can be a bit fearful of new things unlike her rambunctious sisters who run wild and love trying new things- the crazier the better.

So, when my sister called me today to let me know there had been an accident; a fall from the top of the play gym at my nieces’ school, she was the last one I expected to be hurt.

But she was. She was brave and climbed to the top of the play gym today. She was brave when she fell and hit her arm on the cold, hard ground outside, breaking AND dislocating it in two places.

And now she is bravely sporting her new, pink cast.

My sweet, brave Emersyn.

 

 

Not a Grown Up, Grown Up…

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I am a grown up.

Legally.

I am over eighteen. I can vote. I have a career. A car. A place to live. I pay bills and do my own laundry. I do my own grocery shopping (along with every other “adult” on Sunday mornings)…

But when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a grown up. I still see a frizzy hair girl hiding behind her glasses trying to fit in. Not an adult responsible for her own life.

I’m one of those “grown ups” who is forever looking around for a more grown up, grown up. You know… the REAL grown up:

The grown up who can keep a straight face and scold their junior highers when they make an inappropriate (but hilarious) comment in the middle of class…. My kids know me too well. They know when I’m holding back a laugh. And they egg me on. And I usually give in and laugh with them. I’m starting to think they plan this…

The grown up who has their life in order. One who budgets (and actually sticks to it), follows a schedule, and doesn’t run to Target ten times a week.  Ha. A schedule? I’m forever late…no matter what. I always have the best intentions, but it just doesn’t work out that way- at this point, if I’m actually on time, my friends are shocked. I know its rude and I try so hard. I’m thankful I have patient friends. And Target…that’s just a lost cause.

The grown up who can make their own choices. Seriously though. THIS! Sheesh….I still call my mom to help me make decisions. And when I don’t, I feel slightly guilty. Is this “new grown up” guilt?!

The grown up who has all the answers and knows how to handle problems. I like to hide from my problems… If I can’t see them, then they can’t hurt me, right? Right? RIGHT?

I suppose one day I”ll have to become a real grown up. But until then, I’ll just have to make sure there is a more grown up, grown up close by…

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What’s Up, Push Up!

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My whole life, I have never been able to do a “real” push up. A “man” push up. Ya know the one…

Hands directly placed underneath your shoulders, up on your toes in plank position. Moving down. Then up.

One.

Down again. Then up again.

Two.

Gross. Who really cares about being able to do a “real” push up? I have been perfectly content doing them them “girl” way. The “easy” way. Which never really felt easy.

But for the last few months, I had been working out at a new gym that had opened up not too far from school- a direct stop on the way home.

This gym is small. HIIT workouts are done mixing up running, sprinting, and strength training. Classes are no bigger than fifteen people of all ages and sizes. Most who do push ups the “girl” way, too.

I was in good company. I felt no shame in my push up game.

Until today. This morning I signed up for an early class, because YAY no school today, and headed in.

We started off as usual, on the treadmill warming up and doing endurance runs. Twelve minutes later we moved to the floor- already out of breath with sweat dripping from our faces.

First up, push ups. Like normal, I realllllly stretched out the time it took to wipe away the sweat from my brow, grab my mat, and get into position. Ya know, anything to kill some of the time I was expected to be tortured. Finally, I was ready to go and in position and the teacher, Mary Kate, decides to be all inspirational and crap (ha!) and challenge us to try push ups on our toes today.

Our toes! 

The HARD way!

Ugh. Feeling obligated, I got into position. Hands directly placed beneath my shoulders, up on my toes in plank position.

I moved down. Then up.

One.

Down again. Then up.

Two.

I lasted the whole first set. And the second. And then the third.

Today, I did a “real” push up. The “man” push up.

Ya know the one….

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Teaching and Writing Dreams…

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Growing up, I knew I was going to become a teacher. But that was not the only dream I chased… I also wanted to be a writer. A novelist to be exact.

My younger self would greedily sit at our family computer for hours, fingers flying across the keyboard. Stories just poured from my fingertips; ideas gathered from years  of burying myself in books would come to life, click clacking their way on to my computer screen.

Cozied up in my grandma’s over-loved rocking recliner chair, the world around me just seemed to fade away and I would just type, and type, and type…

Time passed, like it does. And I grew up and got busy. My love for writing slowed down…Shifting from writing stories about adventures and escaping to foreign countries I could only ever dream about, to writing essays about color symbolism in “The Scarlet Letter” and thesis papers about my educational philosophy.

And before long, I was teaching writing. Teaching my kiddos how to write about what they loved, about themselves and their experiences, to be creative and try out their hand with short stories. To choose words thoughtfully and lovingly. To learn how to use language to craftily send a message.

And while I may not be a professional novelist making millions while sitting on New York Time’s Best Seller list, I guess you say I accomplished my dreams- of being both a teacher and a writer.

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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.

 

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.