A place for anything and everything that comes to mind.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Warm Fuzzy

I had a student six years ago.  For my school, he was the typical 6th grade boy: chip on his shoulder, too cool for school, would talk back, lacked drive...and intelligent--extremely so.  I had him right after lunch, when the kids are at their amped-up worst.  Our school could be a ringing anti-endorsement for Jamie Oliver: the number of discipline referrals that are handed out in the period after our frozen, processed, one rotted apple in the line lunch is extraordinary.  But, I digress...

This guy was smart.  That's why he ticked me off so much.  He would come to class late, slouching through my door with a frown already in place.  He would challenge me with a mere glance: I'm not working today--try to make me, his eyes would say.  Man, did I ever ride this guy, too...because I KNEW he could do the work.  I KNEW he was smarter than anything I was dishing out.  When he did work: amazing.  He wouldn't turn in work for weeks, and then he would ace a test.  I got so frustrated with his lack of work that I would isolate him in a corner in the hopes that he could work better away from the others in the class that would distract him and get him off task.  I still remember the seething stares that would burn out from his eyes when I had him in that solo desk.  He ended up doing work there, and I think he hated giving in to my requests, but there was nothing else he COULD do while alone.

At the beginning of this school year--Fall 2011--he showed up in my doorway.  It had been years since I saw him, but I still remembered, with shame, isolating him to force him to put some effort into his work.  I thought he'd just give me a quick hello and then run away.  He didn't.  He gave me the biggest smile and walked confidently across my room, arms outstretched, ready to hug me.  Wait...WHAT???  Why is he hugging me, I thought?  I rode him like a jockey trying to get the Triple Crown.  He told me he was going to DeVry for the year and then going to apply to Parkland, our local community college.  He left with a wave, and I thought, Huh.  Well, that was a GREAT start to the year!  Yay!...But why was he so happy to see ME?

It gets better.

He came to see me...AGAIN...yesterday, 4/25/12.  It was during my college prep class, but he quietly came in, with that huge grin again, to say hi.  He also told me he finished his year at DeVry and had already applied for the upcoming fall at Parkland.  I was so, SO proud.  He was, too.  I didn't think this boy would ever remember me as anything but that loud, annoying teacher who forced him to pen his thoughts.  Well, I guess he remembered me as something else, too.  I didn't ask him as what, but just the fact that he actually sought me out TWICE to give me an update must mean that I meant something to him. 

And that's why I do what I matter how hard it gets. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I DO Have a Heart!

Those of you who know me well know that I do NOT go in for chick flicks.  Nicholas Sparks is one of my arch enemies.  I can't stand it.  But, guess what, friends...I do have a heart for a couple of chick flicks.  And, they all involve that Jewish goddess I love to love (and my husband loves to hate): BARBRA STREISAND.

Just finished watching the last...oh...SEVEN minutes of The Way We Were.  Tears brimming again.  Every time she Commie Katie reaches out to brush Hubble's disheveled bangs out of his eyes, I weep.  Oh, the way they were.  Just go cavort on the beach some more!  Don't give up, Hubble!  Katie's for you!

What about Funny Girl?  Um...GOLD.  And, it won Babs some Oscar gold, too.  (That year she shared the prize with my absolute favorite, Katharine Hepburn.  Did you remember that the Oscar could have TWO winners???)  Oh, Nick.  Don't gamble all of that money away!  Don't be so proud!  Let Fanny take care of you!  She wants to be a Sadie...with the idyllic house in the country, dashing husband, and cute lil babe.  Is that too much to ask!?

Oh, and don't EVEN get me started on the Mirror Has Two Faces.  Book worm with major insecurities, falling for a hunky professor who wants to do a social experiment on a couple who is simply together for companionship and no lovelustgoodtimes.  So predictable: you know EXACTLY how that one's gonna end.  But sprinkle in a little Lauren Bacall and get Jeff Bridges in there, and I'm busted: another chick flick I can't help but adore.  (Now, if only I had that one on DVD...)

So, no, I'm not gonna go see Lucky Me with you or some other Amanda Seyfried/Rachel McAdams Sparksian vehicle.  But, I'm gonna sit myself on my couch and watch a VHS or two or three of the divine soon as my husband leaves the house.

Monday, April 23, 2012

For the Fun of It?

You know what I think of when I think of running?  Meatballs.  No, not the food.  And, no, not cloudy with a chance of.  I think of that 1979 summer camp classic, starring Illinois native, Bill Murray, and everyone's favorite...Chris Makepeace.  Chris...WHO?  Makepeace!  Have you seen My Bodyguard?  Please don't tell me you don't know who I'm talkin' 'bout. 

Wait...I was trying to blog about running...again.

OK, so Meatballs...running...Chris Makepeace...Bill Murray.  When I think of running, I think of the end of Meatballs, the big climactic scene.  Rudy (Makepeace) has been coached by lovable, irresponsible counselor Tripper (Murray) on the joys of running.  The solitary determination; the personal bests you can achieve; ah, for the fun of it!  Well, when Rudy's running the 5K to beat those nasty, uppity Camp Mohawk people in the end of summer camp olympics, they have a close up of him running and huffing and puffing and sweat pouring off his face.  And, the pained expression he displays is, well, less than appetizing.  Why on earth would anyone want to do that???

Then, I see my daughter.  My beautiful, happy-go-lucky, not-a-care-in-the-world daughter.  We went to a birthday party the other day, and when she found out she got to run around...just run around in a circle...the absolute joy on her face was breathtaking.  No panting.  No straining.  JUST JOY...pure and unadulterated.  Now, if I can run around in a circle with her, laughing and giggling, just for the REAL fun of it, then OK, you got me.  See you on the playground, chaps!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Random List of Wants

What?  Mother's Day is coming up?  Well, I've got the list for you...or rather for ME! 

My Extraordinary Ordinary Life
How could I NOT want to read a memoir by one of my favorite actresses?  When I read in the EW that Sissy Spacek has penned her own story, I squealed with excitement.  And the title seems perfectly perfect for such a humble, well grounded phenomenal actresses, that flies under the radar, such as her self.

Up All Night
Yup, another boy band has entered my life, and NO I'm not ashamed to own up to it.  Blame my husband.  He's the one that told me to watch the SNL on which they performed live.  Their pants are too skinny and too tight, but their moppish, foppish hair is juuuuuuust right.  Oh, and their harmony-induced pop songs is the type of toe tappin' fun I'll never get enough of.

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
Bring it, Tom.  The coolest, sleekest action movie of last year needs to be mine.  It was too much fun, and it reminds all of us that Tommy can still run this...with his little bitty legs.  (Hey, that's my brother's description.  I'm just borrowing it.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Year's Eve Will Never be the Same

"New Year's Eve hasn't been the same since Guy Lombardo died."
--so sayeth Glynnis Johns in the Christmas classic While You Were Sleeping. Well, for this 32-year-old, New Year's Eve will never be the same now that Dick Clark has died.

I know those older and wiser than me know the Dick Clark of American Bandstand, but while I was young, the show was slowly coming to a close. I never watched it, even though it was still airing when I was a young'un. How I remember Dick Clark the most is behind his podium of the Pyramid. Still the greatest game show EVER. I loved watching him as a young kid. He was so safe and comforting and pleasant-seeming. I have fond memories of watching that with my grandmother while she used to watch my brother and me during the long, fun carefree days before school started...and during every school holiday, break, and summer for years after.

I believe he was a true American icon. Groundbreaking on so many levels. I do wish I would've been around to see his American Bandstand in its heyday, but I cherish the memories I have of watching him ring in the New Year. It wasn't a new year until I got to hear Dick tell me so. And, even in the last few years, after his stroke, and while Seacrest has slowly been creeping, it still meant a nostalgic lot to hear him wish us all a Happy New Year.
Godspeed, Mr. Clark. Thanks for the memories!


We just purchased a brand new car. BRAND. NEW. I'm so excited and nervous. I tell you for reals...that new car smell...UH-DICTIVE. Where does it come? Why isn't it bottled? It's like crack. I'm never going back to used...unless this proves wildly unsuccessful.
Of course, being the pop princess I am, two movies came to my head instantly on the way home from the showroom.
#1: Clark W. Griswold taking his tray of drive-in eats from the waitress. He did not trust her to take care of that Family Truckster...and I think we all remember what happened because of that.

#2: I want this car in a glass garage, and I think I just want to wipe her off everyday with a baby's diaper. Cameron's dad wasn't that far out of wack, really, cause I want nothing to happen to Lois* ever.

*See previous post to learn the story behind her name.

How to Name Your Car

When it comes to naming a car, the most important thing to take into consideration is what the car looks like/what personality she has. Secondly, you need to take into account what the car is going to do for you. Finally, you have to talk to her to make sure she's happy with her new nom de plume.

EXAMPLE 1: 1986 gray VW Jetta with a hand crank sunroof (and Blaupunkt cassette player/stereo system!), named GLADYS. Part of the reason for this sweet girl's name was her license plate--GRCLND 3. Also, she was a bit old and definitely well loved, just like Elvis' mama. She was my first, my greatest; we only had 7 years together. Others may come and go, but Gladys was the best. Just ask my friend, Michael Wayne. He'll tell you how much he loved crankin' that sunroof open and blasting some sweet, one-of-a-kind mix tapes from das Blaupunkt. Oh, Gladys, where are you now? I had to relinquish ownership when an elderly gentleman ran a red light and hit me in the passenger side. One of the scariest, saddest, moments of my life.

EXAMPLE 2: 2004 white Pontiac Grand Prix, named ANGIE (short for Angelina). This one's name was almost instantaneous. As I looked at her, I thought, Strong, sleek, and sexy...just like my Miss Jolie. Hence, her name was born. This was also the "newest" car I had ever owned: bought it in 2006. She's still with us, but with two kids, we wanted to have two safe cars, so...

EXAMPLE 3: 2012 cosmic gray (ie, black) Toyota Camry, named LOIS THATCH MARIE. Oh, me and my new gal had a great convo on the way home from the dealership. She smells so good. I told her that she's going to be responsible for taking care of us, smart & responsible, but she's still bold, daring, and maturely sexy. What woman did I know that fit all this criteria??? Well, I thought of three, and her name fell out of my mouth so quickly. Lois Thatch Marie, LTM for short, just rolled off my lips. Lois for Lane, Thatch short for Thatcher, and Marie as in Antoinette. Three bold, daring ladies who have shaped pop culture and history. DONE!

And, THAT'S how you name your lady!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Too Cool for School

It's been a long while since I've done a look alike post (winter 2009 I think???), but the resemblance between these two is just too striking to ignore.
My cousin said that baby Albs looks like that girl in middle school that got to wear all the boys' hats. Well, add Rihanna to that number, too. I mean, SERIOUSLY, folks! You ain't got nuthin' on these two. They're runnin' the halls, gettin' the hot boyz, and lookin' supa fly while doin' it.
Get a hat. Cock it to the side. You'll still wish you were as cool as them. ;)

Friday, April 13, 2012

It Might be a Soft J

  • I am not in with the in crowd. It's not the first time, and it definitely won't be the last.

Currently there is an amazing amount of people at my work, in my life, and in my community who are jogging...or yogging, as Ron Burgundy and I like to call it. It's an old fad made new again, thanks to countless not-for-profit/fundraising 5K's, marathons, and just jogging for the fun of it attitudes. Guess what? I don't think it's fun. But, I keep this on the downlow, because according to so many I know, it's just the bestest, greatest thing EVER!

I know...I know...I KNOW! I need to get moving! What used to be exercising for 30 minutes three times a week is now exercising 30 minutes everyday of the week. Don't get me wrong: I love to work up a sweat on the elliptical or with a brisk walk around my neighborhood. I just literally cannot find out how. Maybe after viewing my schedule, you'll be able to help me:

6:30--Wake up! Shower!
7:00--Get into car for another challenging, yet rewarding, day of teaching.
8:00 a.m.-2:50 p.m.--Teach, attend team meetings, attend collaborative/disciplinary/special education meetings
3:00--Leave my job! Cause I only work 8-3...oh, wait: staff meetings, ELA meetings, AVID meetings, after school homework club to monitor...get it, now???
4:30--Home to the babes! Play for 30 minutes (or take a walk if it's nice) before...
5:00--Start dinner, juggle the boy (who wants to get into everything!)
8:00-9:00--Clean dishes, kitchens/bathrooms, put laundry away, get lunch ready for tomorrow
9:00-11:00 p.m.--Grade (if I'm not in a blindingly exhausted daze), maybe see my husband?, finally hit the hay (if I'm lucky by 11)

So, here's the deal. Don't think I'm less of a person, cause I'm not totally jazzed to have a 13.1 sticker on my bumper or a triathalon tee-shirt around my form every other day. Guess what I also don't have? A LIVESTRONG bracelet, and I've never wanted one. Do I want to exercise? Yes! Do I want to constantly hear about YOU exercising? No! And, I won't tell you about my workout--or lack thereof--either. The only thing I would like to hear about from you is a way for me to work that workout in! God knows I need it: I lack energy, but when? Help a sister out, yo!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

To Banish the Bully

It feels like the last day I had an acceptable body weight by society’s standards was the day I was born. I was lucky sevens: 7 pounds, 7 ounces. I was always a chunky monkey: loved me some McDonald’s, Doritos, and Pepsi. It was easy for me to be a target of bullying with the extra poundage I carried and the knit pants I wore until 5th grade (when I pleaded with my mom to get me jeans, cause really, I could handle the buttons and snaps). But, looking back on the bullying experiences of my youth, I know that they were absolutely NOTHING compared to the ones I witness everyday.

As a teacher at a middle school, bullying is something I still have to endure daily. No, I don’t experience it on a personal level, but I experience it on an empathetic one. My heart breaks day after day for those 11 and 12 year olds I work with that are constant targets of bullying. For example, the small, skinny boy who is not ashamed of his love of Firefly, Doctor Who, and Steve Jobs, but who others poke, prod, and humiliate until he comes to me asking if he should change. The two bright, intelligent, beautiful girls who are brave enough to ask me to run a mediation between them and a group of five others who are harassing them for being smart and raising their hands in class. The popular basketball player who isolates himself on a park bench, with clenched fists and reddened, tear stained eyes, and only tells us that he has been assaulted by 10 girls after we promise him we won’t tell other students what happened.

These are only three students I’ve loved and tried to help and support over my nine years of teaching. As teachers, we are in a war zone against bullying everyday. And, with social networks, cell phones, and tablets, we are slowly losing the battle we are waging. Yes, my job is to educate, but more importantly, it is to build students up and hold a mirror up to them, so they can see their beautiful strengths and what makes them unique. I strive to make my students feel safe, comfortable, and loved in an environment that is becoming increasingly hostile and upsetting. I truly feel that the battle I am on the frontlines of needs more help than just the pre-packaged social work and counseling lessons that students receive at local schools.

So, what can we do as a community of mothers to help in this battle? One: Talk to other parents openly and honestly about bullying. Recently, one of my beloved co-workers had to deal with bullying as a mother, not just as a teacher. She was nervous, afraid, and unsure of the choice to talk with the parents of the girls bullying her daughter, but the dialogue that was opened up saved her daughter’s relationship with the ones bullying her and her daughter’s fragile 10-year-old self esteem. Two: Attend community forums about bullying. This upcoming Sunday, my church, Quest (which meets at Next Generation School) is starting a bullying message series that offers a Biblical perspective on how to deal with and respond to bullying. I wish I could make it mandatory for my students and their parents to come. I feel Quest will offer a much more genuine, heartfelt response to bullying than anything students and parents could receive from schools that have to follow a protocol before a bully can receive appropriate consequences. Three: Reinforce the inherent good, wealth, and beauty of your children everyday. I know you already do this, but go do it some more!

I love my job. I am proud to be a professional teacher. While the battle against bullying seems never ending, I never lose hope that I can make a difference. We all have to take a stand against bullying: I have the opportunity to work with students, their parents, school administrators, and my team of fellow teachers. And, I hope you’re now encouraged to do the same.

Find out more about Quest's upcoming Bullying Series HERE.
Check out info on my classroom HERE.

Not Our Year

SPOILER ALERT: These rally caps did NOT work.

Baseball season is now in full swing. And, as it is with every season, Cubs fans across the nation start afresh with hope, vim, and vigor for a winning season. Well, faithful few, my hope may already be dashed.

A trip to Wrigley Field is always welcomed and anticipated with great joy. The hot dogs...the Pepsi...the nachos...the new mini-jumbo tron in right field??? (Oh, well. I guess we have to upgrade every now and then.) Possibly my only visit this season happened during opening weekend, so I got my sweet magnetic schedule. That's pretty much where the fun ended.

The last two innings were long, excruiating, and painful. I rarely leak into the negative field on this humble blogspot, but man, we HAVE to do something about our pitching staff. I've been done with Marmol for too long, and I wish the management would be done with him, too. Good ole Kerry Wood is back in the blue pinstripes, but he ain't what he used to be.

I want us to be the Major League Cleveland Indians after our not so stellar start. I do have a glimmer of hope left that we can be. I mean, the season's only a week old. Dismal as it seems right now, maybe we can still turn this season around??? All's I know is this: it's been waaaay too long since 1908.

#4: Eat Red Meat

What do you think of when you hear the name "Nick Offerman?"

  • Ron Swanson?

  • Husband of Megan Mullaly?

  • University of Illinoi alum?

  • Hairy-backed love machine?

  • Humble farmboy?

  • Comedic genius?

  • Motivational speaker?

Well, if you think of all of the above, you'd be correct.

My birthday twin, Meg, and I had the chance to experience this awesome entertainer last week, when he spoke at the Illini Union. (Yes, this is another example of great things that can happen RIGHT in my backyard! How grateful am I to be living in a university town that draws such wonderful entertainment icons!?!) Mr. Offerman laced his evening with extremely inappropriate sexual induendos, drug references, and his disarmingly charming breathy giggles. However, in between all of this inapproriateness were some really important life lessons, that although directed to the UIUC undergraduate youth, had an impact on two 32-year-olds in the crowd--in the FRONT row of the crowd.

Yes, he talked about the importance of eating red meat. He also praised hobbies and how they can shape your life and make you a better person. He spoke of the importance of having one, true romantic you can share your hopes, dreams, and silences with. He mentioned the importance of loving life to the fullest and enjoying naughty intoxicants, but always within reason and with responsibility to yourself and others. I thought he was absolutely aces and a total charmer.

Meg and I both wanted to just hang out with him and eat lots of BBQ and drink beer with him afterwards, but this was not in our stars. I did however, get the awesome picture of him above. And, yes, he's giggling mischievously.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

2 Men--2 Pianos--2 Hours

Have you ever stopped to think how lucky and blessed you are to be able to hear? A bird chirping early in the morning...your breath hustling in and out of your lungs as you run...a baby's overflowing, joyous, sweet music, tickling your eardrums.

A couple of weeks ago, I was again reminded what amazing gifts hearing and listening can truly be. I had the opportunity, thanks to my husband's constant know-how and wherewithall to unselfishly be aware of things I love, to be entertained by Mandy Patinkin and Nathan Gunn. Yes, Inigo Montoya and one of opera's most sought-after baritones entertained my lobes for almost two consectutive hours. The best part? It was in our backyard: ten minutes away at the University of Illinois' wonderful Krannert Center.

It was simple, glorious, and breathtaking. I've never heard such amazing renditions of the Music Man, Sondheim, and traditional American fold songs live. I've listened to Patinkin for years on CD, but live? Never...and next to Patti LuPone, he's the most energizing vocal artist I've had the pleasure of hearing. And, Nathan Gunn!?! Oh, my. He came to my high school choir class when I was 17, and I forgot how rich and superb and exhilarating his voice is.

Yes, I was blessed. Yes, it's important to thank God for even the most ordinary things. After that evening, I thanked him for this sense, that so many take for granted. Check them both out ASAP:

So Much to Blog, So Little Time

My life is blessed, busy, and awesome. So many wonderful things have been going on, but I never have the time to write about them. I'm going to try to follow the style of another Mama -friend: keep the posts shorter and more frequent. Fancying myself a wordsmith, we'll see how THAT goes! ;)

And, for now...gaze upon this, cause I'm gonna be talkin' 'bout this crew REAL soon: