July 24, 2009

Is That a Hint?

Speaking of Wrigley....

Here I am: home alone on a Friday night. This is the perfect opportunity for me to work on the class I foolishly decided to take, but instead, I'm searching for any opportunity to procrastinate.

Wrigley is curled up in a ball at my feet, enjoying the sound (I presume) of the gentle hum of my laptop and my fingers clicking on the keyboard as I spend far too much time on Facebook.

And then it dawns on me that this is a great time for some karaoke, so I bust out my favorite Wii game: American Idol. Oh, how I love this game. The endless hours of entertainment it provides. My only complaint is that I wish I had even more songs to sing. I've searched high and low for the first edition of this game, but it is insanely overpriced on Amazon (and I cannot, for the life of me, understand why).

But I digress...

I pop in the CD, choose my favorite song, "Big Girls Don't Cry," and start belting out the lyrics (and scoring quite well, thank you). Wrigley looks directly at me, stands up, and leaves the basement!

And I thought Simon was tough!

Meet Wrigley

If you've ever read, Marley and Me, you have a pretty good understanding of how lovable yet dim-witted some dogs can be. Wrigley, our yellow lab, was just like Marley as a puppy, but now, at the ripe old age of 2, he's really much better.


Yesterday, when I let the dogs out (yes, we have two), Wrigley saw a neighbor walking past our house. He simply couldn't resist the urge to make a new "friend" and lunged toward the sidewalk, snapping his leash on his way. Luckily, he's harmless, but she was a little shaken to see a 100+ pound dog pounce towards her with his tail wagging and tongue hanging out of his mouth.


When I asked my dad today if he knew about the broken leash, his response was, "Yeah. But if you put it on him anyway, he thinks it still works."

Haha! I love my dumb dog!


July 23, 2009

Work Types

I think there are two types of people at work. The first, are those that come, do their job and go home. These people don't need to be overly chatty with their coworkers because they aren't dependent on them for emotional support or friendship. They are there to do a job, and if you don't like them, it's no skin off their backs. These aren't necessarily people who dislike their jobs or their coworkers, but they keep their personal and professional lives very separate.

My boyfriend falls into that first group. In fact, it's a miracle we're dating because we met at work. He's the guy who eats lunch in his car every day so he can listen to his satellite radio and take a little cat nap. He'd rather work alone on his tasks so he can get them done. But he is also a man who truly loves his job - it is his passion. He just doesn't care to get caught up in the office politics or drama. His coworkers are simply that; he would never call them friends.

And then there's me. More than three years after leaving Corporate America, I still have dinner dates with a group of girls I call my friends from that job. People like me crave that social interaction in the workplace. I, too, try to avoid office gossip (okay... I don't mind hearing it, I just do everything in my power to make sure I'm not a part of it), but I also recognize that the majority of my waking hours are spent in the workplace - I need friends at work! I perform better when I know I'm surrounded by those that support me. Whenever I start a new job, my biggest anticipation is related to finding a place to fit in.

Because I crave these friendships, I was nervous about the open position on our team for this upcoming year. I didn't know who we'd "get stuck with," and I was additionally nervous because I knew I'd have to plan with this person. This caused me a lot of anxiety because I worked so well with my team last year, and I wanted that same experience. I kept trying to tell myself that it didn't have to be a friend to be a good working relationship, but I knew in my heart of hearts that that's what I longed for.

Two weeks ago, we interviewed "the new girl." She had a very impressive resume, but I wanted to be present for the interview so I see for myself if she'd be a good fit. The interview went well... but I'm no fool. I've been tricked by that process in the past, so I was still holding out. Our principal hired her immediately, and she and I set a date to meet so we could go through the curriculum. Last week, at our 5 hour meeting, all of my anxieties washed away. I love this new girl. We are two peas in a pod, and we've both already established that we're going to be BFFs!

I can't tell you how good it feels to know that my new partner will be a friend!

I Love Chili's

Have you ever unintentionally ended up at a expensive restaurant wondering what in the world you can order off of an over-priced menu?

That happened to me last night. I met up with my friend Martha and her fiance, Ryan, for some wedding shopping and dinner. Both Ryan and I wanted Chili's for dinner (seriously... when do I not? I love Chili's! They have the best salsa in the world! Seriously! I wish I could make it myself.), but Martha was adamant that we needed to go someplace new. So, Ryan and I lost, and we ended up at an upscale Mexican restaurant, which shall remain nameless, instead (who knew such a thing existed?).

It wasn't until after ordering drinks (thank God I only ordered an iced tea) and diving into the complimentary chips and salsa (which didn't at all compete with my beloved Chili's) that we opened the menu to reveal the prices. There was only one salad on the menu, and even that was $13.00! Really??? Vegetarian quesedillas were $17.00! Someone needs to remind them that quesedillas are only tortillas and cheese.

Martha immediately apologized and said we could leave, but it would have been rude to do so at that point. So, I found the cheapest item on the menu (tacos) and told myself I could make it work. The worst part about it all was that it wasn't even good. I hate to admit this, but Taco Bell has yummier tacos, and those are less than a dollar!

For our next dinner date, we're going back to Chili's whether Martha likes it or not!

July 20, 2009

Girls' Night Out

Beth, a good friend from college, is getting married in just a few weeks, so we took her out this weekend to celebrate the end of her bachelorette days. I haven't gone into the city much in the past few years, but I was more than happy to make this trip to celebrate her big night. I was also really eager to see Rachel, another good friend who now lives in LA (and I never get to see... boo!). I knew it would be a night to remember!

We started off our adventures at Flirty Girl Fitness, which is an actual fitness center (as opposed to just the makers of the Flirty Girl DVDs) in the west loop that offers sexy fitness class (hip hop booty, pole dancing, cardio striptease, chair dancing, etc.). I swear if I lived in the city, I would totally sign up for a membership there. We opted to take our party to the Coyote Ugly Style Bar Dancing class, and it was a blast! Our instructor choreographed a routine to Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like a Woman," which was the perfect song to start the night. At the end of class, we went into the lobby to perform our routine on the reception desk for the next groups that were waiting. It was hilarious!
After our class, we enjoyed a cocktail hour at the bar (Oh yes, it's a fitness center with a full bar. I love it!) with some gifts and games. We played one of those "He said, She said" games, and it was amazing to see how well Beth and Joel know each other. I was definitely impressed at Joel's attention to detail (For example, he knew her favorite color was seafoam green. What guy knows that???).

After drinks, we went to Quartino's for dinner. If you haven't been there, you're missing out! It's an Italian tapas restaurant, which was a new concept for me. And even being the picky eater that I am, I really loved this place (especially the sangria). Good food, good friends, and good conversation. What more could a girl want?

Once we were (really) stuffed from our meal, we walked to McFadden's to kick off the dancing portion of the evening. Silly me, I left my ID at Beth's apartment, but thankfully I was able to convince the owner that I was of legal age (I don't know why, but I told him, "C'mon! I'm a teacher!!!"). The DJ played a great selection of songs (everything from top 40 to Madonna to Shania Twain to Journey) and kept us entertained well into the night. Rachel created a scavenger hunt for Beth to complete, which included getting a piggyback ride from a stranger (check) and drinking a stranger's beverage without asking (check). She was a great sport about it all!
After McFadden's, we walked down the street to Hunt Club, where I was less than impressed with the music. By this time, we were all struggling with exhaustion... we're definitely getting old! We left this club after only about 20 minutes and opted to sit at the "park" outside instead. It's funny to think that we used to do this almost every weekend in college (sometimes twice in one weekend). I know we started this day much earlier (5:00), but I still think my partying days are limited.

All in all, it was a great night. Beth was all smiles, which is, of course, the goal of a bachelorette party. And although I only met half of our group this weekend, it felt like they, too, were old friends by the end of the night. I can't wait to see everyone again at her wedding in August!

July 12, 2009

Poor Pepper!

Remember the same-sex penguin couple at the San Francisco Zoo? They hooked up back in 2003 and have nested together since. At one point, the pair even took care of an egg together. This couple was the notorious for adding fuel to the nature versus nurture fire when it comes to homosexuality. If two male penguins can find love and raise (hatch) a baby together, why can't humans, right?

Well, the word on the street is that Harry and Pepper are no longer together. Sad, right?

It all started when a female penguin, Linda, lost her companion and has "befriended" Harry. Pepper, as you can imagine, was not very pleased with the new company and reacted pretty violently, causing all three penguins to be separated. (I swear, I'm not making this up!) I mean, can you really blame him? Just who does Linda think she is coming between a happy couple?

Since the three have been reunited, Harry and Linda have nested together, leaving poor Pepper all alone. The zoo keepers say all is well, but Pepper is surely heartbroken over his loss. And then to be forced to watch Harry strut around with Linda each day... how devastating!

Harry, where is your loyalty???

July 10, 2009

Car Thieves on the Loose

A few weeks ago, I walked to the driveway, as I do every morning, and opened the door to my car. As soon as I sat down, though, I realized something was different. The entire contents of my glove compartment and armrest were spilled onto the passenger seat.

"Hmmm," I thought, "That's weird."

I immediately called my mom (who was already at work) and asked if she had been looking for anything in my car. I assumed she had been looking for my tanning lotion or something along those lines. At I dialed her number, I was a bit miffed that she would have such disregard for my things. If you need something, that's fine, but at least clean up after yourself!

"It wasn't me," she explained, "I haven't been in your car at all."

Next, I called my dad, thinking that he must have been looking for my insurance card or something along those lines. He's not exactly the cleanest person in the world, so it would be just like him to leave things on the seat once he found what he needed.

"Nope."

And then it hit me: Someone broke into my car!

Now, when I say, "broke into," I really mean "opened the door without my permission" because the doors were unlocked. I know... I know. They're locked now, I promise.

The weirdest part, though, was that I've still not been able to identify anything as missing. My navigation system and ipod were both in the house. My insurance and registration cards were both on the seat. My I-pass was firmly in place on my windshield. Nothing was missing!

Which leads me to ask, "What kind of criminal goes through all that trouble and takes nothing?"

It happened to my sister the week following while she was out of town with her husband. This time, though, they did take her tanning lotion and an old makeup bag full of free samples.

And just yesterday, it happened to a friend of mine who lives about 30 minutes away, which leads me to wonder if this is the same criminal or just the new crime.

Either way, my doors are safely locked!

July 9, 2009

NCLB: The Football Version

I saw this on a blog I follow and thought it was too good not to pass along:

No Child Left Behind: The Football Version

l. All teams must make the state playoffs, and all will win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable.
2. All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time and in the same conditions. No exceptions will be made for interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities. ALL KIDS WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL
3. Talented players will be asked to work out on their own without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren't interested in football, have limited athletic ability, or whose parents don't like football.
4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th games.
5. This will create a New Age of sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimal goals.

If no child gets ahead, then no child will be left behind.

July 7, 2009

In Memory of Michael Jackson

"Thriller" was the very first music video I ever saw. Although I don't remember it (I was just under 2 years old at the time), my dad says I was so frightened that I buried my face in his chest. The choreography of this video was so ahead of its time. I think every dancer, myself included, in the past 3 decades has learned and performed the thriller routine at least once. In many ways, it has become a "classic" dance. I can't help but smile whenever I see it performed. (Do you remember that scene in 13 Going on 30 when Jennifer Gardner leads the cast in the dance? LOVE it!)

I thought today's memorial was a beautiful tribute to the man that he was. For those that knew him personally, the message was clear: he was a a great entertainer with an even bigger heart. They portrayed him as a man who loved his family and friends deeply and worked for unity and peace across the world. More than once, I was surprised to find myself a little teary eyed as I listened to songs and stories about his life. And I completely lost it when his Paris addressed the crowd.

No matter what you thought of Michael Jackson's personal life, there's no denying he was a sensational entertainer. I've heard so many artists in my lifetime mention MJ as their inspiration, but until today's memorial, I don't know that I truly understood the magnitude of his impact on the entertainment industry. He crossed so many genres and influenced so many singers, dancers, producers, directors, etc. Entertainment, as we know it today, is what it is because of MJ.

For someone who struggled to find it in life, I hope that Michael can finally Rest In Peace.

Michael Joseph Jackson (1958-2009)

July 6, 2009

Bulletin Board Search

I don't think I ever updated my blog to say that I do have my own classroom next year! And I was lucky enough to inherit a classroom full of furniture and supplies from a retiring teacher, which was really been a blessing (she left me bookshelves full of novels... this is a huge help!).

I've been brainstorming the many ways I can arrange my new classroom and looking for ways to make my room functional yet attractive. Particularly, I've been trying to find some interactive bulletin board ideas because I have plenty of space in my new room.

I often refer to middle school as "the forgotten years" because in education, it seems like we are often overlooked (or ignored). There are plenty of resources for elementary and secondary teachers and classrooms, but it's not easy to find things that are relevant for this age group.

My bulletin board search is only proving my theory. I'm having the hardest time finding relevant, attractive, interactive bulletin boards that are geared toward my students. I'm even willing to make my own, but I was hoping to at least find some inspiration online.

Here's the part where I appeal to you, my readers. Does anyone know of any websites I can use as a resource? Do any of you have any ideas of your own for a 7th grade language arts classroom? Thank you in advance!

Independence Weekend

I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday weekend, though I didn't spend it doing any of the traditional activities. It was certainly nice to have an extra day off of work (tomorrow is my last day of summer school.... hallelujah!).

I got to spend some much-needed quality time with the boy toy. It's amazing to me that we can still spend an entire evening and the following morning together just talking. No TV. No entertainment. No distractions. We're just happy being together. I love that! He's the only person with whom I can hold a 3 hour phone conversation without getting bored. Even after all our years together, it doesn't get old.

I also got to spend some quality time with my family. I had dinner on Friday night at the Olive Garden with my sister and my parents (I swear I have a brother too... he's just never home). It was nice to have a night out with the family. I hang out with my mom and sister all the time, but it's a rare occasion to have my dad tag along. :)

Saturday was spent shopping at Woodfield with my mom and sister, enjoyed a delicious sushi lunch at Todai, visited my grandparents and my god-dog Samantha (I adore her... I need to get a picture of her!), and enjoyed a movie and fun with my sister and brother-in-law.

All in all, it was a great weekend!

July 3, 2009

The Hunt for the Perfect Jewelry

I mentioned earlier that my summer is booked with wedding-related festivities, and much of that includes assisting Martha, one of my best friends, in the planning of her upcoming nuptials. Most currently, we have been on the search for the perfect jewelry for the bridesmaids. The bride would like to purchase earrings and a necklace for her maids as a token of her appreciation, but we are having the hardest time finding the "right" pieces.

Who knew that finding the bridesmaid jewelry would be more of a search than the bride's dress?

The dresses are a champagne color with a black, lace overlay. Aren't they cute? I'm really excited about this dress because it's totally wearable again. It doesn't scream, "I'm a bridesmaid dress." (And BTW, I look exactly like the model when I wear this dress. Seriously. You wouldn't be able to tell us apart.)

Martha thinks gold jewelry with black beads or stones will look best, but some of the girls aren't sold on wearing gold.

Do you have any suggestions of where we can look for affordable jewelry that the bridesmaids are likely to wear again after the wedding?

July 2, 2009

Update

Forgive me for not updating you on Kenny's progress sooner...

After days of waiting for the swelling to subside, Kenny finally had his surgery on Monday. The doctors fixed his jaw and teeth and added a GI tube so he can get his nutrients. He won't be chewing any food for the next 8 weeks, but the doctors would like him to swallow some liquids before they release him from the hospital.

Kenny's in a lot of pain, which is to be expected, but he should make a full recovery (thank God!). He's been up and walking around a little bit this week and learning how to take care of his tube and dressings. He was a very lucky young man. The bullet actually went in beneath his jaw and came out his mouth. An inch or two in the wrong direction, and this could have been a very different update.

Now, our prayers are focused on Corey's mom and sister, who have really taken on the brunt of the responsibility for caring for him. They've been rotating nights with him in the hospital, which I know is taking a toll on them. When Kenny leaves the hospital, they will continue to care for him. Our primary concern is that they continue to take care of themselves as well because this is a very stressful situation.