February 24, 2010


I've had a pretty nasty cold for about a week now that started with a terrible sore throat and followed with this never ending congestion and a lovely cough to match.

I'm tired. I'm sick. I'm tired of being sick.

Here I am... sitting on my couch lamenting the loss of the ability to inhale (or exhale) through both nostrils at once.... or sometimes through my nose at all.

And then I remembered The Girl Whose Hair was On Fire.

And I immediately counted my blessings.

Because I can breathe. And this, too, is temporary.

Pity party over.

Things Students Say Part 4

Yesterday, my students took a vocabulary test on the words we studied for January and February. After passing back the tests today, we went through some of the commonly missed words to clarify any remaining confusion. Near the end of our review, I asked the class for an example for the word prolific.

Without missing a beat, one of my boys exclaimed, "Octomom!"

Well... yes! I'd say that works!

February 20, 2010

Save Our Schools

The purpose of this post is not to complain but rather to share my very realistic fear that I could be out of a job for next year. For those that do not follow Illinois politics, our state is facing an enormous budget crisis that's putting our entire education system (as well as other systems like human services) at risk.

When the state cannot or does not pay districts the money they've promised, the districts are forced to make massive budget cuts. This means cutting jobs (some districts in my area have gone as far as to declare that they intend to let go of every non-tenured teacher and re-hire as needed), programs (special education is directly affected in my district), activities (cutting or eliminating sports, music, and art programs).

With classrooms of 30 students already, I can't imagine what further cuts in my district would mean for class size. I worry about students will special needs and whether they will have access to the necessary resources and programs that are helping them succeed. I worry about the schools' abilities to maintain or achieve their Annual Yearly Progress as mandated by No Child Left Behind.

And yes... I am also worried, on a selfish level, for my own job. As a second-year teacher, there is a good possibility that I will be among the staff that is let go because of these cuts. And because this is happening all over the state, I worry about how long it will be before I have another opportunity to teach. I'm not as scared about the prospect of losing my job as I am about the prospect of not having a job at all. I LOVE my job... I want to keep it!

Will you help me fight to keep my job?

If you're in Illinois, please contact your senator and representative. Urge them to support HB 174 to Save our Schools! Click here to locate your officials.

February 19, 2010

65 Red Roses

Eva Markvoort is a beautiful, 25 year-old woman suffering from cystic fibrosis. She is currently waiting for her second double-lung transplant, as her body is rejecting her first set.

If you have some time (and a giant box of tissues), I recommend you take a look through her online journal. It chronicles the past four years of her struggle with CF, including her last transplant and falling in love with the man that helped create a documentary about her life. It is truly inspirational.

While her lungs may be no good, her heart is pure gold, and I'm confident that, just as I was, you will be instantly captivated by both her story and her amazing spirit.

Thank you, Eva, for reminding me that my struggles are only temporary and that even in the most dire of situations, I can still love and be loved... and what else matters in life?

February 10, 2010

Life As We Knew It

For days, we anticipated our first blizzard of February. The kiddos in my classroom had soaring hopes for a snow day or two (or at least a late start day), and every adult in the Chicagoland area was dreading the commute. The local meteorologists told us to expect 8-12 inches between Monday evening and this morning (Wednesday), which means that we were mentally preparing for 0-24 inches (is the weather man consistently that wrong in other parts of the world... and if so, how on earth do they stay employed? Seriously... why bother?).

The snow started falling Monday afternoon. Yesterday's commute to work was a little slippery, and I was dreading the ride home. Luckily, the day was warm enough to keep most of the snow (and it was consistent... believe me) from sticking, and I was able to leave work by 3:15, which allowed me to beat the traffic and get home before much of the chaos ensued. As I climbed into bed last night, I dreamt of a car that would not need to be shoveled out of the driveway and clear roads for my morning commute.

At 4:00 AM... exactly, I was shaken out of my sleep. It felt like someone was trying to wake me from a coma, which is weird since I was sleeping alone in my bed. And almost as soon as it started, it was over. I was completely baffled by this experience. My immediate thought was that it had to be an earthquake, but then I remembered that I don't live in California. Silly me. So I rolled over and attempted to continue my dream from the point where I was so rudely interrupted.

Ah, yes... it was an earthquake, my friends. What's that? You've never heard of a Chicagoland earthquake? Well, you are not alone. A quick survey of my coworkers and family confirmed that no one had any idea what was shaking their homes in the middle of the night. Most people thought it was a large street plow (some of us clearly have overactive imaginations... that would be one massive plow!), while others thought it was all a dream. 3.8 on the Richter scale is certainly nothing very notable... except for the fact that it happened in Chicago... during a blizzard.

I can't help but make the connection to Life As We Knew It, a novel some of my students are studying about a series of natural disasters that all but destroy Earth. Okay... okay. The world is not ending... but we've certainly pissed off somebody!

Oh... and in case you're wondering... I did have to dig our my car from a pile of snow, but the roads were clear. Some dreams really do come true! :)

February 6, 2010

Do you Blame Yourself?

That is the question Barbara Walters asked of Jenny Sanford during last night's 20/20 episode, during which they discussed the affair of her husband, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, with an Argentinean woman that devastated and ultimately destroyed their marriage.

Something about that question was absolutely appalling to me.

Yes, I recognize that many women have the tendency to blame themselves for their husbands' infidelities and that it naturally brings up several personal insecurities. What did I do wrong? Was I not good/smart/sexy/pretty enough? Did I not love him enough? What does she have that I don't?

But, in my opinion, those are deeply personal thoughts and not meant to be shared on national television. And there was something almost victimizing or accusatory in Barbara asking this poor woman if she felt she was to blame, as if she was suggesting that it was at least partially her fault that her husband was unfaithful.

For the record, she responded that she did not blame herself for her husband's infidelities. I, however, wanted to hear her say, "No, Barbara. I blame him!"

February 5, 2010

Which is It?

Recently, all of the tabloids have been reporting on Rachel Zoe's incredibly shrinking body. While I absolutely applaud the magazine for bringing attention to her obviously unhealthy frame and begging the question, "How thin is too thin?" I also cannot help but be incredibly frustrated by these same articles?


Because each weekly has profiled many of Zoe's former A-list clients as well. Their purpose was to show the "Zoe Effect" by splashing photos of these emaciated women when they were working with the stylist compared to their healthier figures today.

Sounds admirable right? You're probably thinking, as was I at first glance, that this is such a noble move for Hollywood. It's great that they're finally starting to spread a message that there is a such thing as too thin. And that people (women in particular, as they are typically the target audience) look best at a healthy weight with some curves.

But here's my problem...

One of the client photos in question was Jessica Simpson circa 2005, and I distinctly remember her receiving all kinda of praise for how great she looked when that photo originally surfaced. In fact, if my memory serves correct, this is when she was getting all sorts of accolades for spending hours in the gym and changing her diet to be in the "best shape of her life" so she could sport the famous Daisy Dukes for role in the upcoming film.

It really irks me that the tabloids can take one photo and say, "Wow! Doesn't she look divine?" (insert subliminal message to all women and young girls that this is the ideal, though unrealistic, body type we must achieve here) and then pull that exact same photo out of the archives later and scrutinize her for looking too frail.

Furthermore, the "after" photo the mags are using, which are intended to show a healthy Jessica post-Zoe influence, is from November 2009, just months after she has been plastered all over the media for being "too fat" and "letting herself go." (Not that my opinion matters, but I happen to think she looks great... I like her with the curves.)

Which is it? Is the before picture too thin or idea? How about the after picture? Is she too fat or healthy? I can't keep up!

Maybe I'm being to harsh. Maybe I should give the magazines the benefit of the doubt here and assume that these articles are meant to show that the societal idea of "beautiful" is changing.

Call me cynical, but somehow, I doubt that.