July 29, 2010

Meet Stephanie

Have you met my friend Stephanie Plum?

She is the central character in a hilarious series by Janet Evanovich about an ex-lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter. Clearly, she has no idea what she's doing... but it's quite entertaining to follow along as she learns the ropes.

I've been reading this summer. A lot. For the first time in... I can't even remember. (Not working certainly has it's perks!) So, after years of recommendations, I finally started this series and was instantly hooked! Honestly, the only reason I'm even updating my blog right now is because I have to get the next book from Elaine!

The characters in these novels are so great and will have you laughing from beginning to end! I think Lula is my favorite... but I really like Grandma Mazur too. And Morelli! Oh, that Joe Morelli! I L.O.V.E. him! Especially when he's sweet and kisses her on the head. It makes me melt every time!

If you haven't read these books... start now! No, seriously. Now is the perfect time because production has already begun for the movie version of the first book for the series, One for the Money. Katherine Heigl has been cast as Stephanie, and I really doubt she'll do the book justice so please read it first!

July 28, 2010

Recent Events

I don't know how it happened, but I have gotten seriously behind on my blogging. I could blame the Great Chicago Flood of 2010 that was in my basement last week, or the fact that I've been waiting for the replacement for my third laptop charger... but the truth is, I've just been busy. I'm sorry. Are we still friends?

Here's a quick recap of recent events:

1. I did not get the job I was hoping for. The reason for this is somewhat out of my control. I am bummed. It would have been a great job... and I even liked the principal! Sad face.
2. Each day, I visit the website that posts all teaching openings in my state and spend much more time than I'd like filling out lengthy applications and writing/revising/rewriting/editing the essays that accompany said applications. And to all the districts out there that require applicants to submit 5-7 essays... Why are you wasting my time? We both know you're not going to read them. Is this simply a tactic to see who has enough stamina to endure your crazy application process?
3. I am feeling more and more discouraged as time passes, job postings are fewer, and the new school year approaches. I love to teach. I want a job!
4. I started filling out applications for 4th and 5th grade positions despite the fact that my heart is really aching to teach middle school. I have not yet resorted to applying for K-3 positions. I hope I don't have to. Is that bad?
5. I think it will break my heart a little if I have to go back to subbing.

I promise I have done more with my recent life than worry about a job. I'll save those things for another post, I guess.

July 13, 2010

Staycation Part 3: MSI

I know how you have all been sitting on pins and needles anticipating my next staycation post. Please forgive me for keeping you waiting. Without further ado, I bring you day 2:

On day 2 of my Staycation, Uncle George, Ellen, Shannon, Shaun and I visited the Museum of Science and Industry. Growing up in the suburbs, I've been to every Chicago museum more times than I can count (it seems that my teachers looked for any excuse to take us to one), so it's not usually something I care to put on my To Do List when I'm downtown these days. Any opportunity to hang out with my family, though, is enough to persuade me otherwise (and it didn't hurt that I was able to receive free admission as an Illinois public school teacher)!

If you haven't been to MSI recently, I would recommend taking a gander at their new (at least to me) exhibits (You! The Experience and Science Storms) and some of my old favorites (Yesterday's Main Street, The Great Train Story, and The Fairy Castle). Even after a full day at the museum, we weren't able to cover all the exhibits on our list. Here are some pictures from our day:

July 9, 2010

I Will Not Tolerate This!

So, I'm driving home late last night with my parents from the Fire game.

The first rule in driving anywhere with my dad is that the ONLY acceptable music is the Oldies station. I gave up trying to fight this truth many years ago and learned to embrace "his" music.

So there we were, humming along and bopping our heads (okay... maybe I was alone in this part) to a playlist that is reminiscent of a long-gone era when the beats of this song began reverberating in my ears:

Doesn't sound much like a song that belongs in a set between Lou Christie's Lightning Strikes Again and Sam Cooke's Wonderful World does it?

Maybe that's because it's from 1986. 1986!

Since when is any song from 1986 eligible for the Oldies station? I demand an explanation!

As a child of the 80s, I am seriously disturbed.

July 7, 2010

Staycation Part 2: An Evening in Naperthrill

After a long and intense day at "work," we rushed home to shower and change for an evening on the town. Don't we clean up real nice? :)

We took my family to downtown Naperville for some Chicago-style deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's. Now, as a native, I have to admit that Lou's is not my favorite place for said pizza (I prefer Gino's East), but when you're from out of town, any Chicago-syle will do.

After filling ourselves up on all that gooey cheese, tangy sauce, and crispy crust, we went for a walk along the river. For those that don't know, Naperville's Riverwalk is the place to be in the summer - especially on the weekends. When I was in high school, we used to hang out there often. It's like the Who's Who of Naperville.

It was during this walk that cousin Ellen fell in love with Naperville and thus began the planning stages of Operation: Move the Patemans to Chicago! Unfortunately, her husband isn't so keen on our idea... but he also hasn't been to the Riverwalk... yet. :)

After we worked up a second appetite (not really) from walking up and down both sides of the river (and posing for some fun shots with the statues along the way), we stopped at Cookie Dough Creations. It's a fun, little shop in downtown where you can buy raw cookie dough as you would a scoop of ice cream. It's certainly not something you can indulge in every day, but it was a nice little novelty for the kids.

Day One: Success!

Staycation Part 1

Unlike many teachers, I don't pack my summer full of vacations here and there. Mostly, this is because I'm.... um... frugal, but also, I'm usually working. Last week, though, I enjoyed a wonderful staycation when my family from New Jersey came for a visit. I had been anticipating this trip for months, and I was certainly not disappointed! We had a great week together, and it took me a couple days to recuperate, which is always a good sign!

Our first day of activities included swimming in Uncle Carl's pool. I often joke that it is my full time job this summer to soak up the sun from his pool, so it was great to be able to share my "work" with the family! Aunt Linda and Uncle George were staying with Grandma, but they joined us for a beautiful day in Uncle Carl's backyard.

It was such a treat to have so much family togetherness... we usually only have that when someone gets married or dies. It was fun to see my mom hang out with her brother and sister (we missed you, Uncle Tom!) and reminisce about their childhoods.

The Pool Party
Aunt Linda (aka: Favorite) preferred lounging on the deck.
Skyler could easily be mistaken for a fish... this girl loves the water!
Ellen is one, hot mama... isn't that suit adorable?!
Gorgeous Shannon working on her tan... which takes her no time at all!
Shaun has grown so much... he's definitely not a kid anymore!

Granting a Wish

You may remember this post about the charity basketball game I helped organize at my school back in March. Today, I received a beautiful frame with the picture and story of a little girl, Lily, whose wish was granted due to our donations this year. Here's her story, as written on my plaque:

Lily is an adorable five-year-old girl from Green Valley, Illinois where she lives with her mom. Her mom describes her as spunky and outgoing. She loves the colors pink and purple and all things relates to the Disney princesses. She also enjoys playing outside cruising around in her Barbie jeep, or playing with her friends at the local playground. She also likes to relax by watching movies and snacking on chocolate.

Lily was diagnosed with spina bifida at birth. she has regular doctor visits, but despite her medical complications, this little one is always full of energy and spunk!

When it was Lily's chance to wish BIG, she wished for a trip to Walt Disney World to become a real princess! Thanks to your generous donation and the efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois, Lily's wish was granted. On the morning of her wish, Lily and her family were picked up by a limousine and taken to the airport to board their flight to Florida. When they arrives, they checked into the Give Kids the World Village, a special resort for kids with life-threatening illnesses. After a quick rest, they set out to explore the resort's Castle of Miracles and Dino-putt mini golf course. Lily loved eating chocolate ice cream for breakfast at the Ice Cream Palace. She spent the next week exploring the Disney parks including the Magic Kingdom, where she got to see a fireworks display over Cinderella's castle and spent a day at Sea World. The highlight of her trip was an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where she received a princess makeover and then got to meet her favorite princess, Belle. It was a perfect week for Lily and a wish come true that she will always remember.

What little girl wouldn't love this wish? I'm was so excited that this was the wish that we were able to grant... Lily is a girl after my own heart! It has really been an honor to be able to work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for the past two years on our charity event. I never expected to receive a picture and story of a child we personally helped, but that makes me love them even more. Now, I have tangible evidence of how our donation impacted a child's life. This is definitely an organization I hope to continue working with!

July 2, 2010

Should I Be Offended?

I'm not quite sure how I feel about this:

This week, I received not one but two invitations to the GBN Class of 2000 Reunion.

The issue?

I didn't attend GBN. Ever.

I grew up in the district, so I'm in contact (thank you, Facebook) with several people from that time, but I moved after 7th grade. Yes... 7th grade.

So, imagine my surprise to receive an invitation to the high school reunion. I wondered two things:
  1. Was this a courtesy invite, extended because these girls thought I might actually want to attend and reunite with the friends of my past? OR
  2. Did I receive this invitation because these girls don't know (or forgot) that I didn't go to high school with them?

And if the latter is the case, should I be offended? Do they really think I would be that unmemorable?!

I mean, they obviously can't have any memories of me from high school. How do they account for that? Do they think that's because I suddenly became a big loser that couldn't hang in their social circles?

Either way, it made me laugh!