September 23, 2011

Daughters and Dating

Sometimes, my Facebook news feed has more to offer than people complaining about the new layout.  Here's a quote I really liked (no idea who the original author was)...

 "We need to teach our daughters to distinguish between a man who flatters her and a man who compliments her...a man who spends money on her and a man who invests in her...a man who views her as property and a man who views her properly...a man who lusts after her and a man who loves her...a man who believes he is God's gift to women and a man who remembers a woman was God's gift to man."

September 20, 2011

On Tina Fey and Photoshop

I know none of you have signed up to be a part of my impromptu book club, but this is something I wanted to share...

In the last year or so, I've been reading a lot of autobiographies: Kristin Chenoweth, Chelsea Handler, Chelsea Handler again, Kathy Griffin, Tori Spelling, Tori Spelling again, and currently, Tina Fey. Yes, there is a theme here of funny women... what can I say? I like 'em. If you're looking for fun reads, I highly recommend any of the above links. You will not be disappointed.

In Tina Fey's Bossypants, she talks a little about the use of PhotoShop, which we all know has been a hot button issue recently. Tina, though, takes a different approach than most I've heard. She thinks that we, as a society need to accept that it's here to stay. As she says, "No country has ever been de-industrialized," and the only people who are ever fooled by Photoshop are people over age seventy!

She made a really good point about how we, as a society (any society, really) have never, in the span of history, accepted the human form the way that it is. "That's why," she says, "people wore corsets and neck stretchers and powdered wigs." I don't know what that says about us as people, but she's right. Photoshop isn't the enemy - it's our constant need to manipulate and transform ourselves to be better than the rest... or at least to provide the illusion that we're better than the rest.

September 13, 2011

Back to Jewel(s)

Grocery shopping, I've decided, is a skill. Not everyone is good at it. I think I happen to be one of the unfortunate souls that was not blessed in this area.

It's kinda overwhelming, really. Even when I think I've done a really good job, I cringe as I watch the total on the register climb higher and higher. I strongly believe it's cheaper to eat out than to cook for one. Just sayin'. 

Just once, I'd like to go to Jewel (or The Jewels for my Chicago friends) and buy food because I used all mine up, not because I threw half of it away. Often times these are well-intended items: fruits and veggies I know I should be eating. Ones I even enjoy. But they still end up in the trash. 

Part of my problem is that I'm rarely home for a normal dinner time. I get off of work at 3:00, and then I leave for Zumba around 6:00 most days. In my experience, it's not a good idea to workout right after eating a meal. So during that window of time, I usually just have a snack to hold me over.  

When I get home from class, no earlier than 8:30, it feels too late to start cooking and eating a whole meal. Too often, the result of this is Grab n Go foods. Even when I have a full supply of meal options that would be amazing, I just don't have the desire to fire up the stove and start chopping veggies. Not to mention, I'm usually starving at this point so when Tom suggests pizza for the zillionth time, I don't argue, even though I know I should, because I just want to eat something. 

So week after week, I throw away unopened bags of spinach, cartons of mushrooms, and overripe green peppers. And then I complain that we have to go grocery shopping again because I have nothing to eat. I wonder why?!

I think a personal chef is the only real solution to this problem, but I don't think I can afford one on my substitute salary. So, unless there's a kind soul out there who's willing to be my personal chef for free, I'm on my own. Tom and I have vowed to make better food choices.

For starters, I am trying my best to keep the junk food out of the house so it's not even there to tempt us. I was much better at this when I lived with my parents. Now, because we do a lot of entertaining in our home (and because someone just celebrated a birthday), it seems there are always snacks and treats on hand. Today, though, I walked right past those delicious bakery cookies and grabbed another bag of baby carrots instead. 

I have a fully stocked fridge and freezer. I'm going to test myself to see if I can keep this food from spoiling!

September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Ten years ago today, I was startled awake when my roommate's mother called to warn us that we were being bombed. I had a view of the Chicago skyline from my room, so I looked out the window and saw nothing out of the ordinary. So, I did what any normal collegiate would do at that hour: I went back to sleep.

Not even five minutes later, though, my next door neighbor was pounding on our door. Her boyfriend, a marine, had called her with the news, she wanted to make sure we were watching the events unfold. So, I got out of bed and turned on the television, not knowing how those moments would change our lives forever.

I remember sitting around the television with the girls on my floor in complete disbelief as we watched the reports come in. I can still hear our collective gasps as we watched the second tower get it, the reports came in from the Pentagon and Flight 93, and as the towers, one by one, collapsed before our eyes. I wanted it to be a bad dream, a movie gone wrong like War of the Worlds.

Ten years later, I still remember the events and emotions of this day like it happened yesterday. I struggle each year with trying to relay the magnitude of this day to my students who have little or no concept of the day's events much less it's significance. It's mind-boggling to me when they dismiss it and ask why they have to learn about it again when I can't tear myself away from the documentaries, year after year.

My thoughts are with the thousands of people to were affected that day. And my thanks are with the first responders who show their bravery and selflessness in the face of danger.

I will never forget.

September 10, 2011

Life Lessons: Jello Shots

On Saturday night, Tom and I hosted a taco birthday fiesta for some of our friends. As with any social event, this was really just an excuse for us to get together, drink too much alcohol, and get crazy dancing on each other. Nights like this just remind me how much I love my friends! The pictures on this post are the "appropriate" ones... you can imagine how the rest of them look!

In preparation of the evening, I wanted to make Jolly Rancher jello shots, something our friend April made for another party earlier this summer. The recipe calls for sour apple Pucker and watermelon jello. Who knew watermelon jello was a seasonal flavor and no longer in stock? I had to come up with an alternative: watermelon Pucker and strawberry jello.
Because I'm an idiot, I made the jello part first, and then I realized I needed twice as much alcohol as I purchased. But fear not because I'm super creative, and I managed to mix together three cups of leftover Malibu, Raspberry Stoli and Midori to finish the recipe. And the result? Fantastic, if I do say so myself. Although I may have made a few too many - I blame this on my mother who taught me to always worry about not having enough food or enough food for gatherings, which always results in way too many leftover.

So, the moral to this story is that pretty much any alcohol tastes good in a jello shot. And we have lots leftover, so come on over and hang out with us!

September 8, 2011

Most Expensive Car Wash Ever

I didn't get called in to work today, so I thought I'd be productive and go get my car washed. Groupon had a deal for a $15 car wash, including cleaning my floor mats, which really needed it. I thought it was a good deal, so I took advantage.

As soon as I pulled in my garage, I grabbed for my phone and ipod touch, which I bring everywhere. No ipod in sight. I emptied my purse, checked my pockets.

"No need to panic," I told myself, "I just left the place ten minutes ago."

So, I came inside to look up the number. I explained the situation to the guy behind the desk, and he checked the chair cushions for me. And then he came back with bad news: minutes after I left two cars full of teenagers were there, sitting in the same spot.

And my ipod? Nowhere to be found.

My first panicked thought was that I don't have a password on it, so now some stupid teenagers have access to all my emails, facebook... everything. I changed all the passwords to everything I can remember that has a saved login on the device. All I can do is hope that's enough.

I'm pissed. Mostly at myself. But also at the person(s) who took my ipod. Because those teenagers would likely be students of the school district I worked in. So much for Character Counts education!

And I'm a little miffed at the lure of Groupon. This never would've happened if I could just learn to pass up a good deal! Oh, save $10? It wasn't worth it, in this case.

I use my ipod every single day. All day long. Not just for music, either. And now I'm faced with purchasing a new one... without a job to pay for it.

And after a little research, rumors are circulating that the 5th generation ipod touch is coming out in October. So do I wait for the new one, or go get one now??? 

Ugh! Enough with the bad luck already! I'm ready for something good to happen to me.

September 7, 2011

Salsa 101

We were all cute before we started sweating!
I don't know about you, but I love any excuse for a three day weekend. Not that I really needed one since I'm subbing - or not subbing, as the case may be so early in the school year, but it's nice when my friends are also off for a long weekend so we have an excuse to have fun.

This three-day weekend, in particular, was extra fun because yesterday was my roomie's birthday, which, of course, meant that we had lots of celebrating to do.

The festivities began on Friday night with a wine tasting and salsa lessons/dancing at Vargo's Dance LLC. This is Tom's new Zumba location in downtown Geneva on Monday nights (6:00 PM for anyone interested). Jamie, the owner, is as sweet as can be and is super excited about finally having her very own ballroom studio. She's adorable, and you should definitely stop in for some classes if you're in the area!

That's right! We're professionals, people!
Anyway, Tom dragged me along for the evening when someone else had to back out and they needed another girl for the group.  I have to admit that I didn't go willingly because even though I can follow choreography all day long, I'm still intimidated by freestyle Latin dancing. Oh, the things we do for the people we love!

After the lessons started, I realized it wasn't bad at all. My Zumba background was definitely helpful because I already have an idea of the basic steps, and I'm already used to following Tom, so I think I was a pretty good partner.  We kept joking that we need to be in the advanced class because I honestly thought it was going to be much harder than it was.

I may even be willing to try another style... no promises, Tom!

On Parents and Educators

Last night, I came across this great article on CNN called "What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents." It highlights many of the biggest frustrations teachers and administrators have with parents and gives suggestions for how parents should handle situations differently.

I can't tell you how many times my coworkers and I have said, "My job would be so much easier if I didn't have to deal with the parents!" Parent-teacher conferences, in every school district I've ever known, are always followed up with staff outings to the local watering hole because we all need a good drink after those meetings. 

Now, before every parent out there gets offended, please know that we, of course, don't mean every parent. In fact, most parents are just fine. But, like in every other facet of life, there are always a few that ruin it for the rest of you.

My biggest complaints have been:
  1. Parents who care more about their child's grades than about what the child is actually learning. These are the ones who will question every lost point because the most important thing in life is that their 12 year old receives straight As (notice, I said receives, not earns).
  2. Parents who have a simple concern, but rather than discussing it with me first, they go straight to the Principal to complain. And then I get called into the Principal's office (yes, this is still scary as a teacher) about something I have no idea is an issue.
  3. Parents who take no responsibility for raising their children themselves. We call these the Dry Cleaner Parents because they want to drop them off at 8:00 and pick them up in perfect condition at 3:00. Any behavior, academic or social-emotional issues need to be dealt with during the school day because it's our issue, not theirs.
  4. Parents who act powerless to help their children, even when the issues are simple. We had a child a couple years ago who fell asleep in class every day. His parents told us that he has a diagnosed sleep disorder, but then they also mentioned he stays up all night playing video games or on his ipod touch. "What are we supposed to do?" his father asked us in dismay.
  5. Parents who assume, "Those who can't, teach," and treat us with zero respect. We once had a parent angrily lean across the table and tell us, "You don't understand how the real world works!" and then went on to explain how he was so great because he wrote a master's thesis in like two days. Little did he know, he was sitting at a table of people who held master's degrees and experience in Corporate America.
The bottom line, parents, is that you need to stop treating your childrens' teachers as the enemy. Trust that they have your childrens' best interests at heart and that they, like you, want to help them succeed. It makes it easier for everyone when we can work together to accomplish our goals.

September 6, 2011

Bear Down!

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the start of football season. So, when my friend, Caitlin, from grad school, called last week to ask if I wanted to join her for a Bears game, of course I was on board.

Oh, how I love my Bears! I would never turn down Bears tickets!

The tickets were for Thursday's game, the last preseason game, but it was against the Browns, so we knew we had a good chance to see a win. Oh, and did I mention these tickets (and parking) were free??? 

Our original view. Still not bad.
I love my life!

And if I'm completely honest, I was thankful for an opportunity to experience another Bears game without my ex-boyfriend. I hated that my only other game was tied to memories of him, and this was a great chance to create new memories that had nothing at all to do with him.

So, on what I swear was the hottest, most humid day of the year, we went to the game, decked out in our navy and orange, ready to cheer on our boys. We had about an hour to tailgate in the parking lot before the game. Honestly, that was all the time we needed. We chugged down a few beers and were ready to go.

Our seats were in the 300 level behind the endzone. The thing I love about Soldier Field is that there really isn't a bad seat in the entire stadium. Even from way up there, we could see all the action, even if some of us didn't wear our glasses and couldn't tell who was who (no one I know... I'm just sayin').

As we sat there, though, Caitlin and I were enviously texting other friends at the game with seriously better seats. Our mutual friend, Aaron, was there with a couple friends (one who I went to high school with) with season tickets at the 100 level. He said there were open seats behind them and to come on down.

Our view from our new seats!
So, like any good rule breakers, we made our way down to his section, and he came out with "extra" tickets for us. Okay, so they really belonged to the other people who were sitting there, but we just needed to get past security. And we got to watch the rest of the game from amazing seats. Holla!

Being that close to the field make the game so much more exciting to watch. That's where the hardcore fans sit, ya'll!  I loved the atmosphere. It was awesome!

Oh, and we won! That was pretty cool too. Even if it was only preseason.

This is gonna be a good season. I just know it.

Go Bears!! 

September 1, 2011


I have a sometimes overwhelming fear of spiders. I don't care how big or small they are, I hate them all the same. Just thinking about them makes my skin crawl. 
Remember that show Fear Factor? I think one of the worst things they did was trap people in boxes with spiders. OK snakes are bad too. And rodents. Yuck! I hate all creepy, crawly things. I would've sucked on that show.

The one thing I dislike about my bedroom being downstairs is that I get all the spiders. Especially in my bathroom, which connects to the laundry room (which connects to the garage). And there's a giant gap between the bottom of that door and the floor of my bathroom, practically inviting them in. Seriously. I need to get one of those draft stopper things for my door to keep them out. Where would I find one of those?

Just minutes ago, I killed a massive spider in my bathroom. I had to stifle my scream and almost hold back tears. This is when I miss living with my dad and brother. Yes, they thought I was ridiculous, but they always killed my spiders for me.

Dear Future Husband, Please be willing to kill my spiders. Thank you!

P.S. I totally believe in putting a photo on each blog post, but I got the heebie jeebies just looking at them in google images. I swear I can feel them crawling all over me right now!