Archives for December 2010

525,600 Minutes- How Do You Measure A Year

2011. Holy cow is that weird. I think it is weird every single year when we say farewell to one year and hello to a new one. Every time I start thinking about years, I think about one of my all time favorite musicals “Rent”. The lyrics to Seasons Love makes me think.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

Is it watching your newborn morph in to a toddler right before your eyes? From sleeping through the night, to eating solids, to sitting up, then crawling and quickly walking and sort of talking?

Is it watching your husband pour his heart, his energy and his soul into a new business that has become something bigger and better than we ever imagined?

Is it measured by the fact that finally there is feeling that the house we bought before Brady is now truly a home? Toys scattered EVERYWHERE, a refrigerator with whole milk, a diaper genie in our loft, and bottle parts found in every drawer that you open?

Is it measured in nights out, single or with husband which was dramatically reduced because all we need on a Saturday night is upstairs in his crib sleeping soundly and a good movie on demand?

Is it measured in things bought? New car, new appliances, a new bathroom and new toys.

Is it thinking about where you have been? 2010 symbolized a massive change for us. Two working parents. We made, we adjusted, we survived and Brady is still thriving.

Is watching your only brother marry the woman of his dreams on a gorgeous night with their love and devotion apparent to everyone in the room?

Is it thinking about what is lost? We said goodbye Glenn’s godfather and uncle yesterday?

Is it what has stayed constant? My girls, my rocks…they are still here. They have not left my side since we met in college and in 2010 they rose up and have helped me more than they know.

Is it looking back and knowing that you wouldn’t change for one second anything that happened in 2010. Not the frustration, the sadness, the pain, and the hurt. And not the happiness, the joy, and the feeling that this is what life is all about.

Tho’ the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends
Remember the love!

You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love spread love
Measure your life in love.


Thankful Thursday

So, I missed a week and I hope you all understand that I was busy soaking up my boys, my parents, my hometown and all that the Christmas season has to offer even a trip to Santa which DID NOT go well. Being home with my family was amazing. It is what I need and I crave in the midst of the craziness that occurs in a school year and more specifically during the holidays. As I sat in mass on Christmas Eve, with Brady in my arms, I felt ready, right, and recharging in those moments. I look really weird/fat in this but we really did not get a good shot of our family on Christmas Eve

Being thankful is about being content and while I’m honest that this week I have not been content I am trying to get better at being okay with what I have. My life is pretty good and sometimes you just have to be willing to embrace what is going on and keep truckin. I am thankful…

81. a baby well on his way to toddlerhood who gives me exactly what I need when I need it most. Brady has an instinct (do all babies?) to lay his head on my shoulder when I need a reminder that life isn’t so bad. And does it get any cuter than this? We do anything to keep him happy between dinner and bath and two nights ago, mama’s UGGs did the trip. Dad was not pleased but it is pretty darn cute if you ask me.

82. a mama who knows how to shop. Damn, my mother is a shopper and I am proud of that because usually what I am wearing on SOS is compliments of her. Banana Republic, JCrew and Von Maur thank her too!
83. a school district that values teachers to give them two full weeks to recharge at a time when we need it most.
84. for our new Keurig. Seriously, it is so nice to not hear my husband complain every morning how much he hates paying for coffee at Starbucks. Or the fact that Brady makes the motor sound every time we start it and that Glenn picks with such focus when choosing his K-cup for the morning. I don’t mind paying for Starbucks but won’t have to thanks to my in-laws Christmas gifts! Thanks Fischers!
85. my organizing gene. I spent a lot of time this week putting things away, sorting, making bins thanks to my e-friend LCW‘s idea and getting Brady’s playroom in order. Needs some work. I have some ideas but we are off to a good start.
86. for restaurants who are “so good” that we had to get a reservation for April. Oy… well, I guess it is something to look forward to. Got that in your calendars people? Girl and the Goat in April!
87. my new camera. I am no longer “loaning” one from school. I am the proud new owner of a Nikon D3000. I have been shooting with it for almost a year already so the learning curve shouldn’t be too bad. Plus, I am finally taking that photography class my brother and sister in law bought me for my birthday in June.
88. for the “spring like” temperatures we are having this week. It sure makes running errands, going to the gym and getting out easier when it is in the 40’s. Plus, it gives us a taste of what’s to come.
89. that my husband is kind enough to know what I need, firm enough to stand up to me when I am wrong, and loves me enough to humor my madness. And you know what else? That being his own boss allowed him to be home most of this week. There is something so awesome when your partner, your spouse, and your best friend gets to enjoy lazy days, naps and family outings with you.
90. Heinz ketchup. True story, my kid loves this stuff. So, we can pretty much get him to eat ANYTHING if we slather it with Heinz. Laugh all you want people but the kid will eat chicken, vegetables, you name it as long as we dip it in ketchup.

How you were your holidays? What are you thankful for?


My Top Ten Wishes This Christmas

I am on Christmas Break or winter break as it is appropriately called in my school district. And I finally feel like I am on break. There is something about the first few days you are supposed to get up and you don’t, when you leave your pajamas on a bit too late, sip tea as your little one gets his first sips of milk that make you realize that you are on break. It is in these moments that I get a little sappy and start thinking about what I want in the coming year. More specifically what I want for my family and friends in the coming year. Sure I will have resolutions but I this is my wish list for others…

1. I want my brother and his new wife to find “their house”. Their first house. They have been waiting, they are ready, and I want them to own a house that is all theirs to decorate, landscape and call their own. (Aren’t they gorgeous?!?)

2. I want two of my good girlfriends to settle in. They have waited a long long time to find their partner, spouse whatever, and I just think this might be the year and the guys for both of them. I love weddings…who doesn’t?

3. I want one my best friends to not give up. She is fighting something that the rest of us haven’t. She can’t let it win the battle. She will overcome her struggles and will persevere and this is probably my biggest wish. Vague I know, but I love her so much that her privacy is much more important to me.

4. I wish my mom would stop and smell the roses. If you don’t know her she is relentless. She is tireless, unselfish, a perfectionist on most days. She works so hard and helps my grandma in ways that define unconditional love and I love her for this. But the woman needs to take a minute for herself once in a while.

5. I want/wish my friends knew how important they are to me. I am TERRIBLE, at least I admit it right, at staying in touch, emailing, communicating etc… But my girlfriends are my rocks. And I know that they are there. I just wish I could tell them that a little more often. Nothing like a breakfast date on Saturday in matching JCrew sweatshirts ( no it was not planned) to bring you back to home.

6. I want to go back to church. Humor me here… it WAS my lifeline. My hour of peace a week. A chance to gather my thoughts, ready myself for the week ahead and give thanks for all I have that is good. Needless to say, a toddler, a small business, a full time job and a husband has gotten in the way and I need to find my way back.

7. I wish that the world of education in United States would shape up. I know I teach in one of the most privileged and affluent school districts in the United States. Arne Duncan just doesn’t get that test scores won’t equal results and teachers don’t get better when you threaten them. Race to the Top really is the Race to Nowhere. We need to fix the way schools are funded. We need equity in education. We need to stop piling on the homework. We need to recognize that our future is molded by us…those of us who control education.

8. I wish that we didn’t need to celebrate moments like the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Is it too much to ask for that every person in this world gets to be who they are and be celebrated for it?

9. I want my toddler to see and experience everything that there is. He is at such an amazing age where things constantly are “new” and he is going to have a year of firsts. I want that youth and innocence to forever remain present as he goes through life.

10. I wish each of you a Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


Thankful on the Last Thursday

It’s true. The holiday spirit brings out the best and the worst in all of us. The frantic frequent trips to shops to make sure we have everything ready and wrapped. The feeling every single night that there is more that could be baked or should be under the three. The feeling that Christmas in our homes is what we make of it. My body is weary. My eyes are heavy with tiredness. And as Brady struggles with the lights for the tree my mind is going a mile a minute wondering if this Christmas I have done enough for my family, my friends and my co-workers. Yet still, I trudge through the days waiting for Christmas thinking about all that have. I am thankful…
71. for my morning commute that allows me to focus, gear up and face each day at school.
72. the repeating “uh-oh” coming out of Brady’s mouth because it never fails to make me take breath and smile.
73. teachers that I work with that remind there is such things as “doing better” and “doing more”.
74. my husband who last week was Mr. Mom ALL WEEK long and doesn’t realize how great of a dad he really is to Brady.
75. Saturday nights where steak, wine and good friends consume my time and let me relax for a few hours
76. the smell coming from my Yankee candles Sparkling Cinnamon and Christmas Cookie that make it smell just the way it should in December.
77. my kindle. This little device takes my mind away from everything and immerses me in the stories I read. When I am not reading, I am thinking about how that story will end and how I can’t wait to turn it on again.
78. for the simple things that I take for granted every day including food, shelter and safety. Alena at Charmingly Chandler reminded me how lucky we are and how quickly it can go away. \
79. for former advisees an students who stop by to say hello and remind me why I am in the business of education.
80. my riding boots. I know this materialistic but I wear these things and feel like I can and will conquer anything.
What are you thankful for in this holiday season?


My Responsibility

As an educator, I have an opportunity to keep a pulse on the world of kids and sometimes see the world through their lenses. School was rough two weeks ago. The things that happened, the chain of events, the poor decisions made by some of our students caused me to stop and think for a minute. Did they willing choose to make bad decisions? Did they know the consequences and repercussions that would follow? Why did they think they would get away with it? Did they think they were invincible? Do they think so little of our institution, our teachers, and our motto that defying it was what made sense to them? And then of course, as I was sitting in my office, talking to a set of parents who were baffled by the behavior of their son, it occurred to me that I am them.
I am a parent of a boy. A boy who in a few short years is going to have to navigate the world of friends, peer pressure, school, athletics, college, activities, and decisions. I may be the parent who is defending my son, or trying to at least understand what my son was thinking when no one else will. I tend to think I am the parent, who will condemn his actions, even if I understand him, when they are wrong and teach him why. It’s amazing to me as I talk to parents and listen to them defend their children regardless of how wrong they were in their actions.
What is my responsibility to him? These past weeks I thought a lot about how I could prevent this from happening to my son. I started thinking about the way we raise him. The way we will teach him right from wrong, good from bad and how to make the unpopular decision. I started thinking about why it’s our job as parents to be the ones to set expectations for him so that he knows clearly the people he will disappoint the most is us. I was thinking about how under all of the layers he MUST know that we are his allies. We will support him and love him well after the decision is made and the consequences are doled out.
I thought about all the times I disappointed my parents with choice I made. Maybe it was when I quit playing softball in college because my priorities shifted. Or maybe it was when I didn’t make Homecoming Court because I just wasn’t that nice in high school. Or maybe it was the time I got in a wreck on my way to softball because we just had to make a “pit stop” before the game. Or maybe it was the first or second time I chose to take a job in Chicago. Or the time I cheated on my Physics test and I got caught by Mr. Holbrook.
After all those things one thing remained the same. My parents, they love me. They support me. They are proud of me and I still to this day do not ever want to disappoint them. How did it get to that? How did it become ingrained in me that disappointing my parents was the ultimate consequence of any action in my mind? They never said it. They never will. But I know. And, I can only hope I have the grace, strength and presence to meet the challenges of being a parent the way mine did.


Thankful on Thursday

Tis the season…as I was sitting in my office this morning staring at a pile of papers to be graded, tissues filling up in the garbage can below me from the cold I can’t get rid of, and people coming in and out pulling me in fifty directions, I kept thinking in my head, “It is Thursday. You are thankful. You must write. It will bring you back to center. Do it before the bustle of today beats you.” And so this morning, I shut my door. Told my secretary to hold the fort down for you few and I am writing. Writing this list every weeks helps me to recap the small things that make a difference every week. It reminds me that stopping, thinking, and being thankful is the best thing I can do when the daily grind gets me. I am so thankful for…

61. a brother who was willing to brave the elements (snow, sleet and wind) to take a ride far out in the suburbs with my husband to pick up our new appliances. (And I hear, he was still a little fuzzy from the long night before.)

62. Soup Box. This cold is killing me and Glenn delivered just what the doctor ordered last night by bringing some Chicken Noodle Soup from this amazing little soup store in East Lakeview.

63. first year molars and eye teeth that are relentless. Really, I would like to thank them because they have provided me with snuggles that Brady is not usually willing to give in the morning. Every single day this week, his cry that makes my heart ache has woken us up around 6am and he needs us. I am ready. Ready to do the slow rock in our glider that lulls his subs and dries his tears.

64. Adopt-A-Family. My advisory at school rose to the challenge and it felt good to give back in a way that makes a difference. The boy in our family wanted a bike. Ask and you shall receive. A bike it is. I only wish I could be there to see him receive it.

65. good reads. I am a voracious reader. I always have been. I read on a kindle but still love the feeling of flipping pages in a book. I read every night as I sip hot tea. Yet, as I have ventured in to blogging, I have found an enjoyment in reading other blogs. There is one in particular: Enjoying the Small Things. If are not reading her blog you are missing out. I have never craved to read from someone more than I do from her. And after every post, I think. She makes me think about things. Life. Lessons. Love. All of it. And she does a damn good job. Get reading.

66. my kid. Seriously, he is in to scrunching his face up and puckering his lips to kiss us and it’s adorable. And as Glenn carries his weary body up the stairs each night to his crib the kid waves goodbye as if to say, “night night mama”. And I melt. And I feel full watching the boys I love.

67. saturday nights. While the baby sleeps, every once in a great moon, we sneak away, get dressed up and act like adults. It what makes the survival of this week necessary. I am ready for a steak, some wine and my husband on Saturday night.

68. Make A Wish Foundation– I have a love hate relationship with this tiny part of my job. Every year we run a silent auction at our school to benefit Make A Wish Foundation. And every year when I am up to my ears in auction donation items, html code, parents calling and people complaining, I watch the auction unfold and absorb the fact that this amazing community where I teach raises $10,000 each year on this one day. And I am proud. Proud that we do this for those who are in need.

69. For new babies who will be born this season and their mamas. A special lady in our lives will welcome her own baby boy next week and she will be getting the best Christmas present of all this season.

70. our Christmas cards that make me smile and reflect what I am hoping for our loved ones, friends and family. They are in the mail, finally. So, one should be coming to your mailbox soon.
What are you thankful for this week?


Top Ten Tuesday- Things I Would Change…About My House

Katie over at Sluiter Nation does a Top Ten list every Tuesday about something. I keep wanting to join in. She is a teaching mama like me, lives in the Midwest and I tend to think, she may not, that we are very alike in our beliefs about family, school, traditions and life in general.

This week the Top Ten List is all about things you would change in your house. I am going to give you ten but also take the opportunity to update you on our progress related to a few of these.

Let me give you a a little back story. We bought our house, which is over 100 years old, when I was pregnant with Brady. We knew it would not be our forever home. Today, I am convinced that it will not be our forever home but 1.5 years later it is totally “home” for my family. If we were staying in it much longer, we would be working HARD on this list but I think we have made some good progress.


1. The PURPLE bathroom. This is what we started with.

This is what it looks like now. Mighty good improvement right?

2. I would screen in the back porch. I am from Central Illinois. I grew up sitting on a screened in porch. I love to sit outside in the summer to drink a beer, read a book or just think. But, I HATE bugs. I hate mosquitoes specifically and they love me. So, I do not sit outside on our deck very often.

3. Family Room Windows. I know, the windows are old and have lead in them which apparently makes them very valuable but they are OLD and that equals cold. Enough said. I am tired of having to put plastic on them each winter to try and keep some of the chill out. Yes, they are beautiful but I am cold always.

4. Lights- I hate the light fixtures in our dining room and kitchen. I hate them. They look old and they look cheap. Good thing my husband’s business partner owns Lightopia.

I told you these were unedited so yes, we have a bulb out. It has been out forever and we have no replacements. Hmmm…

5. Garage- I swear to god, Glenn and I talk every time there is a big storm (snow or wind) and wonder if the damn thing will fall down. Then we always talk about what if we just *tapped* our car in to, would it fall? It needs helps, in a bad way. But the thing is solid as a rock. Just ask our insurance agent.

See that beauty behind us. Look at the rust on the door. It is the ugliest of the alley!

6. Zone A/C- I am glad that we have central A/C but it gets HOT (hhhaaaaa if you are Brady) in our upstairs in the summer so I would love to install zone air conditioning instead of the window units we currently have upstairs. A girl can dream right?

7. Laundry Room- It is in the basement, the unfinished portion mind you. It is cold, dark and dirty. I LOVE to do laundry, love to organize, fold, iron and hang things. I dream of the day that I have a laundry room with neatly divided areas, hangers, and a paint color on the wall that is inviting. Maybe I just want some heat in there since I spend so much time in there. It was the “hub” of our house when I was growing up. Bringing our laundry down, washing sports uniforms, and making sure the best jeans were clean each week.

8. Kitchen- As you can see, the before was okay. The after is better but we have a small problem. The microwave DOES NOT FIT. So, we have to figure this out. We are getting quotes on counter tops and cabinets and I think the end result will be fabulous. Just in time for us to move.

This is before. I will post the after when it is all done.

9. Back Door- Here is the thing…when you move in to an old house, people will tell you that your house has “charm”. That is baloney. It is old. It has quirks and things that are flat out annoying. Our back door does not lock from the inside. So anytime we open it, you have to turn the lock on the outside to lock it, using a key, and then delicately turn it so it locks from the inside. It’s a deadbolt so we know it’s safe, super safe. So annoying. Just ask Glenn…

10. Basement Carpet- It is a lovely space except for the fact the carpet is nasty. It could be a great place for me to workout. It could be a great playroom for Brady. It could be another area to watch TV and wait for laundry but the carpet is gross. It is Berber and stained. It can’t cost this much.

After reading this, I feel like I am whining. I am not. I love my house. I love the things we have done. I love the seasonal decor and the new elements we have brought in. I firmly believe that home is what you make. Material possessions don’t make a home, a family does. So, even if the floors creek, the garage tumbles, the microwave stays white, and the door never locks from the inside, it is my house. Not my house, my home and my favorite place to be with my favorite two boys.


Brrrrrrr…That’s What He Says

Every single day. And it is true. It is cold outside. We are talking teens tonight people. See, when you live in the Windy City you come to expect that winter will come and eventually it will snow. And the snow will turn brown, then become slushy, and until it finally melts in April if we are lucky. (Kidding…sort of) And, by April we swear we are moving south and we vow to never deal with the big white flakes again. But the first snow fall is a whole other world. It makes me giddy. It makes Glenn cringe. For Glenn, the snow equals a shovel. For me, it is the perfect opportunity to play in the snow, drink hot tea and snuggle until we are warm. I woke up in the middle of the night to pee and checked outside and saw a blanket of white on the cars, roof and street. I smiled, a great big toothy grin and quietly crawled back in to bed thinking about Brady and snow. This morning, I could hardly contain my excitement. I had all of Brady’s gear ready to go.

Walking out the alley…because duh we live in the city. Where else do you play? Plus, Uncle Todd was out there unloading new appliances.
Not so sure. It’s awfully wet. Plus, the alley was deep and his poor booted feet kept getting stuck.
(In his defense, it was sleeting at times. It was loud and hurt.)

Quick pic with mama before
those poor feet got stuck for good and a face plant in to the snow occurred that resulted in us going inside to warm up.

Happy December. It just seems right that in the hustle and bustle of Christmas snow blankets the ground? Doesn’t it?

Thankful on a Thursday- Chocolate Chip Cookie Style

I missed a week and my blog has been NEGLECTED in a bad way in the writing department. But not in the looks department? What do you think? I love it. Anyone who knows me IRL, would tell you the color, the font, and the design SCREAM ME! I have to give all the credit to Becca @ Jumpin Jax Designs. She is one totally talented girl and I have an awesome blog to show for it. I missed my Thankful Post on Thanksgiving because I was busy soaking up the things I am most thankful for which are my husband, kid and family. Anyways, new design, new energy to write. But today, you get my thankful post. And my commitment to continue writing. So, with out further delay! I am thankful for…

52. new appliances. OMG! I am typing this with anticipation as our first new appliance is being delivered today. Three more this weekend and then new cabinets and counter tops equals a total redo. All for dirt cheap. Pictures to come. And a great story to go with it.

53. only having 2.1 weeks of school left before holiday break. I need a break. These weeks have been chaos and I am looking forward to the morning snuggles, the afternoon naps and everything else that comes with being at home with Brady for a few weeks.

54. Starbucks red cups. What can I say, I love my Starbucks and it makes every day a little brighter.

55. online shopping. I don’t really know when I would be able to shop if it weren’t for online gift buying. I am on this huge handmade, thoughtful gift kick this year so gift receivers consider this my warning.

56. mind numbing reality TV. One of the best hours of my week is when I can curl up with Glenn and watch Millionaire Matchmaker. Yes, we watch it together because it is so stupid it’s funny.

57. the holiday buzz. I don’t know what it is but it makes me smile. No matter what is going on in my life, I can listen to Christmas music, watch and participate in the bustle at the mall, decorate our house or be at a Holiday Party and I feel good, really good.

58. friendships that manage through the tough times. It’s funny, the older I get the better I am about trying fix, nurture and remedy a friendship when it hits a rough patch. I truly believe that friendships are a work in progress and that it takes tests to prove that they are totally worth it.

59. the quiet time every day when I can decompress, think about the good and and be thankful for all we have.

60. simple pleasures that bring joy to little boy’s faces. His first chocolate chip cookie and he loved every minute of it.