Thursday, March 31, 2016

Final Day Haiku (SOL16 #31)

I made it! To celebrate, I wrote a haiku. 

Slice of Life is done
Writing everyday is tough
Emerged a writer

I have to admit I was "roped" into this challenge. I didn't really want to participate because I didn't think that I could commit to writing every day. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed to step up if I wanted to set any sort of example for my students. They deserve the best teacher. A teacher who is willing to step out of their comfort zone if it meant  there would be learning and growing. Truly, I didn't think I could write all 31 days, but I pushed myself and was able to meet my goal of not missing one day. Through this month of writing I got to know myself as a writer again and it turned out that I missed it more than I knew. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Girl's Night (SOL16 #30)

It was December 23rd and it was girl's night. My girlfriends live in the northern suburbs of Chicago and it's kind of hard to see them on a regular basis. With us all having different schedules, we definitely have a hard time carving out the time to see each other. Needless to say, when we have a girl's night on the books, it's exciting. 
I had been waiting all day. I spent my morning cleaning, doing laundry, and running errands. I kept busy while I was waiting for the clock to show 6:00 pm so I could leave Westmont and see my besties. Phil got home at four and hung out with me for a bit. We talked about our day and what the plan was for the evening. Suddenly my phone rang. I saw that this was a phone call I should take outside. I stood up and walked out our back patio doors. It was abnormally warm for that time of year so I walked out barefoot. Silly, I know. After the phone call was done I walked down the wet wooden stairs to go back in the house. 
The second to last stair ruined my whole winter break. I took the step and slipped. I'm sure it was very comical to watch, but living in the moment was awful. I fell. I bit it hard. The next thing I knew I was lying at the bottom of the stairs moaning in pain. 
"You're okay, Katie." my husband reassured me. I was not so sure. I finally got up and felt the pain radiating through my arm. I know I didn't break my wrist, but man it felt like I did. "Put some ice on it," he told me. 
I sat for a while with an ice pack on my arm. I couldn't even tell you where it hurt, but it sure hurt. After about an hour and some swelling I decided that it was time to go to the ER. 
It's probably just a sprain, but they might give me something that will help with the pain. After an hour and a half the x-rays came back. Soon after, this picture was sent to the girls involved in girl's night. 

I would not be in attendance. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Nature Walk (SOL16 #29)

This morning i went over to my sister in law's house to watch my niece. Her mom had some running around to do and since I am on spring break I was the perfect babysitter. When I arrived, her favorite TV show was just starting. It's been a long time since I watched children's television shows, and I must say that I'm quite okay with that. The screechy, perky voices were a little much for me. As soon as the show ended I suggested that we go outside and enjoy the nice weather. 

I knew her mom wasn't going to be much longer so I suggested we walk around the yard and look at all changes that spring brought to the space. We walked slowly and looked at every plant. She noticed little things like the first shoots coming out of the ground, and a purple flower that was growing in the grass. She even plucked that one small purple flower out of the grass and handed it to me. 

As I recalled our small moment this morning I just think about how her amazement in these small things was so refreshing. I've been walking around in my yard plenty while cleaning up after the winter. I see all the work that needs to be done. Leah doesn't. Leah sees the beauty in everything. Our silly little nature walk really made me remember to be present and appreciate the small things. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Currently... (SOL16 #28)

I saw this "currently" format on someone else's slice for the day and thought I would give it a try today. 

Currently waiting for the oven timer to go off telling me that the Peanut Butter Deluxe cookies are done. Mmmm.... 

Listening to the previews before the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 begins. I've been waiting months to see this and tonight is FINALLY the night. 

Drinking an icy glass of water. I have to keep hydrated for my week of renovations. 

Wearing my favorite pajama pants with shamrocks on them.

Reading... not a thing right now. 

Feeling uneasy about the progress that we have made thus far on the bathroom. I really wanted to get this completed in one week, but it's definitely going to be harder than I thought. 

Wanting to be a little handier so I can help Phil more with all the work that needs to be done. My standing on the side looking pretty is not helping the cause much. 

Watching the beginning of Mockingjay Part 2 while writing this post. 

Needing to be able to make decisions on fixtures, tile, and wall colors. I'm the most indecisive person in the world and walking through the tile store today gave me so much anxiety. 

Thinking about finishing this post on time so I can go watch my movie. 

Enjoying spring break so far! 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Truths, Beauties, and Appreciations (SOL16 #27)

I saw this format on a blog that I read and decided to give a try on this Easter Sunday. 

What do you know to be true, beautiful, or appreciate?

-Being kind will take you far in life. It is not always easy, but it is ALWAYS the right thing to do. 
-Family should always be a priority. You need to make every moment count because you never know when those moments will be all you can look back on. 
-Remodeling is hard work. There is way more planning that goes all the decisions in a renovating a space than I care to think about. 

-Spring Break. It is simply a beautiful thing. I intend enjoying every single minute of my time off this week to be ready to come back to school and finish the year strong. 
-Life is beautiful. It may not always be easy, and definitely is not always easily understood, but what is meant to be will be.
-The unconditional love of a dog is pure beauty. Every time I come home after spending hours away, my dog exudes pure joy and love. I'm blessed to have her. 

-My parents. Both of them taught me the importance of hard work and ensured that my brother and I knew how to take care of ourselves. They taught us work ethic, as well as how to treat others the way we would want to be treated. The way we were raised helped to shape us who we are today.
-My in-laws. Many have a strained relationship with their in-laws, but not me. I am so beyond blessed to have married into such an amazing family. I am proud to be a Suomi, and love every minute I spend with them.  
-My co-workers. We laugh, learn, and grow together each day. Without their support, I would not be where I am today.
-My students. They teach me so much every single day. I am lucky to be their teacher and truly hope that they know how much I value the time I spend with them. 

Happy Easter! 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Random Acts of Kindness (SOL16 #26)

Today while I was out running errands I stopped for my iced coffee. I'm useless without it, and definitely needed my caffeine fix. I hit the Starbucks drive through and waited patiently in the long line. I didn't mind. I had my music on, windows cracked (it's still a little chilly), and it's a beautiful sunny day. I pulled up to the window and the barista hands me my coffee. Ahhh, immediately I was happily looking forward to the nectar of the Gods that I was about to drink. 

He looked at me and said, "The woman in front of you paid for your drink." Astonished, I just sat there. "Really?" I finally managed to spit out. "She said, Happy Easter." he continued.

Immediately I asked if I could pay for the person behind me. He smiled, swiped my card, and told me to have a good day.
I pulled out of the parking lot smiling, appreciative of the woman in front of me who reminded me how much random acts of kindness can make your day. 

Happy Saturday! 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Video Games (SOL16 #25)

I've never been much into video games. I try, but I'm really just not that strategic and competitive. For my husband's birthday I bought him a fancy game system with Star Wars Battlefront. I thought he'd play it in his spare time (specifically when I'm not around) and eventually it would get old. Well one month in, it hasn't gotten old.

In fact, never did I imagine that this crazy game would become such a presence in our home. Since it's a fancy pants game system he is able to play online. My brother-in-law, who also has the game, encouraged Phil to start playing with him online. That was a game changer. (A little pun intended) Now they hang out "virtually" while gaming. They talk to each other through headsets and team up to take on the Imperials. While kind of cute, it's become quite a serious thing. Hours go by before they sign off, ready to take on the next round of Imperials the following day. Now, these are grown men and I do know that the video game has not taken over their lives, but I wonder how much longer we will be continuing the daily battles. Fingers crossed it will dissipate soon because I am learning entirely too much about Star Wars. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Ten Things About Me as a Teacher (SOL16 #24)

10. I've always wanted to be a teacher, but my decision was finalized when my father was sick and eventually passed away. My teachers were an amazing support system for me, and I wanted to be the same for my students. 

9. I went to Illinois State University because they have the highest rated teaching program in my speciality in the state. I also liked the distance away from home. 

8. I have very high expectations for my students. I know that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to, and I don't want them to settle. 

7. I truly believe in differentiation. All students should be able to access curriculum in a way that appeals to them, and have opportunities to explore their interests while in school. 

6. I can be a little disorganized, especially with paper. I am far more organized with electronic documents. Being able to search sure helps! 

5. I love to incorporate technology into a lesson whenever possible. It engages students, and allows for students to create. 

4. My favorite subject to teach is math. My goal is to change hesitant students into mathematicians. My least favorite subject to teach is science. I'm just not a fan of the content.

3. I hate days when I am not in the classroom. I feel like I miss out on so much. I don't like being out of the loop. 

2. I love to be a teacher sponsor for clubs after school. I learn more about my students outside of the classroom, and get to see how they interact with their peers in a non-academic setting.

1. I see creating a classroom community as one of my highest priorities. No real learning can happen if students do not feel comfortable, supported, or like they are an important part of the group. 

(This was the best i could do with a bunch of cold medicine in my system. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

It never fails.... (SOL16 #23)

 It never fails.
This morning I woke up with that feeling. Spring Break is approaching so that means I need to start feeling under the weather. I told myself I could make it through the day. The hours went on and the feeling never left. That dry, soreness in my throat that no amount of water could alleviate. My cheeks feeling warm, but my hands were like icicles. A teacher's worst nightmare. 

It never fails. 

I guess it's time for some chicken noodle soup and an early night. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sweepstakes (SOL16 #22)

"No one ever wins them." 
"What a waste of time!" 
"You'll spend more money on stamps than any of the junk you may win from them." 
My Dad heard of all of these statements of wisdom lots of times, but he was convinced that someone would in fact win. He also knew someone would be him
It was a Sunday like any other. We woke up early, went to church, went out to breakfast as a family. Nothing was different. Nothing except my Dad smiling. He wasn't a big smiler. Maybe he had a good night's sleep. Maybe he was excited about a basketball game that would be on later that afternoon. Maybe he was thinking about his breakfast order. Two eggs over easy, well done potatoes, sausage patties, and Greek toast. (It was the same every week.) It couldn't be anything out of the ordinary. Or could it? 
Table for four. 
We sat down and my Dad pulled out a newspaper with that smile still on his face. He didn't usually bring a newspaper to breakfast, but maybe he wasn't feeling overly social. That was possible too. At this point my mom was also smiling. Something was definitely up.
TJ was the first to ask. "What's up with you two?" 
Dad passed him the paper. I leaned over to see what was on the page. 

The Chicago Sun Times and Chicago Blackhawks would like to congratulate Tom Hull of Brookfield, Illinois 
Our Grand Prize Winner
He wins: 
1999 Chevy Blazer 
A Personalized Chicago Blackhawks Jersey 
Tickets for 2 for the 1999-2000 Chicago Blackhawks Season 

"And I was only trying for tickets to a Hawks game..." 

Months later, my lucky father and our whole family went to the Blackhawks game. He was invited down to to center ice and was presented with the SUV. The goofy smile never left his face as he was driven off the ice in his brand new car. 

(My Dad and Mom at center ice. Dad is in the red jersey) 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Taking on the Bathroom (SOL16 #21)

Three years ago in April we had a major flood at my house. We had a finished basement  including a full bathroom and had to rip everything out to the studs. It was heartbreaking at the time, but it gave us the opportunity to re-do the area and make it our own.

It took us about six months to renovate the common area. We both worked full time and had to find extra time to work on the basement when we weren't too busy. Six months of living in drywall dust and having power tools everywhere. Six months of spending every extra dollar on making the space livable again. Six months of making decisions about colors, flooring, and furniture. At first it sounds like fun, but after so much time working in the same space, I was definitely ready to be done and had no desire to tackle the bathroom. 

Well, the desire is there now. We need to move forward and finish up what we started. So instead of taking a trip on spring break this year, Phil and I decided to take the week to tackle the renovation of the bathroom. This may end up being like a home renovation TV show on HGTV or the DIY Network, but we are going to try to knock it out in one week. This week we will buy the supplies, and next week we will begin the work. 

Please keep your fingers crossed for us! I'm sure this will not be the last post talking about the renovation. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Lazy Sunday (SOL16 #20)

I can't remember the last Sunday I had where I could just be lazy. The last couple of months have been super busy and my weekends have been packed with activities, parties, and work on the house. 

So with nothing officially on the agenda today I decided to give myself the day off. I caught up on some sleep, watched some Netflix, and went on a walk with my dog. It was perfection. I'm loving my lazy Sunday. I hope your Sunday was as enjoyable as mine has been.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy Birthday (SOL16 #19)

Today I spent the day with my niece and nephew celebrating my sweet little nieces 5th Birthday! Happy Birthday to little Leah! I love you more than words can say! Check out the pictures below to see my amazing, spunky little niece!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Getting Back My Readerly Life (SOL16 #18)

For two years I moonlighted as grad student getting my Masters in Differentiated Instruction. All of my classes were online and required a great deal of reading, writing, and discussion posts. As a student again I read countless books, articles, websites, and academic papers.  It was a fantastic experience but I am glad that it's over. My life became was consumed by work, and reading about teaching. There wasn't much time for anything else. 
I promised myself after finishing school that life would go back to normal and I would begin devouring books again. Well... 9 months later I am still not reading for pleasure. I keep telling myself that it's just a break, but the longer I am taking off the worse I feel about it.  I'm realizing that it's hard for me to be a great reading teacher without walking the walk and reading for pleasure myself. When I took on this blogging challenge I did so because I knew it would help me to become a better teacher and to share ideas with other educators. Now I need to take on the challenge of re-building that readerly life to be a better teacher for my amazing students.  

So, now I close out of blogging and will open a book. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dog Mom Guilt (SOL16 #17)

I pull into the driveway and get out of the car. I don't waste time because I know what is awaiting me. As soon as I open the screen door and my key turns I hear it. Paws barreling down the stairs and the jumping up and down behind the door. Upon opening the door she immediately darts away to find her toy with the obnoxious high pitched squeaker.

It never fails. Every day Maiden and I share the same sequence. She is overcome with joy, where I feel guilt. All she wants in the whole world is to have her two favorite humans home with her each day. Alas, these two humans must work. Someone has to pay for the dog bones and squeaky toys. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Best day ever for a Chicago Blackhawks fan! (SOL16 #16)

"Come over here." 
I read the text from my administrator. I looked across the gym and wondered what she could possibly want. More so, what did she need to text me for instead of just catching me at the end of the school wide morning meeting? 
I walked across the crowded gym to see what she wanted. She looked at me nonchalantly and told me to go to the office because there was something in there she wanted me to see. I could tell she wasn't going to tell me what it was, so I just went to the office to check it out. 

As I walked in, our school secretary said, "Katie, you have to see this!" I walked over to where a group of ladies were crowding around a box. I looked down, and then immediately looked back up at Maria. "Is it real?" She nodded. "Can I touch it?" She nodded with a huge grin. I slowly reached down and picked it up.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I am a Chicago Blackhawks super fan. I have multiple jerseys, watch almost every game, and know more about hockey than half of the guys I know. When I got married it was my idea to take pictures at a roller hockey rink. When we walked in at our reception, it was to Chelsea Dagger, the Blackhawks win song. Oh, and did I mention that we both wore our Blackhawks jerseys over the tux and gown when were first announced as Mr. and Mrs. Suomi? The Chicago Blackhawks are kind of a way of life in our house. 

Now I bet you are wondering what I picked up. It was absolutely beautiful. And huge. Really HUGE. I immediately took off my wedding rings and put it on. Did I mention it was huge? I took this picture and sent it off to my husband who was equally as excited as me. 

Best day ever. 

(Well except that day that I married Phil. That was pretty great too!) 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cherish the Small Moments (SOL16 #15)

The purpose of this SOL challenge is to find those small moments in your life and write about them. The posts that have come out as a result of this challenge are amazing. You can feel the emotions of every writer as they take you on a journey of a memory.

Today I found out that a good friend of mine lost her mother. Her mother had been bravely battling cancer for the past few years. My heart breaks for her. Losing someone you love is painful. A deep pain that you feel deep within your heart. Now, what my friend has to look back on are those small moments with her mom. The ones that made her laugh, the ones that made her cry, and everything in between. Those moments will bring her comfort in a time when it seems like her world is upside down.

As someone who has lost a person that I loved so deeply, I know how important it is to cherish all of those moments, no matter how small. Those moments that seemed so insignificant at the time will be the ones you look back on to remember that person.So cherish and be present in each of your small moments. Those moments will mean something bigger someday.  

This is two days of heavy posts from me. Tomorrow will be a happy one. I promise! 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Moths (SOL16 #14)

It was a beautiful June day. The day definitely didn't match the the reason that we were there. As we pulled into the cemetery and drove slowly toward the gravesite I stared out the passenger side window. Suddenly a large moth landed on the window. I watched as it's tiny legs gripped the glass. At that moment I wished I could fly away. 

The car stopped and my mom touched my arm. It was time to say goodbye. I opened the car door and got out. As I shut the door I looked at the moth. It didn't move. It stayed still on the window. 
We all walked to the gravesite. Everyone was somber and staring at us as we took our seats next to the flag covered casket. The priest spoke, though I can't remember what he said. I looked over at my brother who was dressed in his Navy uniform. All of the sudden he didn't look like a teenager to me anymore. He turned into a man that I almost didn't recognize. 

I was lost in my thoughts when I saw it. The moth. The moth returned and flew between my mother and brother and landed on the casket. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Did anyone else notice? Was I crazy? What was with this stupid moth, and why was it the only thing I could focus on? The ceremony continued on with the moth sitting still watching us. 

My father was in the military and because of his service we had a military funeral. At military funerals there is bugle player that plays Taps. My dad's ceremony was no different. Taps began to play and my brother stood up at attention and saluted our father. I'll never forget that sight. I'll also never forget what happened next. 

That moth flew back from the casket and landed on my brother. There the moth remained until the end of the ceremony when my godmother decided to brush it off of my brother's shoulder.  She stopped me as we walked back to the car to ask if I had seen the moth. I told her I did, and that I thought I was going crazy. She looked at me and said softly, "It was your Dad visiting." 

Crazy... I know. 

Now one could just chalk this up to an odd experience, but ever since that day moths will show up when I least expect them or when I most need them. If I'm struggling to make a decision... I'll see a moth. If I'm feeling sad about something... a moth appears. If something happy is happening in my life... a moth is there too. Moth encounters happen indoors and outdoors, and during any season of the year. Truly, even though it sounds crazy I believe these encounters are my Dad's way of visiting me. Seeing a moth make me feel that he is still around. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A St. Patrick's Day Poem (SOL16 #13)

Twas the morn' of the 5th Annual Suomi St. Patrick's Day feast
getting out of bed so early, was surely a beast. 
The piles of corned beef and cabbage stacked up so high
We knew the time to start cooking was drawing nigh. 
Cutting up the cabbage was no easy task
After I finished, there was no time to bask
in the glory of the work I had done
I had to prep the meat that seemed to weigh a ton.
Into the pots the food must now boil 
I wont eat anything til dinner for my appetite will spoil. 
The family is arriving in an hour or two.
None of them better be dressed in blue.
Green is the color of our feast today
All placed out nicely on a kelly green tray.

I have no more rhymes, this was oh so tough

I leave you now in a green leprechaun puff.  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Dog, The Jerk (SOL16 #12)

There is little that Maiden loves more than spending time outside in our yard. We have a large fenced in backyard where she can run and chase squirrels. Usually it's a beautiful thing. 

Unfortunately there are times of the year where the backyard isn't as pretty. Namely, right after the last snow finally melts and the grass has not come in all plush and green. During this time the yard becomes an awful mud pit. 
At least my husband and I see it that way. Maiden on the other hand finds it to be simply amazing. She still spends her time chasing squirrels. However now as she chases large clumps of mud get wedged under her nails and fly through the air as she rips up the lawn. After the mud flies and she rids our yard of the squirrels, it's time to relax... lying right in the mud. Not only relaxing but also rolling in the mud. Wiping her face in all the "good" smells.  I'm sure it's wonderful for her, but those feelings don't transfer to me when she comes back in the house.  

Thus, my dog... the jerk with mud stains all over her. Unfortunately you can't smell her through the picture... but let me tell you, it's an awful scent. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

They're ALL coming... (SOL16 #11)

Each year my husband and I host a St. Patrick's Day dinner for all of our family members. I love hosting this holiday because I am proud to share my Irish heritage, and am quite excellent at making corned beef and cabbage. 
As we planned for this year it seemed as though the guest list kept growing. Between new members being married into our family and new children, the amount of people invited was starting to look higher than I thought it would be. 
I sat with Phil and sent out the invites on Facebook. By the end of the process the guest list was up to twenty-two people. We hit "send" and waited for the RSVPs to come in. Surely everyone wouldn't be able to come. Maybe people had plans.

One by one....
"Of course. What can we bring?"
"I'm coming with the husband and kids." 
And so on. 

Twenty-two people in my tiny house

More importantly... enough corned beef and cabbage for twenty-two people in my tiny house...

What did I get myself into?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

ABC's of Me (SOL16 #10)

ABC's of Me

A- Anxious. Although I try to play it cool, I am a very anxious type of person. I can overthink everything and work myself into a tizzy.

B- Bossy. I can be kind of a boss. I like things done in a particular way, and sometimes use my teacher voice/language at home to communicate. That typically does not go over well. Not even with my dog. 

C- Cook. I love to cook! I never thought in a million years that I would say that, but it's true. My top three dishes (according to my husband) are: Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons, Corned Beef and Cabbage, and Lasagna. **not all at the same time though**

D- Disorganized. As much as I try not to be, I am extremely disorganized. There sometimes is a method to my mess, but most of the time there isn't. 

E-Encouraging- I try to be a positive, encouraging person in my family and friend's lives. I like to make people feel good about themselves and try to find the bright side in every situation.

F-Finnish- By association... My last name means Finland in Finnish. My husband's family is very proud of their Finnish heritage. 

G- Gilmore Girls Fanatic- This is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. The snappy, quick dialogue makes me laugh each time I watch the series. I am beyond excited for the reboot on Netflix. 

H-Humor- I love to laugh and make people laugh. I'm often the sarcastic member of the crew who inserts witty comments when possible. Sometimes they are welcome, sometimes they are just tolerated. 

I-Intelligent- I have my Bachelors of Science degree from Illinois State University as a Learning and Behavioral Specialist. I just earned my Master's Degrees from Concordia University Chicago in Differentiated Instruction. 

J-Jingles-When I'm driving home from work I listen to talk radio. I used to think talk radio was for "old people," but I guess I turned into one of them. On talk radio they have lots of commercials that have jingles. Most people are annoyed by them, but I like to sing along with the jingles. 

K-Kathleen- My given name is Kathleen, but I was always called Katie. I was named after my aunt who passed away when she was 12. 

L-Loud- I'm told that I have a very loud voice. I claim it's my teacher voice, but it comes out even when I'm not teaching.

M- Maiden- My dog Maiden is an important member of my family. She has taught me patience and makes me laugh every day. 

N- Narrow- I have always had long, narrow feet. This makes shoe shopping difficult and one of my least favorite things to do.

O- Observant- I notice the small things. I like to people watch and learn as much as I can about others. 

P- Practical- Sometimes overly practical. For the last five years my husband and I have talked about vacationing to somewhere exotic and getting away from the midwest. Unfortunately, my practicality makes me see the importance of paying off bills and renovating our home over having an adventure. Eventually I am going to have to stop being so practical while planning for our future and start living in the moment. 

Q-Quiet- I enjoy the peace and quiet in my house on a Saturday morning when no one is around. I use my quiet time to relax and catch up with reading.

R-Relax- My favorite place to relax is on the dock of a lake in Northern Minnesota. We have a small cabin up there and spend our summers enjoying time together. 

S-Sisu- SIsu means resilience in Finnish. It is often said Suomi Sisu is a general characteristic of Finnish people. I like to think that I have adopted this mantra in my own life. 

T- Talkative- I LOVE to talk. In tee-ball my coaches gave superlative awards to each of the team members. My trophy says "Katie Hull, most talkative." I treasure that trophy to this day.

U- Understanding- There are not enough people in this world who show empathy to each other. I try my best to be understanding of other people because they may be fighting a battle that you know nothing about.

V- Value- I value my family, friends, and career. 

W-Winning- I love to win. Any game, any time. I can be over overly competitive at times, but I do try to be a good sport.  

X- X-tra awesome- I hate Xs. 

Y- Yummy- One of my favorite things to do is try yummy new foods. The more I experiment with foods, the more of a foodie I become. 

Z- Zany- My humor can be a bit zany. 

WHEW... That was hard.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

My Mom (SOL16 #9)

Bunnie (my mother's name)

Beautiful person inside and out. 
Her smile lights up a room and could brighten anyone's day. One look in your direction and she makes you feel like the most important person in her world. Not only is she beautiful on the outside, but her personality is that of the most giving people I know. She would give until she had nothing left if it would make someone else's life better. 

Throughout my whole life I have watched my mother encounter more challenges than anyone should have to face. She has been the perfect example of how to handle those situations with courage and grace. She took on the role of caretaker for her parents, mother-in-law, brother, and my father while they were sick. Even as they were facing death, she remained strong for them, as well as my brother and me. Her courage showed me and continues to show me that you can handle all that life throws at you. 

My mother often serves as the neutral party in the middle of both of her strong children when we have our disagreements. She remains neutral and supportive of both of us, even when all we want is for her to take a side. Her strong belief in family helps her to stay impartial, all while supporting us in figuring out how to move forward. 

She is always with me. Whether we are physically together, talking on the phone, or I can hear her voice with advice she has given me when I am making a decision. I can't escape her, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I talk to my mom every day and look forward to our conversations. Some are serious, some are goofy. But I cherish every conversation I have with her. She is the best friend I could ask for. 

Although she never attended college, I have learned more from my mother than anyone I know. She taught me how to run a household, cook, take care of people I love, and to be a good person. She showed me that life was more than just having degrees. Even though she did not go to college, she did place a huge emphasis on education. She encouraged me throughout all 18 years of schooling and was my biggest cheerleader as I advanced with my degrees. She wanted me to have all that she didn't, and helped me to achieve more than I thought I could.

She could cry at a moment's notice. She hears the National Anthem...cries. Firetrucks at the 4th of July parade... tears. Graduation ceremonies...her eyes well up. Her children announce good news... balling her eyes out. Being so emotional about everything shows how deeply she feels. Little things seem to affect her because she cares so much. She's not embarrassed by it either. Another piece that makes me admire her so much. 

Truly, I don't know where I would be without my mother. She is my best friend, greatest role model a girl could ask for, and I love her for more than words can say. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Flood (SOL16 #8)

The forecast was not looking good. 
Rain, rain, and more rain. Flood warnings were issued and people began to prepare for the worst. Not us though. We had just moved into our house six months before. The previous owners assured us that they have never flooded, and since our house is located on the highest point of the neighborhood, we had no reason to doubt their story. We also had a sump pump, and it was working properly. That would take care of any water that could enter our house. We had nothing to worry about!

Needless to say, during the epic storm our power went out. We heard our neighbors starting up generators, but thought nothing of it. We didn't have a generator, and could live without the air conditioning for a night. 

The previous owners never flooded before. We are at the highest point in the neighborhood. All of those reassurances kept running through our heads. 

Apparently the sump pump will not help anything if you don't have electricity. Oh, and it doesn't matter if they never flooded before or that your house is at the highest point in the neighborhood... 

I woke up the next morning to get ready for work. After watching the all of the news reports about the flooded roads in the area I told my husband that he should just call into work and say we got water in our basement and had to stay home. A small lie to save him from the awful headache of trying to find a safe route to the north side of Chicago seemed innocent enough. I had no idea what was in store for me when I walked down the stairs to let my dog out. 

Maiden and I walked down the stairs to the basement to make our way to the yard. As I stepped down the final step into our basement the cold water shocked me. My foot was completely submerged by rain water. I looked around the room in a panic, my heart stopped.
He came running downstairs immediately sensing the distress in my voice. As he stepped down his eyes widened and his face lost all color. 

The previous owners never flooded before. We are at the highest point in the neighborhood. 

None of that mattered. 


Monday, March 7, 2016

Struggling... (SOL16 #7)

It's day 7 of this SOL challenge and I have to admit, I'm struggling a little. I've done the brainstorming lists, and have some ideas but am just having a hard time getting those ideas on "paper."  It may be more of the motivation to sit down and actually type something. 

It's been a long time since I have had to deal with the struggle of writing. This feeling of frustration is eye opening though. I can definitely better empathize with my students by feeling the way that they feel when starting to write a new piece. This challenge is also just that, a challenge. I want to accomplish the goal blogging for the entire month. I know I can do it. 

I just need to sit down and do it.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

I'm an Auntie! (SOL #6)

Today was the best day ever! My older brother and his wife announced that they are expecting. I am so beyond excited to be an aunt. I can't wait for all of the milestones. The ones while Ashley is pregnant, and the ones when I am officially an aunt. I will spoil that sweet little baby rotten! 

So happy right now! 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Temporarily Closed... (SOL #5)

As each day passes my need for caffeine in order to function increases. I used to loathe the taste of coffee and could just drink a Diet Coke if I was feeling tired or needed a little "pick me up." Gone are those days. 

Each morning I have the same conversations with myself. How groggy are you? Is coffee essential to driving safely, or can you wait a few minutes? Iced coffee or hot? What does your day look like? And more importantly, Dunkin' or Starbucks? 

Dunkin' iced coffee is great for easy drinking and there are multiple locations on the way to work. Easily accessible and excellent coffee. Dunkin' coffee is perfect for days when I just need a little caffeine. In the drive thru line I also make a decision on whether my coffee will be fine as is, or if a turbo shot is necessary. Turbo shots give me that extra pop of energy when without the price of Starbucks.

Starbucks coffee on the other hand is perfection. Great taste and excellent pop of caffeine. This is perfect for those days when I am exceptionally groggy, or have a busy, long day ahead of me. Truly, I would have a trenta iced coffee from them every day if I won the lottery. Unfortunately, my numbers haven't come up yet and thus I have the tough decisions I need to make every morning.

One morning last week I found myself trying to make the choice of where to get my daily cup/vat of joe. Due to the late night before, and the fact that I had a little extra time to go out of my way, I chose Starbucks. This adds on 5-10 minutes on my commute, but I felt the benefits of having my Starbucks made this the best choice. 

I finally turn into their parking lot. I was astonished to see no line in the drive thru... score! But wait, what is that tape blocking the drive thru lane? Then I saw the sign. 

It was the beginning of a sad day that I had very little to no energy.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Lucky Teach (SOL #4)

I am so blessed and have the best group of students this year. Our class helps one another, treats each other with kindness, and is excited to learn at school each day. 

While at the the girls basketball game yesterday I was able to watch some of my students support each other and celebrate each other's successes. One student in particular sat and cheered on his classmates' team. You could see the worry in his eyes as his classmates played in their game. He wanted all of his friends to do great, and wanted to be a part of their win, or loss. You could feel his emotions through the stressed out looks on his face.

This reminded me of how lucky I am to be part of all of my students' lives and watch their interactions together. I have such a wonderful opportunity to be with my students as they are growing up and deciding, through their actions, what kind of person they want to be. As a teacher, I am hopeful and excited to see how the choices they make impact the people they become. 

#5thGradeTigers, I look forward to helping you move forward in your lives and supporting you as you become the incredible people you are destined to be.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Are we there yet? (SOL16 #3)

The bug splattered windshield is hard to see through by the end of our nine hour journey. We are both restless. Maiden is whining because she knows that we are close. We turn off the highway after not turning for hours and head down Long Lake Drive. After a few minutes we see the name plate. It's a small sign with the family name that tells us that our week of relaxation and time at the lake is about to begin. We turn down the long dirt covered driveway surrounded by tall pine trees. The trees swayed ever so slightly with the cool breeze. 
I looked over my shoulder and said in an excited voice that only my dog loves, "Maiden, are you ready to go jump in the lake?" The excitement radiated through her as she jumped into my lap in the front seat. Her nails dug into my legs and I immediately regretted my decision to get her pumped up after the long ride. 

We pulled up to the cabin and stopped the car. At this point Maiden could no longer hold in her excitement. I opened the door and she leapt out and ran as fast as she could around the yards. Dogs started running out of their houses to greet her. Some people say that dogs can't smile, but I beg to differ. Her goofy smile was undeniable. She was elated to see her friends after their long absence.

The dogs, Maiden leading of course, ran in circles around the cabin playing tag. Her ears flapped in the wind as she zoomed around, obviously determined to be the fastest in the pack. Suddenly, Maiden recalled the best part of going to the cabin. The lake! She ran down the wooded path, leaping from step to step all the way down to the waterfront. 
Click click click click click! The dogs paws hit the wooden dock with force. The three native Minnesota dogs reached the end of the dock and dove in the water. 

The poser lake dog (Maiden) put on the brakes and skidded to a stop just shy of the end of the dock. She barked and jumped around, upset that the other dogs had left her, and even more frustrated that she was too chicken to make the jump. 

At least not yet... 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Opposites... but definitely related. (SOL16 #2)

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Ever since we were little, I have always looked up to big brother. He didn't necessarily know that because all we seemed to do was bicker. But truly, all I wanted was to be accepted by him and be more like him. My brother T.J. was fiercely independent and confident, while I was tentative and always looked to my family and friends for encouragement. He was naturally talented at sports, while I had to work really hard to be coordinated and not look silly while playing basketball and softball. 

We are only two years apart and therefore spent lots of time in the same schools. He avoided me like the plague, and I would gush to my friends that the talented athlete and cool guy was my big brother. While in high school we were both very involved with sports and extracurricular activities. Due to our involvement at school we had very similar schedules. Early morning practices and meetings were the norm, and since he had a parking pass, T.J. was stuck driving me to school. According to him, it was a fate worse than death. To ensure that there would be no extra bonding on the five minute car ride to school he created the one rule in his 1991 Dodge Daytona hatchback. No talking! That meant me of course. 

One early morning while we were driving to practice(the sun was not even up yet), the song "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen came on the radio. The music was blaring, to ensure that there would be no talking. Without even noticing, we both started bobbing our heads to the beat of the song. 

Something made us glance over at each other at the exact same time. A look of sheer horror filled his face when he saw he was doing the same thing as his sister. Our heads immediately stopped moving.

I had to break the one rule of the Daytona... 
"Looks like we are related." A small smile appeared on his face. 

We still don't speak of that moment to this day.