Thursday, March 30, 2017

Knock, Knock, Knock (SOL17 #29)

After school we had parent teacher conferences. As we spoke I kept hearing a knock on my classroom door. As I would look up, there was no one there. This happened a couple of times before the parent that we were meeting with said it was a little boy outside of the door. I immediately got up and was prepared to use my teacher voice and stare to make the knocking stop.

I opened the door, ready for battle, and looked to the right. There he was. It was former student of mine who likes to come visit after school while he spends time at the YMCA Aftercare. He smiled his big, signature smile that has been known to melt my heart and giggled. It's been a while since our last visit, so I was sad to shoo him away. I miss our special visits and chats where he could catch me up on life at home with his baby sister and all the happenings of middle school. But conferences are conferences and we will have to catch up another day. Hopefully I will hear a knock, knock, knock again soon.

Until then, I will just admire a picture he drew for me (of me) last year that makes me smile and my heart swell the instant I look at it. I love my job.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Focus on the Good (SOL17 #28)

I'm just having a day when I'm not feeling too positive. Things didn't go the way I planned today, and I just feel overwhelmed. Instead of focusing on that, I want to focus on the good. 
Here's a list of 10 Good Things...
 (in no particular order) 

My class is incredible. Even when things don't go exactly as planned, and comments come out of their mouths that should probably just be left unsaid... there are still moments of absolute brilliance with these kiddos. We have built quite a classroom community this year, and each day I am grateful for each and every one of them. 

I got to see and spend a few minutes with my sweet little nephew today. His little smile lights up my world. 

My husband and I were able to spend the evening together. With our crazy work schedules that has not been the norm lately, and to be honest I miss him. 

Only 2 more wake ups before Spring Break. As much as I love teaching, I am really looking forward to the break to recharge and get ready for the rest of the school year. 

One of my incredible students stopped me today to tell me that her father works somewhere where he is able to get tickets and parking passes to the Blackhawks Convention. I was floored by their generosity and for thinking of this huge fan. 

Much like my class, my colleagues are amazing. I learn more and more from them each day and am lucky enough to be able to call them friends. I'm truly blessed to be a part of such a special group of people who make coming to work each day fun. 

Though I have major dog mom guilt, coming home to this exuberant pup each day is awesome. There is nothing like her unconditional love. 

Even though the weather lately has been a bit dreary, I noticed today on my ride home that the grass is finally starting to take on that bright green hue that I have been missing for months. The rain is worth seeing the color come back. 

Sweet student notes... 

The horn on my NHL app keeps going off telling me that my Blackhawks are scoring and taking the win... That sound is music to my ears! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How Am I Still Awake? (SOL17 #27)

2:30 AM and my eyes ripped open. I glanced around in the darkness, half expecting to hear the familiar noise of my dogs identification tags clanking that robbed me of my sound sleep, but nothing. Absolute silence. Well, that is if you can ignore a quiet snore from my husband and a much louder snore coming from the pup. 

I stared up at the ceiling, waiting to drift back into my dream, but it never happened. I continued staring until I couldn't take the sound of the two enjoying their slumber while I sat wide awake. Finally I shook off the blankets and retreated to the basement. 
There I decided to "watch" some reruns of Chopped. Surely this cooking competition could put me back to sleep. An episode and a 1/2 in I realized that the Chopped Challenge wasn't helping, so I decided to take out my computer. Wearily, I began working. After all, there is always something to do, and that could surely get me to return back to sleep. 
Hours passed, and before I knew it, I heard the thud of my dog jumping off the bed and onto the floor. Then the step, step, step of Phil headed to bathroom, getting ready to start his day.

How was it possible that I was still awake? 
I continued to ask myself that question all day long. I made it. The cold brew coffee did it's job and I made it. Here I am, still going at 8:45 PM. To be honest, I'm not even sure how my eyes are still open. 

So I'm going to quit trying to hold out any longer and just drift off. Hopefully.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Six Word Story (SOL17 #26)

Working, can't catch up. Stressed

The week before spring break is always painful. The students think that they are the only ones wishing for a break. It's not true. I desperately need the break as well. Normally, I would be able to power through the week, but this week is different. Jam packed. 

Working on Report Cards
Parent Teacher Conferences
Goal Updates 
Formal Observation
Walks with my needy dog
Meal Prep/Planning **Just so we don't eat out each night** 
Numerous meetings
2-3 Accelerated Club
4-5 Accelerated Club 

You name it, I've got it this week. I guess I need get to work and check some of those things off the list. 
As a lovable blue fish once said, "Just keep swimming!" 

The end is in sight! 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Corned Beef and Cabbage Palooza (SOL #25)

So I'm feeling incredibly guilty about not blogging yesterday. I'm bummed that I'm not going to be able to make it each day for a whole month. However, i did have a good reason. 

Yesterday we invited our family to come over to celebrate St. Patrick's Day at our house. I spent the whole day getting ready, cooking, and entertaining. By the end of the night, I was just so incredibly exhausted.

Numerous times throughout the day I thought about taking a break and getting my blog post done, but I made the choice to be present and spend my time with my family. Life is too incredibly short not to be 100% present. Thus, no blog post. Instead, I have a day full of beautiful memories. 

Well, there's always next year. This year... I will have 30 posts. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Blogging While Distracted (SOL17 #24)

Blogging outside when it's 70 degrees in March in the Chicagoland area  sounds like an amazing idea. My co-teacher and I discussed the plan this morning and got the kiddos all excited about writing outside. I thought I could get inspiration from getting some fresh air, but as I'm sitting near one of my students we realized that it may not be the case. It's actually kind of distracting. 

Train horns 
Police sirens
Wind blowing my hair in my face
Lawn mowers 
Car horns
The glare of the sun on my iPad 

I didn't realize that I needed an environment so free of distractions to produce a piece. Oh well. I guess I will just enjoy the breeze and get lost in the moment.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

OUCH (SOL17 #23)

I am so not a morning person... I try to be. I set my alarm early with the high hopes of enjoying a cup of coffee AND eating a nutritious breakfast. But usually that doesn't happen. The alarm goes off, and the snooze button is pressed. It's not pressed just once. Nope. That would be responsible. It's pressed multiple times. I also usually wind up setting at least 4 different alarms on my phone in the hopes that just one of the different tones will spark a fire under me that will get me out of my nice warm bed and ready to start my day.

Today was no different. However, since I showered last night and went to bed with wet hair, I didn't have that luxury of sleeping in longer because my the state of my hair this morning was not suitable for public viewing. So I grudgingly turned off my plethora of alarms, whined a little to the dog, and went downstairs to try and get a flat iron through the bird's nest that appeared on my head. 

With each pass of the flat iron the hair started to fall into place and resemble hair rather than the atrocity it was before. It took longer than usual, but finally the hair conformed. I unplugged the flat iron. (This is important, but I usually can't remember if I do that.) After unplugging it I started to clean up the area around me. I cleaned out my brush and put it away, and then did the dumbest thing I have done in a long time. 

I picked up the flat iron. Now that doesn't sound dumb, but when you pick it up from the hot side, it SURELY is not the smartest thing to do. Before I could even feel the searing pain, I heard my skin sizzle. Immediately I dropped the hair straightener, but it was too late.

The burn mark on my hand reminds me of how I am SO not a morning person. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Using Mindful Moments to Appreciate my Students (SOL17 #22)

This month we are doing a PBIS Focus on mindfulness. Our students have been practicing the ABC's of mindfulness (awareness, balance, and compassion). This morning we had our students brainstorm a list of at least five things that they like about themselves in order to show some compassion to themselves. It was harder than they thought. As they were brainstorming their list, a slice was born! I decided to challenge myself to come up with something that I appreciate about each student in my class. Here goes... 

E.A.D- You say something every day that makes me smile. I appreciate your willingness to participate and take risks in our classroom. 

D.B- You are a leader. Like it or not, people look to you and want to emulate you. Be sure to always use those leadership skills for good. 

O.C.- Your excitement about learning is contagious! I love that you are willing to share when you've learned something new. 

O.D.- Your carefree attitude is something that I wish I had. You never take yourself too seriously and aren't afraid to have fun. 

A.E.- You are hands down when of the happiest people I have ever met. Your constant cheerful attitude makes others happy to be around you. 

N.F.- Your leadership in our classroom has blossomed this year. You make others around you want to work harder and be the best version of themselves. 

Je.G.- You are such a good storyteller. I look forward to our morning chats where you tell me a story about your night or about a new acquisition to your coin collection.

S.G.- I love that you ask me each day if it's time to start math. You have grown so much this year as a mathematician. Your growth mindset has helped you to stick with concepts, even when they are hard. 

Ja.G.- You are so helpful and kind. Whether it be other students in the classroom or teachers, you are a go-to guy. Thanks for always being willing to lend a helping hand. 

C.M.- You notice EVERYTHING. I love it! Your ability to notice and remember things will help you through school and in life. I also like that you notice when your classmates need help and jump at the chance to support them. 

M.O.- You always put forth outstanding effort in everything you do. I never have to tell you to put your all into anything, because you do that without being asked! This amazing quality to have.  

A.O.- Your smile can brighten a whole room. You can make someone's day by just smiling at them. 

Z.P.- Your natural drive to learn makes you so fun to teach. Your determination will take you so incredibly far in life. 

A.P- There aren't many students that can make me break my poker face, but you are definitely one of them. Your sense of humor makes teaching you an adventure. 

X.R.- Your optimism inspires me. Even when life is hard you maintain a positive attitude. Keep smiling and trying your best. 

K.R.- You are such a happy girl! I have never seen you in a bad mood, and your positivity spreads on to all around you. 

T.S.- I love that you don't take yourself too seriously. You also aren't afraid to stick up for yourself and your friends. You teach more more about how to be a good teacher every day. 

K.T.- You are such an incredible writer. I love to see your personality and wit come through in your writing! 

A.T.- Your quiet leadership does not go unnoticed in this class. You are always ready to take on a challenge and not afraid to go above and beyond. 

L.V.S.- You never give up! Your resilience and hard work make you a fun student to teach. I also love your positive attitude! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Blessing in Disguise (SOL17 #21)

A few years we awoke after a night full of storms to the electricity out. I didn't think anything of it, the power goes out all the time after storms like that. What I didn't know, as a new homeowner, was that when the power goes off that the sump pump also doesn't work. That meant about six inches of water in our finished basement. Needless to say it was a total nightmare. We had to remove everything. Drywall, carpet, floors, EVERYTHING. One could look at this as a nightmare, or decide to change our mindset and look at it as an opportunity. That's what we chose to do. 

Luckily my husband comes from a family that is full of handy people. His grandfather owned a hardware store and taught Phil's father, along with the rest of their family a smattering of useful skills when it comes to re-doing your basement. By all working together, slowly but surely, we created a finished basement of our dreams. We learned a ton, and took such pride in the work that we had completed because it was all our own. 

Just before Thanksgiving of 2016 we finished up the last phase of the remodel, the bathroom. (I told you, slowly, but surely). Phil took on much of the bathroom remodel on his own, and did the work on the bathroom after finishing a full day at his real job. I couldn't be prouder of his perseverance and the results. 

While at the time the flood seemed like it was the worst thing that could possibly happen, really it helped us to grow and conquer a problem together as new homeowners. It was definitely a blessing in disguise. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Favorite Five Party (SOL17 #20)

Yep. It's one of those days when I've got nothing... While I was looking through all of the amazing posts on Day 20 I came across Leigh Ann's Favorite Five Party.  Thank you Leigh Anne! I'd love to attend your party! 

Here are my five favorites that I will share: 

1. Cups/Water Bottles that keep a drink cold all day: As an avid iced coffee drinker I require that I have a container that will prevent the dilution of my coffee by all the melted ice cubes. I also like to have my water ice cold, and with the inconsistent temperatures in my classroom, I need a water bottle that is up to the challenge. My pick for iced coffee is the RTIC Stainless Steel Tumbler. For my water it's hands down my Hyrdoflask Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle. Though expensive... they have been life changing. 

2. Pair of cozy sweatpants: There is nothing better than coming home after a long day at work and changing out of your work clothes and into a pair of cozy sweatpants. Bonus if the sweatpants have your favorite sports team. 

3. My Dog Maiden: Well, look at her. She's the life of any party and loves to meet new people. 

4. Popcorn: There is nothing better than a good bowl of buttery, salty popcorn! 

5. Mandala Coloring Books- Coloring these pictures helps me to relax while creating something beautiful. 

Once again, thank you to Leigh Anne for saving my SOL #20! 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

6 Things (SOL17 #19)

Today I spent the day with my family celebrating my niece's 6th birthday. In her honor I am going to write about the six things that I most adore about her. 

6- The way she intently listens to anyone who talks to her. Leah can carry on a conversation with anyone, but what always amazes me is her ability to truly listen. When her big blue eyes are focused on you, you can tell she's listening with her whole heart. 

5-Her bravery. For only being six, Leah is one brave little girl. She is always willing to try something once, just to see if she likes it. "It doesn't hurt to try," is a phrase I hear coming out of this wise little girl's mouth on a regular basis. From jumping off a boat into the middle of a lake, to trying tacos made out of cow tongue, Leah is fearless.

4- The way she treats her family. She is the youngest in her family and worships her parents and older brother. She encourages them and is supportive in whatever they do. Today she got a tablet for her birthday and immediately said, "Jack (her brother) can use it whenever he wants. I don't mind." Instead of becoming immediately territorial over her new toy, she began to share right away. 

3- Her silliness. Leah loves to make people laugh and performs on a daily basis. Whether it be singing, dancing, or trying out a new move she learned in jiu jitsu, Leah will perform with a lightness about it, never taking herself too seriously. 

2-Her love for animals. She lights up whenever she sees any type of animal and immediately wants to name it, and learn more about it. She will sit right in front of my dog and just let her lick her face while giggling hysterically. 

1- She is a beautiful girl inside and out. Her blonde hair, big blue eyes, and radiant smile can melt even the coldest heart, but her heart is equally as beautiful. She deeply cares for others and isn't afraid to show it. 

I am so blessed to be able to watch this incredible little girl grow up. Happy Birthday Sweet Leah! `

Saturday, March 18, 2017

One gusty squirrel (SOL17 #18)

It was a rare 64 degree day in February and we were determined to take advantage of the nice weather by sitting outside in the yard. After all, it's not common that you can spend any time at all outdoors in Chicago during the heart of winter. Phil was putzing in the garage on his new dirt bike project while Maiden and I lounged and just enjoyed nature. All was well until a squirrel joined the party. 

Our next door neighbors yard is very overgrown and has become quite a playground for the vermin. Most people love squirrels, but I have some different thoughts about the pesky animals. My pup Maiden agrees. So as we sat, Maiden spied a squirrel walking along the fence. According to my dog, this is unacceptable, so she ran toward the fence and lunged toward the fluffy tail dangling into our yard. Luckily, for the squirrel, she missed and he jumped to safety into one of the trees. Maiden was not going to give up that easy though. She sat quietly facing the squirrel and glared up into the tree, right at the little guy. The squirrel apparently didn't like that, so he began to squawk at her, and moved closer to the fence, just to taunt her. Maiden barked and jumped determined to get to the tree rat.

At this point, I was tired of listening to the dog barking and decided I would come to her aide. I stood next to my dog and yelled loudly, using my teacher voice of course, to try to scare the squirrel away. He just stared. I took a step closer and started clapping loudly. I knew that my teacher clap can quiet a gym full of students, so of course it would do a number on this squirrel. He again stared, unafraid. Now I was starting to get mad and question my abilities. 

I looked around and found a small stick on the ground. I thought, if I just toss this in the general direction, that will surely scare him. I picked up the stick and threw it (not hard...) and it just missed him. He didn't move a muscle and continued to stare. I called Maiden and told her to come sit by me since there is something obviously wrong with this incredibly brave squirrel. 

We sat in the driveway and I lost sight of the squirrel. I continued reading my book when Maiden once again spotted him, but on the fence directly behind me, staring. As I looked in his eyes, I knew that he was not at all intimidated by me, so I said, "That's it, I'm out." 

I packed up my chair and retreated to the house. 

This war has just begun....  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Outdoor Recess (SOL17 #17)

"Is it indoor or outdoor recess today?" 

"Outdoor," I replied, feeling grateful for not having to cover indoor recess. 

"Do I have to go outside? Can I just do my homework inside instead?" 

Truly, I would give ANYTHING for this student to be better about completing his homework, but today, I knew it wasn't about the homework. It was about the colder temperatures outside. 

"Nope. You're going out to recess today! Sorry, you'll just have to do your homework at home." 

I heard a couple of groans, and some muttering but in my mind that was the end of the discussion. 

Math was over and my co-teacher then began to transition the class into our next activity, the read aloud. As the students returned to their seats my co-teacher began to give out directions. "Take out your iPads and open up your notes on Notability. If I see anyone trying to finish up their math during our read aloud, you will stay inside with me during recess." 

His eyes light up. You could almost see the cartoon light bulb illuminate above his head. I heard the direction and immediately made eye contact with my recess avoiding student. I pointed at him and said, "Don't even try it." 

He laughed, knowing full well he was busted before he even had a chance to work around the system. 

Ah, fifth graders! I wouldn't trade it for anything! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

St. Urho Day (SOL17 #16)

My father in law is a character. He loves to tell stories and keep people laughing. Since I joined this family I have enjoyed getting to know him better and listening to all of his tales, both truthful and not so much. When Phil and I first started dating we were watching the Blues Brothers in the living room. His dad looked at me, deadpan, and said, "You know Katie, I was a stunt driver in this movie." Having not been born yesterday I knew he was telling one of his tales, but I went along with his lie nonetheless just because it's the type of guy he is. 

Now that we are married Phil and I decided that we would bring both of our families together to celebrate the holiday of my ancestors, St. Patrick's Day.  I spend the entire day making a crazy amount of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots to share with all of our family. My father in law, John, loves to come to this event and eats all the delicious food, but insists on wearing purple to our green holiday feast. He compliments others on their kelly green attire just waiting for someone to ask him why he's not wearing green, but purple instead. Someone always takes the bait. 

"Purple is the color of my favorite holiday, St. Urho Day!" St. Urho Day? What is that? "St. Urho Day is the holiday that celebrates St. Urho and when he chased the grasshoppers out of Finland. We celebrate on March 16th, the day before your crazy holiday. Thus, our holiday is better than YOUR holiday." 

I guess now is a good time to mention that my in laws are Finnish, and our last name actually means 'Finland' in Finnish. John is VERY proud of his heritage and likes to share his knowledge about Finland and their culture whenever possible. Now if you listen the the story behind St. Urho Day you may say that it sounds VERY similar to a story about a certain St. Patrick who chased all the frogs out of Ireland. The first time I heard about St. Urho I assumed that John made it up, much like he did with the Blues Brothers stunt driver story. 

Oddly enough, that's not the case. St. Urho Day was made up in the 1950's by a man in Northern Minnesota that was tired of all the Irish people getting all of the attention on St. Patrick's Day. He decided to create this "holiday" to get some attention for the Finns. He purposely chose March 16th, the day before St. Patrick's Day. Instead of wearing green, the Finns wear purple to represent the grape crops that were saved when good ol' St. Urho chased all of those grasshoppers out of Finland. 
So today, I  grudgingly celebrate this made up holiday  along with my Finnish family. I guess it will have to tide me over until we celebrate the REAL holiday tomorrow! 

Happy St. Urho Day bloggers! 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Happy Feet (SOL17 #15)

There are many things that stick out in my memory about my dad, but one of my favorites was his happy feet. If you had ever met my father you probably wouldn't associate the word happy with the man. To be quite honest he was often very serious and grouchy, and didn't smile a whole lot. There were few things that signaled his happiness but one of them was his feet. 

My dad had a special chair in our house. It was his beloved lazy boy recliner. He could sit in that recliner for hours with his feet in the air barking out orders, relaxing after a long day at work. Like I said, my dad wasn't much of a smiler, but there was a few things that did make him happy. One of the things that made him happy was taking on the phone. Not to just anyone, but those special people that I'm sure made his heart feel light. When those particular people would call, my Dad would listen talk while his feet would shake or wag back and forth, much like a dog's tail. I would point it out to my Mom and poke fun at him. The second he heard that that, he would try his very best to stop, but his feet just wouldn't listen. The struggle was real. His feet wagging showed his true affection for whoever was on the phone. 

When I was seventeen my Dad spent some time in the hospital. He was very sick and would slip in and out of a coma.The doctors and nurses said that they thought he could hear us, so I  stayed with him in his room as much as I could and would talk and talk to him. Had he been able to converse with me, he probably wouldn't have told me to shut up and go away, but at that point he was kind of a captive audience. 

One night, my mom and I were visiting and talking in his room. I was telling her about how I needed to buy something for school and all of the sudden I saw those feet wagging back and forth. This was the first time I had seen him move in days so I decided to talk to him. "Daaaad, I have to buy them! It's not that much money," I whined. The feet started going again. "Stop being such a grouch," I added. The feet stopped. "Daddy, do you love me?" The feet started shaking back and forth rapid fire. "Do two shakes if you love me." The feet wagged back and forth twice. I was floored. 

The conversation continued on for a few minutes with us asking questions and my Dad responded with his feet. Eventually he got tired, or just bored with talking to us and stopped responding. So we finished up our visit, kissed him on the forehead and left for the evening telling him that we would see him the next morning. 

The next morning didn't go exactly as we expected. We awake to a call from the hospital telling us to come quickly. We didn't make it to the hospital in time to say goodbye, but I like to think that he did that purposely. I think that he wanted to let us have a memory that was on his terms letting us know how much he cared. 

These are three of my favorite pictures of my Dad as well as a picture of the tattoo I had done in memory of him. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Don't Cry Over Spilled Kibble (SOL17 #14)

My dog is spoiled rotten. 
Most dogs have a special spot where their food and water is put out each day. The spot doesn't change, and the dog knows exactly where to go. Maiden has decided that she does not want her food next to her water bowl. She's proved this over and over when she goes on hunger strikes if her food is left in the kitchen. So my husband has started catering to her diva behavior by bringing her food in the room where we are sitting so she can eat with her pack. So now I've resorted to life with the dog food bowl in the middle of the living room floor because that's how she likes it. If she doesn't eat in in a timely manner... it's very possible that the bowl of food will be tripped on and fly all over the floor. You would think we would learn by now, but that's not the case. 

So It's dinner time at the Suomi house and our diva has her food bowl in the middle of the living room, excited to eat with her pack. She lies on the floor next to her bowl and stares at us, waiting to see who will eat first. I cut my piece of chicken and begin to eat. While still watching us, she picks up her front paw and jabs at her food bowl. I raised my voice and sternly said, "No, Maiden!" She put her head down on the floor, and looked at me longingly. I continued to eat my dinner when I heard her hitting the bowl with her paw again. This time, she was successful. The food flew out of her bowl all over the floor. At this point, there was only a little kibble left inside her dish. I watched waiting to see what her next move was. 
She started to eat the few pieces of kibble out of the bowl, ignoring the pile on the floor, all while staring at me. 

There are some things I'll never understand about her. 
Yes, she also lies down to eat. Weird.

Monday, March 13, 2017

At a loss... (SOL17 #13)

At a loss (SOL17 #13) 

Today I'm at a loss. 

I'm at a loss of energy. I suppose "Springing Ahead" has been harder for me than it usually is. Even with my cold brew coffee I've spent most of my day yawning and trying to push through. I think I need a weekend from my weekend. 

I'm at a loss for what to write. I have plenty of ideas that I've brainstormed in my notebook, but none of them seem right for today. I've started three slices already, but none of them are keeping my interest. 

I'm at a loss for patience. My husband's job has been requiring him to work long hours, and take on more roles than one person should ever have. He's been told that it's only temporary, but my patience with the situation is dwindling. 

I'm at a loss for motivation. As I woke up this morning and looked outside at the freshly fallen snow, all I wanted was to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. I just didn't want to deal today. 

So today, I'm at a loss. Tomorrow will be better. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

unplugged (SOL17 #12)

Today I decided to stay away from all my obligations and spend time with my family. It's not often that I avoid my work and spend time with my family, but today felt like one of those days. I don't often get to spend the day with Phil so today I thought I would make the most of it and truly spend some time together.
We watched the Hawks game and then turned the TV off, determined to get rid of all distractions and just enjoy each other's company.
After our time together, I've decided that I am beyond lucky. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Need or a Want? (SOL17 #11)

When I was a little girl I distinctly remember shopping with my mom and our good family friend, Pattie, for a communion dress. We walked through what seemed like the endless aisles looking for a dress to fit my tall, lanky body. I wasn't as interested in shopping for a dress, so I wandered off to the jewelry department with Pattie.

I looked at all the necklaces hanging on the displays, but my eye was drawn to the heart shaped necklaces with names on them. In the middle of the small white heart were names written in script writing, and below was the meaning of the name. I searched and found Katie. I was elated. 

I dragged my mom away from the dresses and begged for the necklace. She listened to all of my crazy reasons why this necklace was a "must have." She said no. I was heartbroken and I'm sure began complaining about how life isn't fair, and in my 8 year old mind I was positive that I had the meanest mom in the entire world.

Pattie pulled me aside and started to talk me down from my dramatic state. She explained to me the difference between needs and wants and the importance of having the things you need, and sometimes having to make difficult decisions about things that you want. She went on to try to tell me that you don't always get everything that you want, but that I was blessed enough to have everything that I needed and that I should be grateful. She asked me one simple question at the end of our talk. "Katie, is it a need or a want?" I'm not sure what I replied, but I hope I went along with her message that day. 

A few weeks later on my First Communion Day we had a party with our family and friends at our house. As I opened up cards, there was one box. I was most excited to open that one because what eight year old wants to open a bunch of cards. In the box was that necklace. On the packaging there appeared a special note. 

Now, over 20 years later I still think about Pattie said to me and use that question to make important decisions. I can still hear her voice asking me "Is it a need, or a want?" 

Today, my family is driving up to her house to visit for the day. We still get together, but it's not nearly as often as when I was a kid. I plan on wearing that necklace (if it still fits) to remind her of that special day when she truly made a difference to me. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Waverunner (SOL17 #10)

It was two days before we got married. My mind was all over the place. Place settings, flowers, center pieces, DJ, chair covers or no chair covers... ALL over the place. Phil said, "Hey, lets go for a ride to get your mind off of everything!" I got in the car and welcomed the distraction. 

While I thought we were just going for a car ride, Phil had a whole different plan. As we pulled into the parking lot I had a feeling that I was in trouble. We walked in the store and looked at all the motor cycles, dirt bikes, wave-runners, and four wheelers. It was his paradise, and my nightmare. He gravitated toward the WaveRunners. An obvious choice since we don't live on or near a lake. 

"We should get one for a wedding present to ourselves," he told me. "You have got to be kidding! What on earth are we going to do with a WaveRunner?" He pointed out that we go to Minnesota to our lake house every summer and that would be a perfect place to bring this new toy. We could also try it out in Lake Michigan. He continued listing all the ways that we could use the WaveRunner while living in the suburbs and I continued to get more and more anxious about the decision. My mind was on the wedding that we were paying for in two days, but his mind was made up on this purchase. 

So about an hour later we walked out with the paperwork. We were the proud owners of a Yamaha WaveRunner. Phil was probably more proud, I had a stomachache thinking about how much money I was about to be spending. This just goes to show that he can convince me of ANYTHING. 

Here is a picture of Phil right after we put the WaveRunner into the lake for the first time. He was one happy camper! 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wheel of Fortune (SOL17 #9)

My mom came over to visit the other night and insisted on watching the news. I usually don't watch the news because I prefer to read rather than watch the local news channel. So while she watched, I started dinner in the kitchen. 

Right after the local news is over, Wheel of Fortune comes on. We used to watch Wheel of Fortune every night while I was growing up. I used to love to try and solve the puzzles all while admiring Vanna's beautiful dresses. All the familiar sounds from the show echoed throughout my house. The clicking of the wheel as the contestant gave it a spin, the distinct beeping sound when a wrong letter is guessed, and of course the DING DING DING when the contestant guesses the right letter. 

The person who was playing that evening must have been on a roll because I just kept hearing the DINGs over and over. Unfortunately, so did my dog. My best guess is that the DING sound is very similar to a doorbell sound. With each additional DING, the dog would run and lunge at the door barking her little head off. Doorbells and dogs obviously do not mix. 

However after having our dog for five years I wonder if my dog will ever figure out that we do not in fact have a doorbell and that she is barking for no reason!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Skunked (SOL17 #8)

It was my birthday. A day that should have been full of joy, presents, and laughter. This year, unfortunately, was not like that. I woke up feeling sick. My sinuses were clogged, my throat hurt, and I was exhausted. Instead of all the fun plans we were going to do, my husband and I just stayed home and hung out around the house wallowing in my illness. Little did I know, being sick was going to be the best part of my day.

That night, before bed, my husband went downstairs to let the dog out. It is a nightly ritual that they have, and Maiden looks forward to getting some fresh air and relieving herself right before she goes to bed. I then heard a yell come from my husband that I had never quite heard before. "MAIDEN!!!!!"
Something was wrong. VERY wrong. 

I jumped out of bed and headed downstairs prepared to see him chasing her chasing another animal in the yard. Instead, he was dragging her from the patio into the house with a horrified look on his face. 

Then I smelled it. I had never smelled something so horrific in my entire life. Maiden stumbled in coughing, gagging, and foaming at the mouth. "She got sprayed in the face by a skunk!" Maiden paced around the basement, disoriented, coughing and spitting up. Her eyes were watering even though they were squeezed shut. 

What we didn't know then was that all the spitting and coughing up was spreading the smell into the areas that she visited. She coughed up on the hardwood floors, carpet, and our couch thus making everything we owned stink of skunk. 

Phil sprung into action taking her upstairs to the bathroom to get her right into the tub for a bath.  Meanwhile, the smell began to permeate the house. It seeped into all the rooms until the whole house had this noxious sulfur type smell that can ruin lives. 

Again, having never had experience with skunk spray before we didn't know this then, but we had made a crucial error... We should have left her outside and washed her in the yard. By bringing her into the house we inadvertently spread the stink into every room. 

He must have washed her three different times that night, each time thinking we got rid of most of the smell. Wrong. She still stunk. Our house still stunk. It was horrendous. 

Even worse than the new awful smell that seemed forever secured to our beautiful dog and our house was the fact that this event took place during the hottest and most humid days in September. We could not run the air conditioner for fear that it would stay in the ducts and would just recirculate around the house.  So we spent the rest of the week with the windows open, cleaning EVERY surface of our house. We bought every deodorizer imaginable, and had baking soda and vinegar stationed in each room to suck up the odor. We shampooed all the carpets and replaced the area rugs that were too soiled with the odor.

Just when it appeared thought we got the smell out and the end was in sight, we would open a closet door or a cabinet and a hint of the stench would reappear. This went on for about 2-3 weeks. 
I still have nightmares about that smell. 

3 Good Things Have Happened Since the Skunk Incident of 2016

1. Maiden has a great new nickname: Maiden McStink 
2. Our house has NEVER been cleaner. 

3. We learned what NOT to do when your dog is skunked.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Making Dinner (SOL17 #7)

When I first started dating my husband he was living at home with his parents after recently graduating from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. One of the perks of him living at home was having a home cooked meal each night from his mother. She is an amazing cook, and he was growing quite accustomed to having these meals each night. When we would talk about him moving out and us finding a place of our own the whole idea of  having home cooked meals would come up. I would always tell him, "I'm not a cook. I stink at cooking. You better not get used to the home cooked meal each night because it definitely won't come from me..." 

That statement and my promise to not cook was short lived. We couldn't afford to eat out all the time, so I began to step up and learn how to make some simple recipes. I didn't become a cook overnight, but as I tried out new recipes, I became more confident. To this day the Food Network and cooking shows are on very regularly in our home and I learn more than I care to admit from watching shows like Chopped, Master Chef, and Worst Cooks in America. My husband may not like being forced to watch those shows, but he sure is enjoying the benefits of his wife learning how to cook. By simply trying out some new recipes and techniques I have found that I actually enjoy cooking and almost look forward to making dinner each night.  

So as I was making dinner this evening I thought about how much my thoughts about cooking changed and how making dinner now longer feels like a chore, but more of a way to show my husband and family how much I care about them.

On the menu tonight:
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Popcorn (SOL17 #6)

Ever since I was a little girl I remember loving popcorn.As I was growing up my dad made a batch of microwave popcorn almost every night. It's possible that I like popcorn so much just because it reminds me of him. 

Since I was raised on the microwave popcorn that's just always the type of popcorn that I gravitated towards. My husband decided one day that instead of coming up with my tried and true microwave brand that he would introduce me to making popcorn the old-fashioned way, popcorn kernels on the stove. 

Now I don't want to sound dumb, I understood how this process would work. You put the kernels on the stove with some sort of oil and it would turn into popcorn. No big deal. But the first time I witnessed popcorn popping on the stove you would have thought I was five years old and just figuring it all out. I was more and more excited as each kernel popped, hitting the lid of pot. Would there be enough room in the pot? What would happen when it ran out of space? What if we burn it? The suspense of it all was just too much for me.

Phil on the other hand, was dying laughing as he watched my reactions to the whole process. 

Since my first time making popcorn the old fashioned way I now don't make any other way. I had the day off my school today and made myself a batch to share with my favorite popcorn lovin' pup.