This Thing Called Blogging

Coming into this assignment, I wasn’t sure what to think about this whole blogging thing.  I have always liked writing, but I didn’t think that I could figure out something to write for 31 straight days.  Turns out that I actually had fun doing this.  I enjoyed getting to write about so many different topics.  I liked the challenge of trying to come up with something creative to write each day.  I enjoyed being able to reflect on my day, and realize how great some days actually were.  There are some topics that I felt were a little forced, but most of them I felt were pretty genuine.  It was a good chance to get things off my chest, and reminisce about some great days that I have had.

Besides just doing the writing, I also loved reading other people’s blogs.  It is amazing to hear about so many people’s perspectives on daily life.  I read fun blogs, serious blogs, sad ones and happy ones, but very few that I didn’t enjoy.  I thought this would be a chance for people to just state their opinions on everything, but that didn’t happen.  I can go on Facebook and read that crap everyday.  This was simply about the lives people lead.  The craziness of life that we all go through on a daily basis.  The stories that they had to share were so interesting and entertaining.

The last thing that I really enjoyed about it was listening to everyone else’s comments on my blogs.  Everyone was so positive and friendly.  It is so cool to have complete strangers take the time to read what I wrote, then also sending me a thoughtful response back.  I had the chance for people who I work with getting to see a different side of me.  We get the chance to chit chat at school here and there, but never really get to know too much about the people we spend so much time with.  This was an opportunity for some of them to get to know a little more about me, and for me to get to know more about them.  I feel like that helps build even stronger relationships.

Overall this was a great experience!  There were nights that I dreaded having to go and write my blog, but as soon as I started, I got into it every time.  I don’t know how much I will blog once this is all over, but I don’t think my blogging days are over.  I don’t think it will be every day like it has been, but I will come back and visit every once in a while.  I also think that I will bring this into my classroom as well.  It would be interesting what types of things they would be writing about.  I hope that everyone enjoyed reading my blogs as much I enjoyed reading everyone else’s.  I hope to hear from you all soon!

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Beer

I was sitting here trying to think of something to write for my blog tonight.  I had nothing.  Everything that I am doing, I have already talked about, so I don’t want to repeat myself.  I looked around the room and saw my beer sitting there.  I decided that is a topic I haven’t written about yet!  As a little background, I am a big beer drinker.  Not an alcoholic or anything, beer is just my go to drink.  I do enjoy some hard liquors, especially a good whiskey on occasion, but beer is first choice.  I really want to be a wine drinker, more or less because some situations seem to call for wine versus beer, but I can’t bring myself to get into it.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, I worked thirteen summers doing special events for Budweiser.  Needless to say, I was around a lot of different beer. During that time, I basically would take whatever was free, so I drank a lot of Bud Light and Stella.  We had opportunities to try many different beers throughout those years, but I was always okay with just drinking the basics.  Then I was introduced to craft beers. That changed my whole perspective on beer. Those “other beers” as I now call them just don’t do it for me anymore.  I can still drink them on occasion, but I rarely will buy them anymore.

I actually couldn’t stand IPAs when I first was introduced to them.  Then again I didn’t like Sublime or Jimmy Johns at first either, but then I realized how great both of those were.  That is how my relationship with craft beer went as well.  Nowadays I love hoppy beers.  I love a citrus twist to it as well.  It has been pretty cool to see the craft beer selection explode over the last couple of years.  I used to be in and out of a liquor store in about five seconds.  Now I find myself sitting in front of the craft beer section, carefully grazing over anything new that I haven’t tried before.  I now spend a minimum of ten minutes trying to pick out something to drink.  Typically I still just get the same few kinds over and over again because that is just how I am.  However, every couple times I will try some new kinds, just to see what else is out there.  I have a couple of coworkers that have also given me some great suggestions, actually have even brought me some.  Thanks Lori if you are reading this.

I really love this craft beer movement because it has so many unbelievable varieties.  I love coming home after a tough day and cracking open a couple to end my night.  My college drinking days are over, so now it is for the pure enjoyment of a quality beer, not the quantity anymore.  Craft beers are really expensive, which is the only draw back, but it is worth every penny.

Time to Get Away

I love traveling!  Besides golf, it is the only thing that I am okay with getting up really early for.  I love the anticipation of getting on a plane, going to a new place, and checking out what that place is all about.  I feel like sometimes it is important to just get out of here every once in a while. You get so stuck in a routine sometimes, that it is nice to break away from that and go somewhere else.

The one thing that I do not like about traveling is getting ready to travel.  I didn’t like it before I had a kid, now I like it even less.  I like it even less than that when my wife has to go on a last minute work trip the day before we have to leave!  I like it even less than that when my sister needs a last minute sitter tomorrow for her three kids.  The day where I have a million things to do.  Needless to say, tomorrow is going to be hectic!

I am what you call an overpacker, so for a four day trip, I tend to pack for a week and a half.  I am trying to decide how many bags full of snacks I can stuff into our carry on luggage to keep my kid entertained.  I am trying to figure out how we are going to get through the airport with two sets of luggage, two carry ons, a stroller, and a car seat.

Whatever, I don’t care.  I get to get out of here for a few days, and I am going to do my best to enjoy every second of it.  The weather in Seattle is supposed to be perfect, so I am pumped about that.  I am excited to just be there and watch my sister in law get married.  We will get through tomorrow, no matter how busy and stressful it is. We will have a great time, and come back refreshed and ready for the end of the school year.  The one question I can’t stop thinking about though is when am I going to do my blog?

A Nice Little Sunday

Easter is one of the holidays I don’t mind that much.  We only have to go to one place, and it is usually only for a couple of hours.  Other holidays we have to go from one place to another, and it lasts from early morning to late night.  Today was not that way. We got to hang out at our house all morning and just do our own thing.  My son got to go on his egg hunt, which was hilarious.  Every time he found one, he squealed and got super giddy.  He would scream, “there it is, I found it” in his one year old voice.  Then he found his Easter basket and ate more candy in ten minutes than he has in whole life.  When we were done with all of that, the two of us just walked around on the path behind our house, exploring what nature had to offer.

In the afternoon we went to my wife’s aunt’s house and just hung out with the fam.  It is always nice to see everyone and catch up, especially since we don’t see her side that often.  We ate a little, drank a little, and talked a lot.  A couple hours later we packed up and went back home.  We capped off the night with a dinner that screams Easter…tacos!  It was a nice little Sunday.  I hope you all had a nice little Sunday too!  Happy Easter!

The Last Easter Bunny

I love doing things with my son.  I love to get out and do things that I think he would enjoy.  I do not like doing things that everyone else is also doing however.  The other day I sent my wife a link I saw online about an Easter egg hunt at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.  It sounded like a great time. He got to go run around looking for hidden eggs, and had a chance to meet the Easter Bunny.  We figured we would just get there pretty early, and since it is such a huge place, it would be great to check out.  Also it was supposed to be a nice day, so why not get out and give it a try.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. The second I pulled in I knew this is something that I would regret.  There was a huge line of cars, and the parking lot already looked full.  Apparently we aren’t the only ones who think it is a good idea to get there early.  When we parked, we realized how far away everything was in terms of where we parked.  I walked around the back of my car, opened the trunk to grab his stroller, and lamented when I realized that I took it out a couple of days ago.  I reminded my wife to grab his Easter basket, oh wait, we left that at home too. We are currently 0-2. It could only get better from here right?

We make the nice long journey to the park, weaving in and out of people who were in absolutely no hurry.  We go and check out some of the tanks, which I think are awesome.  We have to dip and dodge the four hundred kids running around and climbing on these huge machines.  We decide it is time to go and Easter egg hunt.  It turned out that they were not going to make this very difficult for the kids.  Basically in a couple parts of the lawn they dumped a bunch of plastic eggs in piles.  This was fine for us because Benton is still so young, so it is easier for us to have him go and just grab some.  We grab our limit of five eggs, and realize they are empty.  The prizes are inside.  Awesome.

We mosey on over to the building to go get his prize and meet Mrs. Bunny. This is where we should’ve just turned and found our car. The line wrapped all around the interior of this large building.  There was no organization at all, and no one had any idea of where the line started or ended. Finally we figured out where to go so we reluctantly got into line. The line was creeping along, and we were getting cut left and right.  I now understand why my students get so annoyed.  We had a lady blatantly cut in front of us, then had the audacity to yell at another family that tried to do it to her.  My ankles were sore from the numerous strollers that crashed into them, and my arms were killing me from holding my little beast.  About an hour later it was our turn.  We sat Benton down, took two pictures and were done.  Then we walked over to the “prize” table and got his little, cheap toy.

I will never do this again…ever!  It just isn’t worth it.  He enjoyed it for about two seconds, and he will never remember it anyway.  I would much rather hide some eggs around here and just do it together at home.  I even told my wife on the way home that we should just buy a bunny and Santa costume and just have one of us dress up for pictures.  As we pulled out the lot, traffic trying to get into the place was dead stopped a half mile in both directions.  I wanted to just roll down my window and say “Turn around and go home!  It isn’t worth it.” I don’t want to be a total Debbie downer though, I understand the premise of it. I truly appreciate the work the people put in to give the area kids something to do.  They mean well, and if it wasn’t so crowded, it actually would’ve been pretty cool. However, I will find something else from now on to do to have a little Easter fun.

Nothing Like a Good Book

Another thing as a teacher that I hate to admit is that when I was younger I was not a reader.  I really didn’t get into reading until I became a teacher to be honest.  I started reading the Harry Potter series and realized that this reading thing is pretty cool.  It takes you to a different place sometimes.  It is a break from reality that is much needed in my life.  I find myself swamped at work sometimes with planning to do, grading to do, and clean up to do.  Yet all I want to do, and sometimes need to do is grab my book, shut my door, and read.  It gives me that break that I need away from all of that other stuff.

I typically only read at school, more or less because I just can’t find time to do it at home.  Today I got that chance to read at home while my wife was working and my son took a nap.  I finished my book that I have been trying to read for the last couple of months. I finished over half of the book in just a couple hours.  It was so nice to sit and read and get involved in this other world.  I like to mix up what I read, going from kids books, to more adult books.  I have read a ton of Alex Cross books by James Patterson which I really liked.  I have read the Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games, the Giver series, and now I am reading the Maze Runner series.

I especially like the children’s series that have movies that go along with them.  I love to compare the books to the movies.  I have never like any of the movies as much as the books, except for maybe the Harry Potter series, but I still love watching the movies as well.  My mother in law and I compare what we have read, and she is always great about introducing me to new series that I haven’t heard of before.

There really is nothing better than a good book.  I am currently on the third book in the Maze Runner series, and I can’t wait to find some time this week to crack it open.  I have a five hour plane ride in which I am hoping my son will sleep a little through so I can get back into this book.  I am hoping that I can continue finding this time throughout my day to try out other good books.  I need those books to help me escape reality every once in a while. Books take me on a good ride, and I can’t wait to hop back on again and enjoy every second of it!

Simple Things

Tonight was the night that I needed.  Sometimes it is the simple things in life that you need to wash away all of the anxiety that can fill us up.  Tonight was the night that I was able to do that.  It started at 2:55 when my students went home for spring break.  I know as teachers we are not supposed to say this, but I needed a break from my students as much as they needed a break from me.  That break is called Spring break.  It is that week during the year that everyone needs.  Christmas break is great, but to me, spring break is better.  The students are fried by this point, and teachers are too.

After I got home, I got to spend a little time with my wife and my son.  That is the part that I enjoy the most.  After we had dinner together, it was time for me to go play volleyball.  I am only a fill in for a team right now, so I never know when I am going to get the call.  Tonight was one of those nights that I needed to play. I needed to do something tonight that got me away from everything else.  I played so poorly last time I played that I had to make up for that tonight.  Tonight I did make up for that.  I played really well and it felt great.  I had a blast playing with my friends, and it was one of those things that just get you back on track.

After we played, my buddy and I hit up a local watering hole to finish off the night.  We had a couple of beers and played some Golden Tee. Again, this was something that I just needed. It was a perfect way to start my break.  My buddy and I are very competitive together, and that is something that I need every once in a while. We compete on everything we do.  We are always complimentary of each other, but at the same time, love winning.  We played three times, and I won three times. It was just what I needed tonight.  I really don’t care if I won, I just wanted to do something that I love to do.  Something that makes me feel like I am in my 20s again.  This is all we used to do.

It is the small things in life that we need sometimes to make us feel good.  I love my job, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t need a break from it.  I love hanging out with my family more than anything, but again, it doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes need a break from that.  Tonight was what I needed.  It was a few hours that I could just do what I wanted.  The rest of spring break will be filled with so much running around, so I am really happy that one of the nights I got to just hang out and relax.  It was perfect.  It was just what I needed!  It was simple, yet so important.

Spring Break

I am really looking forward to tomorrow being over.  Spring break officially starts!  I have been really tired lately, and I can’t shake this feeling off.  I am hoping that I can get at least a little time to relax.  The one thing that I really want is to not think about work for a week.  We have been so busy lately, and with PARCC testing coming up, it will only get busier.  I am hoping to focus on just having a little fun, relax, and enjoy my time off.

We have a pretty full plate this next week.  I will have my son home with me, so I will get to spend some quality time with him which I am really looking forward to.  The best thing is that he still naps, so when he does, daddy does too…I hope.  We also have to get our babies room set up.  I hate painting more than anything, but it will be nice to get it done.  We have been looking at what style of room we want to do, but that has been a pretty big challenge.  Hopefully we can use this time off to get that started.

Halfway through the week we are also traveling to Seattle for my sister in laws wedding.  I am a little nervous about the plane ride out, but my son did a pretty good job on his first flight this past fall, so I am hoping he will do the same this time.  Bring on the Ipad, small games, and lots and lots of snacks.  It will be awesome roaming around Seattle for a couple of days.  I have only been there once, but I loved it.  It will be nice to get out of here for a couple of days and check out all that Seattle has to offer.

Even though we won’t have much down time this week, it will be nice to have this time off.  I love having a week to just get done what we struggle to get done on a normal week.  Whether we get everything done or nothing done, it will just be nice to spend some time with family and try and have a little fun.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

One thing that I love about being a teacher is that I get summers off.  Well actually in all of my 14 years of teaching, this will actually be the first summer I have off.  For the past thirteen years I have had a pretty amazing summer job.  I have worked special events for a Budweiser distributor. I have gotten to do some pretty amazing things at this job.  I ran into a guy yesterday at the Bulls game that I work with at that job.  It made me realize that I am actually not coming back.  I was a little bummed about that.  I have said every year for about the past ten years that I wasn’t coming back.  My coworkers just laughed at me and said see you next year.  Of course they did because I always came back. How couldn’t I?  This is finally the year where I am actually doing it. I am stepping away.

This job has given me so many memories.  I have worked every Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, Blues Fest, and many other cool events.  I have worked a ton of Bears games, concerts, races, and other small events.  I continue to say work, but most of the time I was really just having fun.  Don’t get me wrong, we worked a ton, but this job definitely had its perks.  I haven’t paid for beer in the summer in thirteen years. I have hung out in VIP for so many events. I have seen so many amazing concerts and other sporting events.  I have gotten so many friends and family into so many cool events.  Which in turn made me a pretty cool guy.  What other job can you drink at the whole time you work?  I got to be in our amazing city every day, enjoying the beautiful Chicago weather.

I was the beer guy.  I was the guy that everyone at an event looked forward to getting there.  I got to meet so many amazing people, both famous and just simply cool coworkers.  I have made lifelong relationships with so many people I otherwise would have never had the chance to meet.  I did more entertaining people watching than most people can do in a life time.  I got to see the behind the scenes views of so many amazing events.

I loved that job, but it is time to move on.  I have another baby coming in July, so I finally decided that it is time to step away from this job and let the youngsters take over.  My days of slinging kegs and working 18 hour days are over.  I am really going to miss this job, and the people that went along with it.  The best thing about it is I can still go to these events, and most likely not pay a dime.  I will cherish this opportunity that I was given for the last thirteen years.  I can confidently say though that when I am home this summer with my wife, and two little ones, I will appreciate that 1oo times more.  Cheers!

Bonding

Today I got a last minute call from my dad to join him for the Bulls game tonight. It was 4:15, and I still had to drive from Woodridge to Geneva to pick up my son, back to Aurora to drop him off and change, then to Glen Ellyn to pick up my dad.  Oh then sit in traffic to get to the Bulls game by 7:00.  Of course I will go!  To top it off, we got there by 6:40 and had time to sit down and have a beer before the game even started.

You would think that the best thing about this trip was that we had his companies seats, which happen to be the second row on the floor of the United Center. The wall for the glass at the Blackhawks game was our backrest, that’s how close we were.  Don’t get me wrong, that is as good as it gets seat wise.  They are amazing!  It is crazy to see these NBA players up close.  They are huge!  To watch the game from that close is an experience that you don’t get every day. I have been lucky enough to sit in these seats many times.  My most memorable was when Michael Jordan’s Bulls were playing the Houston Rockets that had Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and others.  Those were my idols growing up.  I was fifteen feet away from them!

Now getting back to my original point, the game was awesome, but what even better to me was getting to spend it with my dad.  It is not as easy these days to find time to do that, so the times that I do are pretty special to me. He is my role model, and I love getting a call from him to hang out.  Typically when we get to see each other it is in an environment with seven crazy kids running around, so it gets difficult to really get that one on one time.  These are memories that I will hold on to, and hope to get more of!  The Bulls won and I got to hang out with my old man.  Perfect night!