Bad News Travels Fast

Today seems to be one of those days that bad news just keeps pouring on.  I got some bad news from my buddies wife.  A couple of weeks ago my friend Steve had another surgery due to his pancreatitis.  A few years ago when he first found out he had it he was in bad shape.  He had to have pretty major surgery and wasn’t doing very well.  Over the past couple of years, things seem to have been going in the right direction.  Every once in a while he would have a small flare up, but it wasn’t too big of a deal.  Doctors noticed some concerning things a couple of months ago so scheduled him for another surgery.  He had that two weeks ago and recovery seemed to be going just fine.

Last night he even asked us to come by for dinner.  We spent a couple of hours there and he seemed good to go.  He has a machine connected to him to help drain some fluids, and he is still pretty sore, but he was in great spirits and moving just fine.  No signs of anything going wrong.  I then get a text from his wife early this morning letting me know that he was in severe pain about two hours after we left.  They had to call an ambulance and rush him to the hospital.  I still don’t know exactly what went wrong, but I couldn’t feel worse for him and his family right now.  He has two kids, two and nine months, who don’t get to be with their dad for who knows how long.  I am really hoping that this is nothing major and he will be back home, recovering in no time.

Later today I get an email from my principal letting us know that after a six month battle with cancer, her brother in law passed away.  It sounds like she was there visiting when it happened and it was pretty traumatic.  Two things in one day, both really sad and depressing.  They say things come in threes, I am just hoping that I can get through the rest of this night without having an ugly third pop up.  I am knocking on wood as I speak.

These types of nights make you want to take a second and hug the ones you love.  I pray for my friend and my principal to help get them through these tough times.

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Swim Lessons

Growing up, my family has always vacationed to places on the water.  I love being in the water.  I literally could hang out in the water on a nice summer day for hours and hours.  It is so relaxing to me to hang out with friends, have a couple of drinks, and play around in the water.  Now that I have an almost two year old, I want him to love being in the water as much as my family does.  We have a lakehouse in Indiana that we frequent in the summer months.  One perk of being a teacher with summers off.  One thing I want to make sure however is that he learns to swim, and is very comfortable in water.

Today was his first swim lesson.  We went to a place called Goldfish in St. Charles to start this new adventure.  My wife is pregnant so she asked if I wouldn’t mind doing the swim lessons with him.  You don’t have to ask me twice!  I got in and reached for him to join me.  As he took in the thousand kids being trained in this pool, he was a little timid.  He was hesitant to get in a first, grabbing my arm like someone was trying to steal him.  I finally got him in, got him halfway submerged, and his whole attitude changed.  He let out a little giggle, and I knew from there he was game.  We started off practicing kicking, then “reaching,” feeding the ducks, and learning how to get out. In no time, he pushed away his shyness and was having the time of his life.  His favorite thing was when she gave us a little thing to pour water on their heads.  He thought it was hilarious to pour water on his dad’s head.

I am not sure who had more fun today, but listening to him crack up and watching him swim made my day.  He listened to everything the coach said, and tried everything she asked him to try.  He loved his first swim lesson.  Needless to say I have a little fish!  He loves water, and I can’t wait to get him to the lake house this summer.  I want him to do these lessons to learn how to be safe in water, but I also wanted these lessons to make him love being in water even more.  That doesn’t seem to be a problem!  I can’t wait until next Saturday to do it again.

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TGIF

Friday to the rescue.  There are weeks that just need to end.  From everyone I have talked to and work with, this just happened to be one of those weeks.  We only had students for four days this week with the election day on Tuesday, yet it seemed like this week was fourteen days long.  It just wouldn’t end!

Being that it is the end of the quarter and spring break is coming up, time seems to crawl this time of year.  Today was Friday though.  Sometimes Fridays are just what you need to recharge and feel better.  Today was one of those days that I had to throw the normal plans out and just keep it simple.  My students have so busy, and have done so much testing, they just needed a day to catch up.  I had half of my class out for a “Battle of the Books” contest, so instead of trying to teach half of them, only to have to reteach the other half, we just caught up on work from the past week.  It was very nice to have time for them to just work on everything that I feel that we have had to rush through this week.

With each day that goes by, it seems that there are always these never ending problems that won’t go away.  You try and try to get through to some of these kids, but nothing seems to work.  I don’t know if it was because it was Friday and I was just fried, but today I took a different approach.  I tried to reach these kids on a different level and just let them know that we just need to get through this day.  I sat down with them and we just worked on what we needed to work on.  We tossed the stress out and just got done what needed to get done.  We caught up on work they needed to complete, and tossed some fun in there as well.  I had my students fill out NCAA brackets this year to do a fun, mindless competition.  They needed something different today.  Something that wasn’t math, or writing, or reading.  Something that they could just relax and enjoy.  I needed that too!  We ended our day scoring our brackets, and they really got into it.  I love Fridays for that reason.  Sometimes it is just time to put aside the rigorous work, and add in something that everyone can enjoy. We had a great day today.  It was laid back, fun, yet at the same time, we accomplished so much. It was one of those days that all of us really needed .

Don’t Grow up

I can’t wait for my little man to grow up for so many reasons.  I can’t wait to play catch with him from more than two feet away, where he throws as hard as he can at my head.  I can’t wait until he becomes even more independent, and can do things on his own.  I can’t wait to take him to a ball game, and he will understand it.  I look forward to teaching him the finer things in life, like what a Chicago hot dog is, and how to throw a curve ball.  I want to get him up on skis, and watch his first t-ball game.  I want to help him with his homework, and congratulate him when he succeeds at something he worked really hard at.

I have one message for him though, don’t grow up.  Not yet!  As I am typing this he is upstairs getting ready for bed, saying “nigh night daddy.  Wuv you!”  Then giggling when I yell it back, followed by him yelling it back to me at the top of his lungs.  I want to run up there and play with him some more…although my wife would kill me.  Nights like tonight I will never forget.  He came home tonight in the best mood ever.  He is typically a very happy, very easy going little man.  Tonight though I wish I could put into a jar and bottle up.  He belly laughed all night long.  Anything we did, anything he did, he thought was the funniest thing in the world. He sat on my lap and we wrestled around and he had me almost in tears listening to him laugh.  He was so hyper, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I used to love nothing more than going out on St. Patrick’s, drinking green beer and hanging with friends.  I wouldn’t trade 1,000 of those nights for the night I had tonight.  It was amazing!

I don’t want to lose this stage.  He is so cute, and entertains us so much! As much as I want him to grow up to do all of those things, I am not in any hurry!  I want him to stay this age for a long time.  I love his sweet, miniature voice and the hilarious things he says.  I love his deep belly laugh.  I love how he finds the stupid things we do hilarious.  When he grows up, he will find the stupid things we do…well stupid, and embarrassing.  I love the boy that he is.  He is already trying to beat me up, and doesn’t back down from me.  He makes being a father better than I ever could’ve imagined it being.

Bracketology

Weird, I have another reason that I love this time of year.  March Madness!  I am a huge sports fan as it is, but I don’t think it gets better than watching March Madness.  There are games on at all times of the day, and you are always guaranteed some great finishes.  You find yourself rooting for teams that you have no interest in at any other time of the year.  It is great to watch an underdog take down a higher seed.  It is a couple weeks of action packed days full of great basketball.

Of course watching the games is great by itself, but watching the games and rooting for your brackets to do well makes it even more exciting.  I have a love/hate relationship with filling out brackets.  I watch a decent amount of basketball and I listen to sports radio everyday so I feel like I have an idea of who may win.  This year however I have watched the least amount of college ball than I have in years, and this year there is no dominant teams.  It could be a complete crap shoot this year.

As I was filling out my brackets, I always try and do one that has most of the favorites, in other words I play it safe.  Then on the second one, I try and take more risks, picking teams that I think may have a chance at upsetting a higher seed.  With the way this roller coaster of a year has gone in college basketball, I have no idea what is going to happen.  I have a feeling that there will be some upsets, but the problem is that I have no idea which teams to pick.  I want to take some chances, but I have a hard time pulling the trigger because I also want to win the big pot.

Win or lose, it is still a great time to experience some great basketball.  It is a great time to meet up with friends and cheer on those teams that you have winning.  If only there was a way to not work and not have any other obligations during this time so I could sit all day and watch all of these games.  A group of our friends used to take off the first Friday of March Madness, go to a bar with our brackets in hand, and watch games all day.  That was the life!  With now having a little one, and another on the way, that has taken a backseat.  Hopefully in the near future we can start that tradition up again.  I can’t wait for tomorrow, and I hope this year I can actually come out of this with a little extra cash in my hand!

While the Women are Away

Nothing like a random Tuesday night to hang out with some of the boys…and all kids.  My wife and her friends decided to visit Cooper’s Hawk for some wine tasting and dinner tonight.  All of the husbands decided since they are going out, we might as well get together as well.  Therefore all of the husbands are bringing their kids over to my place for a couple of beers and to cook out.

I am a little disappointed because the weather earlier this week didn’t look too promising for cooking out, so when I went to the store to buy stuff for tonight, I bought mostly food we could cook inside.  As I currently look outside, it is sunny and beautiful out, and the storms won’t be coming until later.  Luckily I did get some brats, which are currently soaking in beer so we can at least cook something on the grill.

Even though I wish that this wasn’t happening on a Tuesday, it is always nice to get the guys together. I love nothing more than cooking out and having a drink or two.  The one positive about it being on a Tuesday is it will most likely not be a late night. That would make for a long second half to the week.  Either way, I am excited to hang out tonight, watch some games, and play with the little ones.

That Kid…

Ugh!  That kid again.  He is so talented, so brilliant, yet so damn stubborn.

That kid.  He has all the potential in the world, why won’t he just live up to it?

That kid.  He is gifted in so many ways, he breezes through everything that I give him.  Why won’t he challenge himself?  Why does he back away from anything that is a little out of his comfort zone?

That kid.  The other kids in his position love a challenge.  They tackle it head on, and come begging for more!

That kid.  Is he worthy of this chance he was getting?  Should we have given him a second chance?

That kid.  What is with his attitude?  I try day after day to get him to realize that the only thing that is holding him back is himself.  He holds the key to his future.  His future can be so bright if he just lets it.

That kid.  Stop saying you don’t care!  You do!  I know you do!

That kid.  When will he finally realize what is in front of him?  When will he realize that all of this is to make him stronger, more confident, and a better problem solver?  It will make him be able to conquer anything!

That kid.  I am not going to give up on him, no matter how much he frustrates me!  I can’t, I won’t!

That kid.  I believe in that kid!

A Nice Little Sunday

I was a little tired this morning, it could have been from the events from the previous night, but I will blame it on daylight savings.  We started off the day just lounging in bed, watching cartoons.  My inner five year old got to come out again.  With that said, what happened to our old school cartoons?  They just aren’t the same anymore.  All I am asking is for some Tom and Jerry, Looney Toons, or a little Pinky and the Brain.  I just don’t understand the appeal of some of the cartoons these days.

The best part of our day came in the afternoon.  We met up with my in-laws for brunch at the Clubhouse.  If you are from around here and haven’t experienced this brunch, I would highly recommend it.  It is delicious. What is better than filling up plate after plate with all kinds of great food?  I always go in the same order, starting with the omelet station, and then piling the rest of the plate with bacon and sausage.  I have been on a little pancake kick lately also so I had to toss a couple of those on their too.  When I got back to see what my son chose, he also had about 5 pieces of sausage, some bacon, and some mac and cheese.  What a perfect combo.

That is the best thing about brunch, you can mix and match it anyway you want.  If you don’t like it, or don’t finish it, they just take it away and you can go try something else.  If you are feeling frisky and want to start with dessert, it is completely allowed.  For the second half, I then go up and hit up the lunch station.  I love that by the time you leave there you can barely walk because you are so full, but for the rest of the day you don’t need to worry too much about eating.

We finished off our day doing a little shopping at the mall.  Going around Oak Brook mall in the rain with a tired child isn’t ideal, but it went pretty well.  Our goal was to find a suit for our almost two year old for his aunt’s wedding at the end of this month.  This task was more difficult than we imagined.  It started off pretty successful in that we found a sport jacket for him right away.  He entertained all of the other customers when he pranced in front of the mirror checking himself out in his new jacket.  He was doing his best model pose, and laughing at himself the whole time.  It was pretty funny to watch.  The hard part came when we had to find pants and shoes for him.  We came up empty at five other stores, and by that point, his entertainment level was down to a zero.  He was done, and so was his dad.  It was time to pack it up and get him home.  We will have to tackle the pants and shoes on another day, and when I say we, I mean his mom.

Overall it was a nice day just getting to hang out with family.  It was great for my in-laws to get to hang out with their grandson.  It was great for me to fill myself up to the point where I couldn’t eat one more thing.  We didn’t get to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Home Depot, but it was a successful little Sunday none the less.

Bring on Spring

I love spring!  It is my favorite season for many reasons.  As I have posted before, I love spring because it starts to get warm again.  You get to do things that winter doesn’t allow.  Today we got to hang out at a friends house for a St. Patrick’s Day party.  It was amazing.  I loved being able to be outdoors, hanging out with friends, and having a couple of drinks.

We started off the day going over to a friend’s house, getting together with people we enjoy hanging out with.  We walked over to downtown St. Charles and caught the St. Patrick’s Day parade.  I am not a huge parade guy, but on a day like this, I was all about it. My son got to see the bands, fire trucks, and horses.  He was on cloud nine which makes everything better for us.  We got to hang out with friends, have a couple of drinks hidden away, and enjoy what spring had to offer for us.  It was terrific.

Once we got back to their place after the parade, the boys got to go and play bags, while the girls got to catch up and chat.  The kids ran around, climbed trees and played tag.  Everyone was feeling good, and doing the things that they loved.  This is they type of thing that I could literally do every day.  I love hanging out with friends, being social, and enjoying the beautiful weather outside.  It isn’t the heat that summer brings, but to me, it is better than that.  It is warm enough to be outside in a t-shirt and jeans which is my favorite thing to be in.  I seriously love spring!  I love being outdoors and playing games and having fun.  Today was perfect, and I can’t wait for more of these days in the near future.

I Swear I do Not Swear

For anyone that knows me, this title is definitely about me.  I swear.  I actually swear a lot.  I amaze myself that I have never slipped while teaching, because once I am off duty, my mouth has a mind of it’s own.  I don’t mean to swear that much, and technically I don’t think it is all my fault.  For the past thirteen summers I have worked special events for Budweiser.  It has been an amazing job, and I am going to really miss it.  At that job, I am around a bunch of dudes that just sit around and swear.  That is in their contract I think, that is how much they do it. Therefore I blame them for being bad influences.

Swearing has once again reared it’s ugly head in my fourth grade class again.  I have a group of about three of four boys, and if you have read some of my previous blogs, yes it is the same boys, who think they are cool because they swear.  Every chance they get, whether it be at lunch, recess, or anywhere else away from me, they swear.  I had one that got caught by my sub on Wednesday sticking up his middle finger, and mouthing “FU” to a fellow classmate.  I couldn’t believe it.  I couldn’t believe that he thinks that this type of behavior is the least bit acceptable.

I was too scared to swear when I was younger, because I knew the repercussions that would happen at home if I did.  I didn’t want any part of that.  I had a class meeting yesterday and talked about that very thing.  I then polled the class to see what their parents would do if I had them come to school and learn that their child swore.  I had three of those same boys get a look on their face and say right away that their moms would slap them.  My next question to me was very obvious…then why would you still do that, knowing the consequences of it?  The problem is they think they are sneaky, but they are not!  They continuously get caught.  My policy is if you swear, you get to call your parents and you get to tell them what you said.  They also know this.  Yet they still continue to do it!  I almost don’t feel sorry for them if they do get that consequence at home.  If I knew that was coming, I would think that I would have the sense not to do it!

I get they are young, and to them swearing makes them cool.  It makes them tough, and feel older than they are.  The biggest problem I have with this is they have recess with first and second graders.  These little guys look up to them, so when they hear the older kids do it, they think it is okay.  I have told my wife that I never want my kids riding the bus because of this very topic.  Kids on the bus talk so inappropriately it’s ridiculous.  I guess the only thing I can do is to keep reminding them, and keep trying to explain to them why it just isn’t worth it.  Hopefully one day it will sink in!