Typical Tuesday

In the beginning of our relationship, I used to laugh at my wife because she always dreaded Tuesdays.  She loathed them and I never I understood why.  I asked time and again what was the big deal about Tuesdays.  She just said that they were just a day that she hated.  It was early in the week, and no good ever seemed to come from them.  This rang true today for me.  Today is a day that I can’t wait to get in the books.

First of all, it is Tuesday, March 20.  The so called “first day of spring.”  Hogwash!  It is just another day of winter right now.  It is still so cold out, and looking ahead there is no end in sight.  Luckily we aren’t the northeast with their foot plus of snow that is coming, but still it is cold.  It is starting to get to me.  I just want warm!

From the second I walked into school today, it was just a day that was not going to go my way.  I had the day off yesterday, and I usually walk in to pretty good notes from my sub. That was not the case today.  She had way too many problems, and that bugs me.  One thing I ask from my students is to be better for a sub than they are for me, and yesterday they didn’t do that.  Disappointing.  Then I did spot checks for my student’s reading logs to make sure they are filling them out correctly, and of the five kids I checked, not one had them.  This frustrated me, so then I decided to check my whole class.  8 out of 23 had them correctly filled out.  I know that sounds unimportant, but for a class that never puts any extra effort forth, it is to me.

Beyond that, every lesson I taught today seemed like I was talking to a brick wall.  I literally felt like I was teaching to an empty room today.  Maybe it was me because I just couldn’t get my head into the game today.  It was a very defeating feeling.  I then got some other news that bummed me out.  It is one of those things that you understand, but had really high hopes for.  I tend to get myself too hyped for things, and then if they don’t happen, I get let down.  Again, my own fault, but just added to the day.

Finally, I get home and get to hang out with the family.  This part was pretty awesome, except dinner.  I was trying out a new recipe and I thought it would be pretty good.  Well the completely full plates sitting on the table told a different story.  It was gross.  My wife and I took one bite and pushed the plate away.  We tried to get the kids to eat it just to see if they may like it, that ended in tears.  Two Ego waffles later, and dinner was over.  My appetite leaked right out of me.  Another notch in the day that needs to go away.

I don’t really buy into the whole Tuesdays suck theory, but I will say that this Tuesday did.  Luckily I am pretty good at leaving the past in the past, so I look forward to tomorrow and what it will bring.  My wife is out of town for the remainder of the week, so hopefully Wednesday will take it easy on me.

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Shopping…who needs it

In the beginning, I was against doing this online grocery shopping.  I just am worried about how many stores these days are closing because everyone just shops online now.  That is until I tried it.  Now we use the Walmart pickup every week, and it is amazing!  The night before we are going to go, my wife and I make a list of what we need and pick a pickup time in the app.  This forces us to meal plan for the week which is always helpful.  We now have each meal for the week planned out, so we don’t have to worry about what we are going to cook each night.  This has also become a huge money saver for us because we are now really only sticking to the list.  When I go to the store, I end up getting a cart full of stuff that I didn’t need.  Therefore spending money that I didn’t need to spend.  It has slashed our normal grocery bill in half.

The second best thing about online grocery shopping is how much time it saves.  Not to mention the frustration it saves.  The unfortunate part for us is there is a Walmart literally in our back yard, but they don’t offer this.  Hopefully they will soon, but in the mean time, it works out fine because the other one is in St. Charles.  I pick up my kids three days a week at my sister’s in St. Charles, and my son’s swimming lessons are there as well. Both are a mile away from the Walmart, so we are out there anyway.  I now check in on my way to pick up my kids, grab them, and run over to the store.  I am in and out of there in ten minutes.  Without this option, I had to find an hour or more to get over to Walmart with my kids.  Now my kids are for the most part very well behaved, but as with anything, the longer it takes, the quicker they lose it. Now that I can pick it up, that is one less thing I have to worry about.  Plus I don’t need to spend that time out of my day to go shopping.  That is an hour more to play with them, get dinner ready, relax, or do my blog!

Sunday Brunch

If you haven’t been to The Clubhouse for brunch, I highly recommend it.  Once every couple of months we meet my in-laws there for brunch.  I totally look forward to it because of two things, food and family.  It is nice to catch up with my in-laws, which includes my mother-in-law, my wife’s stepdad, one of her sisters that comes in from Milwaukee and her boyfriend, and her brother.  Well then of course we Facetime with her other sister who lives in Seattle but is currently in London.  As you see her family is all over the place, and they have a lot going on, so it is nice to get together and catch up.  The best part is my kids get to hang out with their grandparents.  They don’t see them as much as we would like, so getting that opportunity means a lot to them.  They always have presents for my kids for some holiday or another so that gets them excited.

The second reason is the food.  The best thing about brunch is it is really the only time you need to eat a meal all day.  It covers breakfast and lunch, but you are usually still totally full when dinner comes around so all you need is a snack.  That means no meal prep, no cleaning, and extra lazy time.  I go into the same routine each time we go.  First stop is the omelet station and all the other breakfast stuff.  After that round two has to be some more of the lunch stuff.  Round three usually consists of desserts.  I am not big into desserts, but I do have fun putting stuff under the chocolate fountain. All I know is by the time I leave there I can barely walk.

I did feel a little bad getting home and napping today on the only nice day we have had in a while, but I was in a food coma.  The kids were out, my wife was out, so really I had no choice.  Then I got to finish watching golf and the NCAA tournament.  It turned out to be a pretty awesome day.  Brunch is one of those things that I wish I could do every Sunday.

One Fish, Two Fish

Being in water is part of life for my family.  It is definitely my happy place, and I am quickly realizing that it is my kid’s happy place as well.  We have a lake house in Indiana that we frequent in the summer.  The kids, like me, could stay in that water all day.  We may participate in different activities in the water, but we love it just the same.  We thought it would be a good idea to make sure that Benton had swim lessons just in case.  We started him when he was one, and he hasn’t let up since.  This may have been a little too early since we were stuck in the baby pool until he was three.  They kept wanting to move him up because he was such a strong swimmer at such a young age, but when we told him he was two, they would say sorry and that we had to wait.  Finally he was close enough to three and he got moved to the big pool.  Since then, he has moved up four levels and is swimming across the whole pool (with some assistance).  He is a really good swimmer for only being three, and he loves the pool!

Today was the first day that I got to take my daughter Finley to lessons.  We wanted to wait until she was closer to two so we weren’t stuck in the baby pool forever.  She was an absolute champ.  She did everything like she had been doing it for months.  Just like her brother, she is a natural.  I wasn’t sure how she would feel when I had to “dip” her under the water, but she loved it.  She would come up and look at the ceiling and say “fish,” talking about the fish hanging from the ceiling. I would stand her on the ledge, and without hesitation, she would jump in right to me.  No fear!  She did her cute little kicks and pulls like she was asked to.  We chased down the balls and threw them into the basket.  She loves the pool!

I loved spending the half hour swimming around with her, just as I did with Benton.  I look forward to watching her grow as a swimmer.  I look forward most to getting back to the lake house this summer and seeing what they can do on their own.  I look forward to cannonballs seeing how high I can still throw each one in the air.  I can’t wait to get back to my happy place and watch my two little fish swim!

Alter Ego

My three year old son has an alter ego. It all started with him and my 6 year old nephew playing together.  My sister has watched him since he was born, so these two are as thick as thieves.  ALL they do is play bad guys.  They are either ninjas, super heroes, or just some bad a**es that are getting the bad guys.  Somewhere along the way, Benton came up with a whole new persona.  He is not Benton, he is Johnny X.  It’s a pretty sweet name if you ask me, especially since he came up with it himself.  It cracks me up though because when he is in his fighting mode, he transforms into Johnny X.  If I ask him, “Benton, can you please bring your plate into the kitchen?”  He will quickly correct me that he is not Benton, he is Johnny X.  I will then have to rephrase and call him by the correct name before he does what I ask.  He takes his role as Johnny X very seriously.

I just love the minds of these little kids.  I love their imaginations, and just how they can create this totally different place in their minds.  I feel like he truly transforms into someone different when he is playing that role.  The hard part is knowing when he is and isn’t Johnny X.  But his whole attitude changes.  He is tough and raw.  He is ready to save the world of all the imaginary bad guys, aliens, or super heroes that are trying to harm us.

Johnny X can come in many forms.  Today, he woke up and came into our room and asked my wife to help put something on.  I was still not awake so I hadn’t even looked up to see what it was.  My wife giggled and asked if that is what he was wearing today, and he said “Yup.”  Now my curiousity got to me, what was he today.  A ninja!  Johnny X’s most famous form.  You have to be careful though because he is not just an ordinary ninja, he is either the blue, green, black, or most recent, gold ninja.  Each one has their own powers and strengths.  He was the gold ninja today.  You don’t mess with the gold ninja.

I just love how he wakes up, and the first thing he does is tap into his imagination.  He takes on these roles of all these other characters, and lives his life as them.  He has so much fun, and of course we always have to get involved in it to.  Listening to him tell these ellaborate stories about what we are doing today, where we are, and who we are getting today is amazing.  He cracks me up, and almost lets me bring out my inner child.  His games are actually pretty fun, and I am pretty good and getting the bad guys.  We are always on the same team.  The team I want to continue to be on the rest of my life.

 

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March Madness

My favorite time of year has arrived!  I love March Madness!  I don’t follow college basketball too closely throughout the year because honestly, it doesn’t really matter.  The only thing that matters are these next few weeks.  I love the action packed excitement that this brings.  I love the buzzer beaters, the top plays, and most of all the upsets!  I love that even people who aren’t fans of basketball can get into it for a couple of days and enjoy it.  It is non-stop excitement and that is what I am made for.

I am a little bitter about this year however.  My brother-in-law’s 40th was in December, and for years, him and some friends have gone to Vegas to watch and gamble on the tourney.  He has asked me forever to join him, and this year I was committed!  I was finally in, and I was so excited.  Then one day I was sitting at Sport Clips waiting to get my haircut, and decided I would check the dates one more time.  I couldn’t remember when PARCC was showing up this year and all that.  I go to my district website and my stomach dropped!  Fricking conferences!!  Who it their right mind schedules conferences on the first two days of March Madness? Not a sports fan, that’s who!  Whatever!  I don’t care!  I am still going.  I will rearrange my conferences and deal with it.  I then looked up the cost of flights.  Over $750 to fly to Vegas…..yeah my thoughts exactly. BS!  If it were one of the two things I had to overcome, I would be gone and in Vegas as we speak.  But having to rearrange all my conferences, and pay $750, sorry Matt, I am not going to make it again.

To make matters worse, even if I wasn’t going to Vegas, I usually am sick the first Friday of March Madness every year.  Weird how that works.  With conferences, I can’t even be sick!  Either way, even though we got screwed this year, I am still really excited for the tournament!  At least there is brackets and squares to keep me occupied.  We are even doing a bracket challenge at my school to keep it interesting.  All I have left to say is go Virginia or Michigan State!

Ahhhh!

Do you ever have those days where your head feels like it is going to explode?  As teachers, the first thing we learn is to be patient.  I feel like I am a very patient person.  I pride myself on that.  Today was one of those days that really tested my patience.  I have had a LOT going on outside of school, and maybe that was part of it, but today I just couldn’t handle it.  My mind is spread so thin right now and I feel like I am taking it out on my kids.

When we were in writing, I needed  to share some documents with my students.  It usually would have taken about five minutes.  When I looked up, I had a line of kids 7 deep waiting to ask me questions.  As I got the line down, the line just filled right back up.  That to me wasn’t the biggest deal in the world, I want them to ask questions.  But then there is my one.  My one that asks questions every ten seconds…literally.  She refuses to try and figure anything out on her own.  The worst part about it though isn’t the fact that she is asking me questions, it is that when I give her my answer, she argues with me!  It doesn’t matter what answer I give her, she argues with me.  It is literally the most frustrating thing in the world.  I want to be there for her and help her when she needs, but she is completely unwilling to even try to figure anything out.  She will just come to me and then if I try and answer, she will not accept that answer and then follow that up with four more questions that literally have nothing to do with anything.

Most days I keep my cool and repeat my answers.  It is challenging, but I do my best to pull it off. Today I feel like I failed in that department.  When she challenged me the tenth time on my answer, I asked her why she even comes to me.  I gave up on her.  She is totally the attention seeking kid, and I know that is why she is at my side 100 times a day.  But that is my job.  I have to find a way to get through to her.  I have to help her.  I have to make her feel successful.  Today I didn’t have it.  I let my clouded mind shut down and turn her away. I don’t care how stressful she can be, it is my job to help her.  I am going to make more of a commitment to leaving my outside stresses at home.  I have a job to do, and that is to teach these children, no matter how difficult they sometimes make that.  I just need to draw up a new game plan when these situations happen.

A Visitor

With the new inquiry model of social studies that we just started, we needed to find new ways to teach the students the standards.  I went to the workshop, and left still unsure and not confident.  So far however, it has been pretty awesome.  I was so nervous to give up the control to the students.  I wasn’t sure if they would step up to the challenge.  We are working on a civics unit, and they are in charge of coming up with what direction we will go with this.  One of the main parts to this standard is learning the difference between the different levels of Government.  My coach and I decided to try and get someone in to the classroom to help the students learn this.

Today we had the Mayor of Woodridge come in to talk with the students, and answer questions on what her role is.  Mayor Cunningham couldn’t have been more helpful.  We prepped the kids for a few days before she actually came.  We first talked about the role of a mayor to give them some background about some of the responsibilities a mayor has. This led to them asking questions to our mayor about anything that they still wondered about.  We practiced asking the questions for a couple days just to make sure they were comfortable with this.  We also made sure they knew exactly how to act during this time.  We didn’t want 23 hands flying through the air with “ooh oohs” being belted out.  I walked into this pretty sure they would do well, but I guess you never know.

When she came in, they were so pumped.  Mayor Cunningham first started off telling us a little bit about herself and her role as a mayor.  She told us how excited she was to be here, and that this was her favorite part about her job.  The kids then got a chance to ask her their questions.  They did amazing!!  They sounded so professional asking their questions, and were so polite about it.  Some of her answers were very detailed, so the student waiting had to be patient while she talked.  They did just that.  I was so proud of them and how they handled this situation.  Everything that was said today is going to drive our instruction for the rest of this unit.  I think they got so much out of this!  They now really know what a local level of Government entails, and now we can take that and learn even more about the state and national Government.

It is nice to see my class really surprise me.  They are a good class, but like every class, they definitely have their moments.  Some more than others.  Every single one of them did perfectly.  Perfectly!  I can’t wait until tomorrow to really follow up on this with them and get their thoughts.  So far I am really enjoying this new style of teaching.  I am not too sure where it will go from here, but I am excited to find out.

Memories

Tonight we had a memorial for one of my buddies that passed away suddenly a year ago.  He was one of those guys that just made everyone smile.  He was the best hugger there was, maybe even squeezed a little too hard sometimes.  He had a rough go, and I hate that he had his life taken so early.  He was too good of a guy to go out the way he did.  He left a lot of really good friends behind that cared for him deeply and wanted nothing more for him to succeed and be happy.  He put on a good face, but struggled deep within himself.

We all met at a bar in Wheaton where my buddy is the general manager.  I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this, or how many people would show up.  We ended up having a great turn out.  There were so many people there that I rarely get to see anymore.  Almost all of these people were from high school, and people that I used to hang out with on a consistent basis.  Unfortunately, like I had said in my previous post, times change and it makes it difficult to see one another.  This is definitely not the reason I would prefer to get together, but it was so great to see all of these people.

I love telling stories of the old days, and remembering the times we had with our buddy.  I love the nonsense conversations we have with each other, and the laughs that come with it.  Once again, I love how easy it is to get together with these friends and reminisce about the past.  We talk about how stupid we were and how many bad decisions we made.  It is a memorial, and that is exactly what we do.  We remember all of the good times, and I think that is what it is all about.  It really makes me miss all of these people…especially Jeff, aka Ese.  This is exactly what he would have wanted, and this is exactly what we all needed.  I now have fifty get togethers I need to plan with all of the people I haven’t seen in a while.  I miss these times and these guys, but I especially miss Jeff.  Rest in peace my man!!

Grilling

I always tell people that spring is my favorite season.  I think that is true because I love the feel of the weather changing.  I love how the trees start coming back and my lawn begins to grow again.  I love the smell of the first time I get to mow the lawn.  I love the fact that golf season is back in action.  Spring means the Cubbies are back in action!  It also means that it is almost time to get together with friends and be able to sit on someone’s deck, or play bags again.  Spring is the start of basically everything that I love.  The best thing about spring though is grilling!  That is probably my all time favorite thing to do.  I am a year round griller, but it is definitely way better in the spring.

Today I am even more excited than usual.  No I didn’t get to grill today, but I got to do something even better….I bought a brand new grill!  I got the Weber Genesis 310 because Weber will be the only grill I ever grill on.  I went in thinking I would get the cheaper one, but once I saw the difference, I figured it was better to go with the one that will be more durable.  I literally can’t wait to get this new beauty put together so I can grill.  I get a perfectly clean, unused grill to make a great meal for my family with. The toughest question is going to be what type of meat will I christen the new grill with.  I am thinking a nice steak with some grilled squash and some grilled onions on the side.  That will probably be the winner.

During the spring and summer I cook out probably 3-4 times a week minimum.  To me it is like an art form.  I haven’t perfected it, but I am getting pretty decent.  With a new grill that will actually spread the heat evenly, I may even have a chance to be pretty good at it.  I look forward to the days of hanging out with friends on our deck and using my new grill!