Tuesday, March 30, 2010


In a conversation with a colleague this morning, we brought up the topic of socks. Here's the deal: your socks say a lot about you. If you are like me, you wear crazy striped socks, Halloween socks at Easter time, or at times, mismatched socks. I'm blessed; as a teacher, people can expect a bit of eccentricity from me, especially because I'm an English Teacher AND I teach 8th grade (many think this is cause of insanity in and of itself). Those who know me wouldn't expect anything different from me.
Some of you don't wear socks. Well, that speaks for itself.
Others must wear the uniform black socks; again, says miles.
So, my question to you is, what kind of socks do you wear? I'm sure you'll find some crazy correlation. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Have you Found your "Muchness"?

At first glance, the word, "muchness" looks much like munchiness (if that's even a word), but they are quite different for obvious reasons. A great friend and I went to see the new Alice in Wonderland movie. Amidst its dark and quirky tones, as only Tim Burton can create, was a message that our 21st Century women and girls need to hear: Have you found your "muchness"?
I am not what some would call an ultra feminist, but I am all for empowering people, gender not being a qualifier, to be bold and use your gifts.
What one needs to understand is that this looks different for different people. Unfortunately, I myself have been judged by those even in my own family that I have not embraced my own "muchness" because I am married with a child (and one on the way), and live in the suburbs; this is too conventional for their taste. My rebuttal lies here: if you knew me intimately, you would know that I live my "muchness" every single day. Those who know me professionally know that I do not settle for mediocrity in my career, in my students, and attempt to be a source of motivation and huge, obnoxious laughter among my colleagues. Those who know me personally know that my choice to marry and have a family is by all means the biggest risk I could take as an individual; I do not come from a stable family. The "muchness" for me came in the form of faith in my God and faith in me to be able to be a stable life partner and mommy. Those who know me as a friend, know that I am honest and to not ask a question that you're not prepared to hear a straight forward answer to; you may not always like me as your friend, but hopefully you know that there is always love there.
I have many friends and family living out their "muchness," slaying jabberwockies everyday, stepping out on their own volition to be the champion (the life long friend whom I saw this movie with was a wonderful example!). In some contexts, these champions can make you feel a bit awkward, scared, and insecure. But I must say this: do not be afraid of them; allow their "muchness" to be contagious and inspiring, and I promise that it will be the greatest risk you will ever take.
This world could use more "muchness." So, my charge to you today is to embrace it or take the journey to find it. You won't regret it.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I received the most interesting article from a kindred spirit at school the other day. It was amazing food for fodder. The topic of the article was how the concept of retirement has only existed for about the last 100 years. It continued to mention that our society feels entitled to a retirement, and in the context of our entire history, that's not realistic. The conclusion discussed how we should do what we love and then it wouldn't feel like work...interesting.
So, I thought about it, and here's where I lie with this article: I totally agree with it. I know many who work for their retirement, but I'm not built that way. I could not go to work with that being my motivation. Don't get me wrong, I'm not crazy; Steve and I do invest in our retirement, but it's not that big of a deal to me. I'm one of those crazy people who loves their job, and I could see myself doing it for as long as humanly possible. Teaching is what I do, how I feel God is using me. I don't want to put a time limit on how long I can or should do that because society has an expectation. My career/contribution may change as time goes on, but essentially, I think I'll be doing what I do for a long time to come, and I'm very thankful for it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Couldn't Tell You...

I find it so interesting that my students have such a strong opinion on political matters, especially since I doubt they watch the news extensively or read the newspaper of their own volition. The controversial health care has ensued odd, off hand remarks from my sage 8th graders. In return, I often ask where they have heard their research to oppose or support such strong opinions, and they honestly couldn't tell me a darned thing. Bless their hearts.
Like Sherlock Holmes, my investigation leads me to the root of their opinions, and it's almost always their parents. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad there is talk about it over the dinner table. I can truly appreciate the discourse, but I wonder if there's any room for an opposite point of view. I wish I had the youtube video of a kid dishing back research and evidence to their shocked mom and dad, and asking them to ponder that.
When my students ask me how I stand on a particular issue, especially one like the health care controversy, my standard reply is:
I don't belong to a political party, and honestly, I don't know enough to share a strong point of view about it; I haven't done enough research yet.
My kids either make an inference where my opinion truly lies or stares at me in silence. I then offer names of journalists whom I respect or places to gather research. I wonder if one of them will take me up on it. I think that would be awesome. For now, I couldn't tell you where I stand with health care; sorry.

Monday, March 22, 2010

R.I.P. to my Google Adsense Account

I hate it when people are right. My pal at school told me that google adsense would disable my account, and they did. Ergo, I took the day off from my blog yesterday to mourn my vacation money. Oh well, at least I tried. If you're wondering, it is true; Google Adsense will shut down your account if they feel you clicked one too many times from your own computer.
The good news is that I still really like this blog. I have enjoyed getting my thoughts down and sharing them with you!
So, for fun, I brainstormed a few ideas to make some extra money. Here goes:
I tried being a Mary Kay lady once, but apparently it helps if you like make up. I don't think lip gloss is enough. Therefore, I thought of anything with direct sales, and then I realized that every "party" I've ever thrown, I ended up at a loss because I spent more on snacks, drinks, and simply making the house pretty, on top of all the product I end up purchasing. If I even think about direct sales again, my husband will kill me.
Become a Jazzercise Instructor. Well, this would mean that I have to actually go to Jazzercise, which I've been horrible at since Christmas. Also, who wants to look at my big butt bouncy-ouncying around. I don't think I would be a very convincing or motivating exercising instructor.
Last but not least, summer school. At least I thought ahead enough to put in an application last week. I have never taught summer school, especially since Alex and finishing my master's degree last spring. We'll see what happens. I would look forward to the opportunity; in fact, it could be fun. I love crazy children.

If you have any great ideas, send them my way!
Thanks so much!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Housewives: Whatever.

Watching any Housewives show on BRAVO is like watching a train wreck, and I must iterate one thing, especially pertaining to the Orange County Housewives...
Geez, I wish they would use this opportunity to bring awareness and/or raise money for a cause. It's like they have everything they could possibly want in the context of the rest of America, and they do nothing except drink too much wine, shop excessively, work out like crazy people, and worry about how they look. Scary. They have the an amazing chance to lift up and be a part of something that's bigger and needier than they. It's just kind of sad to me. It shows what's truly in their hearts, and I think that's messed up.
I wonder how many affluent people are sitting in their lifestyles and doing the same they are...nothing for anyone else.
By the way, it doesn't really mean anything to say that you work hard at being a stay at home mom if you have a full time nanny. Sorry, that's not what most hard working stay at home moms call work. I have friends who are amazing stay at home moms, and trust me, they don't have full time nannies. So, don't tell me you work hard.
I will say that the New York Housewives at least do things for charity and use the show to promote that. The Atlanta Housewives try. The Orange County Housewives have serious problems. It is what it is.

Friday, March 19, 2010

In Response to "My Man Mitch"

Dearest Governor Daniels,
I want to thank you for providing an ignorant judgement of your very own, Indiana Public Schools. Thank you for sharing your opinion that, “We have a lot of bad schools in Indiana at the current price. More money doesn’t make for better schools or we would have them by now.” I certainly hope that your noble career in politics has provided you enough first hand experience in education to form such a wise comment on something that you obviously have no idea what you're talking about.
Allow me to put forth some awesome examples on why money matters in education...
1. Imagine you have a meeting, Mr. Daniels in which you have an important task for your employees to perform, but your employees don't all have access to a computer at home or at work, because there aren't enough of them, AND lo and behold, you don't have any paper to make photo copies because there isn't any money to purchase it. Well, good luck figuring that one out because in your opinion, children don't need clear and concise directions. Perhaps if you knew children, had first hand experience with teaching them, you would know that students do need this. In fact, their parents are going to demand it, especially if their child has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), which requires by law that their child have certain modifications to help their kiddo process information and be successful. It's a simple thing, paper, but it costs money. How will you help us do this under your opinion?
2. Scenerio #2: If you live in a fast growing district, like mine, you will notice that there are literally 30-35 students in a class, and your lack of allocating resources is causing our schools to balloon because there is no money to build new schools. Ergo, less resources (books, technology, oh, and paper), less staff to service our children, larger grading loads for teachers (I'm up to 190 students), which is not easy, by the way. This leads to teacher burn out. Honestly, I would like for you to teach for a week, a day, and let's see how energized you feel by Friday. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm probably the most annoyingly peppy teacher in my school, but we are all built differently. Let's see you be your most invigorating, inspiring, creative, and the almighty efficient under those conditions. Unless you have been a teacher, you have no idea. I'm sorry to say this, but it's true. And ya know what? It does come down to your dollars.
3. Last but not least, imagine your child's school with no incentive programs, after school activities, athletics, and transportation. I seriously doubt that you would consider sending your child to that school system because it's simply a crappy place to be. Well, because your dollars don't mean anything to education, in your opinion, this is what's happening all over your state. Good job. On the other hand, this probably doesn't mean anything to you personally if your child attends private school, which you can afford, I'm sure; at least it's an option for you. For most, it isn't, and yet doesn't every parent want the best they can give their child?
Governor Daniels, these are just three examples on why money is important to a quality education. So, from the front lines I'm telling you that your "studies" are flat out wrong. But in your defense, I will say that if I tried to do your job, I would not be very successful, because I'm not trained nor do I have the first hand experience. Therefore, please keep in mind that your politicians are not the experts in education.
Kathy Craig
Wife, Mother, and Educator

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'm Now a Texting Queen

Thanks to my new iPhone, I'm now a texting queen. I didn't even know I would like to text that much. A week ago, I would have dreaded getting a text on my outdated phone. I would be forced to press the stupid #2 three times just to achieve a "C." It's simply a click now.
It reminds me of what it was like making the switch from a rotary to a push button. It was so cool to bring those fabulous 12 buttons in our home. Eventually, it became retro awesome to bring back the rotary phone into our homes. Steve and I actually bought a Pottery Barn rotary phone when we first got married. It got old though, and we grew tired of its quaintness. I wonder if our old flip phones will become retro fabulous too. Like most fads, it will be short lived, I'm sure.
For now, I'm savoring in the love it no longer being a chore to share my thoughts with friends. I'm actually looking for something to text; kind of pathetic. I hate phones in general; I'm a self proclaimed horrible phone conversationalist, so this seems to have allowed me to hold actual phone calls at an arms length a bit longer.
Oh, beautiful advancement of technology, thank you for my iPhone.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Love My Students

Ok, this is for real now. As I was trying to inspire my students to "think big" for their awareness to action projects, I shared with them how I have been inspired to build a school in Ethiopia. As a result, one of the groups asked if they could create a student group to help with my school project. OMG! How cool is that? I didn't even expect it. How cool is that? Now, I'm going to have a student advisory board to help me brainstorm and get this school going. This is exactly what I'm about. I"m so grateful. It would be amazing to see this school built by the time they graduate from high school!
I lift this up to God! What a blessing. I love you, darned kids! You rock.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Still Don't Get It

I have heard all of the arguments about why we set the clocks back in the fall and forward in the spring, but frankly, I still don't get it. Is there some kind of conspiracy? I know someone's gotta be making money off this thing. If it's all a wash anyway when you finish the year, then what's the freaking difference?
I grew up on the east coast, and they follow the fall back/spring forward, but I still didn't get it. Ok, so we have more light in the spring at night, but I could care less; the sun is up until like 9 pm anyway. I feel a twang of guilt putting my kid to bed when the sun is up. I mean, she does have a reason to feel confused and bitter about it. The good mom I am, I just closed the blinds and told her how cool it was that she didn't need her nightlight now. I tried.
When Steve and I first met, Indiana didn't follow the messing w/ the clocks craziness, and I thought it was kind of cool. I respected Indiana for taking a stand, but they caved, and I think that stinks.
So, my colleagues and I walk around a bit dazed and confused, as I'm sure all of you are. Our hallway talk is about how it's gonna take us all at least a week for our bodies to get used to this time change. It's like causing unnecessary drama; making everyone do something that does not HAVE to be done to keep the earth spinning on its axis. We all will survive if we don't mess with the clocks.
That's all I have to say about that. I'm done ranting.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Still excited...

I know I ranted about the school in Africa yesterday, and I must say, I want to do this right. Yesterday, I started some initial research and learned about two schools that were started in Africa. There are many cautions that accompany a task like this. First of all, I want the school to be an asset to the community, so they see it as a vehicle for making their dreams come true for their children. I need a connection in Ethiopia, someone who is as passionate as my colleagues and I about education and shares a similar vision: a school that builds global relationships and allows the students to build the skills to become leaders and creators. It's so important to me to maintain the dignity of culture in the community; there's so much I have to learn.
When I travel to Addis Ababa, I think it will be vital to find that connection with a community leader, so we can build this school together. This is my prayer right now as I'm brainstorming. Steve and I learned last week that we will have to make two trips to Ethiopia to bring TJ home, and I'm now looking at this as an opportunity to reach out and accomplish this connection.
I'm so blessed to be surrounded my so many amazing people. Thanks for all of your words of encouragement. As I said to one of my colleagues over lunch, who looked at me like I'm crazy when I shared my idea with him, it may take me until we're in wheel chairs, but I know this can be done.
Continuing the research and the brainstorming; send any ideas my way!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It All Starts Here: My School in Africa

I woke up with a dream, a vision, a purpose. I want to start/build a school in Africa. I'm going to do it. I have so many amazing friends with the passion and talent to make this happen with me; you're probably one of the people I'm thinking of! I have read/seen/heard/experienced so much about how education changes people's lives. This is what I do every day! This is what I'm about.
Here are some of my thoughts:
1. I want to build my first school in Ethiopia. This is where TJ is coming from, and I want to have a strong connection and legacy there for him and Alex, as well as my entire family and friends.
2. I want a doctor there who can help with any medical needs my students will have.
3. I want three meals a day served to these kiddos.
4. I want to use my classroom here in Indiana as a partnership in education to build relationships!
5. I want to make connections with teaching programs at universities to use the talents and passion of young college students who want to become teachers. My plan is for these young adults to serve as teaching ambassadors to my school for a semester. I know their lives will be changed as much as the children's lives.
6. I want the arts to be a strong part of the curriculum.

This is what I know right now. I am inspired by gentlemen like Greg Mortenson, and I believe that you and I can be a revolution. Feel free to email me @ unconventionalkathy@gmail.com or facebook! Let's do this!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It Could Have Been Me, or You

Many of you are aware that I'm reading Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, both winners of the Pulitzer Prize; I can see why. Their mission is to make the masses aware of and educate about the lack of human rights around the world, so we can do something about it. In the midst of reading, I started crying the other night, again. The situation of maternal mortality struck my heart because it could have been me, and ya know what? It probably could have been you.
One woman dies from complications in childbirth every MINUTE. As you are drinking your coffee or checking your facebook, a woman dies because she did not have the medical attention she needed to most likely save her life and the life of her baby. It wasn't until I read this chapter, did I realize that this could have easily been me.
When I was in the hospital delivering Alex, I was an unaware 28 year old more than happy to receive an epidural, watch Oprah and soap operas all day, and eat ice pops while my body went through the birthing process. My goal for delivering Alex was to be as pain free as possible, and thank God, that's exactly what I got. They induced me early in the morning on October 29, 2002, and I chilled out all day. At 7 pm, the nurses informed me that I reached the magic number of 10 centimeters, and it was time to push. Dutifully, I pushed with all my might for three hours while my crazy mother anxiously cursed out my doctor from the hallway (I kicked her out of the room when the first F Bomb flew). I pushed when they told me to push, I breathed when they told me to breathe, and threw up on Steve in between all the activity (I guess eating a whole box of ice pops defeated the purpose). After three hours of this, they finally informed that her heartbeat was increasing...I had obstructed labor; it was time to do a C-section and quickly. The ignorant fool I was didn't even register the gravity of the situation. I lay there as they pumped me with anesthetics (which happened in about two seconds, duh!) and rolled me so fast out of the room that wind flew through my curls (another duh) into an operating room. They strapped my arms down like Jesus on the cross and proceeded to do their amazing job. Alex was born at 11:51 pm that night healthy and beautiful. I was fine thanks to the awesome medical care that I was blessed to have (all because I live in the United States), despite my mother's cussing through the entire process.
Woman all over the world go into labor, but here's the difference: there are no epidurals, no hospitals, no ice pops, no tv, no doctors. Here's what could have happened if I lived in Ethiopia (for instance): it would have been time for me to push in a hut without trained medical staff, without sterile medical instruments. I would have pushed and pushed and not been able to push Alex out. The local midwife, who never had any formal training, would have given up on me and allowed me to sit there writhing in pain while Alex's heartbeat rose until she had a heart attach and died in the birth canal. I would continue to lay there for days in pain with my tragedy causing an infection and go unconscious. In turn, I would develop something called a fistula because of the rotting away of my uterus. A fistula doesn't allow women to have control of their bladder or bowels due to the nerve damage from the infection. My family would barely have a nickel to spare to get me to a hospital, and I would lay there in my own urine and feces unable to walk or move. I would smell beyond awful because of this, and they would move me to a hut all by myself on the edge of town to starve and urinate all over myself until I died.
You can't tell me that you would choose choice B over choice A. This hit me right between the eyes when I read this. This could have been me; this could have been you if you experienced obstructed labor.
Thankfully, there is a fistula hospital run by an angel, Catherine Hamlin, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She and her husband moved to Addis Ababa when they experienced first hand what these women experienced on a daily basis. They gave up the Cush dream of having a comfortable practice in their home country of Australia and opened this amazing hospital to love on and care for these women. I'm not saying that every ob/gyn should move to a developing country and do this, but perhaps they can consider devoting a week or two or three of their time and donate their time and expertise to help out these women.
When a woman dies, a mother dies, and in most cases children are left behind without a mom. In developing countries, this means that a father, who works, must leave his children to fend for himself and schools are few and far between. Could you imagine leaving your toddlers, infants, and school children to fend for themselves everyday without an adult, maybe a neighbor is around, because you have to go to work or your children will literally starve.
This could be situation of TJ's mom, and how he will come to us. I don't want to just take TJ out of his country, but I want to give back. I want to do something to help these women and families to be ok. I know that no one likes being a victim. I believe in the dignity of every person, no matter where they live. We share the human experience, and that's a fact.
I'm tired of Americans only caring about their house, cars, etc. There's a whole freaking world out there that is suffering atrocities, and it could have been you. So, open your eyes, stop complaining about our things and minor dramas. Turn your attention to something worthy; you might save a life, a family, a village. The ripple effect is waiting for you to throw your stone in the water. This is my charge to you if you're not already involved in doing something about something, anything outside of the comforts of what makes your life more comfortable.
Ask yourself a few questions: Can I take my house and car with me if I died tomorrow? Are my minor dramas really worth my time and energy, especially when people are dying and suffering due to a lack of basic human rights? If I give of my time, resources, talents, or attention, will my life become more meaningful?
I think you can answer those for yourself.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Renaissance Brownies Part 2

Capulet Cupcakes and Montague Muffins don't count either. I don't care how cute they are.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Renaissance Brownies

This week my fabulous 8th grade students are presenting projects based on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." A variety of multi-genre and scene stealing performances have been galavanted through the classroom, some with pride and excitement, while others with fear and trepidation.
You can spot an unprepared project a mile away. These are the kids who hide their fear through smirky giggles; they were too cool to really get into the project (whatever). The students who know they are prepared ask a million questions because they're looking for and expecting the holy grail, the A+. These students will ask questions on every and any little ditty about the project because they are certain in their 13 year old minds that if they ask the question, that one of two things will happen:
A) The student did not do that particular requirement and will attempt to discredit you by saying it wasn't a part of the directions. You will point out that it was in the directions (because for all of you non-educators out there, kids in general do NOT read the directions, ever), which will lead to...
B) The expectation that their vigilance in at least asking will lead them to me giving them the points for that anyway because at least they cared to ask.
So funny, I love it.
This is a game, as always. Over achieving kiddos take it so seriously. The average, on target student will be a bit confused as to how to engage in the battle because they care, but they don't want to annoy you (which I appreciate). Finally, the under achiever will blow it off and act like nobody cares. It's totally a lesson in sociology and psychology.
Today, some of my braver students are bringing in food they made from recipes that were used during the Renaissance. I must say that many students did their research, explained why and how this food was presented in the Renaissance and brought in samples for all to try. Others missed the essence of the task and decided to be a rogue and see if they can pull a fast one on me; like I'm not going to question it. Here are some examples:
Treat #1 involved mini Rice Krispy treats rolled into balls rather than squares. This shaping technique was supposed to capture the authenticity of the thing. I asked about the recipe as she merrily handed a little crispy ball to each student. Low and behold, the main ingredients were: Rice Krispies, marshmallows, and butter. OMG, I didn't know Kellogg's had a factory back then. That's hot (with sarcasm).
Treat #2 involved straight up Betty Crocker brownies. Oh wait, she put Jello pudding on top, because that's how they rolled in the 16th Century. Inadvertently, I asked her, "Is this Duncan Hines?" And do you know what she said, "No, I used Betty Crocker." Oh Betty, everyone knew you were a classic, but I didn't know that you were as old as dirt. By now, I could tell that she really thought this was something Romeo and Juliet ate at the Capulet feast, and now as I see her eyes well up with tears, she's devastated. Crap. Well, that one bit me in the butt. I told her they were "Renaissance Brownies."
Treat #3 was the main course to treat #2. It was a "mushy pasta dish." The ingredients involved pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese. I couldn't keep my mouth closed, and I retorted with, "Wow, that sounds like baked ziti." Forget it, I was screwed.

All in all, it was a great day. I mean, who knew that once a week I've actually been cooking an authentic Renaissance meal of mushy pasta and Renaissance Brownies? I didn't know I was that good.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Gift for Steve

I am the worst at giving gifts. I love to give them, but I love to give things to people they probably don't want, like books. I LOVE books. But I'm a weirdo, because if you buy me a book as a gift, I'm very unlikely to read it. There's something about going to the bookstore, browsing, contemplating, choosing, purchasing, and taking it home to dive into the journey. When someone gives me a book, it takes away the pleasure of the whole first part of the ride, ergo leaving me with a strange feel about the whole thing. I'm down with a gift card! Just don't buy me a book.
But this blog is about Steve's gift. Today is our 10 year anniversary, and I wanted to get something for him that wouldn't break the bank, but would be meaningful and cool. So, I did my research on google yesterday afternoon, and THOUGHT that it said the modern 10th anniversary gift is leather. Excitedly, I pick up Alex from the bus stop, get her home to do homework, and shuffle her out to purchase Steve a leather gift; I'm on a mission. We scoot up to the Hamilton Town Center, and I enter the luggage store to pick out a leather passport book. A card gets picked out, Alex and I chow on some mac and cheese at Noodles and top it off with a scoop of Cold Stone Creamery. What a night!
This morning I woke Steve up at the God-awful hour I leave in the morning, and give him his gift: a leather passport book. I explain that this book is symbolic of our journey. We dreamed of going many places when we married, and although we haven't traipsed through the streets of Paris, eaten gelato in Italy, or lay on the beaches of Costa Rica, we have visited many emotional places together.
We have traveled through job loss, birth, moves, infertility, adoption, miscommunication, depression, joy, laughter, friendship, uncertainty, grace, and most importantly, love. I will take those journeys any day over the wonders of the world, as long as he's by my side.
Although we are taking a huge trip this year to Ethiopia to bring home our son, I know the next ten years will be filled with the possibility of all of the above and perhaps more. I'm certain that we will fill up that passport book with trips to many destinations.
I love you, Steve. Happy Anniversary.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I don't wear a lot of make up. I apply just enough to allow me to look somewhat human and not the haggard monster I truly am when I wake up. A little foundation, powder, blush, lip gloss, and finally, mascara.
Faithfully, I purchase waterproof mascara hoping that by the end of the day I don't look like a racoon. It usually works unless I have a crazy allergy attack, and my eyes overflow like Niagra Falls. It's happened.
This morning, like every other morning, I applied my make up, went downstairs to make sure my kiddo had everything ready for school, and scooted into my mini van. The funniest freaking joke came on the radio about how kids are scared to go to bed because we pray the most frightening prayer known to man with them..."Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take..." Well, it was delivered with such sinister gumption, that I must have squeezed my eyes shut while laughing by butt off. Little did I know that my mascara wasn't dry. Bull crap, right? I had it on for at least ten minutes at that point.
Randomly, I pulled down the driver side mirror to do a once over as I'm driving to school and to my surprise, I see black polka dots like a henna tattoo underneath both of my eyes. Are you kidding me? Well, I'm already half way to school and running a little late, as usual. I couldn't turn around.
In a panic, I reach for the closest thing that could possibly erase this atrocity from underneath my eyes (not one eye, but both of them, by the way)...chapstick. So, here I am on Olio Road applying chapstick to my eyes, frantically attempting to wipe away the smudge that I was creating with my mess. Now I'm in full freak out mode as I get to the traffic light before school because I literally look like I've been drinking or playing football all night. I took one last glide with the chapstick and low and behold it finally came off.
My eyes are fully moisturized and SPFed this morning. If you notice a bit of a glow around my eyes, please don't ask me my beauty secret. Have a great day.
Love, me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Ode" to 10 years of Marriage

On March 10th, 2000, Steve and I were married in Florida in front of wonderful friends and family. Today, I just want to share some memories of our relationship!
1. Our first date was a double date w/ close friends, Jim and Shantel, to Universal Studios down in Florida. I was so nervous, but we were having a fantastic time. He was as goofy as me, so we laughed a lot. We proceeded to go on the Back to the Future ride, which was my demise. I ended up puking after the ride, but after hurling my Mexican Food, Steve said to me, "you're so beautiful." I don't care if there was a string of vomit still hanging from my mouth and sweat pouring down my cheek, it was delivered with such genuineness and kindness, how could he not be the one?
2. We bonded over an obscure band called The Sundays and their incredible song, "Wild Horses."
3. He cried with me when I told him some of my hardest memories and experiences and held my hand through that whole difficult time.
4. His proposal incorporated great friends, Flashdance (my favorite movie of all time), and a movie theater.
5. Upon the news that we were indeed pregnant at the ob/gyn's office, Steve took a lap around the outside of the doctor's office. Ha ha! (Alex was unplanned but SO meant to be!)
6. Purchasing our first home was extremely memorable. Growing up, I never lived in a home that we owned. We didn't have much and didn't have the money to purchase a home. It was a big deal for us.
7. While we were dating, Steve and I decided to spend the holidays with one another's families. I took my first trip to Indianapolis, and he took his first to New York. We spent a few days in the city in a friend's loft apartment, saw Rent, watched the ball drop, visited many record/music stores, walked around the village while freezing our butts off, and just had an awesome time. Steve always recalls that's when he knew he loved me.
8. Charleston, South Carolina. I love this place. We packed up with a bunch of our married friends while we were the sole dating couple in the pack. Ergo, we got the blow up mattress in the middle of the living room, but we didn't care. I discovered that Steve was the crappiest sleeper on earth during this trip. I awoke in the middle of a random night to find him standing over me with a pillow. In shock and awe, I froze, and he proceeded to settle himself into a more comfortable sleeping position. Needless to say, Steve doesn't remember this. This was also the trip where Steve asked me in the Wendy's parking lot to "go steady." How hot is that?
9. Bringing our dog Charlie home was totally random. We stopped at Target on the way to church to pick up Mother's Day cards. Next to Target was Pet Smart and they had the irresistible crate o' puppies out in the front. Of course we stopped. Charlie was the only sleeping dog in the bunch, and she had the cutest white spot on her nose. I knew she was mine. I wouldn't put her down and asked Steve, "Can we do this?" Well, we've done it for almost 9 years. She's our first baby. I love this freaking dog.
10. Moving to Indianapolis was a huge event for us. This required moving in with my in laws for a year while our home was being built. Finding a school for Alex, new jobs, new friends, new church, new everything. I still feel like we're finding ourselves in Indiana, but it's not boring, I'll tell ya that!
11. We're bringing home TJ. We are now in the process of adopting our son from Ethiopia, and it has been a huge decision and process for us. We're currently on the waitlist and hope to travel some time within the year. We love this little guy so much, and we haven't even gotten his referral yet. Just as Alex was meant to be so is TJ. God had this planned all along.

Thank You, Jesus, for this incredible man and life.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The ups and downs of building a home

I am blessed. Steve and I had our home built almost two years ago. The home is more than we need with the great kitchen countertops and cabinets. Obviously,we picked them out ourselves. Here are the ups and downs we've had with our home since moving in.
We wanted to pick out our own light fixtures because we didn't like the choices the builder gave us. Almost two years later, we still haven't picked out fixtures for the kitchen or dining room. Needless to say, you can't eat in the dining room after 5 pm because you can't see anything. Candle light is only "romantic" the first or second time you try it. It suddenly grows old after that. Solution: We should have just picked out freaking light fixtures through the builder because you're just going to end up paying for them one way or the other, and you might as well have some light and then sell them later if you want to change them out. I'm learning this the hard way.
After your one year walk through, the carpenters come through and find almost all of the nail pops in the dry wall and proceed to fix them. Steve and I spent a lot of money to have the house painted before we moved in. Well, now my walls are polka dotted with white spots. Apparently they do a two year walk through and do the same thing again. We are now in the decision process of do we paint the walls again or just wait. I'm dying to hear your opinions on this; do weigh in!
When you move into a newer neighborhood, everyone is doing something to get their homes lived in. My husband LOVES this and is fascinated with the newest and latest projects that are occurring. For us, most of these projects require MONEY that we don't have at the moment, which means putting it on credit. I'm not a fan of that. Unless it's an emergency, you don't use credit. Why do you think our country is in the economic mess that it's in now? Answer: Because everyone is trying to keep up with the Jones' in our materialistic society. In other words, all of the projects we have on our "to do" list will have to wait until we save our money to accomplish them. It is what it is.
Like I said, I love my countertops! They are perfect.
The flooring is great. The carpet and tile turned out better than I expected.
I have more room than I need; Steve even has his own office which is handy for his record label that he runs out of our home, although the house is often set up like a pack and ship; everything just explodes all over the downstairs.

Take it as it comes. This is a huge learning process for us. Every day is a journey. In the meantime, if you don't mind polka dotted walls, come on over and eat in the dark with us!

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's Friday...

I do realize that most people get off of work on Fridays, and they're ready to break loose. I am definitely NOT one of those people. My normal bedtime is 8-8:30 pm; I've always been a sleeper, and that hasn't changed. On Fridays, I will go to bed at 7-7:30 if I can get away with it. You can call me a loser, but frankly, I don't care.
For any non-educator out there, it's so important to know the amount of energy teachers put into a day. We don't have time to pee let alone make a phone call. Teachers go hard or go home. You don't make it at a teacher's lunch if you can't get in at least three gut-wrenching jokes at the lunch table while shoveling a styrofoam cup of mashed potatoes with mystery meat, then make a stop at the principal's candy bowl on the way to your mailbox, have a quick chat with a colleague about a kiddo, walk across the building, and respond to an email all in 10 minutes. It's an art. You either love it or hate it. Thankfully, I love it, and that's just lunch.
So, with that I'm going home to hug my daughter and catch up with my husband, eat a bowl of cereal, and pass out on the couch. See you tomorrow.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lazy Eye

My daughter is fascinated with the story of my lazy eye. At its first telling, she imagined an eye that floated out of my head and was aghast and impressed all at once. She wanted to see me "do it," like a train wreck you couldn't keep your eyes off of. This led to the story of my first operation known as "my eye operation."
Growing up in a single family home, patience was scarce. I grew up with two straight forward phrases, "don't push it, " and "Kathy, fix your eye." At every prompt, I stationed my right hand two feet from my face and proceeded to hold one finger up and slowly but surely move it closer to my face until my eyes crossed. The exercise continued as I then moved two, then three, then four, and finally my whole hand to my face, which trained my eye muscles in some weird way, forcing my eyes to cross each and every time. Do me a favor; stop, and try this exercise. It takes approximately thirty seconds. Now, stand in front of a mirror and do it and see how you look. That's all I'm going to say about that.
My mom decided it was time to do the surgery to correct my eye; I was six and in first grade. I knew it was kind of a big deal because my dad flew in from California and Mrs. Gerstner, my teacher, read a book to the class about a kid going to the hospital to have surgery (that's when you know people are paying attention), but what do I remember most about this experience? The flourescent green and yellow Nikes I acquired from the deal.
"Don't push it, " usually followed countless harassing from my brother and I to have the latest and greatest toy or clothing item. Billy and I wore dull blue velcro Kangaroos that year. I had my eye on something else that I knew would seem ridiculous in mom's eyes: Danielle's Nikes. She trotted every day into class with utter confidence with these shoes on her innocent feet, and I eyed the glorious lace ups with envy.
My opportune moment came the day when I had to go to the hospital to have blood work done before the operation. What six year old isn't afraid of needles? I did not disappoint. Hot, salty tears streamed down my cheeks, slimy snot from my nose. We neared the hospital.
"Listen, it won't be so bad. Just a little pinch."
I could smell the brand new shoe box; the crinkly of the tissue paper. More tears. More snot.
"Ok, here's the deal: If you promise not to cry during your shot, I will buy you a special present; your choice."
That poor woman. She didn't even see it coming. Would it be a Woopsy Doll? No. Perhaps a Care Bear? Certainly not. Maybe a tutu. You couldn't even pay me.
"Good job, honey. You did it! No tears! So, what will it be? Do you want to go to Toys R Us? TSS?"
"No, mom. I want to go to the shoe store."
"The what?"
"The shoe store. I want some new sneakers."
"Ok," she replied tentatively with a hint of intrigue; she always up for an adventure.
Forty-five minutes later...
"Katherine Elaine, these are the ugliest shoes I've ever seen!"
"No, mommy. I love these shoes. I think they're cool. I'll wear them every day."
With laughter and trepidation, my mother agreed to purchase my neon Nikes. When I think about my daughter and the lazy eye, I laugh to myself, because my fondest memory was purchasing and wearing those crazy shoes.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Half the Sky

I began reading Half the Sky last night by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I heard about this book on Oprah and was totally intrigued. Finally, I got around to getting a copy and immediately dug in. I must tell you that even though I only read the introduction and chapter one, I found myself literally crying. What is happening to women around the work is an atrocity. The awareness of it all leaves be dumbfounded, sad, and ready to do something.
The next unit I facilitate in my classroom is entitled, "Awareness 2 Action." It's these types of injustices that inspire me to reach to my students and incite them to use their power and energy to make a difference. My experience has shown me that kids can do amazing things and have a powerful voice. It will be interesting to see where they take their social activism projects.
Tomorrow, March 4th, I'm going to see documentary on Half the Sky. I hope some of you consider doing so as well.
Here's a link to the preview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUq6HsWKETA

Monday, March 1, 2010


I am the definition of contradiction. Let me just name a few:
1. I'm a public school teacher who sends her child to private school.
Steve (my husband) and I met in Orlando, Florida, and I'm not trying to be a hater here, but the school system in Florida is not in the top half of the country; that's just a fact. Living in Florida, we realized that most people who live there are not from there. Ergo, it's very transient, and this naturally carries over to the public school system. If you want me to be totally frank, I think some of the best teachers I have known teach in Florida; they literally know how to work miracles in kids' lives who come and go like sand in an hour glass. When our daughter came along, we grew very comfortable with the fact that we would most likely send her to private school. Also, we're Christians, and we thought it would be awesome for her to get some extra Jesus in there, if you know what I mean; win-win. We moved to Indianapolis a few years ago and just continued on that path that we had planned for her down in Florida. We're taking all of this year by year.
2. I'm a public school teacher who chooses to teach public school.
I was offered the opportunity to teach in the school my daughter attends, and I turned it down in order to teach in the public system. I couldn't imagine being anywhere else. I'm crazy; I love all kinds of kids and literature. I'm especially enamored with young adult literature and progressive philosophies of education. I didn't grow up with a whole lot rules, and I know what it's like to not live in a safe world. I guess I bond with those kids who don't have a lot, worry about it, and are working their way through it. I don't think I'm gonna find those kids or methods in private school. Those kids don't fit into an expensive pair of jeans, cardigan sweater, and combed hair, nor should we educate them in such a way. Just a thought.
3. I love going to church, but I don't feel like I "fit in."
I just haven't found my place yet. I didn't grow up as a Christian and became a believer after college, so I don't feel totally comfortable with the inner workings of the social sphere of church. Going to a new small group reminds of an awkward Brownies meeting; I know this sounds horrible. I'm a very open person; what you see is what you get. I want to be able to trust people with the most sacred thing in my life, my faith. I don't always feel like that's ok. I don't have it all right, but that's a part of the journey, right? I loved my small group down in Florida, but honestly, I got to know those crazy ladies outside of church first, and boy, did those ladies hold me to Jesus! Perhaps that's the key; get into a small group w/ people who know me outside of church more than in church. I'll let you know how this goes. To be continued...
4. I am originally from New York and now live in the midwest.
In a big way, baby! I don't think anyone who grew up with me would think this would happen. I used to take the Long Island Railroad into the city by myself as a teenager. I still have a hint of a New York accent; especially when I'm mad (ask my husband). But I've got to say, I like the prairie. It's pretty. I do miss the ocean, big buildings, and subways, but this is pretty nice, and life could be a whole lot worse. I'm grateful.
5. P.S. I love Jesus.
I've already said this, but those who grew up with me are probably scratching their heads. My mom took us to church once a year, if we were lucky. My brother and I grew up in a liberal home with not a lot of rules or regulations. After college and after a lot of fruitless searches for the meaning of life, I found Jesus. He is my compass, my guide, and I am blessed beyond words because of Him. It is what it is.