A blizzard?? Oh yes, please!

Someone has read my blog and heard my cries!!

Just over a week ago, I wrote about how I was dying for a snow day. Too bad that never happens in Chicago... or does it??

Ok now, I don't wanna jump the gun here and get all excited about something that might never happen, but... just look at this weather forecast: They're calling for a blizzard!

Yes! Yes! Yes!!

Oh please I hope so! Oh please I hope so!

I'll keep you all posted as this big news develops. Cross your fingers. And your toes. This could be awesome.

A letter to every store on the West Side of Chicago

I have recently had terrible horrible no good very bad experiences with employees at various establishments through out the suburbs of Chicago.

Just yesterday I experienced all of the following:
1) Rude employees who continued talking to each other rather than ask me if I needed something while I stood at the counter directly in front of them clearly ready with a question.
2) Rude employees who pushed and pushed their business on me with no regard to what I was looking for or wanted
3) Rude employees who simply looked at me and gave me a one word answer to a complex question.

And so, I'm taking matters into my own hands. I'm writing a letter.

Dear Customer Service Representatives and Sales Associates of greater Chicagoland (particularly you, western suburbs),

My name is Emily. I frequent your establishment. And by frequent, I truly mean frequent. I enjoy shopping. I do all the shopping for my small family of two. But don't let our numbers deceive you. What I lack in family members, I more than make up for in the sheer number of trips to your fine store. I adore what you have to offer me, whether that be hooks to hang my bags in my newly organized closet or a new bag to hang on that new hook in my newly organized closet. I'm very much a "If you give a mouse a cookie..." kind of shopper.

You may not know me, but you probably should. I shop and I scout out good deals. And then I tell my friends. And my extended family. And maybe even my blog. Then they tell their friends. And pretty soon, the entire country is shopping in your store, saying, "What's up fine establishment? Emily sent me." 

Which brings me to my point. Even if you don't know me, I still deserve to be treated with respect and greeted with a smile, no matter how fake that smile might be. You should be glad to see me walk into your store because without little old me and millions of other little old mes, you would be out of a job. And in this fine economy, is that really something you want to risk?

You see, I'm a teacher. And allow me to tell you something about teachers: we're all the greatest actors you never knew you'd seen. I teach English. You think I'm really that excited about the difference between the past and present prefect? Because I'm not. Or how about how to use they're, their and there correctly? Because I saw your facebook and you didn't use them correctly. Am I excited about them? Mmmnope. But do you think I'm excited about them? You sure do. Because I sell it to you. I could come in the classroom with the weight of the world on my shoulders and you would never know because I would never show it. Heck, I've taught a class having just wiped tears from my eyes and you didn't even notice because when you walk in, I throw on a smile, I ask about your day and I start in on the lesson with just as much enthusiasm as I would have if I were out buying a new pair of shoes. I love teaching, yes, but I do not love every lesson or even every student, if we're being totally honest. But you, my student, would never know. Because I'm good.

So take a moment, employees of fine establishments throughout the Chicago suburbs, and think about your favorite teacher. You loved her because she was so fun and cared so much about you? Guess what? She wasn't having fun and she didn't like you because you picked on other kids and made her job more difficult. But she would never tell you that. And you would never know (well, until now). 

Make me feel like your favorite teacher made you feel. Like me or absolutely loathe me, it is actually your job to treat me as a decent human being just like your teacher treated you, you snot-nosed, hair-pulling little twit. And shoot, I'll even make it easy on you. I'll be pleasant. I'll probably even ask you how you're doing before you ask me. And I'll do it with a smile.

And then I'll tell everyone how wonderful you were and how they should shop there. 

And you'll continue receiving a paycheck in this terrible economy.

Love and respect,
Emily (and all your teachers who never told you how awful you were but told me to tell you)

My classroom reminder that life is simply good.

When I started writing this blog, I had a few goals in mind. One of which was that I just wanted to be writing. But more than that, I wanted to throw out into my little piece of the world a bit of optimism or hope or something good to remind myself and whoever graciously reads this that life actually is good. When it's hard or not what I expected or heart-breakingly sad, I want to remember that there were and are times that are, simply, good. Perhaps not so profound, but good, nonetheless. If you're looking.
Just trying to send a little warm fuzzy out into the blog abyss.

In light of that, I offer you this for your consideration:

One time I was eighteen. I went to college. I decided to study elementary education and Spanish. I studied some. I learned some. Then I graduated. After that, I did what all grads do when their loan repayment kicks in: I volunteered and deferred my loans. And then, eventually, I got a job. 

And actually, I still have that same job. And more actually, I love that job.

Lucky, right?

How many 26 year olds really love their job? Not too many. And I do consider myself lucky. For a few reasons (you know I love my lists):
1. I have seriously awesome co-workers, one of which is like my midwest Mom. She's been ridiculously supportive and has let me cry like 6  or 7 times this week. She constantly reassures me that I am a decent teacher despite lesson failures and misunderstandings and frankly, just some bad ideas.
2. My boss has her priorities straight. She puts family ahead of anything else and is completely understanding when things inevitably happen. She puts me at ease and reminds me that family is most important. 
3. My students... well, not all my students, but the vast majority of my students are superb.

Superb. Seriously. My students (again, the vast majority) are immigrants from Mexico. Some came recently. Some have been here for a long time. But all of them honestly want to learn English. They each have their own reasons, including but not limited to wanting to: talk to the doctor without a translator, help their children with their homework, integrate themselves into society and be able to communicate with co-workers. Noble reasons, right? 

But, surprise! English isn't easy! It's difficult. And some students do give up. (Can you blame them? How many of us quit Spanish or French before mastering the language? Uhhh...like 93%??). But lots of students don't. In fact, we've had some students who have followed our classes from one location to another, from one schedule to another and from one teacher to another. Many of my relationships with students have lasted longer than most celebrity marriages.

Indulge me, if you will, and let me tell you about one such student. Let's call her Maria, most common Mexican name ever, for anonymity's sake. Maria has been in our program longer than I have. She's among our most committed students. 

She's also 78 years old. Since September, she has missed two weeks of classes. Seems like a lot? She fell down the stairs and hurt her shoulder and was out until she was able to dress herself again. Then she was right back in classes and hasn't missed a class since. This woman is serious inspiration to the rest of my class. The other students have taken it upon themselves to look after her. They walk her to and from school even though she lives the farthest away. She's brought a real sense of community to the class.

But more than that, Maria brings unbelievable humor. 

The other day, we learned how to express daily routines. You know, the things we do every day. I wake up. I take a shower. I get dressed, etc etc etc.

I explain to my students the conjugation of "to take a shower":
I take a shower.
You take a shower.
He/she/it takes a shower.
We take showers.
You takes showers.
They take showers.

And I further explained that when the subject becomes plural, so too do the showers. And foolishly I commented, "You probably don't want to say 'We take a shower' because it sounds like you're taking a shower with someone." I know, I left myself wide open...

Maria, my 78 year old student, promptly replied, "And? What's wrong? You know, when my husband was alive, we had to take showers together. We had one bathroom. What could we do if we were in a hurry?"

Cue the crickets. Immediately followed by huge bursts of laughter. And blushing (mostly on my part). See, when you're 78, you can say whatever you want. And she sure does. And, really, I don't mind.

Maria takes classes because she wants to communicate with her son-in-law. He doesn't speak a word of Spanish and, from what I gather, has zero interest in learning. She says he tells her that he can't understand her. So she has been coming to class three days a week for five years. 

And she's made progress. On our test, she now consistently scores an eight out of ten (the highest score I've seen). Though she has an accent and misses words here and there, she is not difficult to understand. Her son-in-law, unfortunately, continues to tell her he can't understand a word of what she says.

So she keeps coming. Eight blocks in the Chicago winter. In hopes of some day communicating with a son-in-law too ignorant and stubborn to try to understand her.

But I'm not complaining about her returning each year. I adore her.

How Hoarders has shaken my soul.

So, come here often?

I'd like to take a moment to apologize to anyone who thought my three day absence meant a relapse into my old neglectful self. It didn't. What did it mean then?

It meant Adrian and I have been thoroughly scared. Like really, really scared. Like shiver in my faux cowboys boots scared.

So what's gotten us so shaken up?

This my friends. This:
Don't know where your husband went? Check behind those stacks and stacks of papers you just can't throw out.

We've been watching some episodes, courtesy of Netflix (which reminds me of why I didn't have a tv for a few years...too many Office, Toddlers and Tiaras and 48 Hours marathons in this house...). This tv show is wild. People who have just saved and saved and collected and collected until there's literally no more space in the house for anything. And it's just so sad.

Like any great reality tv show worth it's weight in popcorn, this show has led me to a few soul-searching questions:
1. Do I own too many bags, shoes, socks, everything? Umm yes, yes I do. 
2. And do I love to shop? Like it's my job. (Shopping with other people's money is even better than shopping with my own. So holllller if you need something. I will gladly pick it up for you and probably for cheaper than you would have found it. I'm good. Tips welcome!)
3. Is my apartment too small for so many things? Sure is.

So am I a hoarder? Actually no. 

I have no problem throwing away or donating pretty much anything. My husband's sister likes to joke that if Adrian stands around too long, he might find himself in the trash, too. But I like him.

So where has Hoarders brought me? On a journey of apartment discovery. Adrian and I have purged and cleaned and organized and donated until our little hearts just can't go any longer and we must  stop for a quick episode of 48 Hours which, consequently, has given us both nightmares. Eek! But that is neither here nor there.

We have spent the past couple weeks and especially this week reorganizing the apartment because if we're really honest we'd tell you the following: we rent, we like oceans and we won't be in the good ole Midwest forever. So we've come to the conclusion that we just shouldn't have this much stuff tying us down to a place we don't plan to live in for all of eternity. 

I bid you adieu pink bag with the cute paisley scarf. Goodbye free pillows Value City Furniture tossed in when they didn't have our couch ready on time. Peace out millions of mismatching towels. Though I'm sad to see you all go, I'm not sad at what you've left behind: 

breathing space. 

Wait, did you smell something just then? 

That's the scent of a new bag coming home. 


Adrian would kill me.

(P.S. My good friend Emily recently watched Hoarders immediately followed by Toy Story 3. Talk about a battle for your soul!)

Coming soon...English with Adrian

When I was younger (read: in high school...and yesterday), I had about zero interest in being friends with someone with no sense of humor. Probably has something to do with that funny family I was raised in. (Don't know them? Read about my mom here). 

Should be no surprise then that my husband is split-your-gut funny. 

I'd tell you a story or two but I'm only 98.4% convinced that his brand of humor will translate over well html-style.

So I've invited my husband to join as a vlogger (video blog, eh?). 

"Omg, Emily, a vlog??  I'm just so excited to hear what your husband has to say! Annnd I can't wait to hear that insanely cute accent."
I know, right?!

My husband does have a cute accent which can only mean he hails from that one place where all cute accents come to life. Mexico. (For further proof, please go to your local YMCA fitness center and look for my grandfather. He's that 87 year old man speeding by you in the pool. When you find him, ask him to say anything. You will fall in love, guaranteed. Don't tell your spouse I didn't warn ya).

Anyways, what's this vlog gonna entail? 

My husband seems to think that my job as an English as a Second Language teacher is not all that tough. In fact, he goes so far as to say that he himself could teach English, which brings us to his vlog. Adrian will be educating all of you on the nuances of the English language, including but far from limited to the following lessons: perfecting your British accent, idioms such as "drop it like it's hot," and the correct pronunciation of "Dunkin' Donuts". 

(Side note: It honestly took me a few minutes to remember the word idiom. I kept thinking modismo. Nothing says you spent the morning making phone calls in Spanish quite like not being able to remember your native language, which is to say Adrian- 2, Emily- 0).

(Side note's side note: There was a time when I told Adrian to toss the trash into that big trash can thing. He pounced all over that like Simba on Zazu in the first Lion King. "You mean that d u m p s t e r?",  all slow like I don't speak English. Hence the Adrian- 2, Emily- 0).

My husband dominates the English language as demonstrated above.

So brace yourselves. "English with Adrian" comes like a thief in the night, ready to oust me from my teaching position.

In honor of my mum, on her birthday...

Today is my mom's birthday! 
Isn't she seriously cute??
Many of you probably already know Lydiebell. For those of you who don't, let me tell you a little bit about her. 

I think upon first meeting my mom, people usually thinks she's a little shy and quiet. Lyd's crafty because, really, she's not shy or quiet at all. She's a rowdy one. In fact, back in the 80s, she and my dad used to throw beach parties in our basement in the middle of winter. My sister and I were never able to attend and with good reason! I've seen the pictures. These parties were seriously wild. We now have photographic evidence that my mom did indeed dance on couches while her friends ran around in bathingsuits and coconut bras. Shy and quiet? Doubt it.

My mom is also wicked funny. Again, I must make reference to my sister's facebook status from just a few days ago. It reads: 
"Erin: I don't want to go to work today! Mom: Why? Do you want to get back into recruiting? Erin: No, I want to get back into my bed! Mom: Well unless you're a hooker, there's not much money in that."
Lyd is witty! I defy you not to laugh at that.

Furthermore, Lyd has a taste for the finer things in life. I present to you a list of Lyd's loves:

1. Jersey Shore. But only seasons one and two. She says season three is getting too scandalous. But seasons one and two were tasteful?? She often makes references to GTL and t-shirt time.
Lyd appreciates class.

2. Superbad. She says Mclovin is "sooo funny." Here's a true story for ya: I actually watched Superbad with some friends thinking it would be funny because my mom had indeed recommended it to me. As we watching, and consequently horrified, I called my mom to report how absolutely terrible the movie was. She replied, "I can't talk right now. I'm watching Balls of Fury with your grandparents!" Honestly.
Lyd thinks you're pretty funny, Mclovin.

3. Pudding. She really loves it. She mostly eats it at night, after dinner, while watching quality television. And she'll sit there and scrape the bottom of the cup. Ask my sister. It makes her crazy.
Clearly, whoever drew this must know my mom.

4. Toast. Ask my mom what she's had for breakfast or lunch or dinner or, really, anytime she's hungry. If it's not pudding, it's toast. Hungry? Don't ask my mom what you should eat cause she'll always say, "Well, you could make some toast!"

Typical conversation with Lyd:
"Oh hey mom, wanna go out to dinner?"
"No thanks. I just ate. I'm full."
"What'd you eat?"
"A piece of toast with peanut butter."
"Wow, Lyd, you must be stuffed."

Toast, Lyd's manna from heaven.

And now for a list of things Lyd does not like:

1. Will Ferrell. I know, this is really surprising given the list of finer things Lyd does enjoy. But the truth is she can't stand Will Ferrell. I personally think he's hilarious but Lyd says he's dumb. Any movie we watch that he's in, Lyd is sure to say, "Why is he always running around in his underwear??"
Will, you might think your nudity is funny, but Lyd thinks it's gross.

2. Your ideas. So go ahead, think of an idea. She doesn't like it. But give her a couple minutes. She will.

3. Fighting child. One time when my brother and sister and I were little, we spent like a whole day fighting. Lyd warned us to stop fighting or she wouldn't take us to the circus. We ignored her and continued fighting and guess what? We didn't go to the circus. It's been about twenty years now and we still talk about that. Let that one be a lesson to you. Lyd's tough. If she says no circus, she means it.
 Lyd told this kid no circus, too.

4. My dad. Hah. Just kidding, Paul. I used to always tell my dad that when I grew up Lyd and I were gonna kick him out and live by ourselves so I could have my mom all to myself. But for some reason, that just hasn't panned out. Guess she must like you, Paul.

I know what you're thinking. My mom is adorable as well as an excellent resource on American pop culture! You can be jealous. I know not all moms cause be as cute, witty, and fun as mine. So next time I'm home in Maine, come on over. I won't be offended if you really came just to see Lyd. I'd do the same.

So happy birthday mom! I hope it's full of t-shirt time, Mclovin, pudding and toast. And void of streakers and fighting children.

Oh and bt-dub, Lyd likes your idea now.

Hey Chicago, how bout a snow day??

Snow days. The stuff dreams are made of, when you live in Maine or, heck, anywhere in New England. 

You wake up. 
You jump out of bed. 
You tune into Storm Center
You're pleasantly greeted with newscasters in sweaters and that glorious Storm Center jingle that tells you there's hope.(True story I tried to find the Storm Center theme song online and for some ungodly reason it's not there. Someone please make this happen.)

And then the heavens open.

You see your school's name flash across the bottom of the screen and suddenly the world is your oyster. School's cancelled! Do a little dance. Go back to bed. Eat some oatmeal. Throw some snowballs at your brother. It's a snow day! Do whatever you want!

Ahh, just typing about it makes me wanna happy tap.

Thought you had a test today? Nope. You don't.
Really need some extra sleep? Go for it!
Feel like staying in your pjs all day without the guilt? Please, by all means.
Wanna build a snow fort til your toes are freezing only so you can go back inside to get that "hey my toes are thawing out!" feeling?? Well then, freeze and thaw away, my friend.

All of the above sound appealing?

Then stay in New England and never move to Chicago.

"But Emily, Chicago is such a cool city. There's deep-dish pizza, the Cubs, Lake Michigan and people who say pop. Why wouldn't I want to move there??"
(I can't lie. I do love me some Lou's.)

Because Chicago steals your soul with its incredibly bitter cold. It's seriously cold here. Seriously cold. So I figure, if I'm going to live in a place this freakin' cold, at least I get a few snow days, right? I might not play much in the snow anymore but I sure do love those moments when you realize the day is empty and you can do absolutely anything, even if it's just watching the snow fall from the comfort of your very warm couch.

You want a few snow days, eh? Not here. We rarely get enough snow to warrant a snow day. So cold and so little snow. What kind of a terrible h-e-double-hockey-sticks is this?? I mean, does that even make sense? In my experience, cold = snow. So where did we go wrong, Chicago? We haven't even had the threat of serious snow like all this winter. And its January. I should have had at least three to four high-quality snow days by now.

My sister recently moved back to Maine. Her facebook status today? "Snow day and lunch with my dad? Don't mind if I do!!! Lol." And that's like the fourth one this week.

So come on, Chicago. Pull yourself together. And if you're not throwing around snow days cause you just don't know how it's done, let this guy show you how:
Joe Cupo knows snow.

Chicago, I'm in need of a little snow.

American Pickers + The Hills= A moment from the pop culture gods. Oh, and an engagement.

Follower update: my sister has now joined the ranks. Her reasoning? She wants to make sure that I'm not writing anything bad about her. I'd say two followers (who may or may not be family) equals success, right? I'm bound for the blogging big leagues.

Anyways. It's Wednesday. Wednesday is Adrian's day off! So where can you find us?
In a trendy club downtown?

on the couch watching American Pickers?

You sure guessed it! You peeping toms can find us on the couch watching American Pickers. (Thanks Netflix!) American Pickers is just so good. And before today, I couldn't even tell you why. And then it happened. Today I witnessed a moment orchestrated by the gods of American pop culture themselves: a miraculous cross-breeding of two of my very favorite reality shows. 

And here's how it went down (Note: these are not direct quotes because my "watch the whole first season" mission has been compromised! Adrian's moved on to Man vs. Food and I can't go back to get the quotes. But here's the gist):

As Mike and Frank drive down the road on their search for the next hidden/dirty/rusty/yet expensive treasure, Mike says to Frank:
"So I watched The Hills last night and Lauren's not even on it anymore!"
To which Frank so naively replies: "Who is Lauren?"
Mike, shocked and appalled, explains: "Lauren from the Hills! She stole the heart of America. I'll invite you over next time it's on."
Lauren Conrad, a man who picks trash says you've stolen America's heart. That's how you know it's gotta be true.

Ummm yes. This truly was a moment sent to me by the pop culture gods. I mean really, who would have ever thought there would be a discussion of The Hills on American Pickers?? No science could explain this. It's purely a miracle.
So the lesson in this? Get Netflix. Check out season one. Then when you're done, hop on down to The Hills and educate yourself on young hollywood. Oh and when you do, please disregard the series finale. I don't care what you say, MTV and Brody Jenner, The Hills is real. Seriously.

Ok before I leave you, I've got one more tidbit of pop culture news.  Brace yourself because the subject of this hot Hollywood gossip will send you reeling back to the days of pop culture yore.

Remember sweet, adorable Stephanie Tanner? (How rude!)
She's engaged! And not to either of those little boys she used to always hang out with. 

And fyi, she's in no hurry to get married (again.) But why, Jodie, why? "We want to wait until there's equality for everybody to get married." I always knew Stephanie Tanner was a humanitarian.

So congrats, Stephanie Tanner.  And thanks cnn for letting me know.

All-in-all, a day for the pop culture history books.

H & M Homewares= Home-y goodness.

Well blogging world, it seems like you've remembered the good times we've had and you're willing to give me another chance. You'll never regret it, I promise.

So before we kick off this first official "Oh Hello, Love" post, let's take a moment to acknowledge my very first follower. This particular follower has been a faithful reader and a source of great moral support through this whole transition to my new blog. She's also a great mom. And she happens to be my mom. Am I ashamed that my first follower is my mom?? Was I ashamed in elementary school when my mom was my softball coach because, let's face it, otherwise I probably never would have played?? Absolutely not. So thanks, Mom, for always being my one and only fan. Hah. Seriously though. When I become rich and famous, I'll put you in a great nursing home. Jk. Erin will take good care of you.

I'd get this tattoo, but let's be honest, I'm deathly afraid of needles.

So anyways, let's talk about what brought you here in the first place, H&M home-y goodness.
Before I say anything, let me just show you:

H&M, your style is so sweet and your prices, even sweeter.

Awesome, right? I'm loving all of it. "Oh my gosh!! I love all those things too! Where can I buy these inexpensive treasures?" Great question. Glad you asked. Cause you can't buy them. Yep, you read that right. You can't buy them, atleast not in the US. Boo, H&M. How you tease me! Your prices are so good I'd consider leaving my long-time love, Target. But alas, it's just not meant to be... unless I can find someone in Europe to buy them and ship them to me. But then I'd be broke.

This is where you all come in. I know you love these things just as much as I do. So call up H&M and tell them enough is enough. No more teases. We want housewares too! In fact, we demand them!

Aw well. I guess I'll just have to settle for whatever Target's got on clearance. Or hope I hit it big with this blog and I can afford something else. Ahh the perils of working for a non-profit.

But don't forget, call them. Demand your housewares.

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