Blueberries and bad news.

Friends, today has been a tough day. It started out well enough. Adrian made us french toast with blueberries for breakfast.

And then I dropped him at work and I went to tutoring. And I actually almost felt like I am a decent teacher.

Then I got stuck in traffic. And it was so hot out.

And when I got home, I just wanted to eat dinner outside. But the landlord had the sprinkler going full "no you may not eat outside" force.

And then we got some bad news.

You know when you get bad news it just doesn't matter anymore that you had the most perfect breakfast or that you might have taught someone something. All that matters is that little cloud of bad news and how it follows you wherever you might dream to go.

And then it started hailing. Literally. And I don't mean literally like when people say "And then I died inside. Literally." cause that's just not true. I mean literally as in it really honestly started hailing. As in big pieces of ice being thrown down in the middle of summer. Not just metaphorical ice. Scare the bejeeeeezus out of you, get inside kind of hail. Literally.

Sorry for the daily dose of unhappy. Will a daily dose of honest do? I knew I could share with you.

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The Monday Uplift.

Just in case you feel a little bummed that Monday is happening, I thought I'd throw you the Monday Uplift, something sure to make you feel like the world is your oyster.

So enjoy this snippet from Glee.

And if you don't dance after that, well, you're no friend of mine.

Happy Monday. Get out there, drive around with the windows down and safety dance.

P.S. This song always makes me think of my old buddy Tara J. Added bonus. (Hi Tara!)

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Good news. Bad news.

Remember how yesterday I was covered in paint? I still am.

I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first? (Note: I always take the bad news first. I like to leave things on a high note.) So I'll give you the bad first then: The patio set isn't done. But I'm working, promise.

Good news?? The hutch is done! Celebrate.

So here you have it, my friends. My first repaint. 

This is what she looked like before:
Please note the stained wood bottom and the dark brown painted top. Not good.

And here she is now:

Isn't she so festive? She looks less peachy and more yellowy-orange in person. 
Guess you'll have to take my word for it.

I'm seriously so in love with this hutch. Too bad it's built-in so I can't take it with me when I inevitably move out. Luckily we have a landlord who somehow trusts my tastes and let's me do whatever I want to the apartment. Either that or she just doesn't care about the place. More that I think about it, I'm pretty sure she just doesn't care. Really, I think it's a win-win for all.

So excited, you all. Hope you love it as much as we do.

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Repainting...and covered in paint.

Hello, friends! Adrian and I have been working hard on repainting a hutch and our patio set. I'm so excited to share them with you. But for now, you'll have to settle for this beautiful porch...which I will some day have.

Oh yes. I think I'll have that someday.

Come on back tomorrow and I'll show you what we've done. Happy Summer Saturday!

*Picture via pinterest. Click the picture for the link.
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Hello, summer.

Friends, it happened.

I bought a patio set.

And I'm so happy.

Adrian and I had dinner outside the other night and it was lovely. Today is his day off so we're lounging. If it stops raining, we'll be eating outside again.

I love this little patio set.

Hello, summer. So glad you came by.

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To my dad: A day late and a dollar short

In honor of Father's Day and the fact that you must fulfill a father's request on this his day, I am contractually bound to write the obligatory happy-father's-day post....a day late because it wouldn't be from me if it wasn't late.

Fortunately for me, my father actually is quite wonderful and thus the obligatory part is less obligatory and more pleasant.

Yes, my father is wonderful.

And rather than tell you the ways in which he is wonderful, how about I share a few stories so you might glimpse it for yourself?

When I was in sixth grade (because indeed, all time when you're young must be measured by grades rather than years), my grandfather passed away. This was my father's father. He had been sick for some time but for those who have lost a loved one in such a manner, we all know that this does not often soften the loss. 

My mom was home when we received the phone call. It had come just minutes before I was to leave for a sleepover at a friend's house. I insisted I was fine and left for the sleepover anyways. 

I held it together the entire evening and the next day. My dad came to pick me up and, being my dad, noticed that I was not nearly as fine as I had previously stated. 

So he pulled the car over on the side of the road. And I cried. For a long time. My little sixth grade memory doesn't remember if he cried too. All I remember is sitting with my dad, crying as he told me how hard it is to lose someone but how very important it is to allow yourself to feel those feelings. 

My father is wonderfully supportive.

I called my father a few weeks ago, stressed about an upcoming trip, knowing that said trip will be both incredible and necessary (more about this to come), but also knowing that my husband's hours will be cut soon and we will have less money than we do now. 

My father said to me, "Emily, have I ever left you hanging?" 

And I thought about it. In college, he drove me back and forth to Boston because I didn't like the bus. Then I moved to Chicago and started working for a non-profit. For my corporate friends, non-profit means no money which means I'm still waiting for that big raise. My first year of teaching, I took on a ridiculous project that resulted in a good week of tears. I called my dad, as he has the often under-appreciated knack for fixing everything. He told me, "Go buy a printer and I'll pay for it. I like to think maybe you're doing some good in this world." And I bought that printer and I've (perhaps foolishly) taken on that same project every year since, with less tears each year. That would have been the last year had it not been for that gift of a printer from my dad.

He has bailed me out financially more times than I care to remember. And I am able to work a job I love and live in a place I had never visited prior to moving because I have a father who has never left me hanging. I can take chances and make mistakes and figure out my place in this crazy world because I am undeservingly privileged to have a father who will be there if it all crashes.

My father is wonderfully generous.

Lastly, on father's day, might I also celebrate my dad as a husband being that there's no husband's day?

My mom says there's just something about being in the house you grew up in that no matter how old you might be, you enter and have the feeling that finally you can relax and someone will take care of you. My mom always takes care of me when I'm home. And without my mom, I know that that house would be nothing more than a house. 

And every time I leave, I wonder why I ever left. But I guess that's part of life, no? Leaving so you can appreciate what you left?

But more importantly, every time I leave, my dad calls me when I've landed back in Chicago to remind me to call my mom in the next day or two to thank her for her hospitality. I know, Lydie, you are probably shocked to find out that it's not me who remembers to thank you, but rather your husband who remembers to remind me to thank you. 

My father is wonderfully thoughtful.

So, Paul, I know you've waited a long time for a mention on this here little blog. I hope it was worth the wait.

I love you, dad.

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Margaritas and Marriage

A friend of mine is getting married and moving away. We went out last night for margaritas and guacamole. And it was lovely.

Since she's getting married in a few weeks, much of our evening centered around marriages. And actually, we didn't talk once about her upcoming wedding. And I adore weddings. I love the planning. And the details. And just everything. But ultimately, after that day, the two people are indeed married. Sometimes I think we focus so much on which napkins to use that we forget that the marriage that follows also takes preparation and planning.

So it was refreshing to just talk marriages. We shared stories of marriages we admire and what we hope to emulate. And marriages that make us a little panicky. But mostly we talked about love and how it can change over time.

When I see much older couples who have been married since probably forever and when they still so clearly adore each other, I'm amazed. Because I know that that didn't happen by chance. To stay in love for so long takes work. And consideration. And honesty. And undoubtedly some laughter. To share everything, the joyous and the sorrowful, is to grow together.

In short, our chat was refreshing. A pleasant reminder of the beauty of both marriage and margaritas.

*Pictures from pinterest. Click for link.
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Uninspiring summer?

It's summer, friends. And I should be so inspired, right?

But I'm just not.

I think I'm just in a waiting period. I'm waiting to be done with work. I'm waiting for Adrian's schedule to change. Waiting for At&t to come and fix this terrible internet connection. Waiting to be inspired.

So I think pretty soon I'm just going to have to stop. And do something. And if I don't feel inspired, well, I guess I'll write anyways. And decorate. And remake. And plan. Oh, and watch The Hills on netflix.

And eventually I think I'll feel something again. I'll feel like how summer should feel.

Now that I think about it, I think all I need is a patio set.

And a pool. Yes. Alls I need is a pool.

*All pictures found at pinterest. Click pictures for links.
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Expecto patronum, ladies.

Can't blog right now. We're really into Harry Potter.
I know you understand.

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Craigslist and common sense.

Happy end of Monday, loves! And honestly, what a good Monday it's been. I'm no longer sick (yay!), classes are over (yay!) and I enjoyed a lovely evening on my friend Jenny's porch (yay yay!).

In other news, we've been dabbling in the list o' Craig lately. Makes me nervous from time to time but then we just find something so good that we bless each other, cross our fingers and use good old common sense. And so far, so good, my friends!

A couple weeks ago Adrian came across the most epic grill that we just couldn't pass up. After Adrian cleaned and I cheered him on, that adorable little grill was ready for her first mission: Adrian's cousin's birthday party. And she was a hit!

Seriously. A stagecoach grill. Who woulda thought a grill could be so cute? We'll be the envy of all the neighbors all summer long!

And our good Craigslist luck continued. Just take a little look-see at my dresser:

She currently resides in the living room in all her white and gold glory. I'm hoping I can convince that husband to trade out the gold for a light orange....oh yes, light orange. And I think I'd love that little rug a whole lot more if it was aqua and white instead of navy blue, but since it was only $10, it stays for now. And that jukebox might have to move to a more manly location, but you get the idea.

So there you have it, friends. Two goods finds and we're still alive. Don't worry though. I don't plan on pushing my Craigslist luck too far. There are some real crazies out there, you know.

Good luck and common sense, ladies. Like I always say: if there's a creeper, leave that good find behind.

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Sick again.

I'm sick again. In June. Mostly I just have a cold. Unfortunately, I'm allergic to cold medicine. Thanks to a little vick's vaporub and ibuprofen, I'm sitting up. For now.

Now, if you'll kindly recall, Adrian has a history of being unsympathetic to ill folks. He's been much better this time around. He brings me medicine. He rubs my back. He buys Old Navy groupons when I'm too delirious to do it myself. He's wonderful.

But every time I'm sick here in Chicago, far from the miraculous curing powers of my mother, I always think of that one time a few summers back when I had strep throat and an accompanying temperature of 103 and I was completely miserable.

And although Adrian's so good at taking care of me now, those couple days when I had strep it was really my friend Emily who graciously stepped in as mom.

She sat on my bed and read me Charlotte's Web.  And she did all the voices. And despite being miserably sick, I was so content. I don't remember much about it, but I remember a little bit of peace.

And every time I'm sick, I think about that. I think about the gentle kindness of it.

*Pictures via Click each picture for the link.
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Little known secret, part two

The last day of classes was today. And I, as the teacher, am thrilled. To my students, who have admitted to reading this blog, I offer the following: it's not you. It's me. Honestly.

There's this wonderful thing about teaching that I'm not sure exists in all professions. Every fall, I am given this beautiful opportunity to just start over. The mistakes of the previous year no longer linger, threatening to remind me of my inadequacies as an educator. The lessons I didn't have time for, the promises I forgot to keep, the teachable moments I let slip by, they lessen their grip on me and slowly. they let me go.

And I let go of them. For a few weeks, I forget about myself as a teacher and then I'm just a wife or a friend or a daughter or a sister or a niece or any of those other roles I play when I'm not in the classroom. And for those few weeks, I can just be whatever it is that I'd like to be. If I'm sad, I'll be sad. And if I feel  lazy, oh yes, I'll be lazy. And it's ok. Because for that little while when I'm not Teacher Emily, I don't have to pretend.

Because probably what you didn't know is
teaching is an act. 

Each morning, I wake up, shake off the worries, the tears, the frustrations, the sleepys of the those first few hours and I walk into my classroom ready to convince 10 adults that knowing the difference between "its" and "it's" is, indeed, important. And somedays I'd much rather cry for a bit and then perhaps face my students. But most days I just don't have the time. They give of their time to be there and so I do my best to let go of whatever paces the halls of my little mind. And I muster every ounce of enthusiasm because I know that, ultimately, perhaps those little English intricacies don't matter, but the effort, the camaraderie, the community and the little victories do. And that false enthusiasm for this difficult language reinvents itself as  a strong belief in what my students are capable of.

On many of those wipe-my-tears kind of days, I actually walk out a little lighter, believing that maybe it will be okay and maybe it can be done.

Understand, though, that letting go isn't easy. It takes effort and conviction that sometimes I'm not sure I have. But letting go is a choice. And as a teacher, I feel I must make that choice in order to be effective.

So when summer comes, I welcome the days of not letting go. Of worrying if I'd like. Of just feeling how I feel. And being okay with that.

And in a couple weeks from now, I'll go back to being a teacher. Not in the classroom, of course, but in my house and in my backyard where I'll pore over the units, the lessons, the tests, the projects, every little detail that went into the year. And I'll look at what worked. And what didn't. And I'll face all those failures and missteps, exploring where I went wrong and what I can do differently. Because I honestly believe I can do better. Somewhere inside of me, a true educator awaits her release.

And when the next school year inevitably arrives, I will be ready to be better than I've been. With all the hope and promise of a, literally, blank slate.

*Pictures via pinterest. Click for link.
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Little known secret.

On this, the last day of classes, I thought I should let you all in on a secret.

Your teachers are just as excited about summer as you are.

More to come once this day is over.

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