Top five reasons fall is legit.

Up until last year, fall was my absolute least favorite season. Summer always meant freedom, and swimming and lemonade and reading outside and everything good in life. Which consequently meant that anything that followed the best of life had a lot to live up to. I hated the shortened days, the cooler weather and the transition back to being a responsible adult with a teaching job. So rather than fall being fall, fall was just the end of summer.

I think Adrian's been really quite instrumental in the change of opinion of fall. He hates summer. He doesn't like to be warm and much prefers the colder weather. Add to that his passionate love of all things orange and you've got yourself a fan of fall.

I suppose in marriage you begin to change each other. I started to look at fall, last year, as separate than summer. And rather than compare the two, I found myself beginning to embrace the fall for what it was.

And here, my friends, is what has pushed me over:
1. Pumpkin anything and everything. You may thank Dunkin Donuts for this new found love of fall. They provide me with pumpkin iced coffee, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin doughnuts, if need be. And boy, does need be.

2. The color cranberry. Adrian says it looks terrible on me because it makes my face look more red than it already is. Psshhhhh. I wear it anyways.

3. Perhaps more recently, orange! For years Adrian has tried to convince that orange was an okay color. And for years I have said that it was an awful color. Then something this summer just clicked. I realized orange looks phenomenal with all my favorite colors: navy blue, aqua/teal, cranberry, ice blue. In short, I have incorporated orange into my closet and my home decor. Adrian is quite happy.

4. Halloween. Adrian and I love to throw parties. Adrian loves Halloween. Adrian and I love to throw Halloween parties. I think it's because my mom refused to allow me to trick-or-treat after age ten. Stunted development followed. Now I feel the need to make up for it with ridiculous Halloween parties. And no, you are not welcome to my parties if you show up in anything that would be described as "slutty" if today were not Halloween.

5. Fall outfits. I love me a good jacket and a good pair of boots. So thank you fall for providing me the opportunity to show off my vast collection of both jackets and boots. And in stunning colors. And thank you also for bringing an end to the ungodly heat of summer in Chicago.

So there you have. Emily's top five reasons that fall is a legit season. Now, admittedly, if I did not have to start teaching in the beginning of August and if the heat in Chicago was not so oppressive, I would have a harder time letting go of summer and embracing fall. But as I stand, sweating, before a classroom of eager-to-learn adults, I cannot help but wish for a bit of relief. It's tough to look professional in shorts and tank tops. It is much easier to look professional in long pants and cute cardigans.

So, hello fall. I apologize for all those years we lost.

*all pictures via pinterest.
post signature

A little help over here?

Since I mention it all the time here, I trust that you, my friends, know that I teach English as a Second Language to adults in my neighborhood. And like I seem to do all the time lately as well, I'm again asking for a bit of help.

I work for a non-profit, which translate to no-extra-money. Books used for classes are available to students, but only in the classroom. This means that students cannot bring their books home to study and cannot do any work in the actual book as they need to be reused each year to save on costs. For anyone who teaches and anyone who has ever been a student, you know that this is far from ideal.

This year I am giving my students the option to purchase the books themselves. This will allow them the freedom to bring their book to and from class, permitting them to study outside the classroom. I am incredibly excited about this possibility. Our classes are held for just 9 hours a week. This is obviously not enough time to master the complexities of the English language so study-time outside of class is absolutely essential.

The median household income of the 4th congressional district, which includes my neighborhood, is $56,768. However, the strong majority of our families report living as families of four or more on less than $20,000 a year, with a few currently residing in shelters.

What does this mean for you, my dear friends?

It means that sometimes I have students with a great desire to learn and with a strong commitment to the classes but without the economic means to purchase the book. My dream would be to offer a discount or a small scholarship to students who consistently come to class and who participate but lack the necessary funds to buy a book. While I will certainly be contributing to this fund myself, I would love if others would also be willing to sacrifice a few dollars and I would love to be able to tell my students that there are in fact people out there who do want to see them succeed and who do care about the education of the under-served people in this country. I'd also love to send you a thank you note from the student who receives the book, if you don't mind.

If you would like to see the book I use in class, please click over to amazon.

So if you would be willing, would you contact me so we can arrange something?

From the bottom of my idealist teacher heart,

thank you thank you thank you.
post signature

Work in progress.

Lately I've been reading that apparently blogs have made many a woman feel inadequate. She doesn't bake well enough. Or do enough creative projects with her children. Or style her clothes just right. Or whatever else blogland throws out into the cybersphere.

And while I doubt anyone who has ever graced the archives of this here blog has ever compared themselves to me and been led to feel like she or he (hello, gentlemen) isn't enough, I'd like to contribute a little something in honor of full disclosure.

I moved out to Chicago after college. I intended to be here a year and have remained an extra four. I had plans to leave and then I met my husband. Long story shorter, I'm beginning my sixth year in the city. While I do love my husband and my job, I'm confident I will not be here forever.

Prior to living here, I don't remember a time I really had difficulty making friends. In both high school and college, I had wonderful groups of friends. And though long distance, I've been lucky to maintain a few of those friendships. And while I cherish those relationships, I cannot deny that I am an in-person kinda gal. I have a hard time connecting when I just can't see your face.

Since being here, it has been a struggle for me to make a decent friend. Thankfully, I do have a few who have made my time here much more enjoyable and who have sat with me through some trying times in the past few years. And the difficulties of connecting with others teaches me to appreciate the few friends I do have.

I'd like to think it's the Midwest, and not me, that has the problem. Though more realistically, or perhaps honestly, I think it may just be a combination of the two of us, the Midwest and me. A few years back, I came across a card that read "No one here thinks I'm funny. What's wrong with these people?" and it resonated with me. I like to think I have a healthy sense of humor. I'm often quite quick with a laugh or a witty comment. But I've come to find that my humor is a product of my New England upbringing and thus lost on this largely non-New England crowd.

Perhaps worse than my bad humor is my uncanny ability to complain. I have bad days from time to time and on those days, I'm not particularly funny (even in a NE crowd!) and I'm known to complain a bit. Ask my dad, he'll tell you. I don't consider myself a Debby Downer by any means. Rather, I would say I am honest. Not in the way that some people use the word to greenlight being cruel to people. No, no. I think I'm honest in the way that when you ask me how I'm doing, I will probably give you something more real than "fine". There's something therapeutic about acknowledging the utter disaster of your day.

Because I like to feel like you know me and I know you. I like to know how you are. And what you've been up to. And the challenges you face. And the worries that keep you up at night. And the successes you're dying to share with someone but are too afraid they'll think you're bragging. Brag to me. I want to know. I want to end a conversation feeling like I know you a little better than I did the day before. And I'd like you to know me, too.

And though I have found the Midwest to be much more friendly than the Northeast (I'm looking at you, Boston), I've also found it to be more guarded. Many times here, someone asks me how I'm doing and I tell them how I really am, and I proceed to ask them how they are and they tell me "fine". And so, rather than feeling like something wonderful just passed between us, I feel exposed. Ashamed to have let slip my worries or complaints. Like inviting someone to your "lived in" (read: messy) house only to later find theirs spotless. With all their dirty socks out of sight, leaving you to wonder how many of yours they might have seen.

 A few years ago, back home, a coworker of mine once commented to another coworker (who, of course, later told me) that I was one of the most genuine people he had ever known. Years later, I treasure this as one of the best compliments I have ever (indirectly) received. I think when you're genuine, people feel the invitation to be genuine as well. I also believe that when you hide, you invite others to do the same.

So, in the spirit of being genuine, can we skip the pleasantries and the "things are going well"s and the "I'm just tired"s? Can we jump ahead to the part where we sit on my couch and talk about what's really going on, even if there is a dirty sock on the floor? Maybe we can even acknowledge that dirty sock on the floor in the middle of August and laugh about how it got there because who even wears socks in this heat??

Can we stop pretending we have it all together while silently falling apart?

Cause you don't have to be perfect in front of me, Midwest. God knows, I'm certainly a work in progress.

post signature

Lucky suerte eh?

Good news, my friends. Two of my favorite singers came together and made a song in two of my favorite languages. Woot woot! And thankfully my sister posted on the video on good old facebook for me to finnnnnd.

So here you go, music lovahs, Jason Mraz and Ximena SariƱana.

Happy middle of the week!
post signature

Baking old style.

Adrian and I have discovered that we love to bake. Previously we baked from boxes because we didn't know what we were doing and we were... how shall we say... lazy?

But since we both enjoy baking, particularly doing so together, we've decided to tackle baking old style, sans mix.

Our first attempt were these delightful little cupcakes, made from this here recipe.

Raspberry Lemon goodness.

End result? Perfection. More or less. Adrian brought a bunch with him to work and they were the cat's meow which is truly miraculous because generally speaking Mexicans aren't huge on sweets. Meaning they don't crave ten cupcakes a day like me and my family. Weird.

So attempt numero uno was a success. Number two? Maybe little peach or blueberry crisps in little jars a la wendolonia.

Wish us luck and blueberries, friends!

post signature
Blogging tips