I have another funny story for you today.

My adult English classes started a unit on health today. We began with new vocabulary: symptoms and injuries. We then took the vocabulary words and put them into parts of speech categories: nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Nouns could be used in the sentence "I have a __________".

And every time a student said "I have a fever", I laughed. Every single time. And none of them knew why.

I feel like part of my duties ought to be sharing milestones in American pop culture, no?

I must find a way to share this with my students.

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Keep the change.

Quick funny story before I get back to working on actual work stuffs.

About a month and a half ago, roughly Christmas-time I wrote my sister a check. Then I forgot to mail it to her.

Then she came to Chicago. And I remembered the check. So I gave it to her.

She went home. Then she went to the bank. And she cashed that check with a real-live teller. Not at the ATM like I do.

On that month and a half old check, I had written "Keep the change, you filthy animal" on the memo line, a la Home Alone.

At the time I wrote it, it was funny cause it was Christmastime. Now it's just funny.

Word is the bank-teller enjoyed that. She even shared a story about how she wrote "Strippers" on the memo line of a check for a friend. I might try that next month on my rent check.

Happy Sunday! Get all the work done, won't you?
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Happy Blogiversary.

Since I wouldn't be me if I didn't let an anniversary pass without really noticing, I didn't realize that my blogiversary had passed me by! So though I am a couple days late, I wanted to offer a few thoughts on this momentous occasion.

We made it.

Woot, woot.

Last winter I thought about re-trying this blogging thing because I enjoyed reading blogs, I enjoyed writing blogs and I enjoyed connecting with friends and family. And I think I actually enjoy it more now than I did a year ago.

So thank you. For listening to reading my stories. It has pushed me to look at each day and find the story in it. Long distance relationships/friendships have always been tough for me because I love the everyday. I love to know the small stories, the little things that happened that make for a good day or a bad day. And I've been historically awful at sharing those stories non face-to-face. So thank you for providing me a forum to put those stories into words and for following along.

I'm excited for this upcoming year. Shoot, I even paid a little money to change the wed address. I figured if I was going to commit to this blogging thing, I ought to commit once and for all.

So I present to you http://www.ohhellolove.com/. Easier to remember. Easier to find. Easier to share...

Thank you for helping me find my voice and for the encouragements along the way. I'll keep writing. You keep coming around.
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Hello, friends.

I just wanted to let you know that you can now find me and subscribe to this here blog via Bloglovin! So if you're not into google reader, you have another option. Enjoy!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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The table.

In light of yesterday's post and this being MLK day, I want to think about, discuss, share on immigration. Feel free to agree or disagree.

On my google homepage, I have a box set-up to display recent immigration news and this is how I keep myself educated and updated. I often read the stories and then do my best to not read through the comments. Yesterday, I slipped up. I read those awful comments. And then I wondered where are all the intelligent people, who would like to search for real solutions to this problem? I know where they are not. Writing comments about the article I read. (Sidenote: why must ignorance and hatred always present itself in the form of CAPS LOCK?)

The article discusses the ways in which Obama is working to woo the ever illusive Latino Vote. If you don't pay particularly close attention to immigration news, you might not know that in the last week or so, the Obama administration put out a proposal. This proposal would bring about a change in the immigration process, not in the immigration laws. Currently, if an undocumented man entered the U.S. without a visa, lived here for over one year, and then married a U.S. citizen, he would be eligible for residency.

Thank you, Hollywood, for making this seem like the end of the story. They get married. He gets papers. Happily ever after.

But that's not really how it works. Once they got married, they could begin a process to go about obtaining papers, yes that is true. Unfortunately, the process dictates that that undocumented man (or woman) return to his country to obtain his Visa. However, as soon as he leaves the U.S., he is automatically subject to a law which states that he must live outside of the U.S. for ten years. We like to call this "Time Out." You know, "Go back to your country, and think about what you've done and don't come back until you feel sorry about it. And don't ask when you can get out!" So therein lies the catch-22. He is eligible for a Visa but he cannot have it until he is sufficiently sorry.

There is, however, a waiver available. This waiver would allow him to return to the US if he can prove that a US citizen would suffer extreme hardship without him in the US. (For more information on this, please read this). Often this waiver process can take years, during which time you, the US citizen, have the choice to tough it out alone here in the US, barely making financial ends meet, or tough it out together and pray hard for your safety in Mexico. Given those choices, many eligible families opt to continue living under the radar in the US, hoping for someone to pass some sort of immigration reform.

The proposed change in process would allow for these families to file their waivers when they begin the process. This means that aforementioned undocumented man (and husband and potentially father) would remain in the US (without protection from deportation and without a work permit) while waiting for his paperwork to go through. If he were approved, he would then leave for his native country, knowing that he would be able to return to his family in a matter of days or weeks at most. Criminals and repeat immigration offenders would not be eligible for this change in process. And there is also a pretty rigorous, and often humiliating, verification process to determine that you are indeed married...right down to asking what kind of underwear your wife prefers (true story, happened to a friend.)

Granted I may be biased given my community and the work that I do, but this just seems humane to me (except the underwear part). To spare a man or woman, who actually is eligible for residency, the suffering of living apart from their family for months or years seems like the right thing to do.

And yet the commenters don't think so. They quickly shout out "AMNESTY!" with their guns blazing.  But this is actually simply streamlining the process for those who are already eligible for residency. No amnesty there.

In a country so proud of its freedom, it's a wonder that we feel the need to hoard it so much. There seems to be this prevailing idea that our own freedom is in indirect correlation with the freedom of others. That were we to extend the same principles that guarantee our freedom at birth to others, somehow we would be less free ourselves.

And I find it appropriate to spend some time thinking on this because of this day and because of the man it commemorates.

In the time that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke, there were laws in place to ensure that people did not mix. To keep people in their places. To prevent people from really knowing each other.

I originally came to Chicago through a program called Mission Year. A mainstay of the program is that you relocate yourself to an underprivileged, under-served area. You live there. You work there. You commune there. You place yourself among people who are different than you. You do those things that those laws once tried to prevent you from doing.

Then you sit and you listen. You hear their stories. You eat in their homes. You play with their children. You sit with them through their struggles.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. That "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to together at the table of brotherhood." Because he knew that at that table, one would begin to understand the other. To share and to understand.

I have always said that I believe the national immigration discussion would be greatly different if those who spoke the loudest might take the time to join us here in this neighborhood and listen. If they would sit at this table and actually meet the people they speak so often of. Because my students and my neighbors, they are good people. With amazing stories of self-sacrifice and determination. And with even more amazing culinary skills.

To those who comment in all CAPS, I invite you to turn your caps lock off, join us at the table and put yourself in a place where you might confront your greatest fear of all: that these people that you condemn are actually quite worthy. Of your time. Of your gratitude. And of your freedom. And that there is indeed enough freedom to go around.

And to those who aren't quite sure how they feel about the whole debate, join us, too. Stay for the friendship and the best Carne Asada you've ever had.

Enjoy your three day weekend, my friends.
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Continuing the conversation.

I often struggle with the content of this blog. All the best blog advice states to write toward a niche and to adhere to one topic. Be it food, fashion, DIY home decor, or whatever other intriguing topic will win you the most readers. They (whoever they is) also advise you to be yourself.

And therein lies the struggle.

I like to bake. I love an inspired outfit. And while I may not always succeed, I enjoy tackling a good (read: easy) DIY project from time to time. I appreciate a well-shot and well-processed photo. And if you were to look at my google reader, you'd see all those interests mingling together.

And while I may not gain thousands of readers, I'd like to think my priority here is to write. To share pieces of myself, whatever those pieces may be.

I've spent some time thinking about this recently and the conclusion I've run into is this: this blog will be about the writing. Maybe a project or a baked good thrown in here and there. And of course, a bit of inspiration when it strikes. But primarily, the essence of this blog will be in the writing. Because that is what I love.

That said, I do not intend to limit myself in regard to topics. I am not seeking to appease a niche of readers because I am not a niche person. I'd like to think that if you met me today, we could sit down for coffee and happily dance through a range of topics.

Admittedly, it does take two to have a conversation. Ideally. So I would encourage those of you who read to, please, comment. Agree. Disagree. Debate. Engage. Like we would if I sat there with you.

So while I cannot offer you an actual cup of coffee, I'd love for you to grab one wherever you are, and engage awhile. And next time we meet out there in the non-internet world, I'd be glad to buy you a cup and continue the conversation.

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The Way We Get By.

Adrian and I watched a fabulous documentary tonight, thanks as always to Netflix. On the recommendation of my sister, we chose "The Way We Get By". It did not disappoint.

Perhaps it's my love of Maine or perhaps it's my love of old people, but I adored this movie. It spoke a bit to my word of the year, choose. Each morning (or middle of the night) these senior citizens make a choice to use whatever time they have to welcome back or to send off soldiers. Despite the physical ailments. Despite the personal struggles. Because they believe they're doing just a bit of good.

Movies like this are important for our fragile souls, no? To remind us to see the value in each life. To seek out that which beckons us from bed before the day even begins. To accept that life begins and life ends and "no one gets out alive." To ultimately honor the time we have by living it well.

And to remind us to call our grandparents, or if you're lucky than me visit your grandparents, and listen to their stories and laugh with them and share a bit of life.

I've never believed in overwhelming to-do lists. I like to do one thing. And I like to do that one thing well. So as I returned to work this week, I renewed my purpose. To teach and to serve this immigrant community and to do it well. Oh, and in the style of Jerry (See 0:30 in the video above). With great humor and even greater love.

P.S. If you didn't know what a Maine accent sounds like, this movie is a great reference. In short, Maine accents are spectacularly endearing.
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Hold your hand.

Adrian and I are Glee on Netflix fans. Which basically means we have no idea when it's actually on TV and do not want to discuss any episodes beyond the second season because we haven't seen them.

While I do not make a habit of advocating for Glee, I did enjoy their version of "I want to hold your hand."

Since I enjoyed it, so too should you.

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The year of choices.

I like new beginnings. I like the start of a new week, a new season, a new school year. I like the possibilities of new. I like the option to start over. To look back at my failures and to figure out how I can do life a little differently. I enjoy knowing that I do not have to be the way that I have been and I do not have to do the things that I have done. I could wake up tomorrow and be a different person, if I so chose.

One of the blogs I read, Enjoy It, wrote up a post the other day about choosing a word for the year. A word to focus on, an idea which actually came from another blog, Ali Edwards. And I liked the idea. So I spent a couple of days thinking about what I would focus on for this year. I came up with a few possibilities, but nothing settled in. A few days later, I returned to Elise's blog and read that she had chosen the word "Choose". And I knew that that word was the word for me. Because apparently I am unoriginal. Which is okay with me.

In the past, I never made resolutions. I threw out a half-hearted wish that this year would be the best year ever and usually, because of my personality and my uncanny ability to keep positive by forgetting the negatives, it did become the best year ever.

2011 set itself apart from the pack of positive years gone by.

2011 was a difficult year. We received heartbreaking news that has changed how we will live our first 15 years of marriage. It has changed our goals, our hopes and our ideas of success. And much of it is out of our control.

It was a defining year for me and for Adrian and for our families. And I spent much of the year searching for ways to accept our reality. I began counseling for anxiety and refocused inwardly, electing to spend much of my free time alone in hopes of finding some peace.

Some of that alone time was wonderful. I wrote more this year than I ever have. I returned to photography and began learning Lightroom and Photoshop. I started baking. I found hobbies and talents that had laid dormant for years, pushed aside to make room for more and more social engagements.

However, not all alone time is good alone time. I wasted more time than ever on this often god-awful computer. I watched terrible television (thank you, Netflix!) for hours on end. Adrian sometimes came home from work and asked what I had done all day. And in the eight hours he had been gone, I had nothing to show.

I am not a productivity, efficiency driven person. I don't feel the need to plow through a twenty item to-do list to feel like I've done something. If I spend all eight hours on a blog post but it's the post of the decade, that's fine for me. I am quality over quantity. Unfortunately, much of the time I spent alone this year yielded neither quality nor quantity.

And I believe much of that is due to a lack of hope. To a belief that if nothing I did could change the outcome of the next fifteen years, then why do anything at all? A bit destructive, no? But I also hold a belief that everyone needs and ought to permit themselves the time necessary to come to terms with their circumstances, whatever those circumstances may be.

So I didn't push myself. And while 2011 is a year that I am not incredibly proud of, I think, perhaps, it was necessary. Slowly, I'm coming to accept my lot in life. I'm letting go of some expectations and making room for new ones. I never thought life would be what it has become, but does anyone ever predict the course of his/her life and actually follow it out to the end? If you do, please let me know how. I imagine at some point, we must all come to terms with our place in life and our disappointments of lives never lived, paths never followed, wishes never granted.

While 2011 may not have been one for the books, assuming the books record positives, it certainly brought about much growth. Although there are circumstances I cannot change, there are certainly attitudes and actions that I can. So 2012 will be a choice. Each morning I can choose to be a fantastic and motivating teacher or I can choose to be mediocre. I can be a loving and supportive wife or I can blame and nag. I can spend hours in that Pinterest blackhole admiring the work of others or I can get up and make something myself. I can choose to ignore those good intentions and live the guilt of not having done what I knew I should have done or I can follow those intentions and be proud of who I am becoming. And, on the other hand, if I choose to watch Gossip Girl on Netflix, I can do it without the guilt because I have consciously made that choice.

2012 will be a year of remembering that every moment I am choosing who I am. And no matter the circumstances, I always have a choice.

This will be a year of listening to my instincts because they are mostly good. Of developing my talents because I enjoy having hobbies. Of working harder to be the teacher, wife, daughter, sister, aunt that I always intended to be.

So here's to you, 2012. May I choose to be the woman I have always been inside.

(Sidenote: Does the above quote mean that if I choose to be a portrait photographer, I will be, despite my lack of ability? Gosh I hope so.)
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*picture via Pinterest. Click for link.
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