Reclaiming Experience

This blog is a tool for recording my experiences as well as evaluating my day-to-day life. With my camera in hand, I will make meaning out of my life.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Day 365: Fin

I thought I would be thrilled to be finally done with this commitment, but I'm a little sad it is over.  I was talking to my aunt Lori today and she sounded shocked that it was over.  After going back through my posts tonight I see what the year has brought me.  I am thankful to have this as a way of remembering the year. 

Top 2012 Themes:
1. Kendra
2. Family
3. Wine Nights
4. Rick Steves
5. Travel
6. Sick
7. Food
8. Moving
9. Elementary
10. Writing
11. Graduation
12. Nights Out
13. Daredevil Dad
14. Best Aunts Ever
15. Stress
16. Relaxation
17. Website
18. Skydiving
19. Lifelong Friendships
20. Spanish
21. Indianapolis
22. Pool Days
23. Goodbyes
24. Photography
25. Best Year Ever!

Although this project is complete, there are many more to tackle.  Cheers, proost, prost, cin cin, sante, and any other way you can say it.  To a new year and new adventures!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 364: Sentimental

One more day and my project for 2012 will be complete.  I started it for several reasons, but as I reach the finish line there is one thought that remains: I did it.  I committed to something and it turned out successful.  Tomorrow I plan to go through my blog day by day and reflect on the year.  I have to admit that I've cheated as I've gone through the year.  Each time I peak at the past I am amazed by all of the blessings I have had this year.  Sure there is some whining in there, but I am human.  With a reflective eye, I don't know how next year will top the life changing experiences from this year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 363: Work Day

For some reason I sat on my couch thinking that I should do my work today.  I can't believe that a week has passed so fast and I can already feel the anxiety growing.  Might as well take care of it now.  Too bad I left some very important things at school.  I did accomplish some things that are putting my mind to rest a bit.  I think I'll try to go into the school next Thursday to clean up and finish whatever else needs to be done.  For now I can put my mind to rest.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 362: Ideas

I was so productive today.  I made some amazing progress on my website (see here:  I also created a budget.  I'm tired of not having enough money, so I'm going to change that.  Although I have some challenges to face (like paying off my credit card), I know that I can catch up if I stick to this budget.  Something I realized right away is that I don't make enough money for my lifestyle.  Using conservative numbers, I only have $300 left over after budgeting everything.  I've decided I'm going to save $50 each paycheck and I'm going to pull out $100 in cash for entertainment each month.  Once that cash is spent, this girl will be stuck with nights in.  I need to cut back.  No reason I should be spending $100 a weekend after going out.

I also did a lot of planning for the new year.  I know I've mentioned that my goal for next year is to publish my first book (oh, and write it).  I'm also going to do what I can to market myself.  I'm thinking of creating video blogs for youtube, articles to publish for kindle, and creating an author website.  I'm also excited to share that I signed up for a class in January about how to publish a book.  Might as well learn what I can now before the book is done.  I'm so thrilled to think that this year I am going to make so many of my dreams happen.  I know this year will have good things in store!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 361: Nice to be Home

It is so wonderful to sleep in and take 2 hours to get ready in the morning.  I think I would be a lot different at work if I could do this everyday.  Then again, I'd have to stay at work till past 6.  Not so good.  

Other than going grocery shopping, I didn't do much during the day.  I did have a good time later at night catching up with my grad school friends.  It has been 6 months since I've seen one of them.  I kind of miss grad school.  Not the work, but the interactions with the people.  I wish I could afford to take tons of classes on whatever I want.  Too bad I can't.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day 360: After Christmas Deals

As if getting presents wasn't enough, I decided that I need to go shopping.  I know I don't need anything, but the deals are so good!  Look at my cute coat that I got for...$10!  I've always wanted a coat with toggles :).

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 359: Merry Christmas!

The days are long gone when I would wake up at 3 in the morning to see if Santa came.  I still feel a little excitement when it comes to opening presents, but it is definitely not the same.  I greatly enjoyed the time that I was able to spend with my family.  I also loved cooking the Christmas meal (most of it).  Somehow my dad got all the credit for it, but we all know I made the succulent pan seared scallops, rich mushroom risotto, and creative hasselback potatoes.  Doesn't it look good?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 358: Over the River and Through the Woods

What a wonderful day.  We arrived in time to go out to lunch.  My grandmother loves to go out to eat.  Instead of going out twice in one day, we convinced her to eat in for dinner.  My dad and I fixed potato chip chicken with potatoes and green beans and a fruit salad. We had a wonderful conversation that wouldn't have taken place in a restaurant.  It was nice to spend time with my family.  

After dinner I went to investigate one of the closets.  My grandmother held onto one of my assignments from school and I wanted to look through it.  While reaching up on the shelf, I saw a little label my granddad had put up.  He was so organized.  I miss him and wish he was here to celebrate with us.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 357: Grocery Shopping

Today is preparation day.  My dad and I traveled across the area to find the best foods for our Christmas meal.  What's on the menu?  Well, here it is:

Pan Seared Scallops
Filet Mignon
Hasselback Potatoes
Mushroom Risotto
Zucchini Casserole
Jello Salad
Cesear Salad

This will be quite a feast :).

I finished up the day by meeting with Crystal for coffee and talk time.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 356: Chi Town

Today we took a chilly trip into the city.  We made it to the Museum of Science and Industry for the last hour and a half of its opening.  I miss taking my kids there.  That is definitely one of my favorite field trips.  After power walking through the exhibits, we made our way to Navy Pier.  It was a beautiful night to ride the Ferris Wheel.  I love seeing the city lit up with all of the Christmas lights.

We finished our evening with a dinner at Frontera Grill.  It was so funny because we put in our names and she began to say two, but I thought she was going to say a 20 minute wait.  Not exactly.  Try a two hour wait.  So we went to get a couple drinks while we waited.  I always hope I'm going to see Rick Bayless when I go, but I'm sure he is rarely in Chicago now.

Friday, December 21, 2012


There are many times in my life when Mel Gibson's voice (William Wallace) reverberates in my brain.  Such occasions as leaving for break.  Freedom (finally).  Today was actually a great day.  There was an awesome assembly with cool reptiles.  The kids loved our white elephant exchange (I think I did good with purchasing fun gifts).  At the very end of the day it was present opening time.  I cannot believe everything these families did for me.  I have to admit that my favorite gift was written in a card.  One of my sweetest girls wrote about how much I mean to her.  She said that if she has 1,000,000,000,000,000 dollars, she would give it all to me because I have that much of an impact on her.  That is powerful stuff.  I owe some big thanks to my wonderful little class family.

The evening led to reconnecting with someone I haven't seen for two years.  It amazes me how much change there is in life, and yet so much doesn't. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 354: Glitter

There is glitter everywhere.  Today was our holiday party and let's just say I am happy it is over.  Now to do the 20 million things I still need to do.  Snow day tomorrow?  I don't think it's going to happen.

I was cooking dinner tonight when I noticed something I put up this summer.  My parents were watching Kendra while I was gone, so I left emergency numbers and my itinerary.  I think I'll leave it up there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 353: Mercy

I feel like I am playing a game of mercy and I am ready to shout it out.  As if things weren't challenging enough at work, let's add more.  I can't really talk about what is going on, but I just want to crawl under a desk and hide sometimes.

One neat moment I had recently was looking through my grandmother's bible from my dad's side.  She passed away before I was born, so the only way I know her is through my dad.  As I was thumbing through I found a record for a bowling game.  I apparently didn't get my bowling talent from that part of the family :).  How awesome to pull out a piece of paper that my aunt had stowed away in her mom's bible.  It almost immortalizes them for a moment.  I wish I had the chance to know them.  Genealogy becomes more and more interesting as I learn about where I came from.  I wish you could smell this bible.  It is what every book should smell like.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 352: The Stress Continues

I am feeling so uneasy this week.  Things should be winding down, but I see the pile of things to do and it is so overwhelming.  I need to see that it will all end soon with a glorious two weeks of freedom.  

On a fun note, my Rick Steves package arrived today.  I wish I could just have a marathon, but instead I'll allow myself to watch one episode.  Then it is time to get back to work.

I don't know why I took a picture of my feet today.  I think of feet when I think of being worn out.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 351: Whoa

I knew today would be hectic, but I was unaware it would be like this.  It was amazing to see how uneasy teachers were about returning to work.  My students were definitely nervous about coming back to school.  We talked for about an hour and I'm sure they would have continued if I let them.  I noticed a couple were uncomfortable talking about it, so we moved on.  

We received word today that our superintendent would be leaving.  I think my heart broke a little.  He has been the hope that our district needed and now he is leaving.  I don't blame him, but I worry about the future.

I'm just going to pretend I'm in this painting.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 350: One More Week

Today I prepared for the last week before break.  It is going to be crazy.  Part of me is nervous to go to work tomorrow to have the discussion about the shooting.  We were told not to intentionally have a discussion about it unless our kids had questions.  Well, I know my kids are going to have lots of questions.  I hope that I can offer some comfort for them. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day 349: Recovery

There is a chance that I had a little too much fun last night because I did not feel so great this morning.  Last night I got to meet my good friend's boyfriend.  We were having a pretty awesome time.  Of course I ran into people I knew while I was in DeKalb.  Usually that is not a good thing, but I was able to reconnect with someone I had been friends with since third grade and hadn't seen since high school.  It is crazy to think about all of the different paths our lives have taken.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Day 348: Tragedy in Elementary

What a horrible thing that has happened today.  It is unbelievable what people are capable of; both good and bad.  I can't help but imagine being that parent that waits for a child that will never return.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day 347: Dissection

Sometimes I feel like Tom Cruise in Cocktail.  That sounds odd.  What I mean is that we share a trait in common.  I am always one to go to the library and pick up books on improving myself and not necessarily searching for get rich quick schemes, but ways to increase my profit.  In the movie he was looking for his million-dollar maker and he always had a self-improvement book behind his bar.  You can see my recent collection in the image today.

I'm currently reading a memoir right now that is a little eye-opening.  Not for its affective stories, but its simplicity.  It is a memoir about a woman that moves to Paris and it is basically a collection of Facebook updates and tweets.  It is like reading short diary segments.  The thing that is amazing to me is that it sells for $26 retail and has over 100 reviews on Amazon.  I'm sure she's sold a ton of copies and has made a decent buck from this book.  The writing is good, but the format is kind of blah.  The part that is eye-opening to me is that it sells.  Perhaps Paris sells.  Or maybe it is love stories that sell.  Whatever it is, I'm trying to dissect it. 

As you can see I'm moving forward on one of my goals.  It is time to bring my experience with dissection out of the science classroom and into my reading.  How can I create success and build a new style of travel writing?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day 346: Wild

I must have had a pretty good time at dinner after work because I had the strangest dreams very early this morning.  I love when I remember my dreams, even if it is actually a nightmare.  It is like reading a book or watching a movie while I sleep.  It is so crazy what the mind comes up with when the subconscious guides it.  I sure love sleep.

Speaking of crazy, there were several accidents on my way home tonight.  One involved multiple cars.  Each night I see the death toll in Illinois go up.  921 deaths from accidents this year is the current number.  I always worry that my chances of dying in an accident have increased because I moved farther away from my job.  Then again, I never thought I would live this long, so life is looking pretty good.  I wonder if anyone else ever thought they were going to die young.  I'm glad my fate didn't match my initial hunch.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day 345: Science Fair

Today I was able to talk about a topic that I am familiar with: science.  We are trying to plan our science fair as a district and this is one area that I think I can offer something.  I've been mooching so much this year, it is nice to be able to contribute something.

After coming home I checked my mail and found a little Christmas surprise.  My aunt knows how to get me off to a good start for my trip.  I love Euros.  If only it wasn't so strong compared to our dollar.  Oh well, that won't stop me :).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 344: Become

Today, I had the idea that my students and I could complete a fun little exercise to prepare for the New Year.  Pick a word that will represent your theme for the year.  The students will create a poster to bring reality to their word and then explain it.  Here is mine:

I’ve had a dream for several years now that I have not pursued.  I want to be a published writer.  I want people to be able to go onto Amazon and select my writing to put into their cart.  I have many ambitions, and each one relates to the word: Become.  No longer will I simply let these dreams be ideas.  Starting with the New Year, they will become a reality.

I wonder what the Huskies word for next year will be...

Day 343: Organization

How sad is it that the excitement about going to work was to bring in my new toys?  I bought some blankets for the kids, a lamp for my desk, and my dad donated some storage containers.  Finally, I am figuring out how to organize my classroom!  Doesn't it look great?  I think by the end of the year I'll have a pretty good idea how to run this thing next year.  Sorry guinea pig students this year...

Also, I liked this picture I saw on Facebook...

I also like ellipsis...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day 342: Just the Inspiration I was Looking for

I received a call just after my waking this morning.  My dad informed me that Sunday Morning had a segment about self-publishing.  I turned on the TV immediately to see what information it had to offer.  After listening to the stories of others, I know that I need to write my book and publish it.  I have finally determined what my year long project will be for 2013.  This blog has been a great project in launching my self-reflection and analysis of what I want to do.  So here is a step-by-step of my plan.  Now that I am publishing my plan to the world, that means I will pursue it; just as I have done with this blog.

The Details:
-By December 31, 2013, I will have published a book.
-Prior to publishing a book, I will write a book (of course).
     -This summer will be dedicated to writing the book that I want to read.

To help me reach this goal, here is my plan of action:
-Write every single day (even if it is not for my book).
-Write travel articles to create a foundation.
-Finally complete my travel writing course that I started 2 years ago.
-Create an Author's Page to begin promoting my work.
-Research self-publishing.
-Read more travel writing.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Day 341: Shopping

What a wonderful Saturday.  My morning began with purchasing the new Rick Steves DVD set.  I can't wait for it to arrive.  I've seen one of the new Rome episodes, but that it is.  I want to own this set because he visits cities I've been to and interviews local guides that have led me through their cities.  A little gift to myself.

Since I began with shopping, I decided to continue.  I went all over to search for gifts for loved ones.  I stopped for lunch at Ikea.  They had a deal for their Swedish meatballs.  They are so tasty.  I was fueled to continue on with my shopping.  My last stop was at HomeGoods where I got in trouble.  I found a chair that would fit perfectly in my creativity room.  I've been wanting to have a nice chair for reading and writing in my room.  Well, now I do.  Thank you Aunt Linda and Aunt Becky for the birthday money.  I look forward to using my new chair :).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Day 340: Friday Free Time

Today was a great day with the students.  I probably enjoyed the free time the most.  We only earned 9 minutes of free time this week, but I was having too much fun, so we extended it.  The kids asked me if I wanted to play four-square with them.  I haven't played four-square in probably 21 years.  I was definitely rusty in the beginning, but before I knew it, I was in the King's square.  I would have enjoyed staying outside the rest of the afternoon.  I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful class.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Day 339: Daydream Believer

The past few weeks I've had little motivation to think about big dreams.  This morning as I was driving into work, I imagined my morning starting in Paris.  The sunrise was beautiful driving to work.  I imagined walking up the steps of Montmarte to see a sunrise.  That is definitely on my list of things to do while in Paris this summer.  I will sit on the steps and turn my head to the left as the sun lights up Paris.  I can't wait.  

Anyway, I still wonder what it would be like to live in Paris.  What if this summer is a trial for something more?  I wish that living here would be enough, but maybe it is not.  I still have 73 years of life left.  Who knows where it will take me.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day 338: Normal

Well, today didn't quite compare to yesterday, but it wasn't a bad day.  I always think it is funny that a new age never feels different.  Why would it?  It just seems like it should. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day 337: I'm Going to be 27!

 I'll be 27 in about an hour and 20 minutes!  What an amazing day.  I received amazing gifts from my students.  Flowers, pencil toppers (lol), lotion, candles, duck tape bows, a book a student wrote, and much more.  I was feeling the love.  They even made up a song with bells, bongo drums, and other instruments for my birthday!  Wow.

As if that wasn't enough, not only did my current students help me celebrate my birthday, but also past students.  I got to see students that were in the Madrigals today that I miss so much.  It is so amazing to see them grow up.  I received calls from past students, visits, and letters.  How do they remember that it is my birthday?  I have to admit that I am feeling like a pretty amazing teacher tonight.  The funny thing is if you ask them what content they learned from me, it may be little, but if you ask about the bonds and relationships I built with them in a time when they needed it, then you'll see the difference.  I missed middle school a little today. 

My night ended with my best friend in the world.  We took our time talking and hanging out over a delicious dinner.  I can't imagine not having conversations with the best man in the world (in my opinion).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 336: 1 More Day

In one more day I will be 27. When I think back on 26, I am amazed at the great year that I had.  In fact, I don't think I've ever had a better year.  Sure it wasn't perfect everyday, but there were so many great moments that sent it soaring above the rest. Here are the top 10 moments of my 26th year of life:
1. It began with a wine night, how much better could it be?
2. I graduated with my Masters!
3. Finally being offered the opportunity to teach Elementary.
4. Going to Provence with my aunts.  Spending my one free week of sanity with the best travel buddies anyone could ever ask for.  I had been so sick in the spring, but magically, I was cured in France.
5. Seeing my dad not only think about what he'd like to do with the rest of his life, but also go for it.  You are a crazy adrenaline junky, but I can't say I don't get it.
6. Finding a place that truly feels like home.
7. Making the biggest impulsive decision I've ever made this summer.
8. Meeting some of the coolest people and sharing unforgettable experiences with them.
9. Participating in experiences that the old me never would have considered and being so thankful that I did.
10. And most importantly, my family and friends are healthy and safe.  They are the kindling to my fire and without them, there is nothing to transform a spark into a roaring fire.  They are the ones that not only let me have my big dreams, but encourage me to pursue them.  They are the reason this year has been what it has for me.  Thank you!

I wonder what 27 has to offer.  I can only wish that it can mimic the greatness of 26.

I was putzing around the internet tonight and found some cool birthday things.  Apparently there is such a thing as a birth tree.  Who knew?   I am a hornbeam tree.  I wonder if I've ever seen this tree.

I also found out my "birthpath."  I am typically one that never believes in these things, but it feels pretty dead on.  Here is what the website says:

Description of your 3 Birthpath

  • Within you is a natural gift of self-expression to be developed and employed for the education, upliftment, and betterment of humanity. Your purpose is to impart to others the philosophical, factual comprehension of the basic truths of life.  (wow, does this feel true to me)
  • Your role is to learn to understand the heart and mind of others, to work with people, and to encourage each person's best qualities, for example in teaching, consulting, or counselling. Use the positive expressions of the power of language to generate happiness for others through a sense of humour, acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, and consideration. By living to the maxim that to live is to give, you would earn the trust and support of people. (Umm, I am a teacher, hello)
  • Your inner quality requires that you merge with others in order to have a balanced perspective of your obligation to people. You should avoid being drawn into emotional experiences against your better judgment. Maintaining confidences would earn you respect and long-lasting friendships. (I don't know how many times I've talked about balance.  This is the number one reason I have a moon tattoo.  I am only partially balanced.)
  • Your inner potential will find fullest expression in circumstances in which versatility and creativity are required, free from monotony and limitations. Establishing clear ideals and goals on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis would prevent procrastination, uncompleted commitments, and the scattering of your efforts. (Routine used to be a comfort when I was little, but now I want more freedom and change.)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 335: Detox Day

 Since the holidays have started and winter has begun, my eating habits have changed.  It is time to detox and get back to normal portions and healthy choices.  I first learned about the detox from "French Women Don't Get Fat."  Now, the title may sound a little ridiculous, but the author brings up some great points and it has definitely worked for me (when I follow it). 

Beyond a diet detox, I also took the opportunity to have a brain detox.  Today was supposed to be a day for me.  No work.  Relaxation, getting outside, reading, using some creativity; these are all things I hoped to accomplish.  On a beautiful day like today, it was hard to stay inside, so I drove to the city to walk around for awhile.  I listened to French music and tried to pretend I was in France.  I wasn't exactly successful with that, but I still enjoyed going in.  The Willis Tower isn't exactly the Eiffel Tower.  My mind doesn't exactly feel detoxed because it is Sunday night and I think we all know what thoughts are creeping into my mind, but it wasn't a bad day.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day 334: Lincoln and Escargot

My title may seem like an odd combination of words, but these words represent what I wanted to do with my parents for my birthday.  I've really been wanting to see the new Lincoln movie and it was just as good as I hoped.  I've always been so fascinated with Lincoln.  What amazing actors.

After the movie I was all puffy-eyed.  You'd think the story wouldn't get to me because I've heard it so many times, but it still does.  So, sniffy and red-eyed, we went to Hugo's Frog Bar for dinner.  They have some wonderful appetizers that we all share.  My favorites are the escargot and crab cakes.  Yum!