Sunday, March 31, 2013

Thank you, slicers!

Once again, it seems, I have no words to say.  This "Slice of Life" challenge is over, and I'm still deciding where this blog should go from here.  As it is, I've been inspired, challenged, and encouraged in ways I never dreamed imaginable, and I could not be more thankful for that.  I have found an incredible community here and I hope to return to it in the future.  Likewise, I hope to continue writing.  I love the way it creates a place for me to vent, to question, or to celebrate.  This has been an incredible experience for me.

Thank you from the very bottom of my heart to all who have been involved.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

No Words

I'm a words person.  Reading, writing, quotes, lyrics, movie lines...I eat, drink, and breathe words.  It's always been this way for me, so it really throws me off when I'm facing a situation where words are useless.  Having no words to make it better or make it make sense makes me feel lost.

But there are no words when your 21 year old brother calls you sobbing so hard you can't understand a word he's saying.  There are even fewer words when you realize he's telling you that the 19 year old sister of a close friend has just lost her battle to cancer.  And there will be even fewer words when I face that friend in a funeral home next week.

All I can say is I am so glad God knows how to listen to hearts.  Hearts don't need words.  Even as my brain continues to search fruitlessly, I know my prayers are being heard in their purest form.  I ask that you add your own prayers - words optional - to mine for this incredible family who will need them so very much in this difficult time.

Rest in Peace, Faith.

Friday, March 29, 2013


We tend to make a big deal out of "lasts".  We celebrate or mourn them, but we seem to have a innate desire to recognize them no matter what emotions they evoke.  We have parties when someone retires, graduates, moves - the last time they will ever be a part of a certain community.  We have bachelor and bachelorette parties - the last night being single (kind of).  We rejoice in last payments, and say tearful goodbyes.  We take a moment to watch as these moments pass.

Today, though, I took some time to think about the "lasts" that we don't expect.  The last kiss, not knowing a breakup was coming.  The last day you saw her healthy, not expecting a diagnosis.  The last time you visited a place, not realizing you would never return.  Maybe it's a little sad that it wasn't recognized at the time for what it was.  Then again, maybe not.  Maybe it's better that we treated that moment normally, so we could remember it how it truly was.  It wasn't over-emphasized or forced, it existed in its most natural state.

Does the question of whether or not a last was recognized make difference in its significance?  I'm not sure.  Either way, it seems, lasts are always something to be remembered.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Summer :)

I'm a summer girl.  Always have been, always will be.  I was thinking today about how ready I am for winter to be over and for it to be summertime, and I just really wanted to share a few of my favorite things about summer:

  • Being barefoot
  • Pool time
  • My summer job at a water park - and the greatest co-workers in the world
  • Reading in the porch
  • Sunglasses of every shape and color
  • Rarely dressing up, wearing makeup, or doing my hair
  • Bonfires
  • My little brother (and friends) coming home from school
  • Starry skies
  • Summer fruits being in season
  • Driving with the windows down and the radio blasting
  • Ice cream
  • Bike rides
  • Bike rides to get ice cream
  • Fireworks
  • Having no idea what day it is
I could really go on all day, but making this list has gotten me even more excited.  It won't be long now :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Go On, Brag a Little

I'm going to be very frank here.  I think it's sad that we feel such pressure to be modest all the time.  I understand that over-confidence is annoying and unattractive, but sometimes, I really think we deserve a chance to brag, and that's okay.  So here I go.

I planned a really awesome inquiry lesson about bird beaks on Friday.  The kids (and I) absolutely loved it, and they really did learn things from it!  It was a huge success!

Also on Friday, the selective mute child in our class spoke to me six different times!  I haven't had him speak to me six times in an entire semester!  It was so awesome to hear his voice!

I went jeans shopping the other day and bought a size smaller than I normally do.  All this hard work is paying off!

My zumba instructor complimented me on my dancing last week.  From someone who dances for a living, I'm going to take that as a huge compliment!

I got seven comments on yesterday's post!  How awesome is that?!

Okay, I'm done now, thank you for putting up with me.

What would you like to share?  Go on, brag a little!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Little Heroes

It seems strange to think about children who have to fight for their lives.  We think about kids as the epitome of life itself - full of energy, questions, and hope.  Unfortunately, not every kid is so lucky.

When I was in college, I had a crazy passion for a student organization called Dance Marathon.  DM is a year-long effort to raise money to help the kids in the pediatric oncology (kids' cancer) unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.  Much of the money raised by the organization goes to research efforts to put an end to this terrible disease.  Most of the money, however, goes towards directly helping the families that have fallen in its shadow.  Families receive care packages with parking vouchers, restaurant gift cards, and toiletry items.  Rooms are stocked with things to keep the kids entertained during their (sometimes very long) stays at the hospitals - including books, TVs, game systems, toys, coloring books, etc.  Perhaps most importantly, DM sends volunteers into the unit on a daily basis to help provide a support system to these families when they need it the most.  The organization puts on an event every February where participants who have raised at least $400 come to show their support for our kiddos.  The event is a 24-hour Dance Marathon, where participants do not sit, sleep, or consume caffeine to show that they are fighting right along with the kids.  It's an incredible event - full of laughter and tears, and, of course, plenty of dancing.  It is quite possibly my favorite 24 hours of the year, and every bit of it is "FTK" - for the kids.

These children are the bravest fighters.  They face countless painful treatments and procedures, days on end in a hospital bed, time away from family and friends, and a loss of normalcy, yet they never seem to lose that smile or that hope.  When I hear their stories, all I can think is "It's not fair."  When they tell their stories, they laugh and joke and inform us of how they will beat this evil cancer.  They are my heroes, and they have taught me so much about life and how to live it.  Today, I got some bad news about two kiddos very close to my heart.  I ask you to keep all of the kids and families who have to go through this in your thoughts and prayers.  I don't think I know anyone who deserves or needs it more.

Today, I just wanted to give a little shout out to a few of these fighters.
Addison - Your bravery inspires me every day.  You keep fighting, we'll keep praying.
Kirsten - You did it!  You kicked cancer and I could not be more happy for you!  I'm sorry your hair did not grow back pink as you had hoped, but I cannot even tell you how good it is to see your happy, smiling, healthy little face.
Connor - You're a trooper, dude.  And such a stud, too.  Stay strong, stay healthy, stay awesome.
Faith - Oh honey, you broke my heart today.  The battles never seem to end for you.  Know that my prayers are always with you and your family.  We all love you.
Dax - I never had the chance to meet you, but I do miss you.  Thank you for inspiring us all with your story.  Rest in peace sweet baby.
Dillyn - You never gave up, and taught me to do the same.  Thank you.

Last year, DM raised $1,529,650.19, bringing their 19 year total to over $12.7 million.  I'd love to encourage anyone who is interested to visit the University of Iowa Dance Marathon's website:

Monday, March 25, 2013


My friend and I thought it would be a great idea to have a sleepover tonight. I was already at her house and had plans to be back in the morning, so why not just stay? It would be just like when we were college roommates!

Well. We hit 12:30 and we've been fading fast ever since.

Growing up is not nearly as fun as I had thought it would be.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Old Friends, True Friends Continued...

"They know who you are.  They know who you're not."

This was part of my post the other day, and I really loved it, so I thought I would play around with it a bit more.

Old friends know who you are.  They know your fashion sense, your taste in food, your favorite movies, and what you like to do when you have free time.  They were there the night you got that scar.  They know the meaning behind the nickname - and probably gave it to you in the first place.  They've been there through the things in your life that made you who you are, or at least know the stories well enough to understand.  They pick up on your moods, good or bad.  They know just what to do to alter or maintain those moods.  They know who you are, why you are, and where you are.

Old friends also know who you're not.  They know when the smile on your face is fake.  They notice when the outfit you're wearing has been put together with someone else in mind.  They look past the rumors and assumptions of others to see what really happened.  They know when you're acting differently to try to impress someone.  Putting on an act - a brave face or a silly mood has absolutely no effect around them because they'll see right through it.  They might know you're sad while you still have even yourself convinced that you're fine.

Knowing who you're not is definitely trickier, but I think it might be just a bit more important.  It takes a deeper level of friendship to understand who someone is not.  It takes time, patience, and a whole lot of communication.  But these are the friends that are best able to help you be your best self.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Nana vs. Alzheimer's

My Nana has Alzheimer's.  It's progressing pretty quickly, and I notice she's a little worse for wear nearly every time I see her these days.  It's hard to watch, and I don't just mean how the disease affects her.  It's hard to watch how my Papa struggles to cope with it and how my family tries to deal with it.

But because of Nana's illness, we've been making it a point to see my grandparents more often, and I could not be more grateful for the times we've been sharing.  My immediate family had not been close with that side of the family for some time now, so I am so thankful for the opportunity to get to know my grandparents now.

We get together for dinner, church, or a hockey game (sometimes all three) every few weeks and often spend time gathered around a table in a restaurant or kitchen laughing like maniacs.  I've learned so much about my grandparents.  How they met, the jobs the had, the struggles they faced, and the joys they shared.  I've learned about who my mom was as a kid.  I've heard stories about my aunts and uncles.  And I love every second of it.

Tonight, Nana told me two or three different stories multiple times over the same short meal.  She pretended to know the correct responses at Church.  She asked us three times where we were going to dinner.  She probably would not have known my name if my Papa had not prepared her for us coming over.  The way I see it, I could count the mistakes she makes, the signs that point to her failing health.  Or I could count the positive moments.  The stories she told about meeting Papa.  The smile on her face when she told me she had loved him for 50 years.  Reminiscing about pets my mom and her siblings used to have.  The look on her face as she covered her mouth when she almost swore loudly in a crowded restaurant.

That's how I want to remember her.  That's how she deserves to be remembered.  Alzheimer's is cruel, but in taking away Nana's ability to remember, it has, in a sense, given me the opportunity to get to know her.  I know how lucky I am to have this chance, and I don't plan to waste it.

Friday, March 22, 2013


I just spent the last couple of hours watching the movie "Here Comes the Boom."  I wouldn't recommend it, especially for someone like me who has zero interest in professional fighting, but I did pull one worthwhile line out of it.

"That's our job as teachers. To inspire." (or something along those lines)

I thought about how hard we work every day to find a way to inspire our kids.  We want to inspire them to read, to write, to work hard.  We find ways to make lessons interesting, we give them chances to do hands-on work, and we encourage them every chance we get.  Yes, it is in our job description to inspire.

But what I love about teaching is the ways those kids inspire me.  They inspire me to work a little harder, to try new things.  They teach me to appreciate the little things and laugh at my mistakes.  They make me laugh and they make me cry, and they attach themselves to my heart in ways I never expected.

It might be my job to inspire, but I think I'm really in the business for the inspiration.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Old Friends, True Friends

There's a special kind of comfort to be found in old friends.

I'm talking about the friends you may have lost touch with, the ones that maybe you don't talk to on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis.  The ones that you used to know well, but life got in the way and now you struggle to remember the last time you heard their voice.  The ones that kind of come and go with the seasons or the years.

But even as they come and go, they seem to always be there when you need them.  The day you had exciting news to share.  The day your heart was broken.  The day you had that panic attack.  The day you were lonely beyond words.  The day you just needed to hear the honest-to-goodness truth.  The day you needed a hand to hold.

They know who you are.  They know who you're not.  They know where you've been  They'll be with you wherever you end up.  The honesty that comes from those simple things is an absolute treasure, one that I take for granted all too often.

So here's to those friends.  You know who you are.

Thank you.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What's my job again?

I don't think I ever realized that being a teacher would also make me a nurse/miracle worker.  The "emergencies" my kiddos have on a daily basis never cease to amaze me, but it's fun being able to fix them!  For example, stomach aches can almost always be fixed with a reminder to go to the bathroom.  It's amazing how fast headaches disappear when it's almost time for lunch.  And most little body aches can be fixed with a band-aid - regardless of whether skin has been broken.  However, sometimes, there's are more pressing emergencies, and I amaze myself with the remedies I know!

One little girl told me, "Miss Magee, there's something in my eye and it really hurts and I'm pretty sure it's a branch."
Diagnosis: Blink a whole bunch.

I was told one of my students felt like there was a knife in his side.
Diagnosis: 3 deep breaths and a drink of water.

Just yesterday, a boy came up to me frantically clutching his chest.  "Miss Magee!  I think my heart stopped beating!"
Diagnosis: A deep breath and a re-positioned hand.

I know I'm not actually a nurse.  I know I can't actually cure real ailments.  But it's kind of fun being a miracle worker once in a while :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Any Dream Will Do

I have loved the movie/play "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" since before I can even remember.  I've known every word of every song for what seems like my entire life, and have a particular affection for belting them out in the car, in the shower, and on the treadmill.  In fact, when I was seven, I was so good at singing every word (usually even the right ones!) to every song on every car ride, that my mom wrote to some hot shot and I got to meet Donny Osmond after a show in Chicago.  The real Joseph!  Anyway...  

Today, I was on the treadmill listening to the familiar songs, singing them when I had the breath to do so, dancing just enough so I wouldn't completely wipe out, and remembering my favorite parts in the movie, when a line I've sung a million times before seemed to jump out at me.

"But all that I say can be told another way
In the story of a boy whose dream came true...
And he could be you."

That last line made me stop and think.  My thoughts got all tangled up in my head, but they went something like this: he could be you, wish I could be a hero, could that happen in real life?, cool lesson, books should teach this lesson, wait, this is technically based on a book, does it matter if it's real life?...lightbulb.

That's exactly why we read, isn't it?  Maybe we can't all be a hero like Joseph just by doing our thing, but maybe that's why we read.  So we can be the hero, at least for a little while.

I can be Joseph, interpreting dreams for Pharaoh and saving Egypt.
I can be Frodo, to destroying the One Ring in the fires of Mordor.
I can be Wendy, venturing into the world of the Lost Boys.
I can be Gatsby, spending my entire life trying to be good enough Daisy.
I can be Holden, struggling just to make it through.
I can be Scout, trying to understand why life is so unfair.
can be Harry, sacrificing myself to defeat Voldemort.

Maybe I'll never save Egypt, or defeat an evil mastermind, or find a magical place where no one grows up.  But I love that I can try that life out for a while, live it, breathe it, sing it.  I can be anything with the turn of a page.

Monday, March 18, 2013

How do you make a kid care?

How do you make a kid care?

I tutor my neighbor, a high school girl, in just about every subject.  We work for 30 minutes to an hour five nights every week on whatever homework she has.  I've been brushing up on my Algebra II, American History, and Spanish III.  Some days I think the work is just as much of a challenge for me as it is for her!

When we're working together, she works hard.  I think it helps her to have someone sitting next to her, encouraging her to give everything a try and to keep trying when she would normally give up.  We work together pretty well, talking things out and laughing at things as we go.

But I've noticed that when she takes test or works on things alone, she tends to slack off.  She gives up more easily, shrugs things off, and neglects to do things altogether.  If no one pushes her, she simply stops caring.

She's going to be applying to colleges soon, so obviously grades are important.  Moreover, she needs to build up a solid work ethic for when she does get into college.

How do you instill that motivation, that drive?  How do you make a kid care?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lesson Learned

Ever have one of those moments when you just know God is trying to teach you a lesson?

I had set today aside to work on lessons for the week and finish up some midterm papers to add to my student teaching portfolio.  I probably should have been working on both of these things during the course of the entire weekend, but we had some family parties and I had been asked to help out at Saturday job fair, so I put it off.

I woke up today to find that my computer wouldn't start.  Now, my computer is old and tired, and has a long list of things it can't do anymore, but starting up was not one of them.  Okay, not good.  Panic.  I have a bunch of things on there I did not back up.  Luckily, a quick trip to Best Buy got my computer started, but it looks like my poor computer may not last much longer.

Then my family wanted to go out to breakfast before my brother went back to school, and really wanted me to come.  Nice guilt trip there.  Another hour gone.

Then I realized a few of the documents I needed were on my computer at school, and I had forgotten to email them to myself.  Time for a quick trip to school.

When I got home again, our Internet decided it was going to take a break.  Another delay.

I am finally done with the projects I wanted to complete, thank goodness.  But it was one of those days where I just wanted to scream at the sky, "Okay God!  I GET IT!"

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Daily 5 is HARD

Today, I finally got it.  The lesson that was supposed to be learned from this writing experiment: writing every day is tough!  It dawned on me why it is so darn difficult for students to work on Daily 5 every day without getting off task.  Their options, which seem infinite and time consuming to us, are really freaking hard when it comes down to it.

Work on Writing:
It's hard for me to think of something to write about every day.  I can look all day long for something to write about, and come up with absolutely nothing.  I want to write something good, something powerful, something people will love and comment on endlessly, but it rarely happens that way, and I'm sure my students feel the same.  Not to mention, I'm pulling from 22 years of things to write about.  My students are pulling from seven, half of which they cannot even remember.  No wonder they seem to never have anything to write about.

Read to Self:
I think as teachers we all fantasize about having time to read for hours on end, especially a book that does not need to be studied or evaluated.  I know I dream of having that kind of free time.  But let's face it.  I'm in the middle of three different books right now, and after about an hour or two, my body gets tired of being in the same position and my eyes start to hurt and I have to find something else to do.  For kids, that time limit is maybe `10-15 minutes; anything else is an eternity to them.  And they're supposed to pick just one book?  Come on.

Read to Someone:
This always sounds so much more fun than reading alone, but it's never quite as awesome as we think it will be.  Often, our buddy is at a different reading level than we are, so we are either dragged down by their slow speed and comprehension or lost to their superior skills.  Either way, a student will lose focus.  And when a student loses focus, they'll start to mess around, and with a buddy so close by....well, we all know what happens then.

Word Work:
Yes!  It is super fun to write words on markerboards or with magnets or with chalk or with stamps or whatever...but really, how many times and ways can you play around with the same words without getting bored.  Before long, you're drawing pictures on the markerboard, making designs with the magnets, or there is ink all over your fingers and work space.  And word work has gone down the drain.

Listen to Reading:
Great idea for helping with fluency and adding some extra excitement to stories.  But when the words are being read to you, it leaves your eyes free to roam...onto one distraction, then another, then another....wait, what page should I be on?

So maybe the kids are right.  Daily 5 really is hard!  I'm not going to be the genius that comes up with the new and better way to do things, but I'm just saying: I get it now.  I see where they're coming from.  And they're right.

Friday, March 15, 2013

It's the People

My thought for the day: It's not about where you are or what you're doing, it's about who you're with.

For example:

Every Monday night, you find me in my PJs, snuggled up on my best friend's couch watching The Bachelor.  Do I really like the show that much that I have to drive 15 minutes to watch the DVR'd episode late at night?  No, not really.  Do I love spending 2 hours a week with those same 4 people enough to deal with the drive and the late night?  Absolutely.

Once in a while, you'll find me sitting on a couch watching 4 boys play video games.  Do I have any idea what's going on?  Nope.  Do I have any video game talent whatsoever?  Nope.  Do I love all 4 of these boys like brothers, enough to make me sit through video games?  Absolutely.

Before going to college, buying football tickets seemed like a huge waste of money.  Do I love football?  Nope.  Do I really understand all the calls and plays?  Nope.  Do I keep track of records and rankings? Nope.  Do I love donning that black and gold on Saturday mornings in the fall with thousands of other fans?  Absolutely.  (And have I learned to love the game?  Absolutely.)

Tonight, I went to see the new Oz movie with my family.  Did I really want to see it?  Nope.  Did I really think it was a quality movie?  Not really.  Was I loving every second my family was together?  Absolutely.

Two years in a row of spring break at Panama City Beach.  Did I really have the money for that?  Nope.  Was I that big of a party kid that I wanted to go be drunk on a beach for a week?  Not really.  Was I thrilled to have a week on a beach with my best friends without a single thought for work or homework?  Absolutely.

A summer job as a supervisor at a waterpark.  Do I love sweating like crazy for 8 hours a day?  Nope.  Do I love the oil burns, the crabby customers, and the sore muscles at the end of the day?  Definitely not.  Do I love the relationships I've found in my fellow slaves?  Absolutely.

Applying for a leadership role for Dance Marathon my senior year of college.  Did I really have the time for that?  Nope.  Did I really have the money and energy to spend on that?  Nope.  Did I believe in the kids we fought for and the people who were fighting alongside me?  Absolutely.

It's the people that make the moments, not the places, or the events, or the things.  It's the people.

Always, always the people.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shaking with Excitement

Lately, I've been getting a good laugh from the things that my first graders find funny.  

Like Culver's night.  The teachers volunteer at the event, and are in charge of delivering the food to the tables.  These kids think that's the best thing in the world to have their teachers set that blue tray on their tables.  I didn't make the food.  I didn't even put the food on the tray.  Literally all I did was take the tray from the Culver's man and find the matching number, and my kiddos were literally shaking with excitement as I approached their tables!

And like today.  We had a mini walk-a-thon during P.E. to show support for a teacher with cancer.  I spent a half hour with my kids, walking in a circle around the gym and rocking out to some fun music with them.  One kid was actually rolling on the floor laughing at my dance moves.  I was doing the cha-cha slide.  It's not like anyone can look much more ridiculous than anyone else doing that dance.  But they thought it was great that I was there and participating!

So here's my thought.  I'm going to start looking at the things that happen every day through the eyes of a first grader.  I'm going to get excited about the little things.  I'm going to tremble with excitement about the fact that we had a PJ day today.  I'm going to laugh out loud at my mom's silly jokes.  I'm going to bust out the best dance moves when my favorite One Direction song comes on the radio (I wish I was kidding with that one).

I noticed that it's easy to let the little things drag us down, but we often wait for the big things to bring us up.  Big things don't happen that often.  I wish they did, but they don't.  We'd have much better luck  counting the many good little things that happen every day.  It's time to start noticing them.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Momma, My Hero

Seven short years ago, I probably would have told you that I hoped to grow up to be exactly the opposite of my mother.  We didn't quite see eye to eye during my high school days, but I suppose that's a pretty normal mother/daughter relationship for that age.  

Now though, I've realized how incredible my mom truly is.  I've learned so much about her and seen so much more of her life outside of being "mom" in the past few years, that it amazes me that I didn't see it sooner.  My mom is my hero.  

This woman has overcome obstacles and difficulties I could not even imagine.  She's experienced betrayals and heartaches that no one should ever have to experience.  She's even kicked cancer's butt...twice.  She's been through hell, but never let it defeat her.

Despite everything, she has become the most amazing person.  She volunteers weekly at the food pantry and monthly at a homeless shelter.  She is an elementary school secretary (and we all know it takes a saint to do that job!).  She has a list of 30 names - adults and kids, friends and family, even friends of family - that she sends cards to monthly, just to let them know she's thinking about them.  She spends every bit of her spare change on charities and other things she believes in, like her kids.  She has been my loudest cheerleader, my toughest coach, and my most dependable teammate.  

I am so blessed to have someone I can look up to so much in my life at all, let alone as my mother.  It's hard to imagine those days when we disagreed on everything, because we have become so ridiculously similar.  Not a day goes by that I don't find myself laughing to myself thinking That's something my mother would have said.  

I only pray I can "grow up" to be half the woman she is - half of her strength, half of her optimism, half of her determinism.  If I can do that, I'll be just fine.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A short post for a long day...

Today was a long day.  Between the time change, the extra hour of The Bachelor last night, and an attempt at weaning myself off my caffeine addiction...I was tired.

I told myself that if I could get through the evening's lesson planning, dinner with Mom, tutoring my neighbor, and a little workout, I could reward myself.

So, I took a bubble bath.

I can't remember the last time I made such a great decision.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Look At My This!

One of the things I've noticed about my family (extended family included) is that we tend to keep some of our "baby language" as part of our everyday speech - even when the babies have long since grown up.  I've thought about a few of these family-specific vocabulary words today, and how no one else would have a clue what we were talking about if these conversations were overheard.  I guess it's just part of what makes my family, my family.  I think some of them are pretty cute/funny, so I've decided to share them with you :)

"Yaw" - the name my brother made up for me when he was little and still learning to talk.  Not being able to say J's or L's makes it pretty hard to say "Jill," so this is what he came up with instead.  He still occasionally addresses things to me with this name.

"Bouy" - when my nephew was a baby, his parents often called him "Raleigh Boy."  One time, when they were visiting us, my niece kept calling him "Raleigh Bouy."  It took us the longest time to figure out what she was saying, but the nickname "Bouy" kind of stuck.

"Somefing-to-frink" - this is said as one word, very quickly.  My cousin used to asking for somefingtofrink when he was thirsty.  Unfortnately for him, this one also took some time to decipher.

"Dinger" - this was how I pronounced "finger" the time I gleefully informed my parents that my brother had "licked his dinger!"  (And yes, the fact that it sounds inappropriate is still funny today.)

"J-I-L-L-only-two-L's" - my Nana still calls me this once in a while, referring to me learning to spell my name, and using as many L's as it took for someone to tell me to stop it already.

"Look at my this!" - another one of mine.  When I found something new and exciting, I loved to share it with people, even if I wasn't quite sure what it was.

"I gotta bad disease" - this one's my sister's doing.  She used to sing "I'm On Fire" by Bruce Springsteen all the time - but she mis-heard one of the lyrics.  

Talk at family gatherings almost always turn towards the past, and we are constantly remembering and forgetting these funny things that were said.  I wonder - is this something that just my strange family does?  Or does your family do it too?  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Brother is Home!

It's kind of funny how being around certain people makes you revert to old habits and ways of doing things.  For me, that person is my brother.  Both of us are in our 20's now, but we revert to the six-year-olds we once were the moment we find each other in the same zip code.

For example, just the other day, he came home for spring break.  I was in the middle of stressing out about job applications (see yesterday's post), but the moment he walked in the door, I tackled him.  This was a lot easier when he wasn't a foot and a half taller than me, but I promise I made a good effort.

That night, we went to church.  Turns out, Dad still has to sit in the middle of us to keep us from messing around.

Later, we went to a minor league hockey game.  He and I spent the hour-long car ride (both ways) slapping, tattling, and making up silly rhyming games.  We then proceeded to spend the three hour game pelting each other with popcorn.

Over dinner tonight, we were tossing the aluminum foil from the baked potatoes into each other's milk glasses.  

We're children, and it drives our parents nuts.  But honestly, it feels pretty darn good to go back to that mindset once in a while.  When he's around, my biggest worry is how bad his farts smell.  I'm laughing the entire time.  And I'm relaxed.  I'm me, in the purest and simplest form.  

I know I can go to him when things get tough, and I often do.  But I treasure the silliness he brings to my life. I love being a six-year-old once in a while.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Cry for Help...

As you may have picked up already, I am currently a student teacher.  This means I am in the middle of the very daunting task of applying for an actual, real-life, big girl, salaried job.

This is absolutely terrifying.  I officially submitted my first application today, and actually had a minor panic attack when that big SUBMIT button showed up on my screen.  The fast breathing, the nausea, even a few tears...the whole shebang.  It was kind of embarrassing.

But I kept worrying that I hadn't made myself look good enough on paper.  There's not much you can do anymore to set your application apart.  You can't just stop by and drop off a resume anymore - they literally will not even take it in most places.  The application process has you fill in tiny bits of information at a time, so I'm sure every application looks exactly the same to the people reading it.  I can only say so much in a cover letter, and I definitely can't hand anyone a pink, scented resume, Elle Woods style.

So here's the thing, slicers.  You are all teachers.  Actual, real-life, big-girl (or boy), salaried teachers.  How did you do it?  I would really and truly love and cherish any little piece of advice that might help find this girl a job and get her into her own apartment.  Thank you, thank you, thank you in advance :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

An Eye-Opening Experience

Having a blind student in our class has made me painfully aware of how dependent we are on our sight.  It seems like every day I notice someone saying or doing something completely normal and realize that the comment or action is totally ineffectual for him.

For example, I had this conversation with him just the other day:
Me: Good morning, J!  I like your shirt!
J: Thanks Miss Magee!  Miss Magee, what am I wearing today?

Oops.  Didn't even think about that one.

And how many times have I casually told him, "See you later!" at the end of the day, only to hear him cheerfully echo me and cringe?

Today, I noticed one of our other students chose to do "Read to Someone" with him.  She loves to help him out and they've become good friends, working together quite often.  She was reading a book to him, pointing out the words as she read them as if it would help him read better, even as she moved his fingers over the Braille letters at the bottom of the page!

We all do it: we rely so heavily on our sense of sight!  We point, we gesture, we put information on posters for later reference.  It's scary for us to imagine a world in which we couldn't see.

While I sometimes feel sad for J, wondering how he copes in such a dark world, I am also continually amazed by what he can do.  He is by far the most cheerful child in our classroom.  He retains information like  he's been studying it for months.  He can decipher voices, navigate the classroom and school, and even read with his fingers!  It's incredible!

This has definitely been an eye-opening (no pun intended - well, maybe a little) experience to me.  I hope that maybe it will make me a little more aware of the things I say and do, not just for his sake, but for the sake of all my students.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

iPod Memories

Listening to my iPod today, I started thinking about how songs have the power to take me back to a memory, a person, a place.  So, I'm putting my iPod on random, seeing where the memories take me.  This might end up being a pretty long list, but I'm honestly so fascinated by this idea, I can't really help it.  :)

Drunk on You - Luke Bryan
Spring Break, senior year of college.  When I think about what happiness means, I think of that week.  Surrounded by people who meant/mean the world to me, living life to the absolute fullest.

Whenever You Remember - Carrie Underwood
Prom, senior year.  My date "got sick" so I got to share one dance with R, the person I really wanted to be there with anyway.

Hide and Seek - Imogen Heap
That moment in the O.C.  You know what I'm talking about.

Why Georgia - John Mayer
Listening to J & B play guitar in a dorm room, serenaded to sleep by the soft notes they were playing.

I Like How It Feels - Pitbull
55 incredibly amazing people come to mind for this one.  A family.  These people changed my life for the better in every way imaginable, and this song embodies that for us.

Be My Escape - Relient K
Gathering for a high school retreat and reconnecting with an old friend.  I learned so much about myself that weekend.  So thankful for everyone involved.

Love Shack - The B-52's
A funnel cake hut and a fast friendship.  And lots and lots of sweat.

Unwritten - Natasha Bedinfield
The backseat of an astro van, en route to some Girl Scout event or another, car dancing like nobody's business.

Mamma Mia - ABBA
Finals studying with E, sitting on an unfolded futon with books everywhere.

Rack City - Tyga
This was the first time I ever noticed one of J's Facebook posts, because it was posted just after I really noticed him.  This song has been him ever since.

Without You - David Guetta
A mini Dance Marathon, interpretive dancing with my best friend.  I didn't realize at the time that this song describes perfectly how I feel without her.

Give Me Everything - Pitbull
G grabbed my hand one night at the line that says, "Grab somebody sexy tell em hey."  He loved me.  He really did.

Somebody That I Used to Know - Gotye
THE breakup.  The one that destroyed me in ways I never thought possible.  The one that I hate to admit still kind of hurts.

Year 3000 - Jonas Brothers
Rocking out with L on our way home from work.  My favorite part of the work day.

More Than Miles - Brantley Gilbert
Making a big decision.  Knowing both choices would create a difficult situation.

You Belong With Me - Taylor Swift
We were laying in the grass, soaking up some early springtime sun on the Pentacrest, talking and laughing as usual.  I wondered why in the world we never got together.  I still do.

Don't Wanna Go Home - Jason Derulo
Bathroom cries in a big green house, pinky promises, and princess crowns.

Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis
A crammed couch, a crammed minivan, and Dick's Sporting Goods late at night to celebrate a big win.

Boyfriend - Justin Bieber
A waterpark, and a little bit of everything inside of it.

Beauty and the Beast - um, Mrs. Potts?
A Halloween night slow dance in a dorm room.  The night before everything blew up.

She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy - Kenny Chesney
The most perfectly executed surprise I have ever experienced.

Feels Like Tonight - Daughtry
The first time I ever had to choose between the nice guy and the bad boy.  I made the wrong choice that night, but I will always remember that D was the right one.

My Little Girl - Tim McGraw
Daddy tucking me in to be every night.

Dream On - Aerosmith
My favorite movie in the entire world.

Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye
Bike rides in the rain.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Hero - Enrique Iglesias
Some awesome Halloween costumes and a tutu that I wish I had reason to pull out of my closet more often.

Oh wow.  This could truly go on forever.  I think it's about time to stop for the night though. :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Zumba makes me feel like SUCH a creep!

I realized today that I spend entire zumba classes starting at another woman's butt.  Not even, like, glancing at it once in a while.  Really focusing on her butt.  I'm not kidding!  My eyes are glued to that butt for 30 minutes at a time, twice a week.  How awkward is that?!

I feel like I should buy her a drink or something.
Maybe ask for her number?
Use a cheesy pickup line?

Or do we just continue to pretend like it's not happening?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Snow Day

Sledding is a lot more work than I remember.

Any snow day, no matter how old you are, should always involve a little bit of snow fun.  A friend and I decided that this meant we would embrace our inner six year olds and go sledding.  I was really looking forward to what I remembered about sledding: flying down that hill millions of times, races, and maybe a little bit of arguing about who was able to get the farthest.

Boy, was I in for a surprise.  I got to the top of that hill and I was terrified!   I saw kids with limbs flailing flying everywhere!  My body can't handle that anymore!  Plus, I don't even own nearly as many layers as I used to wear when I was little.  Ramps?  No way, don't even steer me in that direction.  Not to mention the obstacle course of children struggling back up and the sleds that clearly met their match at some point during the day.  And wow, was it a struggle making it back up that hill.

Even so, sledding was exactly what I needed today.  I spent most of the day working on job applications and adjusting lesson plans.  It felt good to let go and fly down a hill a few times - even if it wasn't the millions of times I remembered.  Warming up with a McDonald's hot chocolate and a good friend afterwards, I couldn't think of a better way to spend a snow day.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Look in the Mirror

Today's post is inspired by a rather angry Facebook post of a friend (I use the term "friend" very lightly in this situation).  I am always somewhat saddened by this person's posts because they are nearly always very negative, but those are thoughts for a different day.

Today, he claimed that, "Women wonder why men have trust issues and end up cheating...look in the mirror."  Having dated him for a short time, I can only assume I am one of these issue-inducing, cheating-causing, evil women.  So I decided to do just as he asked.

I sit here writing today, fresh out of the shower, planted in front of a mirror.  Let me tell you a little about what I see there.

I see a girl who looks a bit disheveled.  Wet hair falling everywhere.  Glasses on.  Makeup scrubbed off.  Chipped nail polish.  Eyebrows that could use some work.  She knows she could make herself look a little more put together, but is comfortable with what she looks like now.

I see a girl in Blackhawks pajamas, revealing a passion that goes beyond her waking hours.  She loves this sport and this team, and revels in sharing this passion with her family, close friends, and even the millions of other unknown fans out there.  It makes her feel connected.

I see a girl whose Blackhawks pajamas are inside out.  She's an adult now, learning to teach her own class, but there's that six year old inside her that still hopes that inside-out pjs might be the extra luck needed for a snow day tomorrow.  She'd like to spend it coloring in her coloring books.

I see tired eyes.  It's a Monday night, and she has spent the day with 22 rowdy first graders.  There's a stack of guided reading books in the background, reminding her of the things she still needs to prepare.  But there's also a smile when she thinks of these things.  She's new to this, only a student teacher, but she already loves every second of it.  She knows this is what she was born to do.

I see some muscles that are a little more toned than they used to be.  She's been saying she'd get off the couch for ages now, and she's finally done it.  She's not the most muscular girl, and she still has work to do, but she knows there are some clothes in her closet that will fit just a bit better than they used to.

I see scars.  She's got that glow-in-the-dark white Irish skin, and a family history of skin cancer.  She's already begun to battle dangerous skin cells that will only fight harder in the future.  But the scars mean she's won before.  She'll do it again.

I see other scars, maybe not quite so visible.  A worry line here, a wrinkled forehead there, a kind of slump in her shoulders.  Her life hasn't always been easy.  She's had her share of heartbreak.  She's made her mistakes.  But she's overcome that too, and you better believe she'll do it again.

Above all, I notice a contentedness about her.  She's fought some tough battles, but she's come through.  She knows where she is and she's happy with it.  She's got a long way to go, but she knows the way.  She's got support around her and strength within her.  She's going to go far.

And so, sir, I know what I see when I look in the mirror.  I'm even proud of it.  What I'm not interested in is what you see when you look at me.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Daddy's Girl

"There's nothing like a father and daughter bonding over zombies!"

I can't help but laugh at the fact that these words just came out of my father's mouth from across the room.  I've always been a daddy's girl.  We did all the cute daddy/daughter stuff together: we went to dances and bonded during car rides when I was in school; we go fishing every summer, and you can find us swearing at the TV together for most Chicago Blackhawks games.  But zombies?  Um, no.

It was an accident, I swear.  I lived with roommates for a semester who go me hooked on the show "The Walking Dead."  I resisted as much as I could, but it was a common talking point in the apartment, and I couldn't hold out forever.  Shortly after the addiction took hold, I moved back home to start student teaching.

Mom and Dad, of course, made fun of me for watching this stupid zombie show.  I laughed too - it sounded ridiculous even to me!  But still I watched, because it was far too late for me.  Mom continued to laugh, but Dad started wandering in occasionally, staying for longer and longer periods of time.  I noticed, but kept quiet.  I knew what was happening - this is exactly how I became a Blackhawks fan.

So here we are, settled in with a pair of Pepsis and some Girl Scout cookies between us.  Watching zombies.  Maybe it's not traditional daddy/daughter bonding, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Thoughts from the Treadmill

Let me preface this post by explaining this: I consider myself neither a runner nor a writer.  I'm more of an imposter doing my best to blend in under each category.  When I say I'm "running" or "going for a run", it really means I've been trying out this Couch to 5K program I found on Pinterest.  Four weeks in, I'm still on week 2, but that's another story.  Basically, it comes down to the fact that I run 2 minutes, then walk a minute for a total of 30 minutes and pretend that counts as real-life running.  And when I say I "write" I mean...well...I'm here. 

Imposter or not, I came to this conclusion on the treadmill today: running and writing, for me at least, follow almost exactly the same process. 

It always starts with a glance at the clock.  Crap.  I wanted to be in bed by now, but I swore I was going to do this!  Ugh.  Is it too late?  Should I just skip it?  Should I do it anyway?  This debate usually takes about a half hour, meaning I could have been done already by the time I finally decide to get started.  Productive, I know.

Then there's the prep time.  Lacin' up the ol' sneaks.  Pluggin' in my tired old computer.  Wrangling the hair up in the most unceremonious way possible.  What if someone sees this?  Wait, isn't that the point?  Oh no.

Ready to go.  Little bit of self talk comes in here: You got this, girl.  You've done this before, you're gonna be just fine doing it again! 

First few minutes - okay, feeling pretty good about this.  Heck yeah, I can so do this!  I'm super-fake-runner/writer! 

Mayday.  Mayday.  Mayday.  Oh sweet Jesus save me.  What in the world was I thinking?  I can't do this! I'm just pretending I could do this!  Lungs exploding.  Fingers numb.  Is this what shin splints feel like?  I think this is what they mean by writer's block.  Oh come on hair, stay put.  Where is all this sweat coming from.  Oh gross, I can feel every bit of dinner in my stomach.  My clothes are sticking to me.  Seriously, where is all this sweat coming from?!  Poor life choice.  Poor life choice.  I'm dying.  This is what dying feels like.  I've got to be dead.

Hey wait a minute.  Hey, this isn't so bad.  This is a nice song.  If this is what dying feels like, I really don't think I mind it so much.

I'm done!  I'm done I'mdoneI'mdone!  Booyah!  Cue some "We Are The Champions" please.  Wave to the fans.  Casually wipe the brow.  Flex those muscles....

....and collapse into bed.

Friday, March 1, 2013


Well this blank page is pretty terrifying.

I'm about to start slicing for the first time, and I'm really not at all sure I can do this.  In fact, I'm pretty positive I can't.  I barely have time for the things already in my schedule (let's face it, a run is probably not happening until about midnight).  Now I'm going to add to it?

Then again...there was a lot I thought I would never be able to do.

Day 1 of Kindergarten.  I came home furious.  "Dad, I just wanna know how to read!"  They hadn't taught me on the first day!  The nerve!  As far as Kindergarten me was concerned, I would never learn how to read.
My family moved when I was in elementary school.  I assured my second grade friends I would never forget them.
Mom grounded me in middle school.  I was never going to forgive her for that.
High school.  Never going to pass Calculus.
College.  Never going to be that girl that gave up and changed her major.

Turns out...
I'm currently making my way through a 600 page book.
I can't even name two people from that second grade class.
Mom and I are the best of friends.
I squeaked by with a C in Calculus.
And I did change my major in college.

Good thing I didn't change my major to fortune telling.
I've been wrong before, more times than I would care to admit.

Might as well keep the streak going.