Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell, 2009

Chad and I are sitting on the couch, I'm blogging and he's watching football. I'm not sure we'll make it to the New Year's Eve shows...but we're still awake and it's almost 9:00. Which, crazily, is late for us. I thought I would go back to January of this year to find a couple of pictures of Jordan just to see how different he is. He really isn't all that different, but he does look so much more like a boy than he did at the beginning of 2009.
I took this picture when we took Jordan for his first ever ride on a train. He loved it. I have a video of him saying, "Choo choo" when I asked him what a train said. He talked back then, but he talks sooooo much now. It's crazy.
We have been drinking lots of hot chocolate lately. Mostly, he just likes to use the spoon to scoop up the marshmallows floating on top and then ask for more marshmallows, but that's okay. This is Jordan now, December 2009.
The most fun part about the age he is right now is that he can really play. He loves to play hide and seek and he really gets it. He can be really quiet...until you say, "Jordan, I can't find you, where are you?" a few times and then he says, "I'm in here, Mom!" He can play tag now. He'll run up to me and say, "Tag, you're it!" and then take off running. He is also getting a kick out of Chad's slapstick kind of humor. He'll bash himself in the head with an empty water bottle and pretend he's knocked out and Jordan just cracks up in giggles. This is Jordan's latest hiding spot!
It's wild that 2009 is coming to an end, but I am excited for 2010. Is it bad that I'm already dreaming of summer? Being off for two weeks is just awesome...but never enough. I'm always left longing for my lazy summer to come back around. The beginning of the new year means a new American Idol and new Lost episodes. We rely on American Idol to get us through this next part of the school year and through to summer. Jordan will turn three in May, I'll be 30 in June (yikes/yippee(?)), and, probably most exciting of all, we're expecting a new baby on July 7th (definite woo hoo!)!!! So bring on 2010!!!!

More Christmas 2009

I wish I had taken more pictures from Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I took a ton, but none of them are my favorite. These, on the other hand, turned out really cute. My mom took these of Jordan and they turned out so cute. Look, he's even smiling in this one!!!!
After all the presents were opened and we were just hanging out, Jordan found a basket of red bells that he had to put on the tree. I love his little face when he's concentrating. So sweet.
Look at those little fingers!
My baby has turned into such a boy. I'm excited for 2010 with him!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chicago Chocolate Tour Take Three!

It may seem like I'm a little obsessed...okay, maybe I am, but seriously, I love going down to the city, I love chocolate, I love the Chicago Chocolate Tours! This time I treated my friend Alison to a Chicago Chocolate Tour for her birthday.

We went on Tuesday when it was snowing a ton so it took us a while to get down to the city, but we made it just in time to meet our tour in Macy's. This time we did the downtown loop tour, which is the same tour I did with Kathy in March, except we got to go to the Christkindl Market in Daley Plaza which was really cool! It felt Christmas-y to be downtown when it was snowing and there were people and lights and music everywhere. I loved every second of it. I will definitely go down again next year to visit Macy's and then go to the Christkindl Market.

Alison and I by a fun tree in Macy's
The giant, heavy clocks outside of Marshall Field's (sigh, now Macy's)
The big Christmas tree in Daley Plaza. I liked it even though it was just one big tree this year instead of a million little ones put together. This one had character!
Alison and I at the Christkindl Market! Like my new hat? I couldn't resist...and I needed a was snowing people!
The wall of chocolate at Hannah's Bretzels!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!!!

I am so thankful for such a great Christmas! It was a fun year to watch Jordan opening all his presents. He was super excited for all of his presents. This year he was so happy for more Thomas trains and anything Cars. This boy was in heaven today with all the presents. We had a lot of fun seeing family and friends for Christmas celebrations. I hope everyone had a very, merry Christmas today!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Kids' Christmas Party

On Sunday, Jordan was invited over to the Garneau's for a kiddo Christmas party! First, we all went to see the Wonderland Express at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. We tried to get the kids to stand and take a picture and then before we knew it they were playing Ring Around the Rosie! They are so fun!
They seemed in awe of the trains and all the decorations once they finally got to the actually train room. Isn't this a cute picture? Alex, Jordan, and Maddy!
The Botanic Gardens makes all sorts of Chicago landmarks out of things from nature. It's like the Rose Parade in a room. Here's Soldier Field!
Silvia and I. (Jordan refused to take a picture with me...)
Here's the Michael Jordan statue outside of the old Chicago stadium (I cropped out the stadium).
Chad had to keep picking up Jordan because he wanted to see the trains go by up high on the bridges. Tried to get him to smile but he was so captivated by the stuff around him!
Alex and Jordan waiting for the train to come around.
This is Navy Pier and the ferris wheel where we got engaged!
Any guesses? What Chicago building is this? It's the Newberry Library. I'm a dork, I know. I mainly took the picture because it's where Henry DeTamble works from Time Traveler's Wife.
Here are the dads and the kids looking at the Thomas train! Alex, Jordan, Maddy, Rob, Chad, and Marc!
Then we went back to the Garneau's for a delicious lunch and treats like caramel corn and pumpkin bread. The kids played and got to open their presents!!! It was so much fun. Jordan was extremely pooped by the time we left and fell asleep right away in the car!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sledding with Dad!

On Saturday, Chad had to make a stop at Toys R Us and he spotted the sleds. We had just driven by the big hill at the park district and there were lots of kids there so he bought a sled to take Jordan sledding for the first time! After nap we got all bundled up and headed out. Poor Jordan was all wrapped up and Mom made him wear a scarf...but how adorable is this picture?
Chad pulled Jordan up the hill a few times.
And Jordan had so much fun and wanted to keep going up again and again, he did even walk up a few times on his own. How classic is this picture?
Home from sledding!
Check out that huge smile!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Success! or I Didn't Burn All the Cookies

When Jordan woke up from nap this afternoon I just had to use my new apron from Kathy so we made come chocolate crackle cookies! Jordan was a great little helper! I set this picture up on the counter and I'm not happy with how it turned out, but Jordan looks so cute...ignore my face...look at his...and my awesome apron! Isn't it cool!!!!???
Here's the recipe for these awesome, super easy cookies!


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, beaten lightly
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar plus additional for dusting hands

In a bowl (preferably metal) stir together flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt and, using finger, blend in butter. Stir in egg until mixture is blended. Spread dough in a thin layer in bowl and freeze 10 minutes, or until firm.

Preheat oven to 400°F. and lightly grease 2 baking sheets.

Spoon level teaspoons of dough onto a sheet of wax paper. Put 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar in a small bowl and dust hands with additional. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and then in confectioners' sugar in bowl. Arrange balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching sheets halfway through baking time, 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies are just set. Cool cookies on racks.

We even had some extra that we didn't devour to put into our Christmas cookie jar!Yum! I love these cookies! My mom used to make them for Christmas when we were kids AND they are super easy AND I didn't burn them AND they don't involve cookie cutters! My kind of cookies!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Eehee-Loving Peanut

I love being able to wake up and be able to hang out at home and not have to rush out of the house to work in the mornings. Winter break is awesome. I think, actually, it deserves a capital a: Awesome.

Jordan has this white, crocheted blanket that he loves to have with him all the time. He calls it his eehee, which is what Chad called his blankie when he was a tot. He is known for sucking his thumb while picking fuzz off his eehee. He'll make a cute little ball of fuzz and rub it under his nose. Lately, he's been fond of this giant green blanket we have...
I love you, Jordan Blake...and all your little fuzzies!

Love, Ruby Lavender

Most Recently Read Book:

Love, Ruby Lavender

By Deborah Wiles

I picked up this book because I have a 2nd grader who is a great reader and I need some book recommendations for her. I love Ruby Lavender as a character! She had me thinking, "Great garden of peas!" all week. This book is written in prose but has letters between Ruby and her grandmother written in. It's an interesting story about life after a close family member dies. I love that there is lots of inferencing to figure out. I'm not sure I am going to recommend it to my 2nd grader seeing that it has such an intense look at emotions and death and forgiveness and I'm not sure she's entirely ready for that, but I did thoroughly enjoy this book!

The Maze Runner

Most Recently Read Book:

The Maze Runner

By James Dashner

It was my month to pick book club choices and this is the book we voted on. I absolutely love science fiction and fantasy...especially when it comes to young adult books so I made sure a book like this was on the list of book choices. This book is a pretty crazy story about a boy who wakes up in this box and has been left in this well-run, actually, town of all adolescent boys. They all have jobs. One group is sent out into the maze every day to run around and try to figure it out. They never have figured it out but time is running low and now they really have to figure it out. Besides running the maze, they have to stay away from these crazy monster doo-hickeys that come after them. It's a crazy adventure. It is the first of a series of books (which I didn't realize) so just be warned that you might be hooked on a new series if you read this one!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Arch Enemy

Most Recently Read Book:

Arch Enemy

By Frank Beddor

This book is the third and final book in the Looking Glass Wars series. I definitely liked this book but to me, it had the feel of a third and final book. I kind of felt the same way about Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. They have to write the last book in the series but because it's kind of just tying things up it ends up being a little anti-climactic. The feel like all you're getting is the denouement (the falling action and resolution after the climax). Especially when it all ends up as you think it will or should. I still love this series. Love the characters, love the multiple plotlines, love the action.

Just in case you haven't read my blog posts about the other books in this series/trilogy, it's all about Alyss Hart from Wonderland. According to the author, the book Alice in Wonderland got the entire story all wrong. You have to read the book to figure out what Wonderland is all about and it's truly worth getting your hands on!


Most Recently Read Book:

Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It

By Kelly Gallagher

Another book every reading teacher should read! I have read so many great reading books lately that I might not have picked up if it wasn't for National Boards. It has really gotten me back on track as far as reading literature about teaching. This book has some really great ideas in it. Gallagher talks about a balance when it comes to teaching reading. We can't overdo books and we can't just tell a kid to read a book and then give them a test. There has to be a happy medium. I could not agree more. I just wish other teachers would read this and see all the statistics he has about reading and test scores. There are some remarkable statistics and tidbits of information in this short book. I'm anxious to share it with other teachers!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

National Boards

Here I am, sitting at Starbucks working on all the writing I have to do in order to earn my National Boards Certification. I'm taking a break to eat a yummy sausage and egg breakfast sandwich and to sip on a venti Calm hot tea and I just realized I have never really blogged about National Boards. I know I have tweeted about it but I haven't really talked about it on my blog.

Just because I should be devotedly working on National Boards and I need a reason to prolong my break I'll blog about it now!

National Board certification is a one-year process of analyzing and assessing and reflecting on my teaching. When I'm done I'll have written 4 15-page portfolio entries, video taped myself a million times, and taken 6 assessment center online essays...and hopefully I'll achieve National Board certification! I'll go from a standard teaching certificate to a master teaching certificate and it will be current for 10 whole years! (Compared to 5 years that a standard is good for.) One other little bonus is that the state will pay me $1500 every year for those 10 years...sounds nice but it used to be $3000 until they halved the budget this summer. But $15,000 is still a lot.

That's all the concrete stuff I'll get, but I have to tell you this is the most rewarding learning I have ever done. People say it's a ton of work, and it is, believe me. I also believe it's worthwhile work that is manageable if you just break it all down and do it a little bit at a time. Thus, my Saturday Starbucks work sessions! I was doing good at the beginning of the school year and I've gotten sidetracked lately. On Saturdays when Chad doesn't have a chiropractor appointment I sneak out of the house at 5:15 and head to Starbucks to get my work done. I love it. I was here this morning before the newspapers and when it was still completely dark and blissfully quiet (except for Starbucks' awesome music...).

Here I am:
Lovely, huh? I actually don't feel as beat up as I look in this picture!!! I think I just look tired...when I actually took a nap yesterday afternoon and then went to sleep at 7:15 after we put Jordan to bed. On another note, our house is a complete wreck seeing as it has been the last of my worries with everything going on like National Boards, teaching in general, the holidays, Christmas cards, spending time with friends and family...if you could see that you would realize, no, I am most certainly not Wonder Woman...although I like to believe I am sometimes. (No, I refuse to provide you with a picture of's not pretty.)

Okay, I've spent enough time on this procrastinating post...back to work!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Catching Fire

Most Recently Read Book:

Catching Fire

By Suzanne Collins

Sniffle. Waaah. Sniffle. Sigh. Ugh.

It is a complete understatement to say that this is an amazing book and series. I thought I liked Hunger Games, the first book in this series, but this book is quite possibly just as amazing. This trilogy is about a dystopic society where two members of each of the 12 districts are selected to participate in the Hunger Games. The tributes are put into an arena and left to fend for themselves...until their deaths. The last person alive is the victor. If the first story isn't epic enough for you, wait until you get your hands on this one...and, believe'll want to. (And then either comment here or e-mail me because I want to hear what you think!)

Knots in My Yo-yo String

Most Recently Read Book:

Knots in My Yo-yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid

By Jerry Spinelli

Jerry Spinelli is one of my favorite authors. I loved Maniac Magee when I read it in junior high school and, more recently, I have loved Stargirl, Love, Stargirl, and Milkweed. Reading Spinelli's autobiography of his life growing up really gives insight into some of his stories. I told some of my students I was reading it and they were asking me if he had a hard life. Truth be told, he really didn't have a hard life. He had a fun life. He had a life of playing baseball in sandlots and riding his bike all over town. It's a nice glimpse of life in the 50's. Each chapter seems a little disconnected from the others, even though he tries to tie it together with the idea of knots in his yo-yo string, but overall it was a nice, reminiscent read (not that I was alive in the 50's...but you know what I mean.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

Yippee! I got an award! Emily Wood is my newest bestest blog friend and she just gave me an award today. What a great end to a long Monday: to come home and see that I made the cut!

Here's what I have to do to accept the award:

List 10 things that make you happy.
Try and do at least one of them today.
Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day.
Link back to the person that tagged you.

1. My friends and family! Here we are with only some of our closest friends when we got married in Las Vegas. I love this picture. This is probably the picture I have with the most of our closest and friends and family.
2. Rainbows! Chad took this picture of meforever ago, after we had just bought our townhouse. It's actually a double rainbow and it went completely all around.
3. A big ol' bucket of freshly popped popcorn!
4. This bubbly cheesy bread from King Arthur Flour that I made..which I definitely think we are long overdue for...I definitely see cheesy bread in my future!5. Books! I looooooove books! Can you tell? If you read my blog at all, I'm sure you know I'm crazy for books. I took this picture in the spring after I had come home from the library...this is only one of my piles! I think these were the books I had then I had another pile of audio books and another pile of picture books. It was a great day. I love the library!
6. My mama...and my daddy. They just got back from Guatemala, where they were off having fun and climbing volcanoes for two weeks! I missed them sooooooo much. Mwah!
7. My hubby. I love this man. I'm so lucky to be married to him (as much as he can drive me crazy) he is my best friend. Always and forever. Forever and always.
8. Sleeping babies. Particularly my sleeping baby! Isn't this such a sweet picture? This is my kiddo when he was about a week old taken by my friend Krystie. I just love his little face and his pudginess. I have to go see his sweet sleeping self before I go to bed at night. I love sleeping kiddos. **I will definitely be doing this in about 10 minutes!!!**
9. Of course, I also love my kiddo when he's awake! I only got to see him for about an hour tonight but it was so nice to come home to his little smile. It's the sweetest thing to hear him say, "Hi, Mom!"

10. The power of the Internet. I know this is crazy, but being connected just makes me happy. I love checking my e-mail, reading blogs, getting updates on Twitter and Facebook. I have just really felt so connected to people I've known since I was born and people I've never even met in real life before. I was sitting in on a class last week where the teacher was talking about social media and asking how it impacts our lives. I sat there ruminating myself and it was remarkable to me how much I feel connected because of all this technology. I love it!

Ten Bloggers Who Brighten My Day (in no particular order!)