Busy Busy Bee

Happy Friday! It was not my intention to have yet another title using alliteration, but it happened and I am okay with it. I had a jam-packed day and have another one tomorrow. Here’s the low-down…

One of my professional goals is to improve my teaching and always be looking for new ways to get kids thinking deeply.  I went to a reading conference in Milwaukee and had so much fun! I have gone to this particular conference for the last three years and I always come back inspired and refreshed. A session led by Carol Jago really hit home for me, and I can’t wait to use what I learned from her in the classroom next week already.  This conference was a little different than past ones because I knew two people presenting; a college friend, Nicole, presented a session about “brain speech” and a colleague friend of mine presented about reading interventions at the secondary level. I am very proud of both of them!

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One session I attended emphasized the importance of writing in front of your students and seeing yourself as a writer, which is one of the reasons I started this blog! Yah for self-reflection and growth!

When I got back to town, I picked up the dogs from daycare, dropped them off at home, and headed to meet Brody for dinner before the hockey game. We ended up at Brickhouse BBQ; I had a Celebration by Sierra Nevada and the Pulled Pork Cobb salad (and of course forgot to take a photo – epic fail). It was delicious even though they forgot the hard boiled egg. We ate quickly and headed to the Badger hockey game.

“This is the worst day of my life so far.”
-Brody, 9:58pm

This quote should be an indicator for how the Badgers played. It was not pretty: multiple fights, roughing the goalie (us roughing theirs), and a score of 0-5 when we left at the end of the second period.

Wisconsin Badgers losing to St. Cloud State Huskies

To continue my busyness, I need to run four miles tomorrow morning, meet a coworker friend for coffee at 7:30am, and judge a forensics tournament from 8:30am to mid-afternoon. B and I have dinner plans tomorrow night with another couple; we are going to Muramoto. Not only is their sushi fantastic, they make a killer cocktail called Sunset Over Soho.

Whether your weekend is busy and active or lazy and slow, have great one!

Windy City Weekend

On weekends when I am home, I don’t mind Sundays. I’ve had Saturday to get stuff done (dishes, laundry, grading, etc.) and prepare for the upcoming week. But on weekends when Brody and I travel, I despise Sundays. I become grumpy, easily frustrated, and lazy. I am fighting all of those adjectives by making minestone soup, doing laundry, sending Brody to the store, picking up around the house, and writing this. I also have plans to run a few miles at the gym and do some grading while Brody plays hockey across the street in his Sunday night league.

I shouldn’t really complain. We had a fantastic weekend in Chicago visiting all of our friends who live there, and it was totally worth it.

In the last two years, we’ve realized that driving into Chicago on a Friday night can be miserable. Depending on the traffic, it can take more than three hours, and we end up annoyed and stressed out. Enter the Metra. For $7 – $8, you can pick up the train in Northern Illinois (Harvard normally for us) and take it right into the city. Not only do you avoid traffic, but you also do not pay tolls, do not have to deal with having a car in the city and finding parking, and both you and your significant other get to relax. Once again, though, we forgot to bring drinks for the ride. We felt kind of lame when a pretty 20-something sat down by us and pulled out a Coors Light tallboy. Oh well – next time.

After arriving in Chicago a little after 7pm and freshening up, Brody, myself, our friend Clark, and his girlfriend headed over to Irazu. We saw this on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and were super excited to try it. The wait was forty minutes, so we headed back to Clark’s condo across the street to have some beverages. An hour later and still no call from Irazu. It was after 9pm, and we were hungry. We gave up on Irazu (next time hopefully!) and ended up a Cafe con Leche, a cute little Mexican restaurant.

This restaurant does not have its liquor license; gotta love BYOB! So much cheaper.

For my entree I ordered the vegetarian burrito, Clark’s girlfriend Megan got the chicken burrito, Brody had the chicken with mole sauce, and Clark had tacos (not sure what kind). My burrito was tasty with crunchy veggies and not too much cheese. The black beans, rice, and guacamole on the side were good compliments to the main dish.

It rarely happens that I don’t dig into Brody’s food as well, so of course I tried his mole sauce. I thought it was a little heavy on the cumin, but I don’t really like cumin. Brody ate it all, but later said he agreed with me on the cumin.

Dinner was fun and the company was lovely. The bathroom at the restaurant, however, was neither fun nor lovely. Megan brought my camera into the bathroom with her. Some images (all appropriate) for your viewing pleasure :)

Yes, that is a fire extinguisher in the bathroom, and yes, there is a chunk cut out of the door so that it can open past the sink. All four of us agreed this bathroom would not pass city code regulations.

By the time we finished dinner it was already 10:30pm, and after working a full day, no one was looking for a crazy night out. We headed to Floyd’s, a local bar, and I ended up having a pale ale while looking up info about The Beauty and the Beast tv series on imdb with Megan on her phone. Good times reminiscing about 1980s television. The four of us were home and sleeping by 1am.

When I woke up at 8:30am, I knew I needed to get by butt going. Humboldt Park was calling my name and I had breakfast plans with two college friends at 10:30am. I quickly devoured a banana and an Emerald snack pack and chugged water. Everyone thought I was nuts for running outside but I was excited.

The six miles went by surprisingly quickly. The snow and ice patches on the sidewalk kept me alert. I had expected to see more runners, but I only passed four people. The sun was shining and despite being 25 degrees, I was sweating after a mile. Overall it was a great run and made me feel more confident about running outside in the winter.

Time to talk about food again :) Two of my senior year college roommates, Steph and Carrie, live in Chicago (not together). I don’t get a chance to see them as often as I’d like, and I was thrilled when I found out they would both be in town. Steph suggested Lula in Logan Park. The three of us had so much fun catching up and eating amazing breakfast foods.

While we waited for a table, we had coffees and split a pear rosemary scone. YUMMY! It was buttery, flaky, and paired perfectly with the strong coffee.

For my meal, I ordered the sweet potato galette with ricotta cheese. On the side was a mixture of lentils, golden raisins, pomegranate seeds, and slices of a hard boiled egg. It was delicious and a great recommendation by the waiter.

We also all split a sticky bun after seeing multiple tables with them (see above…only a few bites left). I really enjoyed Lula and would go back again. It was very trendy and “hipster” but not pretentious.

Steph and Carrie dropped me off at Piece (where Brody, Clark, and other friends Ben and fiancee Lindsay were for lunch) and we said our goodbyes. I had just eaten, but the pizza looked and smelled amazing. I tried half a slice of pepperoni and it enjoyed it thoroughly.

The next part of the afternoon is unlike our normal Chicago excursions; we went shopping! Patagonia was having a 30% off sale. I bought a running jacket and Brody got a winter hat. Just down the street was lululemon, and I have been wanting to try on the TaTa Tamer after reading about it on either Tina‘s blog or Caitlin‘s blog. And the verdict? I don’t think this sports bra is for me. It’s weird to not be all smushed together, and I’m worried it would not be very supportive.

(Ummm…longest post ever!!!!)

Ben, Brody’s friend from Toledo, said he had a surprise for Brody. We drove to The Anthem, a new sports bar. The surprise was inside: a bubble hockey table! Growing up, Brody had a bubble hockey table in his basement, and he, Ben, and Brody’s dad used to play all the time. The boys had a great time reliving their younger years! Ben (in the black jacket) was even wearing a Blackhawks sweater from 9th grade. He wore it just for Brody.

We made it back to Clark and Megan’s place and got ready for a dinner party. Brody’s high school buddy Sean and his wife Nina were having everyone over for dinner, and coq au vin was on the menu. I unfortunately forgot to take pictures of the appetizers and the meal, but trust me – it was spectacular. Sean is a fantastic cook. Nina baked a carrot cake, and we had homemade ice cream alongside. Good food, lots of wine, and wonderful friends. It was a great way to spend a Saturday night in Chicago.

Brody and I caught the train a little before 11am and got into Woodstock where our cars were by noon. We stopped at a McDonald’s for a bathroom break and a little caffeine.

Caramel Mocha latte with skim milk

That, folks, was my weekend. I’m sad it’s over but happy to be home. Now I’m off to the gym to sweat out some of that wine I drank this weekend.

Hope you had a nice weekend as well!