Happy St.Patrick's Day!

Despite the fact that I'm only 1/8 Irish, I still like to celebrate like I'm full on St.Patrick's Day! Making corned beef and cabbage for dinner and relaxing with an Irish coffee and book for now. 


Influential books

I was tagged by my cousin Nikki to post a list of the top 10 most influential books in my life. As an avid reader, I had a difficult time narrowing it down to only 10, but here is my list (in no particular order):

1. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
4. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
6. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
7. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
8. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
10. Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

It's surprising how some books can leave such a lasting mark on you. To be honest, I couldn't even tell you directly why a few of these books are so important to me; I just know that they are. It's like a warm, cozy feeling you get from recalling a memory. You can't always pinpoint your exact thoughts, but you can recall how you felt at that moment. Other books, had the complete opposite response. I can quote the lines and sections that had the largest influence on my life and explain in detail why that is so. 


The power of Twitter

I recently discovered a Twitter campaign executed by students at my former high school to get Aaron Rodgers, QB of my beloved Green Bay Packers, to attend events put on by those students. Apparently, suggested by Student Council members, students bombarded Aaron Rodgers (@Aaron Rodgers12) with numerous requests via Twitter. From what I hear, Rodgers recognized the determination of the Bradford High School student body and has agreed to look at their requests.

I love this for two reasons: 1. Students took action themselves to use social media to reach their goal; 2. This shows the potential power and use of social media in education. If students can use Twitter to connect with an MVP quarterback in the NFL, they can use it to connect with fellow students, educators, professionals and others to add to the educational experience.

I applaud the students for their determination on this task and also the student council advisors for encouraging students try new methods and use Twitter to collaborate with other students to meet that goal. Good luck, BHS students; I hope you get the response you want. 


Healthy living

I've been working out a lot lately. This isn't just a New Year's resolution, but actually an effort to change my life... I want to be healthier. I want to eat healthier and workout more to improve my health and general well being. I joined a gym and have been doing well so far going consistently. I know I am not as active today as I was in college and therefore am taking it slow. I don't want to get burned out too early or discouraged from continuing the healthy process. My cousin, a previous college athlete, has helped me develop a workout routine that will target the areas I want and will, hopefully, not be so overwhelming that I quit or don't reach my full potential.

I do admit though, there have been days that I have felt disheartened. It is difficult to continue down a difficult road when you cannot clearly see the results. I have to keep telling myself that this is a marathon, not a sprint. It has somewhat become my new mantra. I have also contemplated creating an "encouragement board." Not a virtual Pinterest one in which I must actively seek out, but instead an old school magazine collage to hang on the fridge or kitchen wall as a constant reminder of my goals. I hope that as I continue leading a healthy lifestyle, I will no longer crave the bad habits I used to have and instead this healthier lifestyle will become second nature and a part of me. It is still early so I am not certain the effect it will have but I have high hopes and strong determination. 


Planning for D.C.

In a month or so, I will be landing in Washington D.C. to spend time with my best friend and satisfy my nerdy history side. I can't even begin to tell you how thrilled I am to be making this trip. It's basically been in the works for a year now, but the timing, and airplane ticket price, was never right. The deadline for a visit was approaching fast as Jessi, my aforementioned best friend, moves across country in May so... I booked the flight. It's perfect timing, really. The end of March marks the beginning of Cherry Blossom Festival season, something that I've always wanted to experience. Also, no doubt the weather will be hella nicer in Washington D.C. than the Midwest during that time of the year. {For all I know, the Midwest could be in the middle of a blizzard in April.} 

Also, as I have mentioned, HUGE HISTORY NERD! There's no where else for someone like me to go to soak in as much history than in D.C.. While I fully expect to spend as much time with my dear best friend as possible, I also have a full itinerary of historical sites and museums to visit while she is busy at work. {Thank goodness I figured out that Metro the last time I was in D.C..} Her fiance is also a big history geek so.... field trip! As a history teacher, I also hope to bring back great photographs and interesting nuggets of information to share with my students. 

A few sites and scenes I want to take in while in D.C.:
The Cherry Blossom Festival
Eastern Market flea market
Monuments: Lincoln, Washington, etc. 
Memorials: WWII, Vietnam, Korea, etc. 
Every single Smithsonian 
John F. Kennedy Center For Performing Arts
White House, Capitol building and Supreme Court
National Holocaust Museum 


Happy Valentine's Day...

... from your favorite communist leaders. While I am not a fan of this absurd holiday, I thought this was too good to pass up. I need to get these printed for my classroom around the Valentine's season.


Brewery tour

I like beer. That's no surprise. So when my friend asked me if I wanted to join her and other friends on a brewery tour, I jumped at the chance. Before embarking on our tour of hops, distillers and other brewing necessities, we enjoyed a delicious fish fry while watching the young and old polka. {Only in Wisconsin would all these things happen.} The tour at Lakefront Brewing itself was fantastic. We were lucky enough to get a young brewery tour, Mike, who though a mixture of inappropriate jokes, off-handed comments and Lucille Ball impersonations kept us laughing throughout the entire tour. Well, him and the drunk older ladies slurring ridiculous comments. 

Also, I decided that I will forever be a fan of brewery tours because I was able to try several new brews. I may even have a new favorite {Klisch}! If you are ever in the Milwaukee area, stop and try a tour or few of Lakefront Brewing's best.  


Thought-provoking application questions

As I was completing an application for a new teaching position, I came across this question: "If there were absolutely no restrictions placed upon you, what would you want to do in life?" Wow, what a simple, yet incredibly difficult question to answer.

I would travel the world exploring the different scenery, cultures, languages, histories and people. I would talk to everyone I could during these trips and listen to their stories; and possibly write a book on my experiences and their lives. How amazing would that be to actually travel to the places that I read about constantly and talk face to face with someone who lives within a culture I find fascinating?

I know that I would be so fascinated by everything that I learned throughout these journeys that I would have to share and discuss everything with others. I have always held the idea of writing a book in the back of my mind. The topic and format of the book tends to change over time, but the idea remains constant.

For a while, I was writing short stories and a fairly constant pace, but the writing of those has declined over the years. It is something that I would like to eventually begin doing again, but I never feel like I have enough time. I know, I know, if I wanted to do something enough, I'd make time. As of now, I am enthralled by the idea of creating a collection of Chuck Klosterman-esque essays. Though I may not possess quite as much snark as he does. 

I'm sure my book plan will change at least a dozen more times before I even attempt to begin writing. Still, I do plan. 

{image via}


Christening the Papa-NeeNee

This past week, my friends and I gathered together to christen a new boat the "Papa-NeeNee." She had bought the boat last fall but was unable to put it in the Milwaukee Harbor until this past weekend. It's a beautiful boat-- complete with a full living area below deck and a spacious seating area up top. Even more beautiful than the boat was the weather. We were able to cruise down the river before sunset without even a blanket to stay warm. After a relaxing night on the boat, we enjoyed a delicious fish fry at the Yacht Club. Amazing night. 


Bachelorette weekend

This past weekend my friends and I celebrated Alyssa's upcoming wedding. About 15 of us gathered at a cabin {more like a condo} in Wisconsin Dells. I was pleasantly surprised that friends from all over the country were able to fly or drive in for the festivities. We celebrated with wine, board games, a wine tasting, delicious meals, long conversations, dance parties and a wild night out. It was an incredibly fun weekend and  I'm so glad that I was able to celebrate with Alyssa and the rest of our friends. Can't wait for another friend to get engaged :)

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