Monday, September 26, 2016

Smoke Alarms and Flip Flops

I took the day off today and by “off” I mean pack lunches/ physical therapy/ school sub plans/ eye doctor/ bank/ oil change/ grocery store/ clean house/ respond to work emails/ laundry/ unload dishwasher/ take Katherine to dentist/ drop off and pickup Katherine from cross country/ cook dinner/ clean kitchen/ plan lessons. It felt SO GOOD!
As this is my 10th year balancing teaching with parenting, the challenges of September are not new to me. (Remember September vs. Allison?) And as much as I try to prepare, each year’s challenges are unique. This year, I have 29 amazing fifth graders to love. The good news: to help support all the different levels and learning styles, our class qualifies for two special education teachers and an ESOL teacher. The bad news: these three positions have yet to be hired. This is out of my control, so I just keep doing what I can do, one day at a time.
I love this bunch!
I spend a lot of time trying to balance work and home and I distract myself thinking about it all. Last week I drove to Physical Therapy to run and realized I was still wearing my flip flops. This week I tried to get a jump start on dinner by roasting a chicken while preparing for work. I opened the oven to check in and a huge poof of smoke came billowing out. “Please don’t set off the smoke alarm,” I thought as I started frantically fanning the cloud.

Beeeeeeeep, beeeeeep.   Too late.

So, when Paul ran out to the kitchen at 6:00 am to find me in my PJs waving dishtowels in the air, I could only turn, smile, and say, “Dinner’s ready!”

One of my teammates is back at work this September for the first time since having a baby. It’s not easy. “I just feel like a failure,” she mentioned as she stuffed her bag full of papers that needed grading. “I don’t understand how everyone else does this.”

Pssst—here’s our secret. We don’t. We try, but we end up burning chicken and running in flip flops. We make choices and prioritize. Sometimes that means eating Fritos and a candy bar for dinner so we’re not late to our son’s game. Sometimes it means falling asleep at 8:00 pm instead of folding laundry. We support each other and we laugh and we drink too much coffee and too much wine.  We lose ourselves in the moments that really matter--with our students, our families, and friends.

And sometimes, we take a “sick” day to stay healthy.

Monday, September 5, 2016

72 Hours in Minneapolis

My friend Chrissy is amazingly energetic, adventurous, and fun. She's also got a bit of a competitive side...which is why I really should of thought it through when I sent her a list of 21 possible ideas for our trip to Minnesota.  She took it as a challenge.  So, over the course of 3 days, we really got to know and love quite a bit of what Minneapolis has to offer. If you are headed that way, we highly recommend the following:

1. Relax on the patio of Tugg's Tavern at Saint Anthony Main enjoying a local brew and a stuffed burger while taking in the riverfront and skyline views.

2. Rent bikes from Tangletown Bike Shop and complete a 14 mile loop around Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, and Lake of the Isles.

3. Stroll through a Japanese peace garden and the country's second oldest public rose garden.
stopping to smell the roses and count the sunny days

4. Enjoy lawn bowling on roof of Brit's Pub. (Well, we didn't actually bowl. But we enjoyed seeing others "roll the bowls.")

5. Dine at Monte Carlo under the festive patio lights.

6. Sit under the stars and watch a movie in Loring Park...such a cool concept to have a live band playing during the silent 1929 black and white film, Man with A Movie Camera. We lasted about 10 minutes.

7. Sip fancy schmancy cocktails at a "secret speakeasy" (well, it's on Trip Advisor, so not really) at Prohibition on the 27th floor of the W at Foshay.

8. Check out happy hour at a few local hot spots within walking distance of our hotel.

9. Travel via Minneapolis Skyway System--those handy enclosed pedestrian footbridges get lots of use in the winter, I'm sure!

10. Flagship Target Store...because who doesn't love a good trip to Target

11. Minneapolis Institute of Art...otherwise known as Mia. We loved seeing some favorite artists here.

12. Play mini-golf at the Walker art museum. This may be the first and last time I ever beat Chrissy in anything.

13. Contemplate modern art at the Walker. Some of the art took more contemplation than others. Like the drywall we thought was part of the construction, which was actually part of the exhibit.

14. Sculpture Garden (sorta) The famous garden is under construction and looks like it will be amazing when it reopens next year. In the meantime, we managed to peek through the construction to find the iconic spoon and cherry sculpture.

15. Minnehaha Falls...because I just couldn't wait to hike up and down another flight of steps as part of my knee surgery recovery plan.

16. Mill City Museum--we rode in a grain elevator to tour this old flour mill

17. Arch Bridge--bike, walk, or just enjoy the view

18. Betty Dangers Country Club...where you can eat dinner on a ferris wheel

19. South Pacific at the Guthrie Theater

20. Mall of America. I must confess that I wasn't initially excited about this one. I mean, we have Tyson's Corner...why would I want to shop at a mall on my vacation. Fast forward to 5 hours later and we were like Odysseus' men in the land of the Lotus Eaters. We shopped, we ate, we played with Legos, we even went to a theme park in the middle of the mall.

21. Dueling Pianos at The Shout House..and it was 90's night!

I'm so thankful to Chrissy for making this adventure with me to my 37th state. I'm recovering well from knee surgery but am still not 100% and she was a patient friend as I hobbled around. As much as we were able to enjoy in our jam-packed three days, we still couldn't see everything. People kept suggesting more places to see, to eat, to explore. And we returned home on the day the fair began, although locals insisted it would be worth it to postpone our flight and stay another day. Minneapolis, thank you for your friendly hospitality. I'll be back again someday, you betcha!