Friday, May 31, 2013

Stuff Students Say: May Edition

Well y'all, we've reached June! The 19th is so stinking close I can feel it. I am planning on being the happiest person alive on that day. I'll let you know how it feels in two and a half weeks. For now, I have some fresh material for you. May was a fruitful month for the SSS installment of my blog. Sit back, read, and soak it in.

The girls can't get enough of this face.
(Referencing his success with the ladies. The seven-year-old ladies.)

He was reading a book of poems and came upon one in particular...
Rub-a-dub-dub three men in a TUB?! That's completely inappropriate!

Picture of the chubby character in Peter Pan was shown to the class...
Hey Hey Hey! That must be Fat Albert!

Ms. Gesch you know that song that talks about how you are so beautiful to me can't you seeeee? Well when I sing it I mean it about you.

Me: Do you think I want you to be screaming in my face right now?
Student: I mean yeah I think you like it a little.

Said on the first hot day outside at dismissal...
I'm gonna burn up like a hot wing on the STOVE! 

Me: What do you want to perform for our school's talent show?
Student (in song): I'M EVERY WOMANNNN!!
(That student is a male.)

Looking at Lake Michigan...
Student: Oh look at all that water Ms. Gesch! Are they sharks in there?! 
Me: No sharks live in there. This is actually a Lake, it's not an ocean. You can swim in it whenever you'd like.
Student: Okay so then you're telling me that crocodiles live in there?!

(At the Shedd Aquarium, screamed at an otter through the tank glass)
Shake that booty you seal!!!

Student: These dolphins, they just be playing all day long? Ain't they gotta do no work?
Me: No, they're animals, so they just swim and eat and sleep.
Student: People just don't make them work because they so cute.

I want to be a police officer when I grow up because then I could pull all y'all over.

Ooooo you guys Ms. Gesch is about to lose her patience! I can see it in her eyes!

Ms. Gesch. It's my stomach. He's telling me he's hungry. He wanted me to tell you that. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

No Air

This year my eyes have been opened to the other side of Chicago (and, I believe, also the other side of this country) on the opposite end of what I've been seeing otherwise for my whole life. Recess is one of those times when I see it the most.

I grew up with a soccer field, a baseball diamond, four swing sets, a jungle gym, four basketball hoops, three slides, monkey bars, teeter totters (I hear you people also call them see saws), and tire forts in my playground as I was going through the primary grades a few years shy of 20 years ago. I was able to run free and tear around for two, sometimes three times during the day. There was enough room for snow forts, kick ball, world cup soccer, freeze tag, and vicious games of boys-catch-girls. If we, heaven forbid, had an indoor recess due to extreme rain or snow situations, we had a big gym with tons of equipment in which to get our energy out.

My kids rarely get outside. They get one 15-minute recess a day. Where do we go outside, do you ask? It's called the grassy pasture by my school's administration. I call it the dirt patch. It's a chunk of ground that's about 15 feet wide and 15 yards long. No slides, no monkey bars, no basketball hoops. Just dirt. A brick border wall. Random shrubs and trees that have popped up and invaded games of red rover and tag. Oh, and a nice little sewer drain right in the middle. That's in case they successfully avoided the bushes.


Not only does this patch get ridiculously gross whenever it rains, it falls in the shadow of the school most of the day so the sun can't dry it. If we are within 15 days of any rainfall, it's a muddy mess and we can't use it. It's not my administration's fault that we have little to no options, the building where our school rents has restrictions that they need to follow as well (the first two floors are offices and a day care, and a class of 23 second-graders running around doesn't allow the little kids to nap with all the noise). My principal usually is really good at using her resources as best she can, but there are some things she can't do. She can't wave a wand and give us a field. She can't make a playground appear out of nowhere. She can't ask the day care center below us to have their 2 and 3-year-olds just not nap all day. She knows it stinks and she wishes it could change too. It is just a crappy situation. 

But what, then, becomes of my kids? With virtually zero access to fresh air (our windows are sealed shut and can't be opened due to security and safety reasons) throughout the day, recess often happens inside our own room. It happens within the same four walls where we eat breakfast, give instruction, eat lunch, have art class, and learn Spanish. I almost don't even care about the equipment any more. I'm almost even happy with the dirt patch when we even get to use that. It's a far cry from soccer fields and jungle gyms and kickball, but at least it's fresh air. It's outside. They can run. They can make up games. They can be kids

To the right, they're throwing a ladybug funeral in the wood chips. 
But, as I've seen throughout this whole year, East Garfield Park is not an easy place to be a kid. It can even be suffocating at times. There's not much air out there, but we're gasping at any chance to take a breath. 

Karley and Sam are Married.

I'm going to write about it in more detail soon, believe me. But for now, with today off from school, I'm taking the afternoon to catch up on laundry, groceries, cleaning, lesson plans, and, of course, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (can I get a witness?!). It's a nice buffer before my last kick of the school year.


Saturday. Was. Perfect.


That's really the best way to say it. Pure magic from beginning to end. I love you Karley Mae!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Karleypalooza Marches On

They're finally here...below are pictures of Karley's Bachelorette extravaganza last weekend! I got to plan this event with Jordan, Karley's best friend from Kouts. She is the most hilarious, fast-talking, genuine, loyal person and planning this thing with her was nothing but joyful. I think it's rare for a Maid of Honor to be able to say that about the process of planning Bachelorette festivities.

We started out our day with Whirlyball, which is a combination of go-karts, lacrosse, and basketball. It's really fun. Sometime I'll have to do a separate post explaining the madness and fun that is that game. After that all afternoon, we headed to the hotel for games, presents, food, and drinks. With 25 girls in attendance, this part was maybe my favorite. I got to catch up with so many friends who have moved to different stages, places, and jobs. Getting everyone together again is a special thing. Finally, we all headed out on the shuttle from the hotel to go out in Naperville, only to end our night at Five Guys for some 2 a.m. burgers and fries. It was wonderful. Five more days to go people! 

Karley and her group of friends from high school
Our friend Molly trekked down from Michigan to attend. Dedication. 
Speaking of dedication, Susan flew out from DENVER to be there! It was awesome to see her again.
How can you not love this face? 
The roommates from senior year: Melvina lives on. 
Karley, Jordan, and Susan. 
Mel, Kar, and Me.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ten Things That Make Me Really Happy

I found another post on the list of this blogger's challenge that I wanted to do. At this point in the school year after getting home from a 3-hour night class after a long day of teaching after a long two weeks of standardized tests, I'd say it's high time to stop and be thankful for some stuff. Many things make me happy (I'm easily amused), but here are ten of those many things.

1. My Kids' Big Brown Eyes. This sounds so tacky. It sounds like Karen Kingsbury or some other terribly smarmy author should have written that, but I must say that it is true. (For those of you who don't know me, I mean my students and not my actual children. Not that my students are not actual children. What I'm trying to say here is that I do not have biological kids.) They have wonderful brown eyes that give the most hilarious expressions. Granted, many of them are disrespectful expressions (my room is the eye rolling capital of the world), but my particular second graders have a way of making you forget those offenses from time to time and melting your heart for a moment. And then they cuss you out and that moment of bliss goes away, but it was there for a moment nonetheless. 

2. Snapchat. The quasi-inappropriate, funny, and friendly snaps alike all bring joy to my otherwise routine-driven day.


3. Church. Have I showed you pictures of my church before? Well now I have. The place is beautiful. And I know that it's not all about the place looking beautiful or whatever, that technically those elements of church are superficial, but I don't care. There is something about walking into my church that puts my whole self at ease. For that hour and fifteen minutes a week I would want to be nowhere else on earth than in that beautiful place.

4. Pilsen. I've talked about my corner of Chicago before and I'm sure you're bored of the infomercial for Pilsen that I often pitch to people who ask about it. But on sunny days like today, it looks heavenly to me. The uneven roads and sidewalks, the big huge shade trees, the families bustling around town, the brightly-colored buildings, it all was magic.

More pictures of bachelorette goodness are soon to follow! 
5. Weddings. Lord knows I've had my fair share of weddings this past year or so. Lord knows I've been caught complaining from time to time about the money, routines, runaround, and all that goes with them. But I'm going to let you in on a secret and tell you that no matter what, I love 'em. So much love and joy and happiness all together at once in one day and place. Karley's is next weekend and it seems to me that it's absolutely impossible for me to be more happy that a wedding is happening than I am for this one. Well maybe I'd be as excited for my own wedding someday. But maybe not even then. That's how happy I am for her. Oh my goodness I'm smiling as I'm typing.

6. Trader Joe's. Because it makes me feel like a healthy yuppy young adult and I like to feel that way sometimes.

7. Bonfires. I would be perfectly happy to have a bonfire every single night of my summer. Preferably under a clear sky in Wisconsin, but I am happy to be staring at a fire for hours in any old place.

8. Seinfeld. It has never failed to bring me joy for lo these 23 years and I'm still confused on how this one slipped past the radar of my otherwise-strict parents. They allowed me to watch new episodes each week, every one riddled with innuendo and inappropriate viewing all through the 1990's, but I'm glad they had several moments of parental mishap and let me watch the comedic genius unfold.

This might be my favorite place in the world. 
9. Spain. I miss it. I love talking about it. I love looking at pictures. I love laughing at how fat I got when I was there. I love remembering it. Anything that has to do with it makes me really, really happy.

10. Barefoot Moscato That Costs $6.00. 'Nuf said.

Monday, May 13, 2013

You Better Believe It

So I noticed the date this past Sunday. It has been a YEAR since I graduated from college and I absolutely cannot believe it. I’m an adult! (Yep, read that sentence just like you SNL-lovers all read it.)

That feels wrong. It feels wrong to say that I’m an adult because I honestly have no idea how to change the oil in my car. I feel like that’s something adults should be able to do, and I don’t know how to do it. I feel like a 14-year-old trying to fly under the radar and hope nobody notices that I’m playing hooky from 7th period only to send me back from whence I came. I usually feel like a complete imposter in this adult world post-graduation.

 Last week, however, I had someone at work pay me the compliment that they were surprised that I was 23. They thought that I acted more like a “27-year-old or something”, not a newbie right out of the gate. I have to say, I took a moment to note the statement. It’s not everday you feel like that at work in your first year of teaching. And during that one small moment of satisfaction it dawned on me how I’ve managed to stay afloat in the adult world. The secret lies in these six words:

Fake it ‘til you make it.

 You’ve heard it before, but it is the single most helpful phrase to shake off those I’m-an-inadequate-fresh-piece-of-meat-who-has-no-clue-how-to-function-in-the-real-world blues. It’s kind of been my mantra since August 1st, when I, who had no business educating in the neediest of school districts in the country, was in charge of the 2nd-grade-fates of 23 children. I had never been in an education class, let alone did I know what a 7-year-old even looked like. I didn’t know what “best practices” were for teaching and I had no freaking CLUE what RTI or IEP or PLC meant. But if I could give any advice to fresh graduates or young adults who feel like they’re in over their heads in the working world, I’m telling you to just go ahead and fake it.

Start telling yourself that you are competent, successful, and independent, and you will start to become those things. The famous George Costanza once said, “It’s not a lie if you believe it,” and to be honest I’m starting to think there’s more wisdom there than I initially thought.


Believe all the things you want to believe about yourself. Need to go to church alone for the first time? Just believe that that’s what normal people do and march right up that aisle with Starbucks in tow. Have no clue what the educational term your advisor just used in an email actually means? Google it and reply as if you knew all along. Need to navigate a weird new city with psycho drivers? Simply believe you can merge with the best of them, check the mirrors often, hang on tight, and go to town up that freeway. Afraid to walk up the steps to your apartment by yourself? Believe you are a badass girl, check up and down the street, ready the keys between your knuckles just in case, and get inside without a sweat. Not sure what is going on at work? Believe that you are one of the most competent people in the room and present yourself that way. Stay engaged, take notes, dress more professionally than you should, participate when you can at staff meetings, and be a positive energy in the room – don’t be the new girl cowering shyly in the corner. This sounds so silly; it’s an odd idea to take extra care to go at the everyday things of life with an intentional gusto, but it works. It starts to rub off on your subconscious and you start to actually become a brave, smart, independent person.

My best days of teaching are those days when I believe I’m a good teacher. My best experiences with behavior management are when I make it clear to my kids that I am an adult who will not back down.

My most fun social gatherings with new friends happen when I believe I’m a fun person whom people will like.

 My most successful days of grad school are those when I believe I’m an energetic person after a long day of teaching, ready to learn something cool and new. They’re the days when I’m highlighting, note-taking, raising my hand, and forcing myself to nod my head.

 If you go through the motions of a confident person, you start to be that confident person. The more adults I meet in this work world, the more I realize we’re all the insecure 22-year-olds at heart; it’s not just you and me. This year I’ve seen 56-year-old professors get completely flustered in front of a classroom only to have everyone take a 20 minute break, I’ve seen school leaders break down into tears because of stress from district pressures, and I’ve seen coworkers say how they feel left out of the social scene at work. We’re all fighting feelings of inadequacy. Some people have just mastered the art of believing that they can. And so they can.

Believe me, for every one day I feel like an actual adult, there are seven others where I feel like a complete loser. I recently just wrote about the necessity to be real about your struggles and your difficult days. You need not always be an impenetrable wall of confident thinking and optimism. I just have found that, when put in sink-or-swim scenarios (and I can quite confidently say that was my scenario this past year), turn to confidence before you turn to cowardice.

This year has taught me that when they throw you in the pool before you learn how to tread water, tell yourself to swim, no, COMMAND yourself to swim, and you WILL. 

 Just don’t tell anyone you still need your rubber-ducky-arm-floaties to do it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Love Letters

I have a hard job. There are, however, perks that I enjoy that get me through the weeks. One of these perks are all the millions of notes placed on my desk by little (and sometimes large) 7 and 8-year-old people. The following is a sampling from the last two months that I've kept and had to photograph before I threw them out. A few are repeat offenders, and some of them aren't all that funny, just extremely endearing to my heart that is turning to jello as I'm looking over these again.


Dear Miss Gesch, I've have fun on break but. I want you to have my best thing that I had. It is something that you would be happy. Here it is.  (She gave me her favorite trading card to keep after spring break). 


Please note that she had the courtesy to write F*** in the note. She didn't have the courtesy to censor it when she said the word originally. Next time maybe. 


Sorry teachers I was so bad. And I will be good next time. I will be respectful. I will be good. I will be safe. And I will do all of that a lot. 




In the housssseeee!!


I die. 


I am so sorry for playing during math when my teacher was helping other kids to learn math. When math time I will not play with people during math time when math time. 


I'm sorry I didn't do my homework. 




Hello! My name is Ms. Gesch and I like to play volleyball and play soccer and go out to eat and shop. I love to be pretty. VIP passes attached, to the right of my short bio. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Links I Love

There's a blogger out there who is posing a challenge to other bloggers to post something every day in May along with a daily prompt to answer in each post. I'm definitely not going to post every day but I do find some of her prompts intriguing. The one for today is about sharing a blog that you love to read.

I'm going to go ahead and share more than one because I, if I'm being honest, read far more than just one regularly. So I'm going to go ahead and share five. (These don't include my daily dose of Kendi because hers is basically just a documentation of her daily outfit, which is wonderful, but I'm posting these links to appreciate those that actually write things from time to time instead of just posting beautiful pictures.) I love these blogs because they inspire me to be real, to be raw, and to be truthful when I write. To really dig deeper and get to the heart of things. I think becoming a better writer is also tied up in growing to become a better person. A more honest, aware, open, and reflective person. These girls do this on the regular and inspire me to do the same. You now know how nerdy I am with this internet machine on which I'm typing. Click around, read a few posts, and enjoy!

I feel this way exactly. 

1. The Wild and Wily Ways of a Brunette Bombshell. Okay. Although I wouldn't consider myself a "bombshell" per say, I am a brunette and feel that I share so so so many similarities to this blogger. Meg Fee is a girl in her twenties who moved to New York City about 8 years ago and writes about her struggles, friends, loves, and daily adventures. She is brutally honest. Sometimes so honest and raw about things that she goes through that I don't exhale the whole time I'm reading a post because my eyes are so glued to her emotions on the screen. I love that she is living an interesting life that she loves amidst really hard things and still comes out hopeful. She resonates so much with the reality I'm living out here in Chicago. I discovered her blog about a month ago and have visited it daily since then. The link will bring you to a page where she chose her favorite posts, so it will give you a good idea of her writing style and the aforementioned brutal honesty that makes her posts pop.

2. Fairytales Are True. This is written by Sarah Tucker, a new mom and really cool wedding planner lady. Her site is great for a quick bright outlook on life in the morning as you eat breakfast. I hope I'm something like her in about ten years.

3. Delightfully Tacky. I love this quirky style blog (plus other topics from time to time). She writes from the Pacific Northwest and makes me immediately want to move to Seattle or Portland and ride my bike through the woods. She's got this awesome head of big curly hair and thinks of the most interesting ways to put an outfit together, definitely embracing the kitschy vintage aesthetic. Beyond the outfits, her writing is really good too. She's a great source for style and life inspiration.

4. Casey Leigh. A beautiful mom with a beautiful family with beautiful style who writes beautiful words and posts beautiful pictures. It's the best way I can describe it. Go check it out.

5. Tales of Me and the Husband. I know it seems weird that I follow these married people's blogs. It's really more that I connect to their personalities and willingness to be open and the difference in our life stages doesn't really matter much to me. This girl's name is Bridget, and she has an interesting story with her family. She married into a family who had lost their mother and wife about 3 years prior, and she became a stepmom and a new wife at a really young age to a guy who was probably about 20 years older than her. It sounds crazy, and it is, but she has some really interesting points of view and really cool perspectives. She is honest about growing up quickly and honest about everything else. It's refreshing. It's cool that she is unapologetic about choosing her life path, yet is also the first to admit that there are complications and bumps in the road along the way.

Am I the only one who reads blogs all the time? Which ones do you like to read?

Saturday, May 4, 2013


...was a really, really good day. This is going to be a boring chronology of the events of my weekend, but I want to record it so I can remind myself at school next week that I really got to do all these leisurely things.

This was a ridiculous week for me at school. After last weekend of NO sleep thanks to my frat-boy-neighbors next door (ummm can the Ke$ha be at least turned to half volume after 3 am?), I spent the past 5 days going to bed at 8:45. It's reached that point, people. On top of the tiredness, my kids seem to have contracted cabin fever and want OUT of school NOW. The testing pressure is on with our standardized state tests coming up in the next two weeks. I'm packing the test prep in, they're acting up, and everybody just needs some fresh air in Room 22. It's time for this testing nonsense to be over. (Cue a rant about how I don't like it that seven-year-olds are taking high-stakes standardized tests.)

My cousin Scott and I strolling down Michigan Avenue
All that said, this weekend was my first in a long time without hectic plans. I had no clue what I'd do. On Friday I drove out to hang out with Rudi, Steph, and kids. Rudi, Soy, and I made our own performance of the three little pigs. Soy played all of the pigs (very dramatically I might add), Rudi was the big bad wolf, and I was the narrator. Then the kids went to bed and we watched stand-up comedy specials followed by a fabulous Blackhawks win on TV. I love nights like those.

We found these awesome tulips. Even in Chicago,
Packer Nation lives on.
Today I woke up and got brunch with Jen and her boyfriend (I ordered an amazing smoothie and I'm going back just for a repeat of that flavor explosion). Then I spent the afternoon with my cousin Scott who came downtown to see my place. I showed him around Pilsen as we walked to the train and went downtown to see the Picasso exhibit at the Art Institute. This guy is quality. (I'm referring to Scott when I say "this guy," not Picasso. After seeing his pieces and reading up on the history behind it all I'm realizing he was prettyyyy sly even as an old guy with like 592 mistresses.) I am reminded more and more each day of how blessed I am to have my family. Favorite new fact I learned about Scott today: he keeps a file cabinet at his desk full of his secret stash of snacks. Genius. 

Then I zipped down to Orland Park to shop with Miss Melanie Lawrence for her outfit for next weekend. (For some reason I have assumed the position of Mel's personal shopper. I'm not complaining.) Yes, folks, next weekend is THE bachelorette party for Karley Mae. We bummed around the mall, found her a dress, and ended our night with frozen yogurt. It's the best way to end any outing, in my opinion. She's an amazing teacher in a special education classroom and we swapped hilarious stories about our kids. I honestly wouldn't believe half the stuff she said if I didn't know from my own experience that all the chaos is totally real life. 

Weekends like these, full of the everyday, somehow fill me up like nothing else. I wish you all days like this.