Saturday, September 21, 2013

Your Best Shot

Last weekend in Wisconsin we introduced Brian to all that Sheboygan County has to offer. This, of course, means a trip to the shooting range. He did really well, considering his girlfriend's dad was eyeing up his every move. We met the "gun-range-crowd" there as well, of which I'll let you envision your own stereotype. After a successful round of target practice, what else was there to do but stop by the local meat market for some steak and beer? Ahhhh, home.


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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My 24 Before 25

Last weekend, Brian took me home to Wisconsin for my birthday weekend. My work life is in a crazy phase, so it was awesome for us to sit around a fire with my parents and stare at the stars in the crystal clear sky. We shot guns (more on that later), sat and talked with my grandpa and great aunt, and ate more calories than I would like to think about with my aunt and uncle.

But, as it was my birthday, I am now 24 years old. Whaaa? Why is it that I feel like I'm perpetually 16 in this adult world? Yet the number goes up each year. I do think I'm more mature now than I was a year ago, but somehow it still feels weird. I suppose that if I felt more accomplished I might feel more mature each year at my birthday. So I've decided to do just that. I've decided to accomplish things.  Here is a list of things, large and small, that I want to accomplish before I turn 25. Next year around my birthday I'll check in to see if I actually did any of this stuff!


My 24 Before 25

1. Have a regular fitness routine. I'm on and off this year, from intense running for a half marathon to slacking for the whole entire beginning of the school year. At a time where running is necessary to relieve stress and clear up my mind, I don't make time for it. I want to get better at this for next year.

2. Write a book.

3. Read 5 books, just for the sake of reading them. 

4. Get rid of clothes that I don't wear. Jen, my roommate, is really great at being a minimalist. She's constantly throwing stuff out. I feel like she lives lighter because of that. Pack-rat-dom brings me down. I think my rule will be that if I haven't worn it in a year, it's got to go.

5. Learn a new song in sign language.

6. Learn about wine. I don't understand wine. But I like it. So I want to learn about it.

7. Wake up really early and go to the beach to see the sun rise.

8. Take pictures of some of the murals in Pilsen with my nice camera. This neighborhood is a special place

9. Paint a piece of furniture in a fun color. 

10. Host people over at my apartment for a fun event. 

11. Find a mentor. Whether that age difference is one year or fifty, getting advice from someone older is important.

12. Bake a cake or cupcakes from scratch. 

13. Learn to use a grill. 

14. Create something crafty to hang up on the wall or put in my apartment. 

15. Eat sushi. I've only tried one piece of sushi once in my life. I've never "gone out for sushi" like most hip girls my age have done. I feel like this needs to happen.

16. Pay off grad school and be debt free. 

17. Spend less per week on groceries. 

18. Get a no-chip manicure. 

19. Give more money away to church and charities. (This goes hand in hand with 16 and 17.)

20. Go to a yoga class. Namaste.

21. Start to figure out where I will live/work/be for age 25 and beyond. And when I say "start to figure out" I mean just that. In no way do I intend to know my life path/calling/future a year from today. Something tells me that life is more about changing lanes along the way than reaching a destination.

22. Write more Thank-You notes. 

23. Read the Bible more. Right now, this is embarrassing to admit, but I'm averaging about 3, maybe 4 times a week. I need to do it every day to feel like my life is good and happy and right and on-track.

24. Go on a road trip to a place I've never driven before. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Dirty Laundry

I've been reading, hearing, and thinking a lot lately about the conundrum we all have in 2013 and the social reality in which we live with one another. I've heard a sermon on it at church, read a few blog posts, saw a status or two, and had a few conversations with friends all about this issue. The issue of our dichotomy as young people with iPhones, iPads, and instagrams. The dichotomy between life as it actually is and life as you present it. Your life as it is neatly displayed on your Facebook facade or your life as it is in the nitty gritty.

I've had feelings that go both ways. I've sat there and rolled my eyes at the girls who put on makeup and tease their hair into a styled ponytail to work out so that their fitness blogs are cutely adorned with their hawt workout pics. Yes, I just wrote "hawt." Just admit that you eat a heaping bowl of ice cream sometimes just to make me feel better about myself! I've also thought to myself: dang. You go girl. You work out in 3 inches of makeup and fake lashes. You do that. Power to you because Lord knows I wouldn't ever put that much effort into working up a sweat. Work that updo.


And being in your 20's poses this challenge in a particularly difficult way. This is the decade of life stages coming through in rapid succession. College life, graduation, working world, independent living, engagements, marriages, kids, moves, trips, vacations, and more all start to pop up on our feeds every time we flip our thumb to scroll to the next screen. With all the happiness, success, cuteness, and beautiful things that people are doing and seeing, you can kind of feel like you're not quite making the cut. Or even worse, you start to harbor a sense of envy and disdain for anyone who seems to have a Pinterest-perfect little life. You might start to think: Why is she always so stylish? I could never afford those clothes. Or..Why are their kids always so cute and well-behaved? Mine are terrors most of the time. Or...Look where they got to go on vacation. I can't remember the last time I was on a beach. Those thoughts start to get dangerous. I have them from time to time, and it does absolutely nothing to harm the target in my head. The only person whom it damages is me. Getting caught up in the competition is just not worth it. I suppose I really am real-life-Anna when I'm writing on my blog, but there are definitely bad days (this Monday, ahem...) that I choose not to share and relive every time I scroll through my old posts. And that's okay.

I bet that even the fake-lash-cake-make-up-workout-girl wakes up on a Monday morning with a zit on her forehead. Or gets heartburn. Or forgets to shave her legs. Do you really want her, in the name of being honest, to blog about that stuff? Maybe, but I say let her be good at what she is good at and share it with people who want to read it. 

Or how about those parents who inundate your facebook feed with pictures of their cute and perfect little angels? Do you really want to read a status a day complaining about no sleep, no spare time, funds getting tighter, and bratty screaming tantrums, just for the sake of transparency? Maybe, but I think we can just let them have their moment of cuteness in the midst of their chaos. 

Do you really want, in a sense of an egalitarian social media society, everyone to just air their dirty laundry out in public? Just to even the field? Just to prove that we all have parts of our lives that suck? Mmmmm, maybe not.

So what then, run away from it all and delete all of our accounts and adopt amishdom? Some of you brave cooler-than-me hipsters can do this, but I love the connectedness and joy that all of these good social media things bring. So only one option is left. I think the best thing you can do is to give thanks for everything. Be grateful that there are interesting, beautiful, and talented people in this world doing exciting, funny, and meaningful things with their lives, who, of all things that they could do with these wonderful things, want to SHARE it with YOU!

So go like that picture. Go favorite that tweet. Heck, go nuts and reblog a post you like. Share the encouragement, the beauty, the inspiration, the ingenuity, and the intelligence. Be happy for the cute kids, the hip lattes in local coffee shops, the intense fitness routines, the beautiful weddings, the huge engagement rings, and the cool apartments. Let people sort through their own dirty laundry themselves and just be thankful that there is a God who gives good things that people want to share. We all know that there is no such thing as a perfect life, so just be happy when there are parts of it that are wonderful and good and beautiful and pleasant. There is a God who brings us all of these things and is now bringing us together because of them.

So go scroll that newsfeed. And be thankful.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Oh Snap! ple.

So many apple-y things are happening in first grade. I've had more fun this year with really hitting home fun activities around more thematic ideas. So, of course, it is apple mania lately in Room 25. We made an apple bar graph, made an apple book, ate apples and charted our favorite apple color, wrote everything we knew about apples, use apples in word problems, learned apple poems, and read apple books. It's only fitting that last Friday we went to an apple orchard. It was a blast.

Going out to the apple trees
We went to County Line Orchard in Hobart, Indiana. My kids boarded the bus amongst tall buildings and concrete, and got off of the bus with wide eyes at trees, fields, and blue skies. We got a tour of how honeybees help grow the apples, how the apples are sorted and cleaned, and finally hopped on a wagon that took us out to pick our own apples. Each kid got a bag full and had a blast running around the trees. We went back, ate lunch outside at picnic tables, and ended our day at a farm and play area where we could watch ducks, pet goats, and climb on each other (the last part of the list was not supposed to happen, but it did). It was cute. I hate being that teacher who gets overly sentimental at her children, but for all of the planning, herding, wrangling, and directing they made me do, it was totally worth it to see my kids out and about in the fresh air.  This year will be the year of field trips, let me tell you what.
This is K, asleep on my lap. Knocked out. Being 6 is exhausting. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Spaghetti Brain

I forgot to turn the washer on.

I was hungry and I had no food except a box of macaroni and cheese and I had Teach For America deliverables due tonight and I had to watch video tutorials on my vision statement and I had to do 60 pages of reading and annotating for my grad class tomorrow night and my principal asked for data on my struggling student by tomorrow morning and I accidentally left half of the math tests I had to grade at school on my desk and I had to call the apple orchard because our numbers aren't the same as our confirmation letter and I had to plan small groups and pair my kids into reading buddies based on their levels and my mom called to chat and I had to wait on hold for 25 minutes to track down missing concert tickets from UPS for Friday night and my roommate had an interesting weekend to tell me about and my stupid computer won't load the Americorps webpage so I'm in trouble with Dominican University and I have one new follower on twitter and I have to empty the dishwasher and I have to pack a lunch for tomorrow and I have an early staff meeting to prepare for and I put my dirty laundry in the washer at 5:30 and I forgot to turn the washer on. 


That is one big, bad, run-on sentence. 

It's 9:00 now. That was over three hours ago, and the washer is still not going. This is one of those nights, when the juggling act of being the human being named Anna Gesch is sometimes too hard for me to do. Just too hard to do. Teach For America, Dominican University, and the LEARN Charter School, while all great institutions in their own right, have on this evening, September 4th, 2013, combined all of their bureaucratic power to load down my brain with obligations and flaming hoops such that I am now sitting on my couch, unable to do anything. Completely paralyzed. A few hours later, it has happened. 

My brain has turned to spaghetti. 

Buon appetito, working world, adulthood, and night school. Tonight, you've eaten me alive.

But just for tonight. 

I'm going to sleep.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Stuff Students Say: August (First Grade Edition!)

We are a full month into the school year and here are the best quotes of the last five weeks. I hope they help you enjoy the last few hours of a Monday off from work. I mean, is there anything better than getting to stay at home on a Monday? The only thing I can think of is to stay at home on a Monday AND get to read funny quotes from six-year-old kids.

Ms. Gesch your kind of face is my favorite kind of face of all the faces.

(The following conversation took place on August 1.)
Ms. Gesch I'm so excited for my birthday coming up soon!
Me: When is it?
November 22. 

Is it spring break tomorrow?
(Also stated on August 1.)

On why she was misbehaving...
I can be a leader, but it's just that sometimes I have a problem attitude.

Look at my fuzzy backpack. It's nice and soft. Like a dead bird.

You got a lot of freckles Ms. Gesch. Do birds come and peck at them because they think they sprinkles on your face?! 

He called me a crybaby!!
Me: Why would you think he might have called you that? Do you think it might be because you cry a lot?
Well yeah I cry every day but I ain't no baby. 

(We were learning the months of the year, and I was trying to get them to realize that they actually already know the name of the month they were born in because they know their birth date.) 
Me: My birthday is September 14 so the month my birthday is in is September. When is your birthday?
July 10.
Me: So then what month is your birthday in? 

If you tell my daddy that I was good I get a ice cream cone. Can you just do that for me?