Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Stuff Students Say: September Edition

It's back! I'm at a new school with new kids but the same old thing is true: they say awesome things that secretly make me laugh. Most of the time I look at them with concerned and interested looks, nodding my head along in all seriousness to the things they say, trying to come up with a thoughtful response. In reality? I'm cracking up. But only inwardly. Teachers have to be actors, I suppose, and showing restraint in the face of ridiculous comments is one of the best ways it's done. Here are the gems from my first month at Calvin.

For Christmas this year I'm asking for the ability to fly. Now that's the gift that keeps on giving. 

Ms. Whartnaby - I just wanted to be extra generous - so I am offering a Dorito to you. Would you like to eat it as a snack? 

I never sometimes have lunch.

Me: So who can tell me what the sum of this problem would be? (Called on student, who was raising his hand.)
Student: I don't have tonsils anymore! They took them out of my throat. 
Me: Okay cool! Do you know the sum though?

Does your husband always eat your cookies before you can get around to eating them?

On September 11 we were talking about how important firefighters were to our communities.
Student: So you're telling me they just went in those buildings even though they were on fire? How THOUGHTFUL of them! I think that was so nice and thoughtful. Do you think it was thoughtful??

Me: So what is the main character's name in your story? (The character's name was Elfie.)
Student: I'm not sure. It looks like Selfie though. Is it Selfie!?

(After giving them an extra 10 minutes of recess for good behavior)
Mrs. Whartnaby I just want to thank you for all you do for us! 

Me: I love how you wore your hair big like that today.
Student: Your natural hair is great too, even though it's not big. Remember to always use your natural hair, okay?

(A student's sew-in braid fell out at recess)
I'm going to take it and make it into a bracelet. Good as new!

(While reading The Trumpet of The Swan, the swan plays "Summertime" by George Gershwin)
Me: Have you guys heard of that song? (I hummed the song, and about half of them had)
Student: I don't know that one, but I do know a summertime song. Summertime Sadness! It's a classic. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weekend Relief

My weekend was pretty full, although technically I had no obligations Friday and Saturday night. I love documenting weekends. Teachers, you'll feel me here: documenting weekends helps you remember that they exist, that they really happen, and that you do in fact get a break from the weekly never-ending-stream of work that will never be done. During the week at school I am constantly finishing work and leaving school, not when everything I would like to finish is completed, but when I think I've done enough to survive the next day.  True confessions from second grade.

This weekend I hung out with coworkers on Friday, went to a baby shower, hung out at the mall and went to pizza with Brian, went to church this morning, and left on an apple picking excursion with Reese and Danny this afternoon. With events like that packing up most of the weekend, it makes it less depressing to say that I spent 5 hours on Saturday night planning and prepping for the coming week of school. I'm starting to, slowly, picture my life in a sustainable way, in a way that I can not only tread water, but stay afloat in a regular rhythm of the week. I'm definitely not there yet, as I already am thinking it's past my bedtime at 9:45, but I'm starting to see how it could, maybe, someday, work as a lifestyle that I can maintain without driving myself and Brian (what a good sport) crazy. Until then, I'll still be loving my weekend relief.






Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Warm Fuzzies

Going home to Wisconsin is so sweet. I appreciate it more and more as time goes on. Isn't that funny? Seven years ago, all I wanted was to get out of dodge and live within 30 minutes of a quality mall. Now I miss the stars and gravel driveway and fresh air and would happily chat around a fire every night of my life.

Why does it end up that way? That such an adventurous mind always wanders back to a town of just around 2,000 inhabitants, most of whom are from the same few Dutch families who also happen to know mine and everything about it. That used to be suffocating to me (I imagine in some ways it still would be), yet now I also see the good side of it: people care. In the Western Suburbs of Chicago, there are surely caring people, but you sort of need to make a concerted effort to build those communities where everyone is in everyone else's business. In some ways I think we were meant to live in that way, up in one another's business, whether we be a city mouse or a country mouse (sorry for that metaphor, I tend to think in Children's Literature most of my day). I was talking to a friend yesterday who said that it's important to build those communities around you even as adults, even if it's a little clumsy and fumbling, a little artificial feeling when trying to figure out how to live in and through this life with others. Sure, I have Brian and he has me, but we are more than just there for the other. We all need one another. And I suppose that's the thing that I love about my small town community. Everyone needs each other there: the construction guy buys his groceries from the grocery guy, and the grocery guy hires the construction guy to add an addition on his house. It's a cool thing.

One of these small town sort of connections allowed my dad to find a great deal on a used International Harvester Tractor, his current Pride and Joy. He loves that thing. It's got a great retro look, and I think it will be credited with some cool changes to the property around my house. Brian and I went to The Grove for the weekend a few weeks ago to check it out for ourselves. That, grouped with a bonfire Saturday night and a walk around our land with my mom on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, called for some serious warm fuzzes.





Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Morning Epiphanies

"Man of Sorrows," what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Guilty, vile and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
"Full atonement" can it be?
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die,
"It is finished," was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high;
Hallelujah! what a Savior!

When He comes our glorious King,
All his ransomed home to bring,
Then a new this song we'll sing:
Hallelujah! what a Savior!


Wow. Sometimes I find myself asking that: Can it be? That the guilty, vile, human being that I am, can be covered and atoned by spotless You? Hallelujah indeed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My 25 Before 26

You guys. I turned 25. Karley of course was a ridiculously good friend along with Mel and Liz and they planned me a surprise party that made me feel so freaking warm and fuzzy inside. I got a lot of comments about how this year makes me a quarter of a century. My dad said, "Hey Anna, only three more quarters to go!" I said, "Until I die? That's morbid Dad!" And he goes, "No...just three more quarters to go...until you turn...100." It's weird to have the first half of my twenties behind me, but I also love that those years have been lived. I really became myself in these past five years, made some dumb choices, made some good ones, but mostly just made my way in this world. As I did last year, I want to look at this year ahead as a year of opportunity; a way to accomplish things and never forget that this world is never finished in amazing me with new things, big and small, to try and discover and experience. Here we go, friends. My 25 goals before I turn 26!


1. Refrain from purchasing clothes until January 1st, 2015. I know it seems somewhat negative to have a "don't" as the first thing on my list, but it's the one I'm most determined to accomplish. I wanted to see what it felt like to go without buying clothes for six straight months. I've been on this thing since July 1, 2014, and plan to make it to New Year's Day. The (self-imposed) contest goes like this: I don't buy clothes (pants, jeans, tops, shirts, sweaters, shoes, etc...underwear and other accessories like tights are allowed in moderation so that I can be work appropriate haha) for six full months. If I make it to the end of the six months good on my promise, I'm going to reward myself with a small shopping day splurge. This is not meant to show solidarity with people less fortunate, as I am fully aware that my lack of spending does absolutely nothing to impact the lives of others and there are much, much better ways to support those who lack materially. This challenge came up when I was moving all of my clothes to our new place and realized that I don't always appreciate what I have. I love my clothes and want to put them to use; make them earn their keep. I love shopping almost as much, but there are better ways to spend my time and resources. So sorry, Anthro magazines, you'll just have to be eye candy for now. Whew. That was a long explanation for my first goal. The others are much shorter, I promise.

2. Go soft-drink-free for a year. No soda. No coke. No sugary-caffeiney-teeth-rotting nectar to complement my delicious bacon cheeseburger at DMK. Wish me luck.

3. Sponsor a child. 

4. Use money to bless people. I have been blown away by how God takes care of me, takes care of Brian and I together, and how generous our friends and family (and sometimes people out of the blue) are when it comes to money. Too often I'm counting and counting over and over what we've saved so far, only to forget that we could not have done it without the generosity of others. I want to be smart enough with my money so that it can be available to support other people.

5. Go wine tasting.

6. Use the broiler in my oven.I don't even know what that really means, but I see a lot of steak recipes in this great cook book I have that calls for me to use it, and yet I'm still scared. It's uncharted territory in the Gesch Whartnaby household, and I plan to chart that territory in the next year.

7. Run for a good cause. 

8. Wake up really early to see the sunrise. This is a repeat of last year, but I want to do it again. So there.

9. Have a housewarming party. I suppose my surprise party kind of christened our apartment as the first time we had people over, but I still want to host some sort of event. I love it here and want to share it!

10. Own a houseplant without killing it. 

11. Write more consistently. That means on this blog and in my journal. One of the things that makes me feel like "me" is writing things down. It's so basic of a thing, but it's important to me, and I should do it more often. I guess quantitatively that means something like 8x per month as a minimum on this blog and about 5x per week in my journal.

12. Go to a yoga class. I still haven't done it! How am I 25 years old without this being accomplished?! Up until now I've only ventured to the youtube yoga videos in the comfort of my own home, but this is the year where I will get out there and try a class or two.

13. Always have a book going. Last year I was good about reading during the breaks from school, but my reading life dropped off during the weeks and months of teaching. I want to always, always be in the middle of a book, no matter what time of year it is. I've never actually read Harry Potter, and I'm thinking it's the series I want to tackle this year.

14. Make dinner and have people over to eat it. This terrifies me, but I think is important to do before I turn the ripe old age of 26. C'mon Anna, woman up!

15. Keep fresh flowers in the house. 

16. Go on a road trip with Brian. 

17. Spend more time intentionally technology-free. I want to purposely leave my phone in the other room for an entire evening and be okay with it, on a consistent basis.

18. Be tidier. If you've ever met my dear cousin Liz, you would understand why she is the inspiration for this challenge. Stay tuned for how I figure out some strategies that work for me to keep up a clean apartment, for it shall need some creative thinking.

19. Accessorize more. The only jewelry I ever wear is my wedding/engagement ring combo. As lovely as they are (and they are) I want to amp this one up.

20. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago for a new exhibition.

21. Paint a watercolor picture.

22. Wash off my makeup every night. Pathetic that this one needs to be a goal, but yet, I am so, so lazy in this regard.

23. Try 10 recipes I have never tried before. Let me know if you have suggestions please!

24. Get my planning for school done before the weekend for a full month. Usually my Saturdays and Sundays are plagued with this slight feeling of dread that I have to get my work done. I want to pick a whole month to show myself that I can budget my time wisely and have the payoff be a very chilled out weekend.

25. Listen to the Lord. The tradition of Christianity in which I grew up was a strong, true, and wonderful one, but it didn't necessarily stress actually listening for the voice of the Lord. I want to spend more time acting out Psalm 46:10, really being still, and asking the Lord what he wants from me and for me. I want to investigate this part of my faith this year.

Join in if you'd like - what do you want to do in this year of your life?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Checking In: My 24 Before 25

Last year, around my birthday, I came up with a list of 24 goals I wanted to accomplish before I turned 25. I will surely make a list again this year for my next set of ideas, but before I go forward, I thought it would be fun to hold myself accountable to the ideas I had. Some of them definitely have been accomplished, some have definitely not. Like not even close. But I'm happy for the little victories and fun areas of personal growth. I like being an adult a lot for this reason, I feel really like I'm growing into myself more and more. So let's see how I did...

 1. Have a regular fitness routine. Meh. Didn't really accomplish this one because I'm just as on-again-and-off-again with running and working out as I was at this time last year.

2. Write a book. Swing, and a miss. I started a project (actually a really cool one!) but then employment, finding a job, and working my little butt off to be the best teacher I could be got in the way. And I still feel like I have miles to go in becoming a better teacher. But the book idea will have to simmer for now.

3. Read 5 books, just for the sake of reading them. We have a winner! Definitely accomplished this one. I read all 3 of Shauna Niequist's books this past year, along with a great collection of nonfiction stories from Annie Dillard, Soul Pancake, Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls, Sacred Marriage, The Meaning of Marriage, two books on teacher professional development, The Fault in Our Stars, and my favorite book that I read this past year, hands down, goes to The Book Thief. I was weeping, people; it was that good. The #1 biggest disappointment of the year in the literary department goes to Allegiant, Veronica Roth's third installment to her YA fiction series. It was bad. So I'd say Marcus Zusak gets my bid for Best Book of Anna Gesch Whartnaby's year.

4. Ged rid of clothes I don't wear. Also a success! I donated a total of 8 brown paper Trader Joe's bags to Goodwill. This doesn't mean, however, that my closet has any empty space at all. It just means I can mostly see all of the clothes that I own now. And that's a good thing.

5. Learn a new song in sign language. Nope. Forgot to do it completely.

6. Learn about wine. Again, nope. Unless "learning about wine" means "drinking more wine," I didn't get to that one this year. It will be in some form on the list to come.

7. Wake up really early to go to the beach to see the sunrise. A modified victory. I woke up really early one weekend to see the sunrise, but it wasn't at the beach. It was on my deck at my little apartment in Pilsen and it was very lovely. I then went to the coffee shop on the corner and I considered this halfway accomplished.

8. Take picture of murals in Pilsen. I got to take some great Pilsen pictures with Brian this year at Second Fridays for an open art gallery night. I'd love to go back and take more.

9. Paint a piece of furniture in a fun color. Nope. Just assembled furniture from IKEA and World Market instead. Getting married definitely changes your ideas of what you want to do when it comes to furniture.

10. Host people at my apartment for a fun event. Yipee! I had girls over for a Christmas party last December and it was both fun and delicious, as the treats that people brought to share were the best part.

11. Find a mentor. This has been one of the biggest parts of the last year in my life. I have been meeting with a mentor from my church since this past February, and it has had such a great impact on my spiritual life. I love her, look up to her, and wish that someday I'll have as much poise, confidence, and wisdom as she does.

12. Bake a cake or cupcakes from scratch. Check! Thanks 100% to the lovely Reese Eschmann Pyne, this one was accomplished.

13. Learn to use a grill. Halfway, as I've been more intentional about watching my mother-in-law craft delicious food on the grill for us to eat, but don't actually own a grill of my own to practice on. This will have to be a work in progress.

14. Create something crafty to hang up on the walls of my apartment. Done! I found cool map layouts of Chicago and Philadelphia and paired them with some frames I found to surprise Brian for our first apartment together.

15. Eat sushi. Yep. I liked it, but am still wondering how people eat that as their entire meals.

16. Pay off grad school and be debt free. Ahhhhh. This one feels the best. I feel the most grownup about accomplishing this one.

17. Spend less per week on groceries. Check! I found that I was throwing away a ton of food because I couldn't eat it in time before it went bad. I started making lists before going to the store and really stuck to them, which helped me a lot. Since I spent $40 on myself per week, I figured I could keep it to 80 or 90 per week on Brian and I together. So far that's worked out well!

18. Get a no-chip manicure. My sneaky sister-in-law Stephanie, who knew about my engagement before I did, offered to go with me to cross this one off the list just a few days before Brian popped the question.

19. Give more money away to church and charities. While this is always an area we can do more and more of,  I would consider this past year a success! I got better with giving consistently to my church and got to sponsor a Campus Crusade member at Northwestern in Evanston for her year of service,

20. Go to a yoga class. Still haven't done it. I'm too nervous to look stupid as a newbie!

21. Start to figure out where I will live/work/be for age 25 and beyond. This one DEFINITELY was accomplished this year. I know that I will live, work, and be alongside of Brian Edward Whartnaby for as long as we both shall live. That was the best accomplishment of my 24th year.

22. Write more thank-you notes. Yep. Weddings will do that to you. I've also managed to write a few more just for kicks, and I recommend it as a cheap and easy way to make people feel really special.

23. Read the Bible more. In conjunction with #11, I would say this area has become more real in my life. Not just because it is happening more often, but because, little by little, it starts to feel less like an obligation and more like a place of rest. Still working on it too.

24. Go on a road trip to a place I've never driven before. Success! I drove myself to the Twin Cities for my dear friend Jen's wedding this summer. It is such a great area and now realize that Minnesota has excellent qualities, in spite of its football team.

Whew! It's been a good ride! The final count is 17/24, and I'd say that's not too shabby. I accomplished lot of big things this year and ignored lots of little ones. Stay tuned for what's on my radar as I embark on this next quarter century.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A week.

Let's be honest, teaching 25 small humans contained to a room in 85 degree heat isn't exactly invigorating. The lack of air-conditioning is rough, people. That's a first world problem and I recognize that. But it's my blog, and all problems, legitimate and whiny alike, are allowed to be processed here. I just need to let you in on the hot mess that is my life.

It's been a week.


An exhausting week. I struggle to stay awake until Brian's home from supervising an extracurricular at his school, which ends at the dark hour of 9:00 pm. I used to mock my friend Karyn relentlessly in college for going to bed before 10. Now I'm wondering how I ever started a movie after 4 in the afternoon: how did I stay awake to see the ending? Brian comes home to a dazed and groggy wife, supremely proud of herself for barely staying coherent until 9:04 in the evening. Our life. It's riveting, people. 

It's been a week for my face, as well, as what used to be my spot treatment, specifically designed to powerfully target severe blemishes in small areas on your skin, started to be enlisted as a full-face treatment. I no longer dab, I smear. Bring on the chemicals! Full coverage time. Zap whatever you must! Wait...Benzoyl Peroxide? Peroxide? Doesn't that destroy the pigmentation in clothing and other textiles? Isn't that bleach? Well, if bleach on my face means that clearer skin is on it's way, then BLEACH IT IS! Amiright? Amiright? If you've also experienced the spot treatment turned whole-face treatment episode in your life, I'm currently standing in chemically saturated solidarity with you.

It's been a week for my brain. My eyes are blood-shot no matter how many eyedrops I use, but not because of any substance in my system as that condition often hints toward. It's just, you know, my organs telling me: We need more oxygen! Why do you mistreat us so? GO TO SLEEP EARLIER AND STAY ASLEEP LONGER! And yet those 5:15/5:21/5:32/5:45 alarms (by the way, if you make it to 5:45, get a hustle in your bustle!) aren't waiting for anybody anytime soon. And while the rest of humanity has come to grips with the harsh reality that working in the real world means waking up before 6:00, my nocturnal clock will never get used to life on this earth prior to 8:30 a.m...of this I am convinced.  I was in our Wal-Mart to buy my kids popsicles today at 6:15 (it's the only place open at that hour on my way to work) and the workers who take that shift instantly became my heroes. 

It's been a week for my head, as I so gracefully at that before-6-o-clock-hour-that-no-human-should-ever-see, was minding my own business, onto the conditioning step of my shower routine, when I turned to place the bottle back on the shelf and...BAM! Hit the MIDDLE OF MY FOREHEAD on a PORCELAIN SHELF FIXTURE IN OUR SHOWER. It hurt so bad. It left a big bump. It left a big bruise. This overly-self-conscious girl would have freaked out if it wasn't so early, but lo and behold, a benefit to being in a  I-should-definitely-not-be-awake-right-now early morning daze is apathy toward everything. So what did I do? I shrugged my shoulders and thanked God sincerely and wholeheartedly for bangs and their many uses, the latest of which I discovered in being the best tool available in covering up my idiocy to the world, both literally and figuratively. You think I pick this hairstyle because it's cute?! On the contrary. This bump on my head, as it turns out, also induced a crazy weird headache, so I now (thanks to Brian, that kind soul) have a lovely stash of Advil on my nightstand along with a water bottle.  I used to judge my mom for having headache stuff/water bottles/tissues out on her nightstand because I didn't think she was that old to need it that much. Now I'm thinking of adding my own lovely little Kleenex box to round out the trifecta. 24 never looked so good. 

And yet, it's been a good week. 

It's been a week of smiling kids, smarty pants readers, engaged mathematicians, excited scientists, and loving students in my life. I love my kids. They are so smart and thoughtful and funny and kind. They make me want to be a better teacher. And if that means the hot mess takes over my life, I guess that's what will have to be. 

So what have we learned in this lesson? 

1. Spot Concealer is our best friend.
2. Advil is also our best friend.
3. Bangs are our third best friends.
4. My second graders are the best. 

Class dismissed.