Tuesday, February 22, 2011

taking advantage.

chicago semester doesn't really like that students live in the hostel because we are not experiencing a neighborhood feel of chicago. they also say that students who come for the spring semester often stay in their apartments and don't experience the city because it is too cold, and it stays cold until late april.

saying all this...they could be right. but in the case of my roommates and i, shane and i, and my own experience, we take advantage of being in chicago. complete advantage. this weekend i think proved it for me that i was doing a good job getting out and around, seeing what chicago has to offer and making myself a part of it.

friday after school, there was a class from spring arbor here to tour some different cultural neighborhoods for the weekend. one of the professors from the group had come to observe me teach, and afterward we grabbed a bite to eat at sabas vega, a mexican restaurant in pilsen that serves only carnitas. it was very delicious and so much food. he said that the students from the class would be headed to pilsen for the evening, so if i wanted, i could stay around to meet them for dinner and some art. they came down and we headed on a mural tour of pilsen, lead by a local artist. it was great to see more of the neighbor i teach in and how important the art they do is, as they preserve their culture's history through it. we toured around and even got to see the artist's studio, where he does linoleum paintings. he cuts the linoleum and carves it, then paints and stamps the paint onto a canvas. it was very intricate work and he kept saying "it's really not that hard. it's not big deal". after the tour we went to dinner at the same little spot shane and i had eaten the sunday before. i tried tongue and stomach tacos...and they were not bad at all. then we went back and explored the national museum of mexican art - it was probably the most interested i have ever been in an art museum because i know so much about their history and culture that it means something to me.

no one in the group of students really knew chicago, and they had the rest of the night free, so i volunteered to take them up to millennium park to see "the bean" and then up to ghirardelli chocolate to get free samples and drinks/ice cream. i got home late, hung out with the roommates, we ended up talking for hours, until 2:30...something i needed badly.

saturday i slept in (maybe the first real time i have slept in since i got here) and enjoyed my morning. my roommates had tickets to the chicago car show, so i stayed home, went for a run, did some grocery shopping, and a library stop. when they got back, kelly and i went out becuase i had found a bookstore called after words books that was having a charity sale. you could put as many books into a bag as you wanted for $5. we headed up to the store at a stop on the red line i hadn't really explored much, the grand stop, but the sale had ended by the time we got there. we still looked around a bit and then wandered over to starbucks to "pick up a drink". well, we sat and talked for an hour and some, it was good time spent with a great friend. then we did a little paroosing around the stores and headed home...later than expected. we picked up a movie on the way home to bring to jorie, who we had accidently left alone for too long. our movie-friend jeff came over and watched it with us. (he conveniently comes over when we watch a movie...how he knows we are about to start one, i have no idea.)

as for sunday afternoon, i had found a free cooking class at williams-sonoma, so i signed jorie, kelly and i up and we attended joyfully. it was about latin cooking and we learned about different techniques and spices/flavors. we also got to try the food and it was delicious. i went to meet shane afterward and he and i tried the bookstore again because the sale was back on. we still didn't find anything worth getting, but explored the rest of the store again, finding the used section this time. then we came down to my apartment for dinner at epic burger. it really is epic - the taste is delicious, but even better all their products are fresh, natural, and hand-picked. i was completely fine paying a little more for a burger that i know did not harm anyone or anything on its way to me. then we rented a movie and cuddled up, spending the first quality time we've had together in a long time. he left after a while and i joined the roommates for some tv and chatting.

i had yesterday off - so i was very happy to sleep in and take advantage of the day. kelly also had the day off, so we went to a pilates class at our workout place (which wasn't a workout yesterday, but today i'm feeling it.) then we came back and cooked a big breakfast...so good. we both had talked about how much we wanted to take advantage of our free monday - so i got in the shower and ready for the day, heading out the door at 2 to drop off some resumes in pursuit of a part-time job. i had seen an job posting for some akira stores (a local clothing store similar to forever 21) and so i was on top of it. i went to 2 right in the city (state street & magnificent mile) then i went up to lincoln park for another. at that one i got an interview! so pray for me as i go on thursday to see what they can offer me. then i was walking and exploring the neighborhood as i made my way back toward town and i stumbled upon another akira - so i left my resume there as well. 3 of the stores seemed interested to have me, so hopefully something turns out. i explored a little more and made it back toward town, which happened to be extremely close to shane's apartment. we had good timing: he got out of work early and i happen to be at his stop, so i visited for a few minutes. then headed home, and met kelly at starbucks to get some work done. spent the rest of the night on homework, grading papers (2 hours of grading will make me rethink how much paperwork i give to my students), and other little tasks.

it was a full weekend. and i didn't get as much sleep as i would have liked (although i slept in, i also stayed up way too late)...but this weekend i saw a lot of chicago in 3 days; new and exciting things about chicago that make me love it that much more.
come visit - i'll show you! :]

Thursday, February 17, 2011

feel the need. for an update.

so i'm lying in bed right now, ready to hit the hay, because it's finally going to be friday when i get up and i look forward to that feeling so much. unfortunately, i'm here, thinking and feeling guilty about the fact that i haven't updated you all about my crazy, busy, amazing, beautiful life here in chicago in almost 2 weeks. and for that, i am sorry. but really - i also haven't folded my laundry yet and it's been almost a week, so you're not the only things on the back burner in my life.
i'll try to back up all the way to that weekend...
so saturday, when danielle visited... kelly and i woke up and went to a so-hard workout class that was great. i had a complete field day getting to danielle to pick her up, but with amtrak's good reputation, it was late as always and i was grateful. we headed to breakfast at the bongo room and it was delicious as always (i had cinnamon apple and pear french toast.) then we came back and got ready for the day of tourism in chicago. we visited a cute little yarn shop: loopy yarns just because i had seen a picture in a magazine, then a book shop, then to millennium park to see the oh-so-famous "bean"...took some pictures, walked around, did a little shopping on state street. we came back to the apartment and i cooked some mexican for us all. we settled around the table and played some games and called it a chill night. sunday morning we were off to amistad cristiana and i still loved it. they translated again for us (because now there were 4 white people: shane, danielle, my roommate kelly, and i) and we chatted with them for a little while after. then we went to lunch at decolores (i had gotten a groupon for it) - it was a cute little mexican restaurant (a little more upscale) that displayed local artists' work on the walls. very cute. very good. we came back to the apartment, did some wedding planning stuff and just hung out. then danielle was off. (too soon.) i headed over to canterbury (where shane and other CS-ers live) for some superbowl food/action.
monday morning, i was tired, but ready for another week...except i found out first thing that i was starting with the bilingual classroom. so i was thrown in there (excited, but nervous) and the teacher, ms. huerta, really tested me, putting me with the lower-level students and it was... difficult. i couldn't understand their spanish because they were using words i didn't know, muttering, stumbling, not using full sentences, etc. and i was supposed to be dictating what they said. haha, right. it was quite the interesting morning, but i got through. i didn't have a "planning period" (i put it in quotes because it's about 20 minutes long) because we have meetings during it on mondays, so i came back to my "home class" in the afternoon, took a deep breathe and started teaching. what a day! on top of all this, i found out our professional development day (no students) for friday was now a normal day of school to make up for the snow days the week before, so i had more lesson plans to write for friday.
my tuesday went right along with that theme - overwhelming, too much, too soon, whoa whoa - can someone push the pause button. and on top of all that, i had night class. i was...dead.
fast forward a few days to thursday (because i don't remember anything about wednesday, and my nights were filled with lesson planning) ... i had a science lesson thursday afternoon, and i finally, get this, felt like a successful teacher. i taught on solids and liquids, brought in colored water and the kids were sold. their eyes were on me, they wanted more. classroom management wasn't even an issue, but this was authentic learning and they loved it. i ended the day, and the week, on such a high note. it felt great. my mornings with the bilingual class were so much better because i had figured out how to scaffold the students and prompt them, listen to them, and work in the small groups. i don't have a lot of responsibility in the mornings with them, so it's refreshing to spend my time with them and just learn about how the spanish classroom works, what kind of vocabulary they use, how she relates to them. it's great. that night shane and i were craving some chinese, so we looked up what was close to me and found one around the corner called fast foos - you know when it has a corny name it's going to be some good chinese. it was. and cheap. i'd recommend it for a fast, cheap, chinese. and i will be re-testing it out soon. ;]
friday night i went over to shane's for dinner. we decided that turkey sandwiches weren't really going to do it for us, so we went out to a place we had seen called homemade pizza co. it's a little shop that makes all natural pizza, to go - as in you take it home and bake it. it was so delicious! :] very good. and then... well let me stop and explain, there's a class here at CS for internship students called arts and the city - they go to art events (about once a week) and write reviews, discussing what is art, how is it portrayed, etc. i'm in the "events only" category, where as i paid for the tickets to the events, but i have no strings attached. i have tickets to everything they do, and i can pick and choose which i want to go to. so back to friday night...we went to a dance company's show at harris theatre in millennium park: river north dance company and it was really good. i went with 2 of my roommates: kelly and andrea (and the majority of CS-ers). each song was a different type of dance and a different type of performance. there were modern, ballet, avant-garde, and latino-styles with duets, solos, groups, etc. it was very interesting and very good. i'm so glad i went and enjoyed this - completely out of my norm, but so good.
saturday shane and i were going to look at an apartment, but that fell through...before that we had plans to spend the day in downer's grove (where shane will attend grad school in the fall), but that also was postponed. so shane came over in the morning and i cooked us some breakfast, we hung around the apartment, went to the library and did some grocery shopping for the roommates. that night was a progressive dinner for the CS-ers and our apartment had dessert. we had settled on making two types of cupcakes: double dark chocolate with chocolate frosting and red velvet with cream cheese frosting. they turned out amazingly and we topped them with heart shaped strawberries, playing up the valentine's theme. we were definitely one of the favored stops during the evening. we had spent all afternoon baking, then went out to the stops for appetizers, main course, then back to our building for desserts. it was a fun little night. we went out later with my roommates and some friends they had visiting for the weekend over by where shane lives.
sunday off to spanish church - can't get enough and they can't get enough of shane and i. i translated for shane during the service, which was my first time... and at one point i had completely zoned out of listening/translating and when i realized, shane was just staring at me. :] afterward we ate at (yet another) mexican restaurant in pilsen and headed back to the apartment. we were meeting my friend cara here to do some free cross-country skiing, but because the snow was melting, they weren't having skiing. so we introduced her to the lovely chicago public library (even though she's lived here for months) then came back and played some games/hung out. that night i did homework and relaxed.
monday, back to the old grind - except this week i started teaching for almost the whole afternoon. i added math to my already social studies/science and writing... meaning i teach from about 12:40-2:40... i know 2 hours doesn't seem like a lot, but it really is... to keep the kids attention, work transitions, keep management, etc. and monday was a real treat because not only was it our valentine's party, but my professor came to observe me in action on my first "long day" of teaching. it actually went really well and she gave me some great feedback, which put me in a good spot to start the week. i came home and started my valentine's dinner - i made a delicious turkey and spinach manicotti and we made home-made pretzels for dessert. (thank you mccallums for giving us that piece of beauty!) we spent the evening with my roommates, just passing time and watching inception.
tuesday was normal at school: my mornings with spanish class, afternoon teaching my "home class"... then after school i had night class, then back home and started my lesson planning for the week, to at least make a dent in it.
wednesday morning my roommates jorie, kelly, and i had a 6am run that seemed awful for the first 5 minutes (and as soon as we woke up) but actually started my day off great. wednesday after school i went to an open interview with greenpeace (a non-profit environmentalist group) but found out my availability wouldn't work for them. they are doing some amazingly cool stuff though - check them out! then i came home for dinner, made some white chili for my amazing fiance (and my roommates cleaned it up pretty well too) and then we went to a broadway show with the arts in the city called "working". it was definitely not the best broadway i've ever been to, but now thinking about it - not the worst either.
today was thursday, i'm glad to see it through. lesson plans got done about 8:30, and i feel like a new woman. it's just such a load off my shoulders when they are done. (last thursday i quit working on them at 12:30am...only to get up at 6:30 and work on them to get them finished here and there because they are due at the end of the school day.) tomorrow i think we'll be off on another early morning run, a full friday with a visit from an observer from spring arbor to my classroom to see my teach, and then... my friday night is open. shane is going home for the weekend, so i will be eager to be with someone, and two roommates are around. i'm looking forward to some rest and relaxation after these two crazy weeks.
that's all for now, hopefully it will be less than 2 weeks before the next time.

Friday, February 4, 2011

i have february fever.

i love this week. absolutely, without a doubt. love.

sunday: woke up early (again on a weekend...who am i becoming?) to get to church. shane and i went to church in pilsen (the neighborhood i work in) to amistad cristiana iglesia (christian friendship church). i absolutely loved it...preaching truth in spanish. (can it get any better?) there was a girl who felt the need to translate for two white people in the back (us) and she struggled desperately to do so for the entire sermon. it was great. afterward we met everyone (all 30ish people there) and had a little mexican pastry and talked with them. then we went to lunch at nuevo leon (a local restaurant that i went to back in the fall when all of the student teachers visited chicago). it was delish and we took our extras home for dinner. we came back and started some homework this week.
monday: school was good, i taught my first lesson about cardinal directions. we played a game where the students led a partner to a "destination" in the room (a piece of colored paper on the floor) using prompts like "take 2 steps north", etc. they had a lot of fun. and it was extreme craziness. after school shane and i went to the CS offices to complete an online portion of cpr/first aid training for a class wednesday night. then i came back to my apartment and spent time with the roommates.
tuesday: school again - i taught another lesson about the directions that again was craziness, but maybe a little better. after school, we had suspicions that we wouldn't have many students with the blizzard 2011 that was coming the next morning, so we packed up and sent home report cards a day early. the school quickly got rid of students and staff to "take cover". even though the internship students had wednesday classes cancelled, i still had student teaching seminar tuesday night. it went by fairly quickly. we watched a lecture video about love & logic and it was extremely challenging and good. next tuesday we are going to talk more about it & discuss how we can apply it in our classrooms this semester. during seminar i found out that for the first time in 12 years chicago public schools were closing wednesday for a snow day. afterward i headed home to be with my roommates and shane. we stayed up late knowing that we had no reason to wake up the next morning.
wednesday: we woke up late. ate some yummy breakfast because i had time to really make breakfast. my roommates and shane (practically a roommate here in 701) watched "despicable me". i felt like it was a saturday for sure, and almost felt like christmas with all the snow day fever and excitement. then we attempted a workout video (that i only did 20-30 mins of and made me more sore than my whole life - i am still definitely feeling it 2 days later). we did about an hour of workout stuff then all got cute for some pictures outside. the snow had stopped around noon, so we thought it save to venture out. it was the 4 of us, shane, and 2 guys from our floor - and the nice nature walk lasted about 20 seconds. i saw a bank of snow (where wasn't there a bank of snow?) and decided that andrea needed to be shoved in. it quickly turned into a real snow day - snowballs, pushing others in,...the works. i ended very cold and very wet, but had an amazing time out. we have some brilliant pictures to really prove our fun. after we got dry and warm, we played some bananza and bananagrams before dinner. the 7 of us headed out for dinner to gino's east and it was delicious and the perfect ending to the perfect snowday. around 9:30 i was feeling the need to get to bed, but decided to check on my school being closed thursday (even though i had no hope honestly) but two of my roommates had already been called off for the next day due to the snow dump. i found out that i, indeed, got a 2nd snow day. and i was so happy. so much celebration.
thursday: i woke up late again (after staying up too late talking with jorie) and did a quick morning workout. then i headed out to meet shane for lunch on his break from work. we went to the soupbox. (best soup i've ever had - Mom, on your visit, we're going there.) then i came back. andrea, jorie, (the two of my roommates that were lucky enough to have the day off as well) and i tried to go to the library to get some work done, but it was closed. we came back and got productive. i didn't get quite the amount of work done that i would have liked to, but never the less, i worked hard. shane and i had cpr/first aid class that had been cancelled the day before. (we also had quite the public transportation situation afterward - involving sprinting to chase after a bus that we didn't make and a train that we barely made.) came back, got a little more work done, and went to sleep.
today (friday): woke up for one day of school before 2 more days off. (let's just say it was pretty easy to get up with that in mind.) surprisingly we had a good number of students in class today. i taught a review lesson of this week's social studies that went much better and much less craziness. after school, i came home and went to the library with jorie without much success on checking anything out. i checked out a ticket for the museum of science and industry, so hopefully i'll be going this weekend or week for free! then i came home cooked some dinner for shaner & i and we chilled for a little while. we got a redbox (for free this time) - the town. it was really good. shane just left & now i'm watching my new boys: the blackhawks. :]
tomorrow my best friend, danielle, is coming to visit. and i just can't wait. kelly & i are off to an early morning class from our living social deal then to pick up danielle at the train station. we're going out for breakfast to the bongo room (again) and then a day of chicago-beauty-tour. not sure what we'll be up to...but a good time guaranteed. dinner here with shane & his roommate. then maybe a concert at night: the giving tree band. they are a local band that we discovered at a frontier ruckus concert (guaranteed to be good, right?) sunday back to spanish church, lunch out, and afternoon spent with my best friend. don't know what the superbowl plans are for sure, but i'll be watching it (somewhat) somewhere, maybe even the seat i'm in right now.