Day 21 – Brats

*Snap* That first bite is always the best as the breaking of the casing releases a rush of flavors drowning your taste buds in the magic held inside. Who am I kidding? The second, third, and every bite more is just as good as the first. Not any brat will do; however, Johnsonville Bratwurst are second to none.

My love for brats dates back as far as I can remember and, with a grandfather from Germany, it’s probably in my DNA. My birthday dinner as a kid was always a mix of my favorites: Kraft Mac and cheese, Johnsonville brats, and some Betty Crocker frosted brownies. In college, I gave a vegetarian diet a try. Made it one and a half years until a warm day in March caused me to drive to the store for brats and heat up the grill.

Today, the weather is one of those days that screams for grilling and it paired up perfectly with a sale on those delectable links. The side dishes will be brussel sprouts with a balsamic glaze and macaroni salad (more for the little guy). I’ve been looking forward to it all day. Ahhhh brats.

Day 20 – Do You Hear What I Hear?

BEEP BEEP – Goes the cars on the street over.

HONK HONK – Goes the geese flying by.

VROOM VROOM – Goes the kids driving too fast.

WAAAAAAAAAHHHHH – Goes the plane overhead.

PEW PEW PEW – Goes the Northern Cardinal looking for love.

HONK HONK – Goes my nose as it’s grabbed by a tiny hand.

EEEAWWWW – Goes my wife’s nose as it’s grabbed by a tiny hand.

HE HE HE – Goes the owner of the tiny hand.

HA HA HA – Goes my family on the two person swing (I’ve never seen these before and they’re awesome!)

CLAP CLAP CLAP – Goes the audience listening to an Irish music band wrap up a song.

Pitter Patter – Goes the little feet running down the hall.

Night Night – Goes the baby.

Day 19 – Music Filled Weekend

A longtime friend of mine messaged me the other month my thoughts on going to concerts these days. Little did I know he was legitimately asking if I wanted to go to a show with him. Fast forward to a month later and here we are. I’ll be heading to my first indoor concert since the pandemic began.

Last summer, I made it to a few outdoor venues. The Avett Brothers at Red Rocks in Colorado courtesy of my brother-in-law. That was quite the venue and I highly recommend anyone who enjoys music trying to see a show there at some point. The other was The Jonas Brothers. We were supposed to see them March 2020, but we all know how that month turned out. Both shows were very different types of music. I’m still not sure my hearing has returned from all the screaming when Joe Jonas made an appearance, but when I’m 80 and yelling “WHAT?!” at my wife I suppose it will have been worth it seeing her smile and groove that entire set.

Tonight, I’ll be seeing Portugal. The Man and Alt-J. When I had originally said I’d go, there were mask mandates and signs that the Omicron wave was ending. Now, the mask mandates are gone, Omicron infections are down, but BA.2 seems to be growing. This makes me a little nervous with the indoor setting. My family and I have been fortunate enough to have avoided COVID since it began and I’ll trust that the N95s will do their job again. Maybe I’ll luck out and the people around us will be masked too? Regardless it should be a great show. Both bands released new music in February.

Tomorrow will be a different kind of rocking out. The library will be having an Irish music gig for the littles. I can’t wait to see the big guy dance around. He has way more rhythm at the age of one than I have been able to muster up in my almost thirty-four years of life (he definitely gets it from his mother). He jumps, shuffles his feet, bounces along, and claps his hand when he hears something he likes, which is just about everything. He’s also great on the maracas, plays a mean xylophone, and keeps a beat on the drums. I’m sure I’ll be writing all about it tomorrow.

Day 18 – Friday Reflection

  1. American Robin
  2. American Crow
  3. Bald Eagle
  4. Brown Creeper
  5. European Starling
  6. Cooper’s Hawk (Ha! Thought I was going alphabetical didn’t you!)
  7. Red-Tailed Hawk
  8. Turkey Vulture
  9. Sandhill Crane
  10. House Sparrow
  11. House Finch
  12. American Goldfinch
  13. White-breasted Nuthatch
  14. Northern Cardinal
  15. Black-capped Chickadee
  16. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  17. Downy Woodpecker
  18. Hairy Woodpecker
  19. Canada Goose
  20. Mourning Dove
  21. Killdeer
  22. Mallard
  23. Dark-eyed Junco
  24. Blue Jay
  25. Chimney Swift
  26. Great Blue Heron
  27. Red-winged Blackbird
  28. Green Parakeet (I thought the kids were pulling my leg with this one, but we really did see one at recess)
  29. Common Nighthawk

On my way in this morning, the sounds of bird calls had me thinking… how many bird species have I seen around the school I teach at? Turns out that total is 29 different species. If you are like one of my sisters, you’re probably thinking I made up half of these names. I have a bulletin board outside my classroom that has a section with the birds seen around and many kids often remark “you saw all these around here?!”

It’s amazing what you can train your brain to see when you stop and look around. It doesn’t have to be birds as you’ll find it works well for gratitude and all of the good things in your life. Stop and smell the roses, look at the birds, and enjoy the weekend! Happy Friday!

Day 17 – Don’t Call It a Comeback!

Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years

LL Cool J

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A day of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and, depending on who you celebrate with, shenanigans. When I started teaching, my apparel for the day evolved from wearing green to dressing as a full out leprechaun. I am not entirely sure where or how it started. I think it was my mom giving me a pair of these awful, no support, plastic elf like shoes. The fit is tiiiiiiiight (my feet are similar to the one’s portrayed in Lord of the Rings) and cause them to sweat like bottled water on a hot summer day. In my younger years, I used to make it through a whole day and now it’s a few hours in the morning. The outfit slowly evolved into a top hat, various sizes of bow ties, and, at one time, suspenders. It was a thing! I even sprayed my beard orange one year.

A Colleague Sent This Saying “Facebook Memory – 10 Years Ago”

It didn’t stop at just an outfit. I was invited into kindergarten classrooms to pose next to blowup leprechaun, share golden coins, and be scapegoated as the reason pencils seemingly disappear into thin air. One year I was gifted silly string from our principal and was encouraged to cause leprechaun mischief with it. Kids who didn’t know my name would call me the leprechaun when they passed me in the halls. St. Patrick’s Day became a time of year we all looked forward to. Someone even cut out a picture of me and put it on a box of Lucky Charms.

Unfortunately, in 2019, St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Parent-Teacher Conference date. I made the decision to forego conducting meetings as a leprechaun. We all know what has happened the past two years with COVID and remote teaching. I put on the hat remotely, but it just wasn’t the same and didn’t quite workout with the headphones. This year; however, it is on! I’ll be dusting off the ol’ hat and shoes, rolling up the pant legs and pulling up the crazy socks. To quote Frosty the Snowman, “There must have been some magic in that old top hat they found.” Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! Slainte!

Day 16 – Tiny Birder

I often tell my wife how I knew I would love being a dad, but I still sometimes can’t wrap my head around just how much I truly LOVE being a dad. It’s the greatest experience in the world and every time I see that sweet little smile of my baby boy my heart does the Grinch thing while he’s peering down at the Whos singing around the empty space where the tree used to be!

One of my absolute favorite things is coming home and finding out what new skills he has picked up whether it be something my wife taught him (she’s such an awesome mom!) or something he has been absorbing like the little sponge he is watching the world around him. Apart from the “mom” and “dada”, his first word was fish. Back before he was walking on his own, we would take him to the zoo, the aquarium, read him books about fish/had fish in them, or we’d throw on some Coral City Cam (check them out if you haven’t before). Before we knew it, he was pointing at fish and saying “fish.”

Now, you can tell from my blog title that I am a bird guy so of course on my walks with him I would point out the birds we saw. So by the first time he pointed at a flock of Canada Geese and said “geese”, I thought maybe it was just me hearing what I wanted to. When my oldest sister was in town and he did it, it confirmed I wasn’t crazy and boy was I beaming. My (at the time) not even one year old was ID-ing geese. I was so incredibly proud. Fast forward to a few days ago and a very loud flock of geese comes honking over the house. The big guy runs as fast as his tiny legs can carry him, points out the window and says geese. I could not believe he made his first sound only bird ID. Today, he was pointing out the Killdeer flying overhead at the park not by name this time just “birds”. My wife may have caught a break now that I have someone else to drag along on my excursions. I’m so proud of the tiny birder he has become. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Day 15 – A Bit of Good News from the Senate on the Ides of March

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” – Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

It’s a little ironic that on the Ides of March, the Senate has finally done something that a majority of people support. For those who may be asking themselves “the Ides of what?” The Ides of March (March 15th) is the day that the Roman Senate stabbed Julius Caesar to death. “Et tu, Brute?”

Here in the US of A, the Senate has become a rather gridlocked place over the past 14 or so years? where they seemingly can’t agree on anything and not much seems to get passed even if the things have a majority of support from their constituents. I’m sure it’s doing exactly what the Founding Fathers had intended, but I digress.

It was only yesterday that I was grumbling about the awful thing we decide to do twice a year despite the harmful consequences to everyone involved. Time change! But I come bearing good news!!!!

The Senate. Has. APPROVED. A Bill. That would… Make Daylight Savings Time PERMANENT! Oh the shriek of joy I gave when I read this news in a world that increasingly does not produce enough of it. Visions of coming home from a day of teaching in the fall and winter and being able to go for a walk in the sunshine made me shed a tear of joy. Maybe it’s all of the Vitamin D I’ve been supplementing the past few months, but I am radiating such a positive energy thinking about those sunsets I won’t have to drive directly into as I head to my home in the west. Oh, I am still in disbelief, but I am going to savor this knowing that in November 2023 there is an extra hour of light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you, Senate! House of Representatives… please don’t let me down!

https://www.npr.org/2022/03/15/1086773840/daylight-saving-time-permanent-senate#:~:text=The%20Senate%20passed%20a%20bill,Biden’s%20signature%20to%20become%20law.

Day 14 – Make It Stop!

Prior to having a baby, one might’ve considered me a “political” person. I have volunteered for campaigns, done some door knocking, and even donated to a campaign. Post-baby I have stopped caring altogether. I have come to realize that nothing meaningful will get done politically and we are well past the time for the drastic action needed to do anything about climate change (happy Monday?). This probably makes me sound pessimistic, but it’s honestly refreshing changing my focus solely onto making my little guy smile. His smile makes me happy. His smile makes my wife happy…. which also makes me happy.

I will; however, start paying attention to politics and will work whole heartedly to get someone elected, whether it be state or federal, that will end the awful practice of daylight savings time. I HATE it! If we were a country that invested heavily in infrastructure and had tons of trains, maybe I can get behind honoring the origins of this practice but we don’t and we probably never will. Our entire country and infrastructure was built for cars. Cars with drivers that are impacted by things like snow, rain, and changing the clocks back and forth. On my way in today, someone decided to pull a U-turn in the middle of the left lane. Not a turn lane. Not the painted divider. Just a straight up U-turn. Could this person just be a bad driver? Probably. But it happening the day after we had to switch our clocks made it a little too correlated for me. Also, why does it happen at 2 a.m.? Why not 10 a.m. on a Monday so we can all enjoy a brunch when we get a jump to 11?

Needless to say, I’m done with the time change. Maybe I’ll have to look into one of the states that does not abide by this tomfoolery. Or maybe, just maybe, a politician will step up to the plate and do what needs to be done for the good of the country. Let’s make it happen people!

Day 13 – Weekend Breakfast

A little over a year ago, I became a Costco member. With a baby, it seemed the sensible thing to do when diapers cost about as much as a tank of gasoline. A year or so later (and many dollars spent), I’ve officially become a “Costco guy”. What does this mean? Let me give you an example. Not too long ago, I stopped into our front office to ask our wonderful secretary a question. As I stepped in, another “Costco guy” and myself locked eyes pointed at each other’s Adidas shoes and in perfect harmony uttered, “Costco!” We had a good chuckle, but you’d be surprised how often this happens. “Hey, get those at Costco?” has become a part of my lexicon. Costco pizzas have become an integral part of our Friday night festivities.

Needless to say, I’m a big fan and have accepted my new lifestyle. My favorite thing, however, is some Don Miguel Breakfast Burritos I stumbled upon on a whim. My wife had asked to find something that would be quick for her to heat up and eat in the mornings with the big guy. I’m not really a breakfast person myself during the week as I value getting a little extra sleep over getting up and eating a bowl of whatever. Upon trying one of these burritos that my wife simply said was “good”, I realized she may have been trying to trick me. She laughs as these breakfast burritos are something I genuinely look forward to on the weekends. I’ve caught myself on a Thursday saying, “Can’t wait to dig into some burrito this weekend!” I know you’re probably thinking, “why don’t you just eat them during the week?” and the answer is: I don’t know.

Something about waiting all week to have breakfast with my wife and the big guy on a Saturday makes it all the more satisfying. She has been getting really into making fancy coffees. I get to take my time consuming the burrito with Marie Sharp’s Hot Sauce (the best hot sauce I’ve ever had) and savor every bite versus wolfing it down during a weekday. The big guy eats all of the sausage pieces that I pluck out for him while giving me his extra big smile. We talk (he babbles or pretends his pieces of fruits are vehicles and makes vroom sounds) and enjoy this breakfast together that I usually miss during the week as I’m usually out the door before they’re up. I can’t wait for the weather to get nice so we can move the dining outdoors.

Tomorrow starts a fresh week and five days of no burrito, but come Saturday after the tiny hands have woken me up paired with the sounds of “dada!”, you better believe in 90 seconds and a beep, I’ll be sharing a burrito with my tiny human and sipping coffee made by a beautiful barista.

Day 12 – Not Too Shabby

Last night’s date night paint excursion was great and we might be signing up for another. As I was telling my wife on the drive to the park district building, I have lots of creative ideas, but put into action (especially when it comes to art or my sorry attempts at bulletin boards) they look very haphazard. Being the great person she is, she assured me that’s not the case, but still I was thinking we were going to have to hide my canvas in the crawlspace only to be brought out for laughs.

What we were going to be painting was on display when we arrived. A really cool cherry blossom scene much like the one we had intended to see a few years ago during a spring break in Washington DC that didn’t come to fruition as a rare nor’easter hit the area making for some very cold camping and caused all of the cherry blossoms in the tidal basin to remain closed (curse you, climate change!).

We found some seats which had our brushes, canvas, paint, plastic smock, and a water cup, which we were reminded repeatedly not to confuse with our beverages as it would make for a rather nasty surprise. Apparently this is something that happens a lot at these events? I got to do some reflecting on my own teaching as the person got going with telling us what to do. Am I specific in my directions? Am I modeling what it is I want my students to do or merely telling them? Am I keeping everyone engaged? How is the pacing of my lesson? Am I actually closing a lesson or just hurrying up cause I realized I’m out of time and need to move on? It’s not often I get a first hand experience on what our students go through.

My wife and I enjoyed ourselves. There were a few times we weren’t really sure how this could possibly come together to create the image they had set up for us ESPECIALLY when it came to that tree. It did, in fact, all come together in the end leaving us with something we could happily hang on the wall leaving the crawl space for other items.