Proud

Today I feel like a proud mama lion. I’m proud of students and children all across America. I don’t personally know these children, but today I am proud.

I am proud of all the middle school and high school students who have had enough and decided that they need to become involved.

I am proud that they went back to class after their seventeen (or 20) minute statement.

I am proud that in only a few months or years their voices will be heard when they  begin their marches into polling places across America.

I am proud that in tragedy, they have found compassion and grit.

I am proud that these children are acting like adults, when adults act like children.

I am proud that today these students said “no more.”

I am proud of the dozen Illinois State Senators who walked out in solidarity with the victims of Parkland, Commander Bauer, and all the victims of gun violence.

Mostly–

I am proud of all the students in Chicago who have been touched by gun violence. Instead of being angry that their voices were not heard before, they are using this time as momentum for their voices to be heard now.

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Snow

Snow.

It makes a Christmas joyful, beautiful, and nostalgic. Who doesn’t want a white Christmas?

A blanket of possibility to a seven year old…

“I want to go sledding!”

“I’m going to make a snowman!”

“I want to have a snowball fight with my brother!”

They wait for it in December. Watching the windows like a flake could fall to the ground at any moment. When there is a glimmer of hope, just a light dusting, their anticipation builds until the bell sets them off to play. Usually, the snow doesn’t even stick and there is only the cold.

Yet…

Things are different in March.

“I thought we were done with snow!”

“This can’t be happening…”

“It’s like a blizzard… WHY?!”

“It won’t stick… Will it Ms. Gallardo?”

My goodness, I hope not.

1 Splenda

I’m not a hardcore coffee drinker. I still need a nice jolt of caffeine, every day.  But, I don’t drink coffee without sugar (Splenda). I also need a lot of cream. My coffee is more of a light beige than brown.

This morning I was fixing my morning cup. I almost put the cup in the Keurig when I noticed that the half opened Splenda box only had one lonely packet tucked in the corner. Oh, thank goodness, I didn’t puncture the K-cup. Reason enough for Starbucks. I might’ve been looking for an excuse.

Only 5 minutes from work and I pull into the packed Starbucks line. I decide to go with tea, not a ton of caffeine but, hey, it’s less calories. Cheaper, too.

“Welcome to Starbucks, can I get you something for breakfast?” Hmm… a muffin sounds delicious.

“No, thanks, can I just have a grande Jade Citrus Mint Tea?” Woo, quite the mouthful… did I say that right?

“Sure! Will that be— Oh, wait…” I did say it wrong. “I’m so sorry. We are all out of the jade citrus mint…” ohmygod. I don’t even know any of the other teas. “We have the emperors cloud though…” Sounds close enough… 

“Okay, that’s fine.” I pull up the few feet past the speaker. The line is going pretty slow this morning. It’s all good, why is everyone always in a rush anyway? When it’s my turn, I thrust my phone out the window to scan my card. Instead of the scanner, I’m met with my drink and a smile.

“No, this one is on me… have a great day!”

“What– why— Okay– thank you!”

To the kind Starbucks employee. Thank you for my morning caffeine.

 

Mama

This won’t be the last time you hear this from me, or read it on this blog….

adore my mom.

I can never put into words how much she means to me, how much I love her, or how much I miss her. Sometimes I stare at her just wondering how I ended up with such a funny, beautiful, kind, loving mother.

For a long time, it was just us. We were (okay, okay– are) pretty inseparable.

When my fiance and I first moved in together, he didn’t bother me for a few days because I was so heartbroken that I left my mom. He didn’t quite understand it, but he respected it and didn’t ask questions.

When she and my step-dad decided to move to Elmhurst, it felt like a rock crushed my heart. I couldn’t talk about it without crying. I know it was what she needed to do, but it didn’t erase the pain. I still joke about when she will come back to the south ‘burbs. 4 years. I’m counting.

So, when Pulaski Day came around, I decided a Pulaski Day lunch was necessary. I drove to Oak Brook and paid the $700 dollars in tolls.

We had a lovely salad and sandwich lunch. Tea, coffee to compliment.

She asked if I wanted to come in and tour her job— of course! Then we went on a “here’s my daughter!” tour. I didn’t mind. It was sweet. There was a lot of “Oh my god! SHE LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE YOU.” I’ve been hearing that for years, it’s one of best compliments I ever get.

Yet…

I think my biggest accomplishment in life is the face my mother has when she introduces me. She smiles her biggest smile. She has dimples for miles and her eyes crinkle like the sun is in her eyes. She’s most beautiful when she’s this proud. She’ll tell everyone she knows that her daughter is an educator. In fact, I became an educator because she had the faith in me. She told me to do what I felt in my heart. She gave me the strength. All of my strength comes from her.

Like I said, I adore my mom.

MOH

I’m getting married this summer.

I decided that I didn’t want a big party standing there with me. I want those special moments to be about me and my fiancé. I wasn’t blessed with a built in Maid of Honor (a sister).

It was an easy choice, though.

I knew I wanted my best friend to be a part of the joy, planning, stress, and everything else that comes with a wedding.

We met as rambunctious 9 year olds. Eventually, we graduated grammar school and headed to different high schools. RIVAL high schools. Always keeping in touch, when everyone told us we would drift apart.

We were roommates in college, but life had a different plan for me. We parted ways again.

Through everything– sixteen years worth– we still find time to have breakfast on a sunny Saturday morning.

It always feels like no time has passed. We can talk for hours. Sometimes annoying our waitress, refilling coffee after coffee long past the pick up of our plates. (We always tip generously, I promise!) So, here’s to my maid of honor… Who always has my back.Who is always late. Who is always listening. Who is such a chismosa.Who is okay with me being a chismosa.Who always has something to add. My built in maid of honor.

Thirteen…Part One

My brother turned thirteen last Saturday. He’s grown up so quick. It feels like yesterday that Finding Nemo was on a never ending loop. It feels like yesterday that he would squeeze my hand tight on a walk. It feels like yesterday that he would run up to me and jump into my arms. If he did that now, he would bulldoze me. Still, at his fresh new “teen”age he has a lot of growing to do. He lives a very different life than I did.

When I was thirteen…

I would take the L home from my school in Wicker Park to my home in Pilsen. It took almost an hour, the bus would be quicker, but the L seemed safer to my mom.

I would pick HIM up from the babysitters. Feeding, play time, my homework, even bedtime until my mom came home. Sometimes only an hour later, sometimes more, because of a second job or a class.

I didn’t mind.

I loved (love) his sweet little curls, his contagious laugh, his big eyes.

We have very different experiences at thirteen. Him taking care of another child is a scary thought. Or taking the train by himself. Or using the stove…

Yes, very different experiences at thirteen. Thank goodness.

 

Snowman

He haunts me. He taunts me. Every morning and every time I leave. I shake my head –make a mental note– every time I see him. I know he’s laughing at me. He stands about 3 feet tall, but towers over me. His smile is just a little crooked and he doesn’t have any arms.

He has been stapled to my bulletin board since December. Yup, I’m not the teacher who has Pinterest and Instagram worthy boards. I’m THAT teacher. I forget to change the bulletin board. The primary hallway changes their bulletin boards about 3 times to one of mine.

It has been last on my to do list for months…

Okay, okay, I only noticed a few weeks ago. So it’s been on my list for weeks.

What I have noticed…

My students giggling during morning greeting. 

Silly dances during brain breaks. 

Eager faces while I read The Chocolate Touch.

A student (or three) who need a little extra love. 

The snowman can wait.