Wednesday, January 26, 2011


A note to Khalida, Sydney, Brandon, Jessica, Frank, Miranda, Ashley G., Carly, Max, Kyle, Kristin, Mike, Jodi, Morgan, Kayla, Kelly, Brandi, Jack, Sarah, Bernard, Ashley S., Chelsea, Abbi, Kevin, Chris, Tony, and Jenna:

I am lucky.  I get to go to work and do something I love.  And I get to meet new groups of students on a regular basis.  The downside?  I get pretty attached to those students and when the class is over I have to say goodbye.  I hate that.

J-Term '11 class?  I am really going to miss every single one of you.  I wish you all the best and I hope you keep talking about HIV and educating people.  I know you all have the courage within you.  I hope someday you all are lucky enough to have a job you truly enjoy and I wish you a life filled with fulfillment.  Be safe, be well.

I hope our paths cross again very soon.  Take care.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kindergarten Information Junkies

We're heading out to yet another Kindergarten information meeting.  This one is at the actual school our child will actually attend.  We're deep in the midst of last minute trip preparations and I'm also frantically grading but nothing can keep us from our quest for information.

I suspect the information will be identical to the previous meeting.  If this is the case, the quest will end abruptly and we'll rush home to finish packing and watch Cake Boss.

Here's hoping.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fun at a Price

January is fun for me.  I get to teach everyday.  I have a chance to eat lunch with friends.  I get to ride public transportation.  I get to teach subject matter that is important to me.

Of course there is a down side.  I end up having to plan class in the afternoon when I am stupid or in the evening when I'm even stupider.  My house is a total mess.  The weekends are anything but restful.

I wouldn't say my child has suffered although Eric has done the lion's share of childcare this month.  Sarah  loves her daddy but I'm missing out.  I am only support staff when it comes to parenting this month.  I think the extent of my quality time with my child today consisted of me putting a Hello Kitty temporary tattoo on her while I was writing an exam at the same time.  This feels like a pretty big price to pay.

Almost every mom I know talks about trying to achieve the balance between motherhood and work.  Almost no mom I know has achieved that balance.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

No Time to Blog

Wow - Blogging is totally time consuming.  I'm actually enjoying much more than I imagined but it's also much more time consuming than I imagined.

I'm packing (still) and finishing an exam so I'm taking a "Get Out of Blog Free Card" today.

Just so I am not totally free of content for the day, I'll suggest the iphone/ipod app "Paper Town" if you need a little stress relief.

Here are some samples, courtesy of my daughter.  I'm impressed with her ability to put together cute outfits.

Have a nice Sunday!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Magical Update

Vacation Update - I'm trying not to overpack for our trip to Disney World.  This is no easy task.  Several members of the Polley family like to bring a lot of stuff on vacation.  You can try to guess which ones and I'll give you hint -- it is the family members who are not me.

I spent some time today trying to thin down the number of princess accessories (hers) and the amount of gadgets (his) when I remembered we have The Disney Magical Express!

This is by far the best travel invention ever.  Here's how it works.  We got magical yellow tags from Disney to stick on our luggage.  When we get to O'Hare, we'll hand our luggage to a person at the curb and it (we hope) will go on its happy little way to Orlando.  We'll go and get on the plane.  When we get to Orlando, we'll scamper over to the Magical Express Bus and ride without our luggage to our hotel watching promotional Disney videos that are (I'm guessing) designed to brainwash my child into wanting things from the 10,000 Magic Kingdom gift shops.  The luggage will get there on its own somehow and a nice person will bring it up to our room.  On the way home, the whole thing will happen in reverse and our luggage will arrive in Chicago.  Yay!

The moral to this story?  Polley family - pack as much crap as you want as long as it doesn't weigh over 50 pounds!  We're going on vacation!

Hmmm - Do you think it would be possible for a person who weighs 36 pounds to pack over 50 pounds of stuff?  Stay tuned.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Wails on the Bus

As I mentioned in my previous post, there were no actual wails on the field trip or even whimpers for that matter.  That is due to the heroic amount of restraint and positive attitudes exhibited by my students.  Here was our day:

-Everyone arrived by 7:30 am.  In fact, several students arrived before I did since I had to stop for another cup of coffee. (I left Evanston at 6:00 am.)
-The bus driver met me before I climbed aboard and reminded me he used to portray Santa.  He had informed me of this on the phone the previous day and it must be a selling point for him as a driver because his ability to drive certainly was not. More about that later.
-Next I hopped on the bus.  My students looked horrified.

Wait -- I have to take a break from describing our day to describe the bus.  On the outside it looked like a normal bus that could fit 28 people.  But the inside was sort of a cross between a stereotypical bad bachelor living room and that van that takes people to prison.  It had a DVD player (we didn't have any DVDs though), radio, a connection for a ipod, and a useful feature which was a button that could close the window between us and Santa.  It also had buttons that could activate the disco lights which were not very appealing at 7:30 in the morning.  We had benches to sit on which caused us to be close together in a way that is only comfortable if you're in a romantic relationship, or if you are a preschooler.

-OK - back to the day.  Santa informed me that the bus was only authorized to hold 20 people but he'd let us all get on the bus.  (I had mentioned that we had 27 people in three separate phone calls to the bus company and again on the phone to Santa the previous day.)
-Despite Santa being willing to break the rules of the bus company 28 adults would never fit on that bus unless they were adult elves and even then it would be a squeeze.
-Two groups of students offered to drive and practically sprinted to their cars in relief.  The students who remained on the bus, who will from this moment forward be referred to as "Team Disco" looked miserable.
-Everybody took off.  Team Disco had decided to keep the shades down on the bus so they could nap and we rode all the way to Chicago in darkness other than the faint glimmer of the disco lights and the glow of 17 students texting "this bus sux" in unison.
-When we arrived at the field trip, many of us were rather carsick from Santa's driving.  One of the students was following in his car and he said something like "Dude, he was totally swerving."
(As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the field trip itself was totally awesome and was a nice distraction from the horrifying reality that eventually we would have to get back on that bus.)
-When it was time to get back on, Team Disco maintained a positive attitude which I think they should totally mention at all future job interviews.
-The Team seemed cheery and even tried their best to educate me on current music even though I thought Justin Bieber sounded like a girl and I was disturbed by the song about having unsafe sex with multiple partners and I helpfully suggested the sequel would be a song about chlamydia.
-I hopped off at a mall in Skokie and felt guilty and held my breath until I got text messages from all three groups of students that they had arrived back to campus safely.

To conclude, three important things:
1.  The bus company cut the price in half when I called to complain so at least we did not pay full price for that nightmare on wheels.
2.  The students all seemed very enthusiastic about the field trip and hopefully the trauma from the bus will eventually diminish.
3. I'm almost positive he isn't really Santa.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No Day But Today

OK - I admit it.  I have an irrational fear of field trips.

It seems like potential disaster lurks around every turn.  The transportation seems fraught with disturbing possibilities.  The places we visit can sometimes have a lack of chairs, or they forget we're coming, or the guest speaker will decide to go horrifyingly off-script.  The students can occasionally have made the unfortunate decision to stay up way too late the night before and they spend the whole trip crabbing about the previously mentioned stuff.

Today's trip to TPAN?  In a word - Great.  Really.

Was it perfect?  Well, not exactly and you'll see why when I blog about the bus in a few days.  (Really -  I need to heal before I can write about it.)

My students?  Fantastic.  They listened, spoke, treated our speakers with great respect and were treated with respect in return.  The politely ate the donuts and pizza the agency kindly provided.  They completed their service project with speed and enthusiasm usually reserved for Santa's elves.

The speakers?  Awesome.  They shared their information and stories with great honesty and humor.  I could not believe how many incredible people work at that agency. They were so nice to us.

To TPAN and to my students -- many thanks.  I am totally exhausted, but in a good way.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guilty Pleasure

OK - I admit it.  I love watching Cake Boss.  I'm a fan of any show that features sweets and uses cool tools.

The situations are totally contrived.  I question the sanitary aspects of using a power drill around food.  And I can't imagine how they can possibly run a business when it seems like the whole staff has to drop everything and rally around to finish that cake in the shape of a venus fly trap.

But I love it all the same.  People seem genuinely excited when they get these fancy cakes.  What they are able to do with cake and frosting is amazing.  Nobody gets sick, nobody dies, nobody even gets hurt.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thanks for Sharing

I'm sure this happens to plenty of people who teach in J-Term.  Well maybe not, but it happens to me.  Every single year.  My filter disappears.  I just kind of assume that everyone I know will be excited to learn about the newest advances in HIV and other STDs.  Guess what?  Mostly they are not.

I singlehandedly brought conversation at a dinner party to a screeching halt the other day when I brought up the enchanting topic of drug resistant strains of gonorrhea.  I loudly discussed the female condom on public transportation yesterday and it was not even 7:30 am.

I'm very grateful for my good friends who tolerate this on an annual basis.  It can't be easy.

Now, do you want to hear about... Oh, you don't?  Maybe later.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tough Love

If you want to see a group of adults snap into line, just hang around our preschool.

Lois Wall is the director of Northminster Nursery School. She has been at this job for years and that school runs like clockwork.   Nobody messes with her.  (I've heard her tell the kids the story of Johnny Appleseed and I think she was probably right there to tell old Johnny to get off his butt and get some trees planted.)  Here are just a few of her important rules which we all follow (and we pity the parents who don't):
-Lois does not approve of us jaywalking with the children.  If you park across the street, you had damn well better walk down to the corner to cross the street.
-Lois wants all the children to dress warmly and she does not think scarves are a good idea (I've enjoyed her annual Isadora Duncan remark in the newsletter.)
-You think you don't have time to attend the fundraiser?  Think again.

I was a little weepy when I dropped Sarah off on the first day of school last year.  Lois told me to "Just go home.  She'll be fine."  A hug?  Not so much.  I'm a little ashamed to tell you that Lois has told me to "snap out of it" at least a dozen times it in a variety of ways these last few years.

But here are the three most important things:
-Nothing is more important to Lois than the kids, and that preschool is great.
-Northminster got Sarah ready for kindergarten.
-Lois got me ready for kindergarten.

I'm going to miss her.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cheap Thrills

We told Sarah today.  She now knows we're going to Disney World.  I was really excited to tell her and also I really want to start packing.  (I'm one of those people who likes packing in advance.)

Her first reaction was horror that she would miss school.  This made me happy that she likes school so much but also a little sad that we spent a lot of money for this trip and our child would rather stay here and do an art project.

This reminded me of Sarah's birthday last year.  We had a party at My Gym with 20 children, homemade (by me) cupcakes, goody bags, etc.  The advantage to a party at My Gym is that the staff entertains the kids while the parents stand around and drink coffee.  The staff also serves the cupcakes, cleans up, and loads all the gifts into a big garbage bag so you can take them home and open them later.

A week or so before this shindig (which required a non-refundable deposit) we went to a gathering at our synagogue.  They sang happy birthday to all the February birthdays and then served a cake from the Sara Lee outlet which looked just exactly like you'd imagine an outlet cake to look.  On the way home, Sarah remarked that she sure had a wonderful time at her birthday party.


(Just so the story won't have a totally sad ending, she also had a good time at her actual birthday party.)

But I have to remember, all these things we are doing are really for us.  WE want to go to Disney World.  SHE would be happy with a big piece of bubble wrap and a few friends to help her jump on it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Geek Squad

One of the disadvantages to getting married a little later in life is the stuff.  I like my kind of coffee maker, he likes his kind of coffee maker.  I like my cutting board, he likes his cutting board.  We have both a toaster and a toaster oven.

Slowly we are adjusting after six years of marriage.  We now have just one kind of toothpaste.  Our Diet Coke versus Diet Pepsi debate is over and Diet Coke is the victor.

But since we became used to having multiples of things, we don't feel the need to thin out our stuff.  It just feels normal to us.  We have two Cuisinarts.  We have two menorahs. We have two crockpots.

So, it didn't seem excessive at first when I connected our Apple TV this morning.  But now we have so many options for watching television I am somewhat humiliated.  (I don't know how many people really read this blog or I would be totally humiliated.)  DVD player? Yes.  Apple TV?  Yes?  Cable?  Yes.  On Demand?  Yes.  Netflix?  Yes.

Is there anything good on?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Musings from the Couch

I'm worn out so here are just a few observations I can make from where I'm sitting.

-Those winter boots I bought?  Those Bogs?  They are one of the best purchases I have made all year.  They have actually made my commute at least 75% more enjoyable.  Those, combined with the ugly warm down coat I bought last year have made me hate winter slightly less overall.

-Our ceiling fans are probably too low for most people.

-Before microwave popcorn, we used to make air-popped popcorn.  Before that we used to make popcorn with oil.  It was fabulous.  This observation makes me feel old.

-Sarah's dolls have way more clothing than I do.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Shoe Store

The shoe store in our neighborhood is closing.  It has a name - Vose-Sander's Bootery - but everyone just calls it the shoe store.  It has been on Central Street for 89 years.  The owner (not the original owner, but he's owned it for over 40 years) and his wife have sold "first pairs of shoes" to every kid in the neighborhood for generations.

I went in today and bought Sarah a pair of shoes.  The store will be open for another month or two and they told me to come back again because they're marking everything down.  There is no joy in those bargains.

You know what?  I'm not in the mood for another loss -- even if it is just a shoe store.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Packing it In

Wow - these days are really full. I was heartened to learn that J-Term is actually shorter this year and it is not just my imagination.

I would like someone to volunteer to do the following for me:
-Pack lunches
-Do laundry
-Do the dishes
-Grocery shop
-Choose clothing
-Go through the mail
-Find my sunglasses

It seems I need "Part-Time Working Marla" (PTWM) to come and help "Full-Time Working Marla" (FTWM) with all this stuff. PTWM usually fits is all in.  FTWM is a whole lot busier, enjoys working a lot more but also feels a lot guiltier.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Big Baby

OK - I am (almost) too beside myself to blog.  I just returned from "Kindergarten Information Night" where the policies and procedures involved in sending your child to public school in Evanston were described.  I entered with that feeling I recall from starting middle school as a student.  I left in tears, although really everything was fine and kindergarten sounds like lot of fun. Really, I mean it.

I cried over the following stupid reasons (it built up - I didn't cry until I was nearly out the door.)
-A kindergarten teacher reminded is that the kids will be very very tired when they get home from school which goes from 9:00-3:35.  This will about as long our child has ever been away from a parent -- and it will happen every day.
-I was sitting next to another compliant and worst-case-scenario-filled parent who will forever be known in my mind as "Debbie Downer" and I am grateful my good friend Miriam was sitting on the other side to balance things out.
-A goal of kindergarten is to foster independence and the kids will have to remember to turn in their homework.  I regularly forget to collect student homework and my husband walks out of the house without his wallet pretty darn often.  Her remembering genes have her at a disadvantage.
-I spoke briefly with a very nice lady from food service who showed the the potential lunch choices and mentioned how the kids just step up say which choice of the day they want to eat.  This almost made me cry because: A. My child will have to talk to the grownup which she is not always willing to do and B. If she doesn't like the school lunch I will be packing her lunch every single day.
-I met a lady from the district health office and I asked her if we should send a asthma inhaler to school just in case and she said we should, just to be on the safe side.
And then I had to go cry in the parking lot.

I would like to think I've done a lot of things to foster independence in my child.  That doesn't mean I'm OK with it.  That day when she doesn't want to hold my hand or kiss me goodbye is coming and there is not a thing I can do about it.

I suspect she is ready.  I know I am not.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Things I Like

Here's a list of some things I like so nobody can accuse me of having a whiny blog.

-I like it when conductor on the Metra jokes around with me on my way home from work.
-I like when I think I am out of something and then find a whole new container of whatever it is just sitting in the pantry.
-I like when they offer an extra shot of espresso at Starbucks even though I usually don't take it.
-I like it that my job is one that doesn't require me to wear uncomfortable shoes.
-I like playing cards on vacation.
-I like Mary Lou, the coffee lady at the train station in Evanston.  She knows the whole neighborhood.
-I like when I take my daughter to the playground and she finds another child to play with and they are instant friends.  I especially like it if the mom of that child enjoys chatting with me.
-I like my GPS.
-I like Sesame Street.

What do you like?

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Yesterday I got an SOS e-mail from a new mom.  She had read the books.

I enthusiastically read many books about parenthood when I was pregnant with Sarah.  These books are full of information and tell you what to expect when your baby arrives.  I even had a book that explained what one could expect a newborn to be able to do -- week-by-week.

The thing is, those books stink.  They should be outlawed.  I can scarcely think of one thing about those books that is helpful.  My husband actually snatched "Your Baby Week-By-Week" away from me and used it to prop up our window air conditioner. (I had been fretting that our daughter was not grabbing toys the way the book said she should be two weeks ago.)

We need books for new parents that explain how to eat and also do laundry with one hand while holding the baby in the other hand.  We need books for new parents that tell you whatever you are doing is just fine and you should not worry if your baby will only sleep in their bouncy seat in the dining room with the ceiling fan running on high.  We need books for new parents that tell them that their crazy suspicion that their baby is upset by their polar fleece could be true and they can just take it off and not feel insane.

And what we especially need are books that tell new parents to stop reading books and go out and find some other new parents and hang out with them.

I just got back from a brunch with my mom friends.  I met most of these women when our children were infants.  I remember feeling sort of pathetic when we would go to coffee together in the morning, then I'd suggest have we could have lunch, and then we would all spend the afternoon together.  Of course, I found out quickly that everyone was lonely and happy to spend the day chatting.  We all felt isolated with these babies who had not read the part of the book which said they would sleep 18 hours a day.  Those days together (and we had a lot of them) were the days we finally realized it might actually be OK to be a mom.

Way better than a book.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


According to my calculations it is now almost 9:00 and I have not blogged today.  Why are weekends so busy when they are supposed to be relaxing?

Perhaps something blogworthy will happen tomorrow.  (Come on laundry, I'm counting on you!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

J-Term 2011 -The Week One Report

OK - Here are some general observations in no particular order:

-As always, I am very lucky to have an opportunity to teach something about which I am so passionate.  I practically skipped into my classroom on the first day.

-My students are awesome.  Every single one of them came to each and every class this week and they were on time and ready to learn.  And they have a sense of humor and participate in class.  Pinch me, I must be dreaming.

-The commute was likewise dreamy.  That extra time on the train to get work done is nice.  The time to chat with my friend Maria is also nice.

-My packed lunches started off strong but by today (only day 4) not so much.  The sad reality is that I must grocery shop this weekend.  I will have to violate my "no grocery shopping on the weekend unless it is a dire emergency" policy.  On a more cheerful note, the company at lunch is great.

-Our guest speaker today was inspiring and now that I think about it l'm ashamed I mentioned I was unsatisfied with my lunch.

-I was thrown by the 4-day week and I spent some time in class today more or less barking information at my students.  "Wait, don't leave until I tell you one more thing!"  They were good sports about it.  I gave them a huge reading assignment and I have a similarly huge amount of work to do.  Too bad we're not all living together in that Princess castle.  We could have popcorn.

-Blogging is actually pretty fun.

-Eric's week was certainly more difficult than my week and Sarah looking a little bedraggled.  (This afternoon she was sporting an attractive "one braid, one pigtail" hairstyle.)  But they deserve their own post, so stay tuned for that.

Remind me to tell you about the kitchen clock falling off the wall.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Princes (Sold Separately)

Here's the thing about those Disney Princesses around here -- the princes are so totally beside the point.

I asked my daughter who turns five next month what a typical day is like for the Princesses.  She told me the following Princess facts:
-They all live together in the same castle.
-They all have their own rooms with fancy beds.
-They all cook meals together and eat together, or maybe they go out to eat.
-They dance if they want to.
-They do crafts and bake and do other fun things all day long.
-Some of them have jobs (Tiana has her own restaurant) but they get to choose.

Notice anything missing?  The handsome, charming, or otherwise useful prince?  Yeah, he's mostly out of the picture.  When pressed, she said the princes come over to dance sometimes but too often.

Hey Fairy Godmother?  I'm available.

Dizzy Whirled

True Confession:  I can't handle things that spin.

I used to love the twirly rides.  The Tilt-a-Whirl was my personal favorite (remember how you could lean to make it spin even more?)  I liked that high swing ride where your shoes would sometimes fall off.  I loved that one ride where it would turn really fast and then the floor would drop out and you'd be stuck to the wall.  (Do they still have that one?  It seems like something people would sue over these days.)

Now I even get dizzy on the eastbound ramp of the Edens.

I am so looking forward to our vacation but those twirly rides are not going to be the mommy rides.  This realization makes me feel really old and no fun.

Update -- Eric claims he is willing to go on the Teacups.  Stay tuned three weeks from today.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blog - Day 1 - What have I done?

This blog is my choice for my annual J-Term "must-do" project.  I was somewhat inspired (AKA I stole the idea) from watching "Julie and Julia" the other day.

My initial thoughts about blogging:

I must admit I have found blogs to sort of imply that we all want to know a lot of small details about each other's lives.  Or it might imply that someone wants to know the daily details of your life, but you don't really want to hear about their life or you might just start a conversation over coffee instead of blogging all by yourself.  And, it does put the pressure on you to do something even a little bit interesting.  "The blog of laundry and loading the dishwasher" does not sound great.  I also don't think I have anything particularly insightful to say, but maybe this will dredge something up.

I like the idea of cooking everything from a cookbook more and more but I'm not going to do that so stay tuned as I figure this out.

Over and out.