life. currently.

Tomorrow is the official start of fourth quarter at school (where the H did the last three quarters of a school year go?!). I’m completely overwhelmed in both a good and bad stressful way.

Yesterday I had my first dress fitting (at which point I think I truly realized BAH! We’re getting married!!!!).

Last week we started our routine of Sunday morning walks in LG with Sam. Today the lake path was lacking enough when it comes to mud and puddles that we made three miles happen and it was perfect.

It’s sunny out. Well not now. Right now it’s 9:21 pm and while at some point this year it will be almost-still-sunny at this time of the night, it isn’t yet. But during the day. Yesterday AND today. It was sunny out. And it was glorious.

I’m feeling my cabin fever slowly but surely lift itself, and I’m getting SO psyched for so many awesome things ahead.

In short…

Welcome, April. I couldn’t be happier to see you. 

brewers game.

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Last night we went to the Brewers-Nationals game with most of my dad’s family for my uncle’s 50th birthday. The game wasn’t that exciting, but we all got a $10 voucher on our way into the stadium (thanks, Ryan Braun!).

It was fun to do something different from usual with all of these guys!

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one. week. left.

This is the last weekend of the school year. Which is crazy. But also kind of fantastic. Because even though I’m teaching summer school, I’ll truly have “me time” for the first time in nine months. This means I’ll blog again. It also means that I’ll do about three months of Project Life to make up for not once play rehearsals started taking over my life (oops).

But I just saw this quote during my Pinterest break from grading (I’ve already been grading long enough at 8am on a Saturday that I’m taking a break). I felt the need to post it because a year and change ago, I did this. And everyone was more than willing to tell me they thought it was a bad idea. But holy smokes I am so unbelievably happy because of that one choice. So many amazing things have happened because of that one choice. I’ve gained experiences and people and memories that I couldn’t imagine not having, and I am so, so, so grateful that I went with my gut instead of my logic for the first time.

So, cheers, friends. To an unbelievably challenging and rewarding nine months of teaching: round one. To what will be a completely fantastic three months of summer. And to all of the things worth celebrating that I haven’t even yet imagined.

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in memoriam.

February is coming to a close. This is something I’m having a hard time grasping, mostly because I feel like I was just celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas and that the first day of school was not too far back from that.

It’s taken me almost two months to revisit this blog. Admittedly, I’ve been busy. The last thing I wanted to do during the few spare moments I had was sit on a computer for even longer than I already do regularly. I knew I should be keeping track of what was going on around me, but I didn’t think I needed to blog about it because one of my major changes for 2013 is Project Life.

But one of the major reasons I haven’t sat down to type away is that I knew I needed to to address the second week of January. I didn’t want to do that for the same reason I’ve avoided going to my grandma’s house for a month and  half: facing reality. Putting pen to paper (or in this case fingers to keyboard) makes it real.

Even now, I’m struggling to find the perfect words. I’ve been writing for over a half hour and have gotten as far as three paragraphs. I think the difficulty of this quest for perfection is a completely accurate measure of the way Donald T. Swanson has always appeared in my eyes. The wonderful thing about the fact that I am a member of the same teaching staff that he was is that I still hear new stories weekly about the outstanding life he led and pushed those around him to lead as well.

I continuously tell people that my grandpa was the smartest man I ever knew. He graduated from high school at sixteen and worked in a handful of areas until he started his military career in 1951.  One of the most unbelievable things to me was how major of a role his time in the Army and National Guard played in his life. I read through an “autobiography” that he wrote a few years ago. Pages and pages and pages were dedicated to his years of service.

Hearing my dad, uncles, and aunt talk about him while they were growing up was such a surprise – “Sergeant Major Swanson” was who ran their house. I have absolutely no idea how I went 23 years unaware of his complete devotion to his country. I will say, though, that it so completely explained how the phrase “I’m not yelling!” transitioned from my dad’s childhood, to my childhood, to my current classroom (and likely my future life as a parent).

Instead of knowing my grandpa as a high-ranking member of the military, I knew him as a teacher. While it’s true that this is something we shared, making it worth prioritizing for me, I always saw him living this role on a daily basis. Growing up, people constantly came up to him and asked if he was Mr. Swanson. More often than not, he also remembered them. He was even approached by a woman on the day of my college graduation, 75 miles away from where he spent his teaching career and 20 years after his retirement began. As most people know, it takes something special for a teacher to earn the title of “favorite” from a student who has so many teachers throughout his/her life. It takes something remarkable to earn that title from countless students who are now well into adulthood.

My grandpa had the gift of making those around him feel completely valued. When in conversation with him, nothing else in the world mattered. When hearing a story, he laughed in all the right moments, asked questions when he should. He was proud of every accomplishment, no matter how small. Never once did I feel that he would be ashamed of me, despite not always being proud of my own actions. This wasn’t because I was too afraid to share the story, but because I knew that he never passed judgement.

My grandpa was a laugher and joke teller. Rarely did he tell different jokes from the time before, but I think that was a large part of their appeal. I’m not sure that I was always supposed to let him tell the punchline, or if I was meant to eventually say it on my own, but I always laughed sincerely afterward. I fully believe that was due, in large part, to his contagious joy.

Above my desk at school, a newspaper column about my grandpa hangs. This column was written by a student in the last issue of the school newspaper before my grandpa’s retirement. It describes the many things the he did for the members of the school community, things that he did with what seemed like no effort. It describes how deeply the school would miss him after he left at the end of the academic year. It describes how he embodied the phrase “blood is in the bricks” when it came to his 33 years as a member of the district. However, I highlighted something else, the line that serves as the most inspiration to me (in blue, of course): “Making it all look so easy, when it is all so hard.”

Many times this school year, I’ve looked up at that line and the picture of my grandpa and me next to it. It’s given me comfort. My grandpa may have been many students’ favorite teacher (even though he taught chemistry – yikes!), but he worked really hard to get there. It makes me feel better about how hard this job is for me this year, because I know it was probably still hard for him after over 30 years.

I’ve got big shoes to fill walking through the same halls he did, both figuratively and literally. I hope to be half the educator he was. This would make me really good at my job. But I hope more to be just a fraction of the person he was. This would make me really good at life.

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I love and miss you, big guy. Congratulations on 82 years of greatness. I hope you’re running sprints in heaven. 

king james.

Last night we went to the Bucks-Heat game in Milwaukee. The game was fantastic, and the Bucks actually won!

The tickets were one of my Christmas presents for Josh. I was surprised at how close they were though; I guess I haven’t been in the Bradley Center in a long enough time to remember what the layout is.

It was cool to see such big-name players in person. LeBron James is ENORMOUS.

movie gold.

You guys. Les Miserables was SO good, I cannot even tell you.

I cried, and cried, and laughed, and cried… It was completely impressive, and they really lost nothing in terms of the stage performance transferring to a big screen. Kudos to everyone who was involved.

Also, last night after going to see the movie with my mom, I went out to celebrate two of my friends from high school getting engaged this past weekend. An extra bonus: someone special, who we haven’t seen since Summer 2007 when she went back to Argentina, stopped by! (Palo’s the one in the middle)

merry christmas.

This is what our Christmas looked like…

We spent Christmas Eve at Josh’s parents’ house where we watched Christmas Vacation as part of their family tradition. Unfortunately, his brother and crew weren’t there because he was working and his wife and son went to her parents’ a few hours away. But it was a nice new addition to my Christmas nonetheless. And as a bonus, I introduced them to Disney’s Very Merry Christmas Parade on Christmas morning… I’m not sure they were nearly as excited as I was.

We brought Sam home and then went to my grandparents’ house for Christmas “dinner” in the afternoon. I think Josh enjoyed his first experience with my grandma and grandpa’s grab-bag game. Although we both got a little lesson in being greedy when we put our $10 bills back in the bag in hopes of getting the $50 or $100 and instead came out with $5.

After leaving my dad’s family, we came home to give Sam and Chance some attention and open our gifts to each other before heading to my parents’ house. Both four-legged guys got a gift, and I got Josh a “Gone Squatchin'” coffee mug and tickets to the Bucks-Heat game this coming Saturday. He got me a full Project Life kit, which I’m SUPER excited about!

He and I also started a new tradition of our own that I found on Pinterest. We came up with a list of our favorite memories of 2012 and wrote them on a big ornament to go on our tree. I think it’ll be exciting to look back at these each Christmas in the future to see what we found to be highlights each year.

We went to my parents’ house for an actual dinner, where we ate, opened more gifts, and watched some hoops.

I think this was just about the best Christmas I ever had, despite the fact that I didn’t wake up in my childhood bedroom for the first time since I can remember. I hope that everyone else involved enjoyed it as much as I did, and I’m looking forward to spending the next week off of school with many of them.