Friday, September 19, 2014


The other night, Michael called me a nerd.

He was helping me plan an activity about characterization in which I would have my students make inferences about me based on things I've said, things I've done, or choices I've made. I said, "Do you think they could guess what table I sat at in high school?" 

He said, "I think they could figure out that you sat at the nerd table."

I said, "I wasn't a nerd in high school."

Of course, if you asked most of the people I went to high school with, they probably would say I was a nerd. It's just that I personally never self-identified as a nerd and certainly wouldn't have listed "smart" as my defining characteristic.

Michael asked me, "So if you aren't a nerd, what are you?"

"A hippie," I replied as if it were obvious.

Michael disagreed, seeing as I don't smoke pot or listen to jam bands.

"Okay, maybe we have different definitions of the word hippie. Maybe a better word to describe me would be crunchy. Granola."

"I could see that," Michael conceded.

Environmentalist. Yogi. Gardener. Bike-rider. Folk-music lover. That is how I self-identify.

Thinking of this conversation, I asked the boys tonight, "What do you think is your main talent? How would you describe yourself? Nerd? Athlete? Artist? Musician? Dancer? What?"

Eli said athlete, which I was not expecting, but his answer might have been skewed by the fact that we were coming home from soccer.

Cole said geek, which he insists is different from and better than a nerd.

I think it's interesting to think about how others see us versus how we see ourselves. How do you self-identify?

Epic Journey 2014: Chicago

While vegging at Lake Michigan, we spent one day exploring the streets of Chicago. Pardon my phone photos. I took oh so many...


Recall that after several hours exploring Nauvoo, my kids were begging to be strangled. Contrast that with the many, many, many miles we walked aimlessly around Chicago, doing pretty much nothing the entire day, while my children were amazing, wonderful angels. The difference? Cousins.

Cousins make all the difference.

Epic Journey 2014: Lake Michigan

In past posts, I have established that I am a lake person, not an ocean person, and here is why:

Alley fam reunion 2014

From ages 7 to 14, I lived an hour from Lake Michigan, and spent many wonderful days at this very beach. It was so fun that the Alley family reunion was held so close to our old stomping grounds. I loved racing down the same dunes with my boys that I would run down 20 years ago with my brother and sisters.

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It was a treacherous journey, but all four of us made it to the top. I don't think my parents even attempted it.

Alley fam reunion 2014Alley fam reunion 2014

The sad part of the trip was that my grandma fell and broke her hip just a few days before the reunion, so instead of getting to see her, we had to skype with her. Still, it was fun to see nearly all of my cousins and so, so many of their kids.

Epic Journey 2014: Nauvoo

We left St. Louis just after lunch and got to the Beautiful City around dinnertime. Standing on the temple grounds looking out over the Mississippi, you definitely feel for those early Latter Day Saints who had to leave behind what really was a beautiful place in Illinois for the mountain desert of the Salt Lake Valley.


The sunstone that marked the spot of the burned-down Nauvoo temple was my favorite part of the historical site when I was a kid, so it was exciting to me to get to see the recently rebuilt temple in all its glory. Because I had the kids with me, I didn't get to go inside, but we did admire the beautiful grounds.


Truth be told, Nauvoo was the low point of our Epic Journey. Because I'd loved it so much as a kid, I think I built it up too much in my mind, assuming that my kids would also love it and thus we would all love it together. 

Cole's exact words on the second day when we were there, after he'd complained a gazillion times that he was bored and would rather go back to the campsite and do nothing than continue walking around Nauvoo..."I just don't like historical stuff. I don't like history. I don't like anything without electricity."


I mean, how can you not like a place where you get to make your own rope?

Eli's issue with Nauvoo was the stilts, which he was determined to master but couldn't master despite an hour of trying, so he just ended up really frustrated and grumpy.


We caught a ride on the oxcart the morning we left Nauvoo, heading to the final stop on our epic journey...Michigan (slash Illinois slash Indiana)
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