No Blaise: Dollar Addictions

April 23rd, 2017


One dollar essentially means nothing in 2017.

Is $1 you-call-it a thing on college campuses anymore? It definitely shouldn’t be, but it’d be sad if a very dangerous drink deal were to go extinct because of inflation, as opposed to it’s demise for a more appropriate reason like binge drinking is bad.

But I digress.

There are a few places in this expensive era that still honor the almighty dollar. One of those places is a local business you may have heard of, it’s called Target.

Target, if you’ve been there, has many many things to buy. Often times it has too many things to buy and a lot of times I buy a lot of those things. This problem has only increased since becoming a teacher and uncovering the jackpot that is their $1 section.

Targets dollar section has so many things, and all of the things cost $1, and all of the things go into my classes prize bin. Every Thursday I walk into the Target dollar section to re-up because Friday is a big prize day for us in first grade. Friday morning I walk in and put the new prizes into the prize bin as the kids eat their breakfast. When I’m done, I remind the kids that any of those prizes can be theirs as long as they have a good day and follow the rules.

Carrot, meet stick.

Last Thursday, I had a particularly good haul. The dollar section got a full revamp, they’d updated for summer. They had light up bracelets, flashlights on necklaces, sunglasses, and lots of things with a hamburger/hotdog/french fry print that I very much enjoyed. So, I walked into the class on Friday morning like I was on stage at the Oscar’s and about to read the winner of Best Actress.

We get excited about the little things in first grade.

I filled the prize bin with all the light up and fast food printed items and looked upon my kingdom of little people as if I’d just won them all the gold in the world. Being the perfect students they are, they reacted as if I was a queen and had just brought them back all the gold in the world. I have taught them so much.

I should give a brief disclaimer that I buy things from the dollar section for myself as well. They have many things you can convince yourself you’d use or just things that are pretty or cool to look at. We all need prize bins, you know?

This blog should be looked at as a PSA. If you’re a parent, teacher, librarian, person who has to interact with children on a daily basis, the dollar section is for you. If you like to throw parties very often, or just someone who likes to decorate things, or just someone who likes things, the dollar section is for you.

Now go forth and buy things. But also Shop Small.



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No Blaise: How To Make Your Students Say Nice Things About You

April 2nd, 2017

Two weeks ago I had a weird day where I was out in the morning visiting another school, and then came back to my classroom in the afternoon. Usually I’d be out all day because a substitute teacher isn’t interested in getting paid for half a day when a full day of pay for subbing isn’t exactly hitting the jackpot as it is. But, the sub that was supposed to cover for me this day decided “fuck it” at 6am and cancelled. So, a line of wonderful people at school tag teamed watching my students throughout the morning until I got back.

To help these saints with taming my first graders, a left a bunch of worksheets. Some math, some reading, some writing, and lots of coloring sheets. One the writing worksheets I put in there was called “My Fabulous Teacher” in order to do a pulse check on how my kids felt about me as their teacher. This worksheet asked my kids questions like, “Who’s your teacher”, “What do you like most about your teacher?”, “Why do you think your teacher is fabulous?” and then they got to draw a picture.

The pictures my students draw of me are always incredible to see. I’m often portrayed as some sort of giant, usually hunched over, with a variety of colors of hair. The pictures they drew this time were no different. I was drawn very large, and they were drawn very small.

What I was most interested in getting from these worksheets was how my students would fill in answers to the questions “What do you like most about your teacher?” and “Why do you think your teacher is fabulous?”. What I was looking for was a quick confidence boost, it had been a hard week and I really just wanted to read about how my students thought about how I was cool and nice. That’s how teaching works, right?

Thankfully none of students disregarded the guided phrasing of the question and wrote things like “My teacher looks tired all the time.” or “My teacher loses here train of thought a lot.”. Some of my kids wrote the basics like, “My teacher is nice.” and “My teacher loves her class.” which, of course, was wonderful to see. Even more wonderful to see were the more unique answers that my students came up with.

I’m reading through them and I come across, “My teacher has nice hair.” I laughed and smiled at it, thinking it was an answer one student came up with. It was a cute anecdote. Then I continued reading them, and I came across this answer “My teacher has nice hair.” many more times. Don’t worry, some of my students wrote things like, “She wants us to go to college” and “She helps us learn”, so my last 7 months of teaching haven’t (yet) been forgotten in the name of good hair.

But then I looked on the board and saw what looked like a list the person watching my students had helped my students come up with. Number one on this list? “My teacher has nice hair.” The other items on the list were things like, “She likes us.”, “She wants us to know math.” and “She helps us.” All good things.  Regardless, I am reflecting on what it means that the first thing that pops into my students minds when asked “What do you like most about your teacher?” is “My teacher has nice hair.”

Is it a bad thing that my students think of my hair before they think of what I’ve taught them? Not necessarily. Is it a good thing? Probably not. Did I take it as a compliment? Yeah. I did.

Sure, I would’ve preferred every kid answered that they felt smarter, kinder, and calmer because of everything I’d taught them. But, students liking my hair isn’t the worst thing in the world. One of them also answered that I “wear pretty clothes.”

Overall my mission of forcing compliments out of six and seven year olds, I mean checking their comprehension and writing skills, was generally a success.

Teaching has it’s moments.

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No Blaise: Why Time Changes are the Worst, Especially in Chicago

March 19th, 2017

Was the title of this post cryptic enough for you? I’m very mysterious.

As I’m sure all of you sleepyheads know, we lost an hour of sleep on Sunday. Which led into feeling like I’d lost 100 hours of sleep this entire week. The difference between this sleepiness and my normal sleepiness has not yet been determined.

My Chicago friends got especially shit on this past sleepy week. Why feel especially made for us? SURPRISE SNOW STORM. BLIZZARD. ARTIC DOWNPOUR. WHITE OUT.

Those all caps were no accident. That is how I feel inside about the snow that came through in a big way on Tuesday.

Picture me waking up that morning and realizing I’d slept through my alarm. Then imagine me not knowing it snowed (again) and realizing I was going to be late to work. It wasn’t until after my being two hours late to work after an almost three hour commute that I’d realize just how god damn late I was going to be. This day was particularly irregular because poor poor Jimmy was driving me to work so he could borrow my car and return to school later in order to help out our technology person.

If you’ve seen me from 10 feet away on any giving morning, you know how grumpy I am in the morning. Add an hour less of sleep, already lateness, and snow and you can all imagine the heat Jimmy was having thrown his way as he navigated us through the white abyss. (love u bb)

Once we finally arrived at school, Jimmy told me to go in while he “found parking” aka took deep calming breaths and punched a voo doo doll with my face on it. I can only imagine how distressed I looked when I arrived because as I walked to my room one of my coworkers almost spit their drink out when they saw my face.

My kids had an even more wonderful reaction which was to simply ask me as soon as I walked in, “Was there traffic Miss Schmiedel?”

To which I (almost) responded, “Oh yes there was traffic. And let’s all be thankful there was no blood drawn.”

**Want to take this opportunity to give a gigantic shout out to the teacher aids who were with my kids until I arrived at 10am. They have saved my ass on so many occasions and my students and I would be so lost and so so frantic without their unbelievably generous support.**

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No Blaise: Home Improvements

March 12th, 2017

I’m sorry I’m posting so late, but I’ve been very busy today doing very important things. These important things included, but weren’t limited to, stressing out about getting my lesson plan done, buying things to organize the basement, eating potbelly’s, and continuing to stress out about getting my lesson plans done.

Guess what still isn’t done?

Though my lessons still need to be planned, Jimmy and I did make a dent in our houses “transform the basement from the land of lost laundry into a usable work space” goal. In fact, I’m writing this post from the little workspace we created. Yes, I’m staring at a large pile of clothes I still need to wash and put away. But I’m staring at it from my workspace rather than avoiding eye contact with it as I shuffle quickly to the bathroom or up the stairs.

Speaking of shuffling quickly around the basement, we got a space heater too. So instead of the basement aka my bedroom being an ice cold torture chamber, it now is being kept at a nice toasty temperature that allows me to keep the feeling in my toes while I’m down there.

Another success today was my pulling all the clothes I had piled on the basement couches and putting them into a very large hamper. AKA moving them from one area of the basement to another, but I’m giving myself credit for this because putting them in a hamper means that someday, hopefully soon, I’ll be putting them into the washing machine. And that is something.

I also graded some papers this morning. This was after almost punching a kid in the face at Starbucks because she was holding up the line by asking the barista for a “pup cup” over and over. A pup cup, for those of you also may not have known what that was until today, is a small cup with some whipped cream in it for your dog. So, this child insisted that her dogs need were more important than the many under-caffeinated adults behind her in line. As a person who often puts her dogs needs before all others, not even I could get down with this girls requests. I won’t even mention that they made my green tea latte with soy milk instead of almond. That’s an entire post in itself.

So, today think of me as a warrior. A woman who, even though she was served the wrong alt-milk in her morning latte, was still able to be as cranky as a toddler who needs a nap and follow her boyfriend around on errands while telling him what she wanted him to buy for her basement.

Home improved. Attitude almost improved.

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No Blaise: Free Fitness

March 5th, 2017

Have been a paper grading blob on the couch, so here’s an oldie but a goodie to get you your No Blaise fix: 


I have reached my limit of blobbing into the couch and dropping mac and cheese into my mouth. This means I’ve start meal prepping for the week, thoroughly researching how to take spin classes, and secretly eating 10 mini Reeses peanut butter cups during class.

If you eat it while consuming knowledge, the calories don’t count.

My meal prepping has been going well. It pretty much consists of me choosing a recipe, making what I think is an astronomical amount of food to consume in a week, and then somehow eating it all by Friday with no problem. My research of free spinning classes is going even better, but my attendance of said spin classes is lacking. I am nearing the end of my free week at my first gym and I’ve only attended one spin class. It was on a Saturday morning though, and we all know Saturday morning workouts should count as three days worth of exercise.

The gym employee giving us the tour before our class told us that early Saturday was their busiest time, followed by an inquiry about what time I usually work out and I was all, “Let’s just move on, shall we?”

I did set an alarm in an effort to go to a 6am spin class this morning, but decided against getting out of my bed at 5am. In my defense, 6am is the only spin class time that works for my schedule so way to set me up for success gym I’m not paying for!!

There are only 4 weeks left in this quarter of grad school, so you know I’ve been avoiding facing this reality by letting google searches consume my life. This has allowed me to line up a series of options of free classes I can hypothetically attend in my hypothetical free time in the hypothetical morning.

I’ve convinced Katie, Anika, and myself, that we should go to another studio for a free first time spin class on Sunday morning. Morning workouts always make me feel more accomplished. “What’d you do this weekend?” “Oh, you know, just laid low (drank at home) and took in a morning spin class. No biggie.” **drops mic**

I’m also very good at ending these memberships before they cost me anything, a skill I relate directly to my dating experience. When I get any sort of correspondence about signing up long term I pull the,

“You know, this was really great, but I just don’t have time. See ya!”

Who said being a commitment-phobe was a bad thing? More fitness for me!

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No Blaise: Relaxed(?)

February 19th, 2017

Hello everyone, I’m relaxing. I’m telling you this right off the bat because it’s something I haven’t done in a very long time. So long, in fact, I’ve all but forgotten how to actually do it. So, I guess what I should have said was, I think I’m relaxing.

Writing this post is relaxing. Knowing I don’t have to work tomorrow is relaxing. Eating a real breakfast this morning instead of shoveling an english muffin in my mouth as I gun it to work was relaxing. Having time to wonder whether or not I’m relaxing is relaxing.

What I’m really concerned about, I guess, is whether or not there’s a set list of activities that can be qualified as relaxing, and if you’re doing anything other than those activities, you’re not technically relaxing. Should I make a t-chart of “Relaxing” and “Not Relaxing” to clearly outline those activities?

If the t-chart reference didn’t make it clear enough, I should add a disclaimer that I got all my lesson planning done yesterday so that I could come to Michigan and relax. So now the brain power I usually reserve for planning a week of lessons for 31 first graders is being used to thoroughly analyze what it means to relax. It was my goal for the weekend, after all.

I literally wrote “relax” on my to-do list for this weekend.

So damnit, I’m gonna relax. I might have an existential crisis about it first, but you better believe I’m gonna relax.

I’m sitting in a chair in a house in Michigan around other people who are, I think, relaxing. I’m near people reading books, playing video games, and shooting hoops. So, at the very least, I’m in the proximity of relaxation.

Does this mean I’m relaxing? If I want to grade papers once I’m done writing this blog, am I relaxing? Is overthinking whether or not you’re relaxing, relaxing?

Are you relaxing?

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No Blaise: Losing Track

February 12th, 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post on here. It’s been a while since I’ve done a lot of things that aren’t directly involved with teaching first grade. 95% of my life is teaching, 5% of the time is me trying really hard to think about things besides teaching. I’m successful at the 5% half of the time.

I’m writing on Sundays now after sending Benny Jay a text that said, “I’m sorry I’ve been such a slacker. But during the week I have no idea what day it is.” and he responds, “How about Sunday?” and here I am.

I’m looking forward to writing on Sundays because it’s one of the rare days I can piece together a train of thought that’s longer than 20 words long. There’s also so much to complain about on Sundays, and complaining is what I do best, so it’s a goldmine for me.

We all know that after Sunday is Monday, and Mondays are the first day of the work week for most of us, and therefore terrible. So, Sunday is dreadful by association.

You know what else is dreadful by association? America. America is fucking dreadful.

The Sunday Scaries can’t hold a candle to the Trump Scaries. Not that I want to hold a candle anywhere these days because everything is so close to exploding.

Like I lose track of the days of the week, I’ve lost track of all the horrible things Trump has already unleashed on our country. I’ve lost track of what rights I still have. I’ve lost track of the millions of people that have absolutely no rights left. I’ve lost track of the public services that are becoming obsolete for reasons I can’t keep track of.

I’ve lost track of how many hours I will spent and still want to spend working to make sure my students know that they’re smart and capable in a world that’s being created to privatize everything and make every corner of this country into a corporation.

So, sometimes I’ll use this blog to talk about all the things I’m scared of, all the things that I forget and then remember, and all the things I want to change.

Buckle up.



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