Tag Archives: For Better or Worse

Day 25

How do you feel about the name given to you at birth?
It’s not that I particularly don’t like the name Kari. It was just so… common. There were 4 Kari/Carries in my graduating class (of 100). So, since about 3rd grade I was just known as Reynolds. It’s weird to think sometimes that my name is Kari, because I have been known by my last name for so long. And it continues now as an adult as at my job I am known only by my last name as well…
Well, not my last name.
But that’s for a completely different post.
Right, Nicole?

Day 10

I have a really hard time with the prompt for today.
If you could go back in time and meet your 16-year-old self, what three things would you tell yourself?
I mean obviously there are a million things we should tell our 16-year-old-selves. But what fun would that be? It’s hard to look back and think of things you shouldn’t have done. Because how would you ever have learned? I am a real believer in the idea that we learn from all of our experiences… good, bad or otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few things that I can think of that probably would have saved a lot of stress, heartache or concern at the time. But, in the end (I think) I am a better person having gone through most of my life.
So all that being said, I think I would not let tell myself to avoid anything. I think I would just need to remind myself to cherish time, and get ready for good things ahead:
1. Spend as much time as you can with your grandparents. They are some of the greatest people, and they are the link to your past. And within 8 years, you won’t have any of them. And the older I get, the more heartbreaking it is for me to have lost all my grandparents by 24.
2. Hang through the awkward times, they really are going to be a funny story sometime in life. And relish in the idea that you made the absolute right choice when it comes to college. You are about meet some of the greatest friends, experience an amazing education and really get to know who you are and what you stand for at Cornell. Get ready, because your college experience will be like nothing you can imagine.
3. You will spend a lot of time in some heartache, and that’s alright because in the end it makes who you will spend the rest of your life with that much better. You will meet your best friend, who later will become your best love. There is nothing that compares… he’s that good.

holy update.

whoa… its been awhile.
my new year has long since started and things seem to be on a little better note than when the “year” ended.

in with the new.
i have a new job. and while it is true that i miss my kids that i worked with for the last 2 years, i have grown to love my new ones. i terribly miss the kids i used to work with. in fact, i went back to visit them during my fall break and my heart felt so good. (not to mention i felt like a celebrity!) they all looked so big and old… it was incredible. i loved seeing their faces.
don’t get me wrong, the new kids that i am working with are pretty incredible themselves… in fact, i love my new job. not only the kids, but my co-workers, and the entire population of families that i get to be involved with is something that i see myself doing for quite a good amount of time. i have the opportunity to work with some amazing programs, and i am so fortunate to be able to work where i do. it really is a good fit for me, and i am so excited to go to work every day.
speaking of fall break, my new school is an extended year school, so i teach from july to the end of may. i love this schedule! we started around july 18th, had a 3 week fall break at the end of september, have normal breaks around holiday time, have a longer spring break, and an extra break at the end of april. if someone told me that they would give me more summer back in return for fall break there would be no way that i would be up for the trade. not only is fall the best time of year to have a 3 week break, the break also happened to fall on the most important day of october….

my birthday.
this year my birthday was a little more relaxed than normal, but not any less celebrated. because i was on fall break, i was able to spend a little time in marion with my family. my mom was able to take some time off work so we could do some serious birthday shopping… love. a couple days before my actual birthday derek took me to my favorite restaurant in des moines, sage. we had a great meal, as always. on the actual sweet day of my birth, i was treated to a massage before we had a little birthday party at taki. i had a great time and am so thankful for the friends and family who were able to make it out. the rest of the month continued with various birthday celebrations, which of course i enjoy… no sense in cramming it all in on one day when we have the whole damn month to celebrate….

our anniversary.
this was another fun little celebration that derek and i enjoyed in october. we ended up between two different restaurants. (dessert is a serious thing in my life and if one place can’t offer what i want, don’t worry we will just go somewhere else.) we ended up having a really great evening (“fucking sweet” as described by my romantic husband). derek and i debated for a bit about what we could each other for gifts. we are not really “anniversary gift” people, but since this years gift to give (celebrating the 2nd year of marriage) is cotton i was trying to think of something funny to buy him. instead i got a little distracted with some other news and we decided to just get a couple of new knees….

for our dog.
well we knew that ninja had been having some hip issues for awhile, but we thought that the issues had been pretty well managed with a little diet and one ascriptin a day. but a few weeks ago when i was outside with him i realized that something else seemed wrong and he was having a terrible time getting around and putting any weight on his left leg. of course i was a wreck thinking about what had happened. fast forward through a long story and about 2 weeks later, we found out that he tore both of his knees (the ACL). we took him to ISU to get a consultation done with the vet hospital there and they clearly recommended surgery. luckily, my dad loves our dog as much (well maybe not AS much, but loves ME enough) to help pay for these new knees for ninja. the vet made it seem like a pretty simple surgery that would take a significant amount of healing time, but it definitely seemed like something that we could manage…. that i am still deciding on. we were able to pick him up and bring him back home this last sunday. but he ended up having 2 staples ripped (it is questionable that they weren’t ripped before we actually even left the hospital… fucking cyclones.) so we ended up having to take him back to the hospital that nite and that is where he still is staying. i am so sad to not have him at our house. it is terrible to not have him greet me at the door, sleep on my feet at nite, or wake me up with millions of kisses. hopefully he will be able to return home soon. if it gets much worse, i am not sure how easily i am going to be able to deal with this same surgery on the other knee in december. maybe he will get to leave the hospital the same day as our new family addition…

my nephew.
derek’s sister and her husband had their first baby on november 2. daniel christopher was born a toddler (close to 10 pounds!) but is doing well, as are bre’anna and chris. they are very excited to finally have him… i know this role as great parents is one they each were born to excel at. on the other hand, derek and i are trying to decide on a time to visit them… when the baby is not quite so fresh… you know sometime around his 14th birthday….

which i promise not to be the next time that i update this damn website.


so the other nite derek and I are chatting about blogs and how he wishes that everyone had one so he knew what was going on
in other people’s lives.
I responded with the idea that even though I have a blog does not mean I share everything on the internet for others to know about my life.
this obviously got derek riled up, stating that I do not blog unless there is something that I feel like I need to rant about…
hmm… well.. yeah. that’s pretty much true.
but people have his site to find out what is going on in our lives instead. so my rants are just the P.S. section to the events he makes sure internet stalkers know we have attended.
so immediately I wanted to come back and find all the posts I have written that do not include rants… just to make a point to him.
(remember I am an educator… educating the people..)
however, when I thought more about that, I decided that wasn’t going to be a fun job (and more likely would probably just prove his point more anyway..).
so instead, I started thinking about things that I could blog about. events happening that I could share with the four people who stumble upon this site. and while that task was a little fun, I immediately started thinking about a specific detail of those events that I could “rant” about.
call it pessimistic.
I think of it as adding a little humor to an otherwise shitty situation. although the actual situation is not going to get better, it’s possible that someone might laugh at the predicament while I am recounting the events.
(OASN: this might also have something to do with the fact that I admittedly exaggerate most stories…)
so… that brings me to my rant about doctors. (while updating you with my ever exciting life..)
this story starts around thanksgiving time when I visited my doctor for a few reasons.
1. I have a lump in my neck.
2. I have a rash that surrounds the lump and makes me feel like a dog with fleas.
3. I have had a headache for about 2 weeks.
not anything super serious, just a few annoying aliments.
hmm.. she responds with this:
1. there is a lump in your neck. it probably is nothing because it moves around a little.
2. there is a rash that must have started with something slightly irritating my skin, and now I must just be in the habit of itching my neck.
3. to cure headaches, I should take 2 advil twice a day.
really? well when is the lump going to just move right out of my neck? a “habit” of itching my neck? and does someone really come to the doctor about a headache without first trying tylenol?
alright.. so fast forward this situation a few weeks, and past a few new doctors appointments and a CT scan (all much better, I should mention).
I am now sitting in the office of an ear, nose and throat specialist, regarding the lump in my neck. (who is now know as larry, because he has apparently become a permanent fixture protruding from my neck area). the ent doctor says this exact quote without saying anything else to me:
“well with kids we would say this is a swollen lymph node and with adults we would say it is cancer. ha! there and now I have gone and said the word cancer.”
hmm… yeah, you actually said it twice. is there something else we should talk about, you untactful fuck?
(now, don’t get me wrong. I often times lack what is known as tact, and I call that honesty. which I can respect from another person. and this combined with the fact that I do not have thin skin.. “sticks and stones” is a daily motto for me. my feelings don’t often get too involved.. )
but honestly, no introductions? do you want to tell me that you have been doing this work for years, and have no wife or mother who has ever taught you about talking to other human beings, and you have just devoted your life to your work instead, ignoring all other social obligations? no other thoughts otherwise? just gonna throw cancer right out there?
so fast forward again to today. I have a surgery planned for thursday to remove larry and send him off to find his origin. and in the mean time the kind folks at mercy west called to get the rest of my medical history details determined. the second question that the ever so thoughtful man asks me, “do you have a living will or are you prepared for the death options related to surgery?”
whoa! right after he politely clarified my full name. at least the introduction was out on the table.. but jim, I don’t even know your middle initial!
and a living will? what? jim! it took me a year and half to have my name put on the house… a living will? don’t push derek and I into that type of commitment! and death options? what? I need you to check your records.. I am not having a triple bypass surgery.. just a little grape popped out of the neck region. death is not really in the plans for thursday… i don’t even have lesson plans made for tomorrow, let alone next monday! slow down here jim!
so. fast forward to right now. another ranting blog.
with a little insight into the daily life as well, I suppose. so there it is. I am having a little procedure in a few days. and I suppose I am a little concerned, not necessarily about the actual surgery (despite jim’s sweet attempt at the scare tactic!) but maybe just a little concerned about where I might find larry is actually from.
and that is what is going on in my life right now.
but how boring and un-funny are those three pathetic sentences without a little ranting spice added in?


One of the assignments I gave my students this week was to brainstorm some things they were thankful for, and why. (Naturally this is what an elementary teacher assigns that short week of Thanksgiving!) As they came up with some pretty creative ideas, including “Aunt Julie’s apple pie and the sweater that grandma made,” I was working on my own little list of things I am thankful for and I was reminded not forget the little things.
I am thankful for my health. Working with kids for so long has created this super immunity system in my body and allows me to never have to take a sick day.
I am thankful for Derek. The friendship I have known with him is unlike anything I have every experienced. I am grateful that I have his love, support, laughter, and awesome underwear-flicking abilities.
I am thankful for my family. I am so very lucky to have such a good relationship with both of my parents and my little brother. Although there are times when I wonder if I am not truly obsessed with them, beings how I talk to one of them at least once a day, I have come to realize it is a mutual obsession — and we are all okay with it.
I am thankful for my baby, Ninja. With his warm, 93 pound, body sleeping on my legs at nite, my feet are never cold. Also, the loyalty my dog shows me makes me feel like royalty. How can you not be thankful for a companion that loves you more than his own b-hole?
I am thankful for my wonderful friends. Because of them, I have many great memories (that often turn into ridiculous stories.) With these friends I am reminded that while time does continue to move forward — good friendships always last the distance and change.
I am thankful for food. Lord (and the poor waitress at Chilis) knows that I would be a sobbing wreck without it.
I am thankful for Derek’s family. Although I know they don’t always agree with me, (something about using the “F word” too much!) I am grateful that they have always accepted me and appreciated the love I have for their son/brother.
I am thankful for my education. (And so is Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation — I am providing their Christmas bonus checks this year!) As the psychology of a teacher continues to unfold, I realize more and more how much I love to learn, and I am very grateful that I have the time and ambition to continue.
I am thankful for my students. They continue to enlighten my life every day. I learn so much from each of them, I can’t imagine not doing my job. I mean honestly, who knew that you clean a desk with just a little pee on your shirt?

‘Tis the season for reflection.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Dedicated to the anonymous internet stalkers. You are funny in your own awkward, lurking way.

Tonite I am a little weirded out about how small the world is.
For quite a while now, my dad has being giving Derek and I a hard time about what we post on the internet. About how awkward it is that the world knows when we shit or how talented we (at least one of us is…) are at underwear removal. But to him I have just always responded with something along the lines of “how funny that is.” I mean really! Isn’t it funny to tell other people intimate things about yourself that are just a little awkward?
All done in a non-confrontational way on the internet.
I mean… what I have to say might make you feel a little uncomfortable, so why don’t I just post it here on the World Wide Web for you or anyone in the universe to see?
That’s funny.
But, right on the other side of funny, real close to funny, touching sides with funny… is weird.
I have often thought about who might read my blog. Not too many people. I mean really, I don’t lead too much of an exciting life to have others care about checking in on a regular basis.
This naïve little thought of mine was floating around my head until the other week in class. One gal in my class mentioned that she had read my blog. Hmm… cool.
Last Wednesday in class another gal made a comment about the blog as well.
We all have the same sense of humor. (Making points to the idiots in the front row of course.)
But, if these ladies are reading, are my students? Are my co-workers? What about that kid in the front row? Does he know how much I wish he would leave my treasured profession? And how much of that is funny? Or is it just on the weird side?
Not too many people would make that big of a deal about it I suppose.
I mean, I did decide to write in an on-line journal. But, do I really want everyone I know to read these ramblings?
Well so then, why write?
Hmm… maybe because I have always kept a journal of life happenings, maybe because I like to write and secretly want someone to pay me to sit here at home and type on my keyboard about the life of a special education teacher, maybe because a little bit of me wants to rebel against those who think someone teaching America’s youth has to be conservative and lame, maybe because it is a passive aggressive approach to some sticky situations in life, ehh…mostly because I think I am funny.
Anyway, this is what got me thinking about how small the world is and then I decided to do some serious investigation.
The mother computer, stationed in the great NYC, came up with this slightly pedophile idea called MYSPACE which gave me a great place to mill around.
After conducting some investigation, I have come up with two things…
1. I am done with MYSPACE. I can hardly fathom the amount of people I can track back to others. It’s just crazy. A friend of mine from college has a photo in her album with another friend of mine from high school in the back ground. This is just one example, and one that I am sure got my husband all riled up and excited about what a great idea the mother computer had linking us all together… I am sure he is thinking about how this is a sign that we really shouldn’t be “burning bridges.” But it freaks me out.
2. I wouldn’t mind being paid to be an internet stalker.

Although it might be a little bit funny for the people from the class of 2003 to read about elitist attitude and see my boobs in the slutty Halloween costume photos. I do think I am a little disturbed by the idea that I don’t know who in the world has access to me. That’s where funny jumps right on over the line to weird.
(Not that I am really concerned that I have many people in the world just sitting around wondering what happens if they use “the google” to look for Kari Brooks. I am just saying…)
I mean, are we really all connected through this great invention called the “internet?”
And if your answer is yes… can you please explain to me just exactly where the fuck is the internet?

(Ha. That question… slightly awkward because it’s true. But, so funny.)

Welcome Back.

Summer is officially over… the certified welcome back letter came weeks ago, but I just don’t think I was ready to take it all in. These past few months I have found just how much I really enjoy having the summer season.
Don’t get me wrong…
“Oh being a teacher must be nice… you only work 9 months a year and you get the summer off…”
I don’t have the energy to rebut that statement right now… and honestly I just want to relive a few good memories of the summer “break.”

– I worked all summer with one of my autistic students, and the progress that I saw was incredible. “A” is a student working against incredible odds and I honestly was a little apprehensive at the thought of such an intense one on one schedule with her… but at the end of the 8 week program I found myself a little sad, wanting more one on one time. I will still be working with “A” during the school year, but the bond of working together this summer was unforgettable.

– I was in school… I love school. Call me a nerd. I love learning.

– Auntie Kari arrived. Morgan had her baby! Now, as it was mentioned in a blog before (and clearly everyone knows…) I am a little apprehensive about the idea of pregnancies, babies, etc. But Morgan pulled the whole thing off wonderfully… We laid in the pool every Friday afternoon before Hopelyn was born. (That’s right. Sun Prairie owes me some pool time!) What a good time to be with such a wonderful friend… reminiscing about sleepovers in 5th grade and debating about raising her child.

– Family, family, family. I know it is no surprise… my family loves to be together. And I don’t think I hide the excitement too much either. (Except when State Fair plans are interrupted of course.) We all got together a lot this summer and as always, it was good.

– Derek’s birthday… again, no surprise… I love birthdays! For Derek’s birthday this year I bought tickets to Lollapalooza in Chicago. It would take hours to write about all the fun we had there… and it’s better written on Derek’s site anyway, but the weekend was incredible. Not only did we see great shows and spend time with great friends, but it was all done in my favorite place. I swear someday my husband is going to want us to move to the city…
OASN: If I hear another Gnarls Barkley song again in the next 10 years it will be too soon.

– Beyond music at Lollapalooza is the summer music in general. I am not sure how much information is being disclosed here… but I love Christina Agularia. Love her. And today when I heard her new song followed by “Sexy Back” I knew my summer wasn’t completely over. That’s right angsty teen pop music… you have a spot in my heart.

– Not to ever be forgotten… the Iowa State Fair. This is when I know that summer is really coming to a close. I’m not going to lie… I fucking love the Iowa State Fair. I love all the people I see. I love that there are just some things that have not changed about that fair since I started going 20 years ago. I love the roasted corn, fresh lemonade, and salt water taffy that I get there every year. I love that I pet a kangaroo, goat, cow, donkey, llama, and pony all in one day. And, as lame as it sounds… I love, love, love the butter cow! In my opinion, Newsweek had it all wrong… Vegas comes second to the Iowa State Fair. I mean seriously, Dennis Miller is hilarious… but he is no Duffy working her magic with the butter.

And now back to the fall… school has started again and Mrs. Brooks was back on stage. The year is going to be a good one, and I am very excited for what it will bring. But I can’t help but want to go back to my beloved summer every now and then.

what do internet blackholes, STDs, and gluttony all have in common?


Like the cards that I write… there is always a rough draft… and things are no different with this blogging business. Only, generally, my rough draft blog does not get lost in an internet black hole when my dog accidentally brushes against me causing a shock so large it immediately shuts off my computer.

(I am certain though that if the mother computer could be reached I would find this lost article… if only I could afford a ticket to New York. Oh… someday we will meet you maternal internet genius.)

Generally my computer is never so abruptly turned off… unless I read some judgmental bull shit about the philosophy of permanence…. That in fact causes me to shut off my computer on the spot.

(See without the rough draft of this article you get all the bitter thoughts that run through my head that would normally be filtered out. You get what you pay for…)

Anyway, the majority of my now lost rough draft article was about the oh-so-popular v-day. But since those witty comments and ideas are floating aimlessly through the air around us (because that’s where the internet is you know… “just everywhere”… ask derek!) I’ll just highlight some of my thoughts that would have otherwise been so cleverly written.

First of all, I use the term “v-day” loosely because of my loathing hate for it… the term, not the day. upon hearing “v-day” I instantly think of venereal diseases. “Happy V-Day” = “Hope your STD tests come back in your favor.” I understand that “v-day” is considerably easier to write than “valentines day.” But, come on folks; let’s not mix up a day of love with concern of suspicious bumps in places that only good Christian married couples know about…

Now, it’s just the term that I hate. Not the day of St. Valentine… this, in fact, is a day that I love. I know… I know… odd to think about. Kari celebrating a day of love? I may be cynical and sometimes described as “bitchy”… but I do have feelings. And I do love valentines day. I am not sure if it is because it was always a highly celebrated holiday at home when I was a kids, or if it is because I have never stopped loving to make homemade valentines made out of excessive amounts of construction paper, glue and glitter, or if it is because I love watching kids celebrate this day as well.

(in the original article I had something else slyly alluding to the fact that I love candy as well… and while I managed to actually lose a good amount of weight during the Christmas season… I, in fact, managed to successfully consume approximately 14038 pieces of valentines day candy through out the one day season of love…)

I have to admit… at first when the day began I was worried that this would be the year that changed my mind about my beloved holiday. The kids at school were out of their minds from the moment they walked in the door. Dressed in their red/pink (with heart accessory) finest, they paraded in with their homemade mailboxes leaving a trail of glitter behind them. They immediately want to pass out valentines and stuff their faces with as much chocolate as they possibly could. Math, reading, or writing was out of the question that day… there was love in the air. When it finally came time for the “party,” they could hardly contain themselves… and I have to admit I was a little excited too! Valentines were opened and candy was gorged. Between peanut-butter-filled-chocolate-hearts I found out that I was “too good to be true,” “the cat’s meow,” and (my favorite) “ground-pounding/heart thumping.” Oh… day of love… how you never fail to lift my mood!

We limited the ADHD youngsters to only 2 pieces of candy in hopes of keeping some sanity within the school walls. And my homemade red/white/pink construction paper, glitter-filled notes of valentines wishes were cherished my all the kids.

(even G enjoyed the valentine although he was still a little sad… but not any less hyper… that we had not properly celebrated “beaver day” earlier this month.)

The rest of the day went as to be expected… Derek and I went out to great dinner where I managed to consume even more chocolate during the “chocolate lava cake” finale. (Dear Weight Watchers, please forgive me for Tuesday. I apparently was cast with a spell that makes me say “fuck the points” and over-indulge in diabetic-coma-like amounts of glucose stuffed food.)

We met with friends for drinks afterward. Came home and both passed out on the couch…

The next morning it was back to the “real world”… complete with kids bringing their profanities right back to school, all the glitter vacuumed off the floor, and me finally mailing out our “Valentines Day” cards….