Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011...

For some unknown reason, I never really got into the Christmas frame of mind this year.  Usually, I enjoy putting up the tree, decorating the house, and making yummy goodies.  But this year, it all seemed like just something else to do when I already had a ton of things on my plate.  I was never really able to put my finger on the reason for my lack of anticipation or excitement.  It might have been due to the fact that the family was passing around strep throat, I was swamped with end of semester work issues, or we were over committed to various things.  Nevertheless, the holiday break has ended up being very enjoyable and restful in spite of my lack of Christmas Spirit.  
Usually, the family comes to our house on Christmas Eve for dinner and gift exchanges. Last year, the girls and I decided to skip the traditional holiday food in favor of Mexican.  We decided to do the same thing this year.  Ryan tried to stage a coup and sent a text message to everyone saying, "change of plans: traditional turkey & stuffing instead of Mexican" but it didn't work.  So, he and Scott showed up at our Mexican dinner with the turkey, stuffing, candied yams, green bean casserole, home made rolls, pecan and pumpkin pie, and they even remembered the cranberries.  Needless to say, we had WAY too much food! But, I must say that I am sooo glad I taught my sons to cook.  They have ended up being much better at it than I am.
Anyway, here is a quick run down of the evening.  I did manage to get some sewing in before Christmas.  I had some old Christmas fabric in my stash and made pillow case dresses for the granddaughters.  They showed up looking so cute dressed up for the holiday!
The little girls in their pillow case dresses...
Because we hold a Chinese Gift exchange for the adults, Ron and I only buy gifts for the grandchildren.  This year we found matching sleeping bags that came with a backpack to give to Maggie and Sophie.  When my own girls were little, I had to buy duplicates of everything so that they wouldn't fight over things.  The same is true for the little girls, however; Maggie wasn't too thrilled that all of her gifts were "copied" this year. Even Aunt Bee bought them matching doll stroller sets.
Opening Aunt Bee's gifts..
Maggie waiting for Sophie to finish opening her gift...
Sophie opening her sleeping bag...
The girls and their sleeping bags...
Seth is much easier to buy for.  He wanted a drum set, a telescope, a go-cart, and Lego's.  We got him Lego's last year and the other things were beyond our budget.  He was thrilled with the telescope.  Seth is the only grandchild old enough to participate in the Chinese gift exchange.  This year he brought a candy dispenser, and I think he would have been happy to take it home with him.  However, when he saw the Storm Trooper cookie jar that Uncle Ryan brought, he changed his mind.  After the dice battle, he ended up with the cookie jar.
Seth and his new telescope...
Seth & his cookie jar...
In addition to Seth getting the storm trooper cookie jar during the Chinese gift exchange, I ended up with my own gift (Bath & Body Works set), Ron got a Dallas Cowboy's snuggie that folds up into a pillow, Ryan got Dallas Cowboys flannel p.j. set and calendar, Scott got a cupcake maker, Rebecca got a set of emergency flash/night lights, Gerson got the candy dispenser, and Leslie got a game called Minute to Win It.  She was please because it is one game that G actually had a blast playing.  I thought the game was lame!
We missed having Mom and Dad with us for the holiday, but, Dad didn't want to be the next strep throat victim.  I am also pretty thankful that neither Ron nor I came down with it!  
Here are a few more pictures from Christmas eve.
Seth was the first person to get the donut maker...
Scott, Gerson, & Ryan...
L to R: Sophie, Oscar the dog, Leslie, Maggie, Scott, D-Ray
the dog, and Gerson...
L to R: Leslie, Maggie, Scott, and D-Ray the dog...
The girls and their goodies... 
Too much fun for Sophie and Poppy!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The crazy, hurried, rushed, eventful first week of Christmas Break!

Where has the first week of Christmas Break gone??  This is where:

Monday:  making Gingerbread Houses

Monday, Leslie had to go out and purchase the food for the food baskets that our church was giving to needy families. Ron & I watched the girls for her, and I figured it was the perfect time to make Gingerbread Houses.  I bought these 2 kits at Target's after Christmas clearance sale last year.  The kits come with a preassembled house, a tube of royal icing, and an assortment of red & green candy.  I don't know if it was due to the kits being purchased last year, or if the royal icing provided is simply horrible, but we ditched the tube of icing in favor of the icing in a tub that was intended for sugar cookies.  We couldn't get the royal icing kneaded enough to be usable.  Regardless, Maggie, Sophie, and Poppy had fun.

Poppy, Sophie, & Maggie decorating the Gingerbread houses...

Miss Maggie rockin' her new haircut...

Miss Sophie was soooo excited!!!

Maggie adding her finishing touches...

Sophie telling Poppy "where to put it"...

Tuesday: Maggie's Birthday

Maggie has turned 5; unbelievable!  Originally, they were not going to have a birthday party because they had decided to travel to McAllen to visit Gerson's family for La Pasada, then stop on their way home at San Antonio for a day at Sea World.  But, Maggie started asking about her cake, and having her friends over, so Leslie threw together an impromptu Princess Party.  Several little girls from church came over, Becca brought Seth in so that there would be at least 1 Prince Charming, and Ron & I went down for a quick visit.  These pictures were taken that day:

Awww; they love each other so much!

All of the ladies in waiting under the super cute canopy, busy decorating their little crowns...

Playing Kiss the Frog...

Maggie and her Princess cake pops...

Such sweet little girls...

Wednesday - Thursday:  Setting up the sewing room

Ron is "retired" again, and that means he has a really, really long honey-do list.  One of the things on his list was to move the bedroom set that I inherited from my grandmother to Scott's house (it is the one thing Scott wanted us to leave him when we die), move the office furniture into the guest bedroom, and then move my quilting machine from the shop at Mom & Dad's house into the office; which would become my sewing/craft room.
Ron managed to get the furniture all moved, carpets cleaned, curtains & windows washed, and had my sewing room ready for the quilting machine by the time I started my break.  We had Ryan & Scott help us move it on Wednesday.  Luckily, on Monday Ron & I had found this wonderful entertainment center for sale in a neighbor's driveway.  He was asking $25 for it but he took $15.  Ron helped me get it all set up in the sewing room before we moved the quilting machine over.  I have spent parts of the past few days getting things put away, hanging a few things on the walls, and preparing to get some quilt tops quilted.
When I first bought the quilting machine, I had decided to take early retirement when I turned 55.  My rationale was to buy the quilting machine, turn my parent's wood shop into a quilt shop, build up a customer base to generate enough income to off-set my decreased annuity due to retiring early, and be retired in June of 2010.  I was doing great; I had a list dependable customers that kept me super busy and had figured out the whole tax issue.  But, things didn't work out because TEA changed their retirement options and I missed early retirement BY 4 MONTHS!!! When that happened, and I knew I would have to work until I was 61, I realized I could't keep up the quilting business, be a decent wife, grandmother, and teacher, so I let the business fold.  I kept the quilting machine in my parents' woodshop, because Mom was using it from time to time, and I was still able to get over to quilt something for myself once in a blue moon.  When we bought this house, one of the selling points was the awkwardly shaped room that has a very long wall, 2 doors, and extra lighting.  It was used as a home office by the previous owners.  Last summer I realized having the quilting machine at my parents' shop wasn't very convenient and started mulling over moving it here.  When Ron "retired" again, I knew it was the perfect time to get him busy shifting furniture.  I can't wait to start getting some quilts done.

The bargain craft cabinet, before Ron re-assembled it...
I was a little worried at this point!

The sewing room from the outside wall.
The two doors open on opposite sides of the room;
one goes into the front room, the other into the
back hallway.

The quilting machine is on EZ sliders so I can
move it all around very easily!

The craft closet turned out great and we attached it
to the wall so little grandkids won't
pull it over on themselves!

View from the inside wall... LOVE IT!!

Tuesday - ? : Strep Throat

A few weeks ago, Seth missed several days of school because he got strep throat.  

Well, Scott was the next person to get it because he stays at Becca's house on the weekend that he has National Guard Duty.  

Then, when Becca was at Maggie's birthday party, she started complaining of a sore throat.  Yes, she got strep next!  

Unfortunately, she gave it to Maggie, Leslie, and Sophie who came down with it while they are in McAllen for La Pasada with G's family. 

LUCKILY, everyone is on antibiotics so THANKFULLY, no one else should get sick.  SADLY, Mom and Dad have opted to skip dinner on Christmas Eve just to play it safe.  (I can't say that I blame them one  bit!) HOPEFULLY, no one else gets it because we have an important wedding to attend next week!

Is anyone surprised that I have not done one bit of Christmas baking or candy making?  
~Maybe next year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Parades and Pagents...

Lately, I have been letting other people tote our camera and snap pictures whenever we get together with family.  As a result, when I load the pictures onto the computer, they are either blurry or not what I expected.  That being said, here is a sample of what we have been up to lately.

Each year, we got downtown to watch the Temple Christmas Parade.  Usually, Becca & Seth come into town to join us, but the parade was on a Monday night this year so Becca decided to skip it since Seth had school the next day.  

Anyway, Ron and Leslie took the truck downtown in the afternoon to get a good spot all picked out. We figured with the weather being as cold as it has been lately, we could sit in the truck to watch the parade.   Ron thought he did a great job, but someone decided to park on the sidewalk and block the view from the truck.  So, we huddled together in lawn chairs under our blankets and watched the parade.  

My beard cap that my niece Sarah made for me came in handy, but it didn't do anything to keep my nose from turning red!

Below are a couple of the least blurry pictures that were taken that evening.  The photographer will remain nameless; but, needless to say, I will not complain about being the only person to take pictures ever again. 
One of the fire trucks from one of the stations in Temple... I think.

And another float from the parade... I think this was a cheer team called Power House from one of the local gymnastic groups.

Later that week, we had to cancel family dinner because Mom came down with a nasty cold.  Instead, we met at Rosa's cafe (YUM!) to eat before heading over to Maggie's preschool for her Christmas pagent.   The unnamed photographer redeemed himself by taking this adorable picture of Maggie, patiently waiting for Mimi to get there so we could eat!

Cute Maggie...

Maggie played an angel in her Christmas program.  It was a cute little play with lots of sleepy and grumpy preschoolers staggering around looking like deer caught in the headlights of a car.  Maggie was even a little nervous before her play.  We really didn't get to see any of her except for when she walked in and out of the chapel. Luckily, Leslie took this picture in her classroom before the program started. 

Maggie's wings were a little large...

Maggie gave us a shy little wave as she walked in with her classmates.  I think the butterflies disappeared once they got settled into their places and the program started. 

On her way!!

Of course, I couldn't leave this post without putting in a picture of Sophie.  She was so proud of her big sister.  Thank goodness, she didn't run up and give her a hug during the program.  They are such peas-in-a-pod that I was a little worried.  Instead, she just kept asking Aunt B, "Where's Maggie? Where's Maggie?" 

Sophie Lyn...

The next event we attended was the Gatesville Christmas parade.  It was a lot more fun than the Temple parade because they still toss candy to the kids along the streets.  Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera so there aren't any pictures of that parade.  

I sure hope I am not as lazy about taking pictures during the rest of the holiday season!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

School & Science & Geologist & Pinterest...

This past summer, I attended a professional development class that addressed classroom management.  NOT the behavior portion; managing all the junk/papers/supplies/etc. that overflow in a classroom.  During the session, the presenter discussed using Pinterest as a resource for school.  I had never heard of Pinterest before; and, being non-technologically gifted, avoided using it for several months.  What a waste of valuable time!  
Once I started browsing other teachers' boards, I was hooked.
Several boards displayed the cutest anchor charts that had been made for classrooms.  Most of them were for Daily Five and other literacy based subjects.  However, I did find some wonderful resources for science! That turned out to be a break for me because I ended up having to plan science and social studies lessons for our team this year.
Anyway, I copied one anchor chart for a meteorologist at the beginning of the year.  As we went further into the year, I decided I needed one for a geologist and botanist.  Here are my posters:
My geologist poster...

the meteorologist poster...

the botanist...
(the a looks like an o, it is because I tried to fix a spelling error  to avoid making a whole new poster)
The posters are used as anchor charts when each topic is covered during science.  The laminated surface can either be written on using dry erase markers, or by attaching post-it notes with vocabulary words written on them.
The students in my class were especially excited about the geologist poster.  I had my son, Ryan (the  geologist), bring his massive rock collection to school and set up a rock museum in the science lab.

Ryan put on a presentation for the students, telling them what you need to study to be a geologist, the types of jobs a geologist can do, and then explained a little about the rock cycle.  He ended by showing them several examples of the different types of rocks.  He had the 6 second grade classes rotate through the science lab one afternoon.  It turned out to be a good experience for Ryan as well, now that he is going through the alternative certification program to teach high school science.  
Ryan's visit was one day last week, and every day since then, students from all of the second grade  classes have been bringing me rocks from the playground to give to "the geologist."  It never ceases to amaze me how excited kids get over rocks!
Anyway, the visit from the geologist proved to be one of the highlights of science lab so far this year. And, our anchor chart serves as a daily reminder of a fun learning experience.

As for Pinterest; it is soooo addicting!  Love it!