Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ending 2011 on a High Note

Wow... December 31st, 2011.

It has been a wonderful day!!

I will be brief and say 3 things:

**Congratulations to my sister and brother-in-law! They had a spectacular wedding day. I am so happy for them!

**Congratulations to my cousin Scott and his fiancé :) They got engaged today!

**As it is new years eve, the end of the craziest year of my life. I am thankful to have been able to experience it all, as life is ever so precious. I do have hope for a better year, however. May 2012 be full of joy, perseverance when needed and great memories!! Best wishes to all of you!!!

Credit: Carolyn Cochrane , her shop via Etsy

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas & Onto the Wedding

Tonight we are hurrying and scurrying around trying to get all wedding items gathered and set near the door. Mom, Sarah and I are leaving early in the morning to Salem so that Sarah can get beautified. So... Not much time left!! Oh, he craziness!!

As we are heading into Wedding Central, I don't want to let Christmas get lost in the flurry. Christmas was a wonderful, fun day. :)

Since I don't have much time to write tonight, I am going to make a list. I will try to edit this post another day... Like after my sister's wedding. ;)

-- Had Granny's delicious sweet rolls that are truly a labor of love. Due to her two falls she hadn't made them for about two years. So good!!!
-- Opened stockings with Granny, Dad and Mom
-- then we opened Granny's gifts and gave ours to her
-- sat around chatting and enjoying Christmas music
-- mom read several of granny's Christmas letters to her, as it is hard for her to see these days
--got ready to head up the street to my aunt and uncle's house

--had a wonderful dinner that consisted of contributions from each family: green salad with apples, pomegranates, and other tasty items... Potato casserole, ham, fresh baked rolls (ours),ribbon salad (also a labor of love, usually made by Granny but one of my aunts took on he job--- amazing!), and plenty of other great things
-- once dinner was finished, the hilarious fun began!! Haha In the past few years it has been tradition to break poppers and then wear the crowns on our heads. The poppers come with trivia/jokes and little silly toys.
--oh, we had poppers alright! These came with musical "instruments," little whistle horns (guess that is how to describe em). My uncle, who is a voice instructor, looked all the part of he conductor and gave us each roles. We all had number stickers to wear to match our horns. Once we Successfully put our numbers on, Uncle Tom told us our first number, pretty sure it was Jingle Bells... He kindly gave us a preview of the "roles" which was "4 4 5 6 5 4" etc and hose people were to keep the beat and play when he called their number. Ohhh so funny! Everyone was laughing so hard, especially my aunts. Needless to say, Uncle Tom had a job on his hands in attempting to get us to perform! Haha we did manage to do three blind mice, jingle bells and perhaps one more... Well as you can imagine, none were done without laughter and silliness. Great thing is we have it recorded on a camera, suppose it is a viral video? Ha! People would sure think we are all a bunch of nuts, which isn't too far from the truth ;)
-- Sarah & D returned from his Christmas celebrations in WA so it was nice to have them be at the last part of the dinner here.
-- We opened a few gifts after dinner and then returned to our respective homes.

Being goofy with table decorations!
--At our house we exchanged gifts with each other, Sarah & D opened their stockings too.
--I got some great presents! I got several peacock items (one being a necklace), OSU Beaver gear, two pairs of boots, a few accessories for my laptop and a couple other goodies. I feel very blessed to have received gifts like this, especially as there are so many in the world with less. The older I get the less I want-- I don't like getting "stuff." I prefer things that I can consume or use. Overall, I think this Christmas I received gifts that are pretty reasonable.
-- Happy about the gift Dad and I got Mom: new headlight caps for her car. She desperately has needed them!
-- One of my favorite moments was watching Sarah and D open the TV that Mom and Dad got them. D was very surprised and grateful!

Christmas 2011 was an awesome one! Hope that yours was full of blessings too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve: The Forgiving Night

Merry Christmas Eve!

In the words of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, this is the forgiving night. I think that is a perfect way to describe the eve of Christmas. The night where Greatness became so small, innocent and human just like you and me. And to think that in the little manger lay the King of Kings, Lord of Lords. A precious baby... So magnificent.

Mom, Granny and I went to church this evening and it was a very nice service. I haven't been to church much this year so sit felt good to let the pastor's words sink in. I love visualizing the birth of Jesus. Humbling to meditate on the story.
Today has been a good day. Mom and I took care of last minute preparations before getting Granny; cleaning and wrapping presents. It was a gorgeous day to get Granny and bring her back home with us. :)

A stop at Starbucks before heading back from Salem
Passing through a small town
Can't see it in this photo but Mt. Hood was quite visible. Love the Willamette Valley!
Crossing the Willamette River, I always love this part. 

Hope you all are having a blessed night. I am going to enjoy chatting with my family, watch the Yule log on tv (tradition) and have some munchies.

Merry Christmas to all & to all a good night!

iCan Bake!

Yesterday was a day filled with goodies! Baking goodies and one big treat. :)

Mom and I spent the day baking all sorts of delicious cookies and truffles. iMade lots of tasty things! iCan't wait to try the truffles....

Notice my funny [cheesy] writing?

iGot an iPhone!!!!

Sarah and her fiance got the iPhone 4G (since they are getting married soon they wanted their own plan). Mom thought the iPhones looked neat and decided to "invest" in them. She was able to score 2 iPhone 3G phones for 99 cents each. Of course, the service is what costs quite a bit. Ah... I have been forced to go to the smart phone age! This is something I have resisted for some time now. I think smart phones are neat but have not been able to come to terms with paying for the service. Generously, I am not paying for service now, thanks to Mom, but if I had to, I would still be with my text-only phone. Anyhow... I am thoroughly enjoying my new phone and used it to document the baking experience, which of course I documented on FB throughout the day! ;-)

So.... to unveil the sweet goodies:

Mom actually baked these per my request. M & M cookies! Just use the  typical recipe for chocolate chip cookies but substitute with M & Ms. :) Delicious!!!
Oreo Balls! Basically, a truffle and it is amazing.  A cousin made these awhile ago and I have been hooked ever since! I added some  Christmas sprinkles for an extra touch. And yes, iDID these! haha
Coffee Bon Bons... delish!
A Pinterest idea. All you need is Hershey Kisses, M & Ms and pretzels. Here's the link to the blog post,  "Our Favorite Christmas Treats." *

Hope you all are having a wonderful day! 

*Taken with my camera, wish the iPhone was that snazzy! haha

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What I Am Loving: Christmas Season

Oh it is the Christmas Season, and today marks the first day of Winter.

As it is the holiday season, there are lots of things that I am enjoying right now...

Snuggly Dearfoam slippers from Costco, an early gift from mom:

My new laptop, an HP core i5 processor... Ooo I am loving it! And no, it didn't take me nearly three weeks to figure out that I could move the screen back so it was easier to see ;-) Merry Christmas to me!

Cheese Puff by the tree is a sweet sight:

Beautiful Christmas tree:

So thankful to have my future brother-in-law home for the holidays. Have to cherish these times as they will come few and far between for the next few years. He has just started his Army career and there is a long road ahead. Hoping and praying for the best.

Credit to Goodwill for the image
What are you loving this season?! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Because You Promised

Found via Pinterest 
I had an interview this week with the other large district, in hopes of being a substitute for them one day. I feel incredibly blessed to even have the interview. If it weren't for my ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) practicum, I would not have had the interview.

These two experiences went together perfectly, hand in hand.

During the interview I was asked, "Have you had a particular student impact your teaching?"

Yes, yes I did and I hope to never, ever, EVER forget.

My ESOL practicum lasted for approximately 3 weeks, at the end of October to early November. Since I was at the school all day during those weeks, I got to see each age group K-5. I enjoyed being with all of the students, and because of them, my philosophy of teaching has changed. I know now that my real teaching passion lies with English Language Learners (ELLs). It feels so good to know where I belong in the teaching world. I feel excited about being a teacher again, and more than anything I want to be a teacher of language.

With that said, throughout the practicum I made lots of healthy relationships with students and got to know them very well. One particular 4th grade boy touched my heart.

According to his teachers he had some major, major behavior issues at the beginning of the school year. He had improved quite a bit since September, but still struggled from time to time. While I was there we had to sign a behavior tracking chart every day. For the most part, he was okay but I could tell he needed lots of encouragement. Really, my heart broke for him.

On my last day, I told each class that I would come back and visit the day before Thanksgiving break. This boy was sad that I had to leave and it was hard for me too. I missed all of the kids!

But, I came back on the 23rd as I told them.

Being that it was before Thanksgiving, their teacher had them say what they are thankful for prior to exiting out the door.

This boy looked directly at me and said with conviction in his eyes and a sincere voice, "I am thankful that you came back like you promised."

For that, I am a millionaire.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

O Tannenbaum

"O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree! How lovely are thy branches!"

Today was Christmas tree day! 

Mom, Sarah, and I traveled into the foggy country and wound around the hills to get our tree. A family friend, an old neighbor, told us where she got her tree this year and for only $20, a great deal! The farm was about 30 minutes from our house so not too bad. Felt somewhat rustic driving through the winding roads and onto the back foresty ones. 

We found our tree within about 15 minutes. As usual, Mom, sister, and I debated on what tree looked the best and gave our convincing reasons why. We walked around (more like traipsing, as there were gopher holes and parts of cut tree trunks on the ground) the area checking out our options and had quite a few that we collectively did not like. Mom spied one that looked good enough, and also as usual, she reminded us that all of our trees have looked just fine once the decorations are on it.... So, we evaluated the tree she thought was the best choice and ta-da!

Mom cut the tree down and Sarah and I hauled it to the car. I was happy about getting a tree with a small trunk since I don't have the strongest of muscles (yes, those two make fun of me for it all the time!). 

Our tree is decorated now with (LED) lights, ornaments, and a plaid ribbon for a garland. She's a real beauty! ;-) 

Just like every year when we get the tree we decorate the whole house on the same day. So this afternoon has been quite busy bustling around -- the kitties have gotten a kick out of all the action, especially Coco. She is thoroughly enjoying her first Christmas season! She has been sniffing out the tree and getting real frisky. We are a little concerned what will happen when we leave her on her own during the day... Suppose things will be rearranged?! 

I just hope she is kind to our nativity set on the fireplace...She took a good whiff at baby Jesus and Joseph - do hope they will not be removed from their places! 

Currently, I am typing this in the (must mention: on my new laptop) living room and the only lights on are the tree. Ah..... Beautiful. In some ways it is so hard to believe that we are here already,- and in some ways my heart aches slightly, it has been a rough year. I don't want to think too much about all of that right now because it feels good to just breathe and being with the tree...

"O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How sturdy God hath made thee!
Thou bidds't us all place faithfully
Our trust in God, unchangingly!
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How sturdy God hath made thee!"

*A version of the song "O Christmas tree" from the original song, "O Tannenbaum," which is sometimes attributed to August Zarnack. My Papa used to sing this song with his tenor voice :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday: Holidays

credit: Lauren @ the little things we do
It is Friday folks! Happy, happy Friday! Also, this is the second day of a brand new month, December. Sheesh, last month of this crazy year... I wonder if we (being those of us in the PNW) will see that lovely white stuff any day soon...

Well, I am following along with Lauren this week at her blog "the little things we do" and doing her "Fill in the Blank Friday" post. She has the cutest blog and is a great writer, I am glad that my cousin "introduced" me to her.

With that said, here are the blanks and my answers!

1. The holiday season is mostly enjoyable, filled with fun moments, colorful lights, decorations, beautiful church services, reflection on the year, and to be reminded of hope.

2. Snow makes me very happy! I absolutely love it when school is cancelled and the city shuts down. People may look at Portland/PNW as a giant snow wimp, but I say-- we know how to enjoy a good snow day (or more if we are lucky, yeah Dec '08 was amazing!). :-)

3. The best comfort food to eat when it is cold out is soup, stew, roasts, basically anything in the Crockpot, and good tasting bread to go along with it all. Sounds like a bear's diet huh?

4. Winter is the best time for being cozy and connected to home. Great time to drink tea and hot chocolate, snuggle on the couch and relax in the light of the Christmas tree.

5. I can hardly wait for a break! Ever since the end of October I have been going, going, going non-stop. I will be happy to have the semester done, and a break from my wonderful jobs. I love 'em but do need to get refreshed.

6. When it comes to holiday gifts, I prefer to surprise others and make them feel special. Each year I love giving to people more and more. I also like to donate to those I don't know as well. There are so many organizations and charities that need money or supplies. Trying to pick two or three to donate to this month.

7. If I were to rate my excitement about the holiday season on a scale from 1-10, I would say I am at about a 6. I have a lot going on right now and haven't been able to focus on the Christmas season. Not only am I finishing up the semester and working, but there is the added excitement and busyness of wedding planning (for my sister)! With her wedding at the end of this month, we are making sure everything is all ready.  Would like to get a few relaxing moments once school and a sub job is finished-- I am hoping! :)

Here's to hoping your December and Christmas Season is filled with blessings, joy, and good times!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

As of Recently & Late

Oh, life is crazy. Hence, the not writing hardly at all for this month. I started my practicum at the end of October, finished mid-way in this month. Now, the semester is ending and I am rapidly trying to get all my work done. I have been a little scatterbrained lately to say the least. Oh yes and I have subbed several days in addition to everything. And tutoring too....

In the midst of all the craziness, however, I have done some fun things.

This past weekend, the lovely long Thanksgiving weekend:

-- Thanksgiving, which I wrote about through pictures in the previous post.

-- Did some Black Friday shopping, but in the afternoon. No, I am not one of those crazy crack of dawn shoppers. I think consumerism is out of hand in this country, especially when you hear about someone pepper spraying a crowd all over wanting some THING. Disgusting.... Anyway, I didn't go out for anything in particular but if I found some decent clothes on sale then I planned to buy them. Sadly, no luck with clothing (and no patience for the Kohl's checkout line that was about 1.5-2 hr long wait). Went to several stores and did buy a couple of items; later that day I braved JC Penney's at the mall with a cousin. She found some boots but I didn't have luck with anything - oh well! While most of the shopping trips did not amount to much, I did come across one big success (drumroll please!): a laptop! Yay! I am so glad that I found a quality laptop and for the price that I did ($629 before I added on insurance). I am waiting for it to arrive in the mail.... Perhaps tomorrow ;-)

--Trans Siberian Orchestra on the 28th with a wonderful cousin! My boss at work gave my sister two tickets to the show because she was not able to go (guess they had won them through a TV station). About an hour before heading off to the concert my sister decided not to go, and so I had to find someone to take up the second ticket. I called two family members and one was available! My cousin had been wanting to go for a long time so it worked out perfectly. Free tickets and fab seats! Ohhhh boy, let me tell ya... that was one heck of a concert! The music was awesome and I loved how the Christmas story was told. Very powerful. I will say, though, that the light show that accompanied the music was kind of overwhelming. Overall, great show and I am glad I had the opportunity to go! By the way, "Carol of the Bells" was the bomb.

Past few weeks:

-- My sister's bridal shower on November 13th. A few of my aunts and cousins put together a very cute hot chocolate themed bridal shower. Perfect for my sister! We celebrated her future as a bride, and of course showered her with many gifts. As the Maid of Honor I had my duty of making the bouquet out of ribbons and bows. I am quite pleased with how it came together :) My sis got lots of great gifts and all of us ladies had a great time together.

-- While my sister was gone to see her fiance graduate, Mom and I had a fun adventure to the PDX Airport to do a little shopping and for the heck of it. We have been to the airport several times this year but have not had time to shop. So, we hopped on the MAX and browsed the stores. Found some Christmas gifts in the Made in Oregon, and got to finally see the spectacular The Real Mother Goose store. We had a delicious dinner at Standfords -- ceasar salad, onion rings, tasty cheesy bread, and fries. Whew, I was stuffed! As we ate dinner we were amused with watching people and the tarmac, though it was a very slow night. We also laughed about my response to the host as he asked if we were flying out somewhere, I said without thinking, "No, we have been out here lots of times this year and wanted to come back to shop." Uh, who does that?! haha My mom suggested to say that we were waiting for someone or took someone. Yeah, much better idea than the one that came tumbling out of my mouth ;-)

-- Went on a wonderful walk at the library and got two cheap books, with the B. On one gorgeous Fall day, where I didn't have much time, B asked me to come to the library with him so I could see the pretty trees and check out the books on sale (got two books for $4.50). Truthfully, I didn't feel like going but was glad that I did afterwards. Sometimes he surprises me with what I need vs what I think I need or want.

Last week of October:

-- Halloween: I was determined to make a fun idea off of Pinterest and it came out fairly well.  I will have to try it again- was delicious:

-- Corn maize: B and one of his co-workers and I went to the corn maze on Sauvie Island. We got pretty lost in the maze but had a fun time! B's co-worker is from India and his family still lives over there so it was nice to be able to take him out. I am sure that is hard to be separated like that.

... And that is life summed up in the past month and a half. I only included the bigger events as you probably wouldn't want me to explain all that has happened in that time-- my planner looks like a wreck. I should take a picture of it sometime. Writing all over the place! haha But that is just Fall in Full Swing! Looking forward to slightly less hectic December, at least without school... things will be bustling for the Christmas season and the wedding. :) Lots going on these days.

Hope your Fall has been delightful!

*yes pictures to come... am so lazy with this. Promise they will show up at some point!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thankful Day

I don't think I could have said it better myself. A student this week said, after learning about the pilgrims coming to live in North America, "so it is a thankful day." I love how children say things so simply. They are profound lil beings sometimes.

Ah.... Where has the time gone and how did we get here? I will say, today was a wonderful day of being with loved ones. Life has been so hectic in these past few weeks, and in my partial emerged state of mind, it felt good to be around the people I care about. It was good to get a mental break, as there are plenty of little stressors. Putting those aside for a moment, here is how I spent Thanksgiving:

one of the beautifully decorated tables at my aunt & uncle's house
Granny's sweet potatoes cooking. Yuummm

we always have nut & chocolate cups (this year just chocolate!), thanks to Granny
my plate :)

Our contribution to Thanksgiving dessert, pilgrim hats. Thank you Pinterest!

Here is the link to website that was pinned on Pinterest. Just scroll down and you will see  how to make 'em. Very simple:  chocolate striped cookies, buttercream frosting, orange tic-tacs and mini-peanut butter cups. Yum!

While it is so easy to be absorbed with the comings and goings of life, it is good to reflect on what we have. With each class I have subbed for in this past week I have made the students say what they are thankful for. Since I have made them do it, I should too. Here is a small list (items in random order) -- I could write for days and days:

-- My health: So thankful to not be sick or have any major illnesses.
-- Education: Though I have loans, I am thankful for the opportunity to learn more and better myself. Not everyone gets this chance.
-- Cats: My two kitties make me smile everyday. I feel blessed to have such silly furry friends.
-- Family: Thankful for my immediate and extended family members. I am grateful that I have gotten to know some of these individuals better.
-- My two jobs: They wear me out some days but I am so thankful to have them. I enjoy being a tutor and a substitute teacher. Both have helped me to refine my teaching skills and grow in many ways.
-- My faith: Something I have not talked much about, truthfully, because it has not been real strong this year... but even when I struggle I am thankful that Jesus is patient with me. Even during this 'dry' time, I feel like some things are changing in my heart...
-- My car: Always thankful for my safe lil car. It gets me to and from with fairly good gas mileage.
-- Friends: Where would I be without my friends?! I don't get to see them as much as I would like, but I feel incredibly blessed to have them in my life. They are patient, kind, always have a listening ear, and make the dreary times bright again.
-- For the roof over my head: This is something I need to remind myself of everyday. There are lots and lots of people in the world that do not have this blessing.
-- The fact that I don't go hungry for days: Also something that is lacking in the world... I am so blessed to always have what I need.

Yes, I could write days on end about the blessings in my life. As I tell the students, even in the hardest of times, there is always something to be grateful for. Sometimes it is difficult to see and appreciate but those blessings are there....

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Theme ~ Fill in the Blank Friday

Happy Friday!

I loved the "Fill in the Blank Friday" post for this week by The Little Things We Do. To go along with my love of this season I thought I would do this fun post!

Fill in the Blank Friday

gorgeous fall street right near where I work

1. Nothing says Fall like the changing leaves. I love all of the colors, especially the bright yellow trees. When the light hits them just right they can look golden. So exciting to see so many colors this time of year!

2. My favorite autumnal tradition is decorating the house. I love dressing up our fireplace mantel with our bronze colored sash (from a cousin's wedding!) and using a few other items to spruce it up. I also put up some of our paper decorations on the walls and spread around our other cute "trinkets."

3. My favorite Fall treat is PUMPKIN PIE!

4. Fall makes me think of nesting because it is a cozy season. This particular season in my life I have been feeling a lot more in tune with making a house a home - guess it is just from all the craziness of this year and wanting home to feel good. I also look forward to the day of living on my own and creating my own space! .... And Pinterest is to blame for some of this ;-)

5. Autumn free form association, go! Golden/yellow leaves, multicolored trees/leaves/vegetation, school, produce stores, pumpkins & patches, corn mazes, hay rides, fresh cool breezes, bronzey & sometimes golden light from the sun (such a funny angle it is at this time of year), family time, Thanksgiving, pies, lots of food, blankets, tea, oh yeah -- running.... 

6. My go-to outfit in the Fall is um, truthfully I don't have a go-to outfit for any season (working on that- anyone want to style me?! I have improved but...).... though I will say I love my flats, dark bootcut jeans, and layers - always a sweater of some sort. The Northwest is so unpredictable!

7. My favorite Fall holiday is (Halloween or Thanksgiving) without question, Thanksgiving. When I was in my undergrad days I really gained appreciation for this special holiday. 1) because of the FOOD... yes, I did eat well at college but let me tell you, family food tasted so wonderful to me during those years  2) getting a chance to catch up and relax with extended family members. To this day I feel pretty much the same about Thanksgiving but I focus more on family than the food. I also understand more and more how much I have to be thankful for. :)