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!