Monday, December 22, 2008

It'll Be a Merry Christmas

This year will be a very special Christmas in our family. This is the first year since my youngest sister Erin was married that we'll all be together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. How exciting! The house will be hopping with kids--and adults, too, because we get kind of crazy when we're all together. There will be 14 of us here, and yes, there is room for everyone!

Today I made cut-out sugar cookies and I can't wait to decorate them with the kids. It'll bring back many memories of doing the same thing at their ages. Here's what I remember...
After the cookies were baked and cooled, Mom would gather us 3 girls at the table and have a piece of waxed paper for each of us. Each of us would have several bowls with various decorations... red sugar, green sugar, cinnamon candies, and other sprinkles. Next to the bowls would be a paper towel, along with the strict instructions Do not lick your fingers if you get frosting on them. Isn't that like telling a kid not to peek at the presents? Makes them want to do it all the more? I think it's against a child's reflexes to wipe frosting on a paper towel. After all, didn't God make tongues for that reason? I suppose we didn't understand at that age the real reason for not licking our fingers. If we licked them and tried decorating the cookies then, we would get the sugar and sprinkles stuck to our fingers, creating the need to lick the sugar off, and the vicious cycle continues. So many things become clearer when you are grown-up. I'm sure I'll even tell my nieces that they can't lick their fingers, yet I'll completely understand if they sneak a taste anyway.

Christmas Eve is usually our big Christmas celebration. Growing up we would go with Mom to the Christmas Eve service at church (Dad always had to work), and then we'd meet Dad after he was done with work. After travelling 45 minutes, we'd be at my grandparents' house--the little cabin in the woods with no electricity or running water. The oil lamp would be lit on the table, providing plenty of light and the small wood stove would kick out plenty of heat for the cozy little house. We knew what the menu would be even before we got there. Ham on bun, potato salad, cranberries, frog eye salad (that's another story, but not as gross as you might think), lime jello with pears, and of course pumpkin pie with REAL whipped cream for dessert. After the dishes were put away, we could hardly control the anticipation to open presents. Once presents were opened, we would usually play with them under the table, because it was a great "playhouse." All too soon, it was time to leave, and we would load in the car, us 3 girls huddled together against the cold. We would usually fall asleep on the trip home, and what a rude awakening it was to have to get out of the car and into the cold again.

A few "new" traditions have started in our family as well. This Christmas Eve, we will once again have our traditional "Grandma" dinner, since she's here with us this Christmas. After dinner, we will sit around in the dark and listen to "The Innkeeper's Dream," a dramatization of what could have happened the night Jesus was born. Then when that's done, my dad will read the Christmas story from Luke 2. The kids are usually very quiet during this time, but toward the end, they get antsy because they know present time is coming soon. Just when they're about to burst with excitement, Mom will say, "I suppose it's time for presents." A great cheer will explode from the kids and then the chaos will begin. It makes you feel like a kid again, just watching the expressions on their faces. The kids will go to bed WAY too late, and if we have any energy left, we might play games.

As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that I need to finish some Christmas presents, so I better get to it. Once family arrives, there'll be NO time for that. Auntie Rah (as I'm commonly known) will be entertaining children and probably doing some crafts sometime. So I better get my work done now.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a "Good Night."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not Me Monday...

Well, it's Monday again, and here are some things I did not do this last week.

Since it's only December, I did not request time off for April, when I won't be going to The Phantom of the Opera with my sister in Kansas City. I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow, so I definitely would not plan ahead and have anything scheduled for 4 months from now!

After the way my students practiced for the school Christmas program, I did not consider not showing up Thursday night. (By the way, they surprised me and did a great job at the program. Now why can't practices go that way?)
With the program done, on Friday I did not let my class goof off and make glitter Christmas ornaments and construct a gingerbread house all afternoon, especially with the amount of work they should have done before Christmas vacation.

Friday after school, I did not leave at 3:13 p.m. to go to Wal-Mart to fight the crowds. Everyone was stocking up to prepare for the big storm coming. I had to get pictures from the one hour photo center so I would have something to work on for craft night. When my friend arrived, she did not come in the house and tell me she'd locked her keys in her car, before she got any of her stuff out. To preserve the precious craft time, I did not pile 3 of us in my dad's truck to drive 15 minutes to get her keys and come back (Craft night was fun, by the way).

Seeing the storm that was ragin on Sunday, I did not hope we'd have school because I wanted to do fun projects with my kids at school. Why would a teacher do that? Don't I know the unspoken rule for teachers in Minnesota--we LIVE for snow days! After watching the news and discovering that school was cancelled for today, I did not stay up until 2 a.m. working on Christmas presents, and I most definitely did not sleep until 10 a.m. today!

Seeing the beautiful snow outside this a.m., I did not trudge through snow drifts over my knees to take pictures.

Since I don't have school today, I'm not being lazy and I definitely am not waiting until it's almost noon to take a shower! (Don't you love SNOW DAYS!)

Winter Wonderland

A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight
Walkin' in a winter wonderland...

It is definitely a winter wonderland here in northern Minnesota. The snowstorm is over and I’m enjoying a day off school. I woke up to bright sunshine and a beautiful, clear blue sky. Perfect for picture taking I thought. Now to battle the cold. I laced up my boots and trudged through the fluffy snow, in drifts over my knees. My eyes were watering because of the cold, bright day, and my tears started to freeze! The fresh air felt good, though. It’s so beautiful with the sun beaming down and making everything glisten like diamonds. It looks like a scene from a Christmas card.

Some things I experienced while outside for a few minutes:

The chickadees were at the feeder again,
storing up food for insulation against
the cold, -10 degree weather.

The bright sun created beautiful shadows
stretching across the blanket of untouched snow.

My mom was busy shoveling snow around the house,
and I caught her having fun... no explanation necessary.

Beautiful ripples in the snow were evidence
of the wind from this storm.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
but the fire is so delightful
and as long as we've no place to go
let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

It's a great day to stay inside and cuddle up with a good book (which I did earlier) and hot chocolate. Yesterday the pine trees were covered in frosty snow. I managed to hike through the snow and snap a few pictures. As the chickadees were chirping at the feeder, I was thinking about how God takes care of the birds, even by giving them the instinct to prepare for a coming storm. How comforting to know that God cares even more about us.

Today, the storm is in full force. Looking outside, all I see is blowing snow, with an occasional strong gust off the roof. Visibility is very limited, and not many people are out on the roads, although the snowmobilers are having fun! I'm glad I'm inside where it's warm and there's plenty of hot cocoa and books...speaking of books, I have 5 chapters left so I know what I'm going to do this afternoon. Now for the hot cocoa...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Not Me Monday...

It's hard to believe I'm choosing today to start this, since it's a crazy week, but I guess there's no time like the present. And since there's still time in this Monday, I'll give it a try.

After an enjoyable Thanksgiving break from school, I did not completely forget that there were only three weeks of classes before Christmas break. So much to do in so little time I thought, Cristmas program being at the top of the list. How can we accomplish this in only three weeks? Then I did not totally freak out when I realized last Monday that the Christmas program is this Thursday, not next Thursday.

Once I got over the initial panic, I did not work 64 hours last week transposing music, writing narrations, finding music, practicing with students, etc. When trying to get students to cooperate and focus, I did not bride them to have a good practice. Nope. My students are always focused on the task at hand, because they love to make me happy. They would never goof around when I'm trying to teach them something.

The highlight of the week was Friday when I did not stay at school until 11:30 p.m., telling myself I don't care how late I'm here tonight. I'm NOT doing anything related to school tomorrow! Saturday is MY day.

Saturday arrived and I did not stay in bed until 11:00 a.m. reading a book and just generally being lazy. That would be a waste of time, wouldn't it?

Here it is Monday and again, I did not work 11 hours today. After all, putting up a bulletin board for preschool shouldn't take that much time, should it? And it would be WAY too crazy to try to put Christmas lights around the edge, and when it didn't work the first time I did not take them all down and try again, adding another hour to my fight with the lights.