The Christmas Preparation Marathon At School

Two of my former students posing beside a school tree

 Before I get started I’ll announce the winner of my weekend giveaway.  This weekend’s winner is….Lianna.  There were so many great comments from everyone about what you were doing over the Thanksgiving holidays.  I really enjoyed reading them!  Thanks to everyone who participated.  Now, here’s today’s story…

I decided that today I would share with you what life was like at school when I worked there.  I’ve chosen to share about the time after Thanksgiving, but before Christmas, which was the most fun and busy time of the year.

Once we returned from Thanksgiving break, we had to hit the floor with our feet running.  We had so much to do, and so little time.  While the teacher was busy teaching, I got to do most all of the fun stuff.  That was one of the advantages of being a paraprofessional! 

The first order of the day was make an ornament with each child to go on the trees that were scattered throughout the school.  There was a tree for each grade to decorate.  Every tree was based on a book and had a theme.  The ornaments had to depict things from the book.  Deciding what to make and getting it made was no easy task, but all of the trees were beautiful when finished.  One year I took pictures of every tree!

After decorating the grade tree for the school, we had to make ornaments for our classroom tree.  My favorite tree that we  decorated was a tree decorated with make-believe candy and cookies.  We made pretend suckers from play dough with a small dowel rod inserted,  and wrapped them in colored cling wrap.  We also made gingerbread men from sandpaper, and candy canes from red white beads and pipe cleaners.  It was very cute, and the children loved it!

Just imagine making 2 ornaments with 21 children in less than 2 weeks.  That’s 42 hand-made ornaments–with 6 and 7 year olds.  It was always a relief to finish them, although I enjoyed it immensely!  When I first began working, we made the simple paper ornaments of the old days, but being the crafty, fun-loving person that I am(LOL), I soon steered the class into more original and fun projects.

We also did a few other arts/crafts, like making reindeer heads out of their shoes, and gluing Santa’s beard on his face.  By the time Christmas break arrived, we’d all had our fill of glue and glitter!  I used to apologize to the cleaning lady everyday for the mess on the floor.  I believed in lots of glitter!

Of course I can’t forget to tell you about the school’s Santa Shop.  The PTO sponsored Santa’s Secret Shop every year.  They would have a room(Santa’s Shop) filled with  inexpensive gift items for every age, and the children could bring money and shop for their family members.  Santa’s Secret Shop usually lasted the better part of a  week, and entailed taking most of the class on numerous shopping trips!  I was usually sick of taking children shopping by the end of that week!  Some children had long lists…

By the time we did all of these things at school, it would be the week before the Christmas holidays.  During that week, the faculty and staff were always treated to a private steak (with all of the trimmings) lunch–which was heavenly!  There was a room set up and decorated, with holiday music playing,  where we could quietly enjoy our steak lunch.  It was wonderful after all of the hustle bustle of the two previous weeks.  It was also the only time we got to enjoy a quiet lunch at school.  Have you ever eaten in a school cafeteria?  It’s anything but quiet!

Finally, the Friday before Christmas break would arrive.  It was the busiest day of the month.  The school would be busy with parents bringing cupcakes, presents, etc. for party day.  All trees had to be undecorated and the ornaments and other Christmas projects had to be sent home with each child.  Somewhere in there we found time to have a Christmas party!  I loved watching the children open their gifts from us–all at the same time!  Twenty sets of hands tearing open wrapping paper at the same time, it was a sight to behold.  Eventually, we got last of the children on their way home, loaded up our own gifts(I loved opening those sweet little gifts from the children), trees, ornaments, and headed straight for home–and the couch!  Whew!  I’m getting tired just thinking about it….I think I like retirement!  Have a great day everyone!

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Published in: on November 30, 2009 at 10:17 am  Comments (1)  

Six Word Saturday

My six words are:  Ed’s mother improving, our uncle died.

I know those are six very unusual words, but that is what is happening in my life now.  It will be a Thanksgiving to remember…

On Thanksgiving two of our family members were in the hospital.  My husband’s mother had suffered a pin stroke on Tuesday.  Thankfully, my mother-in-law was released in time to have Thanksgiving dinner with us,  and is improving from her pin stroke.  Sadly, our Uncle B who was very ill with double pneumonia,  passed away last evening.  He is at peace and is suffering no more, but he will be greatly missed. 

For those who haven’t read my past posts, Uncle B was my uncle– who married my husband’s aunt–which gave us a mutual aunt and uncle.  Their daughter introduced Ed and I to each other, since she was a cousin to both of us–but we didn’t know each other!  I know it sounds complicated!  Uncle B’s wife is my mother-in-law’s sister and Uncle B was my daddy’s brother….truth really is stranger than fiction!

Feel free to hop on over to Cate’s place at http://www.showmyface.com for more Six Word Saturday posts.  You might even decide to join in…Have a great Saturday!…Kathy

Published in: on November 28, 2009 at 12:16 am  Comments (8)  

Life After Thanksgiving…Friday’s Giveaway

gingerbread kitchen towels/matching ornament

Our family had a nice Thanksgiving, in spite of some family illness.  We got an unexpected phone call from the hospital saying that they had decided to release Ed’s mama.  I wasn’t too sure about that, but what do you do?  You know how it works, insurance/medicare tells you how long you get to stay in the hospital–then you get the boot.

So my husband went and got his mama while I finished cooking the Thanksgiving meal.  He mama is weak and a bit confused, but we were happy to be able to have her with us on Thanksgiving.  I believe that she may have suffered a second pin stroke.  Hopefully she will be all right.  Thankfully my son lives with her, and the rest of us live nearby.

Now Thanksgiving is over, everyone has gone home and I’m left with the aftermath of a holiday meal.  You know, the extra dishes that I used that must be put away, a pile of left over food to put away, dirty tablecloth to wash, etc.   I’m tired and I just want to go to bed!   I feel every year of my age tonight!

Usually I begin Christmas decorating on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and decorate through Sunday.  It takes me that long to decorate the house.  So, I will drag out the trees tomorrow and begin my task, but I am not in any hurry this year.  I’m going to take my time.  I plan to decorate 3 trees, and I plan to enjoy decorating each one of them!  I plan to play Christmas music and look at each ornament and reminisce about when and where I got it.  I’ve collected ornaments for 38 years, and I love each and every one of them!

My question for you is “How do you plan to spend this weekend after Thanksgiving?”  Will you shop, decorate the tree,  decorate your yard, or do nothing?  Share your plans in the form of a comment.  I will take comments through Sunday night at midnight.  Random.org will choose the winning comment number on Monday morning.

The winning number will receive a Christmas gift bag containing a gingerbread dish towel, wash towel, and a matching Christmas ornament.  The ornament looks like a gingerbread cookie inside of the cookie cutter.  The clear gift bag will be tied with a rafia bow.   I love gingerbread decorations, and I use them to decorate my own kitchen! 

Enjoy your weekend–no matter how you choose to spend it!

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Published in: on November 26, 2009 at 10:35 pm  Comments (12)  

Giving Thanks, Despite Family Illness…

As Thanksgiving is upon us, our holiday will not turn out to be the way that we had planned for it to be.  Ed’s mother, who is 87 years old, is in the hospital.  Yesterday she was in town with the lady who stays part-time with her when something happened to her.  From the way the lady described it, it must’ve been a pin stroke.  Ed’s mother became confused, lost function in her legs, and lost the ability to speak temporarily.  By the time we got her to the hospital, she was feeling better, but the doctor admitted her overnight for observation.

We thought that she might be released today, but she had some more problems today, possibly another pin stroke.  They are running tests and observing her.  This will be the first Thanksgiving that we’ve missed having lunch with her in 39 years.  She will be missed.  I don’t know what the future will bring for her, but I hope she doesn’t have another stroke.  She had one about 23 years ago, which affected her ability to write and speak for a while, but she recovered nicely.  At age 87, we realize that she’s very fagile, and anything can happen at any time.

The uncle that my husband and I have in common is also in the hospital.  If you aren’t familiar with this story, my daddy’s younger brother, married Ed’s mama’s younger sister.  Their daughter set Ed and I up on a blind date, that’s how we met.

Anyway, our uncle is in the same hospital(where Ed also works) with double pneumonia.  He’s not doing well at all.  He had hip replacement surgery in January.  He did very well with the surgery,  but then suffered 2 strokes about a month after the surgery.  These strokes left him unable to walk and have affected his mind.  He had to be placed in a nursing home and his health has been declining steadily during the past 7 months.  We hate to see him in such a way.  He’s had pneumonia for a while now, and I don’t know how this is all going to turn out.  He’s the last of my daddy’s brothers.

The story gets a little sadder because both of our aunt and uncle’s children have passed away.  Their son had cystic fibrosis and died at age 19.  Their daughter died in a shooting incident when she was in her forties…s0 much tragedy for one family.  The daughter left behind 3 children.  Our aunt and uncle’s grandchildren are now grown, but live 7 hours away. 

So, as we enjoy our meal, and give thanks to God, our table will be missing one important person, and our hearts and prayers will be with her , as well as our uncle(and his wife who is having a tough time).  We are to give thanks in good and bad times, which is what we will do.  Even with the sickness, we really do have a lot of things to be thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone…

Published in: on November 25, 2009 at 11:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Cooking That Thanksgiving Turkey and Dressing…Oh My!

For many years I enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal without having to contribute anything.  All I had to do was show up, eat, enjoy the meal, and maybe help clean up the kitchen…Those were the days, my friend!

Eventually, I grew up, got married, had children, and realized that I needed to do my share of cooking.  For a long time I’d cook a couple of vegetables, and a dessert.  As our parents grew older, I began to cook more and more of the meal.

My parents became ill and had to go to the nursing home at relatively early ages–60 years old!  That’s just 5 years older than I am now!  Due to this situation, I had to take over making the turkey/dressing for my side of the family a little earlier than I would’ve liked.  My children were ages 9, 6, and 3 when my parents became ill. 

Let me tell you, I learned quickly what a chore it is to be in charge of the Thanksgiving turkey and dressing!  I couldn’t believe that it took me two days to prepare a meal that it took 20 minutes to devour!   I quickly gained new respect for my parents and all of the hard work that they had done to prepare all of those delicious meals. 

At first, I had no clue how to make dressing, and my first dressing tasted like pure cornbread!  It was awful.  Fortunately, the lady who used to make  dressing for our school cafeteria, as well as all other social functions in our town, shared her recipe in a church cookbook!  Once I found  her recipe, I’ve never made dressing any other way.  It’s delicious! 

I’ve had years of practice making turkey and dressing, but the job doesn’t get any easier.  I will still be spending two days in the kitchen to prepare that 20 minute meal.  Fortunately, I am at the phase of my life where my daughter and my daughter-in-law will be preparing some dishes for me.  It certainly helps to share the work load, and I appreciate it very much!

My daughter actually offered to host Thanksgiving at her house this year.  I told her to enjoy her free time while she could, because her day was coming soon enough…Eventually, I will turn over the turkey and dressing duty to her, and once again become that guest who comes in, eats, and enjoys!  I can’t decide if I am excited about that or not…If you aren’t the one who cooks the turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving, please don’t forget to kiss the cook!

** In case you are wondering, I’m from the south, and we call it dressing instead of stuffing where I come from…Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Published in: on November 25, 2009 at 9:41 am  Comments (2)  

Tuesday Blog Hop–Ways To Save Money

Tis’ the season…everyone needs money, money, money!  There never seems to be enough to go around.  Too much month left at the end of the paycheck and all of that.  I wish I had some new ways to save money, but I don’t.  All of my suggestions are tried and true.  

Ways To Save Money

Eat at home whenever possible.  Meals prepared at home are much cheaper than eating out or take out.  Try to time your outings so they don’t include mealtimes.  Take snacks from home with you instead of buying them whenever you are out and about.  I can’t bear to pay over a dollar for a bottle of water or soda!

Clip coupons.  I used to do this all of the time, but there don’t seem to be as many good coupons these days. 

Buy in bulk.  If an item is on sale, I will buy more than one, especially if it’s something that Iuse a lot of–like catsup or cooking oil.  I buy whatever meat that is on sale and freeze the extra for later use.

Turn off lights when you aren’t in the room where they are burning.  Replace regular bulbs with flourescent ones.  Put Christmas lights on timers and only burn them a certain amount of time each day.

Stay home as much as possible!  This tip works for me!  If I go out anywhere, I will spend money.  If I stay home, I don’t!

Give “home-made” gifts this year.  It can be something from your kitchen or a promise to do something special for someone in the New Year.  One year when I was short on money I crocheted everyone in the family an afghan.  It took me hours and hours to make them, but they were gifts from my heart.

Only shop sales.  I have a hard time with this one…I’m always afraid it will be gone before I can catch it on sale–and sometimes it is–or it goes on sale after I buy it.

Pack your own lunch.  My husband takes his own tea for lunch every day.  He buys his meal, but saves a dollar a day on his drink. 

Take quick showers.  Our electric bill is so much less now that we don’t have teenagers living at home anymore!

Space out haircuts a little longer.  I  used to go every 5 weeks, but now I make my appointments for 6 weeks apart.

Set your thermostat and forget it.  That’s a real money saver! 

Carpool whenever you can.  My daughter and I ride with each other to do errands.  The savings on gas adds up. 

That’s about it for my money-saving tips.  I am sure there are others that I couldn’t think of.  How do you save money during these difficult economic times?

MckLinky Blog Hop

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Published in: on November 24, 2009 at 10:05 am  Comments (2)  
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Not Me Monday…

Okay, so it’s been a few weeks since I did a Not Me, Monday post, but confession is good for the soul, so here goes nothing…

I did not spend almost the entire weekend wearing my pajamas except for taking them off twice–long enough to go to church and to the store!  I would never wear my pajamas for two days, not me!  It looked like a “pajama wearing weekend” to me!

I did not spend practically the entire day on Friday gathering more pecans, only to find out that the market was not going to open on Saturday…My car was filled with pecans and nowhere to sell them…My husband did not have to unload all of them until next week!

I did not buy a turkey so large that it would barely fit in my freezer…said turkey does not weigh nearly 20 pounds…this will not be the largest bird that I have ever attempted to bake!  I may be up all night on Thanksgiving eve tending to this bird…

My husband did not learn how to “brine a bird” on television and ask me to “brine” our turkey.  I did not tell my dear hubby that I did not own a container large enough to soak this year’s turkey in!  The particular brine solution that he saw included bourbon, which might make for an interesting Thanksgiving…whoever eats the most turkey feels the best???LOL

I will not begin my four-day adventure decorating my house for Christmas on the day after Thanksgiving…I will not have 4 decorated trees when I finish decorating…I am not just a little bit of a Christmas “nut”…My husband does not grumble and complain when the day after Thanksgiving arrives, because he knows that the house is about to become a “total wreck” until I finish decorating…

My husband and I have not been turning the television back and forth between Fox News and QVC all week.  My husband is not obsessed with the news and I am not obsessed with watching QVC!  I do not love to watch QVC at Christmas time…

I did not break a tooth while eating a starburst the other night!  You know you are getting old when you break a tooth eating soft candy!  I did not have to go to the dentist the following day–to be drilled and refilled.  One half of my face was not very dead for about 3 hours…this did not happen to be on the same afternoon as our Thanksgiving supper at church!

That’s it for me on this Monday.  If you would like to read more Not Me, Monday posts, hop on over to Mckmama’s place at http://www.mycharmingkids.net  Have a great week everyone!  Scroll on down to find out the winner of my weekend giveaway.

***First of all, let me tell you how much I enjoyed all of your comments!  It was the best weekend that I’ve ever had for comments.  So many of you shared about your fabulous trips to places like Maui, St. Louis, Williamsburg, California, Lake Tahoe, Washington, DC and even a cruise!  I enjoyed reading about every trip!  Thanks so much to everyone for sharing.

Now for the moment we’ve waited all weekend for…the winner, chosen by Random.org, is……Sierra!  Congratulations!  I’ll be sending your prize as soon as I get your address.  There will be a new giveaway this Friday–for those of you who aren’t out fighting those Black Friday crowds!!!

Published in: on November 23, 2009 at 10:10 am  Comments (6)  

Six Word Saturday

My six words for today are:

We have some little nut trees.

Does anyone remember the little nursery rhyme  “I had a little nut tree, nothing would it bear”?  My grandaughter has been learning that rhyme this week.  That’s an oldie, but a goodie–just like me!

Years ago, my husband’s father planted a row of pecan trees along the dirt lane that leads to our house.  Little did we know then, what a favor he was doing for us.  The years have passed away, and so has my father-in-law, but those pecan trees live on.  They also bear nuts every year!  Our family gathers the pecans, takes them to market and sells them.  Then we use the money to pay our land taxes, which always come due just before Christmas!  Those trees were a gift that keep on giving–every year!  Thanks so much, W.A.,  for doing such a kind thing for your family…and now, I am off to gather more pecans–we sold almost three hundred dollars worth yesterday, and the ground is still covered with pecans!  Have a great weekend…Kathy

P.S.  If you are looking for my giveaway, it’s on Friday’s post.  Check it out!!!

Published in: on November 21, 2009 at 9:48 am  Comments (12)  

My Favorite Trip Was A Free One…Friday’s Giveaway

Our son, Brad, standing in part of the lobby of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel

When my youngest son, Brad, was in the eleventh grade he participated in the FBLA(future business leaders of America) competition.  He entered Banking/Finance and won first place at the regional level, then later at the state level. Winning first place at the state level, is quite an accomplishment in itself, but it also qualified him to compete in Nationals which were held in Nashville, Tennessee.

The national competition was held during the summer and as Brad’s parents, we were allowed to attend the competition with  him and his teacher.  It just so happened that Brad’s teacher is my second cousin!  The four of us loaded up in her mini van and left for Nashville–a place that I had always wanted to go.  The trip was quite enjoyable–especially since we all knew each other.

We had accommodations at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.  What a beautiful place that is!  It was worth the trip, just to see that hotel.  I’ve never seen anything like that in my whole life!  That is also where the competition was held.  We had a three night stay at that luxurious hotel.  There was lots of free time during our stay, because there were lots of different competitions going on and we had to wait until Brad’s was held.  There was plenty to see and do at the hotel.

A boat ride goes all around the indoor courtyard of the hotel

While staying in Nashville, we visited a very large water park–the first one our family had ever been to.  We also went to see the Grand Ole Opry, toured the Country Music Hall of Fame, toured Ryman’s Auditorium(home of the original Opry), ate at the Hard Rock Cafe, and took a tour of the country music star’s homes.  I was thrilled to get to see where Alan Jackson lives–he’s my favorite country singer! ( I was once lucky enough to have 2nd row seats to one of his concerts!)

One day we even drove over to Memphis and visited Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland.  I never in a million years dreamed that I’d get to tour Elvis’ former home!  It was very unusual…like stepping back in time.  Everything in the home is the same way it was so many years ago when Elvis died, and I can remember when those things were the style…like when avocado green was the “rage”.  We toured his airplane with the gold sink and his museum as well.  We saw his pink Cadillac!  There were many interesting things in his museum.  We also saw Elvis’ grave.

Graceland...The former home of Elvis Presley

Brad didn’t place in the national competition, and ended up picking up a stomach bacteria that haunted him for weeks after the trip, but we sure did have a great time on our free trip to Nashville! 

 How about you, where did you go on your favorite trip?  Leave a comment telling me about it, or anything else that is on your mind,  for a chance to win this week’s prize.

This week's Christmas gift bag

This week’s prize is a gift bag containing a Christmas kitchen towel, a matching dish cloth, and a red set of Christmas cookie cutters–all tied up with a raffia bow. This set is just what you need to kick off the Christmas season in your kitchen!

I will be taking comments all weekend. On Monday I will choose a winner via Random.org. Good luck to everyone who comments. Feel free to leave more than one comment, I don’t mind. Thanks to all who participate, and thanks to all who stop by…

MckLinky Blog Hop

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Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 10:10 pm  Comments (18)  

If You Are Healthy, You Are Very Blessed…(part 2)

Finally, after 6 weeks of waiting, I had my appointment with the rheumatologist.  They took 7 vials of blood for tests!  By the time I got into see Dr. M, my symptoms had subsided some.  I was still wrestling with fatigue and some joint stiffness and pain–especially in my neck, but at least I could walk and open door knobs.  He prescribed the NSAID naproxen and scheduled me for a follow-up appointment after the test results came back.

To make a long story short, when all of my test results were in, I fell in the category of lupus/rheumatoid arthritis.  I do not have enough indicators to absolutely fit in either category definitively.  So, we really don’t know for sure what I have.  I tend to think more lupus, the doctor tends to lean toward rheumatoid arthritis.  He explained that no further testing could be done until I had another “Flare”, but the same medications are used to treat both diseases so it really doesn’t matter.  If having another one of those “Flares” is what it takes to get a positive diagnosis, then I’d rather not know what I have!  A lot of the symptoms overlap in both diseases as well, but lupus tends to attack the body organs along with the joints, where rheumatoid arthritis attacks the joints.  There are some little “spin-off” diseases that also fall in with an autoimmune disorder–like Fibromyalgia, Sjogren’s syndrome, or Reynaud’s phenomenon.  I have been diagnosed with  all of those, too. 

During the summer following my diagnosis, my husband walled off a section of our large bedroom and put a small bathroom in it.  We ordered a large bathtub with whirlpool jets.  Swirling hot water is one of the best forms of temporary relief from the joint pain and stiffness.  I can’t tell you how many painful days that tub got me through while trying to find the right drugs to combat my disease.

After trying four different kinds of NSAID’s, I finally found the one that worked best for me and reduced my inflammation.  Reducing inflammation gives me relief from the pain and stiffness.  Unfortunately, the NSAID alone wasn’t enough to get me into remission, so I had to go on the second line defense drug called Plaquenil.  Plaquenil slowly builds up in your body, so it takes about six months for it to give its maximum benefit.  Sure enough, by around six months, I began to feel more like my old self.  After going on the Plaquenil I began to improve more rapidly than I had been doing taking the NSAID’s alone.  I’ve taken the same drugs since 1994, and I haven’t had another “Flare” since that original one–just occasional bouts of inflammation.

As with any drugs, there are dangers.  The NSAID, Relafen, can cause stomach ulcers at any time without warning.  To combat this, I have to take Prevacid daily.  Plaquenil can harm your eyes, so I must have a complete vision screening and field of vision check every year.  If my eyes ever show any signs of damage, I will have to stop taking the Plaquenil.  As stated before, I’ve been on these drugs for 15 years, and will be on them for the rest of my life.  My drug co-pay after insurance is around $130.00 per month.  I generally see the rheumatologist 3 to 4 times a year, and I have lab work done each time, to make sure my liver is tolerating the medications,  and to see what my level of inflammation in my body is. 

Some days I almost forget that I have this disease because I feel so good.  There was a time when I wondered if I’d ever feel normal again, but sometimes I do.  Then there are days when I can hardly get out of bed.  Thankfully, those days usually are few and far in between.

An interesting note here.  My daughter is showing early signs of having the same disease.  She hasn’t given in and gone to a specialist or even been tested, but there are a lot of similarities between us.  She has a lot of the same symptoms that I had before I actually had a “flare”.   The disease is hereditary, unfortunately.   

When you deal with a chronic illness, you learn to adapt.  You enjoy the good days, and get through the bad days.  You learn quickly what you can and can’t do.  You develop a new “normal”.  It’s not the life I would’ve chosen, but it’s the life I’ve got.  If you are healthy, you are indeed very blessed–enjoy it and be thankful!

Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 11:18 am  Comments (6)  
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