A Christmas Memory #3….The Tree

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I’ve been told, by my older siblings that when they were little, they would head to bed on Christmas Eve with a bare tree standing on a bare platform in the living room awaiting Santa’s touch. As they slept, he not only delivered the presents but also put all the lights and ornaments on the tree and set up the houses and trains below so that when they emerged groggy eyed on Christmas morning they would get the full effect. I can see where this would be an exciting and magical for a child to start their Christmas Day, however…

I’ve (also) been told, by my mom and dad that when my sibling were little there were many Christmas Eve’s when they never actually made it bed! My dad usually tackled the platform and any gifts that needed to be assembled while mom did the tree. If they were lucky, neighbors or family would stop by to help but most times they were busy at home with the same task. From what I’ve heard, there was a fair amount of treats and “good cheer” flowing as well. I suppose they did need something to keep them motivated.

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By the time I came along (12 years after my oldest sister) my parents had pretty much burned themselves out on that whole “putting the tree up on Christmas Eve” nonsense and, since my birthday was just a few days before Christmas, we began a new tradition of having the tree up in time for that. I always felt like the tree was part of my birthday celebration. It is still my favorite part of the holiday season.

When I was around 12 or 13, it became my job to go with my dad to pick out our tree. I think my mom had run out of patience years earlier and was eager to step aside. Usually we started at the closest lot, sized up a dozen or so newly cut trees, testing branch strength and freshness, making sure the trunk was straight and not too wide for the stand. Dad would haggle a bit with the tree guy and then decide none of the trees at that lot was good enough. We then performed the same routine at  a half a dozen other tree lots, testing and haggling. Inevitably, we’d end up back at the very first lot with the very first tree we had sized up back at the beginning!

This weekend, D-man and I ventured out to the tree farm where our son has been working for the last few holiday seasons, to pick out our tree. We don’t do artificial trees. Never. Nor do my sisters. That’s just the way it is. We have two small artificial trees elsewhere in the house but the main tree has to be real. To me, each Christmas tree is unique and has its own personality. I don’t want it to be perfect and I certainly don’t want it to be just the same as last year’s. Where’s the fun in that.

I know that artificial trees have all kinds of advantages. Believe me, I think about that when I’m still discovering pine needles in February. Certainly, they’re more convenient and the branches are all strong and even. The symmetry certainly appeals to my perfectionist tendency but the fact is that nothing brings back Christmas memories for me faster than the smell of a live tree. All I need to do is open my bedroom door each morning and let that scent wash over me. Suddenly I’m a kid again back at that Christmas tree lot, rating trees with my dad, strapping it to the roof of our Ford with much more rope than was probably necessary, and singing Christmas caroles all the way home at the top of my lungs. In short, Christmas is once again filled with magic.

 

A Christmas Memory #2….Church Bazaars

My mom's Bazaar bought snow couple

My mom’s Bazaar bought snow couple

 

Growing up we never belonged to any particular church or religion but most Easters and Christmas Eves we did attended services at the Baptist Church down the street. I suspect we went there just because it was the closest. I also attended Vacation Bible School there during the summer. However, there was one thing we couldn’t get from the Baptists. If we wanted nifty home made holiday items at dirt cheap prices, we had to walk a few more blocks to the Catholic Church.

These bazaars (defined in the Free Online Dictionary as:  A fair or sale at which miscellaneous articles are sold, often for charitable purposes.) would happen in early December and I looked forward to them every year, celebrating it as the official start of the holiday season. The bazaar was held in the gymnasium of the Catholic school attached to the church. There were rows and rows of long wooden tables piled high with bright colored items for sale. Mom would give me some cash and I would roam around, Christmas music playing overhead, and pick out small items to give her, my dad and my grandparents. She also gave me enough to purchase something for myself as well.

Pretty knit pot holders never meant to actually use!

Pretty knit pot holders never meant to actually use!

My grandmother received several knitted pot holders courtesy of the Church bazaar. Dad might get a wallet stitched together with leather strings and grandpa, a handmade pouch for his pipe tobacco. For my mom, I would buy decorative Christmas items or maybe an apron.

A Christmas trinket box purchased for my mother

For myself, I poured through the many hand sewed Barbie Doll clothes. The attention to detail always amazed me. How could someone make such perfect little coats and skirts in so many different patterns and styles!? They were the best made Barbie clothes I had, some handed down from my older sisters who had attended the Church Bazaar long before I was old enough to walk.

A few of the surviving doll clothes.

A few of the surviving doll clothes.

As you can see, several of these memory filled items still celebrate Christmas with us. Most started out as gifts to my mother then handed down to me. Even a few of the Barbie clothes have survived. I can’t help but wonder what those nice Catholic women who spent so many hours creating these item would think about that?

Okay, your turn. Have you ever been to or made items for a bazaar (church, school, or otherwise)? If you have, what kind of treasures did you bring home?

A Christmas Memory #1…Holiday Goodies

Last year in honor of my favorite season I embarked on a daily Christmas Postathon. It was a great way to maintain my holiday spirit but to be honest, the pace nearly did me in! So this year I’m going for a looser, more laid back version.  Periodically I will pull out a Christmas memory or favorite to share. Feel free to join the party! I would love to reminisce with all my friends.

Today’s topic is…

Favorite holiday treats

As we slouched around the remnants of our Thanksgiving dinner this year, the conversation turned to all the special treats that made our childhood holiday seasons so memorable. Goodies like Christmas cookies and egg nog jump to most everyone’s mind but each of us had our own personal treats, those things that brought back that rush of Christmas feelings from our childhood.

imageMy sister and I compared notes and decided that we always felt Christmas was upon us when the bowl of mixed nuts appeared. They occupied a special cut glass bowl my mom saved for such delicacies with silver nut crackers tucked in beside them. We knew we couldn’t eat them all at once because they were an extravagance and had to last till Christmas Day. Back then I preferred walnuts and loved cracking them open and then digging around with the little silver pick trying to get every last piece from the broken shell. Today I’d happily dig into the almonds, filberts and pecans as well.

imageMom also splurged on a big box of Whitman chocolates each season. The box she purchased was called the “sampler” because it contained an assortment of every sort of filled chocolates they made. My favorites were the caramels. In fact, they still are. After we were grown and out on our own, mom still gave my sisters and I a Whitman Sampler each Christmas. I usually had to stash it away somewhere safe or it would be empty in no time.

imageAnother special Christams treat I remember from my grandmother’s house were ribbon candies and chocolate filled straws. She was very fond of hard candies  and usually had some type around her house but those two were reserved just for the holidays. To be honest, I only sucked on them for a minute or two before I spit them out to try another flavor! I wonder if my grandmother ever noticed all those half eaten candies in her trash? She always offered me more so I guess she didn’t mind!

imageNow it’s your turn. What are the special treats you remember from your childhood Christmases? I’m sure the there are local and regional goodies that are unique to certain areas. So many confections, flavors and tastes but the feelings of joy and warm memories they bring are the same no matter where or when you grew up.

If We Were Having Coffee…11/26/16

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If we were having coffee…I would start off by saying how much I have missed our chats! It has been a crazy couple of weeks around here and my posting and reading times have been limited. I hope that all is well in your part of the world and that my fellow Americans enjoyed their Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday. We had a wonderful dinner with family and all ate way too much turkey and pie! There is much to be thankful for around here. This morning,  I am thankful that I can finally sit for a few minutes and enjoy a warm beverage and a friendly visit.

If we were having coffee…I would start off by introducing you to my mother-in-law, the amazing MJ. She’s bunking with us temporarily after a losing battle with a boxed Christmas tree in her basement resulted in a broken hip. Long story. As a result,  our list of “things to be thankful for” now includes the doctors who skillfully added three screws to her bone to help it heal, the talented therapist who aided her at rehab, helping her regain her strength, and the fact that we have an extra room where she can continue to heal, exercise and get back to her former energetic self. Mostly, though we are thankful that the injury wasn’t much, much worse and that her overall good health has enabled her to bounce back quicker than the doctors anticipated.

Miss Dee and MJ enjoying Thanksgiving.

Miss Dee and MJ enjoying Thanksgiving.

If we were having coffee…I would share that our sweet Jack has recently developed feline diabetes. He had been sleeping a lot and drinking a lot of water over the past few weeks. It turns out he’d been losing a bit of weight as well. He is a big cat (17lbs) so at first the weight loss wasn’t noticeable, but I was sure there something was up so off to the vet we went. Now the D-man and I are learning all about giving minuscule insulin shots with a teeny-tiny little syringe. Jack has been very cooperative and since we started the shots a few days ago he has been more active and vocal so we’re feeling quite optimistic. We also discovered that an added bonus to having MJ here is that, because she is an insulin dependent diabetic herself, she has been able togive us lots of helpful tips.

Our handsome Jack.

Our handsome Jack.

If we were having coffee…I might remind you that this was the final work week for the fourth grade teacher that I’ve been helping this year. She is anxious to welcome her new baby hopefully in the next week or so.  Her replacement, a nice young woman transferred over from the middle school, came in all last week to get acquainted with the students and familiarize herself with the classroom.  It will be an adjustment for all of us and I’m hoping that certain students don’t try to take advantage of the new teacher. Wish us luck.😊

If we were having coffee… I would share that a few Thursday’s ago we had the 100 year old oak tree removed from our back yard. It was an all day project involving a truck with a cherry picker parked on our lawn, a noisy wood chipper parked in our drive, branches swinging from roaps and a group of hardworking guys wielding chainsaws. Needless to say, it was a very crazy day. Personally, I think the guy in the cherry picker, swinging  the chainsaw around was a little nuts but maybe that’s what it takes to do that job!

My sad, bare backyard. ☹️

My sad, bare backyard. ☹️

I guess that covers the highlights of my last few weeks, so if we were having coffee I would turn the floor over to you. What have you been up to?

The Weekend Coffee Share I’d brought to you each week courtesy of Diana at Part Time Monster. Be sure to stop by  and check out the rest of the posts.

 

The Weekly Smile…Perfect Day

So here is something I can totally relate to…

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…or any other day.

imageThe Weekly Smile is brought to you by Trent’s World. Stop by and share a smile yourself.

If We Were Having Coffee…11/6/16

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If we were having coffee…I would probably start off by apologizing to any visitors from outside the USA. Tuesday is Election Day and afterward the nonsense should stop (we hope). On behalf of all Americans, I am very sorry…

Moving on..

If we were having coffee…I would invite you in, offer you a seat, a cup of hot French roast (or tea or lemonade, what ever you prefer) and ask you how your week has been? Mine was better than expected considering that Monday was Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween. I enjoy seeing the children in their costumes, handing out the treats, carving the Jack-o-lanterns, all that stuff. My only objection, speaking as someone who struggles to keep young people focused on learning each day, is that it happened to fall on a Monday this year. This doesn’t bode well for productivity on Tuesday, Wednesday and possibly even Thursday, depending on the amount of candy consumed.

As it turned out, Monday was the only really challenging day. Thankfully our principle has this whole Halloween thing down to a science. We really only have to get through the morning and the lunch hour (wanna guess how loud it was in the cafeteria that day?) because after that the room moms and dads arrive with games and crafts and then the children put on their costumes and proceed outside to parade around the playground. Families are invited to come watch and by the time the parade is over, it is time for dismissal.

If we were having coffee…I would share that I noticed, both at the parade and with the trick-or-treaters later at my home, that the popular costume this year seemed to be the characters from the newest Star Wars movie, Rey especially. I would ask what popular or fun costumes you noticed? Do you celebrate Halloween? Do you have many trick-or-treaters? We went through about 10 bags of candy which is about normal around here. It’s quite a big event around here.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that the rest of my week was pretty quiet. We are approaching the end of the first marking period so teachers are trying to finish up projects and gather grades. One of the fourth grade teachers I work with will be leaving on maternity leave at the end of this month and will not return till next year so she has been stressing a bit, feeling like she is not quite prepared to hand over her class to the substitute. I’ve been trying to help as much as I can and my knowing the children and the classroom routine will make things easier for the incoming teacher but there are still lesson plans to be made and schedules to be arranged. Fourth grade, in our school, team teaches, which means that one teacher does math and science and the other does  reading and language arts. The students switch classrooms through out the day. The teacher that is leaving, only teaches science and math so at least there is less subject matter to prepare and the other teacher will be on hand to help.

Our biggest classroom challenge this week came on Wednesday when we noticed that the thermostat was stuck on 88 degrees. Laura (the teacher) and I were red faced and sweating having already removed all articles of clothing that we could without raising eyebrows, when the maintiance man came to check on it. He told us that it was stuck and that he couldn’t get anyone to fix it till later in the week. Our school was built in the 1920s so you can imagine how well our heating system opperates anyway and even though the weather was quite cool and all the windows were open, we were still suffering. When you factor in that one woman in the class is eight months pregnant and the other in in the throes of menapause, it’s really lucky the the maintenance guy made it out of the room alive!

Anyway…if we were having coffee…I would probably  notice the time and even though we did gain an hour this weekend I find I have dawdled over my coffee far too long,  enjoying our visit and now am running behind as usual. I really should try to do something productive today. 😉 Thank you so much for stopping by. Don’t forget to visit the rest of the Coffee Share Posts brought to you each week by Diana at Part Time Monster. Have a great week!

The Weekly Smile…Grand Love

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http://www.calendariu.com/tag/baby-carriage-clipart

At lunch time today, as I was walking to my car, I noticed two ladies heading toward each other across the street each pushing a stroller. I would say they were a bit older than me, maybe in their 60’s and were enjoying the crisp autum afternoon by taking, what I’m guessing we’re their grandchildren, out for a walk. As their paths met they pulled up beside each other and immediately began exclaiming over each other’s little bundle of joy…

“Oh! She is simply adorable! What blue eyes!”

“Isn’t he the sweetest! Such a happy boy!”

As I was getting in my car I could hear them introducing the babies to each other, not that the two infants in the stroller understood that! I had to smile because it was so obvious in their manner and how they spoke that they were both just bursting with that special kind of adoration that only a grandparent can have.

I glanced in my review mirror as I was pulling away and noticed that one of the ladies had turned her stroller around  so they could continue their walk together.  This is a pretty small town so it’s quite likely they already knew each other. They may have even arranged to meet. No matter the circumstances these  grandmother had already been doing their most favorite thing-spending time with their grandchildren, and now they were able to share that special time with someone who totally understood how they felt. I bet they found a lot to talk about and I bet those two little babies were fussed over and spoiled rotten!

Very lucky babies. And lucky me. I got to caught in the overflow from that really “grand love!” ❤️

imageThe Weekly Smile is brought to you by Trent’s World. Click here to visit the link up and catch the rest of the smiles. Maybe you can even leave one of your own!😊

If We Were Having Coffee…10/22/16

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If we were having coffee…I would invite you in out of the crisp fall weather and pour you a steamy cup of French roast. We also have tea or hot chocolate if you prefer? There is also some cake left from my husband’s birthday celebration today. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind sharing. The D-man’s actual birthday isn’t until Monday but we had his family birthday dinner a little early because his dad and stepmom are leaving for a trip to Disney World on Monday. This will be their first trip there together. She goes every year with her mother and brother but my father-in-law isn’t much of a Disney World fan. He enjoys trips that involve hiking and historic sites more than rides and musical shows. It will be interesting to hear their critique when they get home.

If we were having coffee..I would tell you that D-man was pretty excited to receive an official Carson Wentz Eagles football jersey as part of his birthday gifts. We can only hope that the Eagles can win some more games just to make that jersey worth wearing! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow afternoon’s game. Our home is a much happier place when they win.😊.

If we were having coffee…I would ask you how thing have been in your world? Are you enjoying the fall weather? Are you in an area where you can experience the changing colors of the season. I can’t believe Halloween is just around the corner although the children at school are more than ready. The fact that it falls on a Monday is down right painful for those of us working in education. “Why?” you might ask. Because that means that on Tuesday morning we will be dealing with hyped up, sugar overdosed, overly tired children with lunch boxes full of left over candy. It will take us until at least Thursday to regain control. 😳 I wonder if we could get a law passed declaring  Halloween must always fall on a Friday?

Anyway, if we were having coffee, I’d thank you for stopping to chat and for listening to me ramble on! I would wish you a week filled with great moments, good thoughts, and happy people. I would also suggest that you stop by Part Time Monster and catch up with some of the other Weekend Coffee Share posts.

Grade School the Second Time Around-The Atom

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http://www.clker.com/clipart-atom-nucleus-electrons.html

This semester in fourth grade science we are discussing renewable and non renewable energy sources. Because nuclear power falls under this topic, we have also been discussing atoms and their place in the universe. Last week, in order to provide the students with an idea of how really, really, really tiny an atom is, the teacher showed them a video that explained it like this…

Picture a grapefruit. Now let’s consider the nitrogen atoms in that grapefruit (there are lots of other types of atoms but for now we will just focus on that one.) Lets pretend that we can take those nitrogen atoms and blow each one up to the size of a blueberry. In order to accommodate those blueberry sized atoms the grapefruit would now become roughly the size of the planet Earth. 😳

But wait! There’s more!

Continuing along that line… if we wanted to see just how small the nucleus inside each atom is we would have to blow that blueberry up to be the size of a football stadium. Even then, the nuclei would only be the size of a small marble!

POW!!! Mind blown!

I can tell you the students were certainly impressed. It was a learning experience for me as too!

Interested in seeing the video we watched in class? Follow this link: https://youtu.be/yQP4UJhNn0I

Wedded Bliss

The invitation

The invitation

This Sunday my family and I were invited  to witness two amazing young people begin their lives as husband and wife. I will admit that I am a bit of a wedding junkie. They are by far my favorite social outings.  I think it’s because, barring any family drama, weddings are such incredibly happy events filled with promise and excitement. Plus I get to dance with my husband, always a treat. I would guess I’ve been to (attended or been part of) maybe fifty weddings in my lifetime but there was something special about this one, the ceremony especially, that made my heart extra happy, both for the couple and for those of us lucky enough to share in their special day.

Miss L, the bride, is a very dear friend of my son’s and has been a fixture in our home since grade school. She and Miss Dee played tennis together all through high school and her little sister attends third grade at the school where I work. We were all so excited when she and her young man Mr L, also a friend and classmate of  Mr D’s, became engaged last year and even more excited when we found that we were all invited to their wedding.

The Bride

The Bride

Sunday morning arrived dark and stormy thanks to hurricane Matthew, which had been dumping rain on us for two days but, miraculously, by afternoon the clouds had parted and the sky was a bright, clear blue. We arrived at the venue around four o’clock and discovered that, dispite the wet ground, the ceremony would be held on the wood lined brick patio around back. I was told by her grandmother that when the family arrived, the staff had been setting up inside but Miss L had nixed that insisting that the ceremony had to be outdoors. On my way to my seat, even as my heels sunk into the earth, I looked around at the green lawn, baskets of flowers and autumn foliage  and thought “Good call.” The setting made it all so much more perfect.

Turning in our seats as the music began we saw Mr L, who is now a new Marine, just finished his basic training walk up the stone path looking very handsome if a little nervous in his dress blues. He was accompanied by the minister. They were followed by his brother and six groomsmen, four of which were in uniform as well. As they took their place at the front, under a white pergola covered in climbing vines, the ladies entered. First came her little sister dressed in cream colored lace scattering  pink rose petals, then the bridesmaids in soft blush dresses each wearing a ring of flowers in their hair.

The wedding favors

The wedding favors

The music changed to Beethoven’s Cannon in D, my all time favorite wedding music, and we stood to watch Miss L enter accompanied by her mom on one side and her dad on the other.  All brides are beautiful, and she was no exception but it was so much more than that. Her gown, a simple off the shoulder ivory lace with a full ballgown skirt made up of yards and yards of tulle drifted around her and her mass of auburn curls tumbled beneath a veil crowned with pink and ivory flowers. She was breathtaking! A woodland princess about to marry her prince. I think what made her look so perfect, so magical, was that she stayed true to who she is, a very wholesome sweet girl without a lot of glitter and glitz.

And finally husband and wife

And finally husband and wife

I turned and caught sight of her groom and I couldn’t help but choke up. The look of absolute love on his face, his eyes glistening, seemed to caused quite a few sniffles among the guests. Since we were seated in the back row much of what the minister said during the ceremony was lost on the wind but watching those  two young people standing hand in hand against a backdrop of  green, gold and red trees, the lovely maidens on one side, the military men standing tall on the other and the sun glowing above us all, was enough to make my heart swell with happiness for them. When it came time for the vows and the rings, the bride and groom’s voices came across loud and clear and even though the breeze kept them from officially lighting the unity candle (they faked it for the photographer!) the ceremony was lovely. They kissed, we applauded and they danced back down the aisle ready to enjoy an evening of celebration as husband and wife.

On Monday morning the couple left for their honeymoon and in a few weeks they will pack up and move to South Carolina where Mr L is stationed. I’m going to miss having Miss L around all the time but I’m so happy for her and her new husband. When I first found out they were getting married I worried that they were so young and that they would be starting out their marriage so far from friends and family but after seeing them on Sunday and feeling all the love that surrounds them I’m convinced they’ll do fine.  This was just the start of an amazing journey that will last a lifetime, their lifetime.  I’m really glad I was there to see it all begin.