Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas! (okay, a day late, but we were all busy yesterday!)

I admit I feel kind of a let down when Christmas is over. It's something I've been struggling with all my life, so no biggie. No, it's not because of gifts or superficial things like that. It's simply a let-down of all the hub-bub and build up that is now over. Plus, I feel like the other side of Christmas is just a road towards another hot summer that I dread like a root-canal without novocain. Okay, it's also a road towards going back to work, and it seems my birthday in April happens way fast after Christmas is over. I know, I know, I have issues! lol

HOLIDAY GREETINGS

I think we sent all the Christmas cards out that we intended to. Well, I know I missed three: My cousin Jeff (sorry Jeff), my dentist (sorry Dr. Marinoff), and my friend Julie (sorry Julie!). I ran out of stamps and before I knew it, it was Christmas! Ack! So I'll post our Christmas card and that should ease some guilt, but not a lot. I don't think "electronic greetings" and "e-cards" do the trick. Sure, I don't mind those things for casual greetings and messages. However, when it comes to the important things like birthdays and Christmas, etc, it has to be the real thing! That said, here is our holiday greetings this year. We had to take advantage of our snow pictures from Thanksgiving for our Holidays cards this year!












Seasonal Christmas!

Weather-wise, it was a pe
rfect seasonal Christmas. It never left the 50s and it rained on and off all day. And today, even though the sun is making more of an appearance (DARN!), temperature wise, it's still perfect:














But unfortunately, like all good things, it won't last. Oh, don't get me wrong, the 60s are great for winter too around here. I just love the 50s the best. It's about as cold as you can expect on the hell floor, I mean the valley floor, so this Christmas has been a blessing!









CHRISTMAS EVE SMILES

The kids loved Christmas this year of course. We spent Christmas Eve at Chris's cousin Teasha's house out in Pinal County/Florence. We did struggle from Christmas Eve until now with Christian running a fever and battling an ear infection 9we had to leave Teasha's a little early on Christmas Eve, due to that. (We would have stayed longer, but Christian didn't start getting sick until we were there). Thank goodness for Motrin and ear drops. It made sense that he started with the ear infection. 2 weeks ago he had an upper-respiratory infection, and ear infections usually follow. But you wouldn't know it in our Christmas Eve shots (also posted above)!

Papa and Georgia spent Christmas Day with us and we just hung out - had a big breakfast and then honeybaked ham for dinner. I went jogging in the rain of course, but it does nothing to prevent the scale from eeking up. Gosh, this time of year is such a struggle with such things. But back to happy, back to happy! Here are some of our "Joys" having their Christmas Eve "Joy". And yes, those are their red jammies from Thanksgiving and from Halloween!


MERRY KISS-MAS

















And the S
tockings were hung...























And
come up with your own title for this one! lol


Monday, December 22, 2008

Seasonal Christmas at Last!

Finally! It looks like we'll have a real winter Christmas. Notice I don't say 'White Christmas". Ha! That would be a cold day in well, here. But it's currently cold (for here), rainy and SEASONAL. Love it. Too many Christmases around here have been plagued with too much sunlight and warm 70s. Yuck. I really should get into Vampire stories with the way I am resistant to sunlight.

I remember in 1994, a month and a half after Chris and I were married, it rained rained rained all day Christmas. Now THAT was awesome. Probably the last time that it rained on Christmas. And even if it
doesn't rain like predicted, the temps still won't leave the 50s. Yay!

Papa and Georgia's Impromptu Visit

And there are winter storms wreaking havoc from the West to the East coasts. Papa and Georgia (Chris's dad and step-mom) flew in last weekend for a funeral in Georgia's family, and due to the winter weather in the Pacific NW, they can't get out on an affordable flight back to Oregon until after Christmas. They originally planned to go back this morning, but since the only thing that was flying out of the Portland were geese, their flight was canceled. We get a treat to have them around even longer this time of year, even if it wasn't quite what they had planned.

Here they are with the kidlets yesterday (Sunday). They came to church with us and everything!












The Lonely Shepherd

Over a decade ago, Chris and I bought our Precious Moments Nativity - it was the three piece set with Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. We really should have been adding to it all along (and yes, I'm aware of Joseph's cane. We glued it back together more than once and it still broke off. So we just ignore it). This year, we realized how lame we've been that it STILL didn't have any manger animals, shepherds or wisemen. Tonight we picked up this shepherd and three little lambs (photo above). We also don't want to replace Joseph, because the Joseph they have now first is part of a "set", and two, is slightly different. The Joseph that Precious Moments has now is dark-haired, which is fine by me, except for some reason it looks like Tom Jones. So I'll stick with the original Joseph, despite the broken cane.

Next will come the wisemen, more shepherds and animals, but those are part of a huge set that retails at $150. But since we know now that it is the goal for when we put out the Nativity next year, it shouldn't be too hard to obtain. I also hope that for my birthday in April, Chris gets me the Jim Shore Nativity. I fell in love with it a few years ago and I KNOW I have to add it to the Christmas collection. I've hinted like crazy, but I'm gonna start laying it on thick (and any of you are welcome to help with that):










And to end on a humorous note, my Spidey Skeleton never made it down this year after Halloween (Hey, the rest of the stuff did!). He was taken down in a timely manner last year, but the year before, he didn't make it down either. I had a blue Santa Hat I put on him in 2006. But THIS YEAR, we found that cat Christmas dress-up stuff (you know, that crazy cat people would buy and actually MAKE their cat wear) work well with Spidey's skull. So he is in the spirit of Christmas too! And we had to go to PetSmart for Zoey's bird food anyway and their pet-torturing Christmas clothes were 50% off.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Copy Cat Entries - Questionaire and O Christmas Tree!


Well, I've had a pretty crappy day. Sometimes being a teacher can just suck. And it's not necessarily because the kids drive you nuts. That's a given. It's other things. But I won't go there. I'm just trying to shake things off and think of the next two days being the last before CHRISTMAS VACATION and 2 weeks off! Ahhhhhhhhh.......

I have plenty of things to do, but part of my shaking things off is copying from two blogs and just "wasting time". Lol

The first is a questionnaire from my friend Brit's blog (hi Brit!)


1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Both, but I would choose the Hot Chocolate first. Made with MILK and with marshmellows.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
I thought it was okay for Santa to sit them under the tree and wrap a couple, but some can be unwrapped. But Holy Moses...when I said that, Chris about died. He wants Santa to wrap them all. Alrighty then...I guess we're wrapping them all.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
We had the white icicle lights for awhile. That got boring. Now we have a string of blue. Chris insisted on the LED ones though, and the shade is more Ultramarine Blue than a cool aqua blue that the "old school" ones have. But the blue is nice on the house. I like it.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No. My Halloween Spider Skeleton is still up. Hey, that's the only Halloween thing still up. The rest is put away!

5. When do you put up your decorations?
Weekend after Thanksgiving or very shortly after.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Used to be my grandmother's tapioca pudding, but she's no longer with us.
:-(
This year we're going to do a Honey Ham. YUM!!!!!


7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
Going to my grandma's in North Phoenix on Christmas Eve. Looking back, it only felt like Christmas when we would go there on Christmas Eve. It just hasn't been the same since. :-( But I love building new memories with my kids. Last year we went to the central Oregon coast for Christmas. Now that was cool. Hey, it was no "christmas eve at grandma's" like when I was a child, but it was definitely one of my favorite Christmases.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
My mom yelled at me and made me feel stupid for still believing. I think it could have been a little more delicate. I think I was 9 or 10.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
When going to my grandmother's on Christmas Eve, we would open her gifts. Now, I think we wait. It kind of changes year to year depending on what we're doing.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
That leads me to my next "blog copy cat" I'll get into the answer to this question below!

11. What is another favorite Christmas tradition memory?
This shouldn't be a "good" memory, but it gives warm fuzzies. We told Chris's family on Christmas Eve 1999 that we were preggers with Mikelle (well, we didn't know her name would be Mikelle, but you get my meaning). I was as sick as a dog, as I was only about 5-6 weeks along. We found out ourselves about 2 weeks before. Then, around the 21st or 22nd of December - BAM - sick as a DOG I was (<---Yoda speak). We didn't want to tell the family until Christmas Eve, so everyone from his family that didn't already live here came into town and I was constantly lying down and sleeping and they probably thought I was the biggest deadbeat. When we told them (at a 5&Diner restaurant in Scottsdale), my sister in law AnneMarie got all giddy and said, "oh, no wonder you haven't been feeling good!" It was nice that they finally had the understanding and didn't think I was the biggest lazy oaf. A week later, on January 2nd, I was hospitalized with hyperemesis and ended up in the hospital a week. But that following August resulted in that little cutie below in that Santa pic.

12. Can you ice skate?
Depends. I can put them on and try, and maybe have a fun time even though my butt will be hurting from falling down, but sure, I can ice skate.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Actually, my favorite gift wasn't a Christmas one. It's hard for me to think of one, because I don't think of what I get that much. I know what I want, but I care more about people's reactions to what I give them.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
getting through it without gaining weight. Okay, I kee'd. That IS important, but not the most important (maybe the second most important. lol). The most important thing for me is building good memories for my kids and making sure those memories are about the true meaning of Christmas with a fun balance of the Santa and jingle bells.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Oh gosh, too many to name. Moving on...

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Between Thanksgiving and the beginning of December, we get the kids pictures taken with Santa. I also do a scrapbook layout for our Christmas cards.

17. What tops your tree?
An angel. See below.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving. I put a lot of thought in it, and if I feel they don't like it, it's kind of hard for me.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Do they Know it's Christmas? By Band Aid. You got the best song and a collection of the best 80s British/UK performers. What more can you ask for? Okay, Depeche Mode wasn't in it (or Erasure, or the Cure or some other awesome ones), but that song is just perfect. It's below on my playlist if you want to give it a listen. :-)

20. Candy Canes?
I had to collect them in 1999 for my intense nausea and throwing up. From that, I don't know how I am not sick of them! That pregnancy ruined the smell of cinnamon for me (since it was everywhere that Christmas), but for some reason not peppermint. Weird.

21. Do you feel Christmas is too commercialized?
Yes, but it bugs me that people reject Santa and giving gifts because of the the commercialism. Commercialism has those things, but you can give gifts and have the Santa angle without getting caught up in the commercialism.

Getting back to #10:
How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? I was going to post pictures of the tree after seeing my friend Lara's post about it (hi lara!). So it's perfect that I can add these within this questionnaire.

After Chris and I had an ugly "first" Christmas Tree when we got married in 94', we decided our tree should have a theme. Dark blue, white and silver was the consensus. In the early days of the theme, we loved the results, but our tree - though the same colors theme (the blues, whites and silvers) - looks nothing like it did 13 years ago. First of all, our old small tree (only about 5-6 feet) gave way to this fatter 8-footer. And the dark blue ornaments that were homogeneous gave way to a hodgepodge of whimsy ornaments. Some have matching "friends" but many do not. The silver chain isn't used anymore and ribbon and snowflakes have won out as well. Dark blue has mostly evolved to lighter more airy and aqua blues. These aren't the best pictures, but I tried.

When we have a bigger house (you know, 12-20 years from now when the market improves enough to make a profit on our current house), we'll have two trees. Our smaller one for more fun ornaments that aren't so rigid in color. It'll be a "fun tree". Then we can have this one, and I won't feel like such a scrooge for keeping certain ornaments off of it because it doesn't "match".

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christian's Favorite YouTube

I occasionally let my kids on YouTube with close monitoring. Someone pointed me in the direction of this video through an email once, and Christian came in when I was watching it. He's been addicted ever since to it. He can watch this OVER and OVER. And he does.

Actually, he got attached to this video LAST YEAR. We returned from our Christmas vacation in Oregon on Dec 30, and then I think I let him watch this video for a few more days after that. Then, we were done. Okay, I was done.


But, 10 1/2 - 11 months later, we're in the car and I'm flipping the channels. This Trans-Siberian Orchestra song (Wizards in Winter - it's also on my Playlist below) was on and Christian immediately remembered it and piped up, "Christmas lights on house! 'Christmas lights on house!" So guess what we're back to watching over and over? Yep. You guessed it.

Hey, I'm not really complaining. First, I love the music. Two, I love that the one YouTube video my son loves is this one and not some vulgar thing or a guy making armpit noises to the tune of Baby Got Back or something. I'm going to enjoy this innocence while it lasts, and yes, continue to closely monitor my kids' "You Tube Viewing".

And three, I'm just glad I don't live across the street or next door to this house!
Can you imagine? Hey, I love the holidays like anyone, but this sort of thing is best kept at a distance, like on YouTube, rather than across the street.

I'm going to try to link it directly into this post. But in the meantime, here's the linky (and if anyone knows how to attach a YouTube vid into a post, please enlighten me):

"Christmas Lights on House!
"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TD4g0gmQSLk

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Season Photo Hodgpodge

Wow! 2 blog entries on the same day! Well, I couldn't leave off on my Christmas frustrations, when this time of year means so much more than that!

BYE-BYE My Little Sunbeam

I am sad that Christian will be losing his Sunbeam teachers in at the end of the month. I don't know who it's going to be harder on - Christian or myself. Christian was so attached to them, that I swore, if something happened to Chris and I and we died, Christian could be adopted by his Sunbeam teachers! I can't write about it anymore, because I'm going to cry or get upset or both.

But anyway, this photo was taken by the teachers a couple of weeks ago and the kids today pasted the picture and decorated it with stickers. Is this a crack-up or what? I don't have to point out which one Christian is, do I?




We took a photo today of Christian and his teachers. We'll use it for a Christmas present to them.


Santa Pictures through the Years

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned the kids and their pictures with Santa through the years. A yearly Santa pics are something I really wanted to do. I have all the pictures, but in essence of time, I won't be able to post them all. These are the ones that are readily available to upload right now.

2000 - Mikelle's First Santa Picture

Just a week or so shy of 4 months, Mikelle had her first picture taken with Santa. She was a little suspicious, but did just fine! I loved that little outfit. She grew out of it way too fast to enjoy it fully that Christmas. Little stinker! :-)


2004 - Christian's First Santa Picture

I have Mikelle's Santa picture from 2001-03, but I'll have to post those when I have more time to get those uploaded. Here is Christian's first Santa photo in 2004. He was 9 months and his helpful big sister was 4.

2005 Santa Picture

The following year, Christian wasn't too sure about a picture with Santa. But Mikelle of course enjoyed every minute of it! Christian was 20 months and Mikelle was 5.

2006 "Hi Sanna Caws"

This was an adorable Santa memory. We waited in line and when it was Mikelle and Christian's turn, Christian went up to Santa, put his hands on his knees, looked up at him and said, 'Hi Sanna Caws," It was so adorable I wish I had it on video. He was 2 and Mikelle was 6.


I'll fill in the holes with last year's photo and 2001-03 later. For now, FIVE DAYS before TWO WEEKS off. But who's counting?

The War on Christmas

I love this time of year, but at the same time, I feel part of some frustrating "war" that is coming at me from two different extremes. So please forgive me, but I am going to vent my frustrations.

1. Having to walk on eggshells at work with teaching because Christmas stuff "might" offend someone. Oh my holy. Cut it out. We're not preaching about the birth of Christ. We're just enjoying the festivities that this time of year brings and I'm just putting up my little tree with lights, maybe play some secular Christmas songs in the background (Rudolph, Santa Claus, etc).

I'm not the only teacher that is sick of all this. One has a FULL SIZE tree in her room. Another was married to a Jewish guy for many years and some of her children observe Christmas and some observe Jewish holidays. But she still puts her little Christmas decorations up. So far, no one has told us to take our "offensive" decorations down. And I know mine isn't budging.

This aggravation goes with the wearing out of the word "holiday" at this time of year. I don't mind "Happy Holidays." But I DO mind "Holiday Trees", "Holiday Stockings" etc. It's a CHRISTMAS tree, people! I'm not Jewish, but does it offend me when a Menorah is in fact called a Menorah? No! No one is calling it a Holiday Candle Holder. So please, people, cut the
politically correct crap and call things what they are - Christmas Stockings, Christmas trees, etc. etc. And "Holiday" means HOLY-DAY, so if you ask me, it's just a religious word as "Christmas" is ("Christmas" is an abbreviation from the Old English meaning "Christ's Mass") and potentially just as"controversial" of a religious word that "Christmas" is in a public school setting.

2. On the other side of it, my pet peeve are people in my own Christian denomination that are extremists in freaking about some secular, pagan, and symbolic parts of Christmas. One example is angels with wings and the angel tree topper with wings (no, I'm not talking about a maxi pad. Angels)

(
disclaimer: Not all LDS freak out about this. But there are some that do, and it makes me buggy-buggy-BUGGY!)

The problem many have with the wings is the belief that Angels don't really have wings. Who cares! The wings are symbols, people. We celebrate
with many symbols at Christmas that these same people don't get their panties in a wad about (the wreath, the cane, etc etc). Why can't the wings be symbols too? Well, they are for me, and my husband and LOVE our angel tree topper complete with wings. This is also especially difficult for me, because my father was anti-angels-on-trees-because-of-their-evil-wings. It's one thing to just not like it, but it's another to take the problem and be hurtful to others. I made a beautiful angel tree topper when I was about 9 or 10 at a 4-H activity and he threw it out. Yeah, real Christ-like, Dad.

Sorry. Shouldn't have gone there.

2a - On that same note, those that freak about the pagan background of the Christmas Tree. So what! Germans brought the trees to America in the early 20
th century and decorated with their symbols of Christ with Christmas to replace the pagan part. Therefore, what is the harm of having a tree? Go with it, people. It's not going to kill you or send you to hell. We're not worshipping the tree. We're using it as a symbol to remember and celebrate the birth of Christ.

2b - Those that freak about Santa taking away from the true meaning of Christmas. Um, what does Santa do? Gives of HIMSELF (selflessness) to all the little boys and girls. GIVING and Selflessness. Sounds like a good thing to celebrate at Christmas to me! The
wisemen GAVE gifts to baby Jesus. Therefore, the Santa part sounds like to me that is was inspired by that! And St. Nicholas was a real person who GAVE to others. In my opinion (and it's my blog, so I'm giving it freely!), Santa is perfectly alright to have as a part of Christmas as long as it is balanced with the root, which is Christ's birth. Yes, Santa has been abducted by commercialism, but we can choose whether or not we "buy" into all of that or not. We can commemorate the birth of Christ and have Santa without getting caught up in all the commercialism.

2c - And on that note, even though many believe (myself included) that Christ wasn't born on December 25
th, or for that matter, in the winter at all, it's perfectly okay to "observe" it now. I was born in the month that we believe Jesus was born in, and I wouldn't mind celebrating my birthday now too. Really, it's okay. We're not celebrating Christmas when the birth happened, but BECAUSE it happened. That's more important! And I for one am glad we celebrate Christmas in December. It wouldn't mean the same in April, and it certainly would be too warm for hot cocoa with marshmallows.

Ending with a little humor. This is one of my favorite "
irreverent" Christmas, um, "symbols". The redneck Christmas decoration:



Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas and ADD

Tis' the season for my ADD being on high! This isn't exactly the best time to be updating my blog, but hence, I want to show off this picture! Look at my cuties from earlier this week with Jolly ol' St. Nick. I love comparing Santa pics of years past and seeing how they grow! Funny - Santa is wearing the same thing, but he seems to look a little different year after year! lol

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Part II. Thanksgiving Snow, Thanksgiving Rain, Thanksgiving Snow, and Little Boy Logic

It is way passed my bedtime and my ADD is on high today. I could have tied up more loose ends to get ready to go back to work tomorrow, but no such luck. Anyway, to get to the little boy logic, I first have to explain that our portable DVD player that we take on trips only has a 3 hour battery life. So for a 4+ hour drive, there's going to be some "non-DVD player" time. On the way up, that happened between Heber and Show Low, I think. Mikelle thought it was tragedy that the DVD battery ran out.

I was tempted to give her some lecture on what long r
oad trips were like when I was a kid. There were no DVD players and if you were lucky you heard something on the radio. Maybe a walkman was possible, but for the most part, it was long hours of staring out the window. I couldn't read anything or draw, because I would get car sick. (I could get into more childhood road trip horror stories, and there are plenty, as my dad was determined to take every dirt backroad so we averaged 3 miles per hour and if you had to pee or throw up, he still wouldn't stop the car, but I won't get into that! lol), so we just told Mikelle to chill out and we'd be at our destination soon. Maybe Chris and I touched on the 'when I was a kid, we didn't have DVD players on long trips', but nothing of too much detail.

Well, when the DVD player battery ran out, we said it "pooped out". Later, when we got to the cabin and Christian (our gadget addict) promptly plugged it in to charge, he said, "it pooped back in! The battery pooped back in!" Of course, since we used the term "pooped out" when the battery ran out, naturally if the battery was re-charged, it would be pooped back in, right? Perfect little boy logic.

That night wasn't the only time we heard him say that. For the rest of the trip, when the kids would use th
e DVD player and it would work, he said "it pooped back in".

WOODLAND LAKE

The picture above is taken the day after Thanksgiving (11/28) along Woodland Lake in Pinetop. Because of the rain in between snowfalls 9it was actually raining lightly when we took this walk), some of the snow was gone, but isn't that such a beautiful picture that captures the transition of fall to winter? Especially with the tree in the foreground that still has its fall leaves. Seeing trees with fall leaves is something I would give anything to experience down here in the desert. I am so glad we got to see sights like this when we went up there. I vow to take a trip to Vermont sometime during the fall and really see changing fall leaves in its glory.

From that same walk, here is Christian near the lake on the ballfield. You can see how much snow was still over in that area.













And later that day, we returned to Woodland Lake to take some more "official" pictures. It was raining again (the day after Thanksgiving there was more rain than snow. Whereas the day before, on Thanksgiving, there was more snow than rain). It was a little tricky trying to set up the timer on the camera, because it was we weren't sure if the lense was going to get drops on it, but it seemed to work out okay! And the window that Christian and Mikelle are looking out of, is a little cabin bridge going over the western creek area of the lake.










































If these red jammies
look familiar, they are! They're the "Thing 1 and Thing 2" costumes, which are now back to being standard red seasonal jammies. The kids are sitting on the stairs leading up to the loft in the cabin where most of the beds were located. The kids sure enjoyed having stairs.

The
sleeping picture has one true sleeper and one "faker". I told Mikelle to just smile for the camera, but she was determined to look sleeping too. lol














Saturday, November 29, 2008

Part I. Thanksgiving Snow, Thanksgiving Rain, Thanksgiving Snow, and Little Boy Logic!












We returned from our lil' Thanksgiving getaway today, and I must say, I have so much more to be thankful for: A Thanksgiving Day Snowfall, but even more importantly, watching my children experience the Thanksgiving Day snowfall, which for the area, was also the first of the season.

When we decided to go up to the Show Low/Lakeside/
Pinetop area and rent a little cabin for a few days, in no way did I expect any type of "winter precipitation". We expected cold and pine trees and a reason to wear mittens and jackets. But that was about it. Sure, it is a beautiful mountain area that receives snow (about 6500 feet elevation), but let's face it - this is still Arizona and it seemed early in the season to "get lucky", know what I mean?

However, a few days before Thanksgiving, they were talking about rain around here for the "Day of the Turkey" and snow up north. Could it be possible? A day (whether down here or up there) without the boring dry
headachy sun? Seriously? (Yes, I realize I'm cynical. That's been established) Around here (Phoenix area) they said it may be the first day in 20 years with rain on Thanksgiving. I was delighted. Anyone that didn't like it probably moved here from somewhere else, so they don't count anyway. But even the
weathermen are transplants from somewhere else, so they talked like rain was a bad thing. Talk to a native Arizonan, or a native to a hot and sunlight overkill climate (aka HELL) , and you'll get the REAL story. Rain is enjoyed, appreciated and welcomed. Even if a native Arizonan (or a native to a hot/sun climate) doesn't like the rain, I can at least respect their opinion a lot more.

But as usual, I digress. Moving on...

Our way up to Pinetop was met with rain and mist. Even down here as we climbed from 1200 feet (yes, that's how low we are here...bleh...) to 5000, the windy roads had mists of fog and occasional sprinkles. The desert is the most beautiful with overcast, mist and rain. And it is unfortunately a rare sight, so I was grateful to see it.

It was little scary on the Mogollon Rim as it was rainy and even foggier and well passed dark. But it cleared up (for the most part) from Heber to Show Low. We arrived at a our rented abode in Pinetop, and the wintery crisp air was welcoming. We wanted to have dinner at a local joint, but unfortunately, we didn't get everything unpacked until after 9pm. While the Show Low/Lakeside/Pinetop area isn't a TINY town in the middle of nowhere, it is small enough to not expect any local restaurants to be open after 9pm - especially the day before Thanksgiving. So we had a nice late dinner at a Denny's in Show Low.

Thanksgiving morning it was raining. I was a little sad to see this, as I thought we might luck out with snow. But I remember from the news the day before, they said the storm system (that gave us the rain during our departure the night before) was a warmer one, so the snow elevation would be higher - about 7000 feet, which we were just below.

However, later that morning, on Thanksgiving, rain suddenly changed into a noisy "freezing rain" and then almost immediately after that, fluffy
quiet snowflakes began to fall. It was so beautiful. Even if those few moments were the only snow I would see that day, it was something I wouldn't take for granted.

Here is Christian out there enjoying it, not long after the rain turned to snow. It was so fun to watch him react to it. This wasn't the first time he saw snow, but probably the first time he probably could understand what was happening. The picture above, just outside our cabin, is also from that first snowfall.
















Mikelle got in on the fun soon after as the snow accumulated even more.
















From that morning's first snowfall, Christian soon realized that "cold" came with the snow, but he did return outside again as Mikelle did something that every child should experience, but she doesn't get the chance that often, which is: build a snowman. Is that the cutest little snowman ever or what?

















Soon after, it turned back into rain (as we were clearly located right on the rain/snow/rain/snow borderline of the storm system), so some of that accumulation melted as a result, but there was still quite a bit left from that first snowfall. Our Thanksgiving meal later that afternoon was outside, as there was no table or room for one, in our little loft cabin. I can't remember if it was raining while we were eating or the weather took a break, but we ate our little Thanksgiving meal under the carport. Good thing Chris and I were "thinking" the night before, and put the picnic table under the carport to dry off! lol













Later, after our meal, we got another treat! The rain changed its mind again and turned back into snow! I have believed for years that the best conditions to photograph people in are falling snow. Therefore, when you get that chance, go for it!




























That's all I can write for now (hence, this being Part I). Therefore, the "Little Boy Logic" portion will have to wait for Part II.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's Almost Another Turkey Time!


You know, as much as my job is a reason for depletion of brain cells, I gotta say how thankful I am for being a teacher. But not for the reasons you may think. Right now, I'm thankful for it, because I have the next THREE WEEKDAYS OFF! In the district I work for, we're off the day before Thanksgiving too. Woo hoo! What can I say? At this moment, that's what's on my "most thankful" list. Okay, okay, not entirely true. What am I most thankful for? My family. I have a kind, hard working, nurturing devoted husband and the two of us have the two most beautiful babies ever. This is our family picture from a year ago. Chris looks hot, but my face is so pudgy, they could use it at as a beach ball in the audience at a Beach Boy's concert. But I digress.

And even though they drive me crazy at times (yes, Chris included! lol), I love them, because they're MINE. And what they do to drive me crazy is part of who they are and the lovely DNA Chris and I gave them along with personality traits (both positive and negative!) that were a gift from God. Sure, it's like living in a combination of Hogwarts, the set of Poltergeist, and Twister with my 4yo son Christian. Nothing stays where it should. Things get messed with. Lights go on and off. His obsession for buttons, gadgets, etc is enough to put me in the loony bin. But I love him. Don't remind me that I said this, but I don't love him in spite of those things. A big part of me loves him because of those things. But I'll deny it if you ask me about that.

Mikelle doesn't have the gadget craze, but as my little artist, she will make the biggest mess of cut up pieces of paper, tape, glue, markers everywhere. As an artist who loves collage and a scrapbooker (a form of collage), I appreciate her imagination. But with the imagination, I know all too well of the mess it can create. Of course it doesn't occur to her to pick up after that project. She'll move onto the next thing and make a mess. Then I intervene and make her clean up what she isn't in the middle of anymore, and then of course I receive the groan and drama. I'm convinced her reactions to what her responsibility is happens to be the equivalent of me asking her to run up the stairs of the entire Empire State Building. I assure her that she isn't being tortured as much as she thinks she is. But like Christian, I'm amazed of how her mind works with what she enjoys and the imagination behind it. The other day, they stole one of my boxes (that I was going to use to ship a Christmas gift in) and turned it into a "pizza box" - decorating it with a collage pizza. Then they made pizza to go in it out of brown, red, yellow, and other colors. They made the crust and cut it into triangular slices and everything. In addition to my bragging on my students, I need to post some of Mikelle's artwork as well!

As for Chris, it's funny that I write what I'm thankful for, because he and I had quite an experience cleaning out our garage last Saturday. Seriously, if you want to test your marriage, clean out the garage together. But despite the times I'm sure our next door neighbors wanted to get a bowl of popcorn and listen further to some of our "exchanges" through our frustrations with the project that they could hear from their driveway, I gotta say I lucked out and hooked myself a winner. This is a hard part to write because of mixed company and mixed opinions on the subject from family, but unfortunately as a youth I was told time and time again by my own father that I would never last in a marriage and no guy would want me. His "logic" for some reason justified that putting someone down would "change" them. Not so. Usually when someone gets that kind of garbage fed to them, they end up marrying someone toxic, abusive, and/or just like the jerk that contributed to that kind of emotional and physical abuse.

But my over-abundance of stubborness had a positive side. I fought tooth and nail to resist letting that unfortunate "father figure" dictate my future. I married an intellectual guy who a lot of girls let pass by, because they were looking for more superficial and mainstream qualities. But not me. I knew Chris was what I needed. And through our challenges, I look back and go, "whew!" that we are where we are today with our marriage, life and children. Okay, I DO wish we didn't live in this climate, but I am so thankful for his job and how happy he is there.

I'm stealing from my friend Lara's blog (Hi Lara!) and using this "thankful" entry to throw in some more extras that through my tangents will lead to more things I'm grateful for, for any of you that read this far (I know, I type fast and I just keep going....)! I would like Chris to answer these same questions and then I can post those. But he's in Santa Barbara until tonight (then we leave tomorrow for Pinetop for our own little Turkey getaway!)

Enjoy!

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Chris was named after a great-aunt, I think. I don't know where "Jill" came from, but my middle name "Renae" had something to do with a babysitter or friend of my Mom's.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Unfortunately, when a parent busted into my classroom a few weeks ago while I had another class and proceeded to derail me. I am surprised it got to me as much as it did, because this parent is famous for that and I knew other teachers and the principals would be behind me. And while talking to her, I held my own. I could tell she got off on putting people down. It's her way, unfortunately. However, after she left, I broke down. Thankfully, two of my colleagues that saw the tail end of the matter were there to offer support. Funny, I haven't seen that parent around as much lately....

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Yes. How's that for succinct?

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Honey ham. Mmmmm......

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? My son is 4, and my daughter is 8.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I don't know. I have days where I feel like that Pink song: "don't let me get me" and wish I could be someone else. So if I was someone else, I would avoid me. I don't know.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? I speak it fluently. A little too fluently, actually.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Nope. but if you can get them out when you're a kid, DO IT. I was 31 when I got them out. Not a fun experience.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? No

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Actually, the question should be, "what's NOT my favorite cereal?"

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES or JUST TAKE THEM OFF? I rarely wear shoes that need to be tied, unless I'm working out. Then I just take them off.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Yes.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Actually, the question should be, "what's NOT my favorite ice cream?"

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? I don't really know. I don't think much about it.

That's wordy enough for now. It's long as it is, but of course I feel I didn't even graze the surface of things I'm thankful for! lol

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Día de los Muertos" and Calavera Masks


Día de los Muertos is the Day of the Dead which is a two-day holiday that is mainly celebrated in Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage living in North America. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and relatives who have died. The celebration occurs on the 1st and 2nd of November, in connection with the Catholic holy days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day which take place on those 2 days. Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased, using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Día de los Muertosis is a "happy" time to find joy in the lives of those who have passed on, and celebrate a "reunion" with them.

(The photo above is of two "catrinas". The figures are intended to show that rich and fashionable, despite their pretensions to importance, are just as susceptible to death as anyone else.)

Students in grades 5-8th got a big kick out of the "Calavera" (Spanish for skull) mask project. Because that weekend was Día de los Muertos I had to forgo the part of the assignment where they would be required to draw their own "Calavera" to decorate and embellish into a mask. Instead I encouraged it, but also provided a choice of three different Calavera templates they could fill with color and add embellishments like glitter, yarn, and feathers. Some masks have been on display and all the younger students keep asking me when they get to make a mask. Of course, due to how the use of decorating skeletons can be misunderstood by parents that don't understand the cultural background of Día de los Muertos. I saved this project for the older groups (5th grade and above). I was delighted that a few "free-handed" designed calaveras still emerged, despite the "templates" that were provided. The Calavera in the middle was done by a very gifted 8th grader, who has a distinct drawing ability! And the one immediately to the right of that, shows the humor in such a project with the added "candy corn" teeth! lol!


(Below) I was very impressed with the green calavera on the left. also free-handed! The second calavera was also very creatively embellished with yarn for hair, creating braids to go with the color and glitter!


(Below) And here I am sporting the mask that was made by our principal. I was teaching this Calavera/Día de los Muertos lesson when the principal came in to do the first of my two yearly evaluations. I think it was a good sign that the principal stopped writing notes and started making a mask of her own!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

87 Degrees? You've got to be kidding me.


I didn't want a vent to show up in such early stages of this blog. But seriously...it's November 18th. NOVEMBER 18th. And 87 degrees today? C'mon. We're breaking a record that was set when Truman was President. Hence, the rather unfortunate appropriate name of my blog. Everyone knows how much I DETEST this climate - for many reasons other than that it's too warm and sunny 99% of the time (or it feels like it's 99% of the time). But reasons like this when it's not supposed to be warm. Even when the summer does go away, IT DOESN'T. And here is proof. And I'm sorry, it's bad enough that Christmas music is smothered upon us the day after Halloween (can anyone say, OVERKILL?), but there is something wrong - terribly wrong - with it being thrusted upon us against our will when you still have to RUN THE AIR CONDITIONING in your car! And can we PLEASE have Thanksgiving before the Christmas nuttiness starts? I mean, I haven't taken down my creepy spider skeleton yet.

Other reasons why this NOVEMBER heat is frustrating:

1. It's one less day of "relief" from the heat before we have to brace ourselves for another summer.
Okay, any day in the 80s during the summer would be heaven, but it's NOVEMBER. Not September.

2. It's one less day of enjoying the period of the earth's rotation when
technically the tilt away from the sun is saying we're in the Autumn/Winter phase. Did someone not get the memo?

3. It's one less day of "feeling" like it's almost Thanksgiving. It's hard to go to Fry's and order our Thanksgiving dinner for next week (yeah, like I'm gonna cook it myself...) when a guy wearing a tank top showing his hairy back walked into the store in front of me. Hey, cooler weather means hairier people tend to cover up more.
That hair isn't a good winter coat, even though it looks like it is.

4. People that live here that aren't from here that
love the heat. Gee, if I moved to Seattle and complained every time the sun came out, I would probably be shot. So when it does get cold and rainy here (for all of 5 minutes), please shut up. It's our "rare" pleasure, like the sunlight is in Seattle.5. One less day of enjoying winter/cooler type clothing. Scarves...jackets...skirts and tall boots...the best fashion is the Fall/Winter fashion. And not just because it covers hairy backs and exposed boobs and buttcracks.


6. The warmer, the more headachy and sick to my stomach I feel. And I think I have over-active sweat glands.
7. The heat brings more of those annoying people moving in this direction. It's bad enough that they come here 6 months out of year (and I'm jealous they get the luxury of living here without staying for the summer. Wusses), but then they tell their children about it and their kids move here with their kids. And their kids have more kids. Crowds generate more body heat. All that body heat makes more Wal-Marts, I mean Wal-Trash, get built because they complain it's too hot to drive 3 extra miles to the already existing Wal-Trash to get their Cheetos and Twinkies so they can sit on their butts and watch crap on the CW network.8. This heat has the insult to injury factor of more concrete slabs going down to build more Wal-Trash. It's a desert, people. Can we stop stretching it to it's limit? Asphalt and concrete ABSORBS more heat. We have enough heat. Yet the Wal-Trash and cookie cutter developments bring more of it. At least this cruddy Recession we're in is slowing down the unnecessary growth. I'll stop there for now. But there is more.

9. I still see the occasional cockroach, due to the heat. Funny, in real life they're not as cute as the one in WALL-E (same goes for rats in Ratatouille. Okay, I haven't seen any RATS, but we do have a mouse in the garage. At least, I hope it's only one mouse).

Okay, okay. Of course that's not it with my cranky vent list. But now here is the bright side:

1. 70s are predicted in a few days. Sure, that's not as good as 50s and 60s, but it's a start!

2. We're going to be up in Pinetop/Lakeside for Thanksgiving. Probably no snow, but much cooler more SEASONAL air and *gasp* pine trees and more of the color green. My kids deserve to see green more. It's no fair that they only get to see green in nature on TV and in their crayon box.