Friday, December 30, 2011

Our Christmas!

I love teaching.  I really do.  But, DANG.  I was tired when December 17th arrived!  I'm so grateful for the two weeks off to rest, recover, and celebrate the holidays.  My sister is also a teacher, in Michigan, and she her break didn't start until December 22nd!  Ugh!

The first part of our break was spent in recovery, really.  As mentioned in my previous post, I came down with a nasty virus two days before our break started, and I was sapped of energy for pretty much the first whole week of vacation.  Turns out I had a sinus infection on top of the virus, so I got meds a few days before Christmas and started feeling better, thank goodness.  Kendra had a friend over for a few days (her mom had foot surgery) so at least she wasn't bored with a sick mama!

On Christmas Adam (Adam came before Eve...get it?) we actually went to the MALL.  We went with our friends, the Rodgers', whose daughter had a gift card from American Girl burning a hole in her pocket!  R bought a Bitty Baby doll, so she asked Kendra to bring hers with us.  We then had lunch in the mall, and did a little window shopping.  Justice is a must, of course, and the girls had fun being silly in hats.

This mall has an indoor skating rink...check out the size of that tree compared to the skaters!

Then it was off for Christmas Adam evening with the Ballards and Sherry's sister's family who were in town from Georgia.   We got to enjoy freshly made sushi prepared by Sherry's BIL, Tony.  Just watching him make the rolls was fascinating, and I stepped WAY outside of my box and tried pretty much all the varieties he made.  I had rolls with raw salmon, crabmeat, and even EEL!  I was pretty proud of myself for trying it all, and while it was interesting, I wouldn't say it was something I'll rush out to eat.  I don't really enjoy seafood very much anyway, so it stands to reason that this doesn't top my list of edible delights.

On Christmas Eve we went back to the Ballards.  When we got there, the girls were all dolling up for a "50's style" photo shoot.  They quickly threw some cute clothes on Kendra and plied her with red lipstick (!!!!) .  The pics turned out pretty decent, actually.

I like it better when she smiles...she doesn't look as old!
 Because they had cousins in town, I had the Ballards open their gift from us early.  We got them a ping-pong table!  It was enjoyed by all over the time of the family visit!   Kendra also got to open a gift from them---they got her a little handheld digital video camera.   We made homemade pizzas and had fun visiting.  We came home and Kendra opened one gift--from Grandma Janice and Papa Terry.  I let her open it because I knew they got her new jammies! 

I can't get this picture to rotate!!  ARGH!

We had 8:30 church on Christmas, and it was a delight to have a 10 year old with rational thinking (and a need for sleep)!  We decided well before the big day that we would open gifts AFTER church.  Kendra didn't even want to touch her stocking!  Church was really, really nice.  We had a program with a person narrating the nativity story and several beautiful musical performances celebrating our Savior's birth.  It was a great way to start the day.  We headed home and changed BACK into jammies to open gifts.
Outfit from Bama and Papa

My gift from Mom and Troy---Green Converse to go with all my Michigan State apparel!  Woo!

Gift laden tree and stocking...we are blessed!

She had no idea this one was coming and loved it!
I played a little trick on Kendra this year.  Her number one gift that she asked for was a guitar--our school has an after-school enrichment program and she is taking the guitar club with my awesome partner teacher, Taylor.  She has really enjoyed it and wants to keep learning.  A guitar wrapped up is pretty obvious, and I didn't want to just leave it sitting out, either.  So I left it under my bed.  :-)  Kendra opened all her gifts under the tree, and then I said, "Oh wait, I think I forgot one thing."  I headed to get the guitar, and as I came out with it, I said, "It's nothing big, just a little gift, just a.....GUITAR!"  She squealed so loud!  I asked her later if she was disappointed when she saw the gifts earlier because clearly there wasn't a package large enough for a guitar.  She said she was sort of sad, but still happy with all her gifts (of course she said that...she's
KENDRA!).  This isn't the Walmart cheapo guitar---Taylor actually went with me to Guitar Center and tested it out for me to make sure it was good quality and would work well for Kendra.  She is totally excited about continuing her learning and practicing at home now!

After gifts we just chilled out at home, called all the family, and I took a NAP!  Woo!  Then we headed back over to the Ballards for Christmas dinner.  They made a delicious prime rib with mashed potatoes, and we brought the green bean casserole and 7Up biscuits (new recipe--they were yum!)  They taught me a new card game called Blitz which was totally fun and completely addicting--which is why we didn't get home until 1:30 a.m.!  I can't wait to teach my family when we go up next summer!  :-)It was a wonderful Christmas!

The second half of our break has been pretty chill--a little shopping, cleaning and putting away Christmas, seeing a movie (We Bought a Zoo--good movie!) and mega movie-watching at home.  We borrowed the entire Harry Potter series from the Ballards and watched them all!  Kendra had only seen the first two, and it is definitely safe to say she is a MAJOR fan now!  :-)  We plan to spend our NYE in our traditional way---Kendra and I just hang out together, watch movies, play games, and watch the ball drop at midnight.  We didn't go out of town or do anything special this break, and I'm so glad!   We needed a low-key vacation, and that's just what we got!  Grateful!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My little caretaker

I'm so very lucky.  My daughter is one of the most thoughtful, kind little people on the Earth.  Honestly.  Her kind heart is WAAAAAYYY bigger than mine.  I just wanted to document a bit about her as she was such a helper to me last week.

Two days before our school's Christmas break was to begin, I came down with a nasty virus.  I had a decently high fever and felt basically like poo.  But since it was two days before break, I honestly couldn't take the time off--too much to do with my students!  (I know I probably shouldn't have been there, but I sanitized my fool head off the entire time and made sure to not breathe on them!)  So I waded through the two days, doped up on Advil to make the fever symptoms abate.  But by the time we got home each night, I was a shivering, shaking, achy mess.  Kendra would snatch the keys from my hands, run in the house ahead of me, plug in her heater throw blanket for me, grab my pillow and get me all set up to shake out the fever on the couch.  I dozed in and out, while Kendra kept checking on me (she learned a new thing--to check for fever with a kiss on the forehead :-) ).  One time I woke up and she presented me with two chocolate and peppermint tea, and asked which one she could make for me.  Another time I woke to hear her in the kitchen.  I asked her what she was doing.  Well, she had signed up to bring a fruit tray for her class party the next day and I had purchased a fresh pineapple for that.  She was cutting up the pineapple so I wouldn't have to do it!  I was thankful and also a bit surprised...I guess she'd watched me do it enough, because she did a fantastic job!!!

I've known since Kendra was tiny that she was a very empathetic person---she hates seeing people hurting, sick,  or sad.  When she was an itty-bitty baby she showed this---as early as 5 or 6 months of age, if she heard another baby cry, her forehead would wrinkle all up and she had this look of great concern on her face. She continues to show empathy all the time...she's the champion for the under-dog, the one first to the scene of a hurt friend.  If she did one of those strengths-finder tests, I'm certain empathy would be her top strength.

My friends, the Ballards, called to check on me over the weekend and Sherry offered to take Kendra so I could rest.  I told her I didn't want her to take her---she helps me too much when I'm sick!  I'm so very thankful for my little helper.  She is an amazing gift from God!!! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Nativity display

Each year we attend the nativity display that is presented by one of our church stake centers nearby.   It has become a family holiday tradition for Kendra and me.  Kendra loves nativities...she has a collection of her own already--she has twelve!    They always have a nativity dress up photo opportunity in which your family can dress in character and they take and print a picture for you--all for free!  We have taken a picture like this for the last four years--it is fun to see the differences year to year.  Kendra wanted to be the angel this year, so I was Mary.
They always have a kids craft.

I love this Peanuts nativity!
This Australian one was neat!

Cute Eskimo nativity
 We also had our church Christmas party last night.  We had a nice ham dinner, and of course Santa showed up to find out what the kids wanted most.  This pic has weird coloring...I took it with my phone and I have no idea what the deal was, but I loved how they were looking at each other.

Thanksgiving Weekend

Our Thanksgiving holiday weekend started on Wednesday...many schools in the area have the whole week off but we go on Monday and Tuesday.  I'm totally fine with that because we get out of school at the end of May while the rest of those districts go into the first week of June.  Totally worth those two days in November!

We've had a tradition the last few years to decorate for Christmas on Wednesday, so we did the same this year.

Thanksgiving was spent with our friends, the Ballard family.  We went over around noon, and I brought two chocolate chip cookie pies, some mini pumpkin pies, and sweet potato casserole.  We ate a delightful meal with the Ballards and Overtons, then just hung out and chatted for the afternoon.  Sherry and I dug through the Black Friday ads and made our game plan for the next day's shopping excursion.  Olivia applied "fairy make-up" to Kendra---so pretty.

Then some more folks came by at around 7 (the other Ballards and some family friends) and we had Pie Night.  So many yummy desserts to choose from.  It was a relaxing, fun day.  Sadly, I completely forgot to take any pictures! 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Halloween Festivities

We had several fun opportunities for Kendra to sport her costume this year (which was good, since I went the lazy route and paid for the whole she-bang this year instead of being inventive and creative).

First, we had a little fall carnival thingy in our neighborhood.  Not a whole lot going on...a few cheesy games and a few "vendors" hawking their stuff.  They did have a cake walk, which is Kendra's fave, and also a cute petting zoo.

Kendra must've done the cake walk 10 times and the lady running it finally just had mercy on her and gave her a cupcake!  :-)
The same day we had a fall carnival at church hosted by our Young Women.  Kid games and cake walks were there, too, as well as our church friends!

Coloring a little Halloween bag thingy.

With sweet friend Rapunzel (a.k.a. Cloey)

Best game of the night---marshmallow shooter!  (They Germ-Xed them after each use, of course!)   
I love costumes that are plays on words.  I strung a bunch of snack sized Milky Way candy bars into a circle and wore it.  I was "Center of the Galaxy".  :-)
We also went out on Halloween night, of course.  Usually we hit the streets that are perpendicular to our street--there are three blocks for that, but we've found them to be pretty sparse in the candy department.  This year, we headed to the part of the neighborhood behind our house and hit the Mother Lode.  There was even a house that was cooking hotdogs for the whole neighborhood!  (Too bad I rushed home and cooked dinner before we left!).  We had a great time and Kendra's little plastic pumpkin was filled in no-time flat.  The weather was PERFECT--no need for a jacket at all!  We took Grady with us because I didn't want him to bark the whole night.  I don't think we'll do that again--it wore him out to walk that much!  Every time I'd stop while Kendra went to a house he would plop down and it would be hard to get him moving again!  One of our last houses was some people we know just from walking the neighborhood and they love Grady.   He laid down on their grass and put his muzzle on the shoe of the lady--she even took a picture of him because she thought he was so dang cute.  But when it was time to go, I had to pull and pull and literally dragged him across the grass for a bit before he would stand up!  Crazy hound.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The (Not So) Great Pumpkin

It took this many years to come to this realization--I really, really do NOT like carving pumpkins!  I admire all those really neat designs that I see all over place, but the thought of trying to do one like that just makes me groan.  I don't really mind scooping out the guts.  No, it's not totally pleasant, but I can handle it.  I just do not like carving!  Maybe I don't have the right tools.  Maybe I should buy one of those little knives that they say work wonders and that kids can use themselves.  But I have a hard time believing a cheapo orange plastic handled pumpkin knife is going to out-do my Cutco serrated bad-boy. 

But I'm a mama.  And I do things because I'm a mama and it makes Kendra happy. So here you go...our pumpkin carving evening in photos, and the resultant Not So Great Pumpkin.

I carve, she designs on tiny pumpkins

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Finale Science Hat!!!

Our school has an annual tradition...the Science Vocabulary Hat Parade!  We always have it right around Halloween since they are lame down here and don't let kids have Halloween fun at school.  Oh.  Did I say that out loud?  I digress...

This is Kendra's last year to participate in the parade, as she is a fifth grader (sigh).  The word she was assigned this year is Natural Resources.  I think we did a bang-up job for her finale hat!

We taped a small box to a flat section of another box first.  Then, we spray painted the whole thing brown.  On the top is a piece of rock scrapbooking paper and an oil rig made from chenille sticks and slices of a black trash bag for the "gusher" effect.  On the bottom is a couple of trees made from tubes of brown craft foam and real crafting moss.  Then there is Kendra's favorite (and her brainchild, too)---a river made from glue we colored with food coloring, bordered by real rocks and pieces of wood.  Pretty awesome, if we do say so ourselves!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

School Carnival

Our school has a pretty fun little carnival each year.  This year, Kendra had a decision to make.  The Activity Days leaders at church had planned a "field trip" on the same Saturday to a large cat sanctuary (lions, tigers, etc).  Kendra decided that she wanted to go to the carnival because it was her last year in elementary school.

It was a gorgeous day--sunny and about 80 degrees.  Perfect because most of our carnival games take place outside.  Here are a few pics to document the day:

Kendra's cute teacher in the dunk tank.  I narrowly avoided having to perch there myself!

Kendra with Ms. Latino North Texas, who is a mom at our school!

Kendra in line to try to dunk my partner, Mr. Hopkins.
There's my partner, Mr. Hopkins.  Kendra didn't dunk him, but lots of our kiddos did!  Glad he took one for the team!!!

Andy Armadillo from Texas Roadhouse paid a visit.

The Great Baileeny (a.k.a. our fantastic librarian) read Kendra's fortune.  She doesn't look thrilled...this one said she is going to a certain high school (the one my school feeds to..nope, she isn't going there!)