Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Post of 2012 (+ Our Christmas)

Hey, peeps!  Hope you've been enjoying the holidays.  

I had plans to be a big ball of lazy during my time off (read and watch movies), but it's been very busy around here.  I actually don't have time to blog today (gotta get this house clean before the new year!), but I had to get in a last post before the clock strikes 2013.

I'm late, but how was everyone's Christmas?  Ours was awesome.  We did the Santa thing and M was thrilled and loved everything.


Running into the living room excited!


Opening presents.


We're pretty modest with the presents thing.  Unlike my childhood (where presents filled the living room for my brother and me), my child only gets a few things Christmas morning.  

She'd open a present and give one of these faces:


And then when we told her she had a few others to open, she was genuinely surprised -- like, "Oh!" :-)  I loved it.


She loved everything.  And she was sure to check to see if Santa ate his cake and drank his milk that we left him the night before.


M with the Santas Mommy and Daddy.

Our Christmas was also special because family was there.  My mom stayed over again this year so she could be with us Christmas morning.  I love that and hope that we can make it a tradition.

My in-laws came over around noon that day, so that was a plus.  They don't celebrate Christmas, but we were so glad to have them over for lunch.

Christmas lunch/dinner that *I* cooked, by the way.  You guys know I'm domestically challenged, so cooking Christmas dinner was a huge deal for me.  I did it last year and credited its success to luck, but call me lucky twice because this year's dinner was even better.

I made most from scratch after calling to get ingredients and "recipes" from my Aunt E.  I say recipes, but absolutely nothing was measured.  It wasn't a big feast, but it was more than enough:
  • Ham (that I had pre-sliced at the deli)
  • Cornbread dressing 
  • Mac and cheese 
  • Green bean casserole
  • Rolls (Publix dinner rolls)
  • Pound cake 
  • Peach cobbler (made by my mom)
Another reason I was grateful my mom was there is because she helps me in the kitchen.  Not necessarily with the cooking, but the cleaning.  I am such a messy cook and know that I would have been overly exhausted if she wasn't there to help me out.  


With PaPa.


With Honey and MeMaw.


Cousin J came over with gingerbread goodies, and she, M, and my sister-in-law did the whole gingerbread thing. I've been there, done that with my child, so I insisted that they be the ones to do this grand activity with her.  I knew she would only help a little and eat a lot! Ha!

So, yeah, we had a great Christmas Day.  We left the next day for a basketball tournament trip, and I'm still recovering from that.  It was a great trip, but anytime you're traveling with a kid...well, you know how that is.  You're glad to get back home and get them back on their regular schedule.

Anyhoo, I hope you and your fam had a lovely Christmas, too.  I'll be back in the next day or two to recap our trip and share a few things I look forward to in the new year.

I'm off to tackle the many loads of laundry in my bedroom.  See y'all next year!

~ G

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On the 11th and 12th Days of Christmas (+ My All-Time Favorite Holiday Song)

Merry Christmas!  

This is a scheduled post, but I wanted to end my little Christmas playlist today.  Remember I told you there was another artist whose rendition of Joy to the World was a must on my playlist?

Well, it's Mariah's version.  SO GOOD.


Now.  Do you want to know my ALL TIME FAVORITE holiday jam?  THIS!!


Donny Hathaway's version (the original) is my favorite, but I enjoy other artists' remakes, too (Chris Brown, Straight No Chaser, etc.).  I just LOVE this song.

So, again, Merry Christmas y'all!  Enjoy your loved ones!

Monday, December 24, 2012

On the 9th and 10th Days of Christmas (+ Our Christmas Card)

We're minutes away from Christmas Day!  I'm typing this post as my little one goes down for the night (yes, somehow she stayed up past 11 tonight).

I'm cooking again this year, so I've spent the evening preparing and baking.  My pound cakes were a little overdone, but are still pretty good.  I made the dressing with NO assistance this year (following a no-measuring-whatsoever recipe from my aunt), so I'm nervous about the outcome.  We'll see.

Here's our Christmas card this year! :-)


I said I wasn't gonna do a card this year because it's so much hassle -- ordering on time and sending them out on time (neither of which I did ON TIME).  But mostly because they're costly.  But I realized a couple of weeks ago that I still had a Groupon to use that could very easily be my Christmas card purchase.

So I did.

I got these made with Vistaprint, but I'm sorry to say the actual card was not that great.  I have used Vistaprint for stationary, t-shirts, and even tote bags.  But they will never get my photocard business again.  For those of you who have your card already, I promise you M is not half-alien (as far as I know).  The green tint to her forehead was a printing error that this mama didn't order soon enough to get fixed (though they DID issue me a refund).  Oh, well.

I still like the card.  (And I still have a batch to send out.  Yeah.)

Anyhoo, it's late, I'm tired, and I ramble when I'm tired.  So I better go.  I'm gonna go ahead and schedule tomorrow's post, which includes my favorite holiday song of all time.

In the meantime, enjoy these two.  



Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

On the 8th Day of Christmas (+ Family, Rudolph, India, and Ghana!)

Okay, so this blogging every day thing is a lot harder than it looks.  By now I should have been on Day 10 of my Christmas songs.  Whoops.

I'm still posting all 12 songs.  Maybe I'll lump a couple together or continue to post a few days after Christmas.

Anyhoo, how's everyone's holiday time been so far?  Our has been pretty good. It started off with basketball Friday night, and then a Christmas shindig with my family Saturday night.


I didn't take as many pictures as I hoped, but I'm glad I got a few.  One thing I like about my family's Christmas gatherings is we don't do presents.  We just get together, eat, fellowship, sometimes play a few games with door prizes...but a big gift exchange?  Never.  And boy, do I love that.  

Speaking of gifts, I got an email about the shoe boxes we packed for Operation Christmas last month.  Our shoe boxes went to India and Ghana!  How cool is that?!

Here's a 45-second video that came with the email.  I love it.


Today's song is another one from the Temptations -- their version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. :-)


Speaking of Rudolph, M's daddy recently gave her a new little friend to love on.


She'd been asking for a "Rudolph," so her daddy braved three stores Friday afternoon to find one.  He had it waiting for her when we got to his basketball game Friday night.  So sweet.

I'll be back tomorrow for sure, y'all, 'cause I'm gonna post our Christmas card.  Hope everyone had a good weekend.

~ G

Friday, December 21, 2012

On the 7th Day of Christmas

Song of the Day:



Yesterday's song featured Boyz II Men, but today's song is one of their own.  I can't think of one white Christmas I've had in my lifetime (I live in the South).  There was that one year (just a few years ago) that it snowed here on Christmas, but we were out of town.  Maybe it'll happen again one day.

Not much time to blog today, but I'll be back with some meatier blogging some time this weekend. Happy Friday, y'all!

~ G


Thursday, December 20, 2012

On the 6th Day of Christmas (+ Why I'm Doing the Happy Dance)

Hope everyone's having good week!

Song of the Day:


Don't sleep on Justin Bieber, y'all.  I've liked a few of his songs dating back to his squeaky voice days. So I wasn't surprised when I found a couple of songs on his Christmas album that I liked.  This one is my favorite (and features Boyz II Men).

On another note, I'm doing the Happy Dance.

As of yesterday, my Plan of Study for my EdS degree was approved.  Back in October, I briefly mentioned on the blog that I'd hit a "roadblock."  That was when I learned my Plan of Study WASN'T approved (though I didn't say that much at the time).  I was bummed, y'all.  The only thing that kept me from feeling totally defeated was that I knew He would work it out (or give me the strength to do what I needed to do to finish the degree). He always does.

So how did this happen? Long story short, some state requirements have changed over the past few years.  The changes always seem to affect me in some way.  It's almost like I've been in the wrong place at the wrong time every time -- right when changes are being made.  What an unapproved Plan of Study would have meant was that I'd have to take another class or two.

You may be thinking, BIG DEAL. Well, yeah, for me it kinda was. In all my 20-something years as a student, school has NEVER been hard for me.  But mix in a career, a baby, a house, a husband, and grown-up life in general, and you find yourself wondering how you manage to stay sane. It's TOUGH.

BUT!

Scratch all of that...I KNEW that I'd satisfied ALL of my degree requirements in the midst of all the guideline changes. So after WEEKS of transcript-sending, phone and email exchanges, record-checking, I finally received word yesterday that it looks like everything's going to be okay.  

It was hard to celebrate the fact that I'd actually COMPLETED my EdS degree a few weeks ago because of all the formalities going on with the approvals.  But at this point, I'm 98% sure all is well.  That I'm done.  

I'M DONE.

Three degrees is enough for this girl.  You've gotta know when it's your time to leave the game.  And, folks, my time is UP. So unless there's some divine intervention, I'm done with school forever.* I can't hang anymore.

Happy Dance! :)

Have a great day, y'all.

* Not including professional development. I'm a teacher.  We're always learning.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On the 5th Day of Christmas (+ Why Santa WILL be Visiting Our House this Year)

Song of the Day:


It was hard to choose from the Jackson 5 Christmas songs, but this one won in the end.  I think it's so cute, and it gets me in the spirit.

Speaking of Santa, a few weeks ago our rec center offered free Santa pics to members. We didn't really plan to get any made (because I assumed they'd try to get you to buy a package), but all that changed when my kid saw another kid come into the nursery with a candy cane.  She HAD to see Santa now - he had CANDY CANES.

So we went on over to the room where Santa was.  She never really got excited when she saw him. It was more like, "Oh yeah, hey, Santa...," while scanning the room looking for goodies.  After they'd taken the pic and Santa finally asked her what she wanted for Christmas, her answer was simple:  A CANDY CANE.

Well, there you go.

So she got her little candy cane, said our thanks, and we headed our merry little way.

They had a free Christmas card for us later that week with the picture on it.  (It turns out they just wanted to do something nice for their members - we were never asked to purchase anything.)  This isn't the actual picture, but the one I snapped on my phone that day.  I think it's adorable.


And while we're talking about Santa, let me tell you how he has officially become a part of our Christmas.

Last year I was undecided on how I wanted to do "Santa" in my house.  Don't get me wrong -- I've never been anti-Santa.   In fact, I believed in Santa my whole childhood (probably longer than most kids) and I remember the feeling I'd get during Christmas.  But up until a little while ago, I wasn't 100% sure I'd make Santa any more than what M saw him as -- a character with no more weight than, say, a Disney princess.  She/we had never associated him with presents.

Well, thanks to her being a little older and more aware of her surroundings, that has changed.  She's told me several times now that Santa is leaving presents at our house for Christmas this year.  We've never told her that, but at four years old, I guess you figure it out. 

So it's settled -- Santa IS coming to our house this year, and will be for several years now.  Honestly, it makes me kinda giddy that I get to relive these holiday miracles through my own child(ren).

Hope everyone's having a good week.

~ G

Monday, December 17, 2012

On the 4th Day of Christmas (+ a Weekend in Atlanta)

Hey, guys.  I hope everyone had a good weekend.  We spent some time in Atlanta with family and friends. My dad and stepmom took M to Legoland. Of course she had a blast and had to be bribed when it was time to come home with us.  My stepmom's nephew was there, too (he and M are the same age), so she got to hang out with her buddy as well.
My weekend consisted of basketball games (my husband's and a friend of the family's game) and some good eatin'. We eat at Pappadeaux on occasion when we're in Atlanta, and this past weekend was one of 'em.  Y'all, seriously, I am SO glad there's no Pappadeaux where we live (although there are rumors that one is coming).  I could eat spicy Cajun seafood every day. 

While we had a pretty good weekend, I could not stop thinking of the Newtown community.  My husband, sister-in-law, and I had several discussions over the weekend as we slowly learned more about the incident - discussing everything from mental illness to the devastation the families and community are enduring. It's only natural that you try to make sense of it all -- which is nearly impossible -- but we still try.  Most of us can't stand the helplessness and are anxious for a way to DO something.  I happened to run across a Newtown community site from another blogger and will share it tomorrow for the bloggers' day of silence. (I also heard there's a virtual 5K event -- I'll look into that, too.)

The song I'm sharing today is one of the most beautiful songs EVER. The fact that it's on a Christmas album means nothing to me because I play it year round.



I often feel so undeserving of His grace and mercy.  No matter how many times I play  this song, it still speaks to me.

Have a great day, y'all.

~ G

Sunday, December 16, 2012

On the 3rd Day of Christmas...

I'm posting from my phone today, so there won't be many words. (And technically it's a day late since I've been too busy to post and have waited unil 1:30 AM to finally get on here...)

Anyhoo,  this is definitely one of my favorites Christmas songs as it's one I'd hear on the radio growing up. A Christmas playlist isn't complete without it.



On another note, words cannot express how saddened I am for the victims, the families, and the community of Newtown, CT. As a mother and teacher, it hits really close to home. My heart goes out to the other victims of violence this week, too.  I'm not sure what's going on, but I pray for the comfort and healing of all involved. May God be with them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

On the 2nd Day of Christmas (+ Our Little Ornament Tradition)

Well, my week is over. :-) Time to wind down!

Picking up with my Christmas posts...another reason I love Christmas is because of the memories I have from my own childhood Christmases.  I remember the little things -- like my favorite ornaments on my mom's tree.  And that her tree lights would sing and blink to Christmas songs.

I also remember my mom making make my brother and me help decorate the yard.  She has a big yard, which means there was lots of room for Santa and his reindeer, a complete nativity scene -- all of that.  I clearly remember dreading having to help do that.  But now that I'm older,  I wish I'd just enjoyed the moments of decorating with family.

I'm looking forward to the Christmas traditions with my own child(ren).  I've started small with an ornament tradition.  Up until this year, I've picked out, made, or been given M's ornament.  This year the official tradition has started with her picking out her own:


Unsurprisingly she chose Princess Tiana.  So far, I've only had to tell her once that this Tiana is not a toy.

And here are the ornaments from previous years (I realize I haven't been recording these):

2011

Last year she was obsessed with trains, so this was easy to choose.

2009 and 2010

I went through a little spurt of decorating my own ornaments with stickers and ribbon.  So I "made" her 2009 and 2010 ornament (both look very similar to this one - just different colors).


And her first ornament was given to us by a sweet friend and former co-worker.  So precious.

My tree has always had a gold and copper theme, but I've loved seeing more color added every year.  We have other special ornaments M has made at school, including ornaments with her in a Santa hat and another one with her in a complete elf costume.  So cute!  I love the thought of adding these special pieces every year.

So anyway, are you ready for today's song?


You HAD to know this one would be on the list, right?  A classic, if you ask me. :)

Tomorrow I have more of an "old school" classic that I love!  Enjoy your weekend!

Love,
G

PS - Did you see any of the meteor shower?  DK and I went out around 10:00 and saw a few shooting stars!  That was pretty cool to me since I hadn't seen but one shooting star in my lifetime.  

Pic by JC

A student of mine sent me this picture that he took on his iPad (he was out there around midnight).  I' not sure how he caught it since they were so quick, but I was just telling DK how cool it would be to have a pic/video. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the 1st Day of Christmas...

Hey, guys.  Hope everyone's having a good week.  We're pretty busy around here with next week being the last week of the semester.  It's a typical December - lots of grading and text anxiety going on. (Teachers get test anxiety, too, because we worry that our students aren't studying as much as they should.)

Despite it all, I LOVE this time of year. I love the decorations, the holiday scents, the joy you see in people -- all of it.  One of my favorite things about this time of year is the MUSIC. I like all kinds, too (from The Temptations to Mariah Carey to Justin Bieber). Christmas music is just awesome.

I was going to post my favorite holiday playlist here but thought it'd be fun to post a song a day -- "12 Day of Christmas" style (hence the title of this post).  That means a Christmas song here every day until Christmas Eve.  (I told y'all I love Christmas music. Pretend you're excited about this.)

So, let's start!


Whitney Houston's Joy to the World  (from the Preacher's Wife soundtrack) is a great rendition of this Christmas classic. Joy to the World is the only song that will probably appear on this list twice because there is another version I love just as much (can you guess who sings it?).

Tomorrow's song is from one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time. A song that was released when I was about 12 years old -- and never gets old.

Check back to see what it is!  Enjoy the rest of your day! :)

Love,
G

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Birthday Fun!

My little M had a GREAT birthday!


It started off at school where she shared cupcakes with her friends.  Her friends showed her so much love  -- it was really sweet.

Then we headed to one of her favorite places in the WORLD -- the children's science museum (the same place we had her birthday party last year) . She never tires of this place.

Playing with one of her favorites, the giant Lite Brite.
Virtual volleyball!

She still likes to play with trains sometimes...


...and she rode a train, too.  That's my mom on there with her, who drove our way to spend the day (and night) with the birthday girl.


She played in the "snow"...



...and even rode the zip line. =)

We got about two hours of play, which was perfect.  

Then it was time for our next destination.  Usually we have to drag M out of the children's museum, but not this day.  Why?  Well, next on our agenda was the TOY STORE!

I thought it'd be fun to let her pick out her own birthday present this year.  I had a Toys R Us Groupon I needed to use before Christmas, so that's where we headed.  Toys R Us just happened to be running a great BOGO sale, so coupled with the Groupon and the birthday dough my brother sent her, she walked out of there with a few things.  

We let her go through the store throwing whatever she thought she'd like into the cart. It wasn't a whole lot -- she's actually kinda picky -- but she still had to CHOOSE what she really wanted from her little stash before we checked out.  Ultimately she decided on some Strawberry Shortcake dolls (her current obsession) and a small paint set.  It was fun letting her pick out own birthday gift(s), and may be the beginning of a new tradition.


For the past few weeks, I've been asking her what she wanted for her birthday, and her answer would always be A BIRTHDAY CAKE! A GREEN ONE! That's it -- just a birthday cake.  So precious.

So earlier this week she and I went to our favorite bakery, went through the cake book, and she chose this cute little cake with turtles.

We intentionally saved this part of her birthday for late that night.  Unfortunately her daddy had to work all day and then coach a basketball game later that evening, so he didn't get to partake in any of the fun earlier in the day.  BUT he was able to be there with her to sing Happy Birthday and watch her blow out the candles.    

So at 10:00 last night, we had cake! It was the perfect ending to a great day!



I love my sweet little four-year-old!  She really enjoyed her day!

I hope everyone's having a great weekend.  Enjoy the rest of it!

Love,
G

Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, M!


M is four today!  FOUR!


Four (to me) means the end of baby/toddlerhood. While I'm so grateful that God has given me four years with this spunky little girl, I am sad that she's not really a baby anymore. 


This year has been really amazing.  I'll be writing her a letter telling her exactly who she was at three years old (a HOOT!), but for now I'll just post these quick pics I took before school this morning.


We have a fun day planned.  My school happens to be letting out at 12:30 today, so that will allow us to fully celebrate ON her actual birthday.  Cupcakes with school friends, and then a little fun afterwards.  She's been excited all week -- counting down the days.  

Funny little story from this morning:

She has a habit of eating all her oatmeal but not really finishing her milk in the mornings.  So I said this morning, "Four-year-olds drink ALL their milk."  A few minutes later when she wanted to play with my iPad, she told me, "Four-year-olds have iPads!"

Uh, not in this house, little girl. Ha!


Have a good weekend, y'all!

Stuff I Talk About

2011 30 day shred age update AKA animals anniversary appreciation aquarium around the house art museum Atlanta baby/toddler sleep issues baking bama football beach birthday birthday party blog awards blog buddies blogher books camping causes celebrations celebrities cheer days childhood children's museum children's theater Christmas christmas card class reunion college days concert conference cousins crafts dance date night dating days deals decluttering dentist Disney dk easter engagement facebook faith fall fun family family fun fashion father's day favorite blogs field trip field trips football friday flashback friends fun event funny pic Gaylord Opryland genealogy girl scouts goals god grad school grateful graves' disease Halloween health holidays Hollywood honeymoon instagram Iron Bowl key west kindermusik learning letter to my daughter library Los Angeles m me miami mlk day morgan is three museum Nashville national championship game natural hair nature new look new orleans New Years nyc out on the town parks parties phone fun pinterest play days at home playdate playground action pregnancy professional development Race for the Cure raleigh ramblings reading Recipes relay for life school program shows singing skating snow soccer social networking sorority spring break spring fun stress summer summer fun summer reading summer to do list teacher life technical difficulties terrible twos Thanksgiving the girls the park theme park thomas and friends three thyroid tragedy trains traveling tricycle trips twitter valentine's day video walk for autism water play we love being outside wedding wordless wednesday work wrapup Yo Gabba Gabba zoo
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