Friday, December 25, 2009

Advent Blog - Christmas

Christmas Day. We always have lunch at my grandparent's house at noon. Today after lunch my grandma broke out the chimes. Us grandkids used to play songs on the chimes when we were little. I had completely forgotten about it until my grandma brought them out. I don't know who's idea it was, but they figured now that some of the grandkids have kids of their own, the chimes should be played by the great grandkids. Unfortunately, they were interested in the chimes for about half a second; fortunately, us adults LOVED them!! Here's some hilarious videos of us adults playing some Christmas songs.


video

We didn't quite have it together on this one. We were short one chime. Anyone recognize the song? It's the beginning of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.


video

I love this video. It's us playing the second half of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. I love it for so many reasons. First, we're horrible. You can barely tell what we're playing. Second, I love my dad's little head bob. Third, look at our pure joy when we finish. We think very highly of ourselves.


video

This video is great because I think Mitch is singing "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow."


video

Our best performance yet - Silent Night.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Advent Blog - December 24th

Every Christmas Eve my parents throw a little party for the George side of my family. Here are a few pictures from this year:

Ronnie with all the delicious food.

Zackie and Mitch watching A Nightmare Before Christmas.

Mitch with his new train pillow.
My mom made them.

Zack with his train pillow.

Me with my new Christmas ornament.
My dad loves that he's in this picture.

My grandpa with the present he bought my grandma.

My grandma unwrapping the present.
I don't know if you can tell, but it's a Cracker Jack box.

And the prize - a diamond ring.
Yep, my grandpa put it in a Cracker Jack box
and glued it back together.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Advent Blog - December 23rd (and a half)


So since my post this morning was a little Grinchy, I thought I'd write another one. I came home from work and had this package delivered. Yay!! Packages!! It didn't quite fit under the tree so I decided to open it.

Advent Blog - December 23rd

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! I love Christmas songs, but not this one - I hate the snow. Every winter I question my decision to live in this wretched state. It snowed yesterday, last night, and is still snowing. Yesterday I took Lesli to the airport. It should have taken an hour from my house, to the airport, and back home again - 1 hour 20 minutes at most. Did it? Hell No. It took 3 hours. THREE HOURS!! I know this isn't a very Christmasy post, but I can't help it. I hate the weather and I have to work today. This is the only day in the history of my life that I have had to work this close to Christmas. I'm not happy about it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Advent Blog - December 22nd

Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus which means coming. The time of Advent celebrates the coming of Christ's birth as well as His Second Coming. Advent technically starts the 4th Sunday before Christmas, but Advent Calendars tend to start on December 1st. As soon as the Christmas decorations started appearing in stores, I started looking for a new Advent Calendar. Unfortunately, I couldn't find one I liked. That was until I went to my cousin Aimee's house. She had the coolest Advent Calendar. I told her how much I liked it and she said I could have it as my Christmas present. I protested, but she insisted. She said she had made it, along with several others for Christmas gifts. I love it. I went home and immediately hung it up.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Advent Blog - December 21st

Christmas is all about family gatherings. Actually, my family gathers every Sunday. We usually meet at my parent's house, but since my mom's been crazy busy with Christmas preparations, I invited everyone over to my house for Sunday dinner. There are usually about 13-14 of us so I had to move a bit of the furniture and set up an extra table. This photo was taken after I moved some of the living room furniture, but before I put up the table. Mitch thought we were clearing out the room so he'd have even more space to play with my giant exercise ball.


I made delicious, delicious stuffed peppers. You can't see them very well, but they were sooooo good. As many of you know, I HATE to cook, but when I do cook, I do a pretty darn good job. You may notice, Mitch and Zack aren't eating any of my delicious stuffed peppers. It's because they don't eat anything - unless it's ice cream followed by some Pepsi.


We had a great time. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was busy being the Hostess with the Mostess. Anyway, here are two more pictures:

Me & Louis

Mitch - check out his head.
He took a pretty nasty fall - thankfully, it did not happen at my house.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent Blog - December 20th

Last night I went to Zoolights with Jeanine and her family. It was freezing, but we still had a lot of fun. The entire time Zack kept calling me his BFF. It was way funny. We've called each other BFFs before, but that's the only thing he called me last night. For Christmas I'm making us matching BFF bracelets. I know he'll love it. The other funny thing he kept saying was "piece of cake." He said this every time I went to take a picture of him. Finally I asked him, "Why are you saying 'piece of cake?'" He replied, "Because a piece of cake is way better than cheese." What a fruitloop.

Mitch

My BFF

Me, Zack, and Mitch

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent Blog - December 19th

Earlier this month I went to the Post Office to mail some of my Christmas CDs. A few days later, I received the packages back in my mailbox with the note, "Return to Sender: Returned for .34 Postage." Seriously?!? I took it to the Post Office, had it weighed at the Post Office, and paid the amount the Post Office told me. Now the same Post Office wants me to pay an additional 34 cents. Whatever. To read about another of my run-ins with the Post Office, click HERE.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Advent Blog - December 18th

Nothing says Christmas more than Christmas parties. Yesterday I had some of my young women over for a little Christmas party. I slaved away in the kitchen making the most delicious crepes. It wasn't too bad because I got to listen to them chat away. I love these girls. They are too, too funny.

Brooke & Katrina
Brooke was entertaining us with one of her many stories.

Sarisha, Megan, & Jaime

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advent Blog - December 17th


Here's another ornament my grandma gave me. She did not make this one, but I still love it. It is a great reminder of the Caribbean Cruise we all took last fall.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Blog - December 16th

Yesterday I mentioned the ornaments my grandma gives me for Christmas. This is my favorite one. It is ceramic and my grandma painted it for me when I was very, very little. I don't know why, but I love it more than the others.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent Blog - December 15th

Since I was little my grandma has given me a Christmas ornament for each Christmas. I love these ornaments. They are all homemade. Several of these ornaments are hand sewn felt ornaments. Here are two out of the many that hang on my tree.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent Blog - December 14th

As I mentioned yesterday, the holidays are all about family and friends. Yesterday I wrote about a few of my friends. Today I want to write a short post about my family. I have a fantastic family!! I didn't realize how unusually close my family was (and still is) until I became an adult. We were super lucky growing up because both of my parents worked at home. In fact, because my mom was always running and doing deliveries, my dad was home more often than my mom. I remember if I was sick at school, I always called my dad to come pick me up. I just thought this was normal, but as I got older, I noticed that many of my friends were not as close with their fathers. Not only am I close with my parents, I am also really close to my brothers. I consider the three of them my best friends. I found this picture frame at Target a few weeks ago and knew I needed it to display one of our Christmas pictures.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent Blog - December 13th

The holidays are all about family and friends and I think I have the best family and friends around. Yesterday I invited two of my closest friends, Christi and Kathleen, over for brunch and a movie. I told them to come on over in their PJs and I would make them delicious crepes (with Kathleen's help) and we would spend the morning watching the movie, The Holiday. I wanted to take pictures, but since all three of us (me more than them) looked like we just crawled out of bed, I decided against it. Anyway, I want to tell all my friends out there how much I love them and wish them a Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent Blog - December 12th


I love this painting by Liz Lemon Swindle.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent Blog - December 11th

There were about half a dozen songs that didn't make the cut for my Christmas CD mix this year. I wanted to share the lyrics of one of those songs. Maybe it will end up the 2010 edition. Anyway, here are the lyrics to "The Rebel Jesus."

All the streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants' windows are all bright
With the faces of the children
And the families hurrying to their homes
While the sky darkens and freezes
Will be gathering around the hearths and tables
Giving thanks for God's graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus

Well they call him by 'the Prince of Peace'
And they call him by 'the Savior'
And they pray to him upon the seas
And in every bold endeavor
And they fill his churches with their pride and gold
As their faith in him increases
But they've turned the nature that I worship in
From a temple to a robber's den
In the words of the rebel Jesus

Well we guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if any one of us should interfere
In the business of why there are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus

Now pardon me if I have seemed
To take the tone of judgement
For I've no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In a life of hardship and of earthly toil
There's a need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure
And I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Blog - December 10th

A few days ago I wrote about service projects my students and young women were doing for the homeless (to read it click HERE). Today is a follow up on that post. Last night my young women went to the Road Home's overflow shelter in Midvale to deliver the hats that they made (they ended up making 160 hats!!). I knew some of my students lived at the shelter so I had mentally prepared myself to see some of them there. I did and it was fine . . . at least it was until I got home. It was when I walked into my own home that it hit me - how different my home was from the shelter. The shelter was crowded, chaotic, and a little dirty. When I walked into my house it was warm, clean, and smelled good. It's spacious - way spacious for just one person. The families at the shelter had their bed and all of their possessions crowded into one tiny space - a space as big as my closet. Now I can't get my little students out of my mind. I pray that I may be able to help them - even if it's just being a good teacher and helping them for 45 minutes a day.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Advent Blog - December 9th

For the past 6-7 years my family has gone to the Hale Center Theatre to see their annual production of A Christmas Carol. I love Hale Center Theatre and think they do a phenomenal job on all of their productions, A Christmas Carol being no exception. This beloved story from Charles Dickens has always been my favorite. I have seen my many renditions of A Christmas Carol and have loved them all. My top three include:

A Muppet's Christmas Carol

Mickey's Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Advent Blog - December 8th


For the past 6 years I've been making Christmas CD mixes for Christmas gifts. I started in 2004 because I hardly had any money and I knew it would be a cheap gift. The CDs were such a success that I've continued to give them since then. Every year I have people waiting with anticipation to receive the current edition of Mandy's Christmas Mix.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Advent Blog - December 7th

Christmas is the Season of Giving. I've been working with both my students at school and my young women at church on service projects for the homeless. My students are making blankets for the Midvale Family Support Center and my young women are making hats for the Road Home. Here are a few pictures:

Some of my students tying a quilt.

Two more students working on a baby blanket.

Hats I've made.
My young women have made dozens more.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Advent Blog - December 6th

Yesterday I wrote about one of the three Christmas ornaments my grandfather gave me for my first Christmas tree. The first ornament had been one from the set my grandparents had when they were first married. My dad told me he remembered it hanging on the tree when he was little (see yesterday's post). These are the other two ornaments my grandpa gave me:




He told me that they belonged to his mother, my great grandmother, and that they were the ornaments he remembered hanging on the Christmas tree when he was a child. They aren't much to look at, but I love them. They're basically old, scratched pieces of tin, but I wouldn't trade them for anything!!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Advent Blog - December 5th

This is my 5th Christmas in my house. I didn't put up a Christmas tree during my first two years so I didn't get my first official Christmas tree until 2007. That year my Great Aunt Olive and Great Uncle Martin donated their old Christmas tree to me. I was so excited. My grandfather and I went to their house to pick it up. After we had picked it up, my grandpa said he had something he wanted to give me. He gave me a box that contained three different Christmas ornaments. This post is about the first ornament. Tomorrow I will write about the other two. This is the first ornament he gave me:


He told me that it was from the set that my grandma and he had when they were first married. I love it. That year I placed it in a prominent place on my Christmas tree. When my parents came to see my tree that year my dad noticed the ornament and said it looked just like the ornaments he had on his tree when he was a little kid. He couldn't believe it when I told him it was one of the ornaments that hung from his family's tree when he was a child. I love this ornament. It will always have a place at the top of my tree.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Advent Blog - December 4th

Last week I was asked what I wanted for Christmas. At the time, I couldn't think of a single thing that I wanted. However, I've been mulling over the question for the past week and have come up with a short list.

Dear Santa,
This year I would like the following items for Christmas:
  • White Socks
  • Head Phones. I really like the ones that came with my iPod so I'd like similar ones.
  • Pedometer - a really nice, accurate one.
  • Glee - Volume 2 CD
  • Terminator Salvation DVD
  • Star Trek DVD
The first three items I really need and will buy them if I don't get them for Christmas. The last three items, I would never buy for myself, but I'd enjoy them if I got them as a gift.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Advent Blog - December 3rd


My mom made all of our family members' Christmas stockings. She made mine when I was just a toddler. I love this stocking. As a child, I loved trains so it was the perfect stocking for me. It still is. The best part, it's bigger than any of my brothers' stockings. I love to remind them of this every year.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Team Edward vs. Team Jacob

This is not part of my Advent Blog, but I wanted to write about it. Today I had planned to play a game with my students. I started by saying, "We will be dividing into two teams." I was about to go on and say , "Team 1 and Team 2," but I was interrupted when a student (a male student) asked, "Can we be Team Edward and Team Jacob?" I started laughing. They are ridiculous kids who apparently like ridiculous books.

Advent Blog - December 2nd


Two years ago I went over to my mom's house and discovered a large box of Christmas decorations in the trash. This decoration was one of them. I asked my mom, "Are you throwing this away!?" When she told me she was, I couldn't believe it. My mom has displayed this decoration for as long as I could remember. When I look at it, all I see are Christmas memories from my childhood. I knew I had to have it. I rescued it from the trash and have been displaying it at my house every Christmas since.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Advent Blog - December 1st

I've been a bit of a blog slacker so I've decided to do an Advent Blog to count down the days before Christmas. Similar to an Advent Calendar, I'll make a post everyday up until Christmas. All of my Advent posts will focus on Christmas.

My first post is dedicated to a tradition my parents started about 15ish years ago - The Christmas Puzzle. My parents decided our family would put together a Christmas themed puzzle every year. Once it was finished, my mom had it framed and everyone who had worked on the puzzle was able to sign the back of the frame. The puzzles were then hung in the house during the Christmas season. Because my parents started this tradition about 15 years ago, you'll find about 15 Christmas puzzles displayed throughout their house every Christmas Season.

When I bought my own house, my parents let me choose one of the puzzles we had done growing up to display in my own house. They've also let my brothers choose a puzzle for their own homes. I love this tradition and decided to start it at my own house last year. Everyone who visits during the month of December is welcome to add a few pieces to my puzzle and sign the frame, thus becoming a permanent part of my Christmas every year. Here are a few pics:

The puzzle my parents gave me.
My family did this puzzle in 1999.

Some signatures from the back of the puzzle.

Me and Tom working on my puzzle from last year.

The puzzle from last year, framed for this year.

This year's puzzle.
Come on over and add a few pieces.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

WWII in HD



The History Channel just finished premiering the series, WWII in HD. This series features rare footage from WWII shot in color. The footage was found during a two-year search through archives and basements around the world. WWII has always fascinated me. I'd describe myself as a huge WWII buff. Because of this, I've seen and read a lot on WWII. I wondered if WWII in HD would be all that different from the many other WWII documentaries. Let me tell you, it is. I was awestruck while watching it, literally gasping at some parts. It's amazing how different it is to see something in color. Explosions, the Pacific Ocean, Hitler - they all look so different. It was like seeing some things for the first time. The color footage was awesome, but so are the stories the series covers. The war is told through the eyes of 12 different Americans, including a female Army nurse, an African American Tuskegee Airman, a Jewish Austrian who immigrated just before the war, and a Japanese American soldier. If you're even slightly interested in WWII, this is the series to see.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

So, When did French Kissing Start?

Yesterday at work I was talking to my students about life in the late 1700s. One of the things we discussed was propriety between men and women at that time. I mentioned the standards of dress women adhered to and the fact that they would never be alone with a member of the opposite sex without a chaperone. This opened the door for a lot of questions. It just so happened that yesterday I was focusing on the learning profile trait, inquirers, which encourages students to develop their natural curiosity and conduct inquiry and research. Because of this, I would usually have loved to hear their questions and talk to them about the answers. This was not the case. Our conversation went something like this:

Students: "What? They couldn't be alone? What about making out?"

Me: "That would have been considered inappropriate. In fact, it would have been fairly scandalous."

Students: "So, not even kissing?"

Me: "No. Many people wouldn't have kissed until their wedding day."

Student: "So, when did french kissing start? Did it start in France?"

At this point I was dying. The students were so sincere in their questions and I was trying to be good with my answers, but I lost it and burst out laughing. Luckily, the bell was about to ring and I put an end to the inquiry by having them clean up.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Book Thief


So, I finally finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It has been one of the hardest books to read. I had a hard time getting use to the narration (the narrator is Death) and some parts were so very tedious. Despite these difficulties, this book moved me more than any other work of fiction. I know, it's weird. I didn't particularly enjoy reading this book, yet I loved it. Again, a weird contradiction. So, why did I love The Book Thief? The book talks about the power of words - I love that. Unfortunately, Zusak isn't very consistent with his own words - some sections of The Book Thief are masterfully written, while others are a rambling mess. Here are a few I consider masterful:

She was the book thief without the words. Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain. (page 80)

People may tell you that Nazi Germany was built on anti-Semitism, a somewhat overzealous leader, and a nation of hate-fed bigots, but it would all have come to nothing had the Germans not loved one particular activity: To burn. The Germans loved to burn things. Shops, synagogues, Reichstags, houses, personal items, slain people, and of course, books. (page 84)

There was once a strange, small man. He decided three important details about his life: 1. He would part his hair from the opposite side to everyone else. 2. He would make himself a small, strange mustache. 3. He would one day rule the world. The young man wandered around for quite some time, thinking, planning, and figuring out exactly how to make the world his. Then one day, out of nowhere, it struck him - the perfect plan. He'd seen a mother walking with her child. At one point, she admonished the small boy, until finally he began to cry. Within a few minutes, she spoke very softly to him, after which he was soothed and even smiled. The young man rushed to the woman and embraced her. "Words!" he grinned. "What?" But there was no reply. He was already gone. Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words. "I will never fire a gun," he devised. "I will not have to." His first plan of attack was to plant the words in as many areas of his homeland as possible. He planted them day and night, and cultivated them. He watched them grow, until eventually, great forests of words had risen through Germany . . . . It was a nation of farmed thoughts. (page 445)

She tore a page from the book and ripped it in half. Then a chapter. Soon, there was nothing but scraps of words littered between her legs and all around her. The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them there wouldn't be any of this. Without words, the Fuhrer was nothing. (page 521)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

It's Here, IT'S HERE!!

My couch arrived yesterday. Here are the pics. I love it!!