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Even the Dogs Celebrate

Posted by casey on December 25, 2008 in Uncategorized

Christmas Eve is when our celebrating begins, even when we were kids.  As children, we gathered around our tree and opened all of the presents from our extended family, so that there was room under the tree for Santa to come.  Nothing was more exciting than emptying the tree once, knowing that because we were fortunate, the tree would be filled again when our eyes opened the next morning.  Before we were able to be tucked in though, we always were instructed on Christmas Eve to go take a bath.  Even though we knew what was coming, we quickly scurried into the bathroom knowing that when we emerged there would be one last present sitting on the bathroom counter or bedspread waiting for us to open it….and every year, it would be a new set of comfy, cozy, Christmas pajamas, usually complete with socks.  Two things I miss about childhood Christmases are stockings filled to the brim with all sorts of goodies that we had to go through before our gifts and the comfort of knowing those Christmas pajamas from Mom and Dad would be waiting for us.  Even as you try to continue a tradition as an adult it still doesn’t have quite the same magic as it once did. 

We do however carry on Christmas Eve being about our extended family by spending it with Aunt Dana and Don each year.  They so graciously host a Christmas Eve celebration that is as enormous if not larger than most Christmas Day get-togethers.  The kick….even our pups were invited this year.  While I do agree with her, I questioned her inviting them and she replied, “This is a family affair and those dogs are just as much a part of our family as anyone.”  So yes, I was that person who arrived late (go figure I know…but in all fairness I had a whole bakeries worth of goods to make) with two over-excited dogs.  The picture above is of my beautiful niece Cathryn, her protector Bo (he loves babies and me by Dana’s front door last night. We had a wonderful evening filled with food, drinks, friends and of course, gifts.  The dogs who swept the floor with their tongues, quenched their thirst with the pool also found primes spots as you can see to the right, to watch the gift opening spectacle.  Once they became tired, as any child does, they both became overly needy and Thrasher as always had to be center of attention.  Once he realized that this present was in fact a stable surface he was content…until he realized my arms were available.  They were completely exhausted by the end of the night and sprawled out snoring in the car as soon as they were settled on the way home.

So as you can see, even our dogs have been able to celebrate the holidays this year aand join in some of our traditions. If I had to draw a conclusion about them, I would say they are acting even more like real children each and every day.  You see, about two weeks ago when I was wrapping gifts, I heard a rustling noise in the “secret gift hideout”…who did I find…..was it Colter?  Nope, Thrasher found their one PetCo bag and was dragging his new toy out.  I promptly discussed with him the rules of Christmas and how he was no exception and could not have his gifts prematurely.  I put them back in the bag and closed the closet disgusted that he had ruined his Christmas surprise and already new what he would be receiving.  “Casey you are nuts,he is a dog and won’t remember.”  That is what you are thinking right?  Well, let me show you something….

That is Thrasher…and the white threshold that you can see at the edge of the picture is the door to the secret present palace.  The door at which Thrasher sat, cried and whined at every day.  The door which anytime it was cracked he ran in to search for that bag he knew was in there. (Which would them make him even more flustered when he realized it was now up high).  So yes…like a child, even though he knew they were in there, I made him wait.  This morning he made the kill, and from the blurred pictures of the dogs I am sure you can tell that they enjoyed their new toys.  So see, even the dogs got a little something to show them that a love them and include them in a dogs version of Christmas.

Waiting for permission to attack the unwrapped, unmarked, PetCo bag.

Yeah..yeah…plastic bags over the head not a good idea.  I swear it was two seconds until he grabbed his new moose squeaky from the bag and made a break for it.

Bo’s new barking baby…yes it is pink.  I couldn’t find his usualy mini-Thrasher white one but this one made the same noise.  So, he got a pink poodle and he loves it.  Real men wear pink. Remember that.

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you were able to extend some of your holiday traditions to your extended family even if that just is your pets.  Next up….today’s afternoon entertainment!

 
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A Christmas Tradition – Merry Christmas!

Posted by casey on December 25, 2008 in Uncategorized

Merry Christmas!!!  Yes, this is a picture of a picture, but this was our Christmas card this year and I realized this morning that I hadn’t yet put it in a post to explain to all of you who recieved one where the picture came from.  As many of you know from other posts this fall, Colter and I were fortunate enough to take a trip to California in October.  This sunglassed picture (yes I used sunglasses in “adjective” form…it’s Christmas, give me a break!) was taken from Alcatraz looking back on the city of San Francisco.  We tried it without the glasses, but scrunchy, squinty face is what we got, so instead, you got sunglasses.  Merry California Christmas!
Christmas cards are one of the many traditions my mother carried on every year and inspired me to do the same at a young age after moving so often.  It provided me with a wonderful opportunity to let all of the friends I had left behind in various states that I did in fact remember them, and was specifically thinking about them.  While yes, it could be one cost to easily cut out every year, I just can’t do it.  I compile my list which has grown exccessively since the wedding and spend the weeks prior to Thanksgiving addressing and stamping away so I can send them out on December 1st.  That being said….I found a stack that apparently didn’t go out right away around December 12th, so some of you got yours later than others. I even found a box of last years, this year that were never mailed.  My only guess is in a cleaning fit I palced them somewhere I knew I would “remember”, and well, promptly forgot.  Hey, I tried right….I can only be so organized.  So, if you were offended that you didn’t get one last year, chances are you had one addressed to you, but it got packed away.  My deepest apologies. :)
Okay, sorry for the sidenote.  Colter and I sent out a whopping 130 Christmas cards this year to friends and family some that we have known since elementary school, and some that have more recently become an important part of our lives.  Family friends that have become family to us, neighbors and of course family.  During this time of year, I love getting Christmas cards in the mail because it just brings more holiday spirit around the house.  This year we received quite a collection of cards and they surrounded us in the kitchen on our blinds, a wonderful idea I took from Carolyn.  So, for post number one of the day, Merry Christmas morning and here is one family tradition semi-explained!

 
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“Pick” Your Treats Carefully…

Posted by casey on December 17, 2008 in Uncategorized

During the last few days of school prior to winter break we as teachers are flooded with generous gifts of home-baked goods to show gratitude for our work and dedication.  Delicious treats of all sorts…but I leave you with this thought and question.  If you watched a child spend 80% of the day with his or her fingers up their nose, would you eat those home baked goods?  All it would take is one finger dipped in the dough…just something to ponder. :)

 
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Let It Snow!!!

Posted by casey on December 16, 2008 in Uncategorized

After another night of winter weather that left my roads to work like an ice skating rink caused my normally short drive to be a little over 50 minutes long.   Surrounding districts had delays but not ours, and local radio DJ’s even joked that parents better send their kids to school in helmets today as they tip toe the treacherous sidewalks etc.    So after another long day with the kids who are already mentally on vacation (aren’t we all???) I received a wonderful winter surprise this afternoon…

SNOW!!!!! An actual downpour of honest to goodness snowflurries.  I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched them actually fluttering down which was the first reason I notice that my eyes weren’t tricking me with more ice.  I know all of you in places where it actually does snow are laughing, and I would be too.  However, as I said in the previous post, which just happened to be about how we don’t get snow, just ice, I will take what I can get.  Now, if only it would do this next Thursday!

 
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It’s Beginning to FEEL a Lot Like Christmas

Posted by casey on December 15, 2008 in Home, Uncategorized

With ample time on my hands with a house to myself for almost two weeks I have gotten all of our Christmas presents wrapped and placed under the tree, and I must say…it sure does add to the ambience!  Of course the tree all a glow is a much better look, but then it is more difficult to see the presents.  So we couldn’t have the best of both worlds with this picture!

With presents under the tree and the house smelling like cinnamon it is finally hitting me that Christmas is actually next week.  Yes you would think that would have sunk in when I was purchasing the presents but no…the cinnamon did it.  Okay it wasn’t just the cinnamon.  You see, a week ago we had our first “snow” in Texas, the first falling of ice.  The dogs were not happy about it and neither were my few remaining flowers in  the front as you can see in the picture below.

 

As Texas would have it, it then proceeded to get warmer…and warmer….and warmer.  In fact, yesterday it almost reached 80 degrees, thus stealing a bit of the holiday feel from around here.  Growing up in Ohio where we practically drowned in snow, I got a little spoiled to what the holidays can be when there is snow involved.  Yellow snow yes…but the biggest snow forts you can imagine!  We would stack snow on top of each other and then dump water on them to turn it into a solid hut.  All done you think?  No way…what is a plain old white snow fort, when you could color the ice with sidewalk chalk.  I will HAVE to find a picture of that for you somewhere, so I will start digging soon.  As you have it, some measly ice that everyone gets entirely too excited about (even myself…I mean it is all we get) doesn’t nearly reach the holiday spirit like snow…but hey, we will take what we get.  Lemons…lemonade, Ice….as good as snow??? I am going to apply that saying to everything.

To make up for the lack of snow that was putting a damper on the cinnamon smell and presents….I received an early Christmas present (in perfect timing) which let me tell you has brought Christmas into the very air of my home.  Fire I tell you…FIRE!!!! Yes, caveman discovered it and did a little crazy dance but my house has been without ir for the past year and a half and just in time for Christmas I got to do my little dance for my fire.  Why the perfect timing you ask?  Yes it may have been eighty degrees yesterday, but remember, this is Texas.  So in true Texas fashion, the high was 35 today and it is currently 23 degrees at my house and yet again filling up with ice.  Crazy Texas weather is much more bearable when you have a beautiful fire to snuggle by with none other than Thrasher Bear….he loves to cuddle, especially when Colter is out of town.  No I am not ignoring Bo…he has taken himself to bed as he usually does and is in the other room snoring.

So that is it folks…it is officially beginning to FEEL (and look like I suppose) Christmas.  I have a beautifully lit tree, and safe warm decorated home, simple gifts for loved ones under the tree, the smell of cinnamon and baked cookies (Yes I went on another bake-fest, a girl has got to keep herself busy) and a fire.  An easy to light in a safe manner without too much risk of a gas blowup (thank goodness) fire that has helped my home to feel more like a home without Colter here.  Now all I need is my husband home!!!

 
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Schools and “Winter”

Posted by casey on December 15, 2008 in Uncategorized

If you want to test a teacher’s creativity, throw them into a school around Christmas time and see if they survive.   You see, I had a really hard time typing Christmas in the sentence above…I actually had to go back and add it in because I too have been brainwashed into saying “Winter” time and “Holiday” time.  Gosh darn it, I celebrate Christmas!!!! 
Don’t get me wrong, I completely respect the other celebrations and in fact think that we are promoting ignorance by not discussing them and learning about them.I specifically remember being a kid in class doing Christmas crosswords right along with learning how to and the purpose of spinning a Dreidel.  We ate candy canes and potato latkes.  I know there is more than just Christmas and Hanukkah but at least we learned as kids. 
Now everyone is so afraid to do anything that out of line, that rather than using red, green, blue or yellow we might as well color the holidays purple!  That being said, it is hard to not take away this time of year from the kiddos who are so amped up, and yes half of them are still anxiously awaiting Santa’s arrival, while they other half are telling them to get real.
I love giving kids a chance to do some artistic activities outside of art class and make them really think about things around them.  So, I present to you our hallway of ‘Winter Wishes.”

As  I know you can’t tell anything from that picture other than the “Big Picture” idea of it all so let me explain further.  What you see in the middle there is a large model “snow globe” modeling a winter wish for the kids.  Our (teachers) superficial wish was to see, snow sparkling in the city.

So, each student received a paper plate on which they decided what their winter wish was.  They then developed a picture that went along with it, but had to create their picture solely out of pieces of construction paper, no drawing aloud.  Their plate was then attached to a base which had their name glittered on it, to fill up our hall of winter wishes.  I have to say, I was yet again pleasantly surprised with what many of them came up with and then a bit pleased that some stuck with their kid roots and wished for what  a kid wants…a turtle of course. 

  Then at the very end of the hall is our thought tree.  Just a few weeks ago it was covered with green lush growth and fall colored leaves with their fall thoughts.  But as you can see our thought tree is now bare.  Each student was given a snowflake to write down what winter makes them think of so that we could add it to our now Winter Thought Tree.

In activities like this, I love to see what they come up with.  Many of the kids know the smell of snow that Colter calls me crazy for. (He didn’t grow up in Ohio where you really can smell that it is going to snow soon.)  We got holidays, weather forms but also family and family gatherings.

To wrap this whole school post up, let me share with you a few of their winter wishes.  I apologize that the pictures are so close up and you cannot see the whole snow globe effect, but as you know they had to be “confidential” so I had to take the pictures super close so that you could not see their names!!!

A Peaceful Christmas…

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joy to the World…

 

Peace on Earth

An Uncle to be Admired…

A Generous Heart…

Darn TX Weather…

And the turtle…love it! Haha

So during this “holiday” time I thought you might like to think of your “Winter Wishes” this year.  Happy Holidays and because this is my site and I can say relatively what I want… MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!

 
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The Giving Begins

Posted by casey on December 10, 2008 in Uncategorized
Since I love to cook, and get carried away in the kitchen, I started the giving for many of my colleagues this week by putting together some treat boxes to kick off their week.   Yes I know the idea of “home baked” presents can get out of hand, but this was just small container (Chinese Food take-out box type container) filled with some mini taste treats.  I wanted to
do this now so that..

1. The treats could actually be appreciated since it is the beginning of the holiday season and we aren’t swimming in sweets quite yet.
2. The boxes wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle on Starbucks gift cards, mugs and stationery that will soon flow in from kiddos.
3. I could check it off my list!

So, on Sunday evening my coffee table was covered with containers, shiny ribbon, tissue paper, cellophane wrap, labels and notecards.  The result?  I stack of adorable dressed up gift boxes filled with inexpensive treats and heart-felt notes.  The outcome of giving?  A slew of thank you notes in my box.  Showing appreciation really can brighten someone’s day, especially early in the season, try it out!

 

 

 
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The Gift of Giving

Posted by casey on December 10, 2008 in Home, Uncategorized

This time of year, we all find ourselves thinking “Oh…I forgot this person, and I really should give something to ‘so and so’. ” but shouldn’t we really be doing that all the time?  Not so much the giving, but the appreciation.  What seems to be forgotten often, is not the presents, but why we give the presents. 

Yes of course we all find ourselves thinking of the gadgets and knick knacks that we would like to have, but I am getting you that crazy, hard to put together gadget to show that I appreciate you.  I don’t like all of the talk about how “it isn’t about the presents” because well our society has commercialized Christmas enough that it is about presents.  We just have to put purpose back into those gifts by attaching a personal note to it, or the reason why that was the perfect gift. (No… if you can’t think of anything else , ‘because it was on your list’ is not a good reason.)

 

Here are a few reasons to help get you started though:
– Because you talk to me when I need a friend.
– Because you are always willing to cook a meal.
-Because  even when I don’t call, you don’t hold it against me.
– Because you love me.
– Because you laughed at my jokes, that weren’t funny at all.
– Because you gave me life. (pretty good one right?)
– Because you yourself are so generous I had to try and reciprocate.
– Because you are a loyal friend.
– Because that one time…you covered for me when I, well ummmmm…
– Because you never fail to help watch my pets.
– Because well, I was hoping to borrow this when you aren’t using it.
– Because you opened your home to me.
– Because once you read it, I get to.

I also found that I have always been a person who just loves to get things for other people…this year though I made a list.  I made a list of exactly what I wanted to do and when.  That way, I stuck to my purpose and my reasons.  This past weekend I officially finished all of my Christmas shopping (whooo – hooooo) and will have my wrapping complete by this weekend. Yes…I am one of those crazy “ahead of the game” holiday shoppers.  Happy Shopping!

 
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Embrace the Spirit

Posted by casey on December 8, 2008 in Friends, Home

One more reason I am getting “old”…I am now throwing holiday get-togethers as opposed to tagging along with my parents.  I present to you a DDD reunion of sorts (plus a lone Kappa – thanks Kirby) to kick off the holiday season.  While I tend to remember everyone’s hometown (Houston…San Antonio…etc) I forget that many of us are now in the same city thanks to that great title known as “adulthood”. 

The invite read, “The husband is gone but the houseis all decked out, so lets put it to use with a girls night out!” With Colter out of town, and a girls day planned, I decided that there was no better way to kick off the holiday season than with a get-together of old friends.   With plenty of desserts to spare, the biggest hit of the night, were the pups.  I tell you what, Bo and Thrasher sure know how to show off as the most well-behaved, cuddly dogs in the world.  The cuddly part is 100% true and well the behavior part…I will give them about 50%, because of the barking.  That is a generous 50%.

Drinks and desserts was the “theme” and as my family can tell you, once I start going in the kitchen, I tend to get carried away.  For me, it is actually quite mindless and relaxing to cook whether it be a meal or baking.  This was the three-tiered centerpiece of the dessert table, featuring a treat from Stein’s bakery up top (the only item I did not make), gingerbread in the middle, and spice cake topped with a dollop of maple butter frosting on the bottom.  To really get your mouth watering, there was also brownies with pinch of chocolate icing in one corner, Kahlua Fudge (an Orr family favorite), Snickerdoodles and an oatmeal cranberry holiday cookie (thanks Carolyn) that Colter was particularly craving.  If the list doesn’t give you a mental image of the full table I don’t know how else to help you.  But…I can add to that image by adding me in it, wearing black sweatpants, covered in flower.  The true look of a hard working woman in the kitchen.  I mean, if she doesn’t have half of the ingredients on her clothes and in her hair, she wasn’t trying hard enough!

To help give us a little substance to combine with our Cosmos and red wine we also had many treats such as Sausage/Cheese Balls, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Fondue and Cheese/Grape plate.  Now that I am thinking of the cheese plate, I must say that if you have never had Boursin brand soft cheese with Garlic and Herbs, you simply must buy it and spread a dab on a cracker because it is one of my favorite “special” snacks.  The perfect appetizer with some grapes, smoked cheddar and wine but not too filling.  So if you need something for the holidays, seriously go get you some Boursin. (love the grammar)

With our wedding FAR behind us, I have since realized even more with showers we have thrown etc. how much I enjoy the details and logistics of planning a party almost more than actually attending.  I put together a mix of Holiday music (stack above) for everyone to take with them to help “spread the spirit” as we all continue to countdown towards the holidays…To throw a small twist on a typical ornament exchange, each guest graciously brought a bottle of wint topped with an ornament to give.  Corine, who is good for a laugh at almost any point in time, went all out with her ornament.  So I am going to ask you to look below, and play “I Spy” for which ornament you think Corine might have brought….ready…get set…GO!!!

I can’t believe you picked the snowman on the right! I mean really, I said she was funny and you think she brought the snowman…blind I swear you are!  That is right people, Corine topped her bottle of wine with the colossal acorn ornament that practically caused her ornament to topple over. 

This of course launched me into Drew’s high school alma mater, the Live Oak Mighty Acorns and how his team SPEEDO had “Go Nuts” embroidered on the back of it.  I mean really, the acorns…it still makes me laugh.  The story of his mascot naturally then led me to having to choose Corine’s bottle/ornament for the exchange so I could pass it on to Drew (which I did the next day by “camoflauging” the ornament on our tree and making him “find” his new decoration…he found it pretty fast).  So when everyone is half groaning/half excited about getting everything out for the holidays and preparing I say embrace it.  As Jess said to Drew (who was complaining about Cathryn not remembering their efforts on her Christmas this year), others will remember what you do and the holidays are all part of living your life.  Thus, I send you forth to bake, decorate, sing, appreciate, give and embrace the spirit…you are officially dismissed to fulfill your duty.

 
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A Small Flock of Children

Posted by casey on November 29, 2008 in Escaping Home, Family

Throughout the weekend we definitely got our TV time with football games, and I believe all of us came close to consuming our own weight in food as their was never a shortage of anything.  We were also surrounded by happy children (almost always happy) who were always ready to play a game of any sort.  While some might tickle them, chase them or set up a video game, Colter taunted.  Most kids are at first intimidated by his height, then fascinated and finally see its advantages. (High rides in the air for example.)  Colter can be seen here holding a Christmas mouse over a 5 year old and 4 year old’s head, out of their reach.  Nice dear, real nice.  To give him at least a little credit though, the mouse did play “Jingle Bells” over and over and over again, so what does seem like cruel taunting was in all honesty and sanity saving break of silence for the adults.  By silence I mean no music, just excited shrill-screaming of course. (Decibal levels that were unknown before this weekend were offically reached) At least they weren’t scared of him anymore though right?
( I should add that as I am writing this post Colter is leading these two in a race, which consists of small circular laps around the couch while he counts who is on which lap. Dizzy much????)

When it comes to happy children though, we all should wish for a kid like Colby.  Colby is 18 months old and truly a smiling, laughing kid almost from wake to sleep.  He waves at everyone either with his full hand or just his pointer finger and is constantly laughing at you or with you.  He finds just about everything funny, or will turn it into a joke and is quite the self-entertainer.  In the picture to the left he was standing on the couch with that grin and then plopping to to his bottom, belly-laughing every single time.  If he fell, 10-30 second cry and then he was over it.  Like I said…wish for one like him.

While I am sure it is an obvious statement, there was also Dad this weekend, who was proud to show off his grand-baby among all the other grandchildren and grandparents there.  He was also eager to put his time in rocking, feeding, cooing and holding her.  Dad also hit a milestone this weekend, successfully putting Cathryn to sleep a few times in his arms instead of panicking at her fussy-ness and handing her off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the rest of the weekend, I will sum it up with a “photo-journal” of sorts…
Sunrise out our bedroom window…

The mountains of Tennessee made a beautiful backdrop for Dad and his girls on Thanksgiving Day.

Dad and Kathy

A trip to walk arount tourist-ville central (Gatlinburg). Among the gift-shops and kid-trap stores, we did find a quaint area with an adorable candy shop!  Jess even had her first taste of candy apple!

Family-Time on the Porch…

Two Years 8 Months and Counting…

Father Daughter

Try-Out a Baby Day…

Drooling, Smiling Baby…

Storm Rolling In…

Food, foor and more food…

Sunset off the porch…

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