Monday, December 31, 2007

Pros and Cons of 2007

1. Had an awesome birthday with Bob and Jason.
2. Started Grad School and the Teacher Certification Program.
3. Made some great new friends through school.
4. Got an awesome placement for student teaching with a co-operating teacher I will learn a lot from.
5. Successfully passed all the courses I took during the year.
6. Successfully completed my extensive research paper on creating safe schools for people of diverse sexual orientations.
7. Got my Grandmother's recipe for chocolate fudge.. after waiting five years.
8. An awesome Christmas holiday with family and Jason.

1. Trip to Minneapolis -WORST TRIP EVER!
2. Break up with Jeff.
3. Biology class.
4. Research Inquiry Project.
5. Toby's death.
6. The death of Anne's son and granddaughter.
7. Anne falling and getting hurt numerous times.
8. Katie's sister's death.
9. Holiday season at Walmart.
1o. Increased cost of tuition.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


We all managed to survive the craziness of the holidays and come out alive! I have to say, this was a wonderful Christmas.

On Christmas Eve we went to my Dad's side of the family for dinner. About three people were there who either had, or were getting over the flu... a gift I think they gave to me, and that I am currently fighting before it goes full force. My little cousin Kyle, who is in first grade, did his best to read aloud "Twas the Night Before Christmas", as is tradition. It took him quite a while to get through the poem with his mother's help, but he did quite well, and we were all proud of his accomplishment.

When it came time for presents, both Kyle and his little brother Gavin (my godson) ripped into their gifts, tossing aside sweatshirts and pants with a scoff. With the exception of a few boardgames, "all" they got were clothes. They were both so mad!! They started crying and complaining "I hate clothes". At that age, no one was offended, I think we all remember a time when getting clothes was a "bad" thing. I'm not sure when all that changed, maybe around 18 or so. I had to laugh at their frustration because I remember it well.. not that I ever vocalized it like that. What did I care, they weren't going home with me. Ha Ha!

I have developed a bad cough which really only flares up at night, so I had a hard time sleeping Christmas Eve. I laid in bed until about 1:30am watching one of my favorite films, The Bells of St. Mary's. After a lot of coughing, I finally managed to get some sleep before the 7:30am alarm.

It was a wonderfully calm drive downtown to Mass; not many people on the road. It was chilly, but not bitter cold, just the way I like it. We had a wonderful turn out for Mass, and the sanctuary looked fantastic all decked out in red poinsettias for the Christmas season. Much to my great happiness, the choir sang three verses of Adeste Fideles, my favorite Christmas carol during communion. It truly added to the celebration for me.

On the way home from Mass, my cell phone was going off every other minute with text messages from family and friends wishing me a Merry Christmas. A lot of people find text messages so impersonal, but on holidays I rather enjoy getting them. My friends and family keep in touch (for the most part) all year, so a text message on the actual day is just a nice little reminded that someone is thinking of you. I too sent out messages to everyone in my cell phone book.. though not all replied or sent a message of their own. You know who you are, and you suck! =-P

Everything went great with exchanging presents and dinner. I think everyone got what they wanted and more. My parents were very generous, and I now have a new professional wardrobe to help me look the part for my student teaching which begins January 7th. Jason came over for dinner, and we exchanged gifts, and much to my great surprise, bought me an awesome skeletal pocket watch (meaning you can see all the mechanical workings through the face of the watch). Though I would hesitate to wear it on an everyday basis, I look forward to wearing it the next time I'm dressed up with a vest on. I'll be proud to wear such a kind and thoughtful gift.

We all had a lot of fun laughing, eating, and telling stories around the table.. as it should be. A few glasses of vino before dinner really helped to put me in the mood.. again, thanks to Jason's generosity. We all enjoyed ourselves, and it truly was a wonderful Christmas, and one to remember for many years to come.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas is comin!

I am very slowly starting to gain some excitement about the upcoming Christmas holiday. Mostly, I get excited about the memories of a happy Christmas childhood that come flooding back. Every now and then I watch a movie we recorded "back in the day" that sparks that feeling in my heart and mind, or look at some old Christmas ornament hanging on the tree that stands as tribute the the glory days of Christmas past.

My family is now in what I refer to as the transition years. We are still adjusting to losing one generation, and scrambling for the other generations to step forward and make their marks in the hearts of the younger. It's the memory of the older generations that really makes me love this season. I've long since given up the immense excitement that used to keep me up at night waiting to open presents. Now, I look forward to seeing family and friends, and exchanging the niceties and small tokens of affection, while we gather around tables and sharing stories and laughs.

I have been doing my best to keep up with the holiday baking. It can be a lot of work, and it is not as appreciated as it was in years past. I keep it going because it feels like a link I still share with Grams, who worked so many days each year preparing for Christmas, making everyone's favorite cookies. I feel it is a tradition worth preserving. Not everything has to be store bought and mass produced. There is something to be said for homemade.

I listen to the radio a lot, and this week before Christmas, my dial is set to AM 740. I usually listen to that station in the car once in a while, but this time of year they play 24 hours of Christmas songs. The difference is, they play the songs from the "old timers", as Gramps would call them. The sounds of Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, and Jim Reeves sound more authentically Christmas than Brittany Spears or even the Beach Boys. If I listen really closely, I think I can still hear Gramps whistling to the music, or singing along in the beautiful baritone voice that he had.

Yes, the spirit still hits me from time to time, but it's going to be a while before this transition phase is complete, and new traditions that we look forward to are forged. I always hope that when I get my own home I can do a little more, make things a bit more memorable... just like my Grandparents did for me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What a day!

I went to visit Anne yesterday evening, and ended up staying until 1am (not unusual for us). She had fallen recently, and hurt her knee pretty bad, and I have been trying to spend some time with her. Her husband and son were just putting up the Christmas tree, and were patting themselves on the back for finally figuring out how to connect all the lights on the new pre-lit model they bought last year during an after Christmas sale. To help out, I went downstairs, grabbed the ornament boxes and trimmed the tree for them. I figured she could use a boost of holiday cheer.

Because it's hard for Anne to walk, and she uses a cane (and I like spending time with her).. I offered to take her Christmas shopping, which we ended up doing today. Before I went to get her, I decided to stop for gas. While I was paying, I figured I'd throw away two bucks and get a win for life lotto. No, I didn't win the grand prize, but I did win $15. I was satisfied.

While we were shopping, I picked up a gift my mother had asked for from Sears. I opened a charge account there, and ended up getting the item for free. Again, cha-ching. Every little bit helps.

The best news came tonight when I checked the status on my grades online. My psych grade was posted.... a B+!!!! That means it counts. I am SO relieved!! Now I can go to the College Store tomorrow, and sell my books back!! :-)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. In short, it was a coded-message, a memory aid. Since the song sounded like rhyming nonsense, young Catholics could sing the song without fear of imprisonment. The authorities would not know that it was a religious song.

"The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The better acquainted one is with the Bible, the more these interpretations have significance.

The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…"

The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.

1st Day: The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them.
The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.
2nd Day: The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.
3rd Day: The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13).
4th Day: The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
5th Day: The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
6th Day: The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.
7th Day: The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
8th Day: The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.
9th Day: The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
10th Day: The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments
11th Day: The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.
12th Day: The ‘twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Almost there!

The first half of teacher boot camp is nearly over!!! Friday marks the end of this semester, and will be when I have turned in all my final reports for the semester. I can't wait for this up coming break. I thought I was going to snap. That was by far, the worst semester of school I have ever experienced.

As many of you know, in order to successfully complete graduate courses, you need to earn a B average or better in each class. My psychology class, the only class that still uses multiple choice exams, is the only one I am leery about. I didn't do well on the first two exams, only scoring a B on them. I aced all the papers which count as one exam total, so it will all be up to this final exam on Wednesday. If I score under a B (my usual grade for multiple choice without extra credit is a C), I'm afraid I won't make the cutoff grade. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I've started to plan my holiday baking to-do list, as the countdown has begun for Christmas. I'm planning on making peanut butter cookies, cut out cookies (which are a pain in the ASS), Mexican wedding cakes, Holiday surprise bundles (a cheesecake batter cookie with a cherry hidden in the center), pineapple crescents, and dark hermits (a raisin cookie) if I feel ambitious. It's a lot of work, but it really makes me feel like I am contributing to the Christmas celebration, and makes me feel close to Grams.. in some small way, I feel like I'm carrying on in her foot steps.