What are you Doing New Year's Eve?

I ran across this last night while checking out twitter.  I like this just about as much as I like the Barry Manilow version.  (Yes, I said Barry Manilow.  Don't judge.)  This version is Zooey Deschanel (of "New Girl", "Failure to Launch", and "Elf" fame) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (of "500 Days of Summer", "Third Rock From the Sun", and "GI Joe" fame).

So...what are you doing New Year's Eve?
HAPPY NEW YEAR!  See you in 2012!

Last Friday Fragments 2011

 Mommy's Idea
Time for "Friday Fragments" with Mrs. 4444!
 ~  The church was absolutely beautiful for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.  We have a new choir director this year, and he did an excellent job with making the Mass feel extra special.  The past few years have just felt like a mass in the middle of the night.  Here are a few pictures of the church:
You'll have to imagine the trees in the lower left picture being lit.  They have lights on them, and are absolutely gorgeous.  I took the pictures Monday right before Adoration, so the lights were off.

~  Last night ended up being a "Southern-Themed" night.  We went out to eat, then we were going to go see "Sherlock Holmes", but decided to just go home.  CH & I ended up watching "The Help" followed by "Sweet Home Alabama".  I think I cried more during "The Help" this time. 

~  I found a recipe for Eggnog Rum Cake and decided to try it out, especially since I didn't do any baking before Christmas.    The recipe didn't explicitly say whether or not to use the eggs that are on the directions on the cake box, but if you make it, put the eggs in.  I took a chance and put them in, and it came out perfectly.  For the icing, I made my own using 1/3 cup softened butter,  3 cups of sifted powered sugar, 1 1/4 cups of eggnog, and 1/4 cup of dark rum.  After I mixed that up, I ended up adding equal parts of eggnog and rum until it was the consistency I wanted.  At first I was going to make a glaze to drizzle over the cake, but decided against it at the last minute.  The finished product:
I think I may have put just a little bit too much rum in the icing, but then again, is there such a thing as too much rum?  I didn't think so.
~  The boys got me this bracelet for Christmas:
I was a  little concerned when I opened up the box, because I have rather large wrists, but they were smart and got the biggest bracelet they could.  And, it's just a little bit big (in that it slides a bit), but that's the way I like them.  The charms have some significance.  On the left is a bear:  We've always called YS "YS Bear".  The middle charm is a stone for OS, my nature boy.  And the charm on the right is a bunny for MS, my "Snuggle Bunny".  And, since it's a charm bracelet, CH and the boys won't have to think real hard about what to get me for birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmases.

~ CH also got me this:
Now I can cook like the Southern Queen, y'all!
When we were in Heathrow for our last meal in England, our server was wearing the most incredible perfume.  She told me what it was, and we looked at it in the airport, but couldn't get someone to wait on us, so we didn't buy it.  I looked around town for it but couldn't find it.  A few weeks ago we were in Ross Dress for Less; I happened to glance at the perfumes, and there it was.  So I got that, too
~  I'll catch y'all next year!  I hope everybody has a safe NYE!

Thankful Thursday #1

My friend Rebecca at The Road Home hosts "Thankful Thursday".  Rebecca is an incredible woman and blog author who just happens to love WVU football.  If you have a minute, go visit and join in!  As I think back over the past week, I realize that I have a lot to be thankful for. 

~  I'm thankful that I have a husband who hasn't given up on me.  Even though I know I'm hard to live with sometimes, he has stuck with me for 27 years.  He has been very patient with me, and has helped me grow into the woman I am.

~  I'm thankful for my boys.  Even though they're hard-headed (they get that honestly, though!), I'm so very thankful that I was able to have 3 healthy boys.

~  I'm so very thankful that I still have my parents with me.  My mom just celebrated her 82nd birthday, and my dad is 86.  They're both in relatively good health, still live in the same house where we grew up, and are still independent.

~ I'm very grateful that I found the blogging community.  Even though I've never met most of you in person, the words of encouragement are so much appreciated.   And the honesty!  Y'all aren't afraid to tell it to me like it is, which really helps me out when I need it! 

So, there's my first installment of Thankful Thursday.  Head over to The Road Home to meet Rebecca and join!

Wednesday Hodgepodge

 Time to get back into the swing of things with the Wednesday Hodgepodge!  Here are the Q&A's fro this week:

1. Share something you loved about your Christmas Day.
I loved the talk that OS & I had.  It was a grown up conversation, and we were both very honest about our feelings.
2. You get to put five items in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years, what items would you choose and why?
1.  Something from apple, 'cause in 100 years they're not going to believe how primitive we were in 2011!
2.  HD tv (see #1)
3.  Laptop (see #1 again)
4.  Paula Deen book (because I love her, even with all of her flaws)
5.  NCIS dvds  just because the cast is the most awesome thing ever.
(Yes, I realize how superficial these things are, but I'm in one of those moods to not be thinking too deeply!)
3. What do you like on a cracker?
Peanut butter.  Or cheese.  OR, Harry & David has this relish stuff that you pour over cream cheese to serve, then spread that on crackers.  Very good stuff!
4. Do you make resolutions at the start of a new year? How'd that work out for you this past year?
Nah; the times that I did I didn't keep them.
5. What's a song or song lyric you'll associate with 2011?
I've thought and thought about this one, and I just can't come up with something.  (Party pooper)
6. How will you ring in the new year?
We're planning on being together with MS & YS.  Looks like it'll just be the 4 of us.
7. What is something you look forward to in 2012?
OS graduating from college and hopefully getting a job.
8. Insert your own random thought here. 
MS, YS, & I enjoyed a couple of nights of watching a movie.  We watched Bridesmaids Christmas night, and, I have to say, it was funnier the 2nd time; I thought it was hilarious the first time I was it!  The next night we watched "The Departed".  MS has declared it his favorite movie...for right now anyway.  I enjoyed watching "Eclipse" last night, and I have "The Help" waiting to be watched.  I love to watch movies this time of year!
Head over to Joyce's to join in; don't forget to link up! 

What I learned this Christmas

If you came here looking for some feel-good, happy memories of our Christmas weekend, now is your time to move on to another blog.  There's  your warning!
Here's what I learned this Christmas:

~  Our boys are growing up and becoming independent with their own ideas about things...just as we brought them up to do.  And I need to get used to it and move on.

~  Even though they may not admit it right now, the boys do care about traditions.  When I called everybody to the table on Christmas Eve for pizza, MS said, "Is this our Christmas Eve Dinner?"  Ummmm....yes.  Yes it is.  OS even made the comment that he couldn't believe we didn't have a Christmas Tree up.  (Well, technically we
one up, but I took it down on the 23rd for a private reason.)  MS also asked about the candy that I usually make.  I made one batch of Tx. Millionaires for our next door neighbors (who supply me with pecans!), a small batch of Chocolate Covered Cherries for YS, and a batch of Red Velvet Truffles (for YS and our neighbors).

~  The Chocolate Covered Cherries were different than I usually make.  My usual recipe calls for powered fondant, and I didn't have any.  I didn't feel like driving up to the north part of the big city just for a bag of it, so I looked for a different recipe.  I ended up mixing up a couple of different recipes (See, Candace, I can do it!).  For the filling, I used 1 cup of powered sugar, and an even mix of Bailey's and the juice from the jar of cherries.  Excellent!  There was some left over, which will be great over vanilla ice cream or pound cake. 

~  We were hoping to go to the Keys for a vacation...one last family vacation before OS graduates and (hopefully) gets a job.  Turns out none of them wanted to go, even though they had plenty of opportunities to tell us in the past few weeks.  Instead of a vacation, OS went back to the mountain to hopefully make some money at his new job as a ski/snowboard instructor, MS wants to visit friends for New Years in another state, and YS is just happy being a homebody.

~  Babies and Midnight Mass don't go together.  Not when there were 4 other masses that they could've gone to.  I'm all for tradition, but we never went to Midnight Mass when the boys were small.  It would've been different if the parents of the crying babies had taken them out at the first peep, but they didn't.  The Mass was beautiful, the church was gorgeous, the music was great.  It would've been perfect if it hadn't been for those crying babies!  (Yes, I realize that Jesus was a baby, and the season is all about him, but His parents didn't have the choice of 4 other masses!)

~One good thing came out of the weekend:  OS & I had a good heart-to-heart talk on Christmas.  I am proud of the man he's becoming.  His dreams aren't what I would have expected from him when he was little, but he knows what he wants and is going after it.  He had a really good semester in school, grade-wise; only 1 more to go!  I'm envious of him:  He has the confidence in himself to want to move out west by himself (or possibly with a friend...I'm not sure if he's planning on going with someone or not), get a job, and live out there.  I don't know if I could've ever even thought about doing that when I was his age.

~  Next year I'll go back to decorating the house, and will fix a Christmas Eve dinner.  We may not all be able to be together next year, but the boys are growing up and becoming independent...just as we raised them to be.  And I need to get over it and move on.


Here's wishing you and yours a very merry and blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I'll catch back up with everybody after the New Year!
Picture taken from.whereistheoutrage.net
Also, Happy Birthday to my mother.  When I was growing up, she was my best friend.  I love you, mama!
(Wish I could post a picture of her on here, but I did find a clip of her birthday celebration from a couple of years ago  You can see MS in the kitchen with 2 of his cousins.  I have no idea where the rest of us were!)


I need to take a bit of a break.  I had my laptop open, but it was off.  I thought the top to my water bottle was on tight, but it was just covered up.  You know what I'm getting ready to say:  A little bit of water splashed onto my keyboard.  I wiped off the keyboard, put the hairdryer on cool and tried to dry it off.  Later that evening, I noticed a couple of keys weren't working.  So, I took the battery out, turned the laptop upside down, and went to bed.  This morning, the laptop wouldn't even turn on.  CH worked on it for a bit, then declared it dead.  Looks like Santa's bringing me a new laptop for Christmas.  The good news is that my data should all still be there, which is a good thing because I'm terrible at backing up things like, oh, say, pictures.  I put all of our London pictures on a cd, so, yay me for getting that done.  Then there are other things like:  my checkbook that I didn't back up in a while.  That's what I get for being so stinkin' lazy and not getting up to get the flash drive.
Lesson learned:  close the laptop when not in use and keep it away from liquids.
Hope to be back very, very soon!

More Catch-up

I just realized (at 1:54 pm) that the weekend is over, and I haven't caught up with Susan's photo challenge! Guess I'd better get off my keester and get going!
Day 17:  Under the mistletoe
My sister volunteered to host a get-together for the fam on Saturday.  Everybody brought a light snack, and we munched and visited.  I knew she'd have mistletoe in her doorway:

One of my brothers took this picture of his sisters (minus the oldest):
Before anyone says (or thinks!) anything:  Yes, I wear that sweater a lot during the holidays, especially (it seems) when I have my picture taken.  And, before anybody says or thinks anything else:  I am the youngest by 18 months (to the day) in that picture.  We missed my oldest sister on Saturday.  :(

Day 18:  Cup of Cheer
I had to make some Buttered Rum-Spiced Cider so I could take this picture:
It was really, really yummy!  You can find the recipe HERE.

I'll have to do more catching up tomorrow!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea
Linking up with Mrs. 4444 at Half Past Kissin' Time!
~  Last week (or maybe the week before), Joyce asked about having guests over the holidays.  I didn't think we were going to have any, but MS brought home a guest:

So much for my "no rodents in the house" rule.  Pepper checks the room about 10 times/day to see if it's still there.

~  Sunday, the company CH works for had their Christmas Party.  They rotate between an adult party and a family party; this year was the family party.  We had lunch at a restaurant on the river, then a train ride in a coal train.  There was a painted bear right before we boarded, and there were decorations in all of the little nooks & crannies:
~  On Monday & Tuesday, my students made these cute little candy canes while they were working on their targets:
I can't take the credit for the idea, although I can't believe I didn't think of this myself!

~  Wednesday, I saw this as I was walking into school:
Cute, huh?  One of my students came to Speech with this:
~  One of my students told me that I was the best Speech Teacher in the whole world.  He should know...he's had 3 of them and he's only in 1st grade!  I told him that was the best Christmas Present I could ever ask for.

~ Yesterday was the blood drive for our SRO who is undergoing treatments for leukemia.  We have a lot of rejects at one of my schools, thankfully I wasn't one of them!  And, as an added bonus, we were given a choice to decline the t-shirt and donate 9 meals to Second Harvest Food Bank instead!  So, the SRO and the community wins!

~Today's prompt for Susan's Photo Challenge is "Hippopotamus".  Let me just say this:  I have an awesome group of teachers that I work with.  Teachers who don't question why your asking if they have hippos, they just give you not one, but three: 
Mission accomplished!

Silver Bells

Day 15 of Susan's Photo Challenge is Silver Bells.  This one really stressed me out.  I had NO idea it was going to be so hard to find those dadgum bells!  I've been looking for them all month long!  I found red bells, green bells, gold bells, but no silver bells.  I thought I'd be clever and count these:
Get it?  The bells of the horns?  Yeah, I know it's lame, but it was the best I could do...or so I thought.  Tuesday I walked into my room at school and glanced up at a wreath I have hanging on the wall:
Can you see it at the top of the wreath?  There are 2 little silver bells!  
I have no idea how I missed them all that time!  My boys (and CH) would be quick to point out that I'm not the most observant person!
It still isn't too late to join in!  Here's the link to The List.

Dashing to the Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Do you put Christmas decorations in every room of your house? If not every room, what rooms do you decorate?
I usually do a little something in most of the rooms.  Since I'm on strike this year, I have very little decorated.  I used to have a little tree in each of the boys' rooms, but they weren't too "into" it, so I stopped doing that.  I have a really sad little tree that I put up in the "man cave" that has the boys' hand-made ornaments on it, but it was just one more thing down there, so I wasn't planning on doing it this year anyway. 
2. If you could visit one of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) which one would you choose and why?
Well, I've been to Denmark and spent a day in Sweden, but not in the winter.  I have a Norwegian "brother" who was our exchange student when I was in 7th grade.  I hope to get back to Denmark at some point and maybe venture into Norway.
3. What does the word faith mean to you?
4. You can go back to your childhood for one day...what day and age would you choose?
I don't remember just one day from my childhood.  If I have to pick (and I can see Joyce nodding her head and saying "yes, you HAVE to pick!"), I would say a day when we were on vacation in Texas seeing family.   Those were some awesomely good times!  Hot times, but still good!
 (This is us minus the 3 oldest, circa 1973-maybe)
5. When did you last have 'punch'? If it's not too much trouble share your favorite punch recipe.
At my husband's cousin's 20th wedding anniversary over the summer.  It was REALLY good punch!  I don't have a punch recipe; I've never made it.  I do, however, have a picture of CH's family (the ones that were there, anyway):
6. Do you fill stockings at your house? Are stockings opened before or after the bigger gifts?
Again, I usually do.  I usually try to find little things to put in them, but they always get a pair of high quality, wool socks in them.  The boys get into them while they're waiting on everybody to gather.
7. What takes your breath away?
I was looking at pictures the other day to put on pinterest, when I came across this picture:
  The picture is of the "Trinitatis Church" in Copenhagen.  It's right next to the Round Tower; in fact, while you're walking up the circular ramp in the Round Tower, if you look in a window, you can see the inside of it.  I remember my first look...it took my breath away.  We went inside:

 These pictures just don't do it justice!

8. Insert your own random thought here. 
Today's prompt for the 25 December Daily Photos is "A decked hall".  Sadly, my halls aren't decked out, but I've been sharing my schools' halls with you this month.  Today I took some more pictures of my "mountain school":
 The Auditorium:

One of the Kindergarten Rooms
The Hallway outside of the Kindergarten Rooms
The Cafeteria

  The Hallway between 2 of the 2nd grade classrooms
  One of the 3rd Grade Doors


We're halfway through Susan's Photo Challenge!    Here is a reindeer that one of the Kindergarten Classes made:
I have reindeer on my calendar in one of my rooms:
AND, I saw this cute tie in the mall a couple of weeks ago:
Gosh, now that I look at it, I'm not 100% sure it really IS a reindeer!  It looks kind of like Scooby Doo, doesn't it?
I have this cute little reindeer that one of my SILs gave me a LONG time ago:
There were some little reindeer included in this Christmas Train I picked up from somewhere for a really good price.  I figured all little boys need to have some kind of Christmas Train!  The only problem I've had with it is that I've never found that "perfect place" for it.
Susan has 12 more items on "The List", so check it out and join in!

Photo Challenge Catch-up

Since I didn't post over the weekend, I figured I'd better get caught up with Susan's December photo challenge. 
Day 10:  Away in a Manger
This is a necklace that I have.  It's one of my favorite Christmas necklaces:
I also took a picture of the alcove at church.  The whole manger scene isn't set up yet; Baby Jesus won't be put in until Christmas Eve Mass:
Here's my manger scene from last year.  YS did a little decorating this year, so it looks a bit different:
I saw this manger scene as I was riding down the road.  Growing up, our next door neighbor had one that she used to put out every year.  It wasn't nearly this nice, but I was able to smile at the memory.
While I was on the lookout for a manger scene, I was so surprised that I couldn't find one outside of a church.  Do you have one outside of yours?

Day 11:  Ribbons and Bows
I have to admit:  I didn't think ahead on this one.  I snapped this picture of a tree in the restaurant where CH's company had the Christmas Party:
It came out blurry (like you couldn't tell!), but you can see the ribbons on it.  And, here's a picture of my wreath:
Last but not least:  Day 12
Something Sticky
This wasn't sticky when I took a picture of it, but once the little girl starting licking it, it was!
CH stopped this little girl who was going back to her seat after visiting Santa at the company Christmas Party.  The grownups across the aisle looked really funny at me, until I told them what I was doing.
We're almost halfway through the Photo Challenge, but you can still join in the fun!  Visit This Day! for the list and start snapping!


Here we are on Day 9 of Susan's Photo Challenge.  I have a lot of Santas, most of them ornaments that were given to me.  My favorite Santa is one that my MIL gave us:
When you turn it on, the snow flies and it plays "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."   Y'all know that I have to show off some artwork from school!  The Kindergarteners at one of my schools have been as busy as little elves this past week:

The First Graders have been a little busy, too:

This is one part of "Elf" that makes me laugh every time I see it:

Visit Susan's to play along.  Tomorrow's prompt:  Away in a Manger.
Today I'm also playing along with Follow Friday 40 and over at Never Growing Old

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