Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A nice little visit

Earlier today, I stopped by the paint store to look for color chips to decide what to do to perk up my classroom (it's in good condition, but dingy and depressing).

While I was there, I ran into my cousin's new hubby and he made a point of telling me how much that their daughters LOVED the afghans that I made them for Christmas. That made me feel so very good.

So, that's the final happy memory of 2008--the success of my crafty gifts.

Happy Birthday Bev!

I'd bet you'd never expect to have your birthday greeting for the world to see!
Love ya girl~!

P.S. You're officially older than me again!

Say Goodbye to 2008

Wow! 2008 is nearly over and since the last week or so has gone by in such a blur, I am amazed at how quickly the last few weeks have gone by.

It's been a year of changes for us. New school building. Dislocated knees. More Asthma issues. Lots of fun and laughter, too. A good year over all, but really difficult in these last few weeks.

As we say goodbye to 2008, I hope that everyone who reads this is surrounded by God's blessings as we progress into 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Orthopedist Appointment

Well, other than it taking an hour and a half of waiting with an impatient and anxious Aspie child, the Orthopedist visit was a success! The doctor said that it was healing nicely and took DS12 off of the walker and is allowing him to walk un-aided as long as he is wearing his leg brace.

He is pleased and so am I! We were having a terrible time keeping the brace in the proper position and the nurse told us that we can put it on under his clothing (instead of on top like the ER nurse said we had to do). She said that it should slip around a whole lot less, so I am happy about that.

In three weeks, we go back to the doctor to see what the next step will be...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Back to the doctor today

Well, I went back to the doctor's office today because my cough had come back and I was feeling worse and worse. Turns out, I have bacterial bronchitis and it has come back on me after the first antibiotic wasn't strong enough.

I have a new, higher powered antibiotic now and some cough medicine that should, officially, knock me on my butt.

On the bright side, my friend's mother had surgery this morning for colon cancer and she came through with flying colors! We are delighted about that. God is so good.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Hand Warmers...

Love these things! It's so wonderful to make a smaller item that can be finished without pouring weeks of my life into it. This one is a burnished orange with pale blue and fuschia. All yarn is from the Vanna White yarn (bought on sale, of course) by Lion Brand.

Some Christmas Photos

The grandparents had a good time with the kiddos.
My boys!
DS12 had a rough time getting around.

What can I say? Despite all of the problems and challenges of the past few days, we had a lovely family Christmas celebration. Perhaps it was the simplicity that helped us to make it more meaningful.

One last gift...

Since I am spending my days watching over my poor son who is hobbled, I was playing a bit with yarn. On another blog that I contribute to from time to time, the no end in sight ripple along, there was a really cute pair of hand and wrist warmers made with a simple ripple pattern.

The ripple is placed such that it perfectly fits the palm of the hand, rising where the palm rises, and falling off toward the thumb and pinky. After making so many blankets this year, I thought it might be fun to do something small and easy to finish. So, I pulled out some odd lots of yarn and started work.

The results? A striped pair for my mother who has arthritis in her hands. I have ulterior motives as I adore the embroidered pillow cases she gave me for Christmas (that I begged her to make for me for two years) and I want her to be able to work comfortably as long as possible. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a picture of those. When I get one, I will post it.

When I made them, hubby decided that they would be lovely to have while birdwatching to keep his hands warm while leaving fingers free to work the ever-present binoculars. So, I pulled out (and detangled--ugh) a partial skein of old camouflage yarn (less manly than my pretty stripes) and the results were these:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

How long does it take to cook a Christmas turkey?

Well, at our house, it can take all dang day! This is especially true when hubby (who is an excellent cook) decides to smoke his brined turkey on the grill. This set-up has worked really well for us in the past, but apparently, right after he gets it all running well and returns inside, runs out of gas.

At least he caught it in time to throw it in the oven. Our Christmas lunch was running late, but it was delicious when we finally did get to eat it.

Life is nothing if not an adventure around here! Lesson learned: Keep a spare canister of LP gas on hand, even if buying one is initially kind of pricey.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas humor

After a long evening at the ER, we went home and slept in, etc. and began the task of teaching DS12 how to function with only one usable leg. No easy task for an Aspie, I can assure you. He lacks the instinctual understanding of how to compensate for an injury, etc. He must learn everything by rote. Plus, once he knows it by rote, that's it. You can't change the rules. If he ever injures the other leg, he will have to start over from square one. The only good thing is that he will remember that it is do-able and it may help him to have a more positive outlook as we figure things out.

But, I digress. It is the day of Christmas Eve and I get a call from the carpet installer, telling me that he is INSIDE the house and fixing the carpet. I didn't drop off a key with the shop, so this was a little bizarre. Apparently, he entered by using a credit card on the back lock. He did later tell me that we had a really good deadbolt on the front. Now, doesn't that make you feel all warm and squishy about life?

So, I ask my Dad to come and sit with the injured child while I run over to pay this guy. I get there and pull up in the driveway behind an old van with a bumper sticker that said, "Horn Broke; Watch for Finger." Somehow, it fit the entire situation. I needed the chuckle that it evoked. Thought I would share some of the workings of my twisted life.

An Updated Christmas

Now, apparently, we have picked up a bug from somewhere and we are all feverish, achy, headachy, congested, and tight in the chest. Loads of fun!

After all of the festivities, I think I will go crash in bed for awhile. I would wonder if we picked up the bug in the hospital ER, but even DS10 has it and he went to see a friend instead of going with us to deal with the trauma. So, who knows where it came from.

But, it has been stressful with the holidays and the injury, so maybe it just is the result of trying to do too much. Time to slow down, perhaps?

Maybe I should amend my Christmas wishes to include a time of sanity and peace for all families!

Merry Christmas (will wonders never cease)

The last couple of days around here have been a crazy whirlwind!

On the evening of the 23rd, DS12 dislocated his knee, which is terribly painful. We spent a few hours in the emergency room with him. It's not easy to move a 206 lb, 5'7" 12 year old who doesn't want to be moved. Whew!

Plus, in true aspie fashion, my little darling is screaming bloody murder, threatening those of us who are trying to help, etc.

So, for Christmas Eve, my guy is forced to lay with a brace that holds his knee immobile. He isn't coordinated enough to use crutches and he can barely use a walker. He has sat and cried and cried. It's been really tough.

But, for the most part, they are happy campers this morning and playing together. The new gifts are a welcome respite from the boredom that ensued yesterday.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A blessing

I went today to arrange for the carpet to be replaced in the bedroom of the rental house. It was an expense that we really didn't need, but felt like it had to be done since the prior renters cut a large hole out of the carpet, right in the traffic pattern.

As it turned out, the carpet guy is going to pull out the carpet in the closet and patch the hole. We'll put a new remnant into the closet. It's going to cost just a small amount of what we thought we'd have to pay and that is a big blessing!

We're grateful to get the house rented to such a nice lady, but we also don't have much money to put into getting it ready right now.

The final gift!

Well, here it is, the final gift! The colors don't show up really well, but the blocks are turquoise blue and soft medium brown. The borders are dark, chocolate brown. It measures out at 36 inches by 56 inches. Now, all of the girls in the family will get their own afghan.

It was truly a labor of love, but a labor nonetheless.

Progress on the rental house

Hubby took DS10 to change the locks on the rental house yesterday before he took him Christmas shopping. So, that much is done. I have to go to see about having the carpeting replaced in the bedroom before our renter moves in. Then, it's all over but the installation.

Keeping on...

Well, we have cleaned, steam cleaned, scrubbed, and dusted and slowly the school is starting to look like a happy place. My classroom is almost set, we have only a few things to take care of before it will be ship shape. I will go by and do some measuring today and then we'll go back after Christmas to finish up.

A professional painter will start on the hallways today. That will freshen things up quite a bit.

On the home front, I am nearly finished with the last afghan, I will complete the single crochet edging around the edge to give it some firmness to the shape later this evening. Then I can deliver those gifts.

The worst of the stuff that is left is that I really, truly need to scrub this house out again. It has suffered while I have been cleaning at school. Plus, when I get home, I am exhausted and sore, so all I really do is go straight to bed. But, the worst of it is over, so hopefully, I can make some progress on the home front before I go back!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be here, so, unless I trade off Christmas Eve to my mom and dad, I will be a very tired puppy come Friday morning!

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's moving time!

School is out for Christmas break and we are using the time to get moved into our new school building. It's been hard work! We've cleaned and cleaned and cleaned (did I mention that the building needed lots of cleaning?). But, it is beginning to look loads better. I just wish that the building didn't smell so musty and damp.

Hubby brought home some cleaners from work that if misted finely enough, can get into the carpets and kill mold, mildew, etc. and other sources of stink. We sprayed the fool out of classrooms, hallways, etc. tonight. It is hard to tell how much of an effect it has because my clothing smelled so much like "the funk" as we have taken to calling it, that I couldn't smell anything else. But, it takes time to let the cleaner do its work and kill the germs, so maybe we will be able to tell a difference by tomorrow.

I hope so.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The kitty saga continues...

Delilah, the mini kitty, is still utterly delighted with the Christmas tree that we put up just for her. She enjoys batting the ornaments off the tree and carrying them around in her mouth to deposit in various places around the house.

Ah, the joy of Christmas, the chasing the cat to retrieve the ornaments and the special thrill of redecorating the bottom half of the tree on a daily basis. Gotta love that!

Rental House

This morning, we showed our rental house and, Praise God, it finally is rented. We didn't get as much for it as we usually do, but our expenses are covered and that is a blessing indeed! Our new renter is a really sweet lady with three kids that will be moving in January 1st!

We do have a bit of work that we will have to do before she moves in like change out the lock sets, etc, but nothing too horrible.

It's a load off of my mind to know that this is an expense that won't follow us into the new year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Spirit of Giving

Each week, our school has chapel. It's a time to try and impress upon the students the need to praise and worship God. It's a good thing and it has had a positive impact on many of our students.

We have a parent volunteer (he is also a part-time pastor) who comes in and organizes and holds our chapel services for us. His name is Bubba and he does an awesome job and is very accessible to our kids. He starts each service off with a silly game to get folks revved up and then he relates the game to something that he wants the kids to think about. Then we have music, a speaker, etc.

Last week, he challenged our students to bring sock hats, gloves, and scarves for local people who have fallen on hard times and are forced to live in our area homeless shelter. I reminded students all week long (as I am sure that other teachers did). Today was the day we found out if the kids cared to participate. I brought in a bag from our family with gift bags, several hats and gloves. Apparently, many of the students were touched to participate and we had around 150 items donated. Since some kids forgot their items, we are continuing the drive until next Thursday, the last day before the break.

I am so glad that the kids are getting into the spirit of giving. It's the real meaning of Christmas. Plus, it's even better that they are doing something selfless. They won't see the faces of the people who receive these gifts (except for a couple of kids that will help to deliver them) and they won't get any undue attention for doing it. It's not for show. These kids are learning what real giving is all about. I'm proud that I work somewhere where we can teach these kids not just to help others, but to emulate Christ while they are doing it.

Frugal Shoe Repair

Yep. Apparently, we have lost our minds at our house! This picture probably proves it. In my opinion, this is the best of our frugality lately.

DS12 scuffs his feet when he walks (part of the Aspie gait--drives hubby nuts, but that's another story) and he managed to wear out his shoes so that the heel rubber is loose and flaps and flops around. These are cheap-o shoes ($6) that we bought for him to go on a field trip where he would be mucking around in a swampy area. We had no idea that he would like these shoes and insist that they be made wearable again. The up side to that is that his really nice black tennies are staying really good looking for church, etc.

So, hubby breaks out the ever-present Shoe Goo and proceeds to apply it to the affected areas to repair the shoes. But, the heel rounds up a bit and we can't find a way to secure the rubber in place while the Goo dries. Finally, hubby sits the shoes on pieces of tin foil (so Goo won't get on floor) and places a stool leg in each shoe to hold the shoes in place, but the rubber sole at the heel wasn't really secure. So, hubby takes my dust pan, turns it over and wedges the toes of the shoes up on it, effectively rocking the shoes back on their heels, thus holding the rubber sole in place. It was frugal genius!

Attack of the mini kitty!

Many, many moons ago, hubby and I learned that cats love, love, love to climb in real Christmas trees. We ended up having to tie ours to the wall to keep the cat from knocking it over. That was the year we added tinkling bells to our tree to warn us what she was up to. So, we switched to an artificial tree that we will use until it absolutely falls apart. Our cats have never climbed the artificial trees.
Well, they didn't until now... Delilah, the micro-kitty, (full grown, but tiny) has decided that this cheap-o artificial tree just absolutely needs a feline ornament! During our tree set up, we had to repeatedly pull her out of the tree so we could decorate it.

Oh well, I guess it just isn't Christmas without a kitty vaulting into the tree!

Countdown to Christmas

Seems like Christmas is coming up quickly this year. I have completed most of the crafty type items that I was making for gifts this year, so that is at least done. I am really excited about the afghans that I made for my nieces. I hope that they really like them.This one is for my 11 year old neice. She is very into the brown and blues color scheme.

This one is for my 7 year old niece. She is a girly-girl and ALL about the bling! Notice the fun fur mixed into it.

The last thing I have left is to make up and can some cranberry-pear conserve to add to gift baskets if I can squeeze it in. Love that stuff and it is absolutely gorgeous shiny red in color. Perfect for Christmas.

My cousin got married recently and has a new step-daughter, a really nice and sweet kid. I am trying to see if I can work up something fairly quickly for her, so all of the girls will get an afghan. I just wish I had known sooner to start work on it! Maybe I can come up with something nice. I am making large granny squares with unconventional color arrangements, hoping to come up with something modern and cool. I don't know her favorite colors yet, so I am hoping to get lucky!

Our decorating has been incredibly modest this year. We put up our little tree and the boys were really into helping with it this year. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed it more this year for some reason.Took the kids for their annual physical last Friday. Other than DS12 had to get 3 shots and had a hard time swallowing that, all was well and both boys are healthy. DS10 has asthma under control for now and took his one shot well (he was likely grateful to not have to get 3!). DS12 is now 5 feet 7 inches tall! Yikes! He's my big ol' boy. The pediatrician laughs that he was never actually on the typical growth chart, his growth curve hovering consistently way above the norm. DS10 is the opposite. 25th percentile for height, 10th percentile for weight. That never changes with him! It's funny sometimes how the kids can be so different, yet alike in so many ways. It's a hoot!

All packed up and no place to go...yet!

Well, I find myself all packed and chomping at the bit to see my new classroom. I can't wait to put my own personal stamp on it and do all of the fun teacher-y stuff that comes with a new setup. I have been assured that the classrooms are significantly larger than what we have now, so that's a blessing!

I am worse than a kid waiting for Christmas--I just can't wait to move!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Packing Begins...

New beginnings always generate such excitement and our school's move to new digs is no different. We are all buzzing with energy and excitement to see inside our new building and get our room assignments.

Today, most of us teachers began the task of packing up our rooms in earnest. Of course, we are not taking anything that we will truly need before the break, but the vast majority of things that we use can be packed away for transport to their new homes.

I was amazed how quickly I am getting my room packed up with all of this excitement and energy. It's such a great vibe around the hallways. So, in very little time, I was able to get my room half way packed and still teach my classes. But, boy howdy, did my shoulders and arms ache when I stopped! Those boxes of textbooks are HEAVY! I didn't have to move them very far at all, but I did take them a few feet away in order to stack them neatly.

With any luck at all, I will finish up the packing tomorrow and then the bigger boys can carry the boxes down to storage until they are trucked over to the new building.

The hard part will be waiting through the final days before we can leave!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Another week down...

And two more to go until Christmas break from school. We are getting a nice, long break this year and I have every intention of enjoying it!

It appears that we may be changing locations at our school over the break and the long break will be lovely in that we can do the hard work and still have family time. Family time is actually one of the reasons that this job works so well for us. I can work when my family is occupied with school and/or work and I am available to spend time with them when they are available also. Plus, Fridays are a great day to catch up so that the weekend runs smoother.

So, we are looking forward to the holidays and sitting of an evening, looking at our lovely Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It's definitely not anything that would grace the cover of a magazine, but it's filled with precious memories and homemade ornaments from the kiddos and it makes me feel all warm inside.

We've pared down our decorating so that it isn't cumbersome this year. No huge outdoor light scenes, etc. It was easy to put together and won't be a mess to pack back up. We're sticking to the essentials this year and so far, we've been the happier for it.

I have always been drawn to the idea of living more simply, but I have a way of over-thinking things and making them more complicated! But, this year, it seems like right in the middle of the Christmas season, I have accidentally wandered into a nice, simple solution. I like the way it feels. Now, the question is, can I bring this calmness into other areas of my life?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Shopping

After being talked into going to Tanger Mall (an outdoor strip mall type place, not a real, indoors mall) in the freezing cold at midnight on Thanksgiving Day with a bum foot and a bad cough, I have actually completed the vast majority of my shopping. I didn't know how it would go, but I had a really good time and enjoyed the company of a friend and my brother.

Granted, like everyone else, we are having to cut back this year (even though our typical holidays look scaled back from what I see around me) so I was looking for a few really good sales to help provide the filler items for my boys.

Most of the stores were running wonderful sales, 50% off, and the like. I did pick up some nice clothes with "labels" that weren't any more expensive (maybe a little less so) than if I had picked them up on sale at Wally World, so that was good. I even came in under my budgeted amount, although I was picky in order to achieve that.

I had already shopped for many of our items back in October when our local "Sock Shoppe," which is a Griffin, GA icon, had a warehouse sale. I got really good quality pot holders, dish towels, etc. to put in food baskets for most of my family gifts. I'll fill in around with pear preserves and pear butter that I made with free pears earlier this year. I also have cranberries and more pears put aside for a lovely cranberry relish that always gets raves.

I will likely give a jar of preserves to my kids' teachers also.

For our parents, I got a great deal on a gown for my mom (and hubby's aunt) and fleece lounge pants that feel heavenly for both fathers. With so many of us cutting the heat back, they should feel really cozy.

Hubby finally told me what he would like, a cd collection of bird songs that he can download into an mp3 player for when he is out birdwatching. So, that will be easy enough.

Now, there is a book I would like to get my Dad and some slippers for my Mom, but that is it for the adults.

I only have to find something for each of the boys that says, "Wow!" I also need a good gift for my brother (20 and in college).

All in all, a frugal season for us. I feel accomplished and we're incurring no debt whatsoever. I'm feeling "merrier" already!

Bronchitis, PANDAS, and Neuromas, Oh My!

Who said that only good things come in threes? Certainly not anyone in our family. Since Thanksgiving Day, I have been diagnosed with bronchitis and a bacterial infection in addition to the neuroma crap that is a day to day aggravation.

DS12 has a flare up of PANDAS (strep antibodies attacking part of his brain) and is major, hyper-emotional right now. We're waiting for the doctor to call in heavy duty antibiotics to help lower his antibody levels. So, we're lots of fun lately.

Actually, the doctor gave me a different decongestant/cough medicine that is working really well. The only real problem is that it absolutely knocks me on my backside. I could sit around all day with crossed eyes, giggling at any and everything. Unfortunately, although my students would truly enjoy it, such behavior is frowned upon by high school teachers. Go figure.