Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday Rewind

Another year is about to come and go, but before 2012 gets away from us I thought I'd share some of the moments from our Christmas celebrations this past week.

Last Friday was the last day of classes for my students. I had gotten sick the day before and was feeling miserable. No joke, I wore a school t-shirt and jogging pants that day. The fact that the jogging pants were our school colors helped me justify my wardrobe decision. Luckily it was an early dismissal day, so I got out a little early. After school I had to run and purchase one last Christmas gift for my sister. 

I think it turned out pretty good. What do you think?

After I got back from shopping, I had to rush and clean up around the apartment because we were having a few friends over to watch UCF football and play some board games. This is the first time we've really hosted anyone at our house. Most of our friends live in or near Orlando and they think we live too far away. Sadly, I don't really have any pictures from that night - all I have a videos of us playing charades. And I don't think my friends would appreciate those being posted.

Saturday we had to drive into Orlando because Dan had one more gift he needed to pick up for me. He dropped me off with my mom and did his thing. I helped mom clean up after the children's Christmas party at the VFW she volunteers at. By the time we were done cleaning, Dan was done with his shopping, so the three of us drove around town a little bit.

Sunday we hung around the apartment not really doing much. I had to finish putting together a Christmas gift for my stepdad (I'm planning on sharing it in a different post). Other than that, we just sort of bummed it. Nothing special. But I honestly soaked up every moment of being alone with Dan. I knew the next couple days were going to be crazy and family-filled and it was nice to just stop and enjoy "being us" for a day.

The "being us" didn't last too long because we got a text from Dan's brother wanting us to come over and hang out. So, we made the hour drive over to their house and enjoyed some dinner, gingerbread men, and gingerbread house building.

The gingerbread house had absolutely no input from the ladies. It was all the boys. That could be why some of the candy wasn't sticking so well to the house. Oh, and I can't forget! Dan's sister-in-law got an early Christmas present...

Isn't he the cutest little furball? They decided to name him T-I-double grr-ER. (That's Tigger for all those non-Pooh fans.)

Monday, Christmas Eve, Dan and I had our own little Christmas at our apartment. We had already dropped off all of the family gifts in Orlando, so it looked a little bare underneath our tree. Periwinkle wanted in an all the action, so she watched us from the dining room table.

Isn't Dan funny? He gave me two thermal shirts (which I really needed and had asked for) and a UCF t-shirt. There was a small box under the tree for him which had login/password information for a downloadable flight simulation game that he really wanted. Plus, he got chocolate & small tools in his stocking. Because we're focused on paying off debt we set a small budget of $50 for each of us to spend on the other.

After breakfast, we made the trip back into Orlando and headed over to my in-laws. We were the first of the kids to get there. After a while the other two brothers and their families showed up. We watched a Christmas movie before sitting around the dining room table for dinner. Our nephew was anxious for dinner to be over. Because that meant it was time for presents!

After presents were opened and dessert was eaten, Dan's oldest brother and his family headed out. Dan's middle brother and his wife were staying the night and we were headed out to my parent's house to stay the night there. We didn't see the need to drive all the way home just to turn around and drive back first thing in the morning.

By the time we got to my folks' house, my stepdad was already asleep. So my mom talked us into going to some house party. Not exactly our thing, but Dan and I really just wanted to get out and do something, so we tagged along. While we were there we mentioned to my mom that we jokingly told my brother-in-law that we should go and stomp on their roof and pretend we were Santa. My mom got that crazy look in her eyes... my husband had that crazy look in his eyes.... So, we called my sister and gave her the heads up. She was game! Then we had to go borrow a ladder from my in-laws because my sister lives in a two-story townhouse and the ladder  my mom had wasn't going to even come close.

We got to my sister's house and discovered that the ladder we borrowed was about 3 feet too short. Wah wah wah.... But we came up with some other fun ways to make it seem like Santa and his reindeer.

Mom & Dan hiding the evidence

Hehehe. I was so giddy with excitement! My sister made a template to paint little reindeer prints on the sidewalk where the kids had left "reindeer food" (glitter & oatmeal) while I melted some chocolate to make reindeer poop. Yes, I'm twisted like that! Don't judge.

I wish I had been there to see my niece & nephew's faces when they woke up. But I got this pic from my sister, which was almost just as good.

Christmas Day, my sister and her kids came over to our parents' house around lunch time. My oldest stepbrother thought it was a good idea to come around that time too. I don't want to pretend like I come from a perfect family. That is in no way close to being true. But I also don't want to air our family's dirty laundry all over the internet, let's just put it this way: I don't like my oldest brother. He and I don't get along. I refuse to be in the same room as him. So, while all the kids opened up their presents at my parents' house, the hubby and I holed ourselves up in the guest bedroom and waited until my oldest brother left. Then Dan and I had our own little unwrapping session with my sister and her kids before we headed home. I hate that we missed seeing the joy on their faces while they were opening all of their gifts from Grandma & Grandpa, but it is what it is.

We left my parents' house shortly after that and went back over to my in-laws to pick up the gifts we had opened the night before. But when we got there, no one was home. They were on their way to Downtown Disney. So we decided to join up with them. We ate dinner, walked around, checked out the Lego store and the Disney Christmas store, and then headed home. Didn't really take photos while we were there, but I did snap this shot of the Hubby rocking his new UCF hat.

So that was it for our Christmas festivities. Nothing super duper special. Sure, there was some family drama. But it wouldn't be the holidays with a little bit of it, right? But it was still nice. The nicest part about it? I didn't have to go back to work Wednesday like Dan did. 

Did you guys have fun surprising little ones with messages from Santa or his reindeer? Anyone have to split Christmas into a two-day celebration? Or maybe you're just glad all the craziness is over? Would love to hear about your holiday festivities!

I hope everyone has a fun & safe New Years! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Home Stretch

It’s the last week of school. Exams are the next two days. Friday is an early dismissal day. The students are getting antsy. They know vacation is coming, and they are impatiently waiting for it to begin. These last few days are always hectic. Between field trips (side note: who schedules a field trip the last week of school??), county assessments, exams reviews, and finals – it’s no wonder many of us have countdowns going.

Amazingly, I’m caught up on grading! That’s never happened before! I told the kiddos I would have their grades by today so that they’d know what to expect before exams. But I said that with a lot of doubt. I’m never good about keeping promises when it comes to grading deadlines. Not this time! This time I was done early! It feels so good. All that’s left is to wait on the county to upload the assessment scores online and then grade semester exams.

And I’ll be done!

That is such a good feeling! You have no idea. Or maybe you do. I don't know. What I do know is that this is a feeling I probably won’t feel again until this time next year. Because next semester I’m anticipating craziness. Next semester is going to be hectic. It always is. Next semester, I have two session of Advanced Placement. And that’s never pretty.

Late nights. Early mornings. Stress levels maxed out. That’s what AP usually means for me. I’m hoping since this is my 3rd year teaching it, it’ll be a little easier in terms of planning. But who am I kidding? The work load and pace is intense! Thirty one chapters in 4 months. Who does that? This girl. And her students. I like to call it boot camp. AP Boot Camp. I tell my kids if they can make it through this course, all of their future classes will seem much easier. They think I’m joking. I wish I was.

I'm trying to convert some of my course to online. All of the AP kids are going to be given iPads this semester. So I'm planning on using an online classroom software (provided by the district) to administer tests/quizzes. I'm still playing around with the idea of having them upload assignments and participate in discussion forums. We'll see. Not sure how involved I want to get. Especially when it took me nearly 30 minutes just to create a 10 question quiz. Time is not going to be my friend. Regardless, I'm excited to play around with some new technology.

I really don't know where I was going with all of that. And I hate to keep rambling on about school stuff. So.... Basically, all of that to say, I'm really looking forward to my Christmas Break!

Anyone else going to have a nice, long holiday vacation? Any tips or advice on how to incorporate iPads into the classroom? Maybe you have a favorite app you like to use with your students?


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