Merry Christmas! I feel like yesterday I was lounging by Mom and Dad's pool, basking in the hot summer sun... and then I blinked. And here we are... Christmas is in 2 days! WOW!
It goes without saying that 2011 has been a year full of challenges. But in those challenges we discovered a strength and peace that can only come from God. Thinking about where we were a year ago, I can honestly say that we are now stronger in our faith, and we look a life through a different lens after enduring so many hardships. We have many blessings and we are thankful for the multitude of ways that God provided for us this year.
Every year I design a Christmas card from scratch. I wish I could send a Christmas card to everyone... but since I can't, please enjoy a digital version found below:
Today was the last day of school for the year of 2011. At 3:20pm, my 11-day paid vacation began. School resumes in 2012 on Tuesday January 3rd, and until then.... I plan to r-e-l-a-x. And clean. And read. And nap. And scrapbook. And basically catch up on everything that I've let slide over the last 3 months since school began. I stayed up till 1am last night wrapping presents for my students. Every student got a goody-bag with a stuffed animal, stencils, stickers, pencils, and pencil sharpener. I also gave each child a chapter book and a picture book. I only spent about $4 total per child, so I think I made out pretty well! My husband said to me last night, "Your coworkers are going to think you're crazy for buying all of that stuff for your kids." My response to him was, "I don't care! These kids have been my motivation to get up and keep going on gloomy, sad days that I didn't feel like climbing out of bed. So I don't mind spoiling them at all. I love these kids." :)
We had our holiday party today, too. The kids put finishing touches on picture frames for their parents that we painted, glittered, and decorated with ribbon. I took pictures of the kids to put inside, and the kids wrapped their presents today to give their parents for Christmas. The party started out with a really special moment. I have a child in my class from a single parent home whose mother is in the military. So, the child came to Hagerstown from Virginia Beach to live with his aunt since his mother's position requires her to travel frequently. Long story short, the mother emailed me last week and wanted to know if she could come in during our holiday party and surprise her little boy. Needless to say, I said yes!!! So at 1:00, a uniformed soldier knocked on our classroom door, and a very shocked and excited boy jumped up out of his seat and exclaimed, "Mommy!!! That's my Mom!" and ran to his mother and jumped into her arms. It was an extremely touching moment, and one that I'm sure I will never, ever forget. After the excitement of the arrival of our guest, the snacks were brought out and I took turns decorating sugar cookies with each of my kiddos. They had a blast. And then... there were the presents. After hours of wrapping 42 books and hand-writing their names on treat bags and tying them all with ribbon, they tore into their gifts on the count of three... and it took less than five seconds for all of that wrapping effort to go out the window :) The best part for me was, not a single student said, "That's it?!" or "I don't want books!" Every single one of them was overjoyed and so appreciative for the little gifts that they received. While I'm excited to have a small vacation from work, I have to admit that I'm going to miss my bunch.
I was on the receiving end of lots of gifts too. I received several cute ornaments, some good-smelly lotiony things, and some things that make you go "Hmmm... what on earth will I do with THAT?!" :) Here's a look at my loot:
Can you figure out what doesn't belong in this picture - HA! or should I say, "Meow!"
Casey was intrigued by the snowglobe :)
Merry Christmas from Casey the Cat