* Is Santa for real?

Spoiler alert: If you believe in Santa Claus, stop reading now.


I still remember the day I learned that Santa was not real.  That was 61 years ago.  I heard the truth on a radio show, which my parents quickly tried to conceal.  I pretended not to have heard but I knew, in my heart, that Santa Claus was a lie.  My parents continued the Santa farce for several years until I walked in on a stash of unwrapped gifts.  My mother was on the phone and nearly fainted as I scanned the Christmas loot.  I had really wanted to believe the Santa lie.  He knew me, as naughty as I was.  I could ask and wish for anything.  That was powerful in my desperate world.

Do you remember when you first learned that Santa was a fantasy?  I am surprised by how many adults have a clear memory of that event, regardless of how benign their childhood was.  My dearest widower and I decided that we would not lie to our son, despite the cultural pressure to fabricate Santa’s existence.  As a teacher, I will not disabuse kids of their Santa notions, although some students can be relentless in challenging their peers about the Santa lie.  Like religious faith, I think Santa belongs in the hands of parents, not schools.

Do you recall the time you first realized that Santa is not real?  

* Grammar counts

wing-221526__180First, the back story.  On Christmas day, we were all set to fly across the country when the pilot made a terse announcement about trouble with one engine. Like it wasn’t working. He was concerned that there would be no available mechanic on Christmas day.  TMI.  We were given a chance to deplane but had no sooner gotten off than we were told there were no other flight options.  We headed back to our seats.   After a long delay, the pilot announced, laughing hysterically, that were good to go.  It was just a valve problem.  Haha.  We looked at the rest of the sitting ducks and gave each other encouraging smiles.

Obviously, we survived the flight, despite a tantrum from a young girl seated in front of us.   Her brother was a cutie whose voice sounded exactly like one of the Chipmunks.  Maybe that made the girl go crazy.  Anyway, as the plane started to land, the boy took his life into his hands, climbing over his sister to look out the window.

Brother: I see the wing!  (Happily excited) The wing will fall off!

Sister: No, it will FELL off.

Brother: (Long pause.  Plane lands without losing the wing.)  It didn’t fell off!

Sister: Not yet!

What a relief for all of us.  So glad the engine and wing did not FELL off!

* Hand-held hair salons

Here’s a unique hair salon app for elementary aged kids that both boys and girls seem to enjoy.  The Toca Hair Salon app is your one-stop salon for shampooing, combing, shaving, dying and hacking hair to shreds.  Unlike the Pocket Princess apps, once you make the in-app purchase, the flood of ads disappears.  Kids have a wide range of easy-to-use tools for aggressively mangling one of six heads of hair.  My niece photographed this relatively minor hair treatment- a shampoo and combing, followed by color spray in the face.  Thankfully, the spray only sticks to hair and does not cause blindness.
Toca 2

There are 6 characters from which to choose.  They are all humanoid, I think, and appear to enjoy the salon experience, no matter what you do to them.  This “guy” below kept saying, “Wow!” as his hair was lengthened hair and blown into a storm.  I asked my niece if he was a lion and she answered, “Look at his nose.”  ‘Nuff said.Toca 3Apart from possibly encouraging kids to take a razor to their own hair, this is a fun app.  One more favorite photo, to the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”Toca 1


* Winning at cards

I’ve posted before that I am overly competitive and a poor loser, especially at card games.  Well, maybe all games. But I have found a way to win at cards.  Holiday cards!  Several years ago, a friend sent me the most delightful digital card.   I found it in my spam box, which is where many of these treasures have gone to rest.

After retrieving that card, I immediately joined Jacquie Lawson’s awesome website.  It was still a couple of years before I abandoned snail mail.  When it became increasingly harder to find teddy bear Christmas cards, I turned back to Jacquie.  I haven’t even sent Jacquie’s cards out faithfully, but I think I’m on a winning roll now.  She does make it very easy.   Once you have entered email addresses, you can select from them for any occasion.  Her card selection is amazing.

Some background on this site: Jacquie Lawson is a British artist who seems to have stumbled into the world of digital greetings.  Many of her cards include Chudleigh and other sweet pets.  The cards often have original music, can be personalized by adding your own message, and well, they are simply delightful.  I now have her widget on my desktop.  Big Ben chimes and reminds me of birthdays and holidays.  All for a VERY low price.  No, I don’t get any commission!  Yes, I wrote this on December 22 at 4:10!

Jacquie lawson widget

* Happy happy

Mrs. ClausI ran into Mrs. Claus at WalMart!  She was spreading holiday cheer despite sweating in her sassy knit dress.  She had the most beautiful smile, which made the hordes of last-minute shoppers giddy with joy.  Mrs. Claus and I commiserated over the muggy 75º  weather; had she not been in a hurry to get on the sleigh (you know Santa won’t ask for directions if he gets lost!), I would have told her something terrific.  We had a whopping thunderstorm last night.  

Yes, Virginia, this is good news.  The old farmer’s tale in North Carolina is that if there’s lightning in the winter, and 2 days before Christmas qualifies, we will get snow in about 13 days!  I’ve been testing this adage for about 20 years and we’ve only missed snow or ice ONCE!  Think snow, folks, think snow!  And thanks, Mrs. Claus, for enduring the heat!

* Christmas blues

blue Christmas

Being bombarded with the “happiest time of the year” messages can get very old when you are not at all happy.  When you would rather not even be alive.  I’ve had many years like that, tormented by memories of Christmases -and life- past.  Growing up abused, I felt alone, scared, and hurt.  Then as an adult, I carried all that pain into each holiday season.  I began to see the pattern of guilt expressed by my parents in an overload of presents at Christmas.  I remembered the glimmer of hope that there’d be a reprieve from my father’s violence and drunkenness, at least for half the day.  I looked back at all those Christmases and mourned.

I have friends (and myself included) whose loved ones have died during this season and each year is a painful reminder.  Other folks mourn the loss of dreams they had for their kids, hopes that their sons will turn away from drugs or that their daughters will leave abusive relationships.  Others are still coming to terms with their child’s disabilities, sometimes still blaming themselves.

I had no solution to the tremendous anguish which made me suicidal.  Someone else did, and He transformed my life in 1988.  My advice for Christmas blues is to hang on.  Hang on to someone who will help you get through the bleakness.  Hang on through serving others.  Hang on through reading or exercise.  Eat chocolate.  Hang on, hang on, hang on.  Fight for life, no matter how impossible it seems.  I never, ever, ever, ever imagined a life full of peace and love.  I scoffed at the “religious” and thought about dying every day.  Christmas carols made me weep.  Hang on!  There is so much more than you can imagine!

* How I got my mojo back

My gingerbread baking mojo, that is.  It started off pretty rough with flour out the wazoo.  Everyone knows you don’t use that much flour or you’ll have a dusty white house instead of that rich caramel color.  Gingerbread 1

I used a terrific pattern by the Gingerbread Exchange folks.  Just register for free and download patterns, recipes, and more.  They also have a gallery of photos which I avoid, since I am crafty but not crafty, if you know what I mean.  Anti-Pinterest, in other words.Gingerbread 2

As I made house piece after house piece, I got into a rhythm.  I remembered that I can use the card stock pattern pieces to slide the sections onto baking pans (after ripping countless sticky pieces into tatters).  I recalled that no one, young or old, realizes that the roof pieces of this design are bigger than the walls, so I kept those separate.  My dearest widower cut cardboard, covered with aluminum foil, for a base which allows room to create a fancy garden.  He put goodies in bowls.  Then the real fun began.  Five kiddos had a blast!  Royal icing stuck to every surface!  And my gingerbread mojo was BACK!Gingerbread 3

No finished pictures?  The fun was in the making.  The kiddos carted off baggies of icing and goodies to keep the fun going.  And to give me a chance to scrape the house clean.


Walmart is a Holy Land

This Christmas story blew me away. I am also guilty of judging others by their clothing and demeanor. Thankfully, these sweet folks allowed their children to lead the way. Merry merry indeed!


“May I buy your groceries?”

Rather than buy ourselves and our young adult children gifts this Christmas, we decided to walk the walk.  You know.  That walk where you stop indulging yourself with increasingly frivolous items and actually reach out to help others not as fortunate.

We bought several Walmart gift cards with funds we would have used to buy our gifts for one another and our kids.   Then our daughter and daughter-in-law (who is pregnant with twins, our 10th and 11th grandchildren, so yes, we have more than enough blessings in our life), Mr. Wilkinson  and I went to our local Walmart yesterday, a beautiful Sunday morning.  Not quite knowing how to do what we wanted to do, just praying we’d get it right and not embarrass anyone or get arrested.  Our girls decided on an approach, took the gift cards, and my husband and I stood at a distance…

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* The shoe

I love Cee’s photography site and especially her oddball photo challenge.  Most of my photos look odd.  I recognize beauty but I can’t seem to capture it.  I’m the same with classroom crafts, decorating anything, and clothes.  Anti-Pinterest is my middle name.  So here’s something that caught my eye in a beauty salon bathroom.  I tried like crazy to keep the toilet out of it.


* 5 Tweeting Tips for Educators

Assuming the reader is savvy with social media, blogging and IT tools to help manage content, I have re-written this post to focus on exposure in 5 smarter tips for advanced users of social media. In this post, I share my secrets and explain what works for me to help me work smarter, not harder.

Source: 5 Tweeting Tips for Educators