Saturday, January 25, 2014

Back Home: ESL Class, a Graduation, and Selling our Wares

We had another session of ESL/GED in the fall with many of my favorite students returning, along with a few new ones.  We did a lesson all about ice cream, ending up with making ice cream sundaes and ice cream sodas.  Now that's what I call fun learning!  :)
 First we read a bunch of poems about ice cream.  The best was Shel Silverstein's "The Ice Cream Stop."

The circus train made an ice cream stop
At the fifty-two flavor ice cream stand.
The animals all got off the train
And walked right up to the ice cream man.
“I’ll take Vanilla,” yelled the gorilla.
“I’ll take Chocolate,” shouted the ocelot.
“I’ll take Strawberry,” chirped the canary.
“Rocky Road,” croaked the toad
“Lemon and Lime,” growled the lion.
Said the ice cream man, “Til I see a dime,
You’ll get no ice cream of mine.”
Then the animals snarled and screeched and growled
And whinnied and whimpered and hooted and howled
And gobbled up the whole ice cream stand,
All fifty-two flavors
(fifty-three with the ice cream man).

It was a crack up with all of the interesting words, the animal sounds, and the realization at the end that the poor ice cream man was no more.  :)
 No one knew "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!" so we had to recite that a few times.  And then we had a little ice cream party.

One of our students, Henock, completed his GED AND his American citizenship all at the same time so we had a ceremony and celebration for him.  He was actually in my friend Pipa's class last year but works at the hotel and I know him as well.  What a hard working guy!  Congratulations!

Soon it was the end of another session and now we are off till sometime in February.  I usually have my students over to our home for dinner at the end of the session but Rich was super busy at work and didn't really have the time to cook for us as he typically does.  So we had a potluck in the classroom and everyone got their certificates while we visited and enjoyed each other's company.  And hammed it up a little!

My hubby is  quite the jam-master, making a variety of gourmet jams with local salmonberries and different tasty flavors.  Right before the holidays, there's a series of arts and crafts fairs in town so we usually have a booth at each of them. Rich has some fans and followers who call or message us early wanting to put in an order before anything goes on sale.  :)  We sold out in no time and I'm thinking he's going to have to make a lot more next year.
Tammy stopped by to visit while I was working one of the arts and crafts fairs. We had photos, note cards and jams for sale, and it's always a good time visiting with everyone who comes by.

And as the year was winding down, we were getting ready for our next vacation.  Stay tuned and maybe I will get all caught up soon! 

October in New Jersey--yes, I am way behind!

It's not a trip to Jersey without a jaunt down the shore, no matter what time of year.  Rich and I took a quick trip one day just for fun.  I believe we may have lost a little bit of money in one of the casinos after wandering the boardwalk and having a cheese steak.
 It's a little deserted in October!

 And a little chilly!
 We had lunch at my cousin Ruth Ann's one day.  Here's Rick and daughter Katie
 Mom and Ruth Ann
 "Enough with the photos!"
 Ruth Ann and Rick's oldest son Richard with his daughter Natalieanne.
Drove past my Grandmom and Grandpop's house, which always makes me sad.  Every time I see it, it is in worse and worse shape.  They were always so proud of it and kept it pretty with flower boxes and hanging flowers on the porch, along with a couple of green rocking chairs that we loved.  The yard was always fixed up and the house clean and painted.  We have a lot of history in that house.  Now the people who live there don't even know who my grandparents were.  Time marches on, I suppose.
 Mom's cute house decked out for fall.  Love the colors!
 On our last day we walked down to the deli in town and had some lunch with Patty and the kids before heading to the airport in Philly.
Becca and Billy

Billy's getting a little cold and hanging out in Alex's sweatshirt.  :)

Another nice visit comes to a close.  I always love going back to my Jersey roots.  :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Living Life v. Blogging about it

As you can see, I have not documented anything in a long time.  I used to be pretty anal about wanting to get something up on the blog as soon as it happened.  Not that I have a ton of anxious readers awaiting my next post (thanks, Suzasippi, my one constant reader--I think even my family members have quit checking in!) but it's been a great way to remember our experiences over time.  I've been using Blog2Print to create blog books since the beginning and have a nice little collection of the past several years' stories and photos that we can glance through and reminisce about. So, I guess what I am saying is that it has become more for us than for anyone else, though I am always happy to have you come along.  :)  At one time, I thought I would be writing profound thoughts and ideas and tackling the problems of the day but I think I've ended up taking the easy road just highlighting what's happening in our lives.

So, although I am sitting in a hotel room in Jamaica during a rainstorm, I am going to finish up the New Jersey trip first and then try to catch things up.  What's been happening?  Lots of life and little of blogging!

After New York City and the Hudson Valley, we returned to my mom's house for a few more days.  As I've said before, New Jersey is the place that most feels like home to me, though I have only lived there for a few years on a couple of different occasions.  Perhaps because both my parents were from there and we had a large extended family, I feel some sense of rootedness even though I was a nomadic Air Force kid.

Only one of my siblings still lives in Jersey, my youngest brother Bill and his family.  Although we have vastly differing political and religious beliefs, he's always been my buddy and I think we both try to put aside our differences and just enjoy each other's company when we are together.  (We reserve our biggest arguments for Facebook. haha)  His wife Patty is always a big help to my mom and to one of our elderly aunts, and has a heart of gold when it comes to taking care of people.  Their kids are a blast, smart, fun, and funny.  So when we all got together to have some dinner and play a mean game of "Mexican Train," all kinds of hilarity ensued.  I have to admit, I thought "Mexican Train" sounded racist and was calling it "Train," but my mom sent Rich and me our own set and the official title emblazoned on the box reads "Mexican Train." So then I had to descend into the rabbit hole of research about the silly game and could not find a satisfactory answer about why it is called "Mexican Train."  Indeed, it is also just called "Train."  It apparently is derived from a Chinese game called Pai Gaw and has nothing to do with Mexico. Go figure.  I'd never played before but it was hilarious fun.

 Patty, Abby, Alex, Becca
 Abby, Alex, Becca
 Alex, Becca and my mom
 Rich, who seems to win every game we play, no matter what it is.

Something's funny!
Bill and his kiddos

The females of the clan