Speer family Christmas

Well - here's the Christmas update. Sorry it took so long to put up.

We'll start with Santa's set up - cookies, milk, and letters from the girls.

Here's a few of the girls getting some of their favorite stuff:

Kait's now into horses quite a bit - I'm sure this'll be a life-long dream she'll be carrying around forever. They also got some really nice jewelry and toys from their Grandparents. Another big hit this year is online buddies - like Webkinz and epets.

And then it was my turn...

Here's the girls giving one of their favorite lines right now.

"Open the Case" You might recognize that from 'Deal or No Deal'.

And here's me...

Opening some of my favorites.

Finally - here's me looking ever SO BEAUTIFUL.

Oh, yeah! I make it look good.

Talk soon,

Christmas with the Roberts Family

Before Christmas day hit, we were able to get together with the Roberts family and celebrate together.

Here's a few shots we were able to take of the pandemonium that transpired.

You should've seen the paper flying. It was like an explosion of confetti scraps, almost like you'd see pouring out of the sky during the Macy's Day Parade.


Here's the pics:
These first ones are of the Roberts family.

A few of Mr. E - my man, actually Christy's man - for some reason he has really taken a liking to having Christy around as his right hand partner.

And here's some of the other Roberts kids - Olivia and Sara:

Finally, here's a few of our girls.

It's always fun to get together with these guys, although 'pandemonium' is definitely the right word to use when we all hang out in one place. That's what keeps things exciting, right?

Thanks to Daniel and Fonda, and the rest of the Roberts Clan for inviting us over - again! You guys are brave... VERY brave.

Of course, there'll be more Christmas pics, coming soon, from our own little family celebration.

Merry CHRISTmas and Happy New Year!


Edward Medard Park - Hillsborough County Park

Picture this...

It's the day after Christmas. You and your family are all sitting around the house. The excitement and energy of Christmas day have worn off a bit, and you've been watching TV for the last several hours.

You're kinda bored, but you're not sure what you want to do.

So, you decide to go out for a nice hike that's a few minutes drive away.

Here's a recap of your hike - if you just happen to live in Central Florida.

Medard Park has a pretty nice playground area, and a neat little biking / exploring area for kids right near the entrance.

Here's the girls climbing on some of the play equipment here:

And then here we are exploring this neat little trail area, directly behind the playground equipment:

Finally, we actually made it onto the trail. Which turned out to be a horse trail, more than a hiking trail. Not a whole lot to see... besides the rear ends of a few horses. Unfortunately, it took us about a half hour walking around exploring before we even figured out how to get onto the horse trail to hike it.

It definitely WAS NOT clearly marked. But for all I know we could have been the only people who've hiked the trail in the last 6 months. Pretty much every one who rode by on a horse looked surprised to see us.

One nice girl actually asked if we had lost our horses back along the trail somwhere?

One thing I will say about hiking in Florida...

It's very anti-climatic.

You know, when you hike near mountains and other natural wonders (in states with more than a 30 foot vertical rise in elevation), you get to see some amazing, even inspiring things. But here, when you get to the end of the hike, you're not really gonna see any landscape more impressive than when you started.


A Real Modern Day Miracle - Part 1


I'm not sure if you caught my previous post about teaching?

If not - you can check out my teaching dream here.


I wanted to be a teacher since I was a junior in high school. But through things we call 'life' I've pursued other interests and professions instead. In fact, I never thought I would return to teaching again. And I definitely never planned to go back to college and take the year (or more) it would have taken to become a teacher.


Through nothing I could have ever planned or imagined, the first steps of a teaching career have blossomed right in front of my eyes.

Is it a miracle?

Maybe, maybe not. To me... YES!

Why - because I could have NEVER planned, nor caused it to happen the way it did.

Here is where I sit right now...

I just received this:

Congratulations, you have completed the Substitute Teacher requirements for the Polk County School Board District

In addition to this, I've also received this:
An 'Official Statement of Eligibility Status' that says I AM eligible to receive my temporary 3 year certification for the State of Florida.

In other words - I am now qualified to become a substitute teacher, PLUS I am also eligible to become a temporarily certified teacher in Florida.

So - that is the start of the miracle that began 2 months ago. There are 3 more parts... 1. When I start substituting, 2. When I start teaching as a temporary / permanent teacher, and 3. When I become an officially certified teacher.

I'll keep you posted.

And most importantly...

Thank you God, for doing the impossible. I never would have dreamt it was possible.


How to Celebrate Christmas in Florida - Part Deux...

So a couple of weeks ago the girls decorated gingerbread houses. I had gotten kits this year from Target. They are actually Halloween houses but I just mad some white royal icing and covered up all the orange that they had used to put the house together with. We bought new candies and away they went! They were each control of their own house and got to decorate it however they wanted.
Here are a few photos of the process!

And here are the finished houses! The first one is Kaitlyn's!
This is the front... There are 4 marshmallow snowmen, one for each of us in the family. and in the back of the house there is a candy cane palm tree because after all we live in Florida now! She was a bit concerned about having snow and a palm tree at the same time. But she quickly decided that you can not have a gingerbread house with out snow so it will just have to do!

And this is the back...

Here is Keeley's house. First photo is the front and second is the back...

The weather is back Oregon summer temps again. The cool only lasted one night and a day. But we enjoyed it all quite a lot. It is so refreshing to have a bit of a chill in the air. You never even think about it or realize it till you don't have it. Any way because of this crazy warm weather in December it has been really hard to really truly feel like it is Christmas time. I feel like we are just pretending and playing along. But I have made a big effort to decorate our apartment anyway. Here are a few photos of the decorations that I have put up this year. The first one is just a wall of photos that I have up. I cut some Christmas scrapbook papers to fit right over the photos and then added a few decoration to the shelves. I also made that little be merry garland this year. Our tree. This is our first ever artificial tree. This had been really hard for me to get used to. I really like the real ones but they are just so stinking expensive here that I could not do it. But I got a steal of a deal on this tree the day on black Friday!

These are some cool letter clings that I found at Target. I really really like them! They came in a big pack with several words. They have really helped to liven up our plain all white apartment! I have them on all the upper kitchen cabinets and on the front door and some on the bathroom mirror. Also you can see some snowflakes that I hung up over our bar where the gingerbread houses are!

This is a close up of the little trees that are next to the front door. And a little tomtin man hiding out in the trees!

And I think that these may be mu favorite decoration this year! I got these awesome vintage mini mercury glass ornaments at a garage sale here this last summer. I got a HUGE 2 gallon ziplock bag FULL of them for a steal of .50 cents!! I almost had a heart attack when the lady sold them to me for only .50! I found the dark green cast iron thing that is holding some of them at Salvation army for a buck and the other green glass was one that Al had from his grandmother. I love how they look sitting on the bar next to the houses! Just love it!!! Believe it or not there are still more in the bag. I will have to come up with more ideas to display them for next year!
Anyway this is my effort to make things festive in our new home. I think that i t may be working, at least for the girls. they sure are excited for Christmas! We spent all day yesterday before I went to work in the evening making cookies for friends and Santa! We still have a couple more to make but the bulk of it is done!
I hope that you enjoyed looking at our decorations.
And wish you all a Merry Christmas!


AWWW! - Cool weather, at last, hits Florida

OH, man! Do you remember the old Alka Seltzer commercials?

You know the ones...

Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz - oh what a relief it is.

I can't believe how relieving it was last night to finally have cool weather.

I mean it showed down into the 50's here inside the apartment by the open windows. It was so cold we had to FINALLY shut all the windows and the sliding door. We even broke out an extra blanket and put it on the bed.

I can't tell you how wonderful that felt. It was like a breath of fresh air.

I guess today was the last day of the cold front, and I hear it's supposed to heat back up into the 70's to low 80's.

I'm hoping for a little more cold weather to hold out - but I don't think such a thing can really survive here for long.


How to Celebrate Christmas in Florida



Is it really Christmas time?

It's, like, 80 degrees outside. I thought there was supposed to be snow during the Christmas Holiday season?


Lights of Lakeland

Christmas is a pretty interesting time here in Lakeland. Apparently, because it's so freaking hot, everyone has to really go all out to get into the feeling of Christmas.

It's still totally warm out - like the low 80's, but everyone still tries to make it seem like the traditional holiday season.

This place is pretty cool though - there's a church right up the road from us (Highland Park Church of the Nazarene)... and they put on this cool Christmas show every year, for free. So we all walked down to it.

It's called the 'Lights of Lakeland'.

The 'lights' part was okay, but what I really liked was the life-like downtown Jerusalem. They even had real, live camels. So that was pretty cool.

Here's a few shots. It was pretty low light, so we just had to make due...

This first one is the Angel Gabriel announcing the birth story of Jesus.

This is a shot of the 3 Wise Men speaking with King Herod, trying to find out where the Baby Jesus had been born. Fortunately the 3 Wise Men decided NOT to listen to Kind Herod, who wanted to kill Jesus, and they left without telling the King where they had found Jesus. The live camel on the right of the picture was totally amazing to see right here in Lakeland - let me tell you... I wasn't expecting to see one.

Here's a shot of Joseph and Mary holding their newborn baby Jesus. They, of course, had to stay in a manger because there was no room in the inn.

And finally, here's the angel announcing the birth of Christ to the shepherds out in the fields around Jerusalem.

Merry Christmas!
And Happy New Year!


A Stowaway tries to get into the Apartment...

Amazingly, it's still right up in the lower 80's here in Lakeland. While Oregon gets pounded with flooding and winds, we are lying around cooking.

In fact - today - 12/13/07 - the girls and I went for a swim in the swimming pool. It is not heated, I might add. It was a little chilly, but not even close to the body numbing temperatures we used to face in Oregon.


The other day we were hanging out in the apartment and a little stowaway tried to sneak in the front door.

Thankfully it wasn't one of the scary creatures that sneak around here from time to time.

Talk soon,


Happy Sixth - Keekers...

It's funny how different kids can be - even within the same family.

As far as presents and events Kait is pure energy. She bounces off the walls and won't sit still. And then you have Keeley - she kind of sits there very somber and stoic. Almost as if she's debating the relevancy of the time/space continuum. It's hard to read her thoughts and ideas from the way her face looks.

Thankfully she's all girl, and she'll just come right out and tell you the truth just like the nose sitting right on your face.

Anyhow, she turned 6 a few weeks ago.

And here's a recap of the big day...

She wanted a Hello Kitty theme. For the most part, Christy captured that - but there was one thing we couldn't really get just right... the cake. So we had to settle for a Hello Kitty hobby - ballet. But Kee liked it well enough, and she was impressed mostly with the gorgeous colors of the cake, not really the picture on it.

And she didn't mind eating it either.

Finally, a few shots of Keeley opening up some of her gifts. I think she had a super day all the way around.