Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Honoring High School Teachers in Our Family Tree, part 2

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In this the second part of honoring the  high school teachers in our family, I have some more very interesting people to introduce to you!  One is a retired English teacher so that I’d better watch my dangling participles! Continuing in alphabetical order by last name we’ll be saluting a science teacher first.

Holshouser, MarthaMartha Powell Beck Holshouser, wife of my husband Max’s first cousin, John Alton Holshouser, is a retired Science teacher who was married to a farmer. She worked on the farm and helped raise prize-winning  show cattle, as well as reared three wonderful, smart and kind sons– all married, some with children of their own! Besides her busy schedule and teaching responsibilities, Martha has helped organize the Holshouser family reunion for 4o years!

In 1973, Martha graduated from Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, North Carolina. She then taught for 30 years! Fifteen of those years were spent teaching science at Erwin Junior High School, and 15 at East Rowan  High School. Both schools are located in Salisbury, North Carolina.  Martha taught science all of those years! She taught Physical Science, Earth Science, Environmental Science, and Chemistry! I know Martha well, and she is a doer, a go getter. I bet those students who had her for a teacher knew they were blessed to have such a knowledgeable teacher. She is an enthusiastic person  whose positive spirit is catching!  Congratulations on a wonderful career and family and thank you for teaching our leaders of tomorrow how to problem solve! 

 

Sharon Lynn was my friend first, we were neighbors and SAM_1981gardeners together when we discovered our kinship though my genealogical research! We are cousins through my mother’s family, Beard, Reynolds, and Pierce through the Houchins, and the Clements all the way back to Jamestown! Sharon is a retired English teacher married to a retired Woodworking teacher. However, although they are retired from teaching, both of them work full time. Sharon went back to school after retirement and earned her CNA so that she could work with seniors, helping them remain in their homes. Sharon is a force to be reckoned with!  Intelligent, creative, energetic even driven at times, she is dedicated to her clients and works diligently to make them happy and comfortable.  It is easy to see why she still has former students who call her and ask for her advice. She lives here in North Carolina, taught in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and  West Virginia, and has students calling her from California!  She is a strong advocate who goes the extra mile to help students and friends through life, as well as school. Sharon is a talented craftsperson also, making wreaths, cloth flowers, quilts, and costumes among other things. She and her husband facilitated the staging of  plays and events for their church for many years. Over the years, they have kept a sick parent in their home and have helped support and care for their chronically ill adult son . The old adage, “ask a busy person” comes to mind when I think of my dynamic cousin Sharon! 

Teaching English, punctuation matters

 

Nicklin, Stephanie Williamson editedMy younger cousin Stephanie Williamson Nicklin is the next teacher I want to honor. Stephanie is my first cousin once removed through the Kearse, Houchins, Langhorne family lines. Her Mom Claudia was my first cousin with her mother and my mother being Kearse sisters. Stephanie comes from a family of educators with her father a teacher and principal, and her sister plus many cousins and Aunts and Uncles being teachers. Stephanie lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia which is where she teaches Biology in the High Schools. She is assigned to different schools as a part-time instructor. Just think of all the more students whose lives she touches that way! She has two teenagers at home, and a husband who is a leader and instructor on the SWAT team of the police force.  

Young female teacher teaching human anatomy at biology class

–source, depositphotos.com

I know Stephanie well, and I take my hat off to her every day! She is a friendly, strong, smart, and kind individual whose enthusiasm and energetic approach to life never seem to wane!  The students of Virginia Beach are so lucky to have her influence in their lives, although they may not realize that until later in life. I stand in awe of her ability to organize so well and cope with the dangers of her husband’s career while coping with teens and her own career. Way to go Stephanie, you rock! The sign below is one she loves, and that tells us just about all we need to know about the positive person she is–one who builds people up, doesn’t tear them down!

Self worth

 

Spangler, Betty Smith croppedBetty Spangler Smith is the first of two Spanger/Langhorne family member cousins I want to acknowledge.  Betty is a retired Latin and Spanish teacher in High School who taught full time 33 years, and has been substituting for the last seven!  She taught Latin levels 1-5, and AP Latin as well as Spanish levels 1 and 2.  She also taught an Introduction to Foreign Languages class. What a rigorous career!  What a great opportunity to expand the minds, abilities, even the worlds of so many students! Research shows that learning a foreign language is good for our brains–creating new learning pathways. We also know it allows us to communicate with many other cultures at home and around the world. Thank you Betty for giving our children this opportunity–for training our leaders of tomorrow!

Spanish, factspy.net

Betty is also an excellent genealogical researcher. I had the opportunity to hear her speak at a family reunion last year and loved it! She told of the history of the family, and anecdotal stories for all of us to enjoy. It was so great to see this dedicated teacher in action!

Betty is also  the supervisor of the Credit Union at her old high school, a job she really loves! She explains, “We are the only high school in our district that has a credit union! I work with 4 students who get community service time for helping me, and they get banking experience, so it’s a win-win situation for all! The kids I have are juniors or seniors and since we have some days of no customers, it really gives me a chance to get to know the 4 who work with me.”  You know she is a genuine, caring teacher when you hear her say, as I did the other day, that it almost makes her cry to think of not interacting with students everyday when she truly retires again- possibly next year! Your influence will go on forever dear Betty. 

My own mother required me to take Latin in High School. She impressed upon me the importance and helpfulness of learning this classical language in developing my vocabulary and knowledge of words. I have Mom and my Latin teachers  to thank that I now know these Latin phrases and enjoy using them!

Latin phrases, latinsuitcase.com

 

One thing anyone who knows our family, from one end to another, has to admit is that we have incredibly talented, intelligent, and dedicated  people in our group. The fact that many have chosen education for their careers, only speaks more highly of our values. Epitomizing those character traits is Spangler, Harriet Ann Caldwell, Otto wifeHarriet Ann Caldwell Spangler who retired after 35 years of teaching all levels of High School Mathematics! She taught 7 years in Kentucky, and 28 years in Florida!  Harriet actually taught Physics as well, but her favorite was always geometry with algebra running a close second!  Harriet’s leadership skills were well recognized as she served as the Math Department Chairperson for many years at Newberry High School in Alachua County just west of Gainesville, Florida.  What a career! When I look back at my own High School career, geometry was one of my favorite subjects as well, and I loved my math teachers all the way through school. I have no doubt that Harriet Spangler inspired many, many students to make the most of their lives. Teachers are our first line counselors, guidance counselors, and instructors–when are we going to let them know how strongly we value them!

Spangler, Harriet and Otto, chuck's parentsWhen I asked Harriet about how she and Otto met, she told me such a sweet and touching story, that I thought I’d share her words with you! 

“Otto and I were high school sweethearts.  We met on the tennis courts near my home when I was 13 and he was 14.  He was there playing with a friend and I too was there with my girl friend.  It started pouring down rain, and his friend offered my friend a ride home, and Otto offered to take me home on his motor bike.  He sat up on the tank and I sat behind him.  By the time we got home, his shirt was soaked, so I invited him in and mother dried his shirt by hanging it in front of the oven.  We listened to 45 RPM records, and talked while it dried.  Otto tells that when he went home to eat lunch, he told his parents that he met the girl today that he wanted to marry.  It took a few more years to convince me.  We were married when I was 19 and he was 20, and had been married for 57 years when he passed away.  Fifty-seven wonderful years.” 

Harriet and Otto attended Carson-Newman University near Knoxville, Tennessee.  Since her husband was a year ahead of her, Harriet decided to quit college–NOT!  She decided she needed to finish college in three years so that she could go with him when he attended seminary in Louisville, Ky! She went to summer school and carried some heavy loads of classwork–they both graduated in 1958! Harriet graduated with honors!  That same drive and determination carried her though life in raising her family, teaching her classes, and in helping Otto with his ministry to their community. What a wonderful woman and a wonderful teacher—whose life sets an example for us all! 

Together she and Otto raised three children, Chuck (Otto Jr.), Elizabeth, and Victor,  who have become the kindest, most considerate adults who could ever make a parent proud! Otto was the Baptist Campus Minister at the University of Florida. When he died recently, there was an outpouring of love for him and for Harriet that was awe inspiring and let us know just how much this couple has touched their whole community. Harriet continues to lead her family through their grief, and to keep the faith she and her husband believed in so strongly! Harriet shared this video with us recently via facebook, and I thought it a blessing to share with all of you as she has blessed so many. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of  our high school teachers! It is surely not enough, but please know it is worth more than diamonds to our youth and our society!  We are thankful to God for your gifts and your talents and for placing you with us and in our world!  As we honor more educators, we will turn the spotlight on our Principals and on our Professors and Instructors in our colleges and universities.   How exciting! 

Teachers, Golden apple award from Center for reseach in learning and teaching, crlt.umich.edu

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Honoring the High School Teachers in Our Family

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Teacher support without date

High School is a whole different world from Elementary and Middle School. Students– some, are thinking about careers and college. Some are thinking about girls…or boys!  Hormones are raging, anger spills over easily, there’s driving, dancing, and football!  There are the shy introverts, and the wide open extroverts –and then there are teachers and principals! Bravest of all souls on earth! We have at least twelve high school teachers in our family and two principals, plus one assistant principal already recognized!

Max Holshouser, 2013I have to start with my most favorite high school teacher in the world of course–my husband, Max Holshouser. After teaching for twelve years, Max retired  almost two years ago now.  Max earned a BA in Industrial Arts Education at North Carolina State University and has taught woodworking as well as his other subjects. Although trained as a teacher, Max spent  25 years as a mechanical designer in industry.  He designed things like the  mechanical components  for uninterruptible power supply sources, and million dollar pharmaceutical bottle filling 061313093651machines!  When he decided to teach, he brought all of that experience into his classroom.  He taught drafting, Computer Assisted Drafting to be exact. He also taught Architecture and Engineering honors classes at Wakefield High School in Wake County, NC.  Max taught woodworking in a community college setting and to middle schoolers along the way. It was always interesting for me to visit his school and classroom and see the high esteem his peers and his students had for him. Everywhere we went  were students speaking to him, “Hi Mr. H.! What do you think of this! Look what I did!”  After they graduated, several students got in touch to let him know how things were going in college.  Recognizing my bias on his behalf,  I wrote an in-depth blog post about Max previously, so if you’d like to see some of his woodworking you can at this 3 part post: Max Alexander Holshouser, Family Man and Extraordinary Craftsman.

TRAVIS 6

Architectural model built from CAD design in classroom of Max Holshouser, abt. 2012

I think it is so great to find out what family has been doing and to learn more about them! With that in mind, I want to tell you about more  of the high school teachers in our family both past and present!  I will present them in alphabetical order according to their surnames!

Claire Fallon with crown of flowers, croppedA cousin through my Scottish Hogue family, Claire Fallon is a young woman I have known all of her life! Her mother and I were college roommates discovering we were cousins after I got involved in genealogical research in my  60’s.  I have had the honor of watching Claire grow up and become this amazing teacher!  From childhood on, Claire was very independent and creative. She developed into a strong individual with philosophies of life well-defined.  She was blessed in my opinion, to grow up in Hawaii having been born in Pennsylvania, and to have spent her early childhood in North Carolina.  In Hawaii I believe, she embraced a healthy lifestyle, danced and became interested in theatre and yoga.  She earned a BA from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She also took extensive training in yoga at the Yandara Yoga Institute on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.  

In 2010, this courageous young woman opened and taught in a school for yoga and meditation. The school was named The Culebra Institute of Yoga and was located on the beautiful island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. Amazingly, when Claire moved back to Hawaii in 2014, she opened a branch of this school in Honolulu! She then became a business tycoon as well as a teacher at heart. Loving theatre and dance still, Claire took a position teaching both of these at St. Andrew’s Priory School in Claire in playHonolulu, Hawaii which includes grades K-12! Claire teaches music and movement to K-5,  and directs theater productions in 6-12.  She is currently directing an all female  Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, and she and the students are very excited about it!  Just look at a typical day in the life of this dynamic young educator:

Started off my morning with some meditation and yoga, taught 4 classes of music and movement for young children, led a status acting workshop for older kids, went snorkeling and saw a school of unicorn fish, watched a sunset on the beach, got take out from Shaloha, and in bed before 9pm! That’s a day well lived!”

Claire Fallon yoga pose in water

Last year  Claire  taught  a sunset yoga class at the Yoga School of Kailua, in Kailua, Honolulu County, Hawaii. In October, 2015, Claire will start teaching a new yoga class through her new endeavor called Clarity Yoga. You can find information about Clarity Yoga on facebook , just click on the name.

Just in case you were hoping Claire would do more for you and our world, she does!  Claire is the owner/consultant of Hawaii Green Living. Through her efforts there she teaches people to live a healthier life and to decrease their footprint on our earth. You rock Claire! We are so proud of you and your efforts to make the world a better place.

Susan Elswick Ferrell, Math Geek Teacher of the YearSusan Elswick Ferrell is part of our extended Spangler family. She is officially retired from teaching in high school, but like many teachers,  continues because she loves the students and the job. Susan has had an amazing career. She started college herself at Southern West Virginia Community College then finished at West Virginia University Institute of Technology with a degree in Mathematics Education in 1977.  In 2004 Susan earned her Masters Degree from University of Phoenix in Technology and Curriculum. 

Susan’s career varied as well from beginning to end with some amazing peaks and valleys of course.  Just after finishing college, Susan taught remedial classes for college students at her alma mater. After that she taught 7th grade Math and coached cheerleading at Summerville Junior High School. Then she taught Special Education on the Junior High level for three years. She began to teach in high school and loved it. Moving to  Montgomery, WV. and  Valley High School, she taught every Susan Elswick Ferrell cartoon math teacherMath course offered there and some computer programming for the rest of her high school career, retiring in 2011. However, that is not all she did–she was the advisor for the yearbook most of her time at Valley  High School and loved it. She coached cheerleaders for a few years.  As well as all of that,  on a county-wide level, she piloted the computer grading system and taught it in the different schools. Awesome! 

Even while teaching in high school,  Susan also taught part-time at West Virginia Tech.  During eight summers Susan  taught “Upward Bound” programs which encourage children from low-income or low opportunity situations to learn that they can succeed  in college and beyond.   Since retiring she has continued to teach part-time, two courses a semester where she has generally taught developmental math, or Finite Math.  

What an amazing career with many mixed experiences as well.  We know that Susan was an extraordinary teacher also, because in 2006, she was chosen Secondary Teacher of the Year not only from her own school, but also from the whole of Fayette County, West Virginia! I am not surprised that they were as proud of her as her extended family is! You know Susan was an excellent teacher when she states emphatically that “It’s all about the kids!” and says she misses them since retirement! That’s a teacher to love! 

We have many more high school teachers in our family tree, some who came before us  and laid the groundwork  for our family.  I will have the joy of telling their stories in the next post. I can hardly wait to hear what some of you think of these three incredible teachers! We are blessed with talent in our families! 

Teachers need 3 bones

 

 

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Life and Joy

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blog post on loving life media

Helen with grandchildren Liam 7, and Katy 3, being silly.

I love life! I am at such an interesting stage in my life right now, (retired, disabled, too dependant for my liking) that it’s fun to stand back and analyze a bit. As a teen and young adult college student I was busy achieving and playing…like most of us at that age. Fun was my middle name.

Then I married and became a responsible adult with children of my own and a profession. I taught community seminars on parenting for heaven’s sake, who does that who actually has children! LOL I lived in fear of my children throwing a temper tantrum at the grocery store! LOL  Not my kids, they were perfect! LOL My husband and I were active in church, PTA, Band Boosters…Scouts…you name it, we did it! LOL We lived through, and lived with dying parents, such a sad time for all of us.

Then we lived through Max and I turning 50 and falling apart, so young! His open heart surgery was a fix and he has remained the rock and engine of our family with his mechanical heart valve!  Mine however, was experimental because I couldn’t be fixed, and yet, although predicted to die in five years, here I am 17 years later–looking forward to more! Everyday, I am thankful that I married Max who cares for me and opens my world. Our kids are grown and add joy to our lives in different ways.

Cakes by Annie, EasterAnnie learned well from her Dad all about baking…but she went further as kids are wont to do…and is an amateur pastry chef now.

Ali, our musician, is a mother of three kids from 17 months to 7! Can you say BUSY?!  Ali at 40th birthday party with Welcome to the Zoo sign!

Balloon fest 2015, Ali, Liam , Katy, and Evie, with friend Michael enjoy experience of being in the basketAli and family with Pooh at Disney Wd may 2015, cropped

Still, with life and sickness…comes hobbies and interests that make our lives thrive. Max’s woodworking, my Red Hatters, genealogy and our gardening more often fill our days. Blog post loving life

But then there are the surprises…

Six weeks or so ago a good friend and I piled into her car and joined my sister on a garden tour in Virginia!  On this tour, I got to see the church my grandparents met in just after the Civil War! Can you believe it! Wheelchair dependant, there I was, having a fancy lunch at the premier Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia with my sister, friend, and reuniting with old highschool friends, an unexpected blessing. SAM_0464

Last week we were in the midst of a hot-air balloon festival! So beautiful, so majestic, so peaceful!Balloon Fest 2015, glow Balloon fest 2015, flag balloon in flight Balloon fest 2015, Katy in red hat and dress

Last night, I was at Falls Lake State Park here in Raleigh, NC with all of our immediate family and extended family from South Carolina. My grandkids, ages 7, 3, and 17 months, provide unbounded joy in their enthusiastic enjoyment of the moment!  Sticks become swords or magic wands, sand and water become a huge playground of exuberance! Showers of sand, splashes of water, running, jumping, tumbling…oh to be a child with this kind of freedom on a summer evening again!  Fireflies…lightening bugs…oh my gracious..they are magical for a child and adults!  Campfires, hamburgers and hot dogs, roasting marshmallows! We met other campers also, hiking/rolling trails, and just enjoying the weather….campers are generally friendly, helpful people with interesting lives of their own of course. How much fun to meet strangers who are living next door or across the way in that tent or RV.

Last week, my last beautiful Iris bloomed, this week the daylilies are opening their cheerful colors to our days! The morning glories are singing, and yesterday, my first magnolia blossom opened! Tonight it looks like I’ll get to watch the first moonflower of this season quiver its way open and perfume the night!

Life….it is….enjoy!  Thank you God.

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“Z” is for Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah with Grandchildren

As a child, and as an adult I’ve always loved this song! When you’re happy, nothing else expresses the mood quite so well in my book! You can whistle it, and you can sing it as if no one is watching or listening! LOL That’s what I do..or perhaps, I should say, that is what my grandchildren and I do, and have done over the years!  

Helen with Liam and Katy, Zip a Dee Doo Dah

Helen with grandchildren Liam and Katy

My oldest grandchild, Liam is  7 now, but when he was three, as his sister Katy is now, he would sit on the arm of my power wheelchair (can’t walk far due to severe heart disease) and we would ride all over the neighborhood! He loved it, and wanted to ride and ride! So, we’d talk, we’d notice things, and we’d sing! My favorite song to sing with him was Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, I bet you couldn’t have guessed that huh?  Can you imagine the sight we made, riding around on my wheelchair, grandma and grandchild, singing at the top of our lungs! I know that some of our good friends/neighbors used to tease and also let us know they loved it! I often wondered if others who didn’t know us wondered about that old lady wandering the neighborhood in her wheelchair, singing with abandon with that little boy! LOL However, the men in white coats, nor the police ever showed! My sidekick and I had a ball, and I’ll never forget it for sure! 

“X” = Extraordinarily Excellent Xylophone Player, My Daughter Ali

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Ali Holshouser Orcutt, High School

I’ll never forget the high school orchestra concert when I first heard my daughter Ali play the xylophone in concert. We were used to seeing her play the marching bells in the Marching Band, and used to hearing her playing piano at home, while she played timpani and other percussion instruments in the orchestra. But this night was special, as they spotlighted her solo on the xylophone! She played the Flight of the Bumble Bees! If you have never heard this song, give a listen to the recording below. It is so fast, oh my gracious, you could hardly see the mallets moving they were flying so fast as she struck the keys!  As a mother, I’m pretty sure, my mouth fell open, LOL, and I sat up a bit straighter–why are we so often the least prepared to know how talented our children are? Perhaps because to us they are children, our children forever. When they excel, its like…”My child, when, how, what?” I have been extremely blessed in that I have two daughters, Ali and Annie, who play multiple instruments and both sing! Music has always been a large part of our lives and a joy for our family. (I’m sure you noticed, but just in case, this is not a video tape of our daughter playing the xylophone, but somone else from youtube. We do have a vhs recording, but we have yet to get it changed to a more usuable format, so sad! Hope you enjoy the above.)

What brings you and your family joy?  

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“W” is for Walt Disney World

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Goggle Earth view of Cinderella's Castle at Disney World, 2015

Goggle Earth view of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, 2015

Walt Disney World in Florida, USA–is there a more magical place on earth?!  We don’t think so, and our family has had some very special adventures there over the last 45 years!  Yes! I said 45 years, Max and I got to go to Disney World for a preview in December, 1970, a full ten months before they officially opened in October, 1971! We had gone down to visit his cousin Ronnie Kennerly who was a police officer in Jacksonville, Florida. Disney had invited the law enforcement  officers to come visit, and Max and I got to go also! We had no idea the magnitude of what we were seeing, nor of how privileged we were to see it before it opened to the public! All we knew was that our 21 year-old selves loved it and thought it was magical for sure! 

1970 pictures of trip to Disney World

By 1989, Max and I realized our first child, Ali was 15 and our second child Annie was 7, and we had not taken them to Disney World yet! How had we let this happen! Off we went for our great adventure! Then in 2005, our daughter Annie did an internship at Disney World for her Hospitality and Tourism Degree at Appalachian State University. While she lived at Disney for eight months, we went down to visit her during the Christmas holidays that year. The family now included Greg Orcutt as Ali had gotten married in 2001. Max and I have not been to Disney World since that 2005 trip, but in nine days, our daughter Ali and her family, Greg and three kids 7, 3, and 15 months are taking the plunge and touring the wonderful world of Disney, I can hardly wait to see pictures! 

Look at the difference in tickets alone between when we went in 1989, and for Ali and her family to go now in 2015! While we used paper tickets, treasures in our family scrap books, Ali and her family will wear electronic bracelets, called Magic Bands, which they will scan to get in, proving they have previously bought their admission tickets.  The bands not only replace the tickets to the parks, but also room keys, charges to the room, and fast passes for rides. How cool is that! 

 In 1989, Max and I stayed off campus in a condominium. It was lovely, but we decided it would be easier to stay in a Disney Resort  if you had kids.  When our children and grandchildren go next week, they will be staying on Disney. To this day, I remember how lovely it was to visit Disney World.  From the moment we parked and entered Disney, we were met and catered to by Disney cast members who saw to our every whim–with a smile! If that alone didn’t put a smile on your face, surely the parades, the Castle, the riverboat where we had breakfast with Mickey, Minnie and all the characters–to the Broadway play we saw in the Contemporary Resort, every moment was awesome, for us adults and the kids!  We rode rides, and visited backstage at Disney MGM Studios to see how movies were made.  Back at Magic Kingdom, we actually had lunch with Cinderella in the Castle, an event we had signed up for six months ahead of time! To this day, Annie remembers seeing her favorite Princess and that when lunch was over, Cinderella said, “I have to go now, because I have to go feed the Prince!” That amazed 7-year-old Annie! The days and nights were filled with parades, fireworks, oh my, and we shopped ’til we dropped! We left Disney thinking what a fabulous trip we had.

1989 trip to Disney World in pictures: 

In May 2005 through January 2006, our daughter Annie completed the Disney College Program (an internship) at Walt Disney World! During that time she took classes at Disney College, became a cast member and worked at Pop Century Resort in retail and in the food court. She also had the opportunity to work special events like the Food and Wine Festival and Star Wars Weekends. She even joined the cast choir which allowed us to hear her sing along with celebrities on Christmas Eve in Epcot Center! We had never been to Disney at Christmas time, and the sight took my breath away! Luxurious greenery and decorations covered every door, arch, and window! By then, I was sick and using a wheelchair. Getting on and off the monorail, getting in and out of plays, restaurants, stores–always, ALWAYS there was someone to lend a hand and see that my needs were met! My life might have been stressful for me and my family at home, but at Disney World, being handicapped brought support beyond belief, so that only joy remained! Annie learned the ins and outs of Disney, including the underground, cast only, tunnels to get them from one place to another. With all the normal trials of working at a place that large and busy, Annie finished still loving Disney, and having made a lifelong friend.  A sick Mom, and the eminent birth of her nephew, persuaded Annie to come home, but she has always considered returning for a career at Disney. She is a family person, true, but she is a Disney girl as well. One of our cousins calls her “Disney Girl” in fact–a nickname she loves!

2005 Disney College Program with Annie and Family Christmas at Disney

I want to share with you some pictures and a video from the Candlelight Processional which they have at Epcot Center every Christmas season. If you are ever at Disney during the Christmas season, you might find this as awe-inspiring as I did. I will never forget the trumpets, the candlelight procession, and the beautiful voices raised in praise that night in 2005, including our daughter Annie’s voice. 

Being the amateur genealogist that I am , I cannot close this post without sharing with you that I discovered that my husband and children are actually related to Walt Disney himself!  The relationship chart, showing that they are 9th cousins, 3x removed  looks like this: 

Disney relationship to max, 9th cousin, 3x removed

Forty-five years of trips to Walt Disney World includes my daughter Ali and her family’s trip this coming week. I can hardly wait to hear about my grandchildren’s first trip to Disney and to add some of their pictures to our collection. 

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“S” is for Scavenger Hunt!”

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Easter was a big holiday for our grandchildren this year. It didn’t look like that was going to happen the week before however.  One of their grandparents became very ill and had to be hospitalized. Thank heavens he recovered  Even the kids were sick the week before, viruses sent their fevers to 103 degrees, you can tell in little Evie’s eyes above that she wasn’t feeling well even though she was enjoying her big pink ears and furry bunny!  The bigger kids were sick also, but an Easter delivery made them suddenly much better! Thank heavens they were well by the weekend and could enjoy the awesome scavenger hunt prepared by their loving Aunt Annie, as well as the Easter egg hunt and games in the neighborhood.
I think the scavenger hunt designed by their Aunt Annie, my daughter, was incredible, and I had nothing to do with its creation! I am writing a children’s book about it however.  The hunt was fairly short and simple, befitting of the players who were ages 7, 3, and 15 months.  Part of what I thought was so amazing was that Annie  not only planned a hunt to involve all three children, each at their own skill level, but made it so that they had to take turns, help each other, and all be involved–a herculean feat for that age in my opinion! The goal of the scavenger hunt was to find Easter baskets made for the grandchildren by their Aunt and Grandparents.

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Liam 7, Katy 3, and Evie 15 months were so excited!  Aunt Annie told them they would find a big surprise if they followed the clues of this scavenger hunt!  They had to follow exactly, to find the treasure! Aunt Annie gave everyone else in the room a colored plastic egg to hold, all different colors. She put pieces of colored paper down on the floor, each matching an egg. Then …
“Happy Easter everybody! We’re having a scavenger hunt so that Liam, Katy, and Evie (the only children present) can find a treasure!
First we need Evie to pick up a piece of paper and bring it to Aunt Annie. Can you do that Evie? Go ahead, pick up one of those pieces of paper and give it to me? That’s right, good job!” Evie picked up a purple piece of paper and toddled right over to Aunt Annie!
Aunt Annie then announced:  “OK Evie!  Now Katy and Liam, you have to get the matching colored egg from one of the other family members in the room! What color egg matches this paper? Their silly Granddaddy yelled out “Blue”! But the kids didn’t fall for it! “Purple” yelled Katy, and she and Liam both ran to their Grandmother whom they called GiGi, to get the purple egg! Liam got there first and opened the purple egg, inside was a clue for Katy! (all the eggs held identical clues so it didn’t matter what color Evie chose, that was just her task.)
Annie had planned for the next clue to involve Katy, youngest to oldest! Liam read the clue to Katy, and was so excited, he could hardly keep from giving her the answer!  The clue read:  “Next to a popsicle, which is really quite silly, Is your next clue, in a place dark and chilly.”
You could see Katy thinking, then she took off running to the kitchen, where the freezer is on the bottom half of the refrigerator, and she had helped get popsicles from before! She was thrilled to find another egg, with another clue!  This time she opened it, but her brother Liam read the clue–which was for him!
Oh my gracious, this clue was tricky, and had two different problems to solve to find the next clue! On the piece of paper Liam held in his hand, was a picture of some bunnies hiding in the grass, and you could only see their ears! The clue read: “Look at the bunnies trying to hide! Count their ears to see how many bunnies there are. (There were six bunny ears, so there were only three bunnies! Liam figured it out!)  Now count back to the car of the train that matches the number of bunnies, and you will find a clue!”  Liam rushed over to the train, “Oh, I know, I know…one, two , three…YES!” There was another brightly colored plastic egg with another clue!

Easter 2015, Scavenger Hunt

This clue was for Katy! Inside the egg were four pieces of paper, each had a letter and part of a picture. The clue read, “Spell your name with these letters to see what to find with your next clue.” Aunt Annie asked Katy, “What’s that letter Katy? and that one? Yes! Can you spell your name with them?” Katy knew just what to do, and put KATY together very quickly!  The pieces of paper came together as Katy spelled her name, to reveal the picture of a toy school bus. Liam got so excited when he recognized the toy, and he and Katy both rushed back to the toy shelf at the end of the hall! Sitting on top of the “Little People” school bus was another egg with another exciting clue!
Easter 2015, scavenger hunt clue
“For Liam” this clue said. “Something white like you sit on all day. Sometimes you may even lay,  I’m where you watch TV, your next clue is behind me!” Liam thought and thought, and looked around the room, very unsure. He slowly pointed towards the white sofa with a questioning look on his face. Aunt Annie said, “If you think that might be it, go take a look behind it.” Liam rushed right over and looked between the couch and the wall–surely enough, he pulled up a plastic bag of Easter eggs with a clue taped to the bag.
The clue read: “You’re almost there!  Now you BOTH have to help! Katy find four yellow eggs and open them up.”  Katy dumped all the eggs out onto the floor, selecting the four yellow eggs right away!  The kids opened the eggs and found pieces of paper inside with a single word on each piece.   “Now Liam…arrange the words to make a sentence you can read.”  Liam worked to put the words in a sentence that made sense to him.  He soon had the sentence “GiGi” “hangs” “clothes”  “here” spelled out in front of him.

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In  response to their perplexed looks, their Mom said, “Think about it, where does GiGi hang up her clothes?” Liam said, “Oh I know!” and took off running with Katy right behind! They went into their grandparents’ bedroom and looked around.  First, Liam went to his Granddaddy’s closet, there were none of GiGi’s clothes there!  Then Katy looked into the matching storage closet right beside it, but they could see no treasure there, or any of GiGi’s clothes.  Hmm…again, they looked around the room, finally noticing the door to the walk-in closet! They seemed to rush towards it at the same time! When they opened the door, there were three baskets of gifts for the kids!  “Ah cool!” you could hear Liam say, as he discovered a flying dragon made by Granddaddy in his basket! Katy ran from the room, carrying her basket to show Mom and Dad–pink dinosaur in tow! By now little Evie had joined the excitement, tossing Easter grass everywhere! and immediately putting the dinosaur made just for her by Granddaddy, into her mouth!
What a wonderful day, the whole family seemed to bask in the children’s excitement!

© April 22, 2015

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