Christmas Decorations!

In the past couple of months, I’ve been in the habit of posting a blog every Friday, and I’ve loved it!  It’s been nice posting consistently and getting feedback on my posts, which I didn’t have for a long time (honestly because I wasn’t involved in the blogging community, so you know, I wasn’t helping my own blog).  Of course, feedback encourages me to keep blogging, so it’s a cycle of positivity! 🙂

I missed posting last week because of all the Thanksgiving and Black Friday wonderfulness, and I feel pretty okay about it.  As much as I love blogging, spending time with my husband when he has extra days off work is more important. ❤ Also, I was just far too busy and exhausted to blog!  Additionally, I missed this week, because as you’ll read, I was completely overwhelmed with work.  Here’s a rundown on what we’ve been up to lately:

–Wednesday: I was cooking/baking all day until my feet were hurting from standing so long.  Note to self: wear sneakers next year while cooking.

–Thursday: Thanksgiving was a full day with more baking and then just enjoying time with family.

–Friday: A packed day of Black Friday shopping with my husband & in-laws (literally from morning ’til dark).

–Saturday: Finally relaxing with Christmas decorating (yay!!).  You better believe we had the works with Christmas music, cozy pajamas, and hot cocoa. ❤

–Sunday: Helping get up my in-laws’ Christmas tree, work, & shopping

–Monday: Meeting with my college advisor and registering for school (also yay!)

–Tuesday: Joshua & I dove headfirst into the work week.  I basically tried to hit the ground running.  My entire week was SLAMMED with work.  It’s wonderful that work is picking up with my new job, but it’s also a slightly overwhelming adjustment.  I may or may not have ended up with a few tears of stress on Friday evening, had to finish up work on Saturday, and had an acne breakout from the stress.  On top of it all, I pulled at least one muscle, if not two or three, while rowing this week, which not only prevented me from working out the rest of the week, and also from walking on Wednesday and Thursday.

It’s been busy, lol. 😉 I haven’t had a chance to read anyone’s blogs–I’m so far behind!  My email inbox is filled to the brim with blog posts that I’m itching to read.

Oooh and I know this is random, but can we just talk about how it’s finally time for the WordPress snowflakes again?!  I love when my blog starts snowing!  It’s admittedly my favorite WordPress feature. 😉

Even with how busy it’s been, I still wanted to post about our Christmas decorations.  I didn’t get to celebrate Christmas much as a teenager, so I am absolutely loving everything Christmas!  The Christmas music station became my go-to channel on November 1st, and I could hardly wait to put the tree up right after Thanksgiving.  We like decorating on Black Friday, but this year was just too packed, so we waited until the next day.

As we have a tiny apartment, a pencil-tree was a must.  We love our little tree, though, and I’m sure even when we have room for a bigger tree, we will always have fond memories of this one as our first Christmas tree together.

We bought a cozy Christmas sign from Michaels for 50% off (#BlackFriday), and wrapped it with round-wire fairy lights.

Also at Michael’s, we were planning on getting a wreath, but we ended up with this super cute snowflake instead!  We fell in love with it since both of us love snow.  It’s perfect for us and is a fun reminder that it’s the most magical time of the year!

Before I continue…I have a confession.  It will be revealed in two ways in this post, so I might as well share it now!  (I’ve been considering sharing for a while anyway, and I think it will make things easier in the long run.)

Tialla is my middle name, and Rising is my maiden name.  I published my first book when I was still a minor, and my parents insisted I use a pen name.  Now that I’ve already published with that name, I feel like it makes since to just keep it up as a pen name for consistency.  However, I don’t mind people knowing my “actual” name, as it’s bound to come out eventually.  So, my name is…

Courtney Tialla Newman

I’ve never mentioned it on my blog before, but I feel like it’s about time.  Letting you guys know that my first name is Courtney doesn’t make Tialla Rising any less of a pen name, it just makes it easier for me to share my lifestyle posts!  I still plan on using Tialla Rising in my published works for the sake of consistency, but now I can also feel free to share a few more lifestyle things that happen to say “Courtney.”

Oh, and as a side note, lots of people still call me Tialla or Tia–including my own brothers–so it’s not like it’s never used in “real” association with me.  🙂

Anyway, our stockings have our initials, so I didn’t want it to cause confusion.  😉  Of course, our darling Princess Zelda must also have her own stocking, because we are totally those people.  #PetParents

I mentioned about registering for school earlier, but I wanted to revisit it (now that I’ve talked about my name).  I’m registered with payment in full, which means I got my student ID!  Not only does it make me feel official, lol, but I’m super excited about getting student discounts with it! 😉

One last thing before I sign off.  I was completely planning on participating in #BLOGMAS this year, but I’ve realized I just can’t with working full-time.  This week alone proved that with me working from 7:30 AM-6:30 PM every day and still having extra work to finish on Saturday.  Even today, I barely found time to get this blog up after work.  If you don’t know, BLOGMAS is where bloggers post every day of December up to Christmas.  I was planning on using a Pinterest photo challenge as my template for BLOGMAS, but it’s just not going to happen this year.  That’s okay, extra work is good, and I’m trying to remind myself of that.

My husband and I have yet to find an advent calendar in town and it’s already December 3rd!  We’re a little behind, lol.

That’s it for now!  I’m hoping I’ll have time to throw together a “What’s Up Wednesday” post this week for the first of December!  Fingers crossed, haha. 😉

Until next time,

-Tialla ❤

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The Polar Express!

This past Saturday, my father-in-law’s company provided all of us with tickets to ride on the Polar Express train in Williams, AZ.  When we first heard about the opportunity earlier in the week, I must say I was overly excited.  Though I’ve lived in Flagstaff for going on seventeen years, I’ve never been on the Polar Express, and I’d heard many wonderful stories about it.  Not only are the book and the movie both classics, the story is timeless.  With Christmas cheer, we carpooled with my husband’s family down to Williams and boarded the Polar Express at dusk.  A friend offered to take a photo of all of us together:

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I loved how this train was modern, yet retained some old-time charm.  For example, the wooden frames around the windows, the pull shades, and the luggage racks strewn with Christmas lights.  The slightly rustic feel to the train helped bring me into the story with little difficulty!

After everyone boarded and a few instructions from the “Chef” in our train car, we were off!  The train ride is only about an hour round trip, so the fun started immediately with delicious cookies and hot chocolate.  My sister-in-law took a photo of Joshua and me when we were back in our own seats:

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Before long, the ticket inspector came through, just like in the movie, and stopped by each seat to punch enough holes to form the letter “P” in each ticket.  He was hilarious and played the part quite well.

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From the start of the journey, Christmas music was played through the speakers.  We passed through the “magic tunnel” (honestly, that was a little disappointing…it was more like a bridge with flashing lights), and just after that, they began to read the book, “The Polar Express,” out loud.  To help us all keep up with the story, the “Chef” passed up and down the aisle to show the illustrations in the book to all the passengers.  Not long after the story was finished, we learned that we were coming up on the North Pole.

I think that they created a cute setup with the lit buildings on either side of the train, Mrs. Claus reading, Santa and an elf waiting out by the reindeer, as well as a beautifully illuminated Christmas tree.  However, I did expect at least some fake snow and more elves, so it was missing the “wow” factor of the magical North Pole.

When we came to the end of the North Pole, the train slowed, began to reverse (apparently there was “caribou” on the tracks), and when we passed by the reindeer again, Santa had disappeared.  Of course this had all the kids whirring with excitement.  The Chef soon informed us that Santa was on the train and we had to sing, “Here Comes Santa Claus” as he visited everyone on each car.  When he did reach our car, there was a cacophony of shouts, giggles, and laughter.  He gave each person a bell with a ribbon (which we may or may not have given as a toy to our kitten *cough, cough*), and the train ride was finished off with more Christmas carols and dancing in the aisle.

We had to commemorate the train ride with a selfie!

All in all, I loved it!  It was such a fun way to finish off the holidays, especially since after January 1st it feels rather like going cold-turkey, and it’s always a little sad to me.  This was a wonderful way to bid adieu to the holidays until later this year!  I’m sure the fun was in part to experiencing the train ride with my in-laws.  It was simply a wonderful time with all of us laughing, joking with each other, singing along, making fun of Santa (shh, don’t tell), making fun of each other, and more.  I am so blessed to have the amazing in-laws that I do!

If you ever have the chance to take a ride on the Polar Express at Christmastime, I’d say go for it!  It was a fun experience, and honestly, everyone got into it–adults and children alike!  There was just something about it that brought everyone together.

-Tialla ❤

It’s that time of year again: Back to School ♫

The last week of summer is just around the corner, and all the schools, universities, and colleges have started their classes again.  As a rule of thumb, anyone from the age of five to twenty-two is expected to be in school.  Classes, studies, and coursework should be some of the most important aspects of their life at the moment.

I graduated from high school in May, and now with everyone going back to school, this feels downright weird.  They’re all going back to school, and…I’m not.  I guess most people would be ecstatic about this and feel like they have it better off, but I’m kind of sad about it.  See, I LOVED homeschool.  I absolutely loved every moment of my school.  Even the tests, quizzes, book reports, essays, hard experiments…I loved it.  Okay, I didn’t love math so much – but that’s beside the point.

Every year, I couldn’t wait for summer, but when the time to go back to school rolled around, I was ready for it.  I was ready to crack down and challenge myself.  I couldn’t wait to start learning new things.  When all the curriculum boxes came in the mail, it was like Christmas in August.  In fact, I was ALWAYS more excited to see my new school books, look them over, and figure out a schedule than I ever was for Christmas.

For the past twelve years, I’ve had basically the same schedule, and I could look forward to it every year.  Sure, I wasn’t technically excited about my school when I was deep in my work mid-February, but I still loved learning.  Now as I see my mom preparing for the next school year for my younger siblings, I hear about all the homeschooling going on online, I talk with friends who are still homeschooling, and I even see children boarding the school bus each day…I become a little sad.  We even watched “Anne of Green Gables” the other day, and seeing Anne going to school, studying hard, loving learning, having fun…it just made me sad.  I miss those days!

I suppose I’ll get used to coping with this time of year eventually, but this first year is really hard for me.  You might be wondering why it’s so hard if I’m going to college like I’ve been talking about.  Well, my plans for college changed.  The college I planned on attending decided not to accept my credits earned from my CLEP test, so I’ve been looking for another college to accept me.  I have found one that I really like and applied to it, but I have yet to hear if I’ve been admitted.  So, I might be getting a late start on college, but that’s alright.  I’ve found an online creative writing course to complete in the meantime.  Also, I’m focusing on writing my second book, building my proofreading/editing business, two jobs, and staying up with duties around the house.  Needless to say, I definitely have things keeping me busy.

Still, this time of year is making me sad.  I miss homeschool.  My mom has said, “Well, you can still do some stuff with us,” or “You can still read textbooks,” and “You can still do school,” but it’s not the same, ya know?  I’m graduated…I’m done with school.  No matter how much I still read textbooks or whatever, it’ll never be the same.

*sigh*

Surgery Accomplished!

Have you ever had a long-term injury that absolutely nothing helps it get better and it just becomes increasingly worse to where the only option left is surgery – even though the doctors and physical therapists and nurses don’t know what’s wrong?  Oh, and you’ve had injections and therapy to where it doesn’t really seem like a shocker anymore?

Well, I have.  If you want to read about everything that happened and has been going on, you can read that

The main point is that I have spent all of 2010 (well, minus about 2 1/2 months) with a shoulder injury and lots of testing. However of December 21st, I had Exploratory Surgery on my shoulder, and now (hopefully) I’m on the healing side. The reason why I say hopefully is because I won’t know for sure if my shoulder is completely better until April or May. 😦

So right now, I practically live in a recliner, and am in more pain than I expected. My doctor had thought that I had a tear, but when he went in, he didn’t find one, but instead, he found a ton of stuff that he totally didn’t expect. My shoulder was literally filled with bursitis and inflammation, along with my shoulder being very lax – which would’ve happened from the root of my injury, don’t laugh – arm wrestling. Yes, this girl decided to take on her older brother with arm wrestling. And came out with an injury. But I almost beat him! Not sure it was worth it, though.

My doctor was so surprised at finding that much bursitis in my shoulder… He would expect it of a person twice my age or older, but never in someone my age – a girl in highschool. He was able to scrape it all out, though, and put me on meds for the inflammation.

Oh yeah, and about the…uh…meds… Well…I can’t really stand or walk or make sudden movements at all because I get really dizzy and light-headed. My mom thinks it’s because I’m a Blonde, but I account it to the drugs. Really. You believe me, right? This never happened before so it can’t be the Blonde hair, right? Ok, maybe a little…BUT ONLY A LITTLE. Hehe anyway…

The laxity my doctor found in my shoulder was very strange too (oh and for those of you who are confused, laxity just means how loose your shoulder is for movement. Aren’t you happy Tia helped you out? Sure you are. 🙂 ) – not common for a person my age. The normal amount of laxity is around 10%, but mine was 40%. So, my doctor sutured it together and tightened it up. He put 7 sutures on the inside of my shoulder for that purpose alone – we even have little pictures to show for it (no, you do not get to see them. Sorry.). He did a couple other things too, like smoothing out a sharp bone, but after two hours, he had me all fixed up.

I ended up with 18 stitches total in my shoulder – 7 on the inside, 11 on the outside. That’s 18, right? If not, don’t blame me, it’s the meds. *wink*

Ok, well, the meds also make me drowsy, (along with having to type this whole thing with ONE HAND), so I’m gonna sign off and eat some chocolate. Maybe drink some Dr. Pepper. And take a nap.

-Tia

Upcoming Surgery

As much as I love posting on my blog, I have to tell you that I will be out of commission for a little bit in a few weeks.  My Christmas gift this year is going to be shoulder surgery.  Yep, there you have it.  I’m not kidding you.  I injured my shoulder in April and since then the pain has increased to where I can hardly do anything with that arm.  I wasn’t going to tell you this, but I guess I will let you know how I injured it.  Arm wrestling with my 19-year-old brother.  I’ve learned that it wasn’t the smartest thing, but hey, I’m ambitious, and I almost beat him too!  Seriously.  I almost did…but I’m not sure if almost beating him was worth it for now 9 months worth of increasing pain.

I’ve gone to an Orthopedic, and have had lots of testing done, along with Physical Therapy, and the bottom line is that we don’t know for sure what is wrong.  The Physical Therapy didn’t help, it actually only made the pain worse.  I had an MRI and dye injection, but the MRI didn’t show anything wrong.  My doctor gave me a Cortisone injection (which hurts like crazy – let me tell ya!), but it didn’t give me any relief.

So, Christmas week, I’m going to have Exploratory Surgery on my shoulder.  My doctor has a strong suspicion that I have a tear in my shoulder, since all the physical tests that he’s done have shown symptoms of it being a tear, so if he finds one when I’m in surgery, he’ll suture it.

I’m glad to have this finally taken care of, but it’s still surgery, so there will be downfalls as well.  It’s been so long since my shoulder was “normal” that I actually find myself watching people in movies or in person and seeing how easily they do things with their shoulders that I haven’t been able to do for months.  My doctor has even put me on prescription pain meds because the Motrin and Tylenol haven’t been doing the job.  I tried to stay off of my pain meds for one day just to see how much “real” pain I had, and I was astounded by how much pain there was.  Enough, though.  In a few weeks, I’ll have surgery, and I should be on the healing side.

The main point of this post is to tell you  not to expect that many posts out of me come Christmas week and a few weeks after.  But don’t worry, I’ll be back (spoken with an accent!)!  😀  I’ll probably still get in a lot of posts, but there will definitely be a drop in them the week after Christmas.

So, just be thinking about me come Christmas week as I am moaning lounging on the couch after my surgery. Hopefully eating bon-bons.  🙂

-Tialla