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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