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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*

I sure did have a great homeschool experience, though!  I hope my children love their homeschool experience as much as I have loved mine…someday.

Mary, Did You Know?

First off, I’m really sorry I haven’t posted in so long.  I’ve been ridiculously busy, and before I know it, the week has already passed and it’s time to post again.  (And that’s when I usually forget about it for a couple of days…)  But here I am, and I hope you enjoy!   😀

This week in my Bible course for school, I’ve been learning about the Doctrine of Jesus Christ – basically going in-depth on Who He is, all His names, the power in His name, His life journey…etc.  It’s been quite interesting (and quite difficult at the same time, if I may say.  This year’s work is so much harder than last year’s – just saying.).

In my lessons this week, however, something caught my eye.  They mentioned Mary – the mother of Jesus.  It didn’t really go in-depth on her, but it definitely got me thinking.  I’ve done research on Mary before…and I’m just amazed at her whole experience.

The first thing that amazes me about her is that she was probably around 16 years old – my age!  God called on her to bear His son – or virtually, Himself.  She was pleasing to Him in His eyes.  I look at my life, and I have so many faults and sins…I could never come close to pleasing God like that.

The next thing is that, well, she was a virgin.  According to scientific standards, as a virgin, there is no possible way she could bear a child.  Yet, she did.  You can tell this was one of her big questions when Gabriel the angel told her she would be with child.  She had good reason to ask it too, haha!

But the thing that amazes me out of all of them is that, she birthed God.  I mean, can you imagine that?!  She was pregnant with God.  She nursed God.  She fed God.  Raised God.  Clothed God.  It’s just….amazing to me.  And I know I’m using that word a lot – but it is ahh-mazing!

“Mary Did You Know?” is one of my all-time favorite songs.  I love the mystery, and everything about it.  The line that catches me most is, “When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.” – Can you imagine that?!  She kissed God.  Wow.

Mary was an extremely virtuous woman, and her position was definitely a different one – to say the least.  Don’t you agree with me?  Not only that, though, but the fact that she said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” – She accepted the fact that she would be pregnant, and bear the Son of God, with absolutely no hesitation or argument.  This is definitely an example to us all – I mean, how many of us would so willingly accept that?  I know I definitely wouldn’t, unfortunately.  It’s not like Mary had a choice, so she couldn’t really say anything different, but it’s just the mere fact that she accepted it without any hesitation.  No wonder she found favor with God.

Luke, Chapter 1:26-38, tells Mary’s story.

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

As you’re preparing for Christmas this year, let’s not just remember Jesus’ birth, and the cute little baby in the manger, but His mother, what she went through, and her experiences.  But most importantly, we need to remember the RISEN Savior, and Lord of all Creation, who is coming again to claim His children – and this is a fact we should celebrate all year long.

Here’s “Mary Did You Know” – one of my very favorite songs.    😉  This isn’t exactly my favorite version, but I loved the video itself.    😀

Oh and by the way, I’m officially in love with hot Chai Tea.  Isn’t it yummy?  Especially on blustery, cold days, it’s the perfect drink!  A large cold front is passing through our region at this moment, resulting in a lot of snow here.  I’d include some photos in this post, but seeing how long it is already, I think I’ll wait until next time.

Have a great week!

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

Modern Technology: Netflix on Wii!

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Is it just me, or is it awesome?!  They started with a video game system, but now they come out with internet, photos, games, movies, Netflix and so much more!  The Wii is an amazing console, and it’s just another example of how incredibly intelligent the Lord made people!  I find Wii incredibly entertaining without being hooked up to the internet.  But hooked up to the internet?  Well, I can hardly describe how amazing modern science is!

I have always heard from others how cool Netflix is, but we never really thought about it.  Until Wii came into our house, that is.  As I’m writing this, we are literally watching “Airwolf” on the Wii.  Netflix itself is very helpful, but on a Wii, you can find practically every movie/show, and watch as many as you want for under $10 a month.  Sounds like a deal to me!

The only thing I’ve been bummed about with the Wii is that you can’t put a DVD in it and play it like on the X-Box 360, but now with Netflix on it, that’s kind of made up for.  So, if you don’t have Netflix, I’d recommend looking it up!  It totally solves the problem of a limited DVD selection in your house!

Question of the Day: If you have Netflix, and/or Netflix on the Wii, what do you think of it?

-Tia

Snowing or Mowing?

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This time last year, we were about two feet deep in snow and chattering our teeth.  It was probably in the negatives, and lawn movers with snow plows were abundant on our road.  In fact, it had almost become a competition as to which man can endure the longest and plow the most snow with their lawn mowers.  Except one of our neighbors decided to get their quad out to join the ranks since they didn’t own a riding mower. 😛

But then we have my dad, who brings out his big tractor – leaving all the lawn movers behind.  It’s quite humorous to watch all this going on, and one of these years, I’m going to have to video tape it and play it to Christmas music.

However, I don’t know if that’s going to be this year.  If you ask why, well, it’s about 50 degrees (quite warm in the mountains for December!), sunny, and with hardly a breeze.  A snowflake isn’t in sight, and as far as we know, we aren’t expecting a cold front for at least a week or so.  And you know what?  I’m good with it!!  😀

Actually, I’m really happy that it isn’t cold.  Now it has snowed here a few weeks ago, but right now, it’s absolutely gorgeous!  For December, two weeks before Christmas, we are having very unusual and awesome weather.  You know that I’m not a fan of snow (www.tiallarising.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/boycott-snow/), so I’m pretty happy, but I’m kind of wondering why it isn’t snowing.

Is my boycott working?  I don’t think so….that’s just something to make me feel better when it does snow!  Maybe the Lord is being gracious to me and preventing a change of weather until my surgery, since the cold makes my injured shoulder hurt really bad. (www.tiallarising.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/whats-with-my-family-and-surgeries/)

I don’t know, but either way, it is fantabulously beautiful here, when it should be freezing!!!

Question of the Day: What’s the weather like where you’re at?

-Tia

Christmas Gifts…Spend Money, or Brain Power?

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As the Christmas season approaches, I’ve been trying to come up with ideas of what to give all 5 of my family members.  Now, just figuratively speaking, we don’t really do all that much for Christmas.  Overall, it just costs a lot of money if you go all out on it, so we stay pretty minimal with the decorations and such.  Normally, we just have our stockings hung up, so we try to give presents that fit in them, but if they are bigger, we just put them near our fireplace.

However, we still do give gifts so I was thinking about what to do.  I don’t have any spare money to spend, and with my injured shoulder, I can’t work, so the normal idea of buying gifts is pretty much out.  Usually, I try to make more gifts than I buy anyway, so it’s not that foreign of an idea to me – just takes some extra thinking.

So, here are some of the ideas that I have come up with, and I hope that I can accomplish at least some of these before Christmas: (Note to Family Members: This doesn’t mean that this is what you are getting for Christmas.  They are just ideas, so don’t get excited.)

  • Puzzles – Find a photo you like in a magazine, photocopy it, then cut the photo out from the magazine.  Cut the magazine photo into puzzle pieces.  Put everything (photocopy, puzzle pieces) into a Ziploc bag. Voila – a homemade puzzle that your family is sure to enjoy!
  • Knit, crochet, or sew hats, scarves, gloves, slippers, sweaters, ect. – This will only work if you know how to knit, crochet, or sew, so don’t try it if you don’t know how. 😉  However, if you like this craft and you have spare time, these gifts will be loved!
  • Word Searches or Crossword Puzzles – You really can make these, and they are quite easy!  Just get a list of corresponding words and fit them together in a puzzle!
  • Homemade Sweets and Baked Goods – Everybody loves these, just make sure they are wrapped before entering the stocking, and made only a day or so before Christmas!

Anyway, these are just a few, and of course, one could always buy their gifts, but people always *love* homemade gifts (as long as they are well done, right?) 😀  I will definitely be making my gifts this year (or most of them), since I don’t have much money to spend on gifts, and can’t work because of my injured shoulder.  So, have fun this holiday, and be creative!

Question of the Day: What other gifts could you make?

-Tia