Photo Friday

Not Christmas exactly but the days leading up to which are really the most exciting!

Apparently Santa was staying at the historic Riordan Mansion in Flagstaff.

No snow while we were in Flagstaff but we found some leftovers in the shady areas.

The North Pole, really!  We went through the magic tunnel to get there!

Not our actual train.  This one is retired and just does photo shoots for the Grand Canyon Railway.  🙂

Cookies for Santa.  I love the single eye on the tree.

The Elf’s last hangout spot before heading home.

Keep your focus!

Christmas Movies

I didn’t intend to write a post about Christmas movies, for the most part I watch the standard fare, “Elf”, “Love, Actually”, “Christmas in Connecticut” etc.  But I did think about two perhaps less well known films I love and thought I would share just in case you are looking for something “new” to watch.

“The Preacher’s Wife” is from 1996  with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston and directed by Penny Marshall.  This is a remake of “The Bishop’s Wife” with Cary Grant and Loretta Young.  Of course I love the original (Cary Grant!!) but I love the remake just as much.  Dare I say, maybe even a tad more?  The story is the same, but the movie is not. You could watch the two movies back to back and not be bored with the same plot. The remake is funnier and of course there is some nice singing with Whitney Houston.  Lionel Ritchie even makes an appearance and Gregory Hines does a good job as the greedy guy.  This movie will make you laugh a little and feel good. And let’s be honest, Denzel is pretty easy on the eyes!

The second movie is “The Man Who Saved Christmas” from 2002.  This stars  Jason Alexander (George from ‘Seinfeld’) and is set during World War I. The story is based on a real person and a “true story”.  I suspect there is a kernel of truth but I think much of the story has been “Hollywood-ized”.  That being said I still  loved seeing how Americans lived during the early 1900’s.   This is not your typical fluffy Christmas fare.  It takes place during WWI so it is not all sunshine and roses and that is what I like about it, it is real. Just like real life there are highs and lows in the movie. It is good to remember all the sacrifices that were made in the very early part of the 20th century so that we can enjoy our freedom today.  This is a made for tv movie that I have on DVD. You can buy it at Amazon or check with your local library, they may have a copy for lending!

The 12 Days of Christmas

We celebrate the whole 12 days of Christmas in our house.  I usually do some sort of theme.  Last year we did activities which I wrote about here, here and here.  In the past I have done books, candy , and once I tried to match the gift to the song (pineapple rings for dessert for 5 Golden Rings, a DVD of the Rockettes for 9 Ladies Dancing etc). 

This year I decided to skip the theme in an attempt to make things easier for my hormonally demented self.  So I am doing a mix of candy, activities and gifts. I have decided to reuse my Harry and David 12 Days container from two years ago.  For the items that won’t fit in a drawer I will leave a note instead with a clue as to where the gift is hidden.  My son loves hide and seek! Some of the gifts are just for him (attempts to keep him entertained the long two week break from school) and some are for the whole family.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree:  The Hogwart’s version of “Clue”.  I am going to hide it in the laundry room with the other board games, which include a traditional version of “Clue” and the clue is going to be ‘Clue’.  Fiendishly clever I know!

Two Turtle Doves:  Two turtle candies.

Three French Hens:  Three Hershey Kiss bath bombs.

Four Calling Birds:  A humming bird feeder (you know, to ‘call the birds’ to us).

Five Golden Rings:  I confess this gift may be a bit skewed towards something I wanted –

Six Geese-a-laying:  A ten dollar gift certificate for each of us to Bookman’s (used bookstore) and a note saying we are also going out to lunch.

Seven Swans-a-Swimming:  Since this is New Years’ Eve I thought it would be a good night to do our mother-son sleepover by the Christmas tree.

Eight Maids-a-Milking:  Eight caramel candies for us to share.  I like that we have a Brach pick-a-mix at the commissary so I can get the exact number I need and not have extra candy in the house.  (The low carb start is looming!) And calendars to celebrate the start of 2019.

Nine Ladies Dancing:  My son and I will do an art project together.  I bought some small canvases at the dollar store and I think we will go through the house and scrounge items to make collages.

Ten Lords-a-Leaping:  A make your own chewing gum lab kit. (I found it at World Market.)  Perhaps not the best choice for a day when we also have dentist appointments scheduled but c’est la vie. 

Eleven Pipers Piping:  Plan A is to go up the mountain and find some snow.  If the weather doesn’t cooperate than I will take him to a park with a good playground.  Hopefully one of his friends will be available to go with us.

It is possible to find snow nearby once in awhile! Rose Canyon Lake – Jan 2017.

Twelve Drummers Drumming:  I was a stumped for one last idea for a long while and kept my eyes open hoping something would grab me.  I spied “Bean Boozled” and thought this was just silly enough to be a perfect ending to the holidays.

So there you have it, twelve full days of holiday.  And for Epiphany?  Three last gifts with a Platypus theme.  Socks, a stuffed platypus and an adoption certificate for the World Wildlife Fund.  And then it is back to school, which I am sure I will be more than ready for by then!

2018 Aspirations: November

(December 3rd) Here is a summary of November.  I am sure I should go back and edit but I am not going to.  I am too tired and Christmas is coming and there is so much to do.  How do you even have time to read this blog?  Aren’t you busy, busy, busy too?  Anyway, without further ado…

November 9th:  So remember my spontaneous trip to Mesa to buy a typewriter?  That was triggered by a severe bout of insomnia.  After several short sleep nights I was feeling pretty miserable and I found myself awake at 1:00a feeling a frantic need for sleep. Not very helpful and I started crying.  I felt like I was at the end of my rope.  I did get back to sleep eventually but in the morning I decided I needed to do something different.  Something a little crazy and something just for me.  So I went to Mesa and bought a typewriter.  And what do you know, I felt better and I slept great that night.

November 14th:  I am so happy with this cool weather.  I am sleeping better again but still feel tired.  And I am weepy at random times about odd things.  The clutter in the house is driving me a bit nuts and the lack of energy is killing me.  I badly want to give the house the good cleaning it needs but just don’t have the oomph needed.  Instead I try and do small tasks here and there.  Today I cleared out and rearranged the glass/mug cupboard.  A small thing that took 10 minutes but brings me a lot of joy seeing how I open that cupboard multiple times a day!

November 19th:  Insomnia is back.  I can’t get to sleep and hot flashes wake me up early.  Also getting leg/foot cramps again.  I was caught off guard with how bad I feel.  Seems the key to my goals of “Be Happier” and “Be Healthier” is sleep.  And right now there is not much I can do to improve that.

November 21st:  Well my period started without much fanfare and then got crazy heavy for 24 hours.  So heavy it kind of scared me.  Luckily I spent most of the day at home doing food prep for Thanksgiving and some ibuprofen relieved my backache and cramps.  Happy to go to bed early though.

November 27th:  I can’t believe it is almost the end of the month.  I survived my period and now am oscillating between euphoria and exhaustion.  Yikes!  

I realized I haven’t mention my “frozen shoulder” in awhile.  I am still doing my home physical therapy and I am not having any pain.  I still don’t have the full range of motion back but it is increasing.  I am hoping I only need to do the exercises another month or two. (Ha!  I can hope all I want but truly I have no idea how much longer it will take.)

November 29th:  It is almost the end of the month!  How did that happen? Since things are going to get crazy busy I thought maybe I should just finish the log today.  I am feeling uber tired but not quite sure why.  I am sleeping okay, not great, but good enough.  But I have a backache and my breasts are ballooning which makes no sense as I just had my period!  Part of me thinks it would be great to get another period soon and then probably be done for the year.  All this uncertainty about how I am going to feel and what I am going to be coping with on any given day is maddening.

On a postive note despite just eating and not thinking about it my weight is holding steady between 144 and 145.  What does this signify for the future? No idea, if you know, can you tell me?

So how to sum up November?  I haven’t gone completely off the deep end but I suspect I am close!

Christmas Countdown Reading Time

It is now officially December and the countdown to Christmas Day has started.  My son and I each have an Advent calendar but my favorite way to count down the days?  With stories.  My number one hobby is reading.  I read in little pockets of time throughout the day and before bed each night.  Truth? Some days I leave to pick up my son from school a little earlier than normal so I can grab an extra few minutes of reading time in the carpool lane.

My son and I read a story together each night up until a few months ago. We were reading Harry Potter aloud together but that was going too slow for him. We still read a story some nights, but he is 11 now and has outgrown it a bit. (He pretends he does it now to humor me but I can tell he  still likes it, just not every night!)  For the month of December we pick up the tradition of nightly reading and choose one of our many children’s books to read aloud together.  We are starting with “Junie B., First Grader- Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May.)”   

This year I decided to read for myself as well, two different books for a Christmas countdown.  The first is Maeve Binchy’s collection of holiday short stories “This Year It Will Be Different”.  There are fifteen stories and I am reading one each night at bedtime.  Yes, I have read these before, a few times actually,  but I love this author and I love these stories.  Familiarity can be comforting at the holidays.

Once I am done with the stories I will re-read Jan Karon’s “Shepherd’s Abiding”, one chapter a night.  Ten chapters, ten nights.  I read this story every December, it makes me feel very peaceful and that is important after a frantic, errand and chore filled day.

I debated if I should start 30 November so I could finish on Christmas Eve but I decided to wait until 1 December and finish Christmas night.

The first coloring picture of the season, not too Christmasy, trying to ease my way into the holiday frenzy.

Feel free to steal this idea, find a new book or an old favorite, short stories or chapters and give yourself the little gift of Christmas Countdown Reading Time!