Epiphany

In some cultures January 6th is the big holiday for the Christmas season. This is the symbolic date on which the Wisemen reached Bethlehem and said hi to the baby Jesus and brought him some birthday presents. ūüôā Not celebrated so much in the U.S. but in our¬†home we use it as an excuse to end the holidays with one last bit of fun.

First we go for a hike, symbolizing the journey of the Wisemen.   Second my son gets three last presents representing the three gifts of the Magi. And lastly we eat Mediterranean food which is close enough for me to something biblical yet still tasty.

This year we had some logistical problems with the 6th of January.  Everyone else had finished with holiday time and life was reverting back to normal.  My son had bowling in the morning and I had bowling in the afternoon and then my son and husband were going to a hockey game.  So we delayed Epiphany one day.  A little sad but not the end of the world.

Sabino Canyon finally experiencing autumn color.

After lunch on Sunday we went for our hike. ¬†It was the warmest Epiphany hike to date. ¬†I got a little “hottish and sweatish” in my jeans and t-shirt but enjoyed meandering along the scary dry creek bed and scuffing through the fallen leaves and catching a bit of autumn color. Sabino Canyon Rec Area was pretty crowded but we got off the beaten path awhile and enjoyed the bird song and solitude.

I have never seen it this dry before. Hopefully we will have some winter monsoons this year.

Then my son opened his last three gifts. I don’t buy anything extra or special, I just put three gifts aside when I am wrapping presents.

The last three gifts.

And then we had dinner and homemade chocolate pudding.  Which thankfully turned out this time because the batch I made for Christmas Eve did not.

And now the holidays are over.  For real.

                                                                                          The End.

Twelve Days of Christmas: Days 9 – 12

I love the idea of a yule log burning the whole 12 days of Christmas. Sadly I do not have a ginormous fireplace or a full time staff to oversee the 24/7 burning of a giant log. I thought about a candle but who would leave a candle burning unattended for long periods of time? Not me. So this year I went with a chocolate yule log from the the Vermont Country Store.  Each day we shared 1/12th of it.  It helped depict the passing of the holiday season in a tangible way. (But next year I really want to use an LED candle in some sort festive yule log/holiday way.)

 

Day 9

Today we went to the Pima Air and Space Museum. ¬† The weather was a perfect low 70’s and we quite enjoyed walking around both ¬†inside the hangars and outside looking at all the aircraft. We also enjoyed lunch at the Flight Line Grill. ¬†A little pricey but the food was better than I expected.

 

The SR-71,  my favorite aircraft.

 

Lots of WWII memorabilia. 

Day 10

Today I let E choose what he wanted to do between two options: I could take him to Office Max to use a gift card he received from Santa or I could take him and a friend to a playground. ¬†He chose the playground and spent a very happy two hours running around with two friends. ¬†Again the weather was perfect, 70’s and cloudy which is good. ¬†Even in January the sun can be uncomfortably hot here.

Day 11

Today we went to Bookman’s, my favorite used book store. ¬†My son had a $10 certificate the store sent him on his birthday and I still had a $15 credit from the last batch of books we took there. ¬†We spent a happy hour browsing and then enjoyed a late lunch at Beyond Bread.

Day 12

Today presented a bit of a problem. ¬†The last item we had to do was find some snow at Mt. Lemmon. ¬†Too much gorgeous weather means no snow. Plus¬†celebrating this many days in a row is rather exhausting! ¬†And my son still had some school work to finish. So I must confess we rather fizzled out today. ¬†We opted for a jammie day with both of us getting our needed tasks done in the morning and then spent the afternoon watching a movie he got for Christmas. (“Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Long Haul”.)

 

How cool is this painted plane?
Yup, that is part of the plane!

So there you have it, Twelve Days of Christmas.  But the season is not quite over yet, next up: Epiphany!

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Days 5 – 8

I had to ponder a bit about how to set up this years’ twelve days. ¬†Over the course of a few months I jotted down a list of activities as the ideas came to me or as E mentioned things he wanted to do. Then I narrowed it down to twelve and made little tags. ¬†But I didn’t want to actually assign activities to days until the time was close due to weather and how we were feeling and other things that may pop up. ¬†So I came up with the idea to put the labels for the days on envelopes and made all the tags the same size. ¬†Now I could just slip a tag in an envelope when the decision was made. Easy Peasy. ¬†Really glad I did it this way as I ended up switching things around a lot!

An example day.

Day 5

Today we went to the movies and saw “Wonder”. ¬†My son and I had read the book together earlier this year so we were excited about the movie. ¬†And the movie did not disappoint. I may have shed a few tears. ¬†And I loved that Julia Roberts looked, not fat, but lets say “real”, like a real mother of two kids. ¬†Made me very happy. ¬†And small child enjoyed it too, along with a large popcorn. ¬†He is a growing boy!

Day 6

Fiesta Bowl day.  Now when I planned out this activities theme we had not yet won tickets to the Fiesta Bowl.  So I had a bit of a problem.  Going to a football game is not really a treat for my son. I finally came up with a tag good for one junk food item (he picked red licorice) at the game and the promise that January 7th could be a jammie day.  Okay, January seventh is after the 12 days of Christmas but it is also the last day of winter break from school and so I went with it.  Flexibility is good and E was happy.  We rooted for our PAC-12 Brethren Washington Huskies who sadly lost to Penn State.  But it was a good game.

Day 7 – New Years’ Eve

Today’s theme was all about pizza. ¬†We made pizza totally from scratch: crust and sauce. ¬†I was surprised at how tasty the pizza turned out. ¬†I bought pizza flour from Hayden Flour Mills and used the recipe on the box for the crust. ¬†For the sauce I just added Italian seasoning and garlic to a can of tomato sauce. Simple is so often best. ¬†E also got a pair of pizza jammies and the Lego pizza truck.

Day 8 – New Years’ Day

Today was play a board game day. It was my effort to get my spouse away from the television a bit and small child off the computer.  I was sort of successful.  My son did play outside with a neighborhood friend for awhile and then they played some games on the WII.  After dinner all three of us played a few rounds of Sagrada, a very addictive game we got for Christmas.

 

Four fun days left this Christmas season!

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Days 1 -4

In my house we celebrate the whole 12 days of Christmas plus Epiphany.  It started sort of by accident when my son was small and I had bought way too many gifts.  So I took all the arts and crafts supplies and parceled them out one day at a time.

Over the years I have done different themes: ¬†books, matchbox cars, candy. ¬†One year I bought a book to represent each month via a holiday or season. ¬†One year all 12 books had a winter or Christmas theme. (I bought most of them used at Bookman’s so it wasn’t terribly expensive.) ¬†For the candy I did one chocolate bar, two turtle candies, three peppermint patties etc. ¬†At the larger numbers I used things like 10 skittles and 11 m &ms.

One year I got really crazy and tried to follow the song. ¬†My favorites that year were fried chicken for dinner for “Three French Hens” and a pogo stick for “Ten Lords a Leaping”.

Another key piece is that the gifts are hidden and my son has to find them.  Some days I think the hunt is more exciting than the gift.

This year I decided to focus more on activities and less on stuff.  I am going for a balance of at home mellow days and out and about things to do days.

Day 1 – Christmas Day

Since this day is already pretty full I just went with the 12 Days of Moose Munch from Harry and David.  I thought the little bags of popcorn would be good to take with us on some of our outings.

Day 2- Boxing Day

Yes, this is the day we pretend we are British and have Christmas Crackers and something British for dinner. ¬†This year it was Somerset Rabbit from Nigella Lawson’s book “Feast”. ¬†I found real imported UK ¬†cheese and mustard at the commissary. ¬†Yum! Yum! ¬†I will be making this again.

For dessert I went with box shaped cupcakes with a chocolate glaze.  Both homemade and scrumptious.

The Penguin is actually a Christmas Cracker.  You can find them on-line and usually at World Market.

Our activity for today was a sleepover by the Christmas tree.  We pulled out the sofa bed and spent the evening reading next to the tree. It is fun because it is not something typically done and it feels special.

The view from my one night only bed.

Day 3

After lunch at Chick-Fil-A (you know, three French hens) we headed to the Reid Park Zoo.  It was nice to get outside and it even seemed a bit wintry with a layer of clouds.  Chilly enough for a sweater it was as close to winter as we seem to get these days in the desert southwest.

Yes, I went with a picture of an anteater. I love how unusual they look and their coats are so pretty.  Do the zoo keepers brush them every morning?

Day 4

I opted for an at home day today. ¬†I gave my son what will probably be his favorite day: ¬†unlimited computer use. ¬†To go with that I gave him his first Bitsbox. ¬†I got him a one year subscription to help him learning coding. ¬†I know coding interests him but I don’t think he has found the best way for him to learn it yet. Hopefully this will help (and keep him off Minecraft for at least a little while!)

I don’t think this is a calling bird but he sure is pretty!

 

Eight more days of Christmas are coming!  One must be patient and enjoy each day.

Desert tortoises seem to be pretty good at enjoying things slowly.

 

Epiphany

Today is the last day of Christmas for my family. Tomorrow the tree comes down and we start packing up all the decorations. I thought I would feel sad but instead I feel a great contentment.  I spent time this morning sitting on the couch drinking a mug of tea while looking at the Christmas tree and nativity scene.  One last respite before the hustle and bustle of real life returns tomorrow.

My son’s second full week of winter break has been busy and satisfying. ¬†I relished all the time we spent together even if it has left me feeling exhausted. ¬†While I will not mind when peace and quiet descends on Monday that doesn’t stop me from embracing our one last outing today.

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Cool wisps of clouds!

In honor of the Wisemen’s journey to Bethlehem my son and I took our own¬†hike. ¬†We ¬†went across the street to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and meandered around for two hours. ¬†The weather: absolutely perfect. ¬†I think the pictures say it all.

 

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Our own “forest” of cacti.

 

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Sabino Creek really flowing with snow melt.

 

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Sabino Dam

Cheers to the end of a Delightful holiday season!

 

December Delights – Out Takes

Lest you think all of December was nothing but joy and lightness I feel it only fair to share some of those fun menopausal family moments too. There were a few times where I had to work to find something delightful about the day, but you know, I did truly find good about each day.  I found myself focusing on the happy, positive items which made my life seem better and which made me feel happier. The experiment was a success!  My absolute favorite part of the month?  Coloring the countdown to Christmas pictures,  I am so doing that again next year.

Onto real life moments that may very well make you feel better about your own month!  Or at least give you a laugh.

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Christmas Eve 2016

In no particular order:

  • E yelling over and over again “I’m bored, I’m bored, I’m bored” at the hotel in Flagstaff. ¬†I had left the afternoon open to play in the snow or take a hike. ¬†There was no snow and it was too cold and windy to want to hike. I didn’t have a plan B. ¬†We ended up having an early dinner and watching “Christmas Vacation” in the hotel room. ¬†I seriously thought we should skip¬†the trip next year but was soundly voted down by both child and husband which kind of surprised me. ¬†I thought I was the only one who really wanted to spend time in Flagstaff but apparently I was wrong.
  • My son forgot to give two of his teacher’s their Christmas presents, even though every single morning for the entire week we talked about it right before he left for school. ¬†So Friday afternoon when he came home with two undelivered gifts we headed right back to the school (the school is a 5 min walk from our house). ¬†Luckily we found both teachers still in their classrooms, whew.
  • As we were walking out the door¬†for “The Nutcracker” I looked at the tickets and realized the show was at the Tucson Music Hall¬†not Centennial Hall as I thought. ¬†We knew where Centennial Hall was and where to park for that. ¬†No clue for the Music Hall. ¬†A quick google told us it was near the Tucson Convention Center which we sort of knew the location of.¬† We only had to make one U turn and got there in plenty of time but it was a near miss.
  • Another almost disaster? ¬†I came perilously close to dropping the yule log cake while trying to re-box it after taking a photo for the blog.
  • The very first words out of my son’s mouth Christmas Eve morning? ¬†“Can I open a present?” (NO!!!)
  • I had to meet with my son’s teacher because of two separate incidents. ¬†One involved “the swear word, the F—word” ¬†used on the computer. ¬†Yes I swear in front of my son but I thought I had made it clear that I was an adult and he was a kid and he couldn’t. ¬†Very embarrassing.
  • We had a terrible wind and rain storm on Christmas Eve. ¬†I compare it to the one in “Rudolph”. It knocked all our outside decorations hither and yon and even knocked over my swing (aka my front porch). ¬†We were so distracted by the weather that dinner was a bit late and we had to rush to make it to church on time. So we didn’t have time for the yule log cake that I was so happy about finding and then not dropping. (We had it Christmas Day instead.)
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Yes, it was some wind!
  • Our Christmas tree was a bit shorter than normal this year and my husband didn’t trim the branches from the bottom to help it look bigger. ¬†Yes it looked great but for the person who had to put water in the tree stand twice a day (that would be me) it was a pain.

 

So there you have it, delight tempered by reality.

December Delight #31

I must confess I am not a big celebrator of New Year’s eve. More than a few years I have simply gone to bed long before midnight. Last year my then 8 year old son decorated the house and woke me up just before midnight. (In my defense I had been rather sick for a few days.)

So I don’t typically plan anything, ¬†but this year we are going to a hockey game! Tucson has a new minor league team this year, ‘The Roadrunners’. ¬†Um, puck drop? face off? (what do you call the start of a hockey game?) is at 6:00p.

I don’t know if I will make it to midnight but at least this year I am getting out of the house for part of the evening. ¬†How delightful is that!

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One last coloring project for 2016, my son and I each colored a picture for the New Year.

“Write it on your heart that everyday is the best day in the year.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy 2017!!

December Delight #30

A few weeks ago my husband mentioned that the Air Force Academy was playing in the Arizona Bowl here in Tucson. A 3:30p kickoff, not too late and not so early as to have to worry about broiling in the sun.  I thought tickets would be a good stocking stuffer for my husband but for a minor bowl game prices were rather steep. I talked to my husband about it and  we decided to wait and see if  tickets would be available through Davis-Monthan Air Force base at a cheaper price.

Turns out we actually scored free tickets through the base and I am quite looking forward to cheering for my branch of service as well as cheering for saving money!

December Delight #29

Today I am happy for a little oasis of calm before a very busy few days begin.  The skies are cloudy lending a wintry feel, if not temperature, to the day.  I have promised my son hot cocoa for 3:00p snack.

Right now though I can simply stare out the window at the clouds and breathe.  Doing absolutely nothing can be the most delightful thing of all!

December Delight #28

Today I am thankful I kept a promise to my son. I told him we would have a sleepover one night in our family room next to the Christmas tree.  That night was last night.  We pulled open the lumpy, uncomfortable sofa bed, piled on blankets, stuffed animals and pillows and read a bunch of Christmas stories.  We turned out all the lights except those on the tree and curled up together whispering long past our bedtime.

Am I tired and does my back hurt today?  Yes.  But my heart is happy.