Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Quick Review of 2012

It seems like I'm rushing from one thing to another these days, and it's hard to find the time to reflect on what's happened. The end of 2012 is almost here, and the end of the year is a traditional time to do that review. But instead of taking the time to do my own review, here's Facebook's review of the year for me. (If you have a Facebook account, go to your page and you should have the option to review yours.) Oh my,  I know, this says something (or quite a few things) about me!

Here goes anyway:

February: Wild Goose Chase (coming up on February 23 this next year!)

May: My book is out! Words cannot express how I feel.
(See my book website to learn more!)

June: High School Reunion. Such fun reminiscing! Love y'all!

June: Snake Valley Festival

August: Desert Boy starts kindergarten. Wow, a whole other chapter is opening in our lives. His favorite subject? Recess.

August: Another monsoon in a wet late summer. It didn't quite make up for no precipitation in June, but at least it helped.

September: Snake Valley Days BBQ (and the watermelon-eating contest)

September: Wheel-a-thon Fundraiser for the local schools (and a good way to get a little exercise)

September: Ely Half-Marathon--I finished, woohoo!

September: Camping trip with marvelous fall colors

September: Some funky weather

October: Desert Girl enjoying preschool

The other day we had a heavy package at the door. Desert Boy told me, "I'll get it, Mom." I had my hands full but thought it was too heavy for him, so told him to wait a few minutes. He disappeared into the house, came back, and next thing I knew, had wrestled the heavy package into the house. "How did you do that?" I asked him in surprise. He answered, "I went and lifted some weights (dumbbells) in the living room to get stronger, and then I could get the package in the house."

I think I might have to try out his exercise program!

I didn't post everything that happened in my life to Facebook, so important things are missing, but it's fun to remember these moments--many I had forgotten. Every year I print out a book of my blog for the year (I like That's one of the main reasons I keep up a blog, along with keeping family and friends up-to-date with what we're doing.

We hope you have had a good 2012 and that 2013 will be even better. I'm already thinking about New Year's resolutions. I usually don't do those, but this next year I do have some changes I'd like to make in my life. I'll post them soon so you can help keep me accountable!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Thoughts on Cruising

 This will be the last post about our vacation. It was such a wonderful change from the cold and snow that is now limiting our outside time! My brother Andrew organized the family event, and our group was 16 in total. We chose a family-friendly ship, complete with waterslides. After we boarded, it was one of the first things we visited. They had three different sizes of waterslides, from Desert Girl's size, to medium, to really large. And Desert Boy was just tall enough at 42 inches to meet the height requirements, which made him so happy.

I never could figure out how to go fast down the yellow slide, but one of my brothers and sisters-in-law could really whoosh down it. (Thanks to various family members for this photo and several of the following ones.) I was intending to perfect my technique on the At Sea day, but it turned out that it was so windy that day they had the big slide closed.

Here was the view from the tall water slide stairs towards the front of the ship. We were on a five-day four-night itinerary, leaving the afternoon of the first day, spending time in Key West the second day, Cozumel the third day, at sea the fourth day, and returning to port at 8 am the morning of the fifth day.

 We left the port of Miami at 4 p.m., and it was interesting seeing all the tall buildings. I can't imagine what it's like in hurricane season!

 We had two U.S. Coast Guard boats accompany us down the channel, with a guy at a machine gun on each. It was different.

The sun was setting as we left the port, and my brother Ed captured the above photo, with a second cruise ship following us away from the city.

One of the main reasons people go on cruises is to eat, and we quickly found our way to the food.
 Desert Girl discovered her love for butter--with a little bread to go along with it. She got to put her own butter on her roll, and some meals didn't consist of much more than that for her.

 In addition to three meals a day available in the formal dining room, there was also a main buffet and several other places to eat. And in case you're hungry at some strange time, pizza and ice cream were available 24 hours a day. Desert Boy ate ice cream four times one day and thought he was in heaven.

 Croissants need a little extra butter, right?

 The ship had a mini golf course, but both times we used it the wind was blowing so hard that it was really hard to play.

 The kids thought it was great fun anyway.

 We went to a variety of shows, such as comedy and singing and dancing. We had some members of our group chosen to go up on stage for a couple of the shows, which made it extra fun to watch.

 One event we went to was towel folding. You may see fancy-folded towels if you come visit us!

 Desert Boy and Desert Girl both enjoyed Camp Carnival. Desert Boy went several times and came back with various projects, including some sand art and a t-shirt he colored. Desert Girl's favorite was a crown she got so that she could be a princess.

 The upper berth became a hangout space. Some of the rooms can technically hold up to five people, but I'd say that would be crowded. We managed fine with two adults and two little kids in our room.

 We all liked hanging out at the back of the ship, where the wind wasn't as strong and we could relax and look at the seemingly endless ocean.

 A collection of towel animals. The service throughout the ship was attentive and polite.

 Desert Girl giving her towel bear a hug.

 I would have liked to have spent more time in Cozumel, but overall the cruising experience was pleasant. We got to have lots of family time and had a variety of activities. I probably wouldn't do it every year, but I'd consider it again in a few years. One of the best parts of the trip was relaxing in warm weather--I so much enjoyed outside time with family when I knew it was so cold back home. We might have to find another warm destination for next winter!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Nativity Play

 The kids were able to participate in the annual Nativity play this year, something my budding actors really enjoy. This year Desert Girl was an angel and Desert Boy was the innkeeper/priest. I managed to get them to stand together before the start so I could get a photo.

 Then Desert Girl promptly went and tickled her cousin, who was trying to get in a quick nap on shepherd's hill.

 The play is led by the magnificent Sharon, who manages to pull the whole production together despite kids missing practices, limited rehearsal time, and difficulties learning lines. I'm amazed at how she does it all. Thanks, Sharon!!

 After a quick run through of the songs with the piano, it was time to take their places.

 The angels crack me up every year, and this time was no exception.

 They sit center stage for most of the production, and it's just a little hard to sit still and look angelic that whole time.


 The audience got a good laugh when an obviously pregnant Mary came out to announce to Joseph that she was with child. Where had he been that he hadn't noticed?

 Soon Mary and Joseph were looking for a room, and the Innkeeper told them loudly, "All my rooms are full!" Desert Boy really got into his part and said his lines with a lot of emotion. He always learns his lines faster than I do.

 Then the baby was born and wrapped in swaddling cloths.

 Meanwhile the shepherds out on shepherd hill were learning the exciting news.

 The angels went over too, and one little angel couldn't help but give a look at her shepherd friend.

 Before long, Three Wise Men were on their way to the Newborn King, with a stop at King Herod's palace, with the guard and priest in attendance. The size discrepancy made the Three Wise Men seem even more impressive!

 The angels were still up on center stage, and Desert Girl was having a mighty hard time sitting still.

 I'm not sure what she was looking at, but it had to be interesting.

 It was almost See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil!

 The older angels were cracking up.

 Then it was time for the grand finale, Joy to the World, and bows. Well done!

 Isaac and Desert Girl were mighty proud of themselves.

It was a really enjoyable production. Again, I don't know how Sharon manages to do such a good job with such limited time. We're so grateful she organizes it, as the kids have such a good time and it is so fun watching them.

Following the play, we attended the candlelight service, which was beautiful and helped us get ready to celebrate Christ's birthday and the bringing of light into the world.

Merry Christmas!
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