Desert snow

First, there was this:

Then … this happened.

Tombstone, AZ
“I drove down here from Montana to get away from this nonsense!”

We even had flurries here in Tucson, although none of it stuck. The kids were so excited. What a start to the new year!

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Falling off the blog hop wagon

Guess I blew the blog hop, didn’t I? Here it is, the day after Christmas, and I only just now remembered, oh yeah, I was doing that blog hop thing. 😀

We had a very nice Christmas. It was just us, so on Christmas Eve, I introduced the kids to the wonders of clam chowder in bread bowls. It was a huge hit. My recipe made so much chowder that we ate the rest for dinner on Christmas Day. Sans bread bowls. Since those were already gone. 😀

For dessert, I made this stuff we call mint cake, but is more like mint brownies. My mom made them every year for years, so I’ve decided to make them a tradition. So far we’ve eaten half a pan and nobody is sick yet.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to all the New Years blog posts. “Top Ten things I learned this year” and so forth. I’ve got a couple of ideas for things to write about book stuff. This blog hop was fun, because it got me back into blogging after having the baby, when my routine was all shot to heck.

I’ve also been trying to make more artwork, so I hope to be posting more of that here, too.

A walk down the wash (Christmas blog hop)

The weather has been perfect down here in Arizona. The kids and I went for a nice, long walk up a nearby wash to the dry culverts. They have been dubbed “the tunnels”.

The wash also doubles as an alley, so there’s always interesting junk out here to look at.
Here’s the culverts. The only time they have water in them is during a rain. As you can see, it hasn’t rained in a while.
Culverts are huge caves when you’re three feet tall.
Gorgeous clear day with mountains in the background.
A variety of prickly pear cactus with fuzzy spots instead of big spikes. The fuzzy spots are also horrible spikes, so don’t touch.

It’s always such a nice walk, with lots of things to see. In the spring, there’s quail with chicks running around.

Kids’ ornaments (Christmas blog hop)

This past week, our apartment complex had their big Christmas event, which was a wrapping station for presents for the adults at one end of the complex, and a craft station for kids at the other end of the complex. So I got presents wrapped, and the kids got to make ornaments.

Here’s the first two glass ornaments
A glittery one
And two more!

They had a ton of fun, and devoured the snacks provided (which was the main draw).

Christmas is getting closer!

All Is Well (Christmas blog hop)

Did you know that Frank Peretti, author of supernatural thrillers, wrote a Christmas story? And recorded an audiobook of it? Which is on Youtube, complete with illustrations from the children’s book version?

All Is Well, by Frank Peretti

When Penny and her mom run out of money and can’t pay the rent, it looks like they’re going to have to move. To help any way she can, Penny goes door-to-door selling whatever isn’t nailed down – including a box of Christmas ornaments. Through kindness and compassion, Penny, her mother and the whole neighborhood discover that all is well and that God does provide.

Christmas speculation (Christmas blog hop)

I’m sitting here with this cute little guy asleep in my lap. He just had a bath, and this is his favorite place to be. It’s a chilly evening tonight in the desert, kind of cold and damp.

I was thinking about the Christmas story, how Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem. But did you ever think about how they didn’t leave Bethlehem? They were still there two years later, when the magi showed up. Then Herod had the babies killed, trying to catch Jesus in the net.
I imagine it would have been too hard on Mary and the baby to travel, so Joseph just set up shop in Bethlehem for the next few years. Then the magi arrived, gave them all this extra money and expensive goods, so they could afford to hide out in Egypt until Herod died.
Maybe it comes from writing stories all the time, but I get hung up on logistics. The Bible gives just enough information to speculate about the logistics of travel and survival. Joseph was a carpenter, so I imagine he could work anywhere. They need wooden stuff built in Egypt, too. 
Then when they moved back to Israel, they settled in Nazereth, which, according to Nathaniel, later on, was kind of the armpit of the area. “Can anything good come out of Nazereth?”
Another thing I always wondered about. By the time Jesus is crucified, he has his disciple John look after his mother Mary. So Joseph must have died by then. Do you think Jesus healed Joseph or considered resurrecting him? Jesus didn’t do it for everyone. He allowed his stepfather to die. That’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? God doesn’t operate the way we do.

Fictional Christmases (Christmas Blog Hop)

I’ve been trying to think of what books have my favorite Christmases in them. Like, ones that made me all warm and fuzzy.
I was thinking of the one in the Four Story Mistake, by Elizabeth Enright. The dad tells the kids that he’s pretty much broke and they won’t have much for Christmas. So the kids get busy and make presents for each other, or save pocket money to buy special things. And between that and presents from friends, they wind up having a great Christmas. But it was because they had given so much that it was so good.
Another favorite is the Christmas in the fourth Mitford book, Out to Caanan, by Jan Karon. Christmas is always good in the Mitford books, but that one is special, because that’s when the hardened construction foreman, whom the hero had butted heads with the entire book, has his huge change of heart. It’s wonderful.
In the first Harry Potter book, Christmas is especially nice because Harry doesn’t expect to get anything. And not only do his friends give him presents, but a mysterious benefactor gifts him his dead father’s invisibility cloak. Of all the Harry Potter Christmases, that one is the nicest, because the mystery is so pleasant.

(Although I do like the one in book 3, when he gets the new broomstick.)
What book Christmas is your favorite? Have you read any of the ones I mentioned?

More thankfulness (Christmas blog hop)

It’s two weeks until Christmas. Cue the screaming and panic.

I haven’t done any Christmas shopping at all. Mostly, all I’ve done is take care of a baby, and keep my head above water when it comes to school and housework. A night when I get enough sleep is a big deal. Christmas presents? I’ll get there. 

Especially since my kids want gift cards and kazoos for Christmas. Not kidding.

Me, I’m content to just be not pregnant. I’m not sick or in pain the way I was since March. I’m getting strong again, and babies are fun. That’s all the Christmas present I need. Heck, I can play video games with my husband again, instead of being in too much pain to even sit in a chair.

Let me tell you, I’m excited to head into a new year of not being pregnant. Whatever adventures transpire, at least I won’t be a bloated whale. So thankful for good health!

I do have a writing blog post brewing in my head. Not very Christmasy, so I’ll try to save it until New Years. Blogging every day is hard, but it also gets that brain working. I keep realizing that I do have things to blog about. 🙂 

Thankful for a battery (Christmas blog hop) 

 I know we just had Thanksgiving, but Christmas is a great time to be thankful, too. And right now, I’m thankful for a car battery.
I was due to have a baby on November 3rd. My parents watched the other kids as the clock counted down. My husband and I did last minute errands, ferried kids back and forth, and grabbed last-minute dates. 
I went into labor in the early morning on the 4th. We want to the hospital that afternoon, and I had the baby that evening. My hubby went home for the night, and came and got me when they released me and the baby from the hospital. The car acted just fine through all this.
Two days passed, and it was time to take the baby for his first checkup. We get in the car, and it won’t start. The starter just makes that buzzing sound when the battery is dead.
Fortunately, my parents had come over to watch the kids, and were able to whisk us to the appointment. Then my dad and hubby jumped the car and took it down to get a new battery.
It wound up being a non-issue. But imagine what might have happened if that battery had died when I needed to go to the hospital. Or if it had died in the hospital parking lot. Or any of the times we took the kids to where my parents were staying.
It could have died at all kinds of really rotten times. But it held on until the kerfuffle was past, and the best possible circumstances were in place.
If that’s not the hand of God at work, I don’t know what is.
So that’s why I’m thankful for a car battery.

Plans for Christmas Present (Christmas blog hop)

Haha, Christmas Present, I crack myself up.

Anyway, I forgot to write a blog post last night, so I’ve missed a day of the hop. Bad llama! I got busy playing videogames with friends last night and just … completely forgot. The baby cooperated for once and slept on my lap. It was wonderful to goof off again.

I’ve been trying to think of something special to cook for Christmas Eve. When I was growing up, we always had the big family get together on Christmas Eve, and we’d do a big dinner and stuff. Since our family was so big (six kids), we kind of winged it every Christmas. Some years we did Mexican buffet platters. Some years we did do-it-yourself sandwiches. Some years we did clam chowder in bread bowls. I know that turkey and stuff is traditional, but man, it’s all the same food you eat at Thanksgiving. Why not mix it up?

I was thinking about the clam chowder bread bowls, in particular. As it gets cold, I have this insatiable appetite for soups of all kinds. I’ve made potato soup lots of times, but I’ve never made clam chowder, even though I love it. And the kids have never experienced the wonder that is bread bowls. Makes me think of the song from Willy Wonka: “You can even eat the dishes!”

We have no family or friends down here to do holidays with, so I’ll just be cooking for us. Fortunately, there’s eight of us, so it’s not exactly lonely, heh!