Saturday, December 15, 2007

... does the bell still ring for you?

Children sleeping, snow is softly falling. Dreams are calling like bells in the distance. We were dreamers not so long ago, but one by one we all had to grow up. When it seems the magic's slipped away... we find it all again on Christmas day

Believe in what your heart is saying. Hear the melody that's playing. There's no time to waste. There's so much to celebrate. Believe in what you feel inside, and give your dreams the wings to fly. You have everything you need, if you just believe.

Trains move quickly to their journey's end. Destinations are where we begin again. Ships go sailing far across the sea, trusting starlight to get where they need to be. When it seems that we have lost our way, we find ourselves again on Christmas day.

The best time of the year, when everyone comes home. With all this Christmas cheer, it's hard to be alone. Putting up the Christmas tree with friends who come around. It's so much fun when Christmas Comes to Town.

Presents for the children wrapped in red and green. All the things I've heard about, but never really seen. No one will be sleeping on the night of Christmas Eve hoping Santa's on his way. When Santa's sleigh bells ring, I listen all around. The herald angels sing. I never hear a sound. When all the dreams of children, once lost will all be found. That's all I want When Christmas Comes to Town. That's all I want when Christmas Comes to Town.


The above lyrics are from The Polar Express soundtrack. The songs Believe & When Christmas Come to Town are my two favorites. James really loves the Hot Chocolate Song & Paige is partial to The Polar Express Song. If you haven't a clue of what I am talking about. Do yourself a favor, welcome yourself into this decade of kids movies, and rent the movie. It is worth it. Also to check out the experience you can click here.

We went to Polar Express this last weekend with Jason's family. It is so much fun and a really great tradition for the young & old. I love that the couple sitting behind us in the train were an elderly couple with no kids. You are never too old to believe in the magic of Christmas. We were fortunate enough to have some good snow this year. We stayed over night in the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, and rode the train that night. You board, sing carols, go for a great ride, they pass out cookies & hot chocolate, read the story of the Polar Express. Santa boards the train and gives each child a bell. It is so great! We have done it the last 2 years and I am so glad. It really is a great time to be together & fairly inexpensive for a family of 4. You have to book way in advance (FYI) - Anyway, it reminds me to listen for the bell this time of year and every year... to never loose the magic of Christmas in your heart!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Garage Sale for Joseph


This is a REMINDER about the benefit garage sell in behalf Joseph Runyan (Abby & Todd's son) who has autism. It is going to be Friday the 14th & Saturday the 15th. It's being held at the Neilson's house (Joseph's grandma - across the street from Mesa High). Last night my sewing group hosted a "Sew for Joseph" Night. We made aprons for adults & kids in fall and Christmas fabrics. Thank you to all those ladies donating their time & talents for this cause. Aprons make great Christmas gifts! Thank you as well to everyone who has made a donations or dropped stuff by. I have received numerous phone calls & donations from our neighbors & friends.
Abby says, "THANK YOU so much it really means so much to me and my family. It's going to be a great sale with lots of great stuff ( things from Decor Unique too) so don't forget to come and check it out." We will have a table set up with all the aprons on it. Also, if you have anything at all to donate, now is a good time to clean out before the holidays get here and Joseph is the best cause. Even if you think your stuff isn't worth anything, a dollar or quarter is better then nothing. Please call me if you need any bulky items picked up. Feel free to leave your stuff in my carport. There are quite a few bags out there already. Or if you want me to pick up a bag of clothes, toys, whatever. Again, thank everyone for being a part of this. And tell your friends & neighbors to come & shop!


Valerie Nielson
1202 S. Williams cir
Mesa, AZ 85204
p.s. We will also be doing on online raffle in the next couple weeks with a really cute Christmas Apron made by my sewing club (or just me). Please check back later to bid on it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree... Oh Christmas Tree...

This year Jason's cousin (Jeremy) called him up with info on permits to cut down your own tree. Jason was ecstatic and jumped at the idea of getting together to go cut down trees. He has been wanting to do this the past 8 Christmases that we've been married... but something always came up. Well, this was our year and our kids had reached perfect age. So Saturday Jeremy & Jen came over early to make a day trip of it. I made my infamous pumpkin pancakes with apple cider syrup, bacon, & eggs. It was a scrumptious breakfast and we set off...

This is Paige all fresh faced and ready to go - isn't she so cute! She is wearing double layers (thanks to a dad that thinks ahead).

We originally had decided to drive out to Springerville, AZ (for those of you that are geographically challenged - that equals a 4 hour drive heading East)... But reconsidered that Payson is a lot closer and the permit office was open on weekends. So we were good. After stopping in Payson we learn that the "Happy Jack" office was shut down in October (despite the misinformation on the good ole Internet) and we had to head about 40 miles outside of Strawberry for the next ranger station.


Jeremy & Jen needed to load up on caffeine to deal with our "sweet" family. We were in Payson or maybe Strawberry at this point.

So we get to the next ranger station only to learn that their operating hours are mon-fri. There was a sign up instructing people that they could get a permit from the next ranger station which happened to be in Heber, AZ (again this equals an hour & a half drive in the opposite direction). If you were in AZ over the weekend you would also know the entire state had a lot of liquid in one form or another. It was snowing pretty good and when it stopped snowing it was hailing or sleeting or raining, or all three (cool side note: we did see the end of a rainbow on the way out there - no gold though, dang it!).... at this point we started weighing our options. I mean how much do they really fine you for poaching a Christmas tree...

So we sent the "men folk" out on a scouting expedition. This is a picture of Jen & James all snugly warm hanging out in the truck while it "sleeted" on Jason & Jeremy.


Paige & Maren getting a little stir crazy - while Jeremy & Jason got lost looking for a tree with little visibility and both were turned around, got lost, and actually ran into the truck by accident (?) or fate?


Jason after they accidentally found the truck.


Jen, James & Paige trying to have a snowball fight in some really slushy snow. Paige actually hit me twice. I was quite impressed.

James trying to keep up with Jeremy the coolest guy on the mountain (could be because of the chainsaw) or that Jeremy is an excellent tracker (of potential trees).


Everyone is soaking wet & freezing at this point - with no "holy grail" tree in sight. Jason & Jeremy started having doubts about poaching as well (good thing too... we later learned the fine is $500 - ouch!) Jen & I were ready to settle for a suitable twig.


James eating dirty snow. He is "soaking dirty" - but reallllly happy!

Making tracks in the snow... we can no longer feel our fingers or toes. I stepped in a huge slushy puddle at this point and my feet were throbbing cold and squished when I walked. We decided to give up at this point - go eat some chili at Chili's in Payson and see what other options were available. (Again Jason is thinking ahead) and brought a change of clothes AND shoes for our kids - so they could be nice and warm the rest of the ride home. I squeezed my-ugly-step-sister-feet into an extra pair of Paige's socks, the numbness subsided. Everyone fell asleep except James & Jeremy and James made Jeremy play his favorite game "I Spy" for 20 miles or so using James rules (which means no real rules that we've been able to figure out).

The end result - We decided Home Depot was our best bet. We got a really pretty tree and spent the rest of the night watching "Elf" while decorating it (only 2 ornaments got broken, yay). Afterwards we read "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry and sang a couple Christmas songs (one about a family sitting around their tree that Heavenly Father helped them to find at Home Depot - lyrics courtesy of Paige). Then we opened the first day on our huge birdhouse-ish advent calendar from Target that can fit big ole chocolate in each lil' room. And said our family prayer. It was the perfect night to a really great adventurous day. Thinking about next year I might just want to write a letter to the forest service suggesting that they sale permits online... now that would have been helpful.
I hope everyone else is enjoying the Most Wonderful time of the year!