Saturday, December 28, 2013

Post-Christmas Fun

Claude enjoying the festivities

We hope your Christmas celebrations were relaxing and fun and spent with the people you love the most!

Greg and I were with ourselves and 5 (6, if you count Juvy, outside) cats to open our presents.

A card from Greg's Dad and Step-Mom . . . what could it be?

Amazon - hooray!

Two Sigur Ros CDs from my brother and his family:

Greg got a Chromecast! 

 And some cool cameras . . . one is already set up in the garage so we can watch the cats out there from in the house!

Allistair liked opening presents!

And both Allistair and Stephen planned to ambush Claude, who was calmly playing with a mousie amongst all the wrapping paper.

With Mom-ESP, my Mom somehow knew that I had just recently broken my travel mirror!

And Greg generously bought me a new phone (the Moto G!)
I have been having a BLAST getting it all set up (and getting all my Star Trek sound effects organized!)

My parents also found this adorable owl pillow (I named him Olliver!),

The softest jammies ever!

And a beautiful leopard-print sweater!

Obviously, I am very happy to receive a TJ Maxx gift card! 

Thanks to the wonderful people who generously gave gifts to us this Christmas.

Next post will be our day-trip to Green Valley!
Be excited: you will hear about me eating cactus fruit and you will see what Santa would look like if he were a Saguaro!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

CHRISTmas Wishes

May your Christmas be BLESSED and focused on the One who started it all!  
May you be surrounded by God's love and people you care about.

Here's what we're up to . . . 

making mini banana bread loaves for friends & volunteers

baking (gluten-free) sugar cookie cut-outs

And Allistair pulled the hands off the clock for us just to remind us to relax and enjoy ourselves SLOWLY while we're on vacation!  Thanks, buddy!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Kittens Discover Christmas

Winter has come to Arizona!
As you can see from these photos, we DO get leaves changing color here in the desert!
This morning it was 39 when I left home, and the trees know it!

The other day I was looking out at my backyard Chinese elm trees and every time a breeze blew through, many leaves would drop - it was like a yellow rainstorm!  Beautiful!

Stephen hid under the blankets as I was re-making the bed yesterday.

Here is some video of this adventure!

Allistair likes to sit on my lap and relax.
Today he wasn't relaxed, though, because there were BIRDIES at the birdfeeder!
He had to stay ALERT!

Today Allistair discovered their Christmas gifts!  
I had some catnip mice tucked into little stockings and some crunchy foil balls in a little bag.  First, he stuck his head in the bag under the tree and pulled out the crunchy balls.  So I figured it was best to take off the packaging and let him play with them.  THEN, he stood up on tall legs and reached for the stockings.  Here's the rest of that story . . . 

Part II

I probably am the last person in the world to know about Scentsy (and I'm not getting paid for writing this or anything), but I just got a generous Christmas gift from the family of one of my 1:1 students at church today.  It is a ceramic container with a lightbulb in it, and little cubes of wax (like chocolate!) that are scented.  They melt when you turn the lightbulb on and smell nice.  I think it's pretty cool not to have an actual live fire in the house (as with candles) - no whiskers will get burned off!  Today my house smells like "Christmas Cottage" 
(smells like cinnamon, apple, clove, etc.)!

The countdown to Christmas is on . . . THREE more wake-ups!
Need some fresh Christmas music?  Try Dancer and Prancer!  Consider it my Christmas gift to you.  

Christmas Update!

Merry Christmas to YOU!

Allistair loves the Christmas tree!

Here we are to give you the Priem update - 
we know you're desperate to find out what happened with us this year!  

January 6th of 2013, we visited our new home church for the first time!
We are blessed by the authenticity and friendliness of the people we've met, and we have made many friends who are already dear to us.

We arrived at just the right time (God's amazing plan, once again at work!), as the early childhood director had been wanting to begin providing support to children with special needs, but needed some help to get there.  She had the special needs team brochure from the program Christie developed and managed at our previous church on her desk and had been planning to call - and then we showed up on her doorstep!  
About 10 amazing volunteers were ready and eager to serve families, and I (Christie) have been blessed to get to know them.  So far we have two classrooms up and running (one for younger students and one for teens and adults).  What a great opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people affected by various diagnoses (and their families!)

Greg immediately plugged in (ha!) to the production team, and he enjoys running sound and helping with technical stuff as often as possible.  He is very happy to be volunteering again in an area that matches up well with his skills and interests and with people who are fun and welcoming.

Greg still works for Intel (19.5 years now!)  He moved to a new position, and is now working on some mission-critical systems, which means he will have some on-call days now.  The job is interesting, and he's been learning a ton, but there's always stress with changes, too.

2014 will prayerfully be the year that Christie expects to finish the church curriculum for people with special needs that she's been writing (since August of 2011)!  Three churches are currently using it, and feedback has been positive.  The newest church to sign on said that the students seem to be learning better, and the volunteers in their special needs program are feeling more equipped.  What more could we ask?!  It is a blessing to have an opportunity to make a difference in the world.

Our second weekend at our new church (the weekend of January 13th), Christie began having some extreme abdominal pain and we scheduled an appointment with the best pelvic pain specialist around, thinking that her endometriosis had returned.  What a surprise for us to find out that she had Crohn's Disease instead!  This has meant a lot of experimentation - different ways of eating, some different medications, TONS of natural supplements - and lots of rest.  It finally makes sense why she has felt so exhausted for a number of years and why her white blood cell count has kept coming back high!  She started treatment with a medication that is in FDA testing for Crohn's, and has noticed some improvement.  There's still a lot of room for improvement health-wise, though.

We pray that your Christmas this year is centered on the One who came to bring peace between us and God.

"By faith we have been made acceptable to God.
And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
we live at PEACE with God."
Romans 5:1

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cat Antics + Wilderness

Today I'm giving you the videos first because I have some really cute ones!

Claude enjoyed chasing the laser dot!  Her fuzzy little paws are so cute!

Allistair was disturbed by the dishwasher:

Introduction to the new mousies!

Stephen playing fetch with a new mousie.
He carries mousies by the tail!

Bjarne was pulling the mouse-on-a-stick, and Stephen was chasing the stick!

And on to the photos!

Life has been quiet here this week because I haven't been feeling well (AGAIN).  
I rested a LOT and watched TV/movies and snuggled kitty babies.  All of which makes me feel happier!

They like to snuggle on the couch!
From top to bottom:
Allistair, Baltazar, Stephen, Bjarne

Greg has been getting the baseboards painted so he can install them in the hallway over the new beautiful flooring!  Hopefully this will happen over his Christmas break (next week!)

Sweet Bjarne nosey.

Brr!  It got cold!

When we get a "freeze warning," people cover up their less freeze tolerant plants with sheets and blankets.
Our neighbors covered their tree!

Allistair and Baltazar snuggling.

Allistair and Bjarne snuggling.

Allistair likes to chew on the Christmas tree . . . we keep squirting him with the water squirter and he keeps getting in there and chewing, stealing bows off the packages, and trying to tip the tree over!
But he's really cute . . . 

Juvy comes in a little bit (if she's willing to stay in one place where we can see her).
Here she is, looking elegant:

And Stephen has been especially handsome this week!

Except when he's busy being silly!

Greg and I went out into the desert to try to get some photos for our Christmas card . . . not super successful (I am a harsh critic of photos of myself - Greg looks EXCEPTIONALLY handsome in most of them, and it's great to see his STRAIGHT teeth!  Thank you, Invisalign!)

But on the way there, we saw a coyote (!) crossing the road and some vultures (a committee of vultures!)
congregated around a carcass . . . 

Here's a footprint I found!

The Gila (pronounced "HEEL-a") River even had water in it!

Here's Greg in the wilderness, setting up the tripod.

 And here we are . . . I am poking Greg in the ribs really hard in the photo, trying to get him to make a face - and he stayed calm and handsome.  Grr!

 Off to do yoga . . . I'm all achy and stuff from the Crohn's business flaring up a bit, and yoga helps settle it down (and it helps me feel calmer and less sad).  Yay for yoga!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tarantula Hike

Juildeen and I went for another hike on Saturday.  We went to the San Tan Mountains Regional Park and hiked the Dynamite Trail.  Nothing blew up!

A man found a Horny Toad and picked it up for Juildeen to pet.  
She wasn't sure about it, but she did it anyway!

There was a lot of little baby green tender grass thanks to all the rain lately.

And the sky was a BEAUTIFUL brilliant blue with wispy clouds.  We don't usually have clouds here (unless it's monsoon season), so I enjoyed watching them drift serenely across the sky.

Juildeen is tiny compared to this huge Saguaro!

This cholla was dead, but really cool-looking.

This trail was labeled as being hazardous and extremely steep, but it really wasn't.  I have been on a lot more difficult and steep trails that weren't labeled at all.  But I guess this particular park is highly traveled by families and people who don't hike a lot.

When we got to the first plateau, Juildeen said, "The sky!"
She told me to take a picture of the town down below.

I was happy.

And then I got EVEN HAPPIER because I saw the second coolest thing I have ever seen while on a hike!

He was amazing!
YouTube link

Just crawling along in the midst of a huge mass of hikers (the Saturday after Thanksgiving is when everyone in Arizona takes their kids and families hiking - lots of people from the midwest are in town, so everyone wants to show off how beautiful our state is!)

 We had our picnic on top of the mountain.  Juildeen declared, "We're having a picnic on top of the world!"
And then she stood on the highest part (it's not as much of a drop-off as it looks, and it's not that much higher than the immediately surrounding land - I wouldn't let her do anything crazy) and posed for pictures!

Wish you were here!