Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Thank-You Hell

Sean's birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and we haven't sent out the thank you cards yet.

I have a love-hate relationship with thank you cards:

 I'm an overly polite person.  I think that taking a couple of minutes to write out a card to say thanks is sweet and respectful.  Wedding thank-yous are a must.  Showers, whether they're wedding or baby, must have thank you cards.

I hate the idea of writing thank you cards to Sean's entire kindergarten class. Finding time between work,  22 Thank you cards, 22 stamps, and what feels like 22 hours of me writing out "thanks for coming to my party, and thanks for the gift" and having (cajoling) Sean to sign them.  The task is daunting.  Plus, I know that the lollipop-shaped cards that Sean picked out at Target may go on someone's fridge for a day or two, and then get thrown away and forgotten about.  But not sending them would be rude.

I'm not a rude person.  So I will sit down and write them out this weekend.  Blerg.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Just Jump

We took the kids to Maine this weekend.  It was to visit my college friends Lexi and Maureen, but ironically, we were going north and avoiding the snow.  That sounds so weird to say!

We had a good time, visiting, going out to eat, shopping, etc.  We went to the LL Bean store in Freeport, ME. I always forget just how big that place is, it's really a complex!

Another thing we did---we took the kids swimming in the hotel pool.  They LOVED it and it wore them out.  One of the things that they really like to do is jump off the side into the shallow end.  they coaxed me to do it from the deep(er) end and I told them that I was trying not to get my hair wet.

As soon as I said it, I paused:  "Did I really just say that?  REALLY?  Do I want to be that Mom?  No.  And so I jumped.

The cheers were worth it.  The awkward SLAP against the water, was not.  Nothing a little trip to the hot tub couldn't fix.

There.  I'm still a cool mom.  Thought we were slipping there a little bit.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Rare Sighting

What's that I see coming up ahead?  Oh my goodness, it's a weekend with no plans!!'s a THREE DAY WEEKEND with no plans!! No karate (we compromised to two weeknights instead) no parties, no obligations.  Nothing.  And I'm so grateful for it.  The past few weeks have been insanely busy as we're continuing to "come down" from Christmas.  I predict a lot of pajama-wearing, doing whatever pleases us.  The kids want to spend hours on Club Penguin?  Cool.  Let's snuggle in my bed and read books?  Yes, please.  Knitting and coffee in the afternoons? You betcha.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Comedy of Birthday Errors

Sean's birthday is coming up, and it just hasn't been my week.  Anything concerning his birthday has been nothing short of disastrous.  

First up....for some reason Sean's birthday always sneaks up on me.  It's not that I don't know when his birthday is, I mean I was there when he was born!  It's just that Christmas has just passed, and that whole "I can finally relax" feeling sets in and I underestimate how many days there are between Christmas and Sean's birthday.  Poor kid.

He's going to be six this year (sniff) and we promised him a party outside of the house for his 6th birthday.  He chose a popular playplace nearby that has inflatables to play on.  I booked the party and they sent me the invitations in the mail.  A few days after Christmas, I settled into my comfy recliner with a Harry Potter Movie and the invitations and wrote them all out.  I invited all of the kids in his class, something like 23 of them.  I mailed them out almost two weeks in advance, and used my cellphone for the RSVP so people could call or text.  The first text I get:  "Charlie is very excited for Sean's party!  I'm confused wrote Saturday the 10th and the 10th is a Sunday.  What day is the party?"  UGH, you see where this is going, right?  So far fifteen kids are coming and I've had to clarify fifteen times.  

Then last night, I realized after dinner that we were busy every other night this week so I needed to go birthday shopping.  I chose Walmart because it was something like 10 degrees out and that's not far from home.  I walked around for two hours, trying to settle on birthday presents from us and worrying about party favors.  I hate giving out party favors!!  I'm so not the mom that has it together in this category, and cannot possibly pull off party favors that are Pinterest-worthy.  I don't like giving a bag of junk that's going to end up in the junk drawer or at the bottom of a closet, broken and forgotten, either.  So after much hemming and hawing, each kid is getting a box of crayons and a little tub of play-doh.  (Hey, that's a lot better than some of the favors we've gotten, even) 

   I get through the register and start heading to the car.  As I was wheeling the cart towards the car I hit a bump, sending half of my purchases flying into the air.  I'm frantically scooping up crayons and birthday cards and toys, practically on my hands and knees.  Then a car comes near me and is making motions for me to get out of the way, they want to park there.  I finally scoop up the last box of crayons and wonder (out loud and with much cursing) why this guy can't park in one of the thirty other spots available.  Whatever.  I get to the car, only to find out that I can't get the back door open.  Nope....that door is staying shut come hell or high water.  This is when I melt down into something resembling a toddler throwing a tantrum.  It's freezing, my feet hurt, all of that crap fell out of my cart and what's worse, I've just spent TWO HOURS IN WALMART.  I wanna go home!!!  That's when I started throwing (literally) everything in the back seat and cursing like a sailor.  (Believe me, I know sailors)  I'm glad I didn't see anyone I know, I may have been unrecognizable.

So.....that's all done and I'm putting it behind me.  I'm ready for Sean to have a lovely 6th birthday.  As soon as I order the cake this afternoon, which I hope will go without a hitch.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Future Yarn Plans

Happy New Year!

I've already finished the first project of the year:  boot cuffs for my friend Lauren.  She was over with her son the other day (my oldest and her son are best friends) and I had finished the knitting.  So I seamed them while she was there, and she wore 'em home!  She loves them, almost as much as she loves wearing boots.

Now I am a bit obsessed with boot cuffs, and I've cast on a pair of gray ones for my hairdresser, as a little gift since she won't be back at the salon til June.  (college coursework)  AND THEN I have another pair for a friend, who's insisting on paying me for them.  My first for-profit knitting.  Not something I've ventured into before, and I don't think I want to make a thing out of it.

So many plans with my yarn and needles this year...I'm making hats, blankets and sweaters for babies at the hospital that the boys were born at for Project Nathaniel, and I've signed up to crank out mittens as part of the Secret Santa program that the local police does every year.  But first....time for some things for me!  I always cast on one or two things after the new year, to balance out all of the Christmas knitting.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

See Ya, 2015!

It's time for the annual sum-up-the-year post.  Here we go!

2015: A Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

Let's see......I lost weight.  And put it on again by stress-eating.  The first part is something I'd never done before and the second is something I've done more than once.  I also got hearing aids last January.  It's been an adjustment but overall I couldn't be happier.    

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any.  And right now I have no plans for resolutions this year.  But never say never.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?  My niece Grace was born in August.  The first girl in a long time on Brian's side of the family.  She's a real cutie.

4. Did anyone close to you die?  Not this year.  

5. What countries/places did you visit?
Our family vacation was in New Hampshire this year, we needed a bit of a low-key vacation after Disney last year.  We haven't decided on vacation in 2016 yet, we'll work on that right after the holidays are over.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

My older son was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder this year.  It was a long time coming and we're starting to understand better why he does the things that he does and how we can help.  We definitely need more, though, and are going to work harder on getting it in 2016.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 

Nothing super-noteworthy happened, not that I remembered the date for, anyway.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Let's see.....I finished my Christmas knitting early!  That doesn't sound like much but trust me, it is.

9. What was your biggest failure?

No BIG failures, but certainly little ones.  That's ok, Failure is part of the process.  It's inevitable.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?  It hasn't been too bad a year for that.  I did get the flu in February and miss a week of work, that was miserable.  Other than that....anything going on has been dealt with.  I can hear properly and I'm at my lowest risk for more kidney stones.  Can't ask for much more than that, I'm thankful that it's been a quiet year.  

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Honestly, I have no idea.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Anyone who does good deeds for their fellow humans.  Those are the people that news stories should be written about.  

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?Terrorists.  Donald Trump.  And people that text while driving.

14. Where did most of your money go?

I had no idea hearing aids were so damned expensive.  

15.  What did you really get excited about?

Yarn-related things.  Surprisingly, I was pretty stoked about my 20th HS reunion, which ended up being a lot of fun.  Something that both excited and saddened me:  my "baby" going to kindergarten.   

16. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Definitely happier.  The holidays were really tough last year.  Sometimes things were stressful/overwhelming this year, but overall it's been a much better year.   

b) thinner or fatter? about the same.  I want my 40th birthday gift to myself to be better health.  And that will start right after the holidays.  

c) richer or poorer? Both, rich in some ways and poor in others.  It all offsets in the end.

17. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Is there such a thing as too much knitting time??  :)  

18. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying about things that one cannot control.  Getting frustrated when trying to view the future in a crystal ball, only to find out that I don't HAVE a crystal ball.  

19. How did you spend Christmas?

We hosted a nice celebration at home.  It was unseasonably warm and pleasant, feeling more like springtime!  It's a little weird to have your windows open during the month of December and I never really thought that "the breeze knocking ornaments off the tree" would be a problem.  

20. Did you fall in love in 2015?

No.  But I continued to love.

21. What was your favorite TV program? 

I gave "Once Upon a Time" a whirl over the summer, binge-watching the first four seasons.  Also, The Big Bang Theory continues to be a favorite and I love the new half-hour comedy "Life in Pieces."

22. What was the best book you read?

According to my Goodreads account, I read 43 books.  Many of them are worth mentioning and I will do so in a separate post.  But of all of favorite would be "As You Wish:  Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride" by Cary Elwes.  It's one of my favorite movies and it was just amazing reading about the making of it from Westley.  

23. What was your greatest musical discovery?
That pop is good for exercise but swing or George Gershwin is good for cooking.  And I think I've always known this but know so even more now:  Christmas music is fun at first but then gets really, really old.  OH!  And I am still so surprised to discover that Garth Brooks tickets were attainable!

24. What was your favorite film of this year? 

I enjoyed "Divergent" but after that the series left me cold so I doubt I'll  see the other two films.  But my favorite?  "Inside Out" without a doubt.

25. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

It was a Saturday this year.  I spent it with my family and then drove down to Mohegan Sun in CT to celebrate it with my friend Maureen, my "birthday buddy."  Same birthday, only she's a year older.  

26. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

That's a tough call.  Better drivers around me?  Maybe.

27. What kept you sane?

Brian.  Making time for myself.  My kids.  

28. Who did you miss?

My far away friends and family.

29. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:

"An empty cup can't fill other cups."  If you're not taking care of yourself, you have nothing to offer others.

30. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Dear reader, please excuse the language.  But Pink's "F*%ckin' Perfect" sums it up for me.  Minus the f-bombs it's exactly how I feel.  

Made a wrong turn, once or twice
Dug my way out, blood and fire
Bad decisions, that's alright
Welcome to my silly life
Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood
Miss 'No way, it's all good', it didn't slow me down
Mistaken, always second guessing, underestimated
Look, I'm still around
Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you are less than, less than fuckin' perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing
You're fuckin' perfect to me
You're so mean when you talk about yourself, you were wrong
Change the voices in your head make them like you instead
So complicated, look happy, you'll make it
Filled with so much hatred, such a tired game
It's enough, I've done all I can think of
Chased down all my demons, I've seen you do the same
Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you are less than, less than fuckin' perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing
You're fuckin' perfect to me
The whole world's scared so I swallow the fear
The only thing I should be drinking is an ice cold beer
So cool in line, and we try try try
But we try too hard and it's a waste of my time
Done looking for the critics, cause they're everywhere
They don{t like my jeans; they don't get my hair
Exchange ourselves, and we do it all the time
Why do we do that? Why do I do that
Why do I do that?
Yeah, oh, oh baby, pretty baby
Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than fuckin' perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothing, you're fuckin' perfect to me, yeah
You're perfect, you're perfect
Oh pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothin' you're fuckin' perfect to me

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Personal 2015 Book Awards

I read something like 43 books this year, and here's my favorites of the bunch:

"Rocks:  My Life in and out of Aerosmith."  by Joe Perry
This is a memoir written by the lead guitarist of the band Aerosmith, a favorite of mine for many years.  It was really eye-opening in some parts, I'd read their biography "Walk This Way" in college and reading it from Joe's perspective was quite different.  It's good to hear from "the quiet half of the Toxic Twins."

"My Year with Eleanor" by Noelle Hancock
Another memoir, with the writer on a journey of self-discovery using Eleanor Roosevelt's life as an example to follow.  I learned so much about Eleanor Roosevelt in the process and think of her now as a fantastic example of charity, class and stubborness being a good thing.  

"A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness
The lead character, Diana Bishop, comes from a long line of distinguished witches, and has absolutely zero interest in her bloodline of scorcery.  Until she is dragged down into the underworld.  I read this while I was sick with the flu in February and enjoyed it immensely.  It's a trilogy, and each book is quite long.  I haven't gone back for the second book yet, but I will eventually.

"The Boston Girl" by Anita Diamant
Honestly, this felt like nonfiction.....beautiful story of Addie Baum and her immigrant family in the North End of Boston.  It really made you feel like you were there.  

"As You Wish:  Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride." by Cary Elwes
If you are even a casual fan of the movie The Princess Bride, you should read this book.  It's written by Cary Elwes, who played Westley.  It's funny, it's sad and surprising.....just an overall great read.

"Yes Please" by Amy Poehler
Wow, perhaps 2015's theme for books is "The Year of the Memoir."  Amy Poehler is a comedian and actress that's originally from Massachusetts and was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live.  This was a fantastic book and after reading it you feel like you "know" Amy Poehler and would want her to be your friend.  I felt the same way about "Bossypants" by Tina Fey.  Tina and Amy are sometimes referred to as each other's "Comedy Wife."  Their sketches on SNL and their movies are hilarious.  And this year, my "besties" were awesome when they co-hosted "Saturday Night Live" on my birthday last week.  :)  I hope to see their new movie "Sisters" this week with a friend.  

"The Night Circus" by Erin Morganstern
I enjoyed the hell out of this book, with the magical circus just showing up without warning, none of the performers aging and the real purpose of the circus.  The characters were breathtaking.  I won't say any more, I don't want to ruin anything.  I'll just say that Brian got the audiobook for his commute based on my recommendation, and we rarely read the same books.  

"Girl in Translation" by Jean Kwok
This was the story of a girl who comes to America at a young age.  She and her mother come from China after the death of the girl's father, and life isn't quite what they hoped it would be.  They live in a condemned building with no heat and they are slave workers in a clothing sweatshop run by a family member.  Riveting.  

"In the Unlikely Event" by Judy Blume
OK, I am a huge Judy Blume fan and read everything that she writes, even kids books.  This was her newest and was based on the real event of planes coming down from the sky in New Jersey in the fifties.  Mind-blowing stuff.  

"What Alice Forgot" by Lianne Moriarty.
Imagine having the perfect life, married to the perfect man and about to have your first child.  Then imagine waking up one day to find that you can't remember the last ten years of your life and in that time, you've had three children and are in the middle of a bitter divorce from Mr. Wonderful.  I couldn't put this down.  

And a late submission, I just finished "The Kids are All Right." by Liz Welch and Diana Welch.  It's (you guessed it) another memoir.  It's the very true story of four young siblings losing both their parents three years apart in the eighties.  It's a sad story, but has a hopeful ending.  Plus, there's a website to see family photos and a section dedicated to other people writing their version of the story.  

Next up, for 2016:

"The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins.  It's billed as "a debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives. "

"Choose Your Own Autobiography" by Neil Patrick Harris.  He's the incredible actor that brought you the characters of "Doogie Houser" and Barney on "How I Met Your Mother."  HIMYM is one of my all-time favorite shows, so I am looking forward to this.