Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A Year in Review

It's that time again... to usher 2012 out the door in anticipation of 2013's arrival.  But first, what was 20012 like?  .

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Honestly?  I'm sure that there is something but I can't think of it.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I really don't "do" New Years Resolutions.  However, I started the "Day Zero" project last January 1 and I've crossed several things off my list and am working on more.  I'm having a lot of fun with it, too.  Can't exactly say that about New Year's resolutions, now can you!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My friend Alana had her first baby just a few weeks ago.  He's so adorable.  And my friend Jenny had her third baby boy in August.  I enjoyed cuddles from both recently and of course knit for both of them as well.  

4. Did anyone close to you die?  

No....I can't think of any this year.  

5. What countries/places did you visit?

We took a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia this past summer.  Had a great time, too!  Definitely somewhere we would visit again.  I also went to Florida (all by myself!) to surprise my oldest friend for her baby shower.  That trip was so good, I'm going to do it again in 2013.  (Minus the surprise.)

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Organization.  Haha, like that's ever going to happen!

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 

December 14, 2012, the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.  :(

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Patience paying off....opening a new housing complex in August.  Finally, after all the waiting!  :)

9. What was your biggest failure?

Knowing when to ask for help.  Learning to delegate instead of trying to take everything on myself.  And lastly, being a procrastinator..

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had a wild streak of sciatica that started right before our vacation in July, that I stubbornly didn't seek professional help for til mid-August.  It lasted til October and was a miserable experience that I wish on no one.  But even that is not that serious...I'm still calling this year a big WIN in the health dept!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The best thing that we bought was time and memories with the boys.  We took them to a couple of children's museums, parks, and shows.  We went to PA to visit Grandmom and Grandpop.  Best money spent:  going places with the kids.  (this answer is just too good to come up with another one.)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
All of those people who during Hurricane Sandy that reached out to their neighbors.  People who had power allowing others to charge their phones, one guy turning his front lawn into a "drive-in movie", etc etc.  I love seeing people come together like that.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The single saddest, most appalling thing this year was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.  I can barely even think about it, my heart just breaks for all of those families.  

14. Where did most of your money go?

A mortgage, and child care.  Child care is almost a second mortgage.  But it will get a little less expensive in 2013...very much looking forward to that!

15.  What did you really get excited about?

Same thing I get really excited about every year....the Tent Sale at Webs every May.  ;)

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Another hockey lockout.  Dammit.

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

a) happier or sadder? Pretty happy for the most part.  There's been sad parts, but I've really tried to focus on the happy.

b) thinner or fatter? about the same.  but I feel really good about myself and NOT putting on more weight during some pretty stressful times.

c) richer or poorer? Honestly, poorer.  Nothing major, life's just been more abut the NEEDS than the WANTS.   But  I consider us rich for having food in our bellies and a roof over our heads.  Not everyone can say that.  

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

Deep breathing and not sweating the small stuff..

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

Worrying about things that one cannot control.  I saw a great saying recently, "Let's not try to figure out everything at once."  That is very much me in a nutshell.  

20. How did you spend Christmas?

This was the first year in many that we didn't host Christmas.  The whole family got together and had dinner and gifts at my brother's house, and it was lovely.  I absolutely love being able to watch my boys experience Christmas!

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

Not with anyone or anything new...but more in love with my family every blessed day.

22. What was your favorite TV program?My favorite "new shows" were Chicago Fire and Smash.  

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I make it a point not to hate anyone. There's people that annoy me or I dislike, but hate's a pretty strong word. (yes it's last year's answer, but it still applies!)

24. What was the best book you read?

As part of my "Day Zero" list, I read the Harry Potter books.  I have snubbed them in the past, thinking they were just a bunch of hype.  I happily eat those words...I was hooked on the first chapter!  I bawled my eyes out for a good chunk of the last book.  I loved these books so very much. 

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Psy's "Gangnam Style."  Not because it was a big musical discovery, but for how long I could entertain the kids with all the parodies.  Will's favorite Gangnam Style parody is Super Mario Brothers, Sean's is Transformers.  

26. What did you want and get?
On August 1st, I left family housing behind and officially opened my office in elderly housing.  It was a long ride...and totally worth it.

27. What did you want and not get?

More time to knit.  But there's never enough of that.  :)

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

We don't watch too many movies....though I did watch all of the Harry Potter movies this year, minus the last one!  Can't wait to see it, either.  We've seen a couple of movies in recent weeks:  The Five Year Engagement, American Reunion.  Both got laughs.  I started watching some classic movies as part of my Day Zero List and loved "The Graduate."  And both Brian and I are very much looking forward to seeing Les Miserables in the coming weeks.

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

I turned the big 3-6 this year.  Man, am I getting old!  Quiet birthday, home with Brian, watching movies and going out to lunch.  Simple things make me happy.  

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

Not worrying so much about money or childcare.  Comes with the territory, I guess.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Boring.  I've been in the same rut for over ten years.  

32. What kept you sane?

my yarn stash, and knitting my way through it.  Teaching myself new tricks involving needles and yarn.  I knit 12 MILES worth of yarn this year.  That is just crazy.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Eh.....don't care..

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

The election.  Not who to vote for, but the ridiculousness of the debates that looked more like boxing matches.  And I was very excited/satisfied that any politician that was pushing laws regarding women's reproductive rights was defeated in the election!

35. Who did you miss?

My far away friends and family.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Hmmmm....have I met anyone new this year?  :)  

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:

You only live once.  Make it count.  

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Yeah....I've got nothin'.  :)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My First Socks

53.  Successfully knit a pair of socks.(12/29/12)

When I was a brand-new knitter back in 2008, socks were my Everest.  I would watch people work on them on Wednesday nights at the coffee shop and say "Self, you are never going to be able to do that.  It's just too hard.  Stick to these garter-stitch scarves honey, they're more your speed."  Honestly, I wasn't sure if this Day Zero List item would ever get done!  I had already tried making socks at least twice, and giving up when the going got tough.  But I did it! 

The first thing I decided that I was doing wrong was starting an adult pair.  By making them for the smallest member of the family (Sean) they came together quicker, making me feel like I was accomplishing something FAST. They are rife with mistakes, especially the first sock.  The grafting is a bit wonky, and I love them anyway.  These things will get better with time and practice.  

As for practice, I already made a swatch last night to make a pair for myself.  (We knitters are always looking ahead)  This sock knitting thing may indeed become addictive!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Knits!

Another unwrapped, dinner done.  And now I have my gift efforts to show off!

Nemi cowl for my mother.  I fell in love with this subtle ombre grey fingering yarn at the Webs tent sale this summer.  I didn't know what I was going to make with it at first, but knew that it was going to be neckwear for Mom.  This cowl was the perfect project.

"Simple Things" shawl for my aunt.  I actually got a little more organized this summer and made this.  I love how the pattern creator quotes Laura Ingalls Wilder in the pattern.  (I am a big Little House" fan.)  I got this yarn up in Acton, MA at a lovely yarn shop that I had the pleasure of discovering the summer before.  (and apparently I don't have a picture.)

Big Bad Blanket.  Will has always hinted that he wanted me to make him a blanket, since I made one for Sean before he was born.  Sean loves that blanket, too.  He named it Luigi and it goes with him everywhere. Which of course, warms my heart to no end.  This is actually a baby blanket pattern that I made on bigger needles, out of gray wool straight out of my stash.  Two rows and a bind-off left, I had to buy another skein. But it did bring me to a new local yarn store so I'm not complaining.

Man Hat.  A little something to go in my cousin's package with his usual gift certificate.  Matt lives in San Francisco now, but it does get cold there.  Plus he comes home to Massachusetts usually at Thanksgiving or Christmas so this will suit him well.  This is my "I'm all done with Christmas Knitting!" surprise project.  Surprise, as in it wasn't finished on the morning of Christmas Eve.

Finally, mittens for the boys stockings.  With a nice long chain of yarn connecting them...I don't have a picture so you can't see.  That's so we can stop loosing mittens at an alarming rate, we've gone through a ridiculous number of pairs of mittens and it's not even hardcore winter yet.  Also, the strings are my first attempt at crochet.  Yep...I tried it, and I don't know if I'm interested in more but it's cool to know a little bit.

"Make My Queue"

At the end of every year and the beginning of the next, I do two things:  I organize my craft supplies a little bit, and I start lining up my annual knitting on my queue on Ravelry.

This year, I am taking a page from my friend Pat's book and making the items in order.  I have a large queue "To-Do" list.  Some of these patterns have been sitting there for quite awhile, only to get sidelined by something else that catches my eye.  So I am moving some stuff around, and the first thirty projects are going to be made in order.  (I have like 120 items in my queue, many of them just "someday" and have no deadline.  Trust me, committing to thirty is kind of a big deal.)  In my thirty, I have items for me, my kids, my husband and dear friends.  A couple of special things for charity.  There are shawls.  There are hats.  There are sweaters of all sizes, which is pretty damn ambitious.  There are socks, which is crazy too, considering I haven't finished Sean's socks yet.  But I'm almost there, and am optimistic on my ability to do this again.  And here's something that may or may not be shocking...for these thirty projects, I very likely already have the yarn in the house.

So, no deadlines, really.  But with the exception of baby hats/blankets in between projects to send to Stitches from the Heart every six months, nothing else til these thirty projects are DONE.

To see my queue, go here:Crafty's Mama's Rav Queue.  And wish me luck!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

Hubby is baking, Sean is napping, Will is making Christmas decorations for the house.  So far I have given him a gluestick and a stapler...he's working feverishly on something he doesn't want me to see yet.  Earlier I gave him some old labels, and told him to do whatever he wanted with them.  Hubby and I are now sporting big labels on the butts of our pants that say "Don't Open Until Christmas."  As proud as I am of his budding sense of humor and his writing skills, I think I probably should've been more specific.  :)

I am supposed to be wrapping.  And I'm about halfway through...taking a break.  I am simultaneously weaving in ends of projects that need to be wrapped, and taking pictures with my new camera that Brian got me for my birthday.  I love having a camera again!

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours.  Hope Santa is good to you!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Randoms

How about a random post for the last day before vacation??

1.  The kids have been wild all week.  I blame the holidays coming, and the absolute lack of sugar.  ;)

2.  That being said, so far today I have had two cups of coffee, some Christmas cookies and am now working on a Coke.  The company also sent out an email that we can leave at 3PM today to kick off the holiday season.  I am ridiculously wired and ready to go off like a rocket!

3.  I've procrastinated on finishing the Christmas shopping.  Which is making me thankful for the early release from work, now I'll be able to cruise down the toy aisle at Target alone.

4.  What is it about going to Target alone that makes it feel kind of like a vacation? 

5.  This morning as I was helping Will put some gifts for his teachers in his bag, I had a big D'Oh! moment and realized that we didn't get anything for the afterschool program teacher.  With five minutes before bus time to spare, we wrapped up a Yankee Candle snowman votive holder and a new votive  from my candle drawer.  Score one for quick thinking!

6.  That being said, I am probably going to be a wee bit upset if Will comes home with all of the gifts still in his bag.

7.  The holiday knitting is complete.  I am quite glad that I reined it in this year, I cannot remember a year where I haven't been knitting til really late on Christmas Eve. 

8.  Christmas Eve is still three days away...hope I don't eat my words.  :)

9.  Christmas Eve is three days away.....and we're starting the wrapping tonight!  I've got a Netflix movie to keep Hubby and I company....if we could knock it out tonight I would be one happy lady.

10.  Why is it still not 3pm?  Seriously, a girl can only fool around with her Ravelry queue for so long. 

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Luck with Cookies

The bad luck streak started last week.  I was going to a meeting on Tuesday, that was also a potluck.  I had signed up to bring bean salsa and oreo truffles.  On Sunday, I just said to myself "Self....what are you trying to prove making oreo truffles?  Sure...they'd be amazing, but crushing oreos and dipping the finished product in chocolate sounds like a real pain in the rear."  Instead, I started flipping thru cookbooks and settled on a cookie bar recipe:  Caramel Revel Bars.  They were marked as a "really easy recipe that goes over big at potlucks!"  Well, sign me right up.  Monday nights after work are no time for a fussy recipe.

I'm responsible for picking up one of our two cherubs after work every evening, and anyone that's spent time with a toddler knows full well that it's much easier to get groceries alone.  With fifteen short minutes to complete my task, I rush into the grocery store.  That's when I realized that A.  I have six things on my list.  All of them have to do with the Caramel Revel Bars.  and B.  I had forgotten my cell phone at work.  Gah!  Any other day I wouldn't care, but the next day's meeting was over an hour away and I seriously needed the GPS application.

Ingredients in tow, I pick up Sean without incident and head home.  There my husband sweetly suggested that we all go to my office to get my phone, and hit up Wendy's for a quick dinner instead of cooking Eggplant Parmesan and THEN having to start cookies late.  Completed that task, then got down to the baking and then salsa-making!  (Seriously.  Why did I sign up to bring two things??)

Folks, recipes LIE.  Any recipe that involves chopping peanuts, making caramel sauce in one pan on the stove while you're melting chocolate in a double boiler on another is not an easy recipe.  If I were the scathing letter-writing type, the cookbook editor would be getting a doozy!  They did come out nice, though.  The bean salsa did too, despite the incident of me accidentally inhaling minced jalapeno and resorting to squirting milk up my nose to calm the burning.  Go ahead and laugh, it worked and that's all I care about!)

Then last night, Hubby and I started our holiday baking.  I had made sugar cookie dough the day before and it was resting in the fridge.  After a dinner of Beefy Ravioli Casserole (which even I hated, and I hate very little) I started rolling out the dough, and using cookie cutters.  Brian set up a Hot Wheels ramp for the kiddos, where they happily played while we cut out cookies, brushed them in milk and then sprinkled with colored sugar.  Christmas music on Pandora, tree lit....iconic holiday activity.  Everything was going swimmingly, and I expressed to my husband how well it was going and how much i was enjoying it.

Clearly I am an amateur.  You don't say shit like that while doing stuff like that.  Because as soon as we got the cookies half-baked, the power went out!  I actually threw my hands in the air and said "You've got to be kidding me!"  (disclaimer:  that's probably cleaned up for this blog.)  Luckily the batch came out OK and we gave the other ones on the counter a shot.  They took a very long time to bake.  The power came on about half an hour later, only to have me knock two boxes out of the cabinet, crushing several cookies.  That was the last straw, it made me want to pull my hair out and stomp on it.  But I didn't, I still have hair today.

The moral of this story:  read your recipes beforehand, and always wear gloves when working with hot peppers.  Oh, and never ask how anything could get worse.  That's a death sentence on a cookie sheet.  :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Happy Holiday Moments

The stressies are starting to take over a little bit.  Tomorrow is my work's first holiday party, which isn't a lot to deal with but the setting up of chairs, making coffee etc.  But tomorrow night is my knitting group's annual potluck and swap.  On tap for tonight:  cooking massive quantities of Mexican chicken and rice.  (And hoping beyond hope that I REMEMBER to take it to work tomorrow for the party right after work!!!!)  Oh, and finish my swap item.  That's right, the day before.  This is the first year I've let that go until the very last minute.  But this is also the first year that my ideas for a good handmade swap item went to hell in a hand basket.  Hopefully I won't be staying up supah-late, trying to finish it.

Then this weekend there's a birthday party that both boys are attending.  And Christmas shopping.  And whatever else running-around that goes with a regular weekend.  I'm trying not to panic....I'm not going to let the anxiety win this year. 

Then this morning, I got a little bit of peace.  I put some toys for Hubby to bring to work for Toys for Tots on the kitchen table two days ago, but I don't think I told him why they were there.  (There you go, Honey.  I've told you.)  Sean was playing with one of them yesterday, and of course wants to keep it.  Then Will started with it today, and wants to keep it as well. It's a little toy car that plays music ("PUMP UP THE JAM, Pump it up, Pump it up!"  Ugh.) Finally I explained that the car and animals were for kids that Santa couldn't get to, that had parents that even though they wanted to, couldn't afford presents for their kids.

Instant silence.  Then Will put the toy down on the table and said, "That is the saddest thing, it makes me want to cry.  Let's go out and buy a hundred more....I don't want anyone to not have a present on Christmas." 

And that folks, is really what it is all about!  Nevermind the list of errands, the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the STRESSING.  Giving.  And sharing and caring. That's what it is about.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Toddler's Thoughts

Latest "Sean-isms" from my two-year old:
Looking for his favorite blanket before bedtime.  "I don't know where Wee-gee (aka, Luigi)  went.....he  just disappeared." 

Upon telling the boys that friends of ours just had a baby boy.  "I no like Blake.  They shoulda named him Sparkledoggie." 

Upon repeating something not-so-nice that Mommy uttered in traffic:  "Sean you really shouldn't say "Oh Jesus, that's not nice coming out of a little boy's mouth.  Sean:  "You say it." 

At dinner, talking about having an adventurous palate and needing to try new things.  My husband is one of those "I'll try anything once" types when it comes to food.  He was telling the boys some of the things that he ate while in the Navy.  "Daddy's tried kangaroo, snake, shark, alligator and reindeer.  Tried to get whale once in Norway, but it wasn't available."  Sean:  "I wouldn't eat a dolphin."  Daddy, after serious consideration, "Yep.  I wouldn't eat a dolphin either. "

And my favorite....Sean is a rough and tumble kid.  He has very little fear and we have often found him about to jump off his bed or climb something that he shouldn't.  He bangs his knees a lot, or bumps his head.  With every little "injury" he comes running, looking for a Mommy kiss.  He comes running last night, complaining that he "can't walk" because he bumped his leg and wants me to kiss it.  Just as I'm thinking "Oh man, I've gone to far with the kissing the boo-boos all the time," right after I kiss it he says "Thank you Mama.  That feels so much better!" 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tree Traditions

Our Christmas Tree is up! 

We have a few traditions with our Christmas tree.  The first one is that every year, we try to find a new spot in the living room for the tree.  We re-arrange the furniture, sit down on the couch and chair, and notice that the couch is too big to do it that way.  We re-arrange, cursing mildly.  Then we take one of the end tables out of the room.  Eventually, all of the furniture gets put back and the tree goes the same place it does every year.  Well, not this year.  We made it a little smaller, and we put it in between the couch and the chair, so you can see it lit up in the side window from the driveway.  Brian and I can't see each other if I'm sitting in the chair and he's on the couch, but hey, the tree is gorgeous!

The second tradition is that we always purchase Christmas ornaments as souvenirs when we travel.  It's so much fun reminiscing about where we've been over the years as we decorate the tree.  Sint Maarten, 2003:  "Remember the horrible sunburn you got, Gin?"  (Not that I could ever forget, it being my second dance with sun poisoning.  I'm much better with the sun now.)  Disney World 2005:  Where we "got to be kids before having kids."  Arizona 2001:  Visiting my old school friend Jenni for the first time in six years after going to most of HS together.  Wisconsin 2010:  driving ALL THAT WAY with a preschooler and a six-month old baby, but spending a vacation with the fabulous Ratties.  My first trip to NYC for our tenth wedding anniversary.  (2010 as well)  Outer Banks, NC ornament (2008) has Santa Claus on a surfboard.  Another great trip.  Prince Edward Island, Canada, with my family in 2006, when I was pregnant with Will. They're all there.  It's fun to remember vacations this way, and I intend to continue this forever.

The third tradition is that we allow the kids to decorate a little tabletop Christmas tree for their bedroom.  They love doing this, and having their own (unbreakable) ornaments.  And this year for the first time, we let them decorate the tree with us.  Yes, even the little one.  And yes, even the breakable ornaments.  How else are they going to learn how to be careful?

Here's to many years of traditions as a family.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How I Became A "Yes" Girl

I was at the grocery store late tonight (and horrors!  on a Monday.  That's what holiday travel does to ya) The cashier was ringing me up and lost in conversation with the bagger, a guy about her age with braces.  As he's bagging my groceries, the manager yells over to him, "Hey are you working tomorrow?"  When he says that he isn't, she says, "well, would you like to?"  Awkward pause, as you see his brain shift into "deer in headlights" mode, he's stammering for an excuse as to why he can't and not finding one.  The cashier bats her lashes at him and says quietly, "What is it, do you have plans after school or do you not want to work?"  I can clearly see which it is....and the manager browbeats him into taking an afterschool shift.  

Wow, this guy reminds me of my high school self.  Flashback to the early nineties, where I worked at a fast food joint instead of a grocery store.  (Which may have been my first mistake, but that's a story for another day.)  I'd put in long weekend hours mostly working drive-thru, spending Saturdays getting up at 5am to prep for the 6AM opening.  I'd work nights, sometimes into the early morning.  And I never said no.  Extra shifts?  Yes.  Stay past closing?  Sure.  Work at other stores because they were short-handed?  Just tell me where it is and I'll figure it out.

Truth be told, I allowed myself to become a Yes Girl.  In college, I worked retail for two semesters at a popular "cheapie" store.  LOTS of nights and weekends where I should've said No once in a while.  My senior year, I worked at a coffee shop AND at a nursing home while going to school full-time.  My grades suffered, sure.  But look at my strong work ethic!  Yeah yeah, that's important too.  But so is getting decent grades and decent sleep.  Learn to say no.

I have only in the past few years learned to put up my hand and back away.  Many years as the easy target, attending things that I didn't want to attend, baking for things I didn't want to bake for, etc etc etc.  Finding myself chairing committiees and charity events that I didn't want to.  And paying for the overcommittment.  And silently hating myself for not speaking up.

So I say to this kid in the store (in my head, because I don't have a lot of guts to open my mouth and lay it down to a stranger.)  Kid:  a strong work ethic is important.  And I know that your generation doesn't have a lot of that.  But being young and getting out and doing your thing is important too.  You have your whole life to work.  You don't have to feel like you're disappointing your boss because you don't want to come in on your day off.  Because if you start doing that, they're not going to remember that you did it, they're just going to call you in more often.  So, even if you don't have any more plans than to sit on your couch afterschool, and catch up on the DVD or just plain stare into space, be honest.  Grow a set and say "Sorry, I can't I've got plans."  You'll be glad that you did in the long run.  Because there's such a thing as a team player, and such as thing as a doormat.

The Yes Girl, she doesn't live here anymore.  And I don't really miss her, and neither does my family.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Slice n Dice!

Last Thursday I took a knife skills workshop at  Culinary Underground. so that I could cross it off my Day Zero List.  When I say that this place is awesome....well, it is, but that isn't a strong enough description.  I loved it and can't wait to do it again someday.

To read more, please visit my cooking and food blog, The Blue Plate Special.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stop the Holiday Insanity!

It happens every year.

No matter how prepared I am, no matter what I do to ward it off.

Knitter's Holiday Curse.  There simply aren't enough hours in a day to finish chewing what we've bitten off in terms of "accomplishable" knitting goals before Zero Hour.

This year, I'm saying "screw it!" And not giving in to the clammy palms, heart racing "I just spent the day wrapping gifts and now I'm going to knit til 1:00 AM and STILL not finish" feeling.

Well, that last part was only true one year.  And do you know what?  I ran out of yarn towards the finish line of that scarf, and I never finished it.  In fact, it is still on needles in a drawer.  The world didn't stop, and nobody died.  The intended recipient didn't throw down her gift after she unwrapped it and demand the handknits that she deserves.

I have most of the holiday knitting done, except for what I want to make my immediate family.  So tonight, I crossed two gifts right out of the Ravelry queue.  Because as the Yarn Harlot says, "A book makes a nice gift, too."

There.  I'm feeling better and less overwhelmed already.  :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Autumn Sunshine Days

Today it was just me and the kids, and it was as close to perfect as it could get.  Almost seventy degrees, warranting a trip to the park.  Then we stopped by the grocery store, where the Salvation Army bell ringer is ALREADY out.  He let the two boys ring bells on our way in, and on our way out.  Then it was naptime for the little kid, and time for baking cookies and assembling robots.  Some of those cookies will go to one of our neighbors, and some we've already enjoyed.  "Cept Sean, who didn't want any.  ???

The best part?  Day's not over yet.  Soon Hubby will be home, and I'm going to take another crack at my day zero mac n cheese!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Yarny Day.

Every six months has a trip of yarny goodness.  I woke up this morning and BOOM!  It was here...the New England Fiber Festival!  A day of walking around with my friends and my mom, petting alpacas, perusing patterns and touching all that yarn.  I came home with some lovely lavender-sage soap in a felted yarn bag, a skein or two of pretty, variegated yarns and some goodies for my birthday swap partner.  Oh, and the people-watching.  There's never a shortage of that at the NE Fiber Festival.

First, you observe everyone's handmade wearables.  I saw some gorgeous shawls today, and more than one baby sweater that I almost died from the cuteness.  BUT.  There's the other side, the "how did you think that looked GOOD?" side.  To each their own, though.  Knitting is all about the creativity.  And as the Yarn Harlot points out, "There are no knitting police."  The other thing that always blows me away is how people can knit or crochet, walk and carry on a conversation at these things.  I will never get there.  I saw a woman knitting lace, and I even saw another woman SPINNING with a drop spindle as she walked along.  She actually whacked my foot with the spindle...that's how I noticed.

I came home earlier than usual, with a small bag and tired feet from the walking.  Mom and I spent some time knitting and hanging out while Hubby cooked dinner, her on a sweater and me on a sock.  Yes, I am giving socks another try.  This is my third try, and I'm trying to be smarter and starting a pair for the smallest member of my immediate family!  Here's hoping that the third time's a charm!

All in all, a great day.  And the NE Fiber Festival means something else....six months til the Tent Sale at Webs!  :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Sun, Moon and the Stars

At the start of my sophomore year of college, my mother gave me a gift of a celestial-themed blanket.  It was my go-to for the rest of college, over my legs while studying if chilly, snuggled up with when I felt homesick, and overall a pretty decoration for my dorm room.

Later on, the blanket accompanied me to New Hampshire when I first moved in with Hubby and two roommates that were on the same submarine.  (In fact, I was the only female and civilian, as the house next door was packed with "Nukes" as well.)    The blanket dressed up  the back of our communal couch, which was harvest gold and brown and ugly as sin.   Later on that year it even did double duty as our Christmas tree skirt.

That blanket joined us after the wedding in our first apartment (having made the promise that the only other roommates would be ones that I gave birth to, it was just us.)  And at this house, it's my go-to for chilly nights when Brian likes the window open and I like it closed, it's just the right thickness to toss over the comforter on the bed.  Sometimes I like it swathed in my lap as I work some rounds on my latest knitting project.

Lately however, I've had some competition over my favorite blanket.  Will's taken to bringing it to bed with him as his "light" blanket in case the fleece "Cars" one that my mother made him is too warm.  I found it draped over Sean the other night when I sneaked into their room close to midnight to peek in on them and even give them a quick peck on the cheek.

Something about seeing those boys nestled in that gives me a rush of emotion that I'm not sure where it comes from.  It's just an ordinary blanket, nothing special.  It came out of a catalog or perhaps even a big-box store.  I've thought about it for a few days and here's the best way to describe it:  That blanket has been something of a comfort item to me over the years.  It's accompanied me to a lot of places and seen me through a lot of years.  I've spent time under it daydreaming, planning, laughing and crying.  So to see one of those boys turning it into a fort or snoozing comfortably, it gives them the same things that it's given me.  And while it's also given me a little comfort, it's in its own way, shown me my Sun, Moon, and Stars.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Monday-Friday (Dis)Connection

Reading a post recently about how the house looks from at the start of a week of solo-parenting to the end gave me an idea.

Rather, it gave me heartburn.  Why?  Because this is EVERY week in our house.  

The poster had I believe three boys, and a husband who travels for work.  At the start of the week-long business trip, she's got things running smoothly, kids happy, finding time to squeeze in a workout between toddler naps, etc.  Things trickle downhill and by the end of the week, the kids are eating cereal with their hands straight out of the box for breakfast, there's no clean laundry, etc etc.  

Here is the picture of the typical week at our house:  Mondays usually start with an empty sink, folded laundry and clothes put out the night before. The bed has a good chance of being made on a Monday. Backpacks contain the correct things like school papers and lunchboxes.  There's no mad dash for the bus stop and no tripping over debris in the living room on the way back.

By Wednesday, the dining room table is almost unrecognizable.  As the main drop zone, it's covered with jackets, yarn, half-filled laundry baskets and whatever toy the kids are tired of playing with at the time.  the lunchbox has been at school since Monday, and there's a very good chance that by the time it does make an appearance, it has a squished banana in it.  Make that a stinky squished banana.  Hair products and makeup are strewn across the dresser.  

Thursday nights is where it turns from "this is a problem" to utter chaos.  Dishes pile up, we run out of paper plates.  The family room has so many toys on the floor it's a game to get to the back door to let out the dog.  Hubby usually needs to start a load of laundry just so that he can have jeans for "Casual Friday."  We stay up late to watch our recorded shows because "Aw screw it....tomorrow's Friday."  

Then comes the reality of Friday morning.  Yeah, it's Friday, and that's exciting!  But oh's a good thing there usually aren't any visitors on Fridays.  Friday nights are the start of the recovery mission.  Dishes and laundry have reached critical mass, with laundry in various stages of done-ness all over the house.  There's no cereal, no fruit and usually no milk until groceries on Saturday.   Will gets to buy lunch on Fridays.    It's likely that you may trip and break your neck anywhere throughout the house.  And Mama here just looks around, bewildered.  How does this happen every week???  

Ah, the joys of two parents that work full-time.  :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Suddenly Superwoman

Superwoman, I'm not. 

But in the past few weeks....I wasn't so sure for a little bit.  For instance, I finished three knitting projects on deadline in a few days time.  That NEVER happens.  One of them was even something that was languishing on the needles since June.  (that's a little embarassing...I'll be honest.  Esp since it's a sweet baby sweater for a baby that was born in.....August.)  I now have unrealistic expectations of what I think I can knit up before the holidays come screeching around the corner. 

I'm excellent at playing an Ostrich.  Deadlines approaching?  Things need to be sent back to school?  Deny, deny, deny.  I'm the Queen of Avoidance, of thinking I have more time to accomplish tasks than I really do.  But even I couldn't ignore just how full of stuff my basement is getting.  So I started keeping a tally of how many bags of stuff we can bring up, be it trash or donatables.  (It's a word because I said so.)  So far seven bags of clothes, toys and baby stuff out of the house and countless amounts of trash.  This house is going to feel much lighter and it's going to be easier to put it on the market come 2014. 

And work today!  Pumped to get going today, plunging through files, sending letters, shredding the huge shred Monday I've had in a long time. 

I don't know whether it's the fact that the sciatica is gone, or the job is calming down, or WHAT.  I feel great, better than I have in a long time.  But just in case I haven't morphed into Superwoman over the past week, I promise to *try* not to see if I can fly my Invisible Plane, or stop evildoers with my incredibly cool bracelets. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Big Six-Year Old

Happy Birthday to you, Will!  I cannot believe that today you are six.  Sometimes I look at you and still see this:

But I know that you're not a baby anymore.  In fact, you are growing up to be such a smart, funny, imaginative kid and it just blows me away!

Your Dad, Sean and I love you so much, kiddo.  Happiest of Birthdays, and to many, many more.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Au Naturel

33.  Try a new hairstyle

For me, my hair has been chameleon-like.  I've had it long all the way down my back, cut short to the nape of my neck.  Bangs.  No bangs.  Many, many colors!  In college I fell in love with a color called "Cinnaberry" which was this purple-y red.  I thought it was pretty hot at the time, but now the pictures make me shudder with horror.  No one with pale skin like me should have their hair that color!  When Brian and I first met I had short, black hair, the result of a self dye-job gone amuck.    Yes...I've pretty much covered the spectrum except for the actual colors of the rainbow.  (I do regret no purple highlights, and now I feel too old.  Too old for a pierced nose too, and all of this makes me sad)  

So what is my new hairstyle?  Nothing.  In August I made the decision to go back to my natural haircolor, which I probably hadn't seen since high school.  It was more of a money and upkeep much as I like getting my hair done the upkeep was a pain.  Plus it's so much cheaper just to go in and get a haircut.  And right now I've got no gray hair.  (And if you've seen some on me I don't want to hear it!)  So why not?  

I'm not saying that I'm NEVER going to color my hair again, in fact, if I start to see gray I'm going to run screaming to the hair salon.  But for now this works, and I'm pretty happy.  And there's nothing wrong with being happy with what you already have.  

 High school senior photo., 1995 

Strawberry blonde up in New Hampshire, circa 1999

Whoa, that's blonde!  2002

Very short cut, pregnant with Will.  Posing with two HS classmates that were also pregnant at our HS reunion

Short and reddish-blonde, around Will's first birthday

Blonde highlights @ Tracy's bridal shower, 2011.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tale of the Cookie Thief

Since there aren't enough nice stories out there in the world, I bring you one from work.  You're welcome.

It doesn't start out very nice.  A few weeks ago I opened the freezer door at work to put away my lunch and discovered that someone has been pilfering cookies from the Entemann's boxes I had put there after coffee hour the week before.  One frozen cookie at a time.  I may have thought something mean along the lines of "Hope you broke a tooth, Cookie Thief!"  After a resident meeting a few weeks later, I put two leftover mini cupcake trays in there, with the intention of defrosting and serving them for the next meeting.  Next day, the cupcakes had vanished.  Not only that, all the cookies were gone.  Not just gone....the Cookie Thief had left the empty boxes in the freezer, along with some frozen crumbs.

I was incensed.  It's not like I haven't seen this problem at other sites before, I know of one place that had to buy a bicycle lock for their fridge in order to keep people out.  That looks unsightly though, so I settled on a sign.  I knew it wouldn't be very effective but it if I caught whomever was pilfering frozen goodies, I could say that there was a SIGN so you had clear INTENT to eat treats without care.  The sign was on gold-colored paper with huge block capital letters;  "PLEASE DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE MANAGEMENT OFFICE."   Say it like you mean it, 'cept I will never be able to be a badass, because even when I'm telling you off I'm polite about it.  Some tact is required though, after all this is work. Had it been elsewhere it might've read differently.

Imagine my surprise....I came to work last week and opened the freezer to put away my Healthy Choice frozen dinner (blah) and there were two bags of walmart-brand chocolate chip cookies.  That's strange.  The next day:  two trays of mini cupcakes from the local grocery, one chocolate and one vanilla, decorated in fall frosting colors like the ones that had disappeared.

I often say that nothing surprises me in this business, that in twelve years I've pretty much seen it all.  But I was surprised, and I'd never seen anything like it.  So thank you, Cookie Thief, for either having a conscience or being terrified by my totally righteous sign.  I take back what I said about breaking your teeth on frozen cookies.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Warm Hands, Warm Heart

Last year I took a good look at my yarn stash.  I have quite a bit of yarn.  Ok, all jokes and sarcasm aside, I have a lot of yarn.  So why not do something with it to help people?  There are people, kids especially out there in New England that go cold in the winter, because there's no hats, mittens or scarves.  I can't stand seeing  a kid in the dead of a Massachusetts winter, with no mittens or hat, it makes me sad on a level that's tough to describe.  You can always tell the kids that don't have mittens from the ones that refuse to wear them, too.

I love a good challenge.  So I made up my own charity challenge:  To see how many pairs of mittens I could knit in a year's time.  One Rule:  I could not buy yarn to make any of these mittens.  Every single pair is made from scraps from another project, single skeins of wool that I already had, or yarn that was given to me in a "de-stashing" event.  My knitting group has a "destash night" every year in May, where we bring in stuff we no longer want or need.  I came home with a nice little bag of wools and acrylics, with the intention of making mittens, a scarf and perhaps a hat or two for charity.

This was fun, and mittens don't take a lot of time.  I can whip out a pair in about two hours, which is actually kind of slow.  They fit nicely in between projects, too.  And here's thirty-six kids that will have warm hands this winter!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Harry Potter Redux

22.  Read the Harry Potter series (9/17/12)

I finished the seventh Harry Potter book on Monday night.  And I bawled my eyes out.  These were such great books, I wish I'd discovered them sooner.  I never saw myself enjoying "Fantasy" books but I really, really did!  And words do not express how BUMMED I am that there's no more to read.  This is honestly the first time in my life that I've regretted getting books from the library instead of purchasing a copy.  (Which is of course easily remedied.)  I don't know if I could pick a favorite.  I really liked #4 with the Tri-Wizard Championship, but #7 was incredible.  I haven't felt this strongly about a series in an incredibly long time.

The only complaint I have?  The epilogue in #7.  I won't spoil it for anyone...but it left me wanting more.  There's so many details that I wanted to know, and it was so far into the future.  I know I'm not the only person that feels this way, either.

At least I still have 6 movies to placate me.  And the third one just came in from Netflix yesterday!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This is the Way We Mow the Lawn, Mow the Lawn.....

You know the or it didn't happen!

#54:  Mow the lawn myself.  

Upon deciding that today was the day to cross off #54, Will asked me if this was the first time that I had ever mowed a lawn.  No, it wasn't, my brother and I shared the job as pre-teens.  It was a much bigger lawn, and a bulkier mower.  I'd put my Madonna mix tape (no, I'm not kidding) into my Walkman and spend an hour making the blades of grass shorter.  One time, it was my brother's turn to mow and my father said that I should go outside and "give him some moral support."  (I knew even then, that was code for "Just go outside.")  Imagine my parents' surprise when a few minutes later they came to investigate the yelling in the backyard and found me cheering him on.  "Gooooooo B______!  You can do it!  Mow that lawn, show it who's boss!" and turning cartwheels.  Smartass, I know.  But when I do something, I go big or I go home.

I even had my own little cheering section today.  Hubby took the pictures from our little deck, while Sean cheered and clapped his hands.  I haven't mowed our lawn since we bought the house like ten years ago!  Both the front and back lawn are pretty small so I'd say that I did it in about half an hour.  The lawn mower is much nicer than the one we had, but man the self-propellor is strong.  It's kind of like walking our dog Joey...if you push it too hard it kind of takes off on you!

It feels good to cross off this list item.  That's two items in one weekend:  dyeing yarn with friends and mowing the lawn myself.  I stayed up till past midnight on Friday, reading the last Harry Potter book.  (And my sadness over this being the last one is a whole 'nother blog post.)  If I didn't have 350 pages to go and it would take me til very late, I'd want to push myself to do three in one weekend!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dye Baby, Dye

66.  Dye yarn again with my friends

I had so much fun with my friends last year, dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid.  I just knew that I had to do it again!  So that is where I found myself on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon...hanging out at my friend Kristina's, with what felt like hundreds of Kool-Aid packets, snacking and chatting with a bunch of like-minded knitty friends.  

Last year we boiled dye on the stove, and threw the yarn into the pot.  Well....I put the yarn into the boiling water and added the dye, and some of the powder worked directly into the yarn, making it a dark royal purple in some spots.  This year my mom (who came with us) found a great website that had a formula table on ratios of Kool-Aid flavors in order to achieve the color that you wanted your yarn to be.  Also, I spent some time on Pinterest and found a website that showed how to make your yarn look like it had been kettle-dyed using a casserole dish instead of a pot on the stove.

First, the yarn has to soak for half an hour.  We piled all of our yarns up in Kristina's sink for a group soak.  

After that we worked in groups, since there's only four burners on the stove.  Before long, the whole house smelled like Kool-Aid, sweet and fruity.  It was awesome.  :)

I had purchased two skeins of fingering-weight wool/silk blend for this.  After doing some perusing, I decided on a 5:1 ratio of Pink Lemonade and Black Cherry.  Meet "Cherry Lemonade!"  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this yet, there's 720 yards so I'm thinking a lace shawl. 

Warning:  yarn dyeing is addictive.  Kristina let me have two skeins of wool that she wasn't using (Thank you, Kristina!) so I decided to dye them blue.  I used five parts berry blast to one part grape.  Say hello to "Surf's Up!"  It's about 400 yards of worsted weight yarn....perhaps a sweater for Sean. 

Mom used some fingering weight merino wool and a packet each of lemon-lime and orange, the yarn turned this lovely kiwi color.  She loves it, and is going to use the 800 yards or so to make a swanky shawl. 

All of our yarns hanging to dry in the pretty together.  

What a fun day!  I'm going to get some more bare yarn at the New England Fiber Festival in November, hopefully we can do this as an annual event.  And hmmmm....I think I might have just found the way that I am going to dye Easter Eggs next year.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Hundred Warm Babies

Last night I finished my 100th baby hat for Stitches from the Heart.

I can't believe I've made a hundred of anything!  The first fifty were knit to commemorate Sean's first birthday.  And now that he is 2.5 years old, I have gone on to warm up another fifty babies.  These are just little hats that I worked on in between projects or when I was frustrated with something else that I was knitting or needed a little project to make my hands busy while doing something else.  They didn't cost much to make, and I had fun doing it. 

Who knew that inexpensive and fun could make a difference in the world of a little baby.  Let alone a hundred of them.  Here's to the next hundred!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Takin' Care of Mama

Oohhhh.......the sciatica is back.  It's been back, it reared its ugly head right before vacation in July and I've been dealing with it ever since.  I don't know what's caused this flare-up, but I just want it to go away!  I've had two courses of medication, pain meds and I start physical therapy next week.  At one point it hurt to cough, laugh, sit in a hard chair....and pretty much made household tasks like bringing laundry down to the basement or giving a toddler a bath nearly impossible.

I'm stubborn, though.  I push myself too far sometimes and I pay for it.  Such as I did this weekend....instead of asking for help I moved stuff around and I paid for it.  I found myself on Labor Day at home, needing to take it easy.  So when Sean went down for his nap, I got out some books for Will and I, and some knitting. 

After five or so books, Will and I were tired of reading.  And I was feeling so sleepy, so I suggested that we hang out in Mom and Dad's room, watching tv.  Will had other ideas, and said that he was going to take care of his Mom.  He brushed my hair, and then said "I'm going to go and get you a snack Mama.  And while I'm at it, I'm going to get me a snack too."  He brought back two packs of Gummy Snacks, and when we finished those he threw the trash away, and said "Now I'm going to get our second snack."  He brought back Trix Cereal that he had poured himself into little snack bowls, each complete with a spoon.  No mess in the kitchen either!  I had forgotten just how good Trix tastes.  After that, he gave me stuffed animals, covered me with a blanket and rubbed my back while singing a lullaby.  I didn't fall asleep, I just basked in the glow of my older son pampering me.  He is going to make some girl SO lucky someday! 

Bunker in the Rain

Rainy and seems like a good day to bunker down at home and watch television with the kiddos and avoid the mess outside.  Mother Nature is one conflicted dame today, with sun, rain, sun, rain, and sun/rain.  Too bad it's a school/work day and that's not going to happen.  But tonight is knit night!  I haven't been in a few weeks and I'm excited to be going tonight.  I'm starting some fun birthday presents over the next couple of weeks and can't wait to see how they turn out.  Until then......I'm watching the rain fall from the confines of my office and hoping it dries out so that I can get some errands done today. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hellos and Goodbyes

It's been a banner week, with lots of Hellos and Goodbyes.

--Hubby's car required a crap-ton of $$$ to repair the exhaust system, officially giving the car a vacuum attachment to our bank account.  The car is ten years old and has 128K miles.  Time for a replacement!

--  Said "money-pit" car was replaced with a "new to us" Volkswagen Jetta.  So far we're very happy.  :)

--Will said goodbye to preschool and hello to full-day kindergarten!  Here he is on his first day.

He was super-excited the first morning, ready with his backpack and new Mario Brothers lunchbox for the bus stop half an hour early.  He also loves his new afterschool arrangement.  The only person not happy with the arrangement is Sean, who insists that "he wanna go kinergahden too!"  Patience, sweetie.  Patience.  We, though we know that this is a "honeymoon phase" are absolutey thrilled that he is loving it! And will ride that feeling for as long as possible. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Classic Movie Night

#49:  Watch five movies from the American Film Institute's "Top 100" list. (2/5)

We had friends over for dinner tonight, and afterwards while flipping thru Netflix Streaming we decided to make it Classic Movie Night.  Perfect!  We settled on "The Graduate" from 1968.

What a great movie!  We all loved it, and agreed that we should do this again.   The music (Simon and Garfunkel) the plot (recent college graduate is seduced by father's lawyer partner and best friend's wife, then falls in love with his daughter) and the end (I'm not going to spoil it for you!) were riveting.  Young Dustin Hoffman was a fantastic actor, and people my age may recognize a young "Mr Feeney" playing his father.  They simply do not make movies like this anymore.  It's a damn shame.

Now that we know that Netflix Streaming has a "Classic Movies" channel, maybe I'll see even more than five of them!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Aliens in the Water Dish

We're conscientious people.  We keep a menu and two shopping lists on our fridge.  Make a nightly to-do list to get a little housework done during the week instead of slaving through Saturday and/or Sunday, resetting the house to order.  Oh, who am I kidding?  There is no order, there is only lesser chaos. 

Oh....clutter.  I hate you, clutter.  I hate how you have a way of sneaking up on this house when it seems that all is well and under control.  Because for every corner that gets organized, every section that is stripped of its belongings and re-ordered, there's another hot spot garnering activity.  For every floor vacuumed, there is more cereal dropped on the floor while the boys are enjoying breakfast over "Disney Junior."  Start the laundry on a Tuesday?  Fantastic.  You will come upstairs to five mismatched, clearly dirty socks flung into the far corners.  It's like they have feet of their own and scurry out as soon as their buddies head down to the washer.  The family room, which was long ago destined to be the boys' domain for their toys, looks like a combat zone.  Flung toys in every direction, there's so much going on in there it's almost impossible to use the room to PLAY in.  And last night after letting out Joey and he was in taking a drink from his bowl, I noticed that the bowl that he was drinking from had a plastic "Toy Story" alien in the bottom.  Poor Joe-Joe, he took it in stride and just kept on drinking.

I think the house is under siege.  Clutter and toys are winning the battle.  Save's too late for me.  :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Different Proud

And today I am a proud parent of both a kindergartner and a soccer player!  (Hint, both are the same kid.)

We made a family trek to the local sports store so that we could take part in their "Youth Soccer Appreciation Day" and get discounts on all of Will's soccer supplies.  Half an hour later he's the proud owner of a ball, cleats, shin guards, soccer socks and practice shorts.  It feels like I was shopping for soccer stuff for myself just yesterday....and here we've come, full-circle.  Oh, I hope that he likes it!  It's our first real dive into organized activity and he could definitely use the structure and socializing skills.

Later on, just Will and I headed to Target for some back to school stuff.  Or in his case, "first time to school" stuff.  Picking out fall clothes for him was a challenge this year.  Why the heck  can't boy sizes be like the baby and toddler sizes??  It was mind-blowing, trying to figure out what would fit and seemed to take forever.  But we're home with three bags and that's one more thing to check off our to-do list for this weekend.

My big kid....growing up.  It didn't really hit me until we were in Target today.  And I'm powerless in stopping it.  It's what you want, of course, but oh my goodness.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Insanely Proud

Last week at work, I hosted a short "coffee hour" for residents to get to know each other better.  And since we're going to be working together for a very long time (read:  I'm not leaving til I retire) they got to know me a little better too.  We talked a bit about where we were from originally  and about our families.  I briefly mentioned that my husband is finishing up his Master's Degree next week.  Someone asked me where he went to school and one person (the sole man living in the building, it really is kind of a henhouse) said "You must be so proud of him for attending _____.  That is a very distiguished university!"  My reply was something like this, though condensed:

"Actually, I'm insanely proud of him, period.  After HS he joined the Navy and worked as a nuclear reactor operator.  After we got married he worked nights and went to school days to get his Bachelor's Degree.  And then, with a toddler and baby at home,  he worked full-time and did night classes to get his Master's Degree."

While going through the motions of all of that, it doesn't seem like a lot.  But seeing it written down for posterity, it clearly WAS a lot!   He went to school days while I was at work, then worked nights while I slept.  It was a long four years of shiftwork, feeling like two ships passing in the night.  His first week of classes for the Master's was also Sean's first few weeks of life.  It felt overwhelming at the time, having a toddler and a new baby at home while he was going to school.  Two nights a week, out of the house.  Studying and homework on other nights and weekends, too.  Having to let things fall by the wayside, like landscaping or puttering in his workshop downstairs.  Planning things around the school schedule.  Bringing homework on vacation.  

Today was his last class.  It's done:  Master's in Information Technology earned.  He's happy to be done, and me, I'm just incredibly proud that he did it.  I know that there was lots of times when he took a look around and considered giving up.  But he didn't.  I don't know if I could have done what he has done.  

Well done, darling.  The boys and I are so very proud of you.  You did it!