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.