Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year in Review

Gearing up to say goodbye to 2013...but first, let's check it out.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Wow, lots of things.  Sold our house and moved to a different town is what stands out the most.  But I also tried yoga!  And I liked it.  

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

I haven't done New Years resolutions in ages.  However, my Day Zero list is still going strong.  In lieu of New Year's Resolutions I would like to make a plan.  Because plans sound a lot sturdier than a fleeting resolution at midnight on 1/1/14.  I would like to be healthier. That is my plan for 2014.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?The only person that I can think of that gave birth were two ladies in my knitting group.  Both girls, one in June and one in August.  I had a lot of fun knitting for both of them.

4. Did anyone close to you die?  

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

5. What countries/places did you visit?

We went on an adventure to Maine for a few days.  Travel was a little short this year due to the aforementioned house selling/moving.  We're making up for it in 2014, though.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

I'm continuing on my quest for patience.  

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 

None.  Seriously, the year is a blur.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not to sound like a broken record.....but making it through the real estate fiasco with my sanity still intact.   

9. What was your biggest failure?

I've always credited myself as a "Go with the Flow" type.  This year has yielded a lot of truth in the saying "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."  

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Let's see.....I sprained my ankle.  I only mention it because of how ridiculous it was....it gave out as I was walking around my office.  Proof that sprains never ever heal right.  It was a huge pain in the rear for a while and still hurts sometimes.  Other than that and a bout of strep throat (which I guess was a first ever, too) I'd say it was a pretty good year.  :)

11. What was the best thing you bought?

 fixing the central air conditioning.  Moving into a new house in 95 degree weather with no air conditioning sucks.  

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Anyone who "paid it forward" this year.  Anything that gave your fellow humans hope, be it food, shelter, or just a cheery "hello" on a dark day.  

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I don't know about depressed, but Miley Cyrus just.....ugh there are no words.  Well, "trashy" is one, but I don't think it's strong enough.  

14. Where did most of your money go?

The usual suspects.  However....staging a house and selling it in terms of expenses was a real eye-opener.  And after we moved brought on new expenses so it was a bit crazy this summer!

15.  What did you really get excited about?

MOVING!  More importantly, selling.  We owned two houses for about a month and that was a nailbiter.  (Literally.)  

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
I never have an answer to this question.  

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.  

c) richer or poorer? Neither.  Just lucky and happy to have the essentials.  Heat, hot water, food and shelter.  I'm rich in love and family.

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

Spending more time with the kids, playing.  They're only young once.  

19. 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.  

20. How did you spend Christmas?

We hosted Christmas this year, with a holiday dinner for all of our family.  

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

No.  But I continued to love.

22. What was your favorite TV program? I'm really loving Scandal.   

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?

My favorite book this year was "The House at the End of Hope Street" by Menna von Praag.  Simply beautiful.   

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Brian and I saw "American Idiot" on stage back in February.  LOVED it.  I still listen to the soundtrack regularly.  

26. What did you want and get?

A happy ending and a new beginning.

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?

Hmmmm.  I don't watch a lot of movies, usually.  But I did recently just see "Frozen" in theaters  with the family and LOVED IT!  Disney really knocked that one out of the park.  If you haven't seen it, you should.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?Ah.....37.  It was a good birthday this year.  For the first time in ten years, I didn't take the day off.  But I treated myself to a pedicure in the afternoon, and my family came over for dinner that night.  It was really great.  

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

Trusting that things work out in the end.  Having a "vision" to see that things would really be OK when they don't seem like they will be.  

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

This is a stupid question.  Since this is the fourth year I believe that I have done this meme, I think I'll take all stupid questions out next year.  

32. What kept you sane?

Brian.  We have our ups and downs like any other couple but I never could have gotten through 2013 without him!

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

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Nothing, really.  Though I was happy to see the right to marry who you choose has extended to MORE states.  :)

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 2013:

Misery is contagious.  Fortunately, so is happiness.  And happiness starts with YOU, because it comes from within.  And sometimes, happiness is a choice.  Choose it.  

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
'Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
'Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Diagnosis: Startitis

Being home this past week, I've gotten a lot of knitting done.  I've got 2.5 pairs of mittens done for Sean's school, I finished a baby blanket and I've almost got a hat going for Sean, since he's outgrowing the Angry Birds hat that my mom made Will a couple of years ago.  (Mom, I'm sad too.)  But I can't stop thinking about new projects!  Especially something for ME, after all of this charity knitting that I've done recently.  And now I'm officially over ten miles for the year too.

So tonight, I am going to make myself happy and cast on either Trillian or the Spiral Cowl.    See here:

 Spiral Cowl


Tomorrow, I will also cast on a sweater for my friend's daughter that she commissioned me to make.  Oh, and finally sew on the buttons to another "baby's" sweater!  But that's for future Ginny to worry about....tonight it's about what the heart wants.  Which is that?  Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Aftermath

The meal has been had, and memories have been made.  All of the gifts have been unwrapped and the boys were happily spoiled by family and Santa alike.  There's plenty of leftovers and togetherness.  So far we've met up with friends at Chuck e Cheese and had a lazy day of movies.  Today is more friends and food and my mother's Christmas cookies!  (In case you were wondering, my mom comes up with the best holiday treats.  Her "Christmas Crack" this year, a concoction of chex mix, coconut and other goodies is aptly named because it is addictive.)

Only a few days of 2013 left, and it's going to be a quiet end to the year, with the four of us home with a steak dinner and a special cake made by Daddy.  We've told the boys that they could stay up as late as they wanted this year, which is probably about 10pm.  Enjoying the family time that we're having together right now, because all too soon it will be back to work and school and the daily grind.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sweater's Done!

Finished on:  12/23.  Right now on Christmas Eve at 6:39pm, it's still damp and on the blocking board.  I'll check it in the morning and hopefully it will dry.  If it's not, that's OK.  Those Toy Story footie pajamas really give it something special, huh?  :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Annual Random Christmas Post

A Random Post, the Sunday before Christmas:

1.  Wow, I have baked all weekend!  Will decorate gingerbread and sugar cookies tonight with the boys and then take them to the fire and police stations on Tuesday, along with a pound of coffee.  I'm thinking that this should be a new family tradition, a way of saying "Thank you" to our first responders in our town.

2.  We're totally losing on the wrapping front.  I started early but it's not looking like it's going to matter.

3.  I hate laundry.  And dishes.  I've done enough of both this weekend to wonder about their reproduction cycle, I think it rivals rabbits.

4.  Looking like a GREEN Christmas this year!  I don't care, the 63-degree weather with windows open is a treat.

5.  Sean's sweater has gained one sleeve, and I'll pick up stitches to start the second one later on today.  He'll look a little strange with only one sleeve, kind of like an elephant trunk.

6.  You know...for a sweater that wasn't meant to be a Christmas project, it could happen.  I probably can't block it in time but maybe.  Trying not to push myself too terribly hard on this.  Just saying though...if the knitting could come together and be finished tonight and I get it on the blocking mat early tomorrow......

7.  ...of course, I AM working tomorrow.  The rest of the family will be home (Bugger!) but tomorrow is my last day of work til the 31st.

8.  I should've taken the 31st off, too.  Darn you, sense of responsibility.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Knitting: Goals and Progress

It's nearing the end of the year, so my inner geek is checking the knitmeter.  Here's the 2013 progress report:

Number of finished projects:  41  (at time of writing this, could possibly be 43.)

Number of miles of yarn incorporated in these projects:  9.38 miles.  If I finish Sean's sweater by 12/31 (and it's looking good, provided that Webs ship the additional yarn needed quickly) it will be about 9.70 miles.  Last year I had over ten miles, and the year before was 12.5 miles.  (I knit faster and more when stressed out, and 2011 was apparently a stressful year.)   Still, 9.70 miles is fantastic!

Did I learn any new skills this year?  Looking back at my projects, no.  But I did get better at other things, like seaming, cables and lace.

Goals and Ideas for 2014:

It's gonna be another great year, knit-wise.

First, and this one is a surprise:  starting on 1/1/14, I am only going to knit from my stash.  That's right, I'm going on a yarn diet, and I will not be buying any more yarn until the Webs tent sale in May.  I will attempt to stay strong, in order to save up for a big surprise family trip in April.

And then the big news, to me anyway:  Webs has a colorwork class that's four Sunday afternoons, and each session the student learns a kind of colorwork.  After the third try to sign up, I got in!  I'll be learning fair isle, intarsia and entrelac this winter/spring!   Yes, I know that I could learn these things at home, alone.  But it turns out, sometimes my teacher is a nut and gets easily confused.  :)  So this is sooooo gonna be worth it!  Hence, this workshop series is the reason why the yarn diet starts on 1/1...I have to order specific yarn/colors to learn the techniques.

MORE charity projects, starting with the Hats for Halos of Hope.   I've got two patterns ready to go right after Christmas, and yarn in my stash.  One is the "Dean Street Hat"  and the other is called "Foliage."  Both use chunky yarn so they'll knit up quickly.  And of course, hats and blankets for Stitches from the Heart.

I also say that 2014 is going to be the Year of the Sweater.  After Sean's is done, I have patterns picked out for both Will and Brian.  I really want to make a sweater for myself too, and we'll see what the year brings.

It's My Birthday!!!!

I woke up briefly at 4am today and with dread....yep.  I'm 37 today.  37 sounds so, so much older than 36.  But Brad Pitt woke up yesterday staring at 50....so I'm feeling pretty good.

When I woke up and got out of bed I was my usual birthday self....smile and ready to party.  That's the Sagittarius taking over.  It's my birthday today, let's party!

It's the first birthday I've had in like 10 years that I didn't take the day off work.  I'm kind of a princess that way, but it's the only princess-y thing about me.  It's gonna be a good day though, Chinese food with co-workers, a pedicure this afternoon, my parents are cooking spaghetti at my house, gifts and time with my family, and my husband made me an incredible-looking chocolate cake.  I say "incredible-looking" because I didn't have any for breakfast.  That doesn't mean I wasn't tempted.  After Will got on the bus I treated myself to reruns of The Big Bang Theory and knitting the hem of Sean's sweater.  (What can I say....I'm easy to please.)   And I wasn't late to work!   My phone has exploded with Happy Birthday texts and Facebook postings, someone sent me an online gift card for a Starbucks fancy coffee.....it's a great day.

37, you are going to be a great year.   And Brad.....50 will be a good year for you, too.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Let it Snow.....Dammit Let it Snow, Let it Snow.

Not even Christmas yet and we're on the second snowstorm.  This weekend involved eight inches of snow and a birthday party on Sunday morning.  What kind of sadistic soul schedules a birthday party on a Sunday morning?????

Today's snowstorm brought on an early release from school.  That's a special kind of hell, getting your kidsready for school, and then messing up the day to be home for when they get off the bus, etc.  I got the call from Will's school that there was no afterschool program today, which wasn't in the original call.  Naturally, this call came AFTER Brian had left to take Sean to preschool.  Had I known that, I would have kept Sean home with me.  Instead I went to work for 2.5 hours.  And I did it in jeans, a sweater and no makeup.  Yep, I sure did.  The world didn't end, and only one person said "You look really pale, do you feel alright?"  

Now the boys and I are home, and Daddy is at work.  And will likely be at work because his boss doesn't believe in closing early.  Ever.  I've baked cookies though, and am about to settle down and watch Phineas and Ferb with the boys and work on that blue sweater for Sean.  Which is knitting up nicely by the way.  Optimistically, he might be able to wear it on Christmas.  Pessimistically, it will somehow wind up having a third sleeve at the neck.

So keep snowing, dammit.  Snow all you want.  I'm not going to let you break my spirit, Mother Nature.  It's way too early in the season for this New Englander.  :P

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Parking Brake


I'm usually so much more on-the-ball about the holidays and everything this time of year.

Hubby's been sick so it's been crazy.  The kids are crazy.  The house is crazy.  Me?  I'm crazy but you all knew that already.

The to-do list keeps climbing, despite cutting back on things this year.  Does my oldest friend really need homemade fudge in the package that I am sending her?  No.  Nobody's going to notice that I didn't use decorative rubber stamps on the backs of the card envelopes.  Heck, nobody keeps the envelope! But, there's still  packages to send, Christmas cards to stuff and mail, goodies to bake, shopping to do, gifts to wrap.  On top of the clutter and the dirty laundry, the homework and the daily routine.  

I was chatting online with Brian earlier and I likened this feeling to being a car in neutral.  His analogy was better.....you're in drive, but someone has put the parking brake on and not told you.  So you're just revving in the driveway.

Here's to hoping that we can pop the brake soon, and hope not to slide on the ice.  :)  Just have to keep remembering to breathe, let go,  and to stop to live in the moment.  This really is the best time of the year, if you slow down to enjoy it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I've Got the Blues.

It's an absurd concept, not having any Christmas knitting to obsess over.  Just plain whacked, that's what it is.  The last few days I've had only one project going at a time.  And that just will. not. do.

Blue yarn seems to be calling my name.  Instead of going to bed, I'm buried in my yarn stash, picking what new project is coming with me to the Hook and Needler Potluck and Swap tomorrow night.  The yarns on the left and right are sweaters for Sean.  Sweet boy....he asked if Mommy could knit him a blue sweater.  "Soon, Mom?"  Blue's his favorite, and oh, does Mama have options.  One would be a cardigan, and the other is a pullover.  Not sure which one to go with!  The turquoise-y wool in the middle is for a shawl for me.   That can wait to be cast on....a sweater for Sean should be next.

Aw heck....I'm tired.  I'll decide and pull out needles in the right size tomorrow.  Zzzzzzzzzzz.  Night all.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Duty to Warn

I've discovered another reason why I keep a blog, and why I go back and read things again.  Especially during the month of December.  It's the definition of insanity......"doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Oh the potluck dinner.  I both love and despise you.  I love the fact that everyone shares the cooking by bringing something to share, instead of one person/family being responsible for the whole thing.  I detest picking out something to bring.  And then I re-read posts like this one that serve as a not-so-gentle reminder to cut the crap and pick out something simple.  Or if at all possible....something jazzy that Hubby is happy to make.  That's why I'm bringing stuffed shells and a case of soda to Friday Night's knitting group swap and potluck.  Stuffed shells aren't something I'd ever consider making myself, but he looks forward to it.  And I play with the kids/keep the house going while he cooks.  Sounds pretty sweet to me!

Another potluck for work on Tuesday....and it's an hour away.  Looking at the list of things that people are already bringing, I see that it's short on entrees and quite heavy on dessert and appetizers.  Then I spy that someone is bringing roast turkey.  So I'm bringing a potato side dish.  Not sure what kind of potato yet, but even I can handle that.  Done, and done!  No cookie craziness with five hundred ingredients, no possiblities of inhaling jalapeno.  Merry Christmas to ME!  :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hats n Mittens

I picked up Sean at school the other day, and I told the teacher that I would like to get a gift for the school for Christmas instead of for each teacher, and asked what they need.  Besides the usual "everything,"  (i.e. art supplies, paper, etc, like most preschools they have a very small budget).  The teacher hesitated and said, "Well, I was thinking about the mittens that you made for Sean.  A lot of kids come in here every day that don't have hats or mittens, and we have to keep them inside at recess when it's cold out.  Do you think you could make some hats and mittens?"  Tug on the heartstrings.  Because that is my Kryptonite....I cannot tolerate the very idea that there are kids that don't have hats and mittens.  We live in Central MA, in the heart of New England, where we get a crapload of snow and ice in the winter.  The thought of these parents (for whatever reason, be it money/budgeting or neglect, I don't care) not using hats and mittens on their kids breaks this girl's heart.  I told the teacher that I may not be able to do it by Christmas, but I would certainly do some.  

And that night, I started right away.  Yeah, I have a Birthday Swap package to finish (with a really cool cross-stitch!) and an ornament swap that I haven't even DECIDED on for this coming Friday.  Not to mention the two Christmas gifts that I want to make, but they're both for immediate family who I think would understand.    But kids without cold weather accessories and me with a huge yarn stash?  "Im right on top of that, Rose!"*

One red wool hat finished already, and I used Sean's head as a guide.  I started  a sparkly white acrylic hat for a little girl and well....it fit me.  Serves me right for not doing a gauge swatch.  I won['t be making that mistake again.

Luckily, I found a little girl at our Philly Thanksgiving that it fit.  This is Brian's cousin's daughter, so I guess that makes Brian and Miss K. second cousins.  Pretty sweet, no?  She wore it the rest of the night, which of course makes me very happy.  :)

*  Fifty cool points to you, my nineties friends, if you knew that this movie quote was from "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead." 

Friday, November 29, 2013

And Now....a Word about Endings

It's the last post of NaBloPoMo, and the folks at BlogHer want to know my feelings about endings.

  To me, there are four kinds of endings:  catastrophic, blessing, miraculous or incomplete.

Catastrophic endings are the worst.  This would include break-ups, being fired from your job, losing someone to illness (no matter how much you believe "that they're no longer in pain and they're in a better place.  It still sucks hard, even when you see it coming.)  Especially unresolved endings.   We've all had them, one way or another.  They may be soothed over time by the passage of time itself, but they still bruise years later.

"Blessing" endings are when the end of something finally arrives and you run to it.  For example, when I finally finished my time (I should say "served my time") at a job that I absolutely hated so that I could move on to something more suiting and satisfying.  (It was a long four years, hence the "prison sentence" references.)  These are sometimes bittersweet, like graduations, where you have one foot forward because you are looking into your future, but are scared to take that step.

"Miraculous endings" don't happen to everyone.  I've had one, and they are beautiful.  You see, I spent the better part of a year unsure if we'd ever have children of our own.  Just as I made the appointment for fertility testing, I discovered a week later that the reason why the coffee tasted terrible and that I was tired down to my bones was indeed, because I was going to have a baby.  We're one of the lucky ones....not everyone gets to resolve the issue by calling back their doctor to cancel the appointment and tell the receptionist that she's pregnant.  Seven years later, I still feel incredibly blessed.

I call the fourth ending "incomplete" but it's kind of a misnomer.  Because if it isn't complete, it isn't an ending.  Not if you don't want to be.  An ending can also be a beginning in disguise, if you're willing to let it.

Anyway, that's just my feeling about endings.  And with that, I've successfully completed National Blog Posting Month!!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

First Blog Post Feelings

Today's NaBloPoMo topic:  How do you feel about your first-ever blog post?

Here is the post, short and sweet.  Written and Published on 6/28/08:

Folks, what we have here is an all-out obsession. We got the Disney/Pixar movie "Cars" from Netflix a couple of weeks ago. Will loves it! In fact, he loves it so much that he wants to watch it all day, every day! He starts to cry and stomp his feet when the credits roll. He also won't watch it by himself, he wants Mama to watch it too! So needless to say, I've seen a lot of "Cars" this weekend. It's a pretty cool movie though. Pixar is working on a "Cars" sequel, it will be out in 2012. Will will be six years old when that hits the theatres. Think he'll still be totally obsessed? Absolutely!!
First of all, whoa!  I've been blogging since June, 2008?  I knew that I had been doing it awhile, but was surprised to find out exactly how long it's been!

I've got something close to 900 posts, which blows my mind as well.  I'm surprised that it's held my interest this long but I really enjoy it.  And I think that blogging on a semi-regular basis has improved my writing.  I know that not a lot of people read this blog, and I write it for me, not readers.  But I know that I have a handful of friends/family that read occasionally to stay caught up and sometimes send me comments.  (Hi Mom!)  It's also turned into a lovely way to preserve memories.  I really, really enjoy going back and reading about things that the kids did, or an adventure that Hubby and I went on, or something that I made.  I'm so glad that I did this!

Anyway......My older son wasn't quite two when I started writing this.  He's seven now, and isn't into "Cars" anymore.  (I know, shocker.)  We actually WORE OUT that DVD.  I didn't even know that was possible but guess what, it IS!  His younger brother Sean is almost four and loves Cars.  He's not obsessed like Will was, but he certainly does enjoy it.  The biggest surprise of all for both Brian and I:  we can still sit through  the original "Cars" and not want to rip our hair out.  The movie still holds its own, and is fun to watch occasionally.

  Both boys were very excited to see the aforementioned Cars sequel, which we did see in theaters.  Will hated it, mostly because the "bad cars" said they were going to kill his favorite, Lightning McQueen.  Sean was too young to really care.   Needless to say, we don't own the Cars 2 DVD.

See?  If  I hadn't blogged about this, it's something that I likely would've forgotten about in our lives.  Thanks, NaBloPoMo, for making me think of it!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful. :)

Time for my annual "Things that I am Thankful for" List!  It's the Day before Thanksgiving and we're cleaning up the kitchen so we can bake desserts for tomorrow's feast.  I'm also finally taking the time to go thru the family room and purge some toys for charity.  :)

First of all, I'm thankful for my family.  A husband that's my best friend and partner in crime, and two kids that keep us on our toes.  My parents, my brother and sister-in-law, inlaws, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles, thankful for all of them.

I'm thankful that there's a roof over our head, food on our table and laundry in my hampers.  

Thankful for friends that keep me sane and grounded.  You know who you are.  :)

This year I'm so very thankful that our Adventures in Real Estate worked out in the end.  It was likely the most frustrating, crazy challenge we've dealt with in a long time and sometimes it didn't feel like it would resolve itself, but it did.  

I'm thankful that there's a light at the end of the tunnel finally, in this wonderful stage called Potty Training.  Fellow parents out there....you know you've been there!

There's a million others, I've got a lot to be thankful for in my life.  But those are the biggies.

Happy Thankgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What are you Hiding?????

One fun thing about buying a new house.....finding all-new places to hide Christmas gifts from the kids.  Well, not just the kids.  Hubby and I have to find places to hide gifts from EACH OTHER.

In the old house, we each had our favorite places.  His was his work bench, and I knew better to approach that part of the basement.  Mine was in my yarn drawers, or wherever I could stash things in a hurry.  I once hid tickets to a concert in a hair dryer box because I knew that he would never, ever EVER think to go there.  (Great....there goes that hiding spot!)

The only part that's bad about stashing things in a hurry is that you tend to forget where you put them.  I have to write it down, and then hide the list. You guessed it.....that list got lost.  This is the reason why my kids get stocking stuffers when I find them in April.  They're not complaining, trust me.  Christmas candy tastes just as good in the Spring as it does in the winter.  :)

So what am I hiding now?  There's a closet under the steps across from the laundry room that's filled with things like vacuums, mops, luggage and chairs.  The kids would never think of venturing in there on their own, so any gifties that have already come are cooling their jets in there.  (the pressure seems to be on this year, I've got quite a lot done already.)  Another way to keep them from going in there was to leave a bunch of stuff that I bought at Christmas Tree Shops in front of the door for a couple of weeks.  That one wasn't on purpose...another thing I'm finding out about having an upstairs/downstairs house is that I forget about a lot of the stuff downstairs for periods of time.  Good for the mess that the kids make in the family room, not-so-good when you actually need something.

  Hiding things from Brian will be a little tougher.  I'm working on it, though.  Just as he's working on hiding stuff from me.  :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hats for Halos of Hope

If anyone knows me or reads this blog, you know that I like to knit for charity.  I still make baby hats and blankets for Stitches from the Heart, I send them a box every June and December.  (December's box is almost finished, there are four blankets and I'm three hats short of two dozen.  Luckily we have a Thanksgiving Road Trip coming up, and baby hats are a great car project!)  I've flirted with the idea of becoming a Massachusetts volunteer for Stitches, but I don't know.  I'd have to give up something....co-moderating Swap Groups on Ravelry, any time I spend blogging or reading....perhaps working or sleeping.  Oy.

Anyway, I'm always looking for new charity knitting ventures, and Webs has posted on on their site: Hats for Halos of Hope.  Plus, those babies that I knit for turn into grown-ups, and it's fun to break into knitting for grown-ups from time to time.  It sounds fiercely competitive, trying to collect 10,000 hats.  Webs is wonderful and I want to support their efforts.

The deadline to ship hats to Webs is February 1st, so it won't interrupt any knitting for the holidays time.  (What's kind of funny is that I have three hats that I want to make between now and 12/25.  Do-able?  I want to say yes!!)  

Power of Advertising

Today's prompt asks to write about the last thing that you bought because you were convinced by someone/some form of advertising.

Well, I don't know about anyone convincing me, it was the product itself.

You see, not only am I irrevocably in love with yarn, I'm head over heels with patterns, too.  This can get rather expensive, so I always look for free patterns online instead of buying them.

I also love going to the library and guess what they have there?  Knitting books!  Lots of them, with more patterns than I could ever knit in a lifetime.  I like to "test-drive" books before buying them.  Oftentimes, I am satisfied with flipping through one, and then realize that there isn't anything I "really" want to make in there.  So back to the library it goes, often saving me $20-$30.

Over the summer. I checked out a book called "60 Baby Knits" and brought it home to look at the cute baby stuff.  By the end of the evening I had cast on a lovely baby hat, which is one of the first three patterns of the book.  I was a goner before the hat was finished; not only did I order "60 Baby Knits,", I got the second one, which is "60 Baby Blankets."  I didn't so much fall off the wagon, I JUMPED.    In my defense, I make a LOT of baby stuff, for charity and for friends/family.

Three months later, I'm still not sorry that I bought them, and I can't wait til after the holidays to make something out of the blanket book.

Oh, and here's the finished hat!  It looks kind of weird lying flat on a table, the shape is much better when it's on an actual baby's head.  Theirs was green, I chose "Sunshine Yellow" for my hat.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Evolving Style

An outfit from any time in my life that makes me feel good.......hmmm.  Well, I've got a few things to write about I guess.

When I was in sixth grade, my friends and I found cheap sweatshirts at a flea market.  Being the eighties, they were god-awful color combos.  Mine was a red sweatshirt that had a picture of a girl lounging in a hammock between two palm trees.  In screamy PINK lettering it said "Lazy Girls Club:  Party all Night, Sleep all Day."  It was uber-ugly but I loved it at the time, because two of my friends had them too, in blue and black.  It made me feel like "part" of something.  I dunno......I just remember wearing it everywhere.  It probably fell apart because it was so cheap.  It was around this time that I had another eightie's sweatshirt that was black and covered with little mirrors and glittery pastel puffy paint.  Oh yeah....stylin'!  I paired it with black stirrup pants, pink socks and silver cheapie shoes.  If I had a picture, I'd post it for the cheezy (yes, with a "Z", it was that bad) hilarity.

When I find something I like, I wear the crap out of it.  In college, overalls became stylish again.    I say "again" because we probably all wore them as nursery schoolers, and hey, now we can wear them as college students!  I look at these pictures and shudder.  I felt pretty good in 'em, though.  And the shuddering may just as well be from my "Rachael-esque" haircut (c'mon, you know that you rocked a Rachel in the mid-nineties) and the purple "Cinnaberry" hued locks.  Augh!  I thought it was pretty hot at the time.

Best Outfit I've ever worn, hands down?  The dress that I wore to the Commencement Ball in college.  It also happens to be the night that my husband proposed.  I wore a gold-colored ball gown with rhinestone straps....very glamorous.  The gold dress reminded me of Belle in "Beauty and the Beast."  I still have it in the back of my closet, despite never fitting in it again I will never get rid of it.

Nowadays....what clothes make me feel good?  Clothes that fit well.  Again, I'm a creature of habit and I tend to wear the same things over and over.  Recently, I had to buy some new work clothes because it appears that I donated a lot of them to charity when we moved.  I've gotten a few new pairs of pants, several new sweaters, etc.  I go to work "Professionally dressed" every day, and I even take the time to pick out jewelry/accessories to compliment my attire.  That's what makes me feel good these days....being put together.  Though that early Nineties girl is still in there....and she still likes her sparklies from time to time!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Different Kind of Christmas List

It's that time of year....people's thoughts are heading towards Christmas.  I myself have started shopping, because it feels good to be ahead instead of behind the eight-ball.  I'm placing an order for Christmas cards today, want to get the jump on them this year because of the address change.  We've got big plans to actually GO through all of the holiday decorations this year and let go of some of them, thus making room for new ones.

I love Christmas.  The decorations, getting Christmas cards, seeing the kids open presents on Christmas morning, cooking all sorts of goodies that we don't have during the year, etc etc etc.  There's a little bit of Grinch in me, though, and I know that a small piece lives in everyone.  So, to get it out of the way early and to get it off my chest....here is a list of things that irritate me about Christmas.

1.  The biggest one:  The ELF ON THE SHELF.  When it first came out, it was kind of a cute idea.  You get this creepy-ish looking elf and you sit it on a shelf.  You tell your kids that the elf is there on Santa's request, reporting their behavior to him daily.  Now, thanks to sites like Pinterest, it's become the Overachiever Activity of the Year, replacing handmade Valentines for your kids' whole class and huge fanfare over St. Patrick's Day with "leprachaun traps" and gold pieces, etc.  It starts with having to make the elf do different things every day for your child to "discover."  There are actual CALENDARS that you can download for a different activity every day, and why is it that the damn thing is supposed to be doing something messy or naughty?  Don't parents have enough messes to clean up?  I also feel like this is a setup for failure, because with how busy this time of year is, besides regular everyday stuff, there is a good chance that one will forget to move the elf every day and then the kids will think that they did something wrong.  And, AND!  I actually saw one site that had printable templates of notices that the Elf leaves your child when they've committed some infraction behavior-wise.  WHAT??  Ok, rant over.  Perhaps this is the "grinch-iest" thing about me yet.  But I've got to believe that I'm not alone in this thought.

2.  The cost of Christmas cards.  Since having children, I've enjoyed getting photo cards of the kids to send out to my Christmas card list.  I've got a pretty lengthy list, despite going over it every year and making a cut or two.  I haven't yet been able to order cards for less than fifty bucks.  This isn't including return address labels or actual postage costs.  I do like the convenience though, pop the photo card in the envelope, address and stamp, then mail.  Going back to writing out cards....no.

3.  Stores starting their holiday displays in September.  Christmas Candy in the grocery aisle on October 15th.  Yet, when you run to the grocery store on Christmas Eve because you are making cookies and need red and green sprinkles because you ran out and they're nowhere to be found because they're currently stocking VALENTINES.......that really ticks me off.  (this really happened one year.  Not even a clearance area....augh!)

I've thought and thought, and I can't come up with any other things that truly irk me about the Holiday Season.   Christmas music....I love it when it first comes out but by the end I am quite ready to see it go.  I think just about everyone else feels that way about it, too.    So the list was a lot shorter than I thought!  I reserve the right to revisit the list in January.  :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My First Friend

 I was born in a large town in MA (it technically should be a city but isn't, and I have no idea why) and the first real house I remember is a two-family on the south side of town.  It was an old Victorian-style house that had been renovated to be a two-family and was the color of peach ice cream.

The house next door, also an old converted two-family, was where the T. Family lived.  The first friend that I can remember any concrete details about is Nicole T.  She and I went to different schools, her to the local public school and I to the private Catholic school in our neighborhood.  She was the youngest sibling in the family, and her family was quite strange.  Actually, to use an old fashioned word, her brothers and sister were a bunch of hoodlums.  Her parents, as I found out many years later, were divorced but they still lived together.  Her father spent a lot of time outside, sitting in the family boat and drinking beer.  (Yep....classy AND sad.)  Anyway, I loved playing with Nicole because we could get away with murder at her house, because her parents didn't give a crap what we did.  We would eat candy for lunch and watch all kinds of bad TV at her house, until one of her brothers or father would kick us out to go back to my house.  We got in trouble a lot, Trouble with a capital T.  I'm pretty sure it was her idea for us to paint our nails while my mom was on the phone.  Did I mention that we did this with black sharpies??  We would play in my backyard for hours, in the winter we would sled down this "hill" that had an abrupt ending.  It used to hurt but I'd play anyway.   We'd ride our bikes all over the neighborhood.  This was a different era, when it was perfectly acceptable to take off on your bike and be gone for an hour.  One of the scariest memories I have is with her was playing with her and her brother Andy on an icy creek and I fell in.  I don't think the water was that deep, but for a seven-year old girl it was terrifying.

Anyway, my parents sold that house and we moved twelve miles away to a new town in 1984.  I hung up my school uniforms and attended the local public school.  Nicole came to visit me once.  After that, we became pen pals but that dried up after about a year.  And I never heard from her again, though I never forgot her.

A few years ago, my mom told me that she had been reading the paper and came across Nicole's obituary.  She passed away at the age of 33, leaving two children.  There were no specifics, no cause of death.  From the way that the obituary reads, it sounded like she had been a single mom.  My heart broke for her, and for her two kids.  I often wonder what life would've been like if we had stayed in that house, and if we had remained friends.   I probably would be a very different person with her influence.  I'll never know though, so I will continue to remember fondly the little girl that I drew Princess pictures with, rode bikes with and stirred up a heap of trouble at such a young age.  And I think about her two kids who lost their mom way too soon.  Rest in Peace, Nicky.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lessons in Parenting

Ten Things I've Learned as a Parent

1.  Really, it's better to lower one's standards of cleanliness.  Though I'm a bit messy/scatterbrained myself, I've learned to accept unfolded baskets of laundry around the house, a trash can that never seems to empty, that dirty dishes seem to multiply like rabbits and that a house isn't a home without a series of matchbox cars on the floor.  Or even better....legos for me to step on in my sock feet.

2.  Things that made me gag as a kid-less adult are a breeze now.  I can clean up puke and other bodily fluids pretty much gag-free.

3.  Parenting makes you say things that you never thought were possible to come out of your mouth.  I once told a baby Will that, after trying to slip a softy shoe on, that "Pee-pees don't wear shoes."  That's actually one of my personal favorites!  Last night I actually said to Sean, "What are you doing?!  We don't bite our plates....that's made of glass and will hurt you!"

4.  There will be disappointment along the way.  There will also be lots of times where you question your judgment, your sanity and your self-worth.  It will take only one phone call home from the school principal about your "little darling"  that will make you want to crawl under a rock.  It's tough to remember sometimes that we are our own worst critic.

5.  To appreciate every age, and to document when possible.  I take plenty of pictures, and I love reading this blog to re-live things like their little socks, the way they pronounce things, or when my oldest insisted that he didn't want a baby in the family because he wanted to sleep.  (Kids really are wiser than we think.)

6.  To never say never.  "My child would never do that."    My mother tells a story about my grandmother insisting that her daughter would never sling mud at a neighbor's clean sheets while they were drying on the clothesline.  Hint:  She totally did it.    It hasn't happened to me yet, and I stress "yet."

7.  How's the phrase go...."When angry count to ten.  When very angry, a thousand."  Sometimes you have to stop and count, before going nuclear.  It's a lot prettier for all involved if you take a deep breath.  I don't always follow this one, but I am trying.

8.  Birthday parties outside of the house....they are expensive but if you can swing it, they're worth it.  Not cleaning up the mess that fifteen children made after a two-hour party is heaven.

9.  It's the best job that I've ever wanted to quit.  Getting paid in snuggles and "I Love Yous" rocks.  They may not pay the mortgage, but they're worth their weight in gold!

10.   Also worth it's weight in gold...the fact that these children are someday going to call you up and tell you the woes that their child is causing them and ask you, how did you deal with this?  They will understand what their parents have gone through because they are now going through it themselves.  I already know this is bittersweet, I've made the call a few times to my own parents.  I am doing the same kind of work that my mom did when I was in elementary school.  An actual conversation with my mother:  "Mom?  Remember how B and I used to call you up at work, because we were fighting?  I'm REALLY sorry!"  :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Inside the Actors Studio

Have you ever seen the show "Inside the Actor's Studio" on Bravo?  I love it!  My favorite episodes are probably when he had Tom Hanks on the show, and Sarah Jessica Parker as well.  I haven't seen it in a long time, but I really enjoy how James Lipton interviews actors about their work and their lives.  He always closes out the interview with a ten-item questionnaire.  
If I were on “Inside the Actors Studio” these would be my responses to James Lipton’s 10-questions:
1. What is your favorite word?
"copious" or "plethora."
2. What is your least favorite word?
"puckered."  (today's word, anyway.)
3. What turns you on?  
A sense of humor and a smile.  
4. What turns you off?
5. What sound do you love?
My kids laughing together.
6. What sound do you hate?
A fork scraping on a plate.  Nails on a chalkboard.  Any scrape-y, squealy noise, I just can't stand it!!
7. What is your favorite curse word?
Honestly?  I love the versatility of the "F-word."  Though I am also particularly fond of "asshat" too.  
8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Something creative.  Acting is high on the list, but writing is too.  
9. What profession would you not like to do?
Work in a morgue.  I don't think I could handle that!!
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
"Welcome, I've been expecting you.  Help yourself to anything in the fridge."  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dress My Windows

Good Gawd, I hate curtains.  I hate how I always have the wrong size window for what I am looking at, and why fabric for windows is so damn expensive.  Plus, with the exception of our family room, I hate that the previous owner had such gaudy taste in curtains!

When we first moved in (actually when we were LOOKING at the house) I noticed that although the house was empty, there was a load of curtains in the washing machine.  Cue to moving-in day, and well, let's say that the seal on the washing machine is incredible.  And if you leave wet curtains in there for months, mildew will permeate in the washing machine and whatever's in there is definitely now trash.  Looking at the curtains though, I knew that they were destined to end up in the trash even if they were mildew-free.

Except one of their kin was still in the kitchen as a valance.  Every time I looked at it I resisted the urge to tear it down immediately.

I never took a photo of the window while THIS was up there.  It was ugly, trust me.

So imagine my surprise while I was at Christmas Tree Shops last week, just poking around.  BAM!  Country-style valances in blue, and only four bucks a pop!  

I dragged out the iron today and Brian hung these beauties.  So much better!

This is such a little thing, but it feels so much bigger in the progress department.

Next up--getting some drapes on the slider door out to the backyard.  Because even though no one can see inside (It's all woods in the backyard with no houses directly behind us)  it still feels like we're living in a fishbowl.