Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Saying Goodbye to 2014

It's time for the annual sum-up-the-year post.  I've kind of been dreading it the last couple of weeks, and I've decided that I'm going to delete the annoying questions out of this.  Hey, I do what I want.  :)

2014: A Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

I'm sure something, but my mind is drawing a big old blank right now.  

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.   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.

Well.  I did say that I wanted to be healthier.  I've both achieved and failed on that account.  In 2014 I had surgery to remove kidney stones.  This was likely a problem that started five years ago and I finally got answers, that I have a so far not-named kidney disorder.  Not named meaning I don't know the name of it yet, not that there's no name for it.  Which is good, because I don't want a kidney disorder to be named after me.  :)  I'm seeing a specialist for this disorder in the New Year and I'm told that it's entirely treatable with medication.  And that it's not dangerous, other than the boulder-making.  

I also recently found out that I have hearing loss and that I would "greatly benefit from the use of hearing aids."  I've known for a while that I wasn't hearing things as well as I should, but was surprised to find out that it's a congenital loss and not from being exposed to loud things.  I'm not going to lie, when I first found out about the hearing aids I was pretty much devastated.  But in the last month I've somewhat come to terms with it and I've also stopped hiding the fact that I don't hear like most people.  It's been a bit liberating, actually.  We'll see how I'm feeling about it next week at the evaluation.  
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?  My nephew was born in September.

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

5. What countries/places did you visit?
We took the kids on a fabulous trip to Disney World!  It really was an awesome time.  First plane ride for the kids, and lots of magic and memories.  
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Answers and resolve.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 

Nothing.  My brain is turning to mush for remembering dates.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I don't feel like I had any one "biggest" accomplishment.  And I think it's ok to feel like you "survived" and that being an accomplishment.  Seriously, lots of overwhelming stuff this year.  

9. What was your biggest failure?

Again, I don't see a biggest "failure" either.  

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?  See Above.  

11. What was the best thing you bought? tablet.

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?

Looters and rioters.

14. Where did most of your money go?

child care and utilites.  Exciting stuff.  

15.  What did you really get excited about?

Surprising the kids with Disney.  It was a tough secret to keep but was worth it.  

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

a) happier or sadder? Not to be a pessimist, but a little sadder.  

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.

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

nothing, I'm pretty happy with the ratio

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

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

19. How did you spend Christmas?

We had a lovely holiday celebration at my brother's house.  

20. Did you fall in love in 2014?

No.  But I continued to love.

21. What was your favorite TV program? 

I don't really have a favorite, I don't think so anyway.  I did enjoy Newsroom and was sorry to see that end, along with How I Met Your Mother and True Blood.  

22. What was the best book you read?

Unsure.  I read like 40 of them but none of them stand out as my "favorite."

23. What was your greatest musical discovery?

That if I play current pop music while on the treadmill or while cleaning it's easier to stay committed.  

24. What was your favorite film of this year?

I enjoyed the heck out of the Hunger Games movies.  Brian read the books but I didn't.  And I can't wait til the last movie comes out next year.  

25. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Ah.....the Great 38. I spent the day with my husband, lunch and a movie, and got a pedicure.  It was a pretty good day.  

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

Honestly, I could've done without all of the health crap.  

27. What kept you sane?

Brian.  Making time for myself.  My kids.  

28. Who did you miss?

My far away friends and family.

29. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 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.  (I'm keeping my answer from last year, because it still applies.  Perhaps even more so now.)

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

I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Don't hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you're set
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Oh there ain't no other way
Baby I was born this way
Baby I was born this way
Oh there ain't no other way
Baby I was born this way
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Lady Gaga, "Born This Way"

Handmade with Love

Here it is.....the post you've all been waiting for......:)

I make a lot of Christmas gifts and this year was no exception.  I also was able to stay sane and not make myself crazy in getting them done in a timely fashion, starting early.  I did however, have to abandon two projects that I knew wouldn't get done in time.  I'll work on them in the next month, possibly making them the first finished items of 2015.

 Babylegs for my nephew, Jacob.  Essentially they're leggings, but the pattern is called "Babylegs."  He's going to look adorable in these!

 Yes yes, Brown Dog (oops, I'm supposed to be calling him Brownie now....but he'll always be "Brown Doggie" to me!) finally got his blanket.  Hint:  it's a dishcloth!

 A cowl for my sister-in-law, Kim.  It's folded here, but basically it's an infinity scarf that she can double around her neck.  Very fashionable.  :)

The next three things are shawls from my favorite designer, Martina Behm.  She is a German designer that favors simple garter stitches that turn them into something really elegant.  Two of them are the same, "Hitchhiker", the one with the pointy edge, for my mom and my aunt.  The other is Martina's "Trillian."  Mom complimented the green Trillian that I made for my friend's birthday last year and so I knit this up, in FEBRUARY.  I felt so accomplished!

 Next up is a trio of hats for my niece, Abby.  She ADORES hats and immediately started putting them on.  

And last but not least, are "Howlcats" for the boys.  Howlcats are awesome, because they can be a cowl or a hat. I picked this pattern for the boys based on how cold it was last winter.  (Which was NOT to be seen on Christmas day, it was in the sixties.)    Here's Sean wearing his as a cowl, playing a game that the boys invented called "Bandit."

 And then here's Will with his as a double-knit hat.

And new for a little knitting geekery for New Year's...

In 2014, I started 59 projects, and actually finished 51 of them.   My final tally for yarn used is 11.7 miles.  Whew!  No wonder why my arms and hands are a little tired.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Holiday Post.

December is always a busy time but this year it went full-tilt.  There were a few unpleasantries, but that's the way life is sometimes.  There was also my birthday, and then Christmas and ho look at that....New year's is almost here already!

In their natural order, let's talk about my bday first.  It was a pretty good day with some dark overtones.  We had just found out that my father-in-law was in the hospital and would be having heart surgery, which was originally scheduled for my birthday.  It was postponed to the following Monday and went very well.  In fact, as I write this he's been home in PA for a few days and is getting stronger every day!   Despite Brian's state of mind he still gave me a really great birthday!  I got a pedicure at a new place which will be a favorite from now on, we got to enjoy lunch out sans children AND see a movie in theaters that didn't feature cartoons or talking penguins.  And he gave me a beautiful new red winter coat.  Can't wait to make a scarf to go with it!

Christmas Eve found us at home, him working on the next day's desserts and me wrapping.  Wrapping all day.  ALLLLL day.  Usually I don't mind doing the family gifts on Christmas Eve, this year it was stressful and there was a lot of "What the hell was I thinking??"  That and weaving of ends and sewing buttons on Christmas gifts.  Hopefully next year will be better for that.   We have a tradition of going and looking at people's light displays on Christmas Eve and our town didn't disappoint.  They had a contest for residents in the weeks before and published the addresses of the winners.  It's a lot more fun when you're guaranteed some pretty displays!  After that it was popcorn and a movie until it was time to wake up for Santa the next day.  We spent the day at my brother's house, while the older cousins played and I got to snuggle my baby nephew.  

Then.....Legoland!!!!  We'd given the boys a trip to the new Boston Legoland Discovery Center for Christmas, and they loved it.  Everyone had a great time.  I took pictures but they're all pretty blurry.  That's because the kids were frenzied most of the time they were there...hopped up on plastic building bricks.  

We can talk about my knitted Christmas gifts a little later.  :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Heart

Last Friday was the annual Hook and Needler holiday get-together, which was held at my house.  It was a little different this year because not only did we have our ornament swap, we also had taken part in a group-wide charity project knitting winter items for the women and children of a local homeless shelter.  When I first announced the idea at the end of the summer, I never expected such an overwhelming response!  Between all of us there was:

75 hats
6 cowls
5 scarves
15 pairs of mittens
3 blankets
1 pair of socks

And one child will be the lucky recipient of a handmade stuffed elephant.

Thank you my knit and crochet friends.  This is one of my favorite reasons to be part of this group!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Candyland Chronicles

Hubby is at (another) birthday party with Will, and Sean and I are doing Christmas stuff.  As in, wrapping Daddy's gifts while he is out of the house!  After a couple of gifts Sean says "Mom?  I want you to play a game with me."  I suggest Candyland and he scampers downstairs to get it.  I'm kind of relieved for Candyland being the game of choice because Sean's at that stage where he throws fits when he loses.  And I'm a ConnectFour SAVANT.  I played this game for hours with my brother growing up and I kicked ass and took names.  It's hard to shut that off with a four-year old, and they've got to learn that it's impossible to win every time.

This is the same Candyland we all grew up with and loved, but with one major improvement:  no more cards.  Instead, they've replaced it with a spinwheel, so every parent rejoices over not having to search for missing cards all over the playroom.  (What, you don't mix up all YOUR gamepieces and playing cards into a big mashup?  That's how we roll around here.)  Sure, we're already missing one of the gamepieces but what of's still completely playable.  So we play our three games and at the first one, Sean is crying over the fact that "he didn't get blue to go over the peppermint bridge." .  We win, we lose and at the end, we only remember that we had fun.  Half an hour of Mom and Sean time.  Thirty five minutes if you allow for the tantrum.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Yarn Helper

The day before Thanksgiving.

We don't host Thanksgiving, as we travel to Philly the day after for a second Thanksgiving with Brian's side of the family.  So my mom and dad usually host, and Brian makes something scrumptious for dessert.

In order for the scrumptious-ness to take place, we need to get outta the way!  So Will occupied himself downstairs on the computer.  And Sean and I decided to play with some yarn.

First, we chose a bunch of yarns for Christmas gifts, ornaments and charity mittens.  Sean loves to pick out colors for things.  Little does he know, he was picking out some for himself as well.

 Then naturally, we need to pose with ALL of the yarns.  Sean really enjoys getting buried on the couch.

Then comes the winding.  It's kind of hard to have the patience that it takes to let a four-year old help wind the yarn.  But the mantra "Be the kind of mom that they deserve" helped a little.  That and "What are some tangles??"  Well.....tangles and knots are the DEVIL, I'll have you know.  They didn't rear their ugly heads though, all winding went smoothly.

And now I have a whole bunch of lovely center-pull balls for Christmas knitting.  Thanks, Sean!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Totally Random Thursday

Since my mind's a bit disorganized, a random post it will be...

-I've got the first cold of the season.  I'm hoping it's the last but I'm not that naive.

-Tomorrow's parent-teacher conferences for my son's class.  While things are not perfect, I'm still in awe over how much better they are than they were at this time last year!

-And the knitting.....oh the knitting.  I am a machine!  Gifts are getting made and things are going well.  And just saying that I've probably smited the knitting gods.  Hats, socks, ornaments, a sweater, a couple of shawls, I've got it all going on.  I've already hit the ten mile mark for the year.

-That being said....there's a certain cockiness that goes with things going smoothly.  For one thing, you start to think that yes, I can get it all done!  And you start adding more projects to your queue, figuring you have "all of this extra time."  Not true, my friend.  I have four more items to cast on before Christmas Day gets here and I'm limiting myself to them.  

-Please feel free to laugh at what I've just written.  

-Want something else to laugh at?  I've agreed to go "cold sheep" until May.  Meaning, knitting only from my stash this winter and not buying any yarn til the tent sale.  Can I do this??  I should think so.  I've got a lot of projects lined up with yarn in house and I'm going to start my baby hats and blankets again after the holidays.

So that's pretty much it for today.  Maybe tomorrow will bring better organized thoughts.  HA HA HA!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Birthday, Will!

As with every October 21st...I greet the day with happiness and just a hint of sadness.
It's my older son's 8th birthday, and I'm thrilled that "his day" has arrived.

I love the person that he is becoming.  He loves learning about things, and has a ridiculously strong memory like his  Mom.  He's really creative, and loves to draw and build things.  He is curious about how things "work" and loves conversations with Dad about these things.   He's a voracious reader, now that he's discovered a genre of books focusing on magic and fantasy.  He has a great sense of humor, and some of the things that he comes up with leave me in stitches for days.  He is a kind soul and really goes out of his way for his friends and family.  Although there is definitely some of that "brotherly love" present and they bicker sometimes, he really includes his brother when playing with friends and loves to hang out with him.

The sadness for his birthday is what all Moms face.  My baby, my first-born, is growing up.  Which is of course what I want, but it's hard.  He's still affectionate, still gives bone-crushing hugs and isn't (yet) afraid to be seen in public with his old Mom.

Tonight my parents are coming over for his favorite dinner (cheese ravioli!) followed by chocolate cake and presents.  We're having a Pokemon-themed birthday party this weekend.

Happiest of Birthdays, Bubby.  Your dad and I, plus Sean, love you to the moon and back.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Still not feeling 100% after the surgery.

Still have a stent, which will be removed on October 20th.  That's in six days.  Yes, I'm counting.

But I'm draggin' along, trying hard not to do too much.  I'm kind of a stranger to this "resting" thing.  I found out the hard way over the weekend that it's necessary though, because if you do too much you feel like crap the next day.  The goal is to continue to improve.

All that being said, I'm getting a lot of knitting done.

This here is the "Who?" hat.  Made it in about 24 hours.  Will loves it, especially the cabled owls. The first picture doesn't do it justice, so I included another of the "in-progress" so you can see the owls more clearly.

Since the New England weather was getting downright chilly (heat's already been turned on a couple of mornings!) I decided that Sean needed a new hat, too.  This hat is called "Barley" from the Tincanknits "Simple" collection.  Also done in an evening and an afternoon.  I originally thought it would be too slouchy but Sean loves it.  He immediately put it on and wore it all day.

I also finished my Halloween Swap item for my knitting group's event next week.  Can't show you till later, but it's great!

Will's birthday is a week from today and I have a wallaby sweater on the needles for him.  I started it in June, while binge-watching season 2 of "Orange is the New Black."  I honestly thought it would be done by now, but I got intimidated by the front pocket.  Too actually worked up like a dream.  I hate it when I second-guess my knitting skills.  I'm not sure if I'm delusional, but am hoping to have this done in time!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fifteen Questions

In an attempt to entertain myself outside of Bubble Witch Saga 2 and yarn....I'm copying Mindy Kaling's interview-style questions in this month's copy of Good Housekeeping.  Because, why not?

At My House

What you'll always find in my fridge:  Hershey's syrup and grated parmesan.  Not to be used together, of course.

Recipe I'm scared to try:  Making my own bread.  It makes your house smell awesome but is so easy to screw up!

signature dish:  Mexican Chicken and Rice

Household chore I enjoy:  Loading the dishwasher.  It's the same satisfaction as when you complete a jigsaw puzzle.

My secret cleaning weapon is:  Simple Green, that stuff works on just about anything!  My favorite trick though, is to make the kids think it's a game.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't!

Last thing I bought online:  yarn and a knitting pattern.

I hate to shop for:  birthday presents.  Not all birthday presents, mind you.  Some people are just harder to shop for than others.

On My Bucket List:  A trip to Hawaii someday.

I sleep in:  pajama shorts.

I sleep on:  a creaky queen-size bed.

I stay fit by:  I'm working on it.  Before the surgery I was up to twice a week on the treadmill and taking a yoga class at a studio once a week.  That's the most exercise I've had in years and I'm missing it this week.

I drive:   a leased Honda CR-V.  I like it a lot more than I thought that I would.  Seems like almost everyone in America has one, though.

Etiquette Pet Peeve:  Not saying please and thank you.  Those words go a long way!

I will never care about:  The Kardashians.

I'd tell my younger self:  Drink more water and surround yourself with positive people.  And don't take yourself so seriously!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Random Sunday Grateful Post

-My kidney surgery was a rousing success.   In fact, all of the kidney stone from hell was removed and I will not need a second surgery! I was super-nervous and I cannot begin to describe how wonderful the hospital staff was to me.  From warm blankets to cracking jokes....they really put me at ease.

-I even wrote a thank you note.  Because I believe, in these days, that there's so much emphasis on bad customer service.  When someone does a good job, tell them!

-All of that being said, I'm quite thankful for pain meds.  And anti-nausea drugs that enable me to take those pain meds.

-Thanks go out to my awesome parents, who helped out with the boys while all of this was going on.

-Honestly, Brian deserves his own grateful post.  Feeding me homemade chicken soup, doing laundry, taking care of the boys....these are all things that he does normally.  I just feel extra-grateful today and want the world to know what a wonderful man I married. 

-thankful for yarn...which has been keeping me busy.  That, and silly Facebook games and the return of primetime television.

I think that's it.  Just wanted to put all that out there...I'm a lucky lady.

Monday, September 29, 2014

This is the End of the Line

Well, yesterday was the completion date for my Day Zero List.  

How did I do?  The list was 60% complete as of yesterday.  But honestly...I'll bet that's better than most people do.  

And now, a breakdown.

Items that I just wrote down to fill up the "100 Things" list and probably never was going to do:

37.   Ride in a hot air balloon

63.  learn how to throw a football with my kids

100.   Put $5 in our savings account for every item not completed. 

Items that I thought that I wanted to do, but later on it turned out that I had no interest in doing them:  (Hey, people change!)

1.  Read "Anna Karennina" by Leo Tolstoy.  

I gave this a good try.  I had bought it five years before because it was part of "Oprah's book Club" and the sheer number of pages was intimidating.  Guess turns out that I didn't read it not because of the number of was because it was boring as hell.

55.  send flowers to someone “just because”

It turns out, it is really hard to send flowers "just because."!  Every time I thought of sending someone flowers, I had a reason to send them.

77.  Renew our passports

Passports are damned expensive.  And with nowhere to go, really, why bother?  I'll get the passports when we need them.  I'm not at an age where international travel opportunities just "present themselves" and you need to hop on a plane NOW.  

27.  take a cake decorating class.

It turns out that I don't care if I decorate the cake.  I just want to eat it.  Hell, half the time I want Hubby to bake it and me to eat it.  :)

51.  Send a secret to Postsecret

I mulled this one over a lot....but really, I don't have any juicy secrets.  None that would be interesting to post on Postsecret's blog, anyway!  I'm pretty boring.  

And lastly...

Items that I still want to do but ran out of time before the list deadline

12.  take the kids to the following places in PA:  Sesame Place, Crayola Factory and the “Please Touch” Museum.

This list item is partially finished.  We went to the "Please Touch" Museum and loved it!  I heard recently that they may lose their funding and I hope that isn't so, because we would love to go again.  We decided that not only are our kids too old for Sesame Place, I'd heard a lot of unsavory reviews from friends about them.  We still want to go to the Crayola Factory, though.  

29.  take the boys to their first drive-in movie

We're lucky to have two drive-ins nearby.  It's just a matter of picking a night to go, next summer!

35.  Get a tattoo

I have a design picked out and I've decided where it's going.  I just need to find a good place to go and then GO DO IT.

44.  build a snowman with the boys

We had a ton of snow last year and by the time I remembered this item, it was too late.  This winter for sure.  

45.  go tent camping

50.  See a Flyers home game with Brian.

Again, just ran out of time.

57.  visit the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Burlington, VT

I may actually get to do this one next Spring.  The annual RSC conference is in Vermont and a group of us were talking about hitting this on the way home!

76.  Ask my parents to tell stories of our family’s past, and write them down.

83.  Knit sweaters for my husband and children

I knit a sweater for Sean and he got it for Christmas last year.  I'm working on Will's for his birthday next month (I think I can, I think I can!) and I have the yarn for Brian's in the house.  I'm kind of glad I've waited this long, though.  He's lost 30 pounds in the last few months and his sweater would've been too big after that.  I'll start it after the holidays.  

99.  Visit Washington, D.C.

Sooooo......did I learn anything?  I did, that it's fun to make a list and try to stick to them.  And it's a lot easier if it's fun things instead of the tedious, never-ending to-do list.  Will I do another Day Zero list?  Probably not.  But it certainly helped me to prioritize and find time to do fun things with my family.