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!