Thursday, December 31, 2015

See Ya, 2015!

It's time for the annual sum-up-the-year post.  Here we go!

2015: A Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

Let's see......I lost weight.  And put it on again by stress-eating.  The first part is something I'd never done before and the second is something I've done more than once.  I also got hearing aids last January.  It's been an adjustment but overall I couldn't be happier.    


2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any.  And right now I have no plans for resolutions this year.  But never say never.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?  My niece Grace was born in August.  The first girl in a long time on Brian's side of the family.  She's a real cutie.

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



5. What countries/places did you visit?
Our family vacation was in New Hampshire this year, we needed a bit of a low-key vacation after Disney last year.  We haven't decided on vacation in 2016 yet, we'll work on that right after the holidays are over.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

My older son was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder this year.  It was a long time coming and we're starting to understand better why he does the things that he does and how we can help.  We definitely need more, though, and are going to work harder on getting it in 2016.


7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 


Nothing super-noteworthy happened, not that I remembered the date for, anyway.



8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Let's see.....I finished my Christmas knitting early!  That doesn't sound like much but trust me, it is.

9. What was your biggest failure?


No BIG failures, but certainly little ones.  That's ok, Failure is part of the process.  It's inevitable.


10. Did you suffer illness or injury?  It hasn't been too bad a year for that.  I did get the flu in February and miss a week of work, that was miserable.  Other than that....anything going on has been dealt with.  I can hear properly and I'm at my lowest risk for more kidney stones.  Can't ask for much more than that, I'm thankful that it's been a quiet year.  



11. What was the best thing you bought?


Honestly, I have no idea.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Anyone who does good deeds for their fellow humans.  Those are the people that news stories should be written about.  


13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?Terrorists.  Donald Trump.  And people that text while driving.


14. Where did most of your money go?

I had no idea hearing aids were so damned expensive.  


15.  What did you really get excited about?

Yarn-related things.  Surprisingly, I was pretty stoked about my 20th HS reunion, which ended up being a lot of fun.  Something that both excited and saddened me:  my "baby" going to kindergarten.   

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

a) happier or sadder? Definitely happier.  The holidays were really tough last year.  Sometimes things were stressful/overwhelming this year, but overall it's been a much better year.   

b) thinner or fatter? about the same.  I want my 40th birthday gift to myself to be better health.  And that will start right after the holidays.  

c) richer or poorer? Both, rich in some ways and poor in others.  It all offsets in the end.

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

Is there such a thing as too much knitting time??  :)  


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 hosted a nice celebration at home.  It was unseasonably warm and pleasant, feeling more like springtime!  It's a little weird to have your windows open during the month of December and I never really thought that "the breeze knocking ornaments off the tree" would be a problem.  



20. Did you fall in love in 2015?

No.  But I continued to love.


21. What was your favorite TV program? 

I gave "Once Upon a Time" a whirl over the summer, binge-watching the first four seasons.  Also, The Big Bang Theory continues to be a favorite and I love the new half-hour comedy "Life in Pieces."

22. What was the best book you read?

According to my Goodreads account, I read 43 books.  Many of them are worth mentioning and I will do so in a separate post.  But of all of them.....my favorite would be "As You Wish:  Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride" by Cary Elwes.  It's one of my favorite movies and it was just amazing reading about the making of it from Westley.  



23. What was your greatest musical discovery?
That pop is good for exercise but swing or George Gershwin is good for cooking.  And I think I've always known this but know so even more now:  Christmas music is fun at first but then gets really, really old.  OH!  And I am still so surprised to discover that Garth Brooks tickets were attainable!

24. What was your favorite film of this year? 

I enjoyed "Divergent" but after that the series left me cold so I doubt I'll  see the other two films.  But my favorite?  "Inside Out" without a doubt.

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

It was a Saturday this year.  I spent it with my family and then drove down to Mohegan Sun in CT to celebrate it with my friend Maureen, my "birthday buddy."  Same birthday, only she's a year older.  


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

That's a tough call.  Better drivers around me?  Maybe.


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 2015:


"An empty cup can't fill other cups."  If you're not taking care of yourself, you have nothing to offer others.


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

Dear reader, please excuse the language.  But Pink's "F*%ckin' Perfect" sums it up for me.  Minus the f-bombs it's exactly how I feel.  

Made a wrong turn, once or twice
Dug my way out, blood and fire
Bad decisions, that's alright
Welcome to my silly life
Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood
Miss 'No way, it's all good', it didn't slow me down
Mistaken, always second guessing, underestimated
Look, I'm still around
Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you are less than, less than fuckin' perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing
You're fuckin' perfect to me
You're so mean when you talk about yourself, you were wrong
Change the voices in your head make them like you instead
So complicated, look happy, you'll make it
Filled with so much hatred, such a tired game
It's enough, I've done all I can think of
Chased down all my demons, I've seen you do the same
Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you are less than, less than fuckin' perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing
You're fuckin' perfect to me
The whole world's scared so I swallow the fear
The only thing I should be drinking is an ice cold beer
So cool in line, and we try try try
But we try too hard and it's a waste of my time
Done looking for the critics, cause they're everywhere
They don{t like my jeans; they don't get my hair
Exchange ourselves, and we do it all the time
Why do we do that? Why do I do that
Why do I do that?
Yeah, oh, oh baby, pretty baby
Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than fuckin' perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothing, you're fuckin' perfect to me, yeah
You're perfect, you're perfect
Oh pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothin' you're fuckin' perfect to me



Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Personal 2015 Book Awards

I read something like 43 books this year, and here's my favorites of the bunch:

"Rocks:  My Life in and out of Aerosmith."  by Joe Perry
This is a memoir written by the lead guitarist of the band Aerosmith, a favorite of mine for many years.  It was really eye-opening in some parts, I'd read their biography "Walk This Way" in college and reading it from Joe's perspective was quite different.  It's good to hear from "the quiet half of the Toxic Twins."


"My Year with Eleanor" by Noelle Hancock
Another memoir, with the writer on a journey of self-discovery using Eleanor Roosevelt's life as an example to follow.  I learned so much about Eleanor Roosevelt in the process and think of her now as a fantastic example of charity, class and stubborness being a good thing.  

"A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness
The lead character, Diana Bishop, comes from a long line of distinguished witches, and has absolutely zero interest in her bloodline of scorcery.  Until she is dragged down into the underworld.  I read this while I was sick with the flu in February and enjoyed it immensely.  It's a trilogy, and each book is quite long.  I haven't gone back for the second book yet, but I will eventually.


"The Boston Girl" by Anita Diamant
Honestly, this felt like nonfiction.....beautiful story of Addie Baum and her immigrant family in the North End of Boston.  It really made you feel like you were there.  

"As You Wish:  Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride." by Cary Elwes
If you are even a casual fan of the movie The Princess Bride, you should read this book.  It's written by Cary Elwes, who played Westley.  It's funny, it's sad and surprising.....just an overall great read.

"Yes Please" by Amy Poehler
Wow, perhaps 2015's theme for books is "The Year of the Memoir."  Amy Poehler is a comedian and actress that's originally from Massachusetts and was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live.  This was a fantastic book and after reading it you feel like you "know" Amy Poehler and would want her to be your friend.  I felt the same way about "Bossypants" by Tina Fey.  Tina and Amy are sometimes referred to as each other's "Comedy Wife."  Their sketches on SNL and their movies are hilarious.  And this year, my "besties" were awesome when they co-hosted "Saturday Night Live" on my birthday last week.  :)  I hope to see their new movie "Sisters" this week with a friend.  

"The Night Circus" by Erin Morganstern
I enjoyed the hell out of this book, with the magical circus just showing up without warning, none of the performers aging and the real purpose of the circus.  The characters were breathtaking.  I won't say any more, I don't want to ruin anything.  I'll just say that Brian got the audiobook for his commute based on my recommendation, and we rarely read the same books.  

"Girl in Translation" by Jean Kwok
This was the story of a girl who comes to America at a young age.  She and her mother come from China after the death of the girl's father, and life isn't quite what they hoped it would be.  They live in a condemned building with no heat and they are slave workers in a clothing sweatshop run by a family member.  Riveting.  

"In the Unlikely Event" by Judy Blume
OK, I am a huge Judy Blume fan and read everything that she writes, even kids books.  This was her newest and was based on the real event of planes coming down from the sky in New Jersey in the fifties.  Mind-blowing stuff.  

"What Alice Forgot" by Lianne Moriarty.
Imagine having the perfect life, married to the perfect man and about to have your first child.  Then imagine waking up one day to find that you can't remember the last ten years of your life and in that time, you've had three children and are in the middle of a bitter divorce from Mr. Wonderful.  I couldn't put this down.  

And a late submission, I just finished "The Kids are All Right." by Liz Welch and Diana Welch.  It's (you guessed it) another memoir.  It's the very true story of four young siblings losing both their parents three years apart in the eighties.  It's a sad story, but has a hopeful ending.  Plus, there's a website to see family photos and a section dedicated to other people writing their version of the story.  

Next up, for 2016:

"The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins.  It's billed as "a debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives. "

"Choose Your Own Autobiography" by Neil Patrick Harris.  He's the incredible actor that brought you the characters of "Doogie Houser" and Barney on "How I Met Your Mother."  HIMYM is one of my all-time favorite shows, so I am looking forward to this.  


Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Day After

Christmas has come and gone for another year....and it was a pretty good one.  For one thing, it's got to be one of the warmest Christmases on record!  It felt weird but I'm not complaining for sure.   We were festive, we were prepared, and we had fun.  For once I had all of the wrapping done in plenty of time, and I was only sewing buttons and weaving in ends on TWO projects during the day on Christmas Eve.  Considering other years, that's pretty good.  Brian and I hosted this year, and all was well.  Dinner went off with only a slight hiccup and dessert was really lovely.  The house isn't even as trashed as it usually is the day after Christmas.  No gift returns this year, and the best surprise was Alton Brown tickets for Brian.  All FOUR of us are going to see his show in April.  It was a great family secret and I'm particularly proud of the boys for keeping it.

Today has been kind of a lazy day, and I feel really comfortable and happy.  We've let the boys run around and do whatever they like today.  That equals a huge blanket fort in their bedroom, breaking open geodes from the kit that was sent by Uncle Matt and Aunt Katie, eating copious amounts of treats and right now, building a robot from the kit that Will received from us for Christmas.  I spent part of it in new pajamas, reading "The Kids are All Right:  A Memoir" by Liz Welch and Diana Welch.  (It's a true story, and pretty riveting.  I had trouble putting it down.)  Later on I braved shopping and even that wasn't too terrible.  For the first time in 15 years, all of the wrapping paper and boxes/tissue paper have been purged and organized, and will be going back to the garage in better shape than they came upstairs.

Now tonight is a dinner of leftover pasta and meat sauce, and the movie Inside Out.  I'm loving this winter vacation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

39.....really??

Another birthday has come and gone.  And with it, I turned 39 years old.

I dreaded it all week.  I don't know why, but birthdays that end in "9" really are hard for me.  When I turned 29, I was sad because I didn't have any kids.  That changed by my 30th, as I had a three month old and just wanted a birthday gift of sleep and a shower.

So imagine my surprise when I woke up on Saturday morning a year older and in a fantastic mood!  I'm thirty-nine, and I'm happy.  I have my family, my friends, a stable life, wonderful children and a fantastic dog.  And many, many other things.  So why not celebrate?  I started with an ice cream sandwich at breakfast, followed by my parents and brother and family coming for cake and presents later on.  I finished the book that I was reading (Kitchen Chinese, by Ann Mah) and later on, Brian and I drove down to CT to celebrate with my Birthday Buddy.  Maureen and I have been friends for close to 20 years and had never celebrated "Our birthday" together.  Here we are!



So Happy 39th to me.  I hope that I can maintain this happy feeling about the big 4-0 next year.  We shall see.


A Big Mashup Holiday Post

Yep.  I haven't posted once in December so let me sum up.

1.  I have a love-hate relationship with the month of December.  I love the holidays, but I hate the chaos.  Plus it's difficult to keep any sort of routine, so the kids suffer a bit.  This is Sean's first year having Christmas at school (they didn't celebrate holidays at his preschool) so the crazies are strong there.  Lots of frustration, stomping of feet, slamming of doors and remarks like "this is the worst Tuesday of my life" and my personal favorite:  "It's not even time to go to the bus yet and I. Already. Have. A. Frown. on. my. FACE!!!"  It was tough not to laugh, let me tell you.  Lots of extra snuggles and patience.  I'm great at the snuggles, but patience is not a strong suit for me.

2.  Have I mentioned that I am the BIGGEST HYPOCRITE EVER??  Yes, I am.  Sean was so sad that there's no Elf on the Shelf at his house that I caved and bought one last week at the mall.  Will's been so sweet to his younger brother, helping him name the Elf (Chippy) and coming up with ideas.  So we have an Elf, but I said that Chippy is a trainee, having shown up the week before Christmas.  Brian and I don't believe in the whole "The elf is reporting back to Santa" thing so it's just a fun thing in our house.  As soon as the kids go to bed at night one of us moves him. Brian watched me set up a Connect Four game between Chippy and Will's favorite Pokemon, Oshawott last night.  He remarked that I seemed to be enjoying it, and honestly, I was.  I love whimsical things.  I also will NOT be putting up a daily photo on Facebook about what Chippy's up to.  If Chippy wants to be on FB he can get his own account.

3.  You saw that Will is helping with Chippy, huh....  Well, Will pulled me aside at Thanksgiving and said "I have a suspicion that Santa Claus is really you and Dad.  I really need you to tell me that's not true."  I can't lie, it breaks my heart a little bit that he no longer believes.  But now he's excited about the magic of it and is encouraging his brother's belief in Santa instead of telling him.  It's sweet to watch.

4.  We had two Holiday concerts this year, Will's was last week at night at the high school and Sean's was this morning.  Both boys were adorable!  Now we have karate graduation tonight and I think that's all the obligations.  Wait no.....both boys have holiday parties in class tomorrow and I need to buy donut holes for one of them, I just can't remember which kid.  Hopefully I figure that out by tomorrow morning!

5.  Two things that have gone WELL this year....the holiday knitting is DONE and I won't be spending all day Christmas Eve wrapping gifts for my extended family.  However, I need to learn my lesson and weave in ends and block finished items sooner.  And next year, I think that I'm going to do the same item for all knit gift recipients, like an infinity scarf for everyone.

Well, that's pretty much all that is going in our world.  Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Today's Special

After 2.5 years of living in this house, we're finally getting around to decorating some of it.  Recently I had a thought:  that if I had to go through another winter of being stuck in our house because of the weather, I would need some stuff to look at besides bare walls.

Check it out!



I had an idea (from Pinterest) to repurpose an old window as a menu board.  We do write a weekly menu (and actually stick to it 90% of the time!) and I thought that this would look cool.  And I was right.

I got an old window from my friend Danielle, whose mother collects them for art projects.  Brian cleaned it and then touched up the frame.  Then he got some chalkboard spray paint and did the panes.  Voila!  Our very own "specials" board.  Not expensive either, just had to get the paints.

Next up, adding some oomph to our living room.  We're at least two years away from re-doing our living room so I think we can hang some things over the couch.  And taking down the awful wallpaper in the hallway and painting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Literary Character Day

We got a notice from Sean's school that November 9th was "Dress Like Your Favorite Literary Character Day."  Sean was completely apathetic over the whole thing, stating that he wasn't interested and didn't want to dress up.  And I was on board with that, I wasn't going to make him put on a costume and be miserable for the day.

 Then we see a picture of his best friend on Facebook.  Best friend is dressed as Skippyjon Jones.  Suddenly, Sean is very interested.  Naturally, it's  5pm on Sunday (the day before the event) and after I had been at the New England Fiber Festival for the day, So, since he doesn't really have a "favorite" character and I have no time to shop and am too tired to be really creative, he went as MY favorite literary character....Harry Potter!  The one caveat--Sean doesn't really LIKE HP.  He's a little scared by it, which I can understand because of his age.

Dress-up was a snap, using Will's old Halloween costume.  The morning of the event, Sean's too scared of makeup application to let me draw a scar on his forehead with eyeliner, so I left him alone.  He boarded the bus in his Hogwarts Robe and the scarf that I had knit, and was surprisingly cool about the whole thing.

And for the kid that didn't want to participate?  He was still wearing the costume at the afterschool program, running around and playing in the gym.  He told me that him and his friends were coming up with their own spells that didn't need wands, since I didn't give him a wand to take to school.

The Harry Potter fangirl inside of me is smiling and jumping for joy.  Perhaps there's hope for Sean to be a fan after all!


Monday, October 26, 2015

Birthday Madness

Another year has passed and my older boy is now 9.  NINE!!!  Seriously, it blows my mind.  How did that sweet little baby grow up into this tall, handsome third grader?  This kiddo is tall for his age and almost fits into my shoes.  In another year I can borrow his sneakers if I want to.  (Probably not.)

We celebrated with a family dinner on his actual birthday, and then had a birthday party with his friends yesterday.  Man.....having a party with ten 3rd and 4th graders running around the house for three hours is INSANE.  Some of that is planning on my part.  I'm not the greatest at party-planning.  I mean, I went shopping for the goody bags only three hours before the kids were due to arrive. Pinterest Mom, I am not.  You can't put together a great goody bag on that kind of notice.  But "Last-Minute Lisa..."  that's how I roll.  So instead, it was a straight-up candyfest.  Hey, we're just prepping those kiddos for Halloween!  They loved the idea of an ice cream sundae bar instead of a birthday cake.  And who wouldn't!!

By time everyone left I just dropped into my comfy chair, exhausted.
The birthday boy had a good day though, but was bummed that not all of his friends got along.  He really is a peacekeeper, and watching two girls fight because they didn't like each other was tough.  It probably doesn't help that he's admitted to me and his grandmother that he's in love with one of them.  (Dear Lord....and with nine brings puppy love.)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Piles Upon Piles

It's October.....and my yarn is organized.

Christmas gifts are going on and off the needles and it's all coming together.

Until it isn't.

Hopefully it's just a bump in the yarn pile.  I'm very good at  biting off more than I can chew, but somehow making it work.  It usually works out but having so many projects going at a time is stressful!  Just looking at the pile of "stuff to block" and unfinished projects on my living room table is......ugh.

Thank goodness this is a long weekend coming up.  Lots planned, but definitely some knitting time.  It's time for make-or-break.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Woman, The Legend, The Yarn Harlot

Poking around online a few weeks ago I saw that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka "The Yarn Harlot," was coming for a lecture series in Massachusetts!  And I was pretty excited, I've read most of her books and followed her blog for years.  She is a professional knitter, teacher and writer.  And to knit and yarn enthusiasts, somewhat of a rockstar!  She had come out to Webs last year but the tickets were ridiculously expensive.  (though I admit it I was still tempted!)  Plus the weekend that she was coming to Boston was already chock-full of activity:  my husband's birthday, a 5K that he was running, my nephew's first birthday....etc etc.  Sigh.....next time I guess.

Then I got a text from my friend Jenny, asking if I wanted to go with her.  Wheels started turning in my head....and then she told me the tickets were $20 apiece.  Yeah, I was sold!  We signed up for the Sunday morning lecture at 9am in Dorchester.  I was "gonna make it work."

Sunday morning I head into the city, and discovered one of the nicest yarn stores I had ever been to!  The Stitch House in Dorchester is decent sized, has wonderfully helpful staff and a great selection of yarn.  And more importantly....they hosted the Yarn Harlot.

Let me tell you, Stephanie is every bit helpful, gracious and funny that I had thought, and more!  She talked for three hours (while we all knitted, of course) about the importance of blocking, how to pick out yarn for sweaters instead of just the "OOOOHHHHHH SO SOFT" that many of us use.  (Guilty.)  Not only that, she named names when she was talking about yarn that's bad for sweaters, and she went over all of her tools in her knitting toolbag.  Needless to say, I've got a Christmas and birthday list going.  And the first item on it is a Wanda.  

This woman makes me feel like knitting anything is possible.  I left ready to take on charts and to buy enough yarn to start a really good sweater.  (I'm on sweater hiatus though, at least for myself.  I'm still working on losing more weight and there's no way I want to put all that time into a sweater that will be too big)

Afterwards she was signing books and I was thrilled that I remembered to bring my copy of "Knitting Rules!"  She was also kind to let Jenny take my picture with her, and here it is!




Thursday, September 10, 2015

I'm starting a Mom Zombie Gang....Wanna Join?

Sleep.

It's something that I haven't had a "normal" relationship with for years.  It's the bad boyfriend that keeps luring you back with promises of falling asleep easily and waking well-rested. I suffer from insomnia, especially on Sunday nights.  And now we can add anxiety to that list, too, nothing like a brain that's worrying to keep a girl up at night.

But last night was my fault....Hubby's traveling for work and I let the kids sweet-talk me into sharing my bed.  Yeah.....I've had better ideas in my life, especially on a weeknight.  First the little one needed more light, so I left the bathroom door open AND got another nightlight to make him comfortable. Then the big one....man, he is a bed hog.  And the little one is a blanket hog and murmurs in his sleep.  The final straw was getting the knees and elbows of the big one in the back at 3am, and waking up to him sneezing like crazy.  I wandered into their bedroom and got a pillow, and gently transferred the not-quite-awake Will onto the floor with a blanket.  Sean woke up too, and I asked him if he wanted to join his brother on the floor.  "No I wanna stay in the bed."  Of course you do, Darling.

The alarm going off at 6:15am was like an assault to the senses.  Usually they like to pop right out of bed, but they suffered through the snooze cycle with me today.  Will has no memory of me putting him on the floor and was a bit chagrined.  Sean was complaining as we were heading out to the bus stop that he didn't sleep well.  My response:  "None of us did, Baby.  We'll get better sleep tonight."

May tonight bring more sense to this zombie.  (Mombie?)  It's a late day for us too, with karate.  Thank goodness I had the foresight to cook tonight's dinner yesterday--I'm going to be pretty useless tonight but probably will be able to work a microwave.  Probably.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

And I Didn't Cry....Much

The big yellow bus came today and took my boys to school.  My younger one for the first time.  And I didn't cry.  He was a bit apprehensive and needed a "Go ahead!  You've got this."  for encouragement.   He was excited right up til that point.  The big kid, well....he was anxious to start a new school but was taking solace in the fact that it's a new school for EVERY kid there because last year it was a middle school and not elementary.

 Here they are, and yes, if Big Bro is wearing a Minecraft shirt then you can be sure the Little Bro is wearing one as well!



Right after the kids got on the bus and we walked home, Hubby grabbed his bags and headed for a work conference in Texas.  There may have been a couple of tears.  And they MAY have been that I don't have my own ticket on the plane, and am running the show this week.  Nah....I'll miss him.  That's the first reason.  The second is jealousy of his nice hotel room all on his own.  I had my turn in Vermont last May, though.

So it's "Friday Night Fun Club:  The Extended Edition" until (you guessed it) Friday.  There will be lots of pasta, school fundraiser, karate class, etc etc.  Oh, and that pesky thing called Work.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Non-Labor Day

Labor Day weekend.  The unofficial gateway to autumn.  Pumpkin spice everything hitting the shelves.  (I love pumpkin flavor but  need a chill in the air first to partake.) 

I'm sitting on the deck, enjoying  a cool day, drinking a cup of afternoon coffee and a recently expired Nonni's biscotti.  (Doesn't make it any less delicious btw)  I've got knitting in my kind, having just finished choosing new projects.  A Christmas surprise, and a baby sweater.  The kids are playing quietly and my big plans for the day are to get my nails done and knit.

But only if I get out of this chair, it's a pretty nice place to be right now.   Sunday and Monday can be all about labeling lunchboxes and hunting down forms, and Hubby getting ready to travel next week.  Cleaning out the hall closet and folding a million pounds of laundry.  Whatever is on the to-do list.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Our Two Ninjas

Saturday was summer graduation for karate school.  This graduation was a big one, because A. it was Sean's first and B.  Will did his black dragon testing!!



We are so incredibly proud of Will and Sean!  Sean learned so much this summer and he looks like he's having a lot of fun out there.  I'm still a bit surprised how much he learned in eight weeks of camp, but he had it down.

And Will....ridiculously proud.  He's kind of a perfectionist and one of the things that the Dragons had to work on this cycle was accepting criticism.  NOT one of his strong suits.  If you watch the video though, in his second form he started doing the wrong one.  He was corrected and quickly jumped into the correct form, without a fuss.  This is something that he worked really hard on, practicing his forms EVERYWHERE:  our bathroom, in the yard, at Target, at a birthday party.....everywhere.  His dedication is admirable.

Now Will moves up into an older group of kids and has three or four buddies moving up with him.  You've got this, Buddy!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

School Bell's Starting to Ring

School starts in less than two weeks.  Which is strange, because our town is going back almost two weeks later than the others around us, due to construction and restructuring.  Karate camp ends tomorrow....and I'm just as sad this year as I was last summer. It's been a good one and I know that the boys have loved going every day.  

We're hurriedly finishing the summer homework, and the emails and robo-calls have started rolling in with school announcements.  I got Will's back to school supplies the other night to the tune of $85!  Dry erase markers, 48 sharpened pencils, a slew of folders, a bunch of highlighters (chisel tip ONLY).....and that's not even all of it.  He still needs a pair of earbuds and I told the boys that I'd treat them to new lunchboxes this weekend.  I'm thankful that there's no supply list for kindergarten, but am SO LOOKING FORWARD to shopping for supplies for both kids next year.

It's great to have good friends.  Especially friends who offer to take your younger son to Kindergarten Orientation with their son!  I'm stuck working today while Sean's meeting his teacher and taking a ride on the bus.  Ah well, I'll get to meet the teacher next week at open house.

It's a bit of a whirlwind, with some longing and happiness mixed together.  We'll get through it.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Blink.

Another summer, almost over in the blink of an eye.  School starts three weeks from tomorrow.  Karate camp ends next week, and then it's a week of one parent taking a day with the kids, Nana taking a day with the boys, etc.  I love the fall, but I don't want "carefree summer" to be over!  September brings school and responsibility, and homework etc.  So we'll try to cherish the next three weeks instead of dreading what comes after them.  

Apparently Will has a lot of friends with August birthdays.....yesterday marked the fourth birthday party we've been to in the last two weeks!  That gets expensive....but I'm so happy for friends and being invited places.  

The theme for the last week of camp is "Crazy Hair."  So I'm going to experiment with some hair chalk.  It needed to be something VERY temporary and easy to wash out, since it's so close to school starting.  Had "Crazy hair week" been earlier on, I would've dyed Sean's hair blue like he asked.  Or allowed Will the mohawk that he asked for.  :)



Monday, August 10, 2015

The Drunken Starfish

This is a very busy knitting time of year.  Birthday gifts, some friends and family are having babies, and of course, the start of the Christmas Box.

I'm working on a gift for a friend.  The pattern is called "Fractal Danger" and it's from one of my favorite designers.  I've made a few of her patterns before and she has a definite style that I like a lot.  I've liked her patterns so much that I've made two of her patterns more than once, one for me and others for gifts.  Usually the patterns go very well, and I love the item that I've made at the end.  So much, actually, that I usually cast one on for myself immediately.

This one isn't working out as planned.

See, it's a skinny, triangular shawl with eyelets.  Here's a photo from the pattern:


Mine is not coming out like that.  At all.  I've followed the instructions to the letter I believe and honestly, I think it more resembles a drunken starfish.

Looking at other people's notes, I'm not seeing anyone else with a drunken starfish so I know that it's not the pattern.  Maybe I've been concentrating too hard on the Netflix lately....the third season of "Once Upon a Time" has been great and I just LOVED the first season of "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt."  (You should check it out.)

My head tells me to keep going, to trust the pattern and perhaps a (very) aggressive blocking can fix it.  My heart says that despite being halfway done, this is a goner and to frog and save the pretty red yarn.

I'm not sure which direction I'm going to head in.  On one hand, the yarn is gorgeous and tis' a pity to have it become something unwearable.  But then again, nobody's wearing a "drunken starfish." For once in my life, I could be a trendsetter.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Doing Battle

A crop of fruit flies has taken residence in our kitchen.  I am not pleased.

They are the hardest damn things to get rid of, minus bedbugs.  And if we ever get bedbugs, I'll be mighty tempted to just set the house on fire and walk away.  (Kidding of course....but I will fantasize about it!)

A couple of friends recommended the vinegar and dish soap treatment, and another friend suggested wine.  I set up small containers of both and it really seemed like we were making progress.  Then I made the mistake of bringing the peaches and bananas back into the house.  I went home at lunchtime and they were having a party in the sink!

They obviously don't know who they're messing with.  This means war!  I will not rest until I can turn on my tap without a swarm in my face.

Monday, August 3, 2015

"The Gaga Pit"

 The karate school that the boys go to is next door to a used car dealership.  The parking lot can be pretty hairy, especially in the winter.  So the school has a little space blocked off with boards shaped into an octogon.  The boys tell me that this is called the Gaga Pit, where they play lots of ball games like Snake in the Garden and  (what else) Gaga.  (Will explained the rules of Gaga to me once and I got lost.)

Poor Seanie.  He's a tough dude, but even tough dudes get hurt sometimes.  He's tripped over this Gaga Pit a couple of times and beat the heck outta those knees.  It's me that picks them up most nights and if Sean comes over with a huge band-aid on his knee and a grin, I always say "Uh-oh....did the Gaga Pit strike again?"  "yeah."  "Well....gotta be careful buddy, use the GATE on one side instead of trying to jump over."  The third and (hopefully) last time he also scratched his arm and got a couple of dings on his chin.  "Mom, I didn't cry the first two times but today I cried."

Will told me that another kid came over to him that last time and said "Your brother tripped over the gaga pit!"  Will's response:  "Typical Sean."  "But Will, he's bleeding!"  "Yeah....that's kind of typical too....I'm coming over now."

So now we have a new phrase in our house:  "Beware the Gaga Pit!" I plan on using it for years to come.  On the way to midterms in high school...."Beware the Gaga Pit!"  Dropping Sean off at college "Beware the Gaga Pit!"  Getting married and having kids....watch out for that Gaga Pit, Sean!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Treats of Summer

We made a trip to our local frozen yogurt establishment on Friday night while Dad was at volleyball.  Here's what happens when Mom utters the magic words:  "sure, have as much as you want."
Summer's fleeting, surprise 'em once in a while.

Monday, July 27, 2015

My Two Ninjas

Look out World....there's a new karate student in town!



Sean is enrolled in Karate camp with his big brother this summer.  So far he loves it!  The only drawback is that it feels like his growing up has hit warp-speed.  I think it comes with hanging out with all the older kids.  He's the youngest in camp, and kids kind of fawn all over him.  And who can blame them, this kid is adorable.  (And I'm not just saying that because he's mine!)  Will's been happy to have someone at home to practice with, and even play "instructor."  

We're past the halfway mark on Summer, and soon the next karate graduation.  Will's going to try for Black Dragon, which is a special designation.  We're very proud of him!  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Trigger Happy

Everyone has their trigger foods, certain foods that if they're in the house, they're as good as gone.  Mine are fudgesicles, toaster strudel and mini peanut butter cups. One taste of any of those things and I will NOT REST until they're all gone.  I used to think a binge was eating the food all in one sitting.  I'm wrong.  I may take a little while to eat it, but it will be gone before the end of the day.

We can add a new food to the list.  I'm never buying these chips again.





 I ate the whole friggin' bag in the course of a workday.  I bought it because they're "healthier," with no artificial ingredients, blahblahblah.  Now I have an empty bag and no appetite for dinner.  Blah!

200 and counting

I sent off another bunch of baby hats for charity a few weeks ago.  Sadly, Stitches from the Heart closed their doors earlier this year, but i was lucky to find a local baby charity!  I donated them to Project Nathaniel, which sends hats, blankets and booties every July to a hospital in Worcester, MA in memory of Nathaniel.  Nathaniel was a preemie that was born in 2007, and this is how his family honors his short, beautiful life.  I hope to be able to donate every year.

And with that, I've made and donated over two hundred hats!!  Wow, that is incredibly hard to believe.


Monday, June 22, 2015

A Show-Off Post

I finally finished the Cable Monster!  No, that's not the real name.  This is a cabled baby blanket that I made for my sister and brother-in-law, who are expecting their first child in August.  I always wanted to make them an Irish Cabled something....and I chose a blanket because kids grow out of sweaters.  This took about three months to make and was tedious at times, but worth it.





When Brian was on deployment to Italy, he saw a beautiful cabled white sweater in a shop.  Unfortunately the shop was closed and he's sad to this day that he didn't buy the sweater.  He's asked me to make it for him and I want to....someday.  Let's just say that this blanket was "good practice."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday Ramble

I've been wanting to post and have been busy!  So Let's just settle into a random ramble for this Lovely Thursday....

1.  I misplaced a sneaker.  Yes, the ones that I just bought a couple of months ago to replace the old, crappy, unsupportive ones.  I'd gotten more serious about exercising and losing weight in the last six months or so and this is part of what's derailed me in the last couple of weeks.  Anyway, I figure the best way to find a sneaker is to buy a new pair.  I brought home a new pair from Kohl's last night and now we wait....

2.  Oh yeah, I guess I did brush by that quickly.  Have I told you that I've lost sixteen pounds?  I have!  Before you ask "How did you do it" I'll tell you:  I eat less, and move more.  It seems to work, and I don't deprive myself of the occasional ice cream or whatever.  I'm wearing jeans a size smaller, and today I'm wearing a summer skirt that was tight on me last year.  It's the most progress I've made in a very long time and I couldn't be happier.

3.  School's out for summer!  Last day of second grade was on Friday.  It's really hard to believe that next year I'll have a third grader and a kindergartner.  The boys are in Pennsylvania right now, having a great week with the grandparents.

4.  And despite having to work....we're having a great week with just Brian and I.  So far we've gone out for sushi, stayed up late watching movies, laughed and talked a lot and just enjoyed being together alone.  It's good to rediscover "us" once in a while.

5.  That being said, the house is eerily quiet and it feels a little like the Twilight Zone occasionally.  Kind of like this is an alternate universe.  I will say this though:  it's much easier to clean a kids bedroom and get rid of stuff when they are out of the house!

Monday, June 1, 2015

I like the sound that deadlines make....

Ever had a knitting project that feels like it's never going to end?  I've got one of those right now.  I'm working on a GORGEOUS cabled baby blanket for a new niece or nephew due in August.  It's bulky-weight cream-colored yarn and I'm loving how it's turning out.  (No pics yet.)  The only thing is....the shower is on June 20th and I just reached the halfway point!  I also am about to run out of yarn....I did find a website to order some more but seriously....not what I need on a deadline.  In the zone.....

Also, staying up late last night working on it while watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows #2 seemed like a good idea at the time.  For the most part, I don't sleep well on Sunday nights anyway.  Today, my brain is screaming at me while I'm processing the usual beginning-of-the-month stuff.  I'd like to say that I've learned my lesson, but I doubt it.  :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

It's Important to Laugh at Yourself

How I know that I do indeed need these hearing aids:

-I find out that I've been calling one of Will's friends moms "Elaine."  She is also the room mom for their class.  I got a notice home from school about the end-of-year class gift and wondered "Who the hell is Eileen??"

-Last week on the bus stop the kids and another mom were oohing and ahhing over an animal swimming in the reservoir across the street.  I looked around, scanning for the dog swimming.  I couldn't find it.  Oh my goodness.....is the dog ok?  Dogs are good swimmers, right?  I HOPE I DIDN'T JUST WITNESS A DOGGIE DROWNING.  Yeah......it was a duck, not a dog.  You can imagine the bewildered looks I got when I voiced my concern.  Guess who ran out of the house without her hearing aids?

How I know that I'm old:

-When relaying the first example to Brian, I finished with "Elaine and Eileen are pretty similar, you know.  Even hearing folks make that mistake."  Hearing folks.  Sheesh.  Come to think of it, I've also started referring to going shopping as "heading to the Walmart."  It's a downward slide from here, my friends!  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wanna Get Away?

It's a tradition of ours to go to Pennsylvania to visit Brian's family for Memorial Day Weekend.  In our seventeen years together, we only ever missed it once.  (Brian went away with some friends for golf in SC)  This year, we decided last-minute to stay home, since we're going down twice in June.  The idea of not driving 200+ miles one way for a weekend, with kids and gas prices etc etc, it sounded like a good idea.  And it was!  We didn't do much of anything on Saturday, and it was a nice change of pace with how BUSY things have been lately.  We cleaned, we chilled.  I got tomatoes planted, as well as zucchini, green beans and cucumbers.  All was well.  We took the kids back to Six Flags on Sunday and had a VERY chilly day at the waterpark.  A pretty good weekend.

Yeah. All good things eventually must end.  Sean brought me my cellphone on Monday morning at 7:20am to tell me that it had been ringing.  ("It sounds like a haunted house, Mom!"  It's actually theme music from the Harry Potter movie)  Lo and behold, it's the answering service at work.  Their main location had a flood and they didn't have access to all of their phones and needed to have everyone forward their lines to their main number.  Yawwwnnnn.....throwing on some clothes to go to the office.  Finished in 20 minutes then went home to get a "better" start to the day."  Only to have my cell ring again at 1:20 and it's the on-call maintenance guy.  Now there's a flood IN MY OFFICE from the toilet in the apartment above.  Having just made lunch, I said I'd be there in 20 minutes to check out the damage.  Holy crap, the damage.  Ceiling tiles destroyed, and everything on top of my filing cabinet was trash:  My framed photos of the boys, invoices, work orders.....gone, gone, gone.  I'm more frustrated about the work order reports than the photos...I have copies and more frames at home.  Those reports take forever to write up!

I spent a big chunk of the rest of the day hoping that there wouldn't be a third call.  And there wasn't.  I can't decide though....was it better that we were home so I could go over right away instead of walking into this horror show first thing Tuesday morning?  I think so....but I'm looking forward to being away at this time next year!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In the Blink of an Eye

20 years since I graduated from high school.  Wow.  20 YEARS.

I can't type that in any way that makes it look less scary.  Twenty years.....such a long time but really, it goes by quick.  I graduated from a small-ish high school that was actually knocked down last year because they built a new one.  High school, like for lots of people, wasn't easy.  I wasn't popular but I had friends.  Good friends, considering how many of them I'm still friends with today.  I got made fun of for being timid, wearing glasses and having a name different than all of the Jennifers and Jessicas of my day.  (That would be today's Emmas, Hayleys or Nevaehs, or whatever is the flavor of the year)  Today I'm a bit outspoken, sarcastic (in a good way) and I think, occasionally funny.  I'm also forgiving....twenty years is a long time to hold a grudge for someone who teased you.  My friend Jen said something profound a few years ago...One shouldn't hold people to who they were in high school because it says nothing about the person that they've become today."  Those years are hell for everyone, even if at the time it doesn't seem like it.  

Thinking back to all of that, you might think that I'd hesitate when I got the invite on Facebook.  NOPE.  I was ready to go, I wanted to see all of these people and how they turned out.  Always the sociologist, I wanted to see if they stayed the same and show that I'm not the same person that I was 20 years ago.  I bought a ticket as soon as I could, I bought two tickets, one for me and one for my friend who ended up not making it from Illinois due to family commitment, so Hubby was my plus one.  And I'm so glad I went, because I ended up having a really good time!

Apparently, 20 years is the magic number where there's, to quote Mary J. Blige, "No More Drama."  People couldn't be more welcoming or nicer.  It's a time for friends to come together, to share the experience of growing up together.    It was great to see familiar faces, talk about fun times and basically let it all hang out.  For a little while, I even forgot that I was at a high school function.  I don't know, maybe it's my bittersweet nostalgia kicking in because my parents are selling their house in the town I grew up in after 31 years of living there.  Either way, I'm glad it was a nice time. 

Note:  I didn't even worry about Brian not having fun for two reasons:  people came up to him a couple of times and said "Hey I know who you are!  You're Mr. Ginny!"  He found that pretty funny, he's used to being called Will and Sean's Dad but not Mr. Ginny.  One person even said "I love the pictures that your wife posts of your food on Facebook, you must be a great cook."  (I wish I knew who said that!)  Also, it turns out that if you put two submariners in a crowded room, they will find each other and trade Navy stories from their enlistments.  :)


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Just You Wait...

Conversation in the car on the way home from school tonight...Will and I were talking about our neighbor who's his age.  We'll call him Jimmy.  Jimmy is allowed to do things like watch R - rated movies, drink Mountain Dew by the liter and stay up til the cows come home.  We all had a "Jimmy" in our circles growing up, right? 

Will mentioned that Jimmy ' s seen the movie "Titanic" and is obsessed with it.  Will knows the story from the Magic Tree House books and wanted to know why he's not allowed to see it.  I said, "first of all, it's too old for you.  And you're a pretty sensitive guy, more sensitive than Jimmy.  (Yeah Mom, way more sensitive!)  I said that it was a sad story and he'd likely cry. I also mentioned that there's a questionable scene.  Of course he asked me what, and I told him that there was a love story put in the movie to make it more exciting to viewers.  (Anyone my age or a little younger knows about the scene where Jack is drawing a nude Rose, right!)

Then....Will informs me that Jimmy told him that there's a naked lady in the movie.  "Ummm.. yes, there is, I confirm."  And the best....."How does the naked lady make it more exciting then??  Unless she's running around naked, screaming that she needs to get dressed before getting in the lifeboat??"

That would certainly make it more entertaining.  As for the excitement...talk to me in a couple of years. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Postcards from the Past

Years ago, I was obsessed with collecting postcards.  What??  I thought that they were cool.  I would buy them for myself if I traveled, get people to send them, I even would get old ones at museums and estate sales.  I hadn't seen the cards in years, but with Will having a "culture box" school project on France due this week, I cracked it open for inspiration.

Observations....

1.  Man, most of them are from all over New England.  I also have a lot from Alaska and for some reason, Cleveland?

2.  Not a single French postcard in the bunch.  Dang!

3.  I still have a postcard from Salve Regina "congratulating" me on my HS graduation and looking forward to seeing me in June 1995 for orientation.  Relic of a bygone era...I'm sure that thry do that by email now. 

4.  The funniest one was a postcard that I filled out myself, trying to win tickets for a U2 concert in a drawing.  Clearly I never sent it...but a drawing by postcard!!!  :)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Brownie Lesson

Usually food posts go on my food blog, Blue Plate Special.    This is a little more than that.



These are not just brownies.  They're a lesson in cause-and-effect, and chemistry.

Will came home from school a few weeks ago, telling us about an assignment.  He had to write a recipe for something, and he'd written one for brownies.  And he wanted to take the recipe to the next level...he wanted to make them with Dad.  Dad is the primary (I am hardly even the secondary!) baker of the household.  So they made it a Wednesday "Guys Night" project while I was at knitting group.

The first step is to melt butter for fifteen minutes.  Hmmmmm, even I as the "secondary baker" know that if you melt butter for 15 minutes, you aren't going to have butter anymore.  You are going to have a scorched mess and a sad kid whose brownies have already taken a death blow in the very first step.  So with a little tweaking (i.e. more cocoa, balance of ingredients) a pan of brownies materialized.

Surprisingly, they weren't too bad.  Not the fudge-y, chocolate treat you usually have, but they rose in the pan and had some chocolate flavor.  And my little scientist wants to keep tweaking the recipe, until it is worthy of The Notebook.  The Notebook is a small notebook that I received as a shower gift, in it we copy any recipes that we really, really liked.  We put a lot in it the first five years of marriage, now we're a bit more discriminate on what goes into the all-important Notebook.  What Will doesn't know, though,  is that his recipe is already Notebook-worthy.  Just not in the way that he thinks, but in terms of preciousness.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Six Flags!

We were looking for something fun to do with the boys this past weekend since Monday was a holiday and (GASP) Daddy had the day off!  I haven't been out to Six Flags since right before it was Six Flags, so that was.....17 years ago?  (I'm suddenly fighting off the urge to sob uncontrollably.)

Monday's weather looked nasty from the news, so we opted for a beautiful sunny Sunday instead.  After a breakfast at Cracker Barrel we drove out to the park, expecting crowds.  There weren't any!  There was only one ride that had a wait, and everything else was just a couple of minutes.  Sean and I won superhero capes while playing carnival games, we ate junk food like french fries and funnel cakes and even had ice cream for lunch.  Basically, it was the kind of day that little boys dream about.  No arguments, no fussing, and the only crying was when Sean wasn't tall enough for two of the rides.  (Which is understandable.)  We ended up having such a great day, we upgraded our tickets to season passes!  Can't wait to go a few more times and next time, we can experience their waterpark.  Looking forward to making memories.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Fun

The boys and I are usually together on Friday nights, while their dad plays volleyball.  They have "Guys Night" on Wednesdays so on Fridays we have the "Friday Night Fun Club."  Corny I know, but they enjoy it.  Some nights we put on elaborate stuffed animal scenes.   Some nights we snuggle in my bed and read from The Hobbit or Pok√©mon or perhaps the "Field Guide of Marvel Superheroes."  Tonight was a movie and Mom's choice.   So we went with an old classic:  Home Alone.  Some observations:
-Sean had the cop (Joe Pesci) pegged as the villian right away.
-the boys wonder why the bandits don't give up on chasing little Kevin after all the traps.  Still, they think it's great fun, and laugh like hyenas every time someone falls down the stairs or gets hit in the head with a paint can. 
-having a different perspective now that I'm an adult, I wonder just how in the hell these guys aren't dead, much less chasing down the kid!
And lastly....how in the hell is this movie 25 years old????  I remember going with my friends and sniggering at every mishap like it was yesterday!