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 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


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!!