Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of '09

Resolution I wish I'd stuck with:

I made a huge list of resolutions last year. A list large enough to be called a dissertation, really. Implement all kinds of healthy habits and lose weight, save money, become more organized, be a better parent...I don't really think I did any of them any real justice. I joined and participated in SparkPeople, and lost some weight, and gained it back (I have since joined up again. '10 is my year!) I didn't save any money, I'm no more organized, I don't feel any smarter...

Whine whine. I do kick myself for not sticking with the healthy habits one, though -I was exercizing and eating better and feeling a ton better until April. Why do we stop doing things that feel great and we know are good for us?

Anyway, on another note - I went with some of my girls to see "Sherlock Holmes" tonight - awesome time, very fun movie. Totally worth going to see.

Friday, December 25, 2009

It was a very merry, very low-key holiday for my family. First of all, I was woken at 7:30AM - not by my children, but by my usually very Grinch-like husband, "wake up, Missy, it's Christmas! Wake up wake up wake up wake up wake up..."

The children were not awake yet.

Presents, yummy breakfast, and games...a lovely, quiet day. And I know this is kind of grinchy myself, but...I'm kind of glad it's over. I love Christmas, but I'm very glad it's only one day a year.

And in honor of my favorite present from my mom:

Bork bork bork!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Christmas Eve!

All the gifts are created or purchased and wrapped, meals are planned, the house is clean enough. I should feel accomplished and ready for the festivities, right? Especially since we do a very low-key celebration, consisting of home, food, games and family.

But I am not feeling very accomplished. Since we moved here almost 5 years ago, I have tried to create some December rituals we have enjoyed immensely. The children and I. The Studmuffin stays pretty uninvolved - he is rather grinch-like. Anyway, we start the month of December by listing activities we want to enjoy - looking at lights, reading stories, watching holiday movies, baking cookies. Then we listed each activity on a small piece of paper and put it in our advent house. Each day the kids would open the door and we would do the activity. We didn't do that this year - never bothered. Generally, since we do not adhere to any particular religious tradition, we acknowledge each December holiday - whether with a small ceremony, a meal, or just a story. This year the kids got their ornaments on St. Nick's day, we talked about Chanukah briefly, and the Solstice got a barely a nod - simply a little information about why it was important. Not even a small candle ceremony. We only baked a few cookies this year. I love holiday baking - why didn't I do it? I feel so - lazy!

By next year I will have a job (power of positive thinking), so the baking will likely be small again. But I am swearing to myself that our small ceremonies and rituals will have their place again - perhaps I will plan with some other families, to take a little of the burden off me. Having a husband who is uninterested in either spirituality or ritual leaves me bearing the brunt of our children's spiritual upbringing and I fear, having no obvious path myself, that I am falling short in this area. This is not an open plea for conversion, by the way, so please do not respond offering your own religion as a guide. I do not feel I need to inject a specific religion's tenets, only a spiritual background, a little magic, and the concept that life is not only what you can see. Obviously, I could use that little reminder myself. Spirituality is important to me, and the journey to find my own path has been as interesting and fulfilling these last few years as any church service ever was. I think, this month especially, I've forgotten how fulfilling an active spiritual life can be. That will most certainly be a part of my focus for the new year.

That, and finding a job.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Best of 2009: Project

First of all, Good Yule! I hope you all have a very happy Solstice.

This particular "best of" post is one I've been waiting for, as I finished several projects I'm proud of. For my sweet friend A's Christmas present I tried a new collage technique using paper and watercolors, and it came out really well. I plan to use those watercolors (a gift to my daughter from my dad, but they are really expensive, good watercolors, and the girl is more a Prang girl) a lot more. But even better - I learned to sew this year. And like it! One of my favorite friends, another A friend, taught me to use my sewing machine (a gift from my dad and brother 4 years ago) in May. My first sewing project was a simple gathered skirt for the Girl:

My second project was a purse made from an old pair of my husband's khakis:

My daughter has 6 18" dolls - one real American Girl doll from her lovely godmother, the rest knock-offs from Target. She loves them all. There is this adorable retired man who builds furniture for the dolls and sells them at a local craft fair for ridiculously reasonable prices, and she owns 2 sets. This year my mom bought her another set (so no two dolls will have to share a bed, how lovely. For Christmas I painted each set of beds and sewed mattresses and pillows for each bed. I also cut some fleece into blankets, and I plan to attach two sets so they take up less room (they do take up a lot of floor space.) I've finished everything except the attaching. I'll take pictures of these once I'm done.

I've finished a lot this year, and now I have another task to mark off my list of "I plan to finish before I'm 40" tasks.

Now I'm off to bake cookies with my Daisy troop. Good times!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Best of 2009: New Person

As a ridiculously social person, I am meeting new people all the time, and calling them friends. I've enjoyed perusing different blogs for some time now, but this year I added significantly to my personal "favorites" list (I would list them, but there are so many). My children think I have hundreds of friends all over the world, because I read so many of these blogs so regularly, I feel I know them. When the kiddles ask what I'm reading, who is in that picture, who made up that craft, I generally answer, "my friend in _____."

Which may sound a bit like cyberstalking, but really, it's not. I don't know what these amazing women are doing, other than what they choose to share.

So, for several new crafts, the desire to knit and sew, to share my own voice, no matter who is reading...I thank all my new blogging "friends". Thanks for being out there for me to discover this year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Best of 2009: A Word that Encapsulates 2009

2009 was "unexceptional."

I realize it would be much more fun if I could use a more exciting word, but 2009 simply was not very exciting. Some good things happened: the birth of a niece and nephew, a great visit to Chicago, the easing of a dispute. Some irritating things happened: the regaining of some weight, money issues, the neverending job search, too much time on the computer, fights with the kids and husband...

A rather ordinary year.

Since I should have a picture to go along with these posts, I am posting a picture of my garden gnome looking unexceptional. Although I rather like my garden gnome. I love gnomes. They're so mischievous. But, he looks kind of bored, so it is symbolizing my post. And, the Cubs had a rather unexceptional year. So there you go.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Best of '09: What's the best change you made to the place you live?

This one is so very easy. Because, while I've lived in this house since March of 2005, I just, this year, started making changes to my house. I stripped the wallpaper, painted the fixtures and walls of my ugly main floor bathroom, and I love it (I posted pics earlier this year.) But my favorite change by far has been in the kitchen.

Ok, first of all, ignore the boy in the pic - he will be irritated that I posted him, but this is the best photo I have of the kitchen before I attacked. I am not a wine and grapes kind of girl, and I really hate wallpaper borders, so that was the first thing to be destroyed - I mean, removed. There was also wallpaper in an odd shade of blue that had to be done away with. We ditched the builder-grade brass chandelier and the 1980's ceiling fixture, and installed brushed stainless fixtures. Patched up the walls, painted a sunny yellow...

I know, I've posted this before, but it really does bear repeating. I love the color more every day. I need to do something about the windows and backsplash, but I love being in my kitchen now.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Best of '09: Album of the Year and Best Place

I missed yesterday, and I'm all over the music posts, so I will blog on both topics.

Album of the year:
I've been totally rocking Franz Ferdinand - this year's album was "Tonight" and it was excellent.
Also - you know that Cadillac commercial with the wicked song playing in the background? The song is "1901" by Phoenix, and the whole album, "Wolfgang Amadeus" is pretty wicked. Thank you to my brother for turning me onto that one - I really dig it.

The Best Place of the Year

So I asked the Monkeybutt what he thought the best place we went this year was, and he, very immediately, said "Camino Real!" So here you see his birthday dinner at what has become our very favorite Mexican restaurant. The food is affordable and excellent, the servers are very friendly...have I mentioned the verde sauce? So tasty.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Best of '09 - Moment of Peace

I decided today to start Gwen Bell's Best of '09 challenge - a different prompt on which to blog for each day of December. I'm jumping in a bit late, but it seems like fun, so...

Both kids started full time school in August, they're a bit older, so compared to most of my mommy friends, I probably have multiple "moments of peace." Except - I spend a lot of time fretting, worrying, trying to figure things out. I've been looking for a job, I've taken on more than my share of volunteer jobs, and my kids fight all the time they are husband, while a great guy, is not exactly the easiest person to get along with. So while I am not the busiest person, I am not always so very peaceful, either. Perhaps something to work on in 2010.

I spent several hours during the summer and fall walking the paths at the arboretum. Most of the time I plugged my MP3 player in and walked for exercize, but I did spend a few lovely evenings wandering the paths, enjoying the quiet. Those stolen moments of peace are why I don't coach my kids' soccer teams. Well, that, and the fact that I am not a good soccer coach...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Some random happiness...

Some happy little somethings going on this past week:

1. Both kids got excellent report cards. 'Cuz they're brilliant. 'Cuz they have a brilliant mom, of course.

2. The bronchitis has gone on its way, quickly. Barely a lingering cough.

3. I made a very yummy turkey soup the other day...very warm and tasty.

4. I got to spend several hours adoring and snuggling and playing with my niece this weekend. Oh, readers, she is something - so very adorable.

5. Last, and very cool - I have a job interview for a job I really want on Wednesday. Keep your fingers crossed, please...