Sunday, December 28, 2008

Resolutions 2009

I read an article (and you know how they say when the student is ready, the teacher appears) and it said that instead of trying to fix yourself or your life, instead of focusing on corrections, it might be nice to spend a year extending yourself, challenging yourself, creating experiences.

So my resolutions this year, instead of the standard lose weight/clean the house/save money, are these...

1. Schedule one day per month that I do something really fun with the kids, stuff we always talk about doing. I'm going to put together a jar of things to do and we'll pick one out each time.
2. Schedule 2 hours per week for myself - no TV, no kids. Whatever else I want (including Wii Fit).
3. Schedule 1 date per month with my husband. Daytime, evening, whatever time we can squeeze out of our lives.

So that's it. Those are my resolutions. Am I trying to change some things and make myself better, my home better, my family happier? Yes. Am I trying to lay out some plans? Yes. But my real resolutions are these.

This year, instead of taking away, instead of critiquing, I am adding. I am expanding.

2008 in review

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before? Used a crutch (an actual, physical crutch).
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Not so much. I will make more, but they will be a bit different this year. Stay tuned.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Don't remember any, but I was wrong last year too.
4. Did anyone close to you die? Went to a few funerals this year.
5. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? More drive to do my best every day.
6. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Stepping into my own business.
7. What was your biggest failure? Not managing that business as well as I would have liked.
8. Did you suffer illness or injury? My little toe. My knees.
9. What was the best thing you bought? Best things this year were either ideas or they were free.
10. Where did most of your money go? Target. Daycare.
12. What did you get really, really, really excited about? the free dresser I found up the street
13. What song will always remind you of 2008? So What by Pink
14. Compared to this time last year, are you a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer? Same/Same/Same
15. What do you wish you’d done more of? Taking care of myself.
16. What do you wish you’d done less of? Griping.
17. What was your favorite TV program? Gary Unmarried
18. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate last year? No.
19. What was the best book you read this year? In the Woods by Tana French
20. What was your greatest musical discovery? I don't really discover music as much as "jump on the bandwagon".
21. What was your favorite film this year? Not sure I saw one in the theater.
22. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Just letting go and getting on with it.
23. What kept you sane? Sane?
24. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I'm kind of over that.
25. What political issue stirred you the most? The entire election.
26. Who was the best new person you met? My whole last training class at work. It was more fun than I've had in a while.
27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. Shelly on Celebrity Rehab said, "I can tell the ones who are willing to do whatever it takes and the ones who are willing to do what they think it should take, and I've been at this too long to think they will succeed." I have long suspected this of myself, but never knew how to put it into words.
28. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. So what! I'm still a rock star, I've got my rock moves.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas decor

The front hall:

I took a vase (that I already owned) and added a package of sleigh bells (Home Goods, 25% off) and some blue spruce twigs (free from my backyard).

In the foreground are 3 pinecone candles (found them in the china hutch) on my antique silver butter pat plates. I bought the coasters at Target and the "ice" on the plates is ice cream salt ($1.12 for a box).

Along the stairwell is a grouping of Norway Pine boughs (backyard again) with bows and a candy cane ornament (handmade). For the bows, I bought a spool of wired ribbon (3.99) and made a couple of bows out of it. The candy cane ornament is 5 candy canes taped together with a bow to cover the tape (3 boxes of candy canes, $2.98). I also bought a decorative thingy (probably for holiday arrangements, $2.99) that I cut up and stuffed in the middle of each. I also hung two of these on suction cups on the sidelight window next to the front door.

And the last piece were these candles on the top of the stair rail. I bought a pack of dinner candles (small candles in glass containers, $5.99) and placed them in regular kitchen glasses. I added more ice cream salt mixed with 6 crushed-up candy canes (see previous project) to keep them steady and add to the effect.

The best part is that I have extras left over for next year. All the candy canes will be saved and either reused or crushed up. I barely put a dent in the box of ice cream salt, so there's plenty of that, and I only used half of the dinner candles.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Go get them now! has plenty of tops for $3-$5 and pretty much your whole order will ship for $7, so go nuts. Click on Sale for the deals.

And Old Navy runs small, so order a size or two up.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas wishes really do come true... sorta.

So we got our wish to stay home with our kids on Christmas day.

Our puking, cranky, tired, sick kids. Both kids are throwing up today and Christmas dinner with the in laws has been canceled. I was kind of getting excited to have people over and host dinner and presents and stuff, but here we are.

Tale of the Monkey's Paw, anyone? Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The 25th mile

It's Christmas Eve. We are having MIL and SIL over tonight for fondue (yes, people still do that), so everything must be done by then. Mostly, it all was when I left this morning.

I picked up the basement this morning. The tree is up, the furniture moved, and there are just a few things that need to go out to the garage. There are presents under the tree.

I picked up the livingroom this morning. All remaining presents (wrapped and unwrapped) went into a bag in the hall closet. All wrapping paraphrenalia went into another bag set in the livingroom. Remaining presents (only 4 or so) can be wrapped later tonight after guests go home.

Groceries were purchased last night. Except oil for fondue. What can I say, it wasn't on my list. Must stop back at Cub and get oil and $10 gift card for dice game. Forgot that too.

We are finally happy with the furniture arrangement in the livingroom and will probably live with it for a while. Basement is nice too, moved children's table down there, although we still need to move the BF coffee table out to the garage. It will fit back in the livingroom, but Pants is afraid the children will end up with brain damage. Probably right. Girls' rooms are mostly clean and organized, have weeded out much of the crap that collects over a year (plastic junk, McDonald's toys, 4 inch creepy-looking dolls, etc.), plus two of the larger toy items. Must do more weeding after the holidays, but can't think about it now. Bathroom is clean, including getting on my hands and knees and scrubbing the floor.

Hmmm. Kitchen needs work. Both sinks full of dishes (of the dirty variety), counters completely covered with stuff, floor likes like it hasn't been cleaned in months (ahem). I hope Pants gets on that today.

All additional decorating is done and house looks cute and festive, but not like elves crapped Christmas. Tasteful.

So, really, all that's left today is vacuuming the entire house, cleaning the kitchen, clearing some crap out of various rooms that needs to be put in the garage (including the hutch, since we are using the buffet now for the BFTV). Pants and I have done about 20 loads of laundry in the last 2 weeks and are discovering that we don't have enough space to hold everyone's clothes. All drawers are bulging, all closets packed full. Anyone have another cute mid-century modern dresser for free for me? Anyone?

In the end, I got what I wanted for Christmas. A little Christmas excitement for my kids. A visit to Santa (after 3 hours in the mall). My girl's first sled. A Christmas tree. A warm home that looks like people like living there. I mean warm feeling, not temperature. Maybe I'll wish for that next year.

Still on my wish list? New tires for the Scion. New phones for Pants and I (2 weeks and counting). A basement remodel (and bathroom, kitchen, plus an addition). An insulated garage for Pants's man cave. A TV downstairs that's hooked up to the satellite. A garage sale soon so I can get rid of half the crap in the garage. A brilliant idea for a lighting system in the well so I can see what we're storing. A new shed. A slab next to it to park the truck in the winter. To sell the Intrepid (or give it away, or pay someone to get it out of my driveway). Cheaper daycare. To potty train the kids. To lose 40 pounds.

Wait, we're starting to hit a different kind of post.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And the snow keeps falling, falling, falling, falling...

Wanted to get the kids out to see Santa today (I know, 4 days from Christmas, SHUT UP), but the snow just keeps coming and I don't know if it's a good idea to drive to the mall.

So we're back to cleaning and decorating for the holiday. I will be posting separately about doing Martha on the cheap, so I'll leave that one for now.

Pants is out snowblowing to stay ahead of the inches. I took the girls out to play in the snow earlier, but it's pretty cold out and Meimei is too small to walk through the snow in the yard. I put her on the Tot sled, but that just caused a fight because Kitten wanted a ride too and she's too heavy for me to keep pulling. So we went back inside despite a wicked fit, courtesy of Meimei. And now I can't find the old bottle drying rack to put their hats and mittens on. I was really proud of that idea, too.

Oh well, back to the grind. My husband described our house as an "eyesore" this afternoon, so I guess there's some work to do.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh dear God I found it!

A disturbing reminder of why I don't host holidays...

Quite honestly, the Martha Stewart in me surfaces and by the time the day comes, I'm practically remodeling.

Pants and MIL agreed that the solution to Christmas issues this year is to have it at our house. Which I fully agreed to before he talked to her. And it's fine, it really is.

Except that now nothing in my house is right and there's tons of decorating I want to do and I have a feeling my living room is going to look like a herd of elves crapped Christmas.

Why oh why can't I ever just throw out a plate of crackers and cheese and call it good?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How do you know that?

On the airplane out to MD, Kitten grabbed the magazine I was thumbing through and tried to tear it from my hands. Assuming this was some kind of punch-drunk reaction to me not paying attention to her, I started pulling back and telling her it was mine, that I was reading it and it wasn't polite to just pull it away. She answered with, "No, I want to see Barack OBAMA!!"

Stunned silence. Sure enough, President-Elect Obama is on the bottom corner of the page.

We discuss Obama while quite a bit over the weekend. On Saturday, we decide to go see the National Zoo, and while we're out there, we drive Kitten by the Capitol and the White House so she can see where Barack Obama will work and live.

Awesome. But after driving back through the Cities on our way home from the airport, she decided Barack Obama lives at the Basilica.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let's take a moment to not bash Christmas

MIL is still not speaking to us and it looks like we will be wholly alone for the holidays this year. Not exactly what I was wishing for, but whatever.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Depends on the family, the size and shape of the gift. I prefer to wrap, but I'll do bags.
2. Real tree or Artificial?
Artificial. I love real trees, but Pants and I are far too lazy to go out and get one.
3. When do you put up the tree?
Supposed to be this weekend, but the plan was for MIL to watch the kids today...
4. When do you take the tree down?
5. Do you like eggnog?
I can't get over the name - it just sounds gross.
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
My stuffed ewok the year Jedi came out. I still have that and it's awesome.
7. Hardest person to buy for?
My stepmother. I just don't want to get it wrong, you know?
8. Easiest person to buy for?
kids and Pants. I'm constantly finding stuff for them and have to step it back.
9. Do you have a nativity scene?
I do. Despite my ambivalence, it was never Christmas at home until we put it up.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail. I don't really the act of filling them out and mailing them, but I like to get them in the mail, so I do it.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I can't really think of any.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
White Christmas - where else do they use the term "weirdsmobile"?
Love Actually - I'm dying that I don't own it and I have to wait until the 20th to Tivo it.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I buy stuff whenever if it's on sale and seems like a good fit.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I don't think so
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
16. Lights on the tree?
Prelit is the only way to go.
17. Favorite Christmas song?
I'll be home for Christmas
All I want for Christmas is You
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
See previous post.
19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
You better believe it.
20. Angel on the tree-top or a star?
The last few years the tree has been in the basement and it's too tall. I had to bend the top over so I bought a big decorative bow to hide it.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
We haven't completely decided yet. We've been doing morning.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
See previous post.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
My tree is red white and blue with Santas and snowmen.
24. Favorite food for Christmas dinner?
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Family peace? Acceptance of new traditions? I don't think Santa can fit that stuff in his bag.

Monday, December 08, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like drama...

MIL has stopped speaking to Pants because of Christmas. Isn't this exactly what we wanted to avoid this year?

I thought we had solved our problem by announcing loudly and often that we were not going anywhere on Christmas day. At all. Apparently we are being unreasonable.

You may remember last year's Christmas debacle that left us all tired, cranky, and hating Christmas. And I swore it would be different. We decided that we would not go anywhere on Christmas Day and would not go more than 1 place on any given day.

Let me explain my reasons. When we were married without children, we went wherever the winds blew us and just tried to make everyone happy. If there was a ham, turkey, or roast, we were there.

Small children can't be yanked around like that. It's way too overstimulating, they don't get naps, and everyone thinks it's their right to feed them candy and cookies with impunity because it's Christmas, for crying out loud. There are so many presents they can't even focus their eyeballs anymore and they have no idea what is from whom. All manners (please and thank you) go out the window and they end up asking for more more more at the end of the day. It's too much. It's disrespectful to the gift-givers - the kids don't even enjoy the gifts until much later, if ever.

So we made a decision after last year to respect our children, our families, and our kids, and we made the rules about how we would conduct the holidays. But our plan apparently doesn't work for everyone.

When I was a kid, we stayed home for Christmas. We often went somewhere the weekend before or after, but Christmas was sacrosanct. Pants had the same thing as a child. Why is it that parents want to keep us as children, whims to their replays of holidays past?

This is what we want for our kids - we want our presents to them and Santa's presents to mean something and not be overshadowed by 45 other gifts. We want them to be able to play with their gifts. We want each time they receive a gift to be special, we want them to understand that the giver loves them and gave them something they hoped would make them happy.

We don't want gifts to be just one more thing to tear the paper off of in a long string of noise. We don't want them to expect another and another because that is how the whole day has gone.

I thought what I hated about Christmas with my children was the lack of meaning, the endless stuff that was just plastic junk. I think what I really loathe is the poor lessons, the spoiling, and the rampant more more more. I don't mind them getting stuff - they're kids! And I figured out it's not about the cheap plastic junk - some of that stuff is their favorite stuff. It's the expectations that we all better show up and be merry, dammit, or we're ruining Christmas. We better love everything like it's the perfect gift, or we're insulting people who love us. We better smile and go along or we're ungrateful and rude.

What I hate is that Christmas is so festooned with expectations tied to emotion that it turns into a landmine. No other time of year is so fraught with unspoken rules and hurt feelings. The wrong word, the wrong action, the wrong gift and it is all ruined. That is so not me. Or Pants. And we don't want that for our kids.

Please pass the forgiveness and love. Um, no guilt for me this year, thanks. I'm trying to cut back.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Catching up

I'm catching up on some of my Tivo from while we were gone and am currently weeping over Extreme Makover: Home Edition. But now Fringe is on hiatus until January. Boo.

The kids did as well on the plane ride home as they could have. The ride home was a bit rougher than the ride out, but we made it. We had a minor Boston-like scare at the Atlanta airport, but we managed to get on a plane after about an hour delay. Although, "just sit in any open seat" is never a phrase you want to hear when traveling with children (and when you already have 4 perfectly good seats listed on your boarding passes).

It's been hard to get back into the swing of things - the kids are a little off, I'm a lot off, and we just got our cell phone chargers mailed back to us by my parents. We haven't had phones since we came home.

My TMJ is not any better, but TSB gave me some info, I got my TMJ book from Amazon, and I'm going to go find my splint.

Oh, and I have a couple of items to add to the "traveling with children" list:
  • If small children want to carry a little backpack, let them. Get one proportionate to their size and put some of their personal items (dolls, books, nukkies, etc.) in it. BUT, rest assured, your child will stop carrying it at some point during your trip. Buy a small carob beaner clip and hook it on the top loop. Use it to connect the bag to your other luggage so it doesn't require another hand when they refuse to carry through the terminal to your connecting flight. This is my one stroke of genius and I'm proud of it.
  • I didn't believe Ms. Huis Herself when she suggested you wrap items in tissue for the novelty of opening them, but DO IT. I wish I had. It might have saved us some of the fits upon landing on the way home.
  • Bring your kid a small travel pillow. Hope they sleep.

She gets it this year

Pants: Kitten, you did really good tonight. You didn't get any time outs.
Kitten: I want to go tell Santa I need some toys!!!