Thursday, December 31, 2009

Two Years in a Row... Makes It a Tradition, No?

Why do the Sundry-end-of-the-year post? I say, why NOT?

(You can read my 2008 year-end post here.)

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

We joined a CSA and became more aware of where our food comes from. Additionally, we made a few other baby-steps in being more environmentally friendly (using cloth napkins, buying *very little* plastic, etc. I allowed ALL THREE of my kids to go to South Dakoto, without David or me. I learned how to make lefsa and how to knit.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I did not make any for last year. I had a few wishes (a DSLR, a fence) but sadly I did not get either. THAT WILL CHANGE FRIENDS. Erm. I hope.

For this year, I resolve to:

-Take a photography class

-Take a knitting class

-Participate in some kind of organized race/triathlon. Either alone or as part of a relay team.

-Spend alone time with each of my daughters monthly

-Stop swearing so effing MUCH!

-Discover any health reasons for being tired and solve them

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My bestie, East Coast Anne, delivered herself a gorgeous baby girl in January. Beautiful Neighbor also had a daughter, my favorite little Ewok, in April.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Blessedly, no. Once again, a year avoiding THAT bullet. I am eternally grateful.


5. What countries did you visit?

Listen, this question just makes me feel like a HUGE TRAVEL REJECT. While I didn't travel internationally, I DID get on a plane to visit East Coast Anne, aforementioned New Baby, and the rest of her sweet family.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

A fence, a DSLR camera. Yes, CAMERA was on my list last year too. But I'll be goddamned if it will be on next year's list.


7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Leah birthday in September seemed like a big deal this year. Or, at least, she herself seemed so BIG. Also, sadly, I'm not sure I will ever forget how rotten Christmas Eve 2009 was.


8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

We learned how to "put food up" for the winter, something I've been wanting to do for awhile. I also learned to knit (or, I'm learning to knit) and learned to make lefsa, both from my grandma. I'd want to learn both of those things anyway, but learning from her was extra-special.


9. What was your biggest failure?

I've spent a lot of time this year feeling like my body is failing me. I know that sound melodramatic, and I don't mean too (I know that there are many more significant ways a body can fail a person). However, being so damn tired all the time and not knowing the root cause, being very active and exercising only to never feel any stronger, gaining weight despite it all.... very frustrating.


10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I found out I was anemic in May, but after months of Large Doses of Iron, I only feel slightly less weary.


11. What was the best thing you bought?

I had so many garage sale/thrift store finds- mostly furniture- that I'm delighted with. The almost-new white IKEA chair that matches the rest of our furniture perfectly, the many white bookshelves, the little tiny antique desk and chair that Marin uses as a vanity, those peacock blue dining room chairs.... The more I add these "perfect" finds, the more our house feels like our Forever Home.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My daughters, and how gracefully they adjusted to school and separate classrooms, how quickly they picked up reading, and all around what awesome people they are becoming. Seester and her great attitude when life didn't go as she planned.


13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My Dad's girlfriend. I... it's just.... well, there are no words.


14. Where did most of your money go?

House, food, gas, bills... you know, the usual.


15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I really was inspired when I found SouleMama's blog. I'm slowly learning how to sew and do other "crafty" things.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

This song, along with its famed Youtube video. (Chris Browne's Forever) (My GAWD, I just watched that again, and I *STILL* get choked up.

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


a) happier or sadder? I'm not sure that I'm happier, per se. I do think, however, that each year I step into my own a little bit more, am a little bit more aware of who I am and what I want, am more comfortable in my skin. While this doesn't necessarily equate to happiness, I think there is something quite satisfying about it.


b) thinner or fatter? Do we have to go over this AGAIN? Fine. Fatter. And not happy about it.


c) richer or poorer? Richer in ways that money can't measure, but otherwise about the same.

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

I wish David and I would have gone somewhere special, just the two of us. Also, I wish I'd spent more time reading before bed instead of wandering mindlessly around the interwebs.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Thinking negatively.


20. How did you spend Christmas?

As usual, we always celebrate Christmas around 49203 times. This year, Christmas Eve was a total BUST at my dad's, Christmas Day was a little better at my mom's, and we missed David's family Christmas all together. We are going to his parents' house tomorrow night to "celebrate" with them.


21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

I'm not sure this question really applies once you are already married, and you haven't recently added any new family members. I'm always falling more in love with my daughters, though.


22. What was your favorite TV program?

LOST was an obsession for awhile, until I caught up on all of the previous seasons. The usual Grey, Private Practice, and Brothers and Sisters continued to provide weekly entertainment. Oh, and GLEE. How did I almost forget Glee?


23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Nope. But I do feel skittish around my dad's girlfriend now. I'm not sure when/if I'll trust her again.


24. What was the best book you read?

I loved Animal Vegetable Miracle and Little Bee. Also, I'm currently reading The Help, and it's promising to be a favorite.


25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I don't think any of you would be surprised to learn that I am extremely, severely, with current music. True story: I've never even downloaded anything from ITunes. Nor, have I ever been on their website.


26. What did you want and get?

Some Smartwool socks, a new laptop, my grandma to come for a visit, some time away from the children....

27. What did you want and not get?

For two years IN A ROW: a DSLR camera. I also really wanted a fence, but David and I could not agree.


28. What was your favorite film of this year?

We barely watched anything this year. Which means we have a LARGE LIST of enticing possibilities the next time we peruse the Redbox kiosk.


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

I turned 34 in July, and we had a bunch of people for cake. It was last minute and lovely.


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

David not working so much.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

Does THIS cover my belly?


32. What kept you sane?

The usual (minus by Beloved Vitamin Z): my friends, my coworkers, Seester, blogging.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I didn't get sucked into any one particular person this year. Perhaps because we didn't watch many movies? Or because I (SADLY) have not ready People magazine very frequently?

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Locally, the school referendum, as I wrote about alot. Nationally, healthcare is something I'm interested in (though not AT ALL savvy about the details).

35. Who did you miss?

If the following list of people could PAH-lease move to Tiny Town, I'd be eternally happy: East Coast Anne, Seester, Tammy, my grandma, and the Olive Garden Dance Party ( you know who you are). Ladies- hop to it! KTHXBYE.


36. Who was the best new person you met?

I'm not sure that I met anyone new this year. Afterall, this is a VERY Tiny Town. However, there are several families/people that we've gotten to know better, and it's been immeasurably satisfying.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

Well, I read the Secret and spent some time pondering how _I_ channel the universe. Beyond that, I'd say that I'm learning how to relax and just BE. With my family, with myself, and with so many other aspects.


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

I'm never good at these types of things. It's possible that I have several quotes, song lyrics, or poems that sum up 2009, but when you ask me my mind goes absolutely blank.


All in all, 2009 was pretty BLAH. I know that for some it was downright awful, and I'm thankful to not be on that train. I'm looking forward to 2010 and all of it's endless possibilities.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blue; New Year's

It occured to me today as I was looking back at the pictures I took over Christmas, that the color blue is a recurring theme.

From our beautiful walk on the bike path one frosty, foggy day:



To Seester's caffine-readiness as we headed out for some (very) last minute shopping:


To the frosty trees against the skies in my mom's neighborhood on Christmas Eve:


To the Badlands (shot through my dirty windshield) on our drive home:


And finally to my favorite purchase in a long time, these peacock-blue chairs that I found at a thrift store and instantly fell in love with:



I love how, where the paint is peeling, a lime green is revealed:


I guess blue is subconsciously attracting my attention lately. Could be worse, I guess.

+++++++++++

We are having a small, family-friendly, low-key New Year's gathering at our home tomorrow night. A friend suggested that we light a fire in the fireplace and have a "ritual" of sorts, where we all write down this year's regrets and then burn them.

It's an interesting approach- thinking of what we regret about the past year, instead of just focusing on what we want to accomplish in the next.

I'll be back tomorrow to share my list.... In the meantime, what are your plans for New Year's?


Monday, December 28, 2009

Closed Roads

The entire interstate (I-90) that runs across South Dakota closed down for a few days, messing up our plans to drive home on the 26th.

We instead had to wait for it to reopen (late morning on the 27th), and therefore missed David's family Christmas. We were all sincerely bummed about this, but out of the 7 siblings that live in Minnesota, we were the only ones that were out of state and couldn't make it back. The show must go on ETC.

Our drive home yesterday was miserable. The roads were still slippery and snow-packed in places. We drove 45 mph, for 13 hours, in order to get home.

However, it was easy to see WHY the roads were closed. This sight was a common one:


You can see how they were still trying to cut through the drift to make the road passable. This particular road was beneath the interstate (see the bridge supports?), but we saw lots of drifts like this, that had obviously been covering 1-4 lanes of the interstate. Also notice how deep that snow is!

The roads were, quite literally, CLOSED with snow.

In any case, we are home. We weren't one of the hundreds of vehicles to land in the ditch. And my bed felt GLORIOUS to sleep in.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Whoah, Christmas!

Things have finally settled down enough around here that I feel like I can write about our Christmas without having total melt-down of incoherent babbling.

Our Christmas sucked, yo.

Well, but it's all fine now, and in the end, all is good. So, not a total loss.

What follows is for my own records/therapeutic purposes. Not exactly gripping blog fodder, so I understand if you stop now.

It all started when my mom invited her boyfriend's daughter's family to stay at her house. OUR house. For just one night. Which quickly became two, then three nights. So "step-family" arrived, two little girls and a brand new puppy in tow. And they just totally moved into my mom's house.

Here's where I call them a not-very-nice-name. You guys, they were total rednecks. Tossing their 8 week old puppy (that they'd had for 5 days) out into the snowbank and then acted TOTALLY CONFOUNDED when it didn't go potty. Never putting their OBVIOUSLY VERY TIRED child to bed, but instead letting her run until she dropped, exhausted, sometime around midnight.

Yelling- one at the top of the stairs, the other at the bottom- while my kids were in bed for the night. Thundering up and down the stairs, slamming doors, locking the puppy in it's kennel where it LOST IT'S MIND yelping in desperation- while my kids were in bed.

So? Frustrating, annoying, and not what any of us were ready for.

THEN.

Oh, yes, there's a THEN.

We went to my dad's for Christmas Eve. We opened gifts, shared a meal, put the kids in pretty dresses, and headed off to a tiny country church in the woods, for candle light service.

Sounds lovely, right?

Well, it should have been. But as we were leaving the house (literally, everyone else was waiting in their vehicles), my dad's girlfriend basically verbally attacked me about how I am unkind, unthoughtful, and inconsiderate to her. She accused me of being a sneak, a spy, and thief, and a liar.

I am not any of those things, and I have not done anything mean or unkind to her. (Um, OBV. I hope.)

The details are long and boring, even to me, but suffice to say, I was very upset. When I tried to defend myself, she jumped in her vehicle and refused to talk to me.

Cut to the church parking lot. I was very upset and crying. She came over to me and put her arm around me and said "Let's go talk in my vehicle and work things out". My dad ushered everyone else into church, and I climbed into her car.

Where she came absolutely UNGLUED.

Basically, the woman is crazy and for some reason has decided to make me the Family Villain. I was so upset that I felt sick. Being accused of a litany of things that you are 100% innocent of does that to a person.

The part that really sucked was that she has my dad's ear. And while I am really not that concerned what SHE thinks of me, I don't need her coming between my dad and me.

She also proceeded to call my Grandma and my aunt and tell them "her side" of the story, wherein I "was a total rude bitch" to her. Which, even in the heat of the argument, I WASN'T.

In the end, we got everything all straightened out. I've spoken to my family; they believe me. I talked to my dad, so he's at least heard my side of the story. We all agree that we are seeing a side of her that we haven't seen before.

I haven't spoken to HER again since the church parking lot, but I don't have anything left to say to her. Furthermore, anything I DO say will only be turned against me. When someone decides that you are evil, there is no convincing them otherwise.

Seester, David, and my youngest brother also were rock stars through it all- defending my position, and talking endlessly with me about it all, psycho analyzing the whole situation.

Christmas Eve was a total bust, and I was sick about it most of Christmas Day. But then that day ended with The World's Longest Game of Apples to Apples, which was really fun. Today, after talking with my dad, grandma, and aunt, I felt SO MUCH BETTER.

(On top of all of it, there was a MAJOR BLIZZARD here, and approximately 100% of the roads that we need to take home were closed, forcing us to stay here an extra day. Also, tomorrow at noon David's family is having their Christmas, but since we are 550 miles away, we will be missing that too.)

The kids were not privy to all of the conflict that surrounded them. The lights, gifts, blizzard, and extra people around were distractions enough. I got some good bonding time in with my sibs, we had some good laughs, and I feel the whole shee-bang is ending on a positive note.

I debated about sharing all of this here because I'm not one to bitch about Christmas, and I certainly don't want to dump icy buckets of rainwater on anyone's Holiday Parade.

But alas, here we are, with more clarity about ourselves and each other than we had a week ago.

Peace, friends!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Storm

So remember how I mentioned that my brother was messing up everyone's plans by ditching us and heading to North Dakota for Christmas? Well after 10 days of the good old Festivus tradition of Airing Of The Grievances, and all of the rest of us becoming resigned- nay, relieved- that they weren't going to be here, a snow storm is forcing them to stay home.

Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha! *WHEEZE* *GASP* *CHOKE*

As my dad said to my brother: "Let me get this straight. You got everyone all riled up and now you are sticking to the original plan to begin with?"

Let's not even get into the Limo Light Tour that my mom booked, and then filled my brother's family's seats for when he changed plans, only to now have waaaaaaaay more people than the limo can hold. Why hello Good Family Friends! Merry Christmas. And also? You can't come on the limo with us! Bye!

Families!

Anyway, my niece had a slumber party with us last night, and after completing more things than even the military can before 8 AM, we decided to get out of the house with the kids for awhile. Because children? Can be slave drivers. (Among a long list of other things, we mixed, rolled out, baked, AND frosted a batch of sugar cookies- all before 8 AM!)

So my mom took the 5 grandkids to a "make your own stuffed animal"-type place, where we, ah, made our own stuffed animals. Mah girls, with their new toys:


The highlight for me was getting to spend some time with my little nephew. He's edible. (You've been warned.):


I feel terrible for all the folks that this winter storm is affecting. Holidays, and their related travels, are stressful enough without icy roads, fog, and a couple feet of snow!

I am also so very glad that we are already here, all snugged in for the long haul, if need be.

I have to say though, despite how this weather is effing up a lot of people's plans, that is sure is beautiful. Truly, it's a Winter Wonderland out there.







Hope all of you are getting yourselves settled someplace cozy. And that there are enough seats on your Limo Light Tour this holiday season!
Also, if you have some Family Drama that you'd like to share, please feel free to use my comments section to Air the Grievances. After all, tomorrow *is* Festivus.

Monday, December 21, 2009

So, Here We Are... And Also a Meme

620 miles of driving looking at scenery like this *could* have been worse, I guess....



After 2 days of traveling, 3 stops to visit various relatives, and quite a few "My PENIS sees Grandma's house bwahhahahahahahahah" type jokes ignored, we are here.



It always takes us a day to adjust/recover/rest once we arrive. Today was spent running a few errands, playing Wii, and generally not "doing" anything productive or Christmassy. We thought about celebrating solstice, so I guess that means we "celebrated" it.



So anyway, nothing much here... how 'bout a meme? Seester is sitting here, chiming in with her smart ass answers.



Eggnog or hot chocolate? We both say hot chocolate. Though I tried eggnog for the first time last week. Made my bellah nice and warm, and was ok as long as I didn't think "I'm drinking RAW EGGS". Which, for all I know, there aren't even any eggs in Eggnog, but hey.



Also, I learned that (at least around here) Eggnog is a "Catholic Thing".



Does Santa wrap the presents or leave them open under the tree? Well, now we are having ourselves a little argument about whether Santa brings gifts or just fills stockings. But clearly, this is MY BLOG and I say that he brings GIFTS and fills our stockings. And Seester is WRONG. And he wraps the gifts.



(But, well, WAIT. He doesn't *have* to wrap them? Santa might be feeling much lazier after this little factoid was realized.)



Colored lights on tree or white? We both prefer white, but we grew up with colored. Right now, sitting at my mom's, it's hard to answer because she has, um.... (I'm waiting while she counts).... SEVEN trees.



Do you hang mistletoe? I would, if I had any. But I'm not sure where to get it, and isn't it poisonous? And, also, where to hang it? Actually I think David and I had some once.

Seester is remembering that our parents (back before we came from a "broken home" and all) used to hang it above their bed. *SHIVER*


When do you put decorations up? Well, for sure never before Thanksgiving. We usually get our tree the first week(ISH) of December, and then all the decorations get hauled up from the basement.


Seester doesn't own any decorations. And if you were on my mom's Christmas card list, you'd also have been merrily informed that she lost her job! And is living with my mom! And gee thanks mom for outing Seester As Looser in the annual letter!


(And now the internets know. Your welcome Seester.)


What's your favorite holiday dish? Oh, easy: pickles wrapped in cream cheese and corned beef. YUM.


Do you open gifts Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? It depends on the year. When we are with my family, we often do most of our gifts on Christmas Eve, leaving the Santa stuff for Christmas Day.


How do you decorate your tree? Is this a trick question? We, ah, decorate with lights and ornaments like everyone else, I guess. Our tree doesn't have a "theme". We use white lights and the large collection of ornaments that we've collected over the years. I'd love a decent tree topper. And our tree skirt is a red quilted number I picked up years ago from the Martha line at Kmart.


Snow. Love it or hate it? Well, since I've spent a significant part of the past several years bitching about MN weather on this blog, I'm a little sheepish to admit that I like snow. At first anyway. It's pretty, it puts me in the holiday spirit, and frankly, if it usually has to WARM UP to snow, which is nice.


The snow could stop completely by mid-February and I wouldn't complain for one second.


Can you ice skate? If you mean, can I tie on a pair of skates and make my way in a semi-upright position around the ice, then yes. But I can't do spins or figure eights or anything that comes close to resembling grace. NOT EVEN CLOSE.

(Seester actually took figure skating as a kid, though, so she's fairly decent on a skates.)

What's your favorite holiday desserts? E: All of the Above

What's your favorite holiday tradition? On years we are home, our neighbors light luminaries up and down our street for a couple of blocks. They are lit at dusk and burn for hours. We usually go for a walk, no matter how cold, to admire them. And sometimes the girls hear "Santa's bells"!

Candy Canes- yum or yuck? We's not big on peppermint 'round here. But all the various fruity ones are aces.

Favorite show? Seester like "the one where he sticks his tongue to the thing". I like the old version of "Miracle on 34th Street", "Elf", or "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation". (<--Seester likes that one too, she says.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

'Twas the Night Before Traveling...

*Ding, ding, ding* Round Numero Uno of the Green Family Week O' Celebrating Christmas is done!

Inventory:

Marin received her beloved "sparkly shoes", as she has been fervently wishing and hoping for. Actually, she was with me when I bought them. I tried them on her; they fit; I threw them in the cart; she never noticed.

She was actually delighted with *all* of her gifts, which was very sweet watch.

Joan and Kate were delighted when they opened their new games (Connect Four and Apples to Apples). They also were both lusting after each other's pj's... and then traded and hugged. And then tooted tiny fluffy baby bunnies out of their asses. THAT was cool to see!

David was thrilled with his new Sting CD, and other little sundries that we got for him. He also was TOTALLY NOT expecting to open a Wii... that Wii has been my happy little holiday secret for the last week. Kate and Joan took several (and then several more) beats to realize THAT WE HAVE A Wii! Man, holiday surprises are the best!

Me? Well, I got new winter boots and warm socks and oh, did I mention I got a new laptop???? Well halloooo internets; greeting from a machine manufactured in this century!

So basically, for a Christmas of "not spending much", we receive a big FAIL. But, man was that fun.

Tomorrow our Merriment Making will continue as we travel to South Dakota to celebrate with my Grandma and dad's extended family. On Sunday we continue on our way to the Black Hills, where we will surely be showered with many more fun gifts.

Also, and humor me here please, but rumor has it it's supposed to be in the 40's! Tubing, hiking, and feeding the flock of wild turkeys that frequent my mom's front steps are also on the agenda.

Christmas: GAME ON.

Ta for now dear friends! I'll be in touch, from my pritty, pritty (and fast!) laptop!

P.S. And I'd like extra credit for not bitching ONE TIME in this post about all the packing I have to do tonight!

P.P.S. Sorry for the repeat, twitter followers, but this afternoon Marin and I kept hearing (off and on) our kitten crying. We looked and looked but couldn't find her. Fast forward 45 minutes, when I went to pour Marin a glass of milk and the KITTEN was in the FRIDGE. Yep, there she was, perched on top of a carton of eggs. She's fine, thank goodness, and I keep shuttering to think about finding her, ah..., not fine.

P.P.P.S. I'm almost done with my 2nd scarf EVAH, and I'm so happy to report that it has remained a steady 15 stitches wide for the entire length. She can be taught!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Better

If you look closely...


You will see....



Me!

Today is better. I got some of my final shopping done yesterday. I have a fun secret. Marin and I did some baking this morning. Our Christmas cards are taking shape in my mind, and hopefully later today, on paper. Kate and Joan have a Christmas Concert tonight. Yes, capital "C"'s; they are very excited. I have kitchen refuse orange peels and apple cores- with a few cinnamon stick thrown in for good measure- boiling on the stove.

Oh, and I got TWO Christmas cards from bloggers yesterday. Swistle and Erin, you removed the "fucking-la" from my Fa-la-la-la's!

Blogging is awesome, and I'm better for it. Thank you, everyone. Especially for the kind words yesterday. *MUAH*

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Angst

We've been knee deep in all of the regular Christmas preparations around here lately.

Making cookies,


And lefsa,

Getting snow (10 inches, and a snow day already, beotches!),


And going shopping. David and I even hired his niece to babysit and went to the Mall of American. On a Saturday. In DECEMBER. Along with every other man, woman, and child within a 200 mile radius. It was nuts. Corrections: WE were nuts. But we got what we needed (see also: American Girl Dolls) and got o-u-t.



Admittedly, these two have not been much help. But at least they are cute.


So we've been going through all the motions. And it's been exciting. The thing is, as much as I like this time of year, I always get Christmas Angst at some point during the month. Things seem overwhelming, and the gift giving starts to feel empty no matter how hard we tried to keep integrity to it.

And it seems like there is too much to do and too few days. And that there will be no magic to Christmas; only more STUFF.

And that everyone else has cooler families, better kids, yummier treats, cuter Christmas clothes, cozier traditions, more commercial-like Christmas mornings, and less wrapping-paper-and-toy-packaging-filled rooms.

I start to feel like there are too many people's feelings to consider, too many places to go, too much merriment in too few days. And I want to do and see all of it.

For example, as I'm writing this, my mom is chatting with me on Facebook. She's letting me know that her boyfriend's daughter (whom we've never met) and her kids (whom we've also never met) are going to be staying at my mom's house on Christmas Eve. Which is where we will be staying. And she wants to know if we are doing gifts or stockings or both from Santa because she doesn't want those little girls to feel left out.

We were planning the American Girl dolls from Santa. And by GOD we spent all of Saturday procuring those sumbitches. But now I have to wonder if that's "fair" to a couple of kids I don't even know, and didn't know would be around, until 5 minutes ago?

Then my brother and his family has decided, at the 11th hour, that they will NOT be there but instead are going to his wife's family for Christmas*. And my kids are upset and I'm upset and I want to spend Christmas with my only niece and nephew and now we can't.

*This is actually against the "rules", as we have a schedule worked out so that we and they are in SD the same years, and at both of our in-laws on the other years. This is our year to be in Rapid City together. (Hint: I hate rule breakers.)

Grah. We leave on Saturday. As in, 5 days from now.

Much to do, much to do.

I will get back in the spirit soon. I think. But right now I'm all Bah-humbug.

Actually, more like FUCK THIS.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Knitting, Among Other Things

After starting over 5 (or so, I lost count) times, I am finally about halfway through my first knitting project- which is.... wait for it... a SCARF! I know. A beginner knitter knitting a scarf, how totally ordinary and predictable!

Actually everyone around here is arguing over Teh Scarf, so I think I'll be making a few more. Which will be nice, since I'm still working through some problems. Have you heard of people dropping stitches while knitting? Well, well, well. I have the opposite problem. I ADD stitches. So my scarf gets wider and wider. Uneven is the new black, yo.

I am loving watching and learning the "magic of the yarn" unfold before my very eyes. On Tuesday, when I, uh, stitched or whatever my first, ah, erm stitches (note to self: learn some knitting vocab for the LOVE), it was all just YARN to me. Like a foreign language, it made no sense. It was tangled and utterly meaningless. Now, only a few days later, I can already see the stitches and the errors and the where I added those blasted extras. (If only I knew HOW or WHY I did it, I'd be golden.) The more I knit, the more I understand.

A single string makes up a scarf or sweater or whatever. I guess I always knew that, but know I KNOW it. Ya know?

I also feel so connected to women of my personal history that have spent hours upon hours with needles and yarn, creating something for their own loved ones. In fact, my very beloved Grandma was the one to teach me, which is something I will always cherish.

(I say this like she's a delicate flower, but I assure you, she's very much still vibrant and living her life to the fullest. It's just that I *know* that during my natural lifetime, I will not always have her guiding the way.)

While Grandma was here on her short-but-jam-packed-full-of-quality visit, we also made lefsa together, which is something I've been wanting to do for YEARS. And get this- while we listened to Christmas music, admired my tree (lots of tree admiring... love having a tree up!), made lefsa, and held knitting lessons, it was a full-on winter blizzard outside. Really, pretty much a perfect day.

Lefsa, knitting, planning, knitting, shopping, scheming, knitting... it's almost Christmas! (To self: simple/special. simple/special. simple/special.... deep breaths.) (Also: SQUEEEEEEE. CHRISTMAS!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just for Funsies

[Edited to add: Yeoops. Comments were not turned on... sorry. (Thanks Swistle!)]

1. "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" or depends on the context?

2. Fake or real tree? Or no tree? More than one tree?

3. Tree topper: star? angle? homemade? antique/family heirloom? same every year?

4. Colored lights? White lights? Lights outside? Other outside decorations?

5. Christmas Cards: Card? Letter? Pictures? Picture/card combo? Picture/letter combo? Every year or just years that you "get around to it"?

5b. Cards received- do you display them? Where? All, or just the photo ones? Where do you put them if you don't display them?



My answers:

1. I usually say Merry Christmas. Our family is Christian, and the holiday we celebrate is called "Christmas", so this makes sense. However, in a card/letter I say something like "Cheers this holiday season", because I tend towards to being inclusive and to honor the magic of *all* the winter holidays that land in December.

2. We get one tree- a real one. It's usually a Frasier Fur, which drops needles but they are (usually) not sharp when stepped on. This year I'm thinking of bringing in a group of bare branches for the family room to decorate with a few ornaments.

3. We don't have a tree topper, per se. We have a couple of things that "work", but I always feel unsatisfied. And I've yet to find one that I just HAD to have.

4. We use white on the tree and string strands of white lights outside too. We also have a wreath for our front door. I actually like colored lights, so maybe I could do a strand on my "bare branch" tree?

5. The years we send out Christmas cards (average: about every-other year), it's usually something that I've created that has a combination of pictures/letter. We sometimes don't send out any, and we've sent out just a photocard (homemade) with no letter in the past as well. I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do this year. **If you'd like a card from me this year- assuming I indeed make one- email your address! Lifeinatinytown@gmail.com

5b. I hang our cards on the french doors between the living room and dining room, so that I can admire them and sigh happy sighs every time I walk by. All cards and photos get hung. The letters go in basket. Where I pet them lovingly, every hour on the hour.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Happy(ish) Ending

On a scale of 1 to 10, to day was at least an 8 in the feeling crazy department. I don't know... I haven't been sleeping well, I've had wicked heartburn, I've been wide awake at sleeping times and sleepy at awake times, I've felt a little dizzy/lightheaded...

Last night I could no longer tolerate the sensory input of being around my children. Their noise-holes! Were so noisy! The fighting, the mom mom mom MOM's, the being too wild indoors. Finally I banned everyone upstairs for an early start to bedtime, and dealt with my acidic stomach ALONE.

After that little OUTBURST (wherein I, quite literally, chased the girls upstairs ranting like a lunatic), and this morning waking up feeling like I still couldn't face them (or anyone)... Hey, just do yourself a favor and don't google "effects of depression on children".

I ended up putting a bra on and getting out of the house on a (true story) Flea Market Errand with Beautiful Neighbor, which then inspired me to go downtown to another little antique/2nd hand store with Kate and Joan, which then led us to Tiny Town's candy store...

The winter air, the great antique find, the toddler waking pink cheeked from a nap and asking about getting our tree? now? mommy? our tree? for Christmas? now?... I'm not sure what turned it around. But now I have a tree, and a rearranged living room, and... well I can't explain it.

But it's better.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Etsy

I wrote a comment on Swistle's Milk and Cookies post the other day about my holiday motto: Keep it simple; keep it special.

And really, that's what I've been trying to do.

And you know what's helping? Ordering gifts online- and then getting the double whammy of Christmas cards AND packages (albeit not for me) each day. Nothing says Fa-la-la-la-la like some good old fashioned snail mail!

Well, and the secret to my success is that I've also ordered a few things for myself. And I still have a few things I am looking for.

Each year, we buy one more "nice" holiday decoration, around $20 or so. This year, I decided I wanted to buy an actual tree topper, since what we've used other years is laughable at best.

I can't seem to find one that I just LOVE... so I'm looking for suggestions. What do you put on top of your tree? Angel? Star? Santa? Something else? (Bonus points for links to where I can buy one just like yours! And then we could be tree-topper twins!)

Related: Here's a list of Etsy shops that I cannot stop drooling over (though I couldn't figure out if it was legal to add images... so you've only got links; so sorry!):

*Scrabble Tile Art Pendants

This girl swinging is adorable!:

Ooooo, and I love the dandelion one too!:

*Pillow! I wish I could create something this adorable!:

*Wall decals... I am swooning over nearly every selection in this shop, including:

*This gnome hat KILLS ME DEAD:

*Finally, I could have sworn she had a Etsy shop, but all I could find was her webpage. This necklace is by far my favorite:


Well, looky there. A Christmas list, including links, for David. I am wicked smart! (Two birds, one stone etc.)

(What are your favorite Etsy haunts?)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Updates on... Stuff

Cat:

Her final name is Posie. She is the tamest pet I can imagine, and I can't figure out if that's because she's a) just, you know, tame or b) um... STUPID.

Yesterday morning she (repeatedly) plopped herself in the center of a room filled with loud, rowdy children, including grabby toddlers. Not that any of the kids were being mean to her (just the contrary, actually- they were all quite gentle), but my lord, I wish she'd have enough sense to go hide under a sofa or something.

Also, sadly, she's growing. Soon there will be no wittle tiny baby kitten. Oh, well. I guess the only solution is to add a human baby to the mix.

(Kidding.)

(Sorta.)

"Meds":

Want to make yourself self sound like a tried and true cah-razy person? Then refer to your psycho trope(s) [<--may as well admit that I don't even know what a psycho trope is, but it sounds good, doesn't it?] of choice as your meds. And ladies and gentlemen (ok, fine there are no men reading here that I know of), I have been med-free for about 10 days.

I'm not going to lie, it's sorta really absolutely sucked. The worst for me is the violent shifts in mood with no warning. Also: the tears! That appear out of no where and for no reason! I'm not a cry-er, so I find the random (and blessedly short-lived) snotathons the most foreign of symptoms.

I do see that it is getting progressively better, so I am- overall- feeling positive.


One of the 5 names our family drew is Seester. And I got her a GoGirl (on ebay... and when it came is was in fact brand new... so a tiny breech of the rules.) Seester is going to be able to wake up Christmas morning and, for the first time in her life, piss her name in the snow while standing up!

(Granting someone a true holiday wish... that's what makes Christmas magical, right?)

(Everyone should have a GoGirl!)

I'm almost done with the other names on our list too. And I've spent, like, $12 total so far.

I shared this GENIUS IDEA with David's side (where just the kids draw names; the adults do not exchange gifts), and they liked it too. Admittedly, his side is a bit more intimidating (theys got madd crafty skillz). So we now have three more little girls to make/thrift something for.

Even with my inadequate crafting ability (or, actually, NON-EXISTENT crafting ability), I have to say that the "spend very little money" aspect still makes this solution worth it.

Besides, I've always got Etsy! (And THAT would not be "cheating"... we said handmade, but we didn't say by whom).

Monday, November 30, 2009

November 2006

My trip down memory lane to past Novembers has probably been more interesting for me than you, but ... as long as I started it, I may as well finish it. (The first one is here and the second ishere).

Also, Greenstyle Mom has also posted past November photos. Check them out here.

Onward!

In November 2006, Kate and Joan were 3 1/2 (4 in January) and Marin was 2ish months.


Do the twins look like Marin does now? I often don't think so, but in this photo I think Kate (on right) looks very much like modern-day-Marin.

What really blows my mind, looking back, is that in November 2005, Marin was not even a twinkle in our eyes, so to speak. And yet, only a short year later, I got pregnant, gestated her for 10 months, delivered her, and then POW- she's already a cheeky, drooling 2 month old!

(What also blows my mind is how she survived her babyhood without loosing significant chunks of those cheeks to her greedy mama!)


I included the "Snow Dog" photo only because DUDES: SNOW DOG. Also because those little girls? See how they don't even have mittens on? They did not "help" make it... they were just positioned for the photo "justify" David's afternoon of sculpting. You know, FOR THE KIDS.


I like this one because 1) gift idea! We framed that beotch and gave it to my aunt for (YOU GUESSED IT) her 50th birthday and 2) those three little girls are SO ADORABLE. Have you seen them anywhere? I can't find them, no matter how hard I try. The stand-ins that have been sent in their place are long-legged and not-so-chubby-cheeked.


Ha, ha, ha, ha... *WHEEZE* Take notes, dear friends, for this is some PRIME-TIME EXCELLENT PARENTING! I remember very clearly that when I would put Marin in her crib (at this point used only for "playing"), Joan would hoist herself in and "entertain" her sister.

While I showered.

(And we also photographed it omg.)

I have some photos from 2007 and 2008 that I tried and failed to download as well. (See also: using two laptops and trying valiantly not to eff everything up. And, ah, mostly failing.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Project: Finished. But Not Without Tantrum(s!)

So how was your weekend? Mine? Well, I sat here, with a 100 lb* laptop, working on Teh Yearly Shutterfly Photobook Extravaganza.

*This 100 lb behemoth is a loaner from my dear husband, who thought making six (6) photobooks in one weekend was enough for one girl and decided that my old (tiny! lightweight! slow as fuck!) laptop was not up for the task.

But anyway, I DID IT. And I am so glad it is done. Also, since I was able to finish them by tonight, I received one (1) free calendar (which I also had to MAKE), 50% off all other calendars I ordered, 50% off all photobooks after the first one, free shipping, and 25 free 4x6 prints. In the end, my total saving was $170!

So, FINE, it was worth it.

(And I believe all discounts- minus the calendar ones- are good through December 2nd.)

I spent $175, and that included gifts for my mom, my dad, two of my grandmas, David's parents, David's grandparents, and both of the girls' teachers (they are getting calendars, made with MN landscape photos I took this past year).

Next, I need to hydrate up for my huge vein-opening for the American Girls store, where I will be purchasing three (3) American Girl dolls this holiday season. (Marin is getting a single Bitty Twin, Kate is getting Kit, and Joan is getting Julie, for those interested parties).

But then? I think I am D-O-N-E with my holiday shopping.

Since I have PHOTOS ON THE BRAIN and will probably dream about editing photobook pages tonight, here's a few of my new favorites:



My girls, on Thanksgiving Day
(Dear Kate, Please stop glaring at the camera. Love, Mommy)


Hats!


Family photo**

**Tonight at around 7pm, I realized that what was missing from our 2009 collection of photos was a recent one of our family. We had one from May, and a few from this summer... but that was it. So instead of getting the kids in pj's and tucking them into bed, we made them brush their hair and settle in for a PHOTO SHOOT.

We used our tried-and-true trifecta of bribes, threats, and piteous pleading.

And after all that, this was the best one of the bunch. Do you like the guitar growing out of David's ear? The "lamp shade hat" Kate is wearing? Ah, well, it's DONE.

(The tantrums mentioned in the title? That was referring to *me*. Because I am mature and shit.)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shutterfly

It's a beautiful day here in Tiny Town: sunshine, warmth, so many fun holiday preparations waiting to be tackled! But I'm stuck here, slave to The Shutterfly and Their Stupid Deals.

If I order my yearly allotment of photobooks (I'll be ordering at least 6 this year for gifts), I get 50% off each additional book, plus a free calendar (which I also have to MAKE) if I spend over $50, plus free shipping.

It's a good deal- YES- but the pressure! So many photos to sort through, edit, upload, arrange, caption, etc. Plus, my vintage laptop (circa 1954) was soooo slow. It hangs when I try to look at my folder of 2009 photos, hangs when I try to upload, hangs, hangs, HANGS. So David was kind enough to bring home a "loaner" from work, so I could at least spend my time sitting here ACTUALLY WORKING instead of waiting.

(I am SHOCKED at how fast this machine is! I am going to cry BIG FAT tears when I have to return it. Unless we decide I should keep it. In which case I'll also cry big fat tears of relief/gratitude.)

Anyway, here I sit, forcing myself to rush these photobooks into production. Creative energy doesn't just appear on command, but what's a girl to do?

*Back to the grindstone*

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Obligated

I feel pressured today to write all about all the beautiful, Hallmark-esque things in my life, and why I'm thankful for them. Not pressured by you per se, but by the... universe?

Ah, yes. Let's go with that. The universe is demanding to know that I am a grateful, grateful mama who knows she is blessed beyond measure in more ways than she ever deserved. And the universe will be very, very angry if she doesn't list out all of the aforementioned blessings.

Either that, or my "oppositional nature" could be exaggerated by the ol' lack of Zoloft pumping through my veins, make me buck against what's "expected of me", but also making me superstitious and silly.

(You pick.)

In any case, I *am* blessed beyond measure.

For example, after spending the day with David's (large) family [wherein I had the "opportunity" to "debate" with several family member about The Gays*], I got to listen to Kate (above) singing to herself on the way home. Her clear, sweet soprano voice drifted around the van, while David drove and the rest of us dozed.

Yes, for her I am grateful.


Or how, when Joan was messing around with the video camera, and I asked her stop. I remarked that the camera cost the same as TEN American Girl dolls. And she, in her whip-smart fashion, met my eyes and quipped- "It did NOT cost a thousand dollars."

Can someone please explain to me how my 6 year old knows, intrinsically, that 10 x 100 equals 1,000? Or how she then was able to counter with "It probably cost about the same as 4 and a half American Girl dolls". Um??? I had to use my fingers to figure that one out. (And she was right.)

I am so humbled by motherhood. And grateful for it. (And for her.)


Marin, Marin, Marin. What to say about her that I haven't already told you at least 10 times, perhaps more? You know she is a charmer and a delight and that she naps like it's a goddamn "thing all kids her age do" which I KNOW not to be true as I already raised Exhibit A and Exhibit B through this phase and they did NOT nap. Ever.

I'm thankful for her for so many reasons... she made me a different, more calm and confident mother. She makes me laugh ("Mommy? Are you taking my picture for Facebook?"). She is a CHAMPION hall monitor/boss/gatekeeper.

I am so thankful for my little sidekick!



Of course, my world is bigger than these three children. Of course. But it's for them and because of them that I am inspired to better myself, my community, our planet... I have six eyes watching me.

And I'm so grateful!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!



*Thankfully (ha!) the "debate" ended in a fairly pleasant manner, even though emotions were at risk of running VERY HIGH. Maturity, FTW!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Seester; Novembers 2004 and 2005

This is my sister.


I call her "Seester", which only sounds weird now that I'm telling you. I don't know how it started, or even how long ago. She also calls me "Seester".

These are my sisters feet, in slippers. My sister recently found my blog by googling "Eatmay Ightnay" (<--pig latin). A post I *thought* I had "protected" by using "@" instead of "a" etc. Yeah... NOT SO MUCH. Turns out when you google "Eatmay Ightnay" (non pig latin version), my blog pulls up in the first 5 hits.

Let this be a lesson to all of you! The way we've all been "protecting" certain posts from Almighty Google may not be as effective as we thought.


Here she is, cracking up with my daughters.

So anyway, my sister found my blog. I suspect she'll keep reading here, which is fine by me. You'll see her in the comment section, saying things that will make no sense to anyone but her and me. Also? We use "Fuck you" as an endearing greeting. Just thought you should know.

My sister has an awesome sense of humor, and I'll stop at NOTHING to get her laughing. Another tidbit I thought you should know.


(Also- anyone else that I know "in real life" that may have stumbled upon my little blog? WELCOME! I'm glad you're here, and I'd be grateful if you'd comment so I know you're reading.)

+++++++++++

I found a few more photos taken in November over the years. (First November post found here). November, 2004:


Oh, I loved these white sweaters! Someone that David knew professionally hand knit them for us when the girls were newborns, and they wore them for years. In this picture, the girls are nearly two and they still fit. They were sooooo soft and snuggly.

Another from 2004. We spent Thanksgiving weekend in Rapid City that year. This allowed us the opportunity to cut down our own Christmas tree (for $5) from the national forest. It was a beautiful day, and despite the fact that every tree in the forest is a "Charlie Brown Tree", we took advantage of the adventure.

Incidentally, after enduring a 550 mile trip strapped to the top of our van, the tree lost all of it's needles and never did make it up in our living room. Ah well. Win some etc.

Moving along to November, 2005:

At almost three, the girls were very into dress-up and dancing (both of which they are *still* doing often).


My mom was here for Thanksgiving in 2005. Actually, that was before my parents split up, so they were both here. I remember how grateful I was for my mom taking on a baking project with the girls. They, obviously, ADORED baking, but it was something that I could never muster the gumption to do with them. So messy! Too many hands helping!

(I kept far away from the project, jumping in for the photo only. CHEATER!)

(Also, seems as if I never brushed my hair back then either.)


By this age they had LONG SINCE stopped napping. Instead, they had "quiet time" every afternoon. I'd often try to separate them, but they'd always end up curled next to each other like a couple of puppies. I often thought that these quiet, snuggly times must positively affect their relationship. Which is nice to remember during those times where they were (ARE) bickering.


We celebrated Christmas that year at Thanksgiving, so it allowed us to see lots of extended family. I love how it's so obvious that the girls are captivated by what their Great-grandma is saying. I adore her (as I've mentioned), and their expressions remind me of how I felt as a little girl, listening to her tell stories. (Her expressions have not changed much either!)

So, ah, that's all I have today. Hey, Seester! FUCK YOU. Also? Try not to hit any buildings on your holiday travels, umkay?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Browns

I know I'm going to sound like a complete jackass for saying it, but I'm reveling in this crappy weather. Recently, it has been so nice outside that the PRESSURE! to enjoy it EVERY SECOND! was getting old. I *did* enjoy the beautiful November that we've been granted, but I'm also happy to be have a wet day worthy of good books and tea. (<--or, ok, FINE, a day of wandering aimless around the interwebs.)


Marin and I were getting a little antsy earlier, though, so we headed out to do some thrifting. However, we didn't start our adventure until after an early lunch, and she ended up falling asleep before we reached the thrift store.

(That kid is seriously gifted in the napping department.)


So instead, I pulled off the road, let Marin sleep, and snapped some pictures.


All of the leaves are gone from our trees now, and we are left with breathtaking, beautiful shades of brown.

Various shades of brown grasses, black-brown newly plowed fields, and big brown branches against the foggy, wet air and grayish gray skies.


It took me a long time to fall in love with so much brown. What I used to find bleak, dark, and depressing, I know find lovely. Breathtaking even.


Soon, all of this brown will be covered with fresh white layer(s) of snow. On sunny days, I'll need sunglasses to drive because of the glare from all of the white.


For now, though, the stark landscape is cozy to me.


While there are so many things- climate wise- that I loathe about Minnesota, there are also quite a few pretty awesome aspects.

(As you can probably guess, I'm quite interested in photography. However, I have a very basic point-n-shoot camera and a laptop that does not even support Photoshop Elements. Can you guess what my fervent [Improbable] Christmas Wish is?)

(Along those lines- do any of you have experience renting a DSLR? I've been thinking that might be a fun way to "test drive" a fancy camera, but I don't even know where to begin... Anyone??)