Thursday, December 30, 2010

Time with Him

Holidays and vacation time. Rushing around and then resting and hanging out. Time to watch as he pours over his presents. Some disappointment--not over lacking, but the recognizable feelings of being older and not a small child anymore. Watching him interact with his sister and enjoy her child-like innocence while he is slowly losing his.

And then this week, I spend time with him and only him. We play board games (chess--he is quite good--although I am also quite bad) he knows some moves. Some talk about his signing up for chess/checkers at school--maybe next time? Today, the science museum. Just me and him. It is really relaxing and fun to see which exhibits he goes to and sparks his interest. Afterwards, a sit down restaurant. Sometimes he is too quiet and I have no idea what is going on in his mind. At the restaurant, it is one of those times--but in the end, I really just am happy to be spending time with him and to see how mature he is becoming.

(and then he gets into a talkative mood--about Superhero Squad...and I remember that he is still a child at least for a now)


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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Plans - Meet Life

At the end of the year last year, I joined in with a group of bloggers on The Plan 2010. If you don't click the link to that post, here is a relevant paragraph describing 2009:

"This past year was a mess. Clear and simple. It was the year that Willow grew into a wonderfully curious but high-maintenance toddler. It was the year I got laid off, my husband had a stressful time at his work, we both ended up getting new jobs in the middle of this year, my son started his last year in grade school. We are still trying to get used to being a family of four. We are still working on methods and medications to help Michael with his ADHD. I am still trying to re-gain my exercise routines while also trying to eat/live better and healthier. (Unfortunately, the stresses of this past year has made that latter goal very slow in obtaining.)"

Well, that sums up 2010 also. It was a mess, it was choatic, it was fun, it was stressful, it was busy, it was peaceful, it was hard and soft and fuzzy and slippery. It was life. And life doesn't follow Plans very well.

But yet, we still make them. And sometimes, we can actually achieve goals through them.

Here are my goals from The Plan 2010, and where I stand now, on the verge of 2011...

Physical Health

Lose and keep off the baby weight
Take vitamins
Become more active
Maintain my morning exercise routine; expand it to working out of WiiFit at night for at least 15 mins.
Brush and floss my teeth more often


Lost and maintained the loss of 15 lbs.; need to lose more.
Taking vitamins, based on a good physical check up, the only thing added is Vitamin D supplement
I am more active and I have maintained a morning exercise routine; was doing great with the working out at night on WiiFit, until Willow decided that 10 p.m. is a better bedtime...will hopefully figure out how to get back into this.
Still working on flossing more, but teeth maintainance is improved.


Mental Well Being

Re-start our Family Meetings – try to make them bi-weekly
Simplify (Throw things AWAY)
Use alone time to relax, not just to get things done
Take a step back from situations that frustrate me, try to use patience.
Make more of an effort to connect with people


Well. All these things have been kept in mind this year, but still need improvement. Had a few Family Meetings, but time ran short. Have been trying to be more simplified, but yet...its complicated.
I try to relax, but when life throws you curve balls, sometimes you need that alone time to just re-group and get things done.
I have learned to be more patient. However Willow really, really likes to test me. EVERY.DAY.
I have connected with a lot of people in 2010. Unfortunately, it has not always been as meaningful as I wanted it to be. But I am trying to be more extroverted and less introverted, and I think this was successful this year.



Self-Improvement

Save more, waste less
Make an effort to spend more alone time with my husband
Use our babysitter once a month; try to utilize other people for babysitting
Complain less
Enjoy what I have; quit worrying about what I do not have
Scrapbook more


Hmmm...well, I think we are saving more and wasting less. We could improve more though. Alone time with my husband has been a mixed success, as is the babysitter situation. We definitely need more time apart from the kids, but money and time have hampered this.
I don't think I have complained that much, but I have definitely worried more this year.
The year went by so fast, even when I was trying so hard to make it pause so I could enjoy it.
More scrapbooking was done, more needs to be done.


Family

Re-start family gaming night/afternoon (?)
Cut back on the computer/video game ratio in the household
Involve the kids more in food preparation


Gaming night/afternoon is still not obtainable because of Willow's rambunctiousness, but I think the other goals have been a little more achievable. Food prep--Willow REALLY likes it when I let her help. I often let her help even when it works against my goals of speed and patience. Michael is not as into food prep as he used to be, but I involve him in clean up and try to involve him when I can--he is often unavailable because of homework.

Based on these goals and how successful/unsuccessful I have been with them this year, I will change my Plan for 2011...TBD.


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Monday, December 27, 2010

Blizzard Day 2010

Kinda nice to have a snow day when you are prepared (we had time to run errands yesterday, we have tons of food and amusements)--on the other hand, I was already taking today and tomorrow off, Michael has this week off...so, while it is a day where we are snowed in, it was not a true "snow day"...

Round one of shoveling, along with kids out playing for the first time this season in the snow...


Starting the shoveling...it was drifty, so I cannot say how much for sure...at least 10 inches...

Willow trying to throw snowballs(?), really she was just throwing snow...

And making a trench...

Michael joining in...

After a while tho, both kids were wanting back inside-too cold!







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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Misc. Photos from X-Mas Eve and X-Mas



At the Japanese Steakhouse for my birthday dinner:











Christmas PJs tradition is started, as we open presents on Christmas Eve.




My birthday present from my husband...


On Christmas morning...


Thank you all for the birthday greetings and well wishes, my birthday dinner was yummy, chocolate cake yummy too! We also had a nice holiday with family and friends stopping by, children were happy with their presents and we are happily tired.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

From Our Family to Yours





Gather round girls and boys,
It's time to make your joyful noise
Some feel it in the feast after the fast,
Or the oil lamps everlasting,
Or the Solstice in the wild,
or the birth of a baby child.

(chorus) It's your holiday song
No one more true or right or wrong
When our faith calls our name
Someone else's does the same
Hallelujah! Thank you.

So gather round girls and boys
It's time to raise your lowly noise
Some feel it in the drum, in the snare

or the silence of their prayer
or the church bells on the hill
or the harmony of goodwill

(chorus)

For every voice lifted in song
The sacred place we all belong
A chance to heal a broken world
with every voice in every song
of every boy and every girl!

---Indigo Girls "Your Holiday Song"


MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

On Birthdays

"Oh that must have sucked growing up!"

"Oh, did you get combined gifts?"

"Oh, I bet you felt robbed."


When I tell someone that my birthday is on Christmas, I usually get one of those responses. And I usually tell them the truth--really, growing up with my birthday on Christmas was mostly cool. My husband likes to joke that my family moved Christmas around for me, but really, they just made sure to make it special. We opened Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, there were separate Birthday Gifts (wrapped in Birthday paper) under the tree, which I could not open until the next morning. We had Birthday cake with Christmas dinner--actually, I usually had TWO birthday cakes, because I would have to have my child's birthday party 2 weeks before (to accomadate vacations, etc.) so I would have a cake then too. Generally speaking, I never felt "ripped off" or slighted. Yes, it did kinda suck getting a bike for my birthday in the middle of winter (after a while, my family decided to wait to give that gift in the summer). But, generally speaking, being a kid with a Christmas birthday was not bad at all.

Being an adult having a Christmas birthday is actually a bit harder. Because Christmas is about children in a lot of ways. And gift giving. And especially when you have other gifts to give, sometimes the last thing you think about is giving a birthday gift. So, there have been times when I actually have thought that my birthday has been an afterthought.

It has been nice this year to get some wonderful birthday cards from my parents and family. It has been nice that this year my son specifically wanted to give me two gifts (one for Christmas and one for birthday) because he felt that I did not get enough birthday presents. Especially this year, when I have been not only stressed about life in general, but dealing with the specifics of getting gifts, etc. for the kids...sometimes its nice to slow down and acknowledge that birthday. So, I am looking forward to seeing the kids open their presents Christmas Eve, but I am also looking forward to a dinner out at one of my favorite restaurants and some chocolate birthday cake!

I'd especially like to share some birthday greetings to some great Braces Bunchers, Suzy and Calliope...Happy Birthday!

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First Concert

Michael did very well at his first band concert, including doing very well at announcing the first song...





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Monday, December 20, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday - Uncomfortableness




Please click HERE to see this week's Perfect Moments.

Many moments, too many too count, occurring because family time, busy time and because I was again reminded because of this time of year how fast time goes...

Moment #1: We are sitting in the movie theater amongst our friends. My husband is on my left, my son on my right. Every so often my husband taps me on the leg or shoulder. A gentle tap to mean that he likes a certain scene (we do this to each other all the time during movies, t.v. shows, etc.). A few points during the movie he puts his arm around my neck and shoulders. It actually puts me in a strange position and I am not totally comfortable. But I linger at having to get out of this hug from my spouse. Until my back starts to really hurt and then we reposition. The last half hour of the movie is kinda dragging and since it is an evening show, my son is starting to get restless and tired. He starts by putting his arms around me, until he eventually is sitting on my lap, a gangly almost twelve year old that barely is contained in my arms. This is pretty uncomfortable, my legs are starting to fall asleep and occasionally his head gets in my viewing space. But I don't care--how much longer will I get this type of snuggling by him? So I let him sit and fidget in my lap.

Moment #2: We are playing and carrying purses and backpacks around to various trips. We have gone to the beach and now it is time to go to her "house". Which she decides is under our kitchen table. She entreats me to come in. And I get down on the floor and try to squeeze under the table. I have to basically lie flat--and that is not good for her, because it is not time for sleep! So I sit up (well, kinda crouch/lie) and my head hits the table. She says "You are big!" and I agree. And she says "But I am small!" and I agree, while I rub my head and wish I had carpeting on the kitchen floor.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Snippets

--Last night more packages came in the mail. And she caught sight of them. All I heard last night was begging for "pressies". I was very good and said she had to wait until Christmas for presents.

--She likes to sing along with Rudolph and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. She is very cute when she does it. It reminds me of when I spent hours teaching Michael to sing Frosty the Snowman when he was 3 years old.

--We have had a lot of sugar cookies this year. Kinda sick of them now.

--Tree is barely surviving this year--glad I did not go all out on decorating this year. Between the cats running around it and under it and IN it and Willow playing with it by taking ornaments off and acting like the tree is a house...it is good that there are still ornaments on it!

--Going to start the pajama tradition this year. I have matching pjs for both kids this year which I will have them open on Christmas Eve. Looking forward to seeing my cutie-pies in them (they are red with snowmen).

--Still need to do a lot of wrapping, but at least all the gifts that needed to be shipped are out!

--Songs I am tired of hearing: Rudolph, We're a Couple of Misfits, and Holly Jolly Christmas.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blog Make-Over

Lookie what Suzy did! Thank you so much, Suzy!

I am very thankful for my friends that I have met through blogging. I had never before spent money on this hobby of mine, never really thought it was worth it. But this year I got to meet some of these wonderful women that I have been fortunate enough to know through blogging...and it made me realize that this is a sort of home for me too. And as such, it could use some re-decorating.

I like this new look. It fits my personality quite well, and I hope to not only keep on blogging, but keep on meeting new and old friends through this medium.

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So this is Christmas...

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

{Refrain}
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
--- John Lennon

I find it always amazing that one can find a song that sums up your feelings...that humans are so unique but yet the same. In our need to remember and reflect, our need to have love and life and fun and cheer.

It seems like this year just went by so fast. Last night, as I was driving home, picking up the children and listening to my wide variety of Christmas songs on my iPod (hmm...and yet, I do not have the above one on there...I will have to fix that!), I actually flashed back to last year, remembering someone coming over and wrapping his gifts before heading on from our place. And for a brief second, I actually was not sure if that was this year or last. The years come fast and furious and sometimes they blend together.

Was it last year that I went with the kids by myself to the Zoolights or was it the year before? (I think last year husband was able to join us). This year we tried to go and the traffic was horrendous and we were not even there yet...so I guess we will try again...

This year Hanukkah was at the beginning of the month. We really did a lot of Hanukkah related things this year, including having Latkes TWICE for dinner...but now Hanukkah is over. (We keep the Hanukkah decorations out until we put the Christmas decorations away--but this year, that makes it somewhat depressing)

We have watched almost all the holiday Cartoons (Willow has watched Olive the Other Reindeer twice!) Still working through the holiday movies (Christmas Carol and Its A Wonderful Life amongst others).

I find I am another year older. And I still need to work on some things. Patience and wisdom (and losing more weight) being at the top of the list.

As I was hurrying around this season--I realized I was hurrying around. And sometimes missing out on the important things. So, this week, I resolved to let the chores go a bit. And to just breathe. Just let the time be as still as time can be. This weekend, I spent some time just lying on the bed, watching the cats cuddle and lick each other and realized I could learn something from them.

So this is Christmas.

Oh, and as an aside, can I just say I CANNOT read through this book without crying!! I actually hide this book, so that I don't have to read it sometimes. Last night, Willow found it. And I could not make it through the book without choking up...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday - Two Babies, No Waiting




Please click HERE to see this week's Perfect Moments.


They are all here in this picture.

The man that is humorous, witty and kind (bearlike and eccentric too). The boy who is on the verge of gawky teenagerdom but is still my sweet little boy at heart. My mischievious cyclon of a long-wished for daughter. And my week-old nieces.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Caroling at Mt. Auburn

I always like to keep busy and find fun things to do. And if I can find something that is minimal money (or free!) its even better. Especially out in nature.

So, today, the kids and I enjoyed the mild weather and went to something that I hope to do annually--Caroling at Mt. Auburn Cemetery.



Not only was it free, not only was it Christmas themed, but it was also at one of my favorite places in Cambridge. Mt. Auburn is beautiful and it was the first time I had went on a guided tour. I guess the Friends of Mt. Auburn do lots of activities like this and in fact this caroling is something they do each year.

Our first stop was at Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's grave.




We read his poem "Christmas Bells".


We then went along to several other stops, singing "Jingle Bells" and "O Christmas Tree".

We went to Philips Brooks grave--he was the rector of Boston's Trinity Church, and authored "O Little Town of Bethlehem", which we sang to him. (We also sang Happy Birthday, cuz his birthday is December 13th--Willow liked that one!)

We also went to James Russell Lowell's grave and read his haunting poem "The First Snowfall"

We actually haven't had any snow yet, but I think I do want to come back to see Mt. Auburn with snow. It has been a couple years since we had been there and I had forgotten how much I loved it. Michael pretty much had to stick to with the group, as I was on my own with corralling Willow--who was praised often for being so cute and well behaved.







Willow and I admired many interesting and beautiful monuments. (We were also to look for angels and wreaths)


The caroling ended at this angel, where we sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"





Afterwards, we went in for some hot chocolate and cookies.

And the photographer for Mt. Auburn cemetery asked for Willow's name--cuz she might be in the local paper in a photograph talking about this event...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sleep. It's not for 2 1/2 year olds...UPDATED

Or at least not mine right now. Since the cursed (oh I used to love you, really I did)Day Light Savings switch over...sleep patterns all over the place are screwy.

Maybe its the holidays. Maybe its the change in weather. Maybe she's in a growth spurt...but Willow has not gone to bed the last week and a half before 10 p.m. (Oh, last night when I was by myself--it was 10:30).

And we have tried all the tricks we know of. But. She just will not go to bed. She will procrastinate. (I myself am a sucker for "just one more book, mommy") She will cry and whine. She will ask to go sleep in her brother's bed. (which used to work in those desperate times of just last week...but not so much this week)

Last night, I found myself putting her on her bed, kinda just throwing her covers on her legs and slamming her door. (Yep, I said it, not proud of it...but it was 10:00 p.m. and I was tired.)

I let her cry it out for 15 mins. I opened the door to her kneeling near the door, crying...and asking me why I closed her door (yep, that got me feeling pretty much like a heel). But the crying out helped to exhaust her, and I did talk to her about why I closed the door--that it was WAAAY past her bed time and not time to play, time to sleep. And I rocked her until those little short gasps of crying breaths were gone, told her that she needed to sleep now, told her I loved her. Tucked her in good, kissed her...she said I love you too.

And finally went to sleep.

I think this weekend we need to concentrate on this problem a bit more...we are EXHAUSTED, even if she isn't!

UPDATED:

Maybe I should read one of these books to her...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

JOHN LENNON

"Imagine"

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...


Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...


You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one


Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...


You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Influences

Willow is with child. She has a "baby in my tummy". I know, I know. I swore that I would not let her ruin her life. But, hey. She's young. And I will support her decision to have a non-existent baby in her tummy to the last.

Oh. She may have TWO babies in her tummy, actually...

Obviously, she's been exposed to a lot of pregnancies lately. Her best friend at daycare, Tessa, has a new baby brother. And she got to see Tessa's mom everyday--and she had that type of body I would kill for--all baby like it was a basketball that she was going to deliver. So, that was an obvious influence.

And my sister-in-law had two (!) that just were born last Wednesday, so she has seen tons of pictures of her cousins in the last few days. (She is soo looking forward to meeting them, I am not sure she understands that they are really real yet)

Still. It was surprising the other day to learn that she has a baby. "In there" [points to stomach, then jumps around the kitchen like a kangaroo--ah, another influence!]

Videos - Holiday Misc.

Kids dancing after breakfast - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer


Willow playing with Rudolph, Santa, and another reindeer. Showing them a Channukah book.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday - Practicing




Please click HERE to see this week's Perfect Moments.



Practicing for Holiday Concert...


Yesterday morning, practicing...pretty good since he just started last year and barely practices!



The moment is all of it and more...he was playing perfectly before I got the video camera. Then he was nervous. The first take--squeak! This was the second take. Meanwhile, she sees something happening--so she joins in singing away!


Later, he plays for his grandmother on Skype. The look on his eyes of pride are perfect, as is her appreciation of his playing.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Making Grammie's Fudge

Our traditional making of Grammie's fudge...


Willow helped get the ingredients together...


Pouring the evaporated milk in.


Time to cook the sugar and milk mixture.


The best part--licking the bowl!


Yum--chocolate!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Willow and Claus

Willow has taken to Santa Claus this year. She has realized who he is, what he looks like and I think she is understanding that he is going to be bringing toys. She alternates calling him Santa Claus and the "Ho Ho Man". Her daycare provider took her to the Enchanted Village on Thursday and I think she is indeed enchanted with Santa Claus now. To the point of it being a bit protective.

Case in point--tonight. Tonight we decided to watch "Elf". I thought it was something we could all watch. However, I did not expect the reaction at the "false Santa" scene--Willow became upset and said she was scared. Because "Santa" was being attacked! We turned the movie off (we will try to watch it sometime this weekend, since we have passed the "offensive" scene)...interestingly enough, later on tonight, she wanted to watch her new cartoon passion--old Warner Brothers cartoons!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

First Night of Hanukkah

Hectic and harried, later than normal and we did not do everything we usually do...but we did it! The first night of Hanukkah is over...



After lighting the Menorah, presents:





Then, yummy pot roast and latkes!

Happy Hanukkah!

This Morning...

has been a pretty good morning so far.

I got up pretty much refreshed (I actually got a good night's sleep). My cellulitus was hurting on my leg last night, but elevating seems to have worked and it is better today (hoping the antibiotics are doing the trick). I was able to exercise and enjoy a good episode of Angel. Everyone showered, and I got the pot roast into the slow cooker. Was able to talk to Willow about tonight being the first night of Hannukah and listen to her talking about that she wanted to "go to Hannukah" (right now I suppose).

And then she mentioned "birthday" at random--which is pretty good, since her cousins are being born this morning...(which already makes it a pretty good morning, don'tcha think?)

Texted my brother, wishing them luck. (still awaiting report, but by now they should be here, if not already, shortly).

And as I drive into work (listening to a nice Christmas CD that the Cub Scout troop made for us the one year Michael was a Cub Scout), I get a call from Hubs. Willow counted the menorah candles--at least up to five...in english and in spanish (I guess Dora and Diego DO have a purpose in my life)!

So, yeah. This morning is rocking!

(I am taking half a day off today, so that I can meet K & L, my nieces)

Things I haven't done yet...

Things I haven't had the chance of doing yet or been prevented from doing: See my son's presentation on Rabies for his biology ...