Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Plan - 2010

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.)

So, Miss K had a good idea and now there is even a blog for it. And, while I am not at all into New Year's Resolutions, these are not resolutions, per say, but a Plan of Goals for 2010.

So, here is my plan. I tried to leave it vague enough to follow, open enough to add to. My goals are not to just do one or two of these items--but to try to create a more healthy (and hopefully less stressful) lifestyle.

To a new Decade!

Physical Health


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



Mental Well Being

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


Self-Improvement


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

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



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Movies, Movies, Movies

Usually try to go to at least one movie during the holiday season, this year we were able to see all three of the top box office...

The weakest by far, was The Squeakquel; or the movie that I was so glad to take a toddler to, because I could make friends with the lobby people and not have to watch this horrible dreech. Er, um, I mean it was a great movie for children my son's age, er, um...okay, I cannot even say that with a straight face---it was annoying, cloying and the only good part was David Cross (but he is always good). My son was amused, so I guess that gives it a break from me totally blasting it....

Avatar suffered from an all too familar plot (think "Dances with Wolves" in space) but it was visually stunning. It was so amazingly well done that I could have just sat there and watched that world--like a National Geographic explorer. I liked the movie a lot, and like any good movie, it stayed with me for quite a while after I saw it. It was a bit too long (say in the way that your son is squirming in his chair saying, "when is this going to be over?"--and in the next breath, he is enjoying the explosions, but still is squirming and fidgeting....)

Of the three movies, I think I found Sherlock Holmes the most entertaining...Avatar was absorbing and an experience--but Holmes was a harken back to the reason why I like going to the movie theater. Iron Man, er, I mean Robert Downey, Jr., did his normal spectacular job and I loved Jude Law as Dr. Watson. As one who has read all of Holmes' adventures, and as a purist, I think Jeremy Brett was the best Sherlock Holmes EVER, I knew I was going to be seeing a reimagining of Holmes--and I had no problems with that. They kept the spirit of Holmes and Robert Downey, Jr. was an inspired choice for him. I enjoyed it--especially since my son's squirm-ness was down to a minimal...

And now--I am done for a bit--time to cuddle up on a cold night and read some Sherlock Holmes....

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day Pictures

Some random pictures from Christmas Eve...


Our tree.


MST3K gift...watched Santa Claus MSTied movie...


Willow and Michael checking out a Seseame Street Remote.


Michael wants to look at it...


Michael gave dad a watch...


Willow liking this whole present thing...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

From Our Family To Yours...



UPDATED:

Here are some cellphone pictures from our traditional Christmas Eve dining experience---


The Japanese Steakhouse...



The kids enjoying rice and chicken and veggies...and enjoying the show...


My yummy dinner!


Willow enjoying water in a cool cup!

And they sang me Happy Birthday in Japanese!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Assessment

Hair kinda messy, but not gray. My weight is higher than a couple years ago, but less than it was 5 years ago--progress slow, but steady, hopefully this next year I will find more time to exercise and I will go back to eating better. Teeth--all there, but 2 root canals, and too many cavities when I was younger (I blame braces); now I need to remember to floss. Eyes, as usual, hiding behind glasses, not much thicker than a few years ago, thankfully. Wrinkles are few, so far.

Patience. I am always learning patience. Not my virtue, but I try. Happy that my patience finally paid off with the little girl at my feet. Learning to accept that both children can try my patience, but I should not lose them.

Wisdom. Each year I learn more and even when I think I know what I am doing--I find out that I do not know anything at all. Wisdom can come with time and experience, but I find that I am still wanting more.

Happiness. Sometimes overlooked in the course of my daily life. But it is there. I need to learn to embrace it more and enjoy the moment.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Meme

Got this Meme from Here Storky:

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends. Okay, here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!! Just copy this entire post. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then post this on your blog.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial (lots less headache)

3. When do you put up the tree? The Saturday after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? New Years Day

5. Do you like eggnog? LOVE it!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Tape Recorder, when I was 12; car race track when I was 8...I liked it when I got bikes.

7. Hardest person to buy for? my mom

8. Easiest person to buy for? The kids.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Nope.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail. I would love to email, but most of the people I send HOLIDAY cards to are not familar with "email".

11. Worst Christmas ever? I think it was the last one we went to Michigan for.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie(s)? Tons of them: Elf; Its a Wonderful Life; A Christmas Carol (prefer the George C. Scott one); Love Actually; Little Women...

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I have been known to start as early as August. This year--September.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? YES... of course, but not very often

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Chocolate covered cherries; homemade fudge.

16. Lights on the tree? yep. white this year.

17. Favorite Christmas song? A Christmas Wish and Christians and the Pagans (click to see lyrics)

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? yep. :-)

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Eve; Christmas morning are birthday gifts.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Shops pushing and pushing their merchandise.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Snowmen

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Turkey and all the trimmings; chocolate cake

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Perhaps a new digital camera; but I think the thing I need most, is some quality time with hubby sans the kids--so I think offers of babysitting would be very nice.

Now it's your turn. If you play, please leave me the link so I can read your answers.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Perfect Moment Monday

Moment #1: The ADHD medication messes with his sleep patterns. Sometimes, he just can't sleep. We tell him to try to read in bed or at least rest. Tonight I hear him move around in his room. I can tell he is up. I go upstairs and he is sitting in his chair playing with Star Wars figurines--he is almost 11 years old...how much longer do I get to see him do this? I say "You can't sleep?" "nah"; I ask him if he wants to make our annual holiday peanut butter fudge recipe (my Grammie's recipe). He perks up--and we go down and make fudge. He spills vanilla extract all over the floor; he eats more peanut butter than he puts into the skillet; he almost burns himself stirring the hot sugar mixture. And I wouldn't have missed a second of it. Afterwards he goes to bed, hopefully for the night.


Moment #2: She is growing quite fond of her brother. She wants to curl up in his bed with him as a pre-bed ritual. She likes to sit next to him when he watches television. She runs into his room first thing in the morning to wake him up. And tonight--she tried very hard, in her own inept way, to tickle him.

More Perfect Moments Here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Well, today could have went better...but yet, it did get better...

An up and down day emotionally. I just realized that a week from today I am going to be 40. Just another flipping number, and frankly, most days, age means nothing to me. I don't try to hide my age, I use little make up. I dye my hair sometimes because I wanna, not because I have ta. If there was one thing I would change about myself physically, it would be my weight, and that was under control until I got pregnant, so I know I can deal with it (if I EVER get the time and energy to do so---yeah, I am looking at you Whirlwind Willow!!)

So, I am at work, thinking about the fact that I am getting older, I am missing people who are no longer here, going over the few (but major) regrets I have had in my life...starting to make myself blue.

Then I get the call every working parent hates--sick child alert. We have been lucky with Willow--she has not been sick ever (well, once or twice, but mainly minor stuffy noses, etc.--Michael was our sick all the time baby). Well, finally, it happened. Willow threw up. And not just at our daycare provider's home. Oh, no...cuz that would be convenient. No, she chucked her lunch at a play area in somewhere's ville. SO...I got the address from the provider and popped it into my navigation computer---made my hasty retreat from work.

Willow was definitely out of sorts (although her hair was static electrically charged and I could pass my hand above her hair and make it move---neat!) So, went home where she was CLINGY and irritable. No more spewage so far. Right now she is resting comfortably in bed, hopefully to be completely better in the morning (!)

My day was brightened by a wonderful package from JJ (founder of the Braces Bunch). And my day was brightened by my son helping me out (and winning a computer game and being excited about it!!!); and my neighbor helping me out by picking up my son from school. And my friend dropping by to hold Willow for a while so I could find some medicine for her (and maybe go the bathroom for a sec!) And my husband.

I guess I have no reason to complain or feel blue. I have family and friends who love me and care for me, as I do them. It's only a number after all.


JJ's Gift:


Note, Mook expertly wrapped it!! (Yes, I started to open it and then realized I wanted to take a picture of it!)



Socks I am going to wear tonight cuz my feet are freezing! I love the plaque!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Braces Bunch Secret Santa is My Hero...

Or how my Secret Santa was a very generous woman and should be Thanked with lots and lots of chocolate and good cheer!

I received my Secret Santa Gifts today (and frankly, I am still not quite sure who they were--they made sure to stay anonymous). (I have suspicions, but if anyone wants to own up....)

Not only were they wrapped very nicely, but there were gifts for Willow and Michael!! I was originally thinking of saving them for Christmas Eve (when we traditionally open presents); but Michael rightly pointed out that it is Hanukkah--so, its okay to open them now!

So, under the BB Secret Santa oath, pictures are thusly provided....

Here is my gift from Secret Santa:


I really like getting something that is whimsical. Very nice indeed! (I just realized there are tons of things in this picture--its the cute Angel!)

Here is Michael's gift:


Now, to be honest, I took some video of this, and if I ever figure out to get video on my blog...you might see his first reaction to this present was not the best--until he realized it has a FIBER OPTIC brush! Now, he can't wait to play with it.

Willow was so cute with her present that I took many pictures...here's three!





Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Random Holiday Pictures

In the midst of holiday happenings, it is good to remember these small moments...



Michael rolling up Beeswax candles for our Menorah (last night of Hannukah, we will use these candles).



Willow's panda bear, our play Menorah.



Willow putting candles on the play Menorah.



A blurry picture of our tree.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Perfect Moments Monday

We are playing Beatles Rock Band (got it for Hubby for Hannukah). The Beatles mean a lot to us, especially the fact that we played and sang most of the Beatles songs for our son when he was a baby.

Moment #1: I am on drums; husband is on guitar; son is on microphone. A three piece band--with a starstruck toddler watching the screen and the accompanying commotion. As we play, I feel so much a part of a group--a family.

Moment #2: After about 3 songs, daughter is not about to just sit buy--she needs to play drums with Mommy, to the point of taking the drumsticks out of my hands...my daughter, our new member.

More Perfect Moments Here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

But now the clean up...

We had a Hannukah party tonight. Every year on the first night of Hannukah we have invited people over--but more in an informal way. Sometimes we would have one or two people join us. We cook Latkes and a brisket, play driedal and give the kids gifts (they get a gift the first night of Hannukah and the last night, since we also celebrate Christmas).

But, this year, I wanted to do something a little bit more celebratory. So, I actually sent out an evite for a potluck party, set on the second night of Hannukah (since it was a Saturday night this year). Someone on our list asked if a Yankee swap would be okay, and I thought it would be fun.

We had latkes and brisket, veggie and fruit trays and other munchies. We played driedal with M&Ms; we did our Yankee swap. We played music and conversed and we lit the menorah and enjoyed the company. Michael impressed everyone on not only knowing the rules of the game of driedal, but also understanding its origins.

In short--it was fun and we all enjoyed it.

I think we have hit upon another Tradition....

Used the video camera, but I do have this photo from my cellphone too...


Willow put on Michael's yamaka and walked around with a gift (a baby panda bear that makes growling/purring noises when its tummy is rubbed, snoring noises when it "sleeps" she LOVES it)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Show & Tell #55

A couple of weeks ago we went to the Aquarium. We hadn't been there in a while. We used to be members when Michael was small, but then I realized that it did not change as much as the other places we have memberships (the fine arts museum, the science museum). So, I dropped the membership, and hadn't been there for about 4 years.

The kids had a blast. Willow enjoyed running around and looking at the fish and other animals. The aquarium hadn't changed too much since we had last been there--which I found comforting in a way. And, I realized that perhaps the reason why we hadn't gone in a while, was because the one who truely would enjoy it--hadn't been born yet.


Getting ready to touch some starfish in the TidePool...


Sitting on a turtle. (We have a much smaller one at home, Willow)


And, of course, there was a show...







Show and Tell

Click to see who else is Showing and Telling.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Perfect Moment Monday

Perfect Moments:

My daughter and I are in the living room, next to the Christmas Tree. I pour out the wooden Hannukah playset. She plays with the wooden candles; there is a place to put the wooden flames into the candles.

In the kitchen, my son is doing his math homework.

And I look and see that she is doing her own type of math. She is putting the candles into the wooden menorah. She is placing each one in the slot, and putting her fingers into the empty holes, figuring out how many more need to be put in. She puts all nine candles in. And claps her hands.

Meanwhile my son, who only a few short years ago, would have been doing something like this--he is doing algebra.

More Perfect Moments Here.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

First Snowfall

Overnight the snow came. It was really just a dusting, not more than an inch or maybe two. But, it was that nice (for kids) wet snow. The type that makes good snowballs and snowmen...so, this morning, before most of it melted, out we went...



Michael was excited to get Willow to do her first Snow Angel. So excited, he helped her along...



Willow was far more interested in tasting and eating the snow...







While Michael and I at first threw snowballs at each other. Then, he got into making a small snowman army...



Willow was amazed and intrigued by the snow. Michael was happy to show Willow all the fun to be had with snow...











Willow even tried to clean off my car!



After almost an hour, I figured it was about time to get in. Willow cried and had a tantrum of 10 minutes, wanting to be out there in the snow. Wait until we get a real snowstorm!

After Michael came in, we all sat down for some warm holiday sugar cookies and watched the Santa Clause.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Where does the time go?!

Sometimes I think my life is one endless To-Do list. Although I think most of the time I am very good at balancing things, lately the weekends have been cram packed with things to do and I don't always feel "rested" after a weekend. Maybe its because of the holidays, maybe its because our house is starting to burst at the seams since we have been here over ten years, have two kids and have tons of stuff, maybe its because I am older...

I think we are still going through growing pains as a family. Willow is definitely a whirlwind of a toddler, definitely more so than I remember Michael being. (There again--is this perception or is this a faulty memory? Is this because I am older and have more responsibilites? Is it because I have another child that needs my attention?)

And then there are the domestic duties. While my husband is an excellent partner when it comes to parenting...his domestic teamwork is a bit lacking. Hence why we have a housekeeper come in once a week--otherwise, I would go INSANE (and I mean with big capital letters!)

Being a Type A personality, one who loves to organize things, its hard to realize that sometimes my life is just chaos.

On the other hand...

I know that I am lucky to have this chaos in my life. Sometimes I just have to make myself slow.down.

And enjoy my life.

Yes, there is still a bunch of stuff in my bedroom that has to be relocated from our recent closet re-organization. Yes, there are toys that need to be put into a box for charity. Yes, there is ALWAYS laundry. But not today.

Today, I am taking a vacation day. I am going to run some errands. But, I am also going to relax. And then, I am picking up my kids and taking them to a Holiday concert (I hear Santa is showing up). And I am going to have some fun.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Perfect Moments Monday

Moving 800 miles away from family can be hard, especially during the holidays. Over the years, though, we have found people who are in our lives who have become a part of our family and who have opened up their family for us.

Moment #1: For the second year in a row we were invited to a friend's house for Thanksgiving. He is divorced with grown children, loves to cook--and boy, did he cook! We are made to feel a part of his family, it was comfortable and fun. I felt at ease and found I did not have to spend ALL my time looking after my children--others were there, enjoying watching Willow run around, helping Michael play an old Atari game. The Perfect Moment came when I had been talking with someone and started wondering what my toddler had gotten into--and she came out to the dining room, a little brush and dustbin in hand. The person cleaning up the kitchen came out and said "Oh, Willow's fine, she's just helping me out!"

Moment #2: The next day, another friend came over. We were all just relaxing, doing nothing on Black Friday. The Perfect Moment -- my son sitting next to our friend, while he was playing a computer game. Both engaged in talking and playing.

More Perfect Moments Here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Decorated in Sparse

Whew! Today we did our traditional "putting up the decorations and tree". It was tough last year with an eight month old...in some respects it was easier getting the stuff up this year, but there are consequences with Willow about. So, this year, between the cat (who within ten seconds of the tree being up, was climbing in the middle of it!!) and said toddler--we have decided to decorate a bit more sparsely this year. We always decorate tastefully small, mainly because we have a mixed bag of X-Mas and Hannukah, so we don't want to overwhelm the house. But. This year, glass ornaments (except for some very special ones on the top) are out. Also, some of the smaller ornaments are not going up this year. And some decorations that we have had for years, that have gone through one child's lifetime--um, I don't know if they will make it this year. Some are out of reach. Some are sentimental, but are child-worn already--so, I have left them out within her reach, hoping we can teach her to be "gentle". (And if not, hey, those after X-mas specials on decorations--I can already see I will be there...)

Not that all the decorations are non-child friendly. Here are Willow and Michael playing with the wooden Hannukah playset I bought them last year:


Oh, and Michael is holding a little Santa toy there too...



This is one of the wonderful things about this tradition--everyone opening things up from last year, remembering them, finding them new again.

Here is Michael setting up the Christmas Day countdown tree, Willow watching...



Earlier, when we had just put up the tree, put on the holiday music, getting ready to put on lights and ornaments, Willow got aquainted with the tree.



Like I said, this year was a bit easier to do than last, but it was still pretty hectic--I did not even have time to get my camera, I used my cell phone for the not to distict photos above. And I realize I don't even have a picture of the finished tree yet. I am just happy it is up and decorated and that, so far, Willow has only taken several ornaments off and on and off and on; that she has only broken one small (and cheap) snowglobe; that Michael only had to be told to put his special ornaments on twice; that the cat only climbed the tree twice...um, yeah--this might be a Loooong month....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Show & Tell #54: Putting on Traditions

While we have traditions year round, it does seem like most traditions are centered around the holidays. Each year we take them out, dust them off. Sometimes they are a little stiff at first. Sometimes it takes some wearing down for them to fit properly. Especially when you are starting new traditions, it can take a while to catch on.

And then you find that somewhere along the line, they have become a Family Tradition.

Last night, after a long day at work, an even longer commute to and from a doctor’s session for Michael, I found myself making traditional potato latkes. Not from scratch, mind you—I did not have that type of energy. But, Michael’s class was doing a project on family traditions to coincide with Thanksgiving, so they were supposed to talk/share about a family tradition they liked. I was surprised that my son picked making the potato latkes. It’s a tradition we just started about 6 years ago, where on the first day of Hannukah we make latkes and roast and we invite some friends over and we eat and drink and play driedal. Something small. Something that my son remembers fondly. So, for him, I was making potato latkes for the whole class to share today.

Funny thing about the boxed latkes I bought—they said they make 21 pancakes a box. So I made 2 boxes (cuz, of course his class has 24 children, include teacher—25). I had Michael help—which added to the mess, but I felt since it was a class project he should help. Two boxes, lots of olive oil, lots of small burns on my fingers, many paper towels soaking up extra oil from hot latkes and we had a grand total of 17 small pancakes. (I even made them small, people!). So, I had to get into our family supply box of latkes—and made enough for the class; and to let the whole family have a chance to get an advance on one of our family traditions. (at 10 p.m.!) [and no, Willow was not up for that, although she briefly woke up when the fire alarm went off because too much smoking from the oil, but I digress..]


What a potato latke looks like. (Ours pretty much looked like these)

Tomorrow, one of my favorite Family Traditions—Pies for Breakfast on Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone successful traditons and many memories! Happy Thanksgiving!



Show and Tell

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Perfect Moment Monday

Perfect Moment #1: Lately she has been digging into her diaper. Reaching back there, not always getting something, but when she does…not so good. We have started layering her with onesies, preventing that reach around. I haven’t gotten around to buying this seasons sets of onesies, so I am pulling out old onesies from this spring/summer. They pretty much still fit and I am getting their final wears on them. The perfect moments are when I am putting her into onesies that say: “No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition!” or “My First Photos” (showing embryo shots) or “IVF Baby” (showing a cartoon of a dish being fertilized).

Perfect Moment #2: Last week, he is sitting on the couch doing homework. It takes me a few minutes to register that his new pet iguana is on his shoulder. My first fears of Pepi II scuttering away are unfounded, as he moves Pepi to a comfortable spot on his head. Where he stays for the entire time my son does his homework.

More Perfect Moments Here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Communication

Sometimes we communicate with looks. Sometimes with code words. Sometimes between interruptions (mainly from our inquisitive almost 11 year old or our toddler—is she up on the kitchen table? Is that cat food she is eating?*).

Today I was looking at my messages on my cell phone. Another way we communicate. We text each other—sometimes through our computers on IM, sometimes via our phones.

When I was still unemployed and he was starting a new job—I sent him cell phone pictures of me and kids doing different activities. He took a picture of himself in his new office.

When he took the kids to Chuck E. Cheeses while I was working one of those floating “Holidays” recently, he took video of Willow playing with a playhouse steering wheel. I just looked at that video again and felt the love of my husband not only for my daughter, but for me.

While I sometimes feel that I don’t have enough “just us” time, I never feel like we are not in communication.

*Last night she put a pea up her nose. She sneezed it out. [Husband panic'd (he started going for the turkey baster), I was annoyed (couldn't find the nose splunger thingee), son was helpful--"she imitates us, why don't we all pretend to blow our noses"]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Show & Tell #53

One of my favorite times of year is Autumn. I love the colored leaves, the crinkling of them beneath my feet. Tradition dictates that we go and walk in the leaves, enjoy them.

And that's what we did a few weeks ago...and I my cell phone camera caught these brief glimpses...




Kids running away from leaves...


Michael walking on the stones, Willow pushing her stroller around...


Ahhh, here we go...the kids finally discovered the leaves!!




This was the same walk where this Perfect Moment Happened...



Show and Tell

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Recital!

This weekend was Recital weekend!  Willow took on a lot for the fall recital, as she was doing piano and voice lessons--she was part of the ...