Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Checkpoint

Once more, with feeling.

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

Went to Disneyworld with children. Developed something of a coffee habit. Allowed a game console into my house.

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

Here's what I wrote last year:

I want to keep better track of the budget.  I let that get away from me at the end of this year, and that made me feel bad.  And I'd just like to keep on top of things better.  I'm a terrible procrastinator.

Hahahahahaha. Nope. In fact, I did terribly, forgetting to keep track altogether for weeks and weeks, then trying to catch up and forgetting what had been spent.  I'm planning a big turnaround for this year.

I'm also about 6 months behind in my photo organizing (a perpetual annual goal), because the bazillion Disney photos terrify me.  But I'll get to it as soon as Christmas is down and the house is put back together.

I just want to be better at the things I take on this year.  Whatever that will be.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My neighbor across the street.  I have yet to meet the little guy, but I will, oh yes, I will.
Sabrina's teacher welcomes a new baby, one we didn't know was coming until 2 weeks until the due date. So I had to hurry up and pull together a class baby shower lickety spilt. I think that earns a good snuffle, right?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

I've been able to answer this question in the negative for many years, but unfortunately, this year is not the same and by far.  In February, my uncle fell, hit his head, and was gone by the beginning of March.  Total shock.  Then in September, my parents took my grandmother to visit family up north, and while there, she had an aortic rupture.  She was able to hang on for about 30 hours after that, surrounded by her family and be at peace.  I even got to talk to her on the phone one last time, a memory that will be hard to recall but one I will treasure nonetheless. She was 93.

Also, in December, my brother's dog was in too much pain, so he made the hard decision to let him go.  That was sad for all of us as well.

Enough though, hear me, 2016?  No more of that.

5. What places did you visit?

Orlando, Florida.  The House of the Mouse.  Austin, Texas.  Houston, Texas.  Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Not in that order.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

More surplus dollars.  A boatload of patience.  More and closer friendships, both in person and across the internet.  I need some buddies.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 28, the day I left for a fantastic ladies' weekend while a veritable blizzard descended on Texas.  March 2, the day I came back from that wonderful weekend away to find out my uncle was in the hospital.  June 5, the day my kids got out of school and we got on a plane bound for Mickey.  June 7, the day I got to hang out with Jen and Diane and their terrific families. The rest of that week with my giant family at Disney, every single moment.  September 27, the day my grandma fell and we worried she'd hit her head.  September 28, the day we lost her.  

Man, what an up and down year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting a smart phone.  I'm pretty sure I'm the last person on earth to do it.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Letting frustration win, again and again and again.  Not being present in the present.  

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I never did get the flu last year, and I attribute that to my flu vaccine and Emergen-C.  I did catch a stomach bug from Sabrina late in the year, but it was short-lived.  A few colds here and there, but nothing too debilitating, thank everything.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Smart. Phone.  Giant white cabinets to organize and hide all the toys.  Anything I bought he kids at Disneyworld because it made them so happy.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Every teacher my kids have had. Our friend, Miss JT, who decided to write a children's book starring Sammy (and Sabrina) - and followed through. Fr. George, who just adored my grandma and has now pretty much joined our family like he's always been there. The Ladies Internet, always and forever.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

A particular toy store gave me a whole lotta grief right before Christmas because their left hand didn't know what their right hand was doing.  A large portion of drivers on the road this year.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Do I have any money?  The usuals.  A deck refurbishment.  A new washing machine.  Sammy's ears (hopefully the final surgery).

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

Do I need to spell it out again?  

A trip to Disneyworld. I'd like one of these every year, please.  Maybe two.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

"Shut Up and Dance with Me." Every single one of us would start chair dancing whenever we heard it.  (Also because Diane told us her daughter didn't like it because of the shut up part. That completely charmed me.)

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

a) happier or sadder? It was a roller coaster year, and I'm still a little blue from the recent losses.  But it will get better.

b) thinner or fatter? Like I'm going to get up and go measure. My clothes fit, so, eh.

c) richer or poorer? 'Bout the same, maybe down a little since our investments didn't do so hot this year.

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

Catching myself before I get annoyed with the kids, particularly for interrupting me.  Spending time with lady friends.  It bears repeating, I need more friend time.

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

"Sammy, hands out of your mouth!"  "Sabrina, we look with our eyes, not our hands!"  Exactly the same as 2014 and 2015.  Sigh.

20. How did you spend Christmas in 2015?

All my life, Christmas Eve was my grandma's domain.  Though it changed over the years, we always went to Christmas Eve Mass and opened presents with my grandparents.  With the both gone this year, I decided to fill the time.  So I cooked a fancy meal of prime rib, broccoli rice casserole, and roasted vegetables for the four of us and my folks.  As a little girl, Christmas Eve dinner was a somewhat fancy affair, so I thought I'd resurrect that.  Never mind I'd never made prime rib or broccoli rice casserole before.  Thanks to Google and the Ladies Internet, I was able to pull it off.  I suspect this could become a tradition.  

After dinner, we went to Mass at the chapel at the residence where my grandma lived in recent years.  Their Mass was close (just a mile down the road), late but not Midnight Mass late so Chris would be able to make it (delivery elves work hard Christmas Eve), and not overcrowded.  They cranked the heat up a little too much on a 70 degree night, but otherwise, it was a lovely service.  And special because our newish priest friend concelebrated.

We came home, cleaned up, somehow got the kids into bed, and let Santa do his business.  I watched the NORAD Santa Tracker a little too late and finally went to bed.

Christmas started with a Santa explosion (woo boy, sis he go overboard this year), followed by some serious spoiled from my parents.  Christmas brunch and dinner.  Evening capper: some sort of liqueur my dad and I found that tastes exactly like a cinnamon roll.  Very nice.

And although we were quite aware of holes both permanent and temporary (come back next year, Brother!), it was a sweet, lovely day.  I hated to see it end.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?

Weird forever.  And so this answer shall stay.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Chris has to admit he fell face first into Game of Thrones. I have never seen him binge watch anything before, except football.

I feel like I lost a lot of good shows this year, and haven't really filled the holes.  I seem to be spending more evenings on the internet or reading, but I still love.  I need to catch up with Jennie and just jump into Arrow and The Flash already.  Also, I have every episode of Orphan Black on the DVR  just waiting for us to watch (hoping this is our next together show).

I'm pretty much still devoted to anything Shonda Rhimes does.

I currently have The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon, Penny, and Leonard hanging on our Christmas tree, so that says something.

23. What did you do for your birthday in 2015?

I must have successfully ignored it because I don't remember a single thing. I'm sure there was cake.

24. What was the best book you read?

Man, I wish my library kept a list of the books you've checked out.  I'm going with The Raven Boys and its followups because I'm really excited for the final installment to come out this year.

25. What did you want and get?

Um, duh.  (Also, the right 2nd/3rd grade teacher for Sabrina.)

26. What did you want and not get?


A rich benefactor.

The last 2 window coverings I need in this house (so close!).

A nice, non-college-dorm-looking futon for the playroom so the kids can have a better place to sit and sleepovers (coming soon to a 2016 near you).

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

I saw Cinderella (with Sabrina on her birthday) and Inside Out in the theater. So I'm going to say Star Wars: The Force Awakens (not that I've seen it).

28. Did you make some new friends this year?

In February, I went to a Ladies Internet hangout/get together/whatever you call it.  And I'm not even kidding a teeny bit when I say every single lady I met or reconnected with there is spectacular. You know who you are, and I adore each and every one of you.  I would hang out/talk/text/telegraph with you any day, every day, all day.  It was a real treat to see all these wonderful women in 3D and I can't wait to do it again. Seriously, call me.

My neighbor, Jodi, and I started having the occasional hang out and drink coffee morning this fall, and I love it so much.  I would like to do that every morning.

I am an introvert to the core, but I'm finding more and more that I really want and need friends.  And I'm grateful for them all, however I can get them (I'm fully on the side of virtual friendships are just as real as in person friendships).  So if you feel like I do, I'd love to be your friend.

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

To only ask something one time. And always, always, always: the ability to communicate anything to my children and have them understand instantly.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?

It worked last year, so why mess with it - long tunics and leggings.  Basically public pajamas.

Oh wait, this is Texas and it's the surface of the sun 8 months of the year. So, anything that keeps me from bursting into flame.  I did learn that capris don't really make me look significantly stumpier than I actually am, so those made it into the rotation.

31. What kept you sane?

Laughter. Texting. The Ladies Internet, for sure. Caffeine. Prayer.

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

Charles Esten made an enormous left turn from goof on Whose Line Is It Anyway? back in the day to super hot country crooner on Nashville a few seasons back. Also, that dude that plays Captain Hook on Once Upon a Time wear his guyliner pretty well.  

Yeah, I don't even understand myself.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Healthcare.  Still totally messed up.

34. Who did you miss?

Everyone I lost and everyone I don't see often enough (which is most everyone).

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.

Don't wait to tell someone you love them.  And do it often.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Sabrina's class is studying Christmas in different cultures.  Basically, this is an excuse for them to eat a holiday treat every few days.  Yule logs, gingerbread, and the like.   Nice work if you can get it.

Today, they learned about Christmas in Germany.  Sabrina knows my maiden name is Germanic, therefore she has decided her grandfather (my dad) must have lived in Germany and speaks German. (He was born in Houston.  He speaks Texan.)  She has asked a large number of questions about his growing up in Deutschland for him (or me, because naturally I absorbed his entire upbringing) to translate words into German.  I took French in school.  The closest I can get is spelling lederhosen correctly.

Instead, I have decided to tell her we shall be Swedish from here on out.  In Sweden, the eldest daughter gets up early on Christmas morning to prepare cinnamon buns and hot coffee (or cocoa) for the family.  This is a plan I can get behind.  God Jul, Sabrina. Take it easy on the icing, OK?

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Best Curly Tail Ever

Some 15 years ago, my brother's girlfriend, now wife, gave him a dog for Christmas.  And not just any dog.  A squishy faced, tiny pug.  Ugly and yet so cute. 

Somehow, over the years, he became more than my brother's pet.  He was all our pet.  But none more than my mom's little buddy.  That dog loved my mom.  He had a spot on her bed.  He would curl up next to her whenever she sat down.  He knew she'd always have a peanut butter frosted bone for him after a walk.  He basically adopted her.

The last time we saw Ripley, he was leaving for Vancouver, Washington, to join his family after they'd moved for my brother's new job.  It was an adventure getting him to the airport, but he was sent off in style.  In the last few years, he went blind and deaf and increasingly more confused as to his whereabouts.  This spring, he turned 105 in dog years.  The venerable old man.

Today, John called to say the time had come.  Ripley was lost and clearly in pain.  John didn't want him to suffer. 

I told the kids over dinner, and their faces fell.  They'd known Ripley their whole lives.  And even though he didn't live with us, they've always thought he was part of our family, too.  Such a good loaf of a dog. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nothing of Note

It's been a nice, quiet day, with nothing to do but eat pancakes, sit on the couch, and celebrate my mom's birthday a little bit early (I think I killed it in the gift department). It was a welcome respite, but one that might be boring to outside eyes. So I'll wish you all a nice end to your holiday weekend and an easy re-entry to regular life.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Finally a Quiet Moment

I cooked a 20 pound turkey with stuffing, hosted 22 people, and cleaned up all of it.  Turkey stock is simmering on the stove and I have a glass of wine.  How I am still vertical is a mystery.

After 3 Thanksgivings, I am grateful.  For so much, but certainly for the fact that I am now looking back on 3 Thanksgivings at this point. 

The upside is the house is clean and decorated for Christmas, so I can chill waiting for all the packages I ordered over Black Friday.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

And I didn't miss writing today.  A small victory among many.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Out There Somewhere

A couple of days ago, a thought popped violently int my mind.  "Oh no!  It's Amy's birthday and I almost missed it!  Must wish her a happy birthday right now!"  And then I stopped, took a beat, and realized, no, Amy's birthday was last month and I did indeed wish her a happy birthday like I always do.  I have no idea why that incorrect thought almost bowled me over, but it did make me think of our mutual friend, Heather, and the fact that her birthday really was coming up.  And it is, in fact, today.

Amy, Sarah, Heather, and I were the best of friends in high school.  We did everything together, including devising an elaborate punking (although we're older than that, so we would have used some other word) of all of our guy friends over the course of a single night.  We even gave it a name.  We were a squad before Taylor Swift made it popular.  Heather and I went off to the same college, which was a godsend because our school was huge and overwhelming and we needed each other as a safe, known place.  But then junior year, Heather joined a sorority, and, look, I have nothing against sororities.  I think they are positive organizations and help a lot of women find their people.  But in this case, Heather joining a sorority meant that she stepped farther and farther away from me.  Call it growth or time or whatever, but by the time graduation rolled around, I hadn't seen her in at least a year even though she lived across the sidewalk from me.

We saw each other once more, at our 10 year reunion, and for awhile we were Facebook friends until she went away from that, too, so I don't know where she is or what she's doing.  And I wish I did.  I miss our friendship.  She was a tiny little ballerina and a ball of fire all wrapped up in one package.  I'm happy to say that Amy and I still live near each other, and love to get our kids together (our oldest boys are just a few months apart) and hang out.  Sarah and I are many states apart, but when we talk on the phone, hours pass like minutes and it's like there's no distance at all.  But I miss our fourth.  So on her birthday, I send her all the good wishes I can.

Heather, I hope you get your pumpkin pie with a candle in it. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Turkey Day

Well this day hasn't exactly gone as planned. I have 1 sick kid, it's raining, and Chris got surprise football tickets so he ate and ran. But it's cozy and laid back and the food was as amazing as always. There are plentiful leftovers and there is nothing that even entices me to walk into a store for Black Friday (thank you, online shopping!).  My folks and I can chill this afternoon, which we desperately need. Chris actually made a good dent cleaning out the garage yesterday so people can hang out there during Saturday's Thanksgiving and Sabrina was jazzed to watch the parade with me. You are all here, showing me the joys of your holidays. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

I am grateful.

I hope your day is full of positives and gratitude, too.