Friday, December 30, 2016

Year in Review: 2016

Well. This year. I think it quite fitting that today is the day that Christopher correctly used "damn it" in a sentence for the first time.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

Wrote freelance articles for a magazine. Took a trip with Ben without kids. Flew to England with Clare and my mom.

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

My 40 x 40 goals are some of my resolutions, and I accomplished seven of those. I am planning to keep working on them, with a few modifications. I also resolved to create a budget (nope, but we do have a new financial adviser who has helped with some long-term things) and set stricter screen time limits. I did fairly well with that one overall. Some days go better than others, of course.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

We weren't particularly close, but Ben's aunt Rita died on Christmas Eve. I'll always remember how welcome she made me feel when I first started going to family events.

I am also grieving for a dear friend who lost her sweet baby shortly after her birth a few months ago. I am devastated for her.

4. Did anyone close to you have a child?

My brother and sister-in-law had my cutie pie nephew Bambos. Alex and Beth had Sebastian. Sara had Naomi and Eve. (Identical twin girls!)

5. Where did you travel?

Florida, England, Lake City (girls weekend), Whitewater State Park (friends' camping) Chicago, Lake Itasca, Bemidji, Grand Marais (fall camping), Duluth (girls' weekend), and many trips to Evansville.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

I think I say this every year, but more date nights with Ben would be really great.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory?

Sadly, November 8.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

This is boring, but probably fairly successfully handling the transitions from school to summer to full day school. It was a challenge. Also, I am proud of the work I've done on the Parent Advisory Council that I co-chair.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I have a mysterious problem with my foot (only mysterious because I have yet to see a doctor) that is making it hard to exercise. Other than that, it was just the usual colds.

10. What was the best thing you bought?

Probably carpet and a few clearance rack toys for our new basement playroom. I also bought Ben a hand drawn picture of Campus Pizza, our favorite pizza place in our college days. The building has since been torn down and replaced with condos.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Ben, who has talked me off of countless ledges, has done the dishes every night, and never bats an eye when I tell him I want to go out for drinks with friends.

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Do I need to say it? I think I am more appalled and depressed than I have ever been.

13. Where did most of your money go?

Same as last year: Things for House and Children.

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

Meeting my nephew for the first time. Taking a trip to England with Clare and my mom.  The Gilmore Girls revival.

15. What song will always remind you of 2016?

"A Whiter Shade of Pale." Any song from our music class CD. The Magic Flute.

16. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Sadder, probably fatter and same.

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

I wish I'd done more self-care. Gone to bed at a decent hour, exercised, washed my face every night.

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

Wasted time on Facebook. Eaten my feelings. (Curse you, cheese!)

And, because I think I need to repeat this every year, what I wrote last year and the year before:

Worried about things that are out of my control. I think I'll wish that every year. Also: obsessed about things that have already happened. (And are therefore out of my control.)

19. How did you spend Christmas?

We had several celebrations. The first was a weekend in Evansville when Rob, Andri and Bambos were here. We did all of our usual Christmas traditions, including eating too much and drinking martinis. The only thing we couldn't do was turn on "A Christmas Story" and watch whatever scene was currently airing. (I made Ben watch it with me on Christmas Eve, which was a huge sacrifice for him because he hates that movie.) We had Ben's extended family party on the 23rd. Christmas Eve day was spent at home, with dinner at Ben's parents' house. Christmas Day we opened presents just the four of us, and then hosted Ben's family for dinner. The kids had a great time and were spoiled rotten. It was a nice Christmas.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

Veep, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Brooklyn 99, The Good Place, Jane the Virgin. (I am on a comedy kick.)

22. What was the best book you read?

My top five:

1. "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah
2. "Room" by Emma Donoghue
3. "Eligible" by Curtis Sittenfeld
4. "The Secret Keeper" by Kate Morton
5. "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by J.K. Rowling

23. What was your greatest musical discovery?

This isn't a musical discovery, but I really enjoyed MPR's holiday choral stream this month. It was very soothing.

24. What did you want and get?

My girls' weekends and my trip to England.

25. What did you want and not get?

I said it last year and I'll say it again: more time to myself. I'd love a day or even a few hours at home alone.

26. What was your favorite film of this year?

"Room" was really intense, but really well done. And I loved "Bad Moms." I haven't laughed that I hard at a movie in a long time.

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

Ben and I went out for dinner at The Commodore. They have very strong drinks. On my actual birthday, we went to an apple orchard with the kids. We got pizza for dinner because no one wanted to cook. I turned 37.

28. What one [or three] thing[s] would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More time with Ben and more time alone. There's no time! There's never any time!

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

I think I should delete this question.

30. What kept you sane?

The thread on Google hangouts that I have with a group of mom friends. We send messages many times a day. Also, our girls' nights out and weekends away (two this year)! I don't know what I would do without them.

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

I've admired Dan Rather's writing and reporting since the election.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?

UGH. UGH. UGH. Just. Everything. AACK! (Am I eloquent or what?)

33. Who did you miss?

Christina. My grandpa. Robby and Andri.

34. Who was the best new person you met?

Bambos, of course!

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

On a small, personal scale, I've been really stressed about many things. I realized I have been taking that stress out on the kids. Not all the time, but enough to make me pause and think. I need to stop doing that. It is not fair to them.

I've also been doing a lot of thinking about how to stand up for what I believe in, and I am ready to fight for good. We cannot be silent during the next however many years. I am going to keep our family rule close to my heart:  Be safe, be kind, be responsible.

And that's 2016, damn it!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December, in Pictures

Last day of gymnastics. She was pretty good on the beam. Now, on to ice skating lessons.

Clare and I went to a fun Christmas concert with my in-laws. VocalEssence at Plymouth Congregational in Minneapolis.

Meeting their new cousin Bambos for the first time. He is such a sweet baby,

Cookie decorating at Aunt Katie's house.

Another tooth lost! She swallowed this one, so she left the Tooth Fairy a note instead.

The cousins meeting Santa. Clare was suspicious, because he didn't look like the Santa she'd met in St. Paul. I told her he has many helpers. She was satisfied with that explanation. For now.

Christmas in Evansville, Part 1.

Christmas in Evansville, Part 2.

Decorating a gingerbread house on the first day of Christmas break. It looks terrible, but she had fun.

Playing Santa and Rudolph in the backyard.

Santa is tired.

Christmas morning!

Stocking time.

She got a stash of American Girl doll stuff, along with a science kit, some Legos, a book and a Lottie doll.

Very excited about the excavator he asked for from Santa. He also got a book, some Kate and Mim Mim toys and Duplos. They really made out this year, when you take into account all of the nice gifts from grandparents, too. (Including a gymnastics set for Clare's American doll and a parking garage for Christopher.)

The best present of all: a play room in the basement! Ben worked really hard cleaning the room, making a box to cover the water meter, and putting down carpet. Unfortunately, we got water in that room for the first time in two years with the rain on Christmas Day. Luckily, we should be able to dry in the carpet and put it back in place. Sadly, not soon enough for them to be down there all of Christmas break. They were thrilled with this surprise on Christmas morning, though.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

5 and a Half

Clare asked me a few days ago about doing the video where she answers questions. I am glad she said something, because I totally forgot. I did the video the last two years, and it is fun to see her answers change from year to year. Her memory is still incredible. She does not forget anything. She also holds grudges. I am worried about this afternoon, because Christopher just broke one of her favorite Christmas ornaments. Sigh.

Mostly, though, Clare is great. She is fun to talk to - she is so smart and funny. Josie and Christopher are overjoyed when she gets home from school. She is doing well in school. We are taking a family trip to Florida next month, and her teacher said she is not worried about her academically at all. She has started reading, and is just getting better and better.

I can trust her to play on her own and look out for her brother and cousin. (Obviously she is too young to have responsibility for them, but I know she'll inform me if anything is amiss.)

She is VERY excited for Christmas. We had a long talk about how she can ask for anything she wants, but she is not necessarily going to receive everything on her list. Luckily, she thinks Santa only brings one present per kid. She and Christopher met Santa Claus last week. It was very sweet. Christopher was thrilled to meet him. He asked for an excavator. Clare did her shy thing (slouching, mouth forming an "o" , looking sheepish), but managed to spit out her request: an ice cream cart for her American Girl doll. As you'll see in the video below, Clare is very into her American Girl doll right now. (And wow, is that stuff expensive. I am glad I hung on to my doll so I can give her all of my old stuff. And glad that she is young enough that she doesn't care about it being used. Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Her other interests include Star Wars, The Magic Flute, making lists (she likes to sound out the names of all of the kids she knows), singing, Legos, telling jokes, doing handstands and playing games.

She is still a supremely picky eater, although she has consented to eating hot lunch a few times.

Traditions are important to her, and because her memory is so good, she lets me know if we've done anything that's different or wrong. This makes me happy, because I also like traditions. This next month should be fun.

Five has been great so far, and I can't wait to see what the next year brings for my best girl.

Of course, Christopher also wanted to participate. I couldn't resist posting his video, too.