Monday, December 31, 2012

December Pointless Lists

Today I was going to be good and stay home and clean house and do laundry, but then my Public called (hi Mom!) and Johanna and I somehow ended up in the Big City with my parents.* Also, I ate at McDonalds for the first time in a year, and I won't lie, that McDouble was pretty damn good.

It started snowing while we were there, even though no precipitation was supposed to be anywhere near us, so whatever, weathermen. We made it home just fine, if you don't count me blowing through that stop sign and almost plowing into a guy while going like 10 miles an hour in low gear.

I do NOT count that, just FYI.

Not the pad Thai picture I'd planned, but close enough.

Usually on December 31 we have fish and chips for dinner, but this year Eric got crazy and found a recipe for pad Thai, so we made that instead. Actually, mostly he made it until he got to a point where the instructions started stressing him out and then I sort of stepped in and saved the day and it was all quite delicious. This is hilarious and worth noting because usually it's Eric calming me down. Role reversal! Anyway, Johanna was dubious about the whole ordeal until she tried it. We had Abby at "pad Thai." It was pretty salty so now I'm itchy, which isn't my favorite outcome, but still, tasty.

Tonight Johanna wanted to go outside and light off some fireworks, but the rest of us vetoed her because we're cold and lazy, so I just downloaded a few free fireworks apps onto the ol' poser iPad and she contented herself with that. I tell you what, Internet, setting the bar low early on isn't the worst thing. I like to think we're teaching the girls about the real world, i.e. it's pretty lame out there.

P.S. We're tired so we're pretending we're in Chicago and in a minute we're going to countdown to the new year. Hey, it works. Abby's rolling her eyes, Jo is totally into it.

"I'm practicing for when I'm old and have 500 cats," Abby says, chasing Skilly for a kiss.

Pointless list time!

Movies Watched:
Take Me Home. I didn't mean to actually watch this. Eric started playing it and I was going to just keep reading and then suddenly I was watching it too and it was pretty great so I'm not even sorry. I'd watch it again, even, so there.

Books read:
PEOPLE!  I finished A Storm of Swords: A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin! I've been laboring through these books, and then finally like halfway through this thing I got really involved, but now I'm afraid to download the fourth one because it's getting spotty reviews, so I've decided to take another sabbatical from the series for a while. Good lord, though, this book was crazy. It was like one big blood bath. Arya's still kicking though, as is Jon, and they're my favorites anyway, so that's that.

Then I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It's been a while, and I remember now why I love this series so much. Not that I forgot, mind you, because Harry Potter forever.

Refrigerator update:
Hey, our new shelf finally came! It's kind of weird having three shelves again. But I like it.

Christmas tree update:
Um, it's still up. Usually I take our tree down December 26, but this year I kind of like our tree, plus it's drinking water so we don't have needles poking up everywhere, which aids in my general feelings of warmth for the thing. Tomorrow, though, it goes.

Minimalism update:
For Christmas this year my parents gave our family a three day trip. So sometime this summer we get to go to Wildlife Safari and the redwoods with my parents and brother Tim. Talk about the best idea ever. Yay experiences!

Things I learned:
Sometimes you have to just take everything out of a room to get your minimalist ass in gear. Norovirus sucks, but when your baby turns eight and wants a homemade cake, you bake one. There is nothing wrong with leading the parade when it's snowy outside and you refuse to leave second gear. Curling up with a good book by the wood stove is a good way to spend an evening.

Bye, 2012! Thanks for the memories.

*Thanks for the birthday clothes, Grammie and Papa! She's still sporting her over-the-knee socks from the women's section, and Eric agrees that perhaps that compass isn't something you'd want to rely on in the wilderness.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pretty good year

It's no secret I like these end of the month pointless list extravaganzas because I like closure. I like to see what happened in black and white so I can nod to myself and move on. It's kind of therapeutic.

So of course not everything this year was all sunshine and roses, but you know what? I think that's how you remember you're even alive.  If everything was great all the time, how would you know?

And anyway, it's fun to go through a year's worth of posts (I like the sound of my own voice, obviously) and remember.

Favorite memories of 2012:
Surprise Valentine dinner with the girls.
March was homemade cleaner month!
Getting thrown out of a bar.  With my children.
Meeting Maggie.
Family vacation to Silverwood.
I turned 40 and all I got was an awesome weekend in Sunriver.
Becoming a minimalist.
Volunteering at the care center.
Our little Family Date Night.

...And some other stuff I don't want to forget:
Eric took these pictures of the ice storm in January.
Phone calls with my public.
I got a new Kindle.
I got pulled over for speeding.
And paid $65 for someone to break into my car.
Refrigerator destruction.

Most read posts:
Mormon Chicken
I'm on the verge, I'm on the verge
How do we sleep while our beds are burning?
New settings = no one will still ever comment, but they COULD
DYI hair detangler spray
Weekend ramble
August Pointless Lists
Welcome to the game
I only dream of you, my beautiful

(I don't really get some of these, honestly. New settings post? Most hits all year. Whaaaat?)

And I find this kind of cool: Besides the US, I've had readers from Russia, Germany, France, the UK, Malaysia, South Korea, Canada, China and Indonesia. Of course, they might have just clicked on and clicked right off again once realizing there's nothing much going on over here, but still, it makes me happy. Anyway, where ever you are from, thank you for reading. Or not reading. Or just clicking the link.

Um, looking back on my posts I see that I had a Cracker Project going on there for a while. That was a failure. Having a chore hanging over my head like that just stressed me out. Well, live and learn. And that, my friends, is why I do not have any kind of cooking resolution on the horizon for 2013.

The end, I guess. I can't really think of anything else I want to say about this year, except that if next year is more of the same, that would be just fine with me.

Tori Amos, Pretty Good Year. Hold on to nothing as fast as you can. Still, pretty good year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ain't this life so sweet

Once upon a time, like this spring or summer or fall or whatever, I decided that I was going to clean out the clutter and sell things in the classifieds section of the newspaper because having a garage sale is more than I can personally handle and a bunch of crap was piling up in the garage.

So that's what I did.  And then I waited around a lot.  Or wished that no one had called after all.  But you know what?  At least it wasn't a garage sale.

No one really seemed to want my stuff, but that's okay because my stuff has a high self esteem, so no harm done.  Those who DID balked at my rock bottom prices, so I went like earth's core bottom prices (what's lower than rock?  Science is boring).  Because the point really wasn't about making money, it was about getting crap out of the basement.

But hey, I ended up with $95 somehow, which is kind of a miracle, all things considered.

Eric thought I should use it to buy something I wanted, since the bulk of the cash came from my kitchen items.  And for about a day I thought I really wanted an immersion blender. Which WOULD be pretty awesome, I won't lie, minimalist or not.  But then I looked at my spanking awesome cleaned out kitchen and figured that one more thing was not what I wanted after all.

I decided what I really wanted was a family date.  In December, when our touristy town is all lit up in Christmas lights.  As the money came in, we would discuss where we could afford to go for dinner.  At one point, I was thrilled to have enough in my jar for three slices of pizza.  No joke.  Then suddenly dinner was taken care of, and we started working on bookstore money for the girls*.

And then all that was left to do was pick a date.

We went on our little family date last Saturday, and you know what, Internet?  That was the best idea I've ever had.  Just tonight Johanna was talking about how much fun it was. And this will sound cheesy, but sometimes the words just are: It was my favorite part of that whole Christmas weekend.
I had envisioned going to dinner and then the bookstore, but a couple of things happened: We needed to go to Confession (because group penance services make us sin more, what with the impatience we feel) AND we wanted to go to Mass, too, because Saturday night is the Folk Group and Sunday is the choir and, frankly, we like the Folk Group about seven billion times better.  Plus also, no stores would be open after dinner anyway.  So this is what we did:

1. Go to the bookstore.
2. Go to the coffee shop for a quick snack.
3. Go to Confession.
4. Go to my parents' to chat.
5. Go to Mass.
6. Go to dinner.
7. Walk around town and take pictures like tourists.
8. Drive around town to look at other Christmas lights.
9. Come home happy.

Lucky that is only nine things because as I've said before, ten just messes with the alignment.  You think about these things when you're OCD.

We gave the girls their allotted monies and turned them loose in the bookstore.  Abby made her choice super fast, Johanna took f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  Who cares, we had time, which is good because the bookstore was crowded.  CROWDED.  But hey, we were going to confession anyway, so pressure off.

(Um, that was a joke.)

Coffee shop (for some hot spiced cider that was NOT spiced, I don't care what the sign said, but it was hot), this could potentially get very long so yadda yadda yadda, our dinner reservation was for 6:30 and we were actually early, which we did not see coming.  We got a great table, we ordered, we drew on the paper table cloth, our food was amazing, the girls were so dang happy, we took a crazy amount of pictures and ended up not having room for dessert.

Johanna and I split the fish and chips and she ended up eating more than me.  I'd have been hungry but Abby decided to hand over her quarter of a swiss chicken burger in order to help Eric with his pad thai.  So it all worked out is what I'm saying.

Even though it was freezing and Johanna decided to only bring a sweatshirt, we ended up walking around town and taking pictures of the lights.  It was one of those cold, silent kind of evenings, and again, cheese, but: So perfect.  It was just perfect.  Until Johanna fell in the crosswalk and was afraid that she'd gotten gasoline on her kneecap (apparently having pants on didn't make her feel better) and we had to talk her down a bit, but it was okay because we were headed to the car anyway.  And she was able to pull herself together, maybe because she wasn't that hurt.

The cool thing about my kids is that they actually made the evening that much more enjoyable.  I mean, I'm all for ditching them, but their enthusiasm (and gratitude--we got thanked about half a million times all evening for the books and dinner) was kind of catching.

It wasn't exactly like I'd imagined it, but being a mother, I'm pretty well versed with Plan B anyway, and now that we've had our family date, I can't imagine it going any other way.  I'm feeling kind of smug that our unused crap could make this kind of memory happen.  And I think maybe a new tradition has been born.

*I don't care how minimalist we get, books don't count as clutter.

David Gray, This Years Love.  Another kind of depressing song perfect for winter.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A whole lot of nothing

Last night I dreamt (dreamed?) that it was 1:30 p.m. and I was at my parents' house and I realized that I was not only late for work, I was fifteen minutes away from home, where my work clothes were located. Then I woke up and was all, whew! So that was exciting.

That's what happens when you've had an unusually long weekend, I guess. And it's been a good long weekend, so even better.

And the thing is, I know I should be writing and updating and whatever, but I'm just not in the mood. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe Friday.

In conclusion, here's what my awesome daughter made me for Christmas:

"Creative Swearing." This kid knows me so well!
She bound it in blue fabric. It's pretty sweet.

...And a weather update:

The end.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Out of chaos life is being found

December 21! I know what you're thinking: Is today the big Christmas party at Trisha's work? Yes it is, if by "Christmas party" you mean lunch and munchies in the conference room. I've been looking forward to today all week. Not that I can eat spinach dip or, you know, anything aside from air and water, but there will probably be carrot sticks, which is a nice change of pace.

Oh, right, and the world is ending. I'm sort of wondering about the validity of this theory, though, since it's already tomorrow in Australia and so far so good over there. I keep telling the girls if I had a nickel for every time I have personally lived through what was supposed to be the end of the world, I could buy myself a nice can of Pepsi. One of those tin can 8-ounce things. Clearly I should think about collecting more than a nickel.

Here's what I'm thankful for today: Wet roads. Tuesday and Wednesday school was two hours late because of the snow, and wow, we had some exciting adventures even at that. My little car does pretty well, but I slid a time or two and lost traction at a stop sign twice. Good times. It took me 33 minutes to get the girls to school yesterday, where usually it takes 12. But it was just mostly wet pavement this morning (and school was on time!) and thus it only took 20.

Taken from my car on the highway Wednesday. I was having some quality alone time,
listening to music and wondering when traffic would start up again. Turns out
semis were stopped in the middle of the road to chain up.

Oh man, and it was almost too much cuteness last night as Johanna got presents ready for her teachers. She bought, with her own money, gifts for two of her teachers (and one for her grandma) at the class store. They earn "money" for doing their work and then can spend it on actual merchandise in this cute little shop area the teachers have set up. It's a nightmare, really, to have all these little crappy things come home when I try so hard to keep junk out, but it was so stinking awesome watching Johanna wrap this cup for Mrs. B and this ornament for Mrs. R, and then throw in some gum and mints of her very own because she just loves giving stuff away. Mrs. R is the PE teacher and doesn't take candy, so Johanna wrapped an apple. 

"Now I know why they say giving is more fun than receiving!" she announced as she put one more mint in Mrs. B's package.

"It's my favorite part," I agreed, and then she looked at me like I was crazy, so I guess this means she still wants her Christmas presents after all.

(I tossed in some peach butter and fudge for her classroom teacher, too. Jo didn't think it was necessary, but I was like, yeah, it kind of is.)

Um, so that's the State of the Union. I'm looking forward to passing out my own jars of peach butter at work this afternoon, glad that the two week break begins tonight when the girls get home, and am trying to just enjoy every moment between now and Christmas. Because I like the small stuff the best.

Gungor, Beautiful Things. Winter is not my favorite, but songs like this make it bearable.

Monday, December 17, 2012

They say that things just cannot grow beneath the winter snow

Our tree!
When I was younger, I was really critical of lights this time of year. Tree lights, house lights, basically Christmas lights anywhere. If they weren't white and completely straight, it would drive me insane. If they were crooked AND blinking, wow, that was more than I could take.

Now that I'm older, I find myself just being grateful that people put up lights at all. It seems like a very optimistic act. We never put up lights--Eric has optimism to go around, but we tend to be lazy. Lazy trumps optimism every time--but we appreciate those who do.

All of that is just to say we got our Christmas tree on Sunday. It's a long, narrow little thing that came out of an actual tree lot and cost actual money. And here I thought we were amazing last year when we threw down $10 for an overgrown extravaganza at a you-pick place. We're getting soft in our old age.

Proof: Eric got a permit from the Forest Service so we could go tromp around out the wilderness and cut our own tree this year, but then it started snowing all crazy and we were like, the tree lot is fine!

It's pretty. I like it. And the branches more or less hold up our ornaments, which is most of the battle. Eric borrowed lights from his parents this year because apparently ours aren't working and we'd just come home from town and who wants to go to Walmart anyway? We set it by the window because that's as close to putting up lights as this family is ever going to get. You're welcome.

Also: Johanna's first slumber party on Friday night was a raging success. Not only did everyone make it through the night, no one cried! I was looking at those four little faces, laughing and having fun, and thanked God. I cannot even begin to imagine what parents are feeling in Newtown. All I know is that I tried really hard to be grateful for the noise and clutter and chaos. My heart aches, but so does everyone's.

P.S. I ended making her a cake after all. Well, she came home from school and wanted to, and how do you say no to that?

And: Abby had a basketball tournament all day on Saturday and wow, is her team terrible. Really nice girls, just not a lot of experience out there. Getting the ball up the court? Is a challenge of epic proportions. It's going to be a loooooong season. Life lessons! 

Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, Winter Song:

I still believe in summer daysThe seasons always changeAnd life will find a way

Thursday, December 13, 2012

If you get lost, you can always be found

Eight years ago today, at 1:15 p.m., Johanna Regina came into this world ready to go. We mistook her "old man scrunchy face" for seriousness. It didn't take long before we realized we had an active little ball of joy on our hands.

Because that is Johanna in a nutshell: Joyful.

Today, we have a kid who bounces out of bed each morning with a grin on her face. She shares her Halloween candy without being asked. Actually, she shares everything without being asked. She has three very special stuffies and one very thrashed blanket that she needs to sleep.

Johanna likes building with Legos but isn't one to follow the directions. She draws and draws and draws. Art supplies are gold. Her heart is gold. She notices EVERYTHING.

Her favorite color is green. She loves cheetahs.

Chocolate Advent calendars are a tradition, but opening each window by the correct date is not, and she likes to peek inside and see what the chocolates look like without any temptation to actually eat them. She swears she's allergic to Bittersweet Symphony.

I find things like this in the freezer:

Gingerbread cookies we made together last week. I had no idea
she'd done this until this morning.

When she makes her Christmas list, she asks for things like nunchucks, Pepsi and Monster High dolls. She still sets her fan to low every night. She loves the snow. She wears t-shirts and no socks in December.

She does not care about matching. And she hates dresses.

She listens to Beethoven and One Direction. She loves to help. She's busy but has an amazing attention span. And can sit still when necessary.

She wants to try dumplings and sushi.

She goes ballistic when she's forgotten something she needs at school (reading sheet, looking at you). Her heart breaks if we watch the news, so we don't. She has a lot of friends but likes to spend time by herself, too.

And she's my own personal miracle.

Happy birthday, baby girl. Love you.

Phil Phillips, Home. Johanna LOVES this song. Since we've listened to it like 5000 times now, I do not, but hey, it's not my birthday, either.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I would be happy just to hold the hands I love

12/12/12. Fun fact: Today would have been Johanna's birthday had 2004 not been a Leap Year. Actually today already is the (26th, I think) anniversary of my Grandpa M.'s passing. Freshman year of high school. He had lung cancer, but I think it was a brain tumor that got him. I could be remembering that wrong. But Christmas and Grandpa's passing are always linked in my mind. Anyway, wow, not how I planned to start this, but sometimes the words just come the way they want.

The nativity that my Grammie M. put up every year. My cousin
Seth is keeping the tradition alive. I totally stole this photo
from his Facebook page just now.  It seemed appropriate.
(The photo, not the stealing.)

So this weekend we all got the stomach flu. Eric is sure it was the Norovirus, and now that I've read up on that, I'm pretty sure it was, too. Johanna succumbed first, early Friday morning, and then it was boom, boom, boom Saturday night for the rest of us. Good times! Not really. This is the worst flu I've ever had (Eric isn't sure about that, but he doesn't have my memory. Wait, what?). Sure, puking sucks, but you know what sucks more? Aching from head to toe. Dehydration. Fuzzy teeth. A stressed stomach that doesn't really want food even three days later.

Things are still kind of wobbly. For breakfast this morning I'm having water and a small bowl of crackers. I'm not even kidding, coffee isn't even on my radar, that's the level of trauma we're talking here. Last night we had salad and bread and thought we were doing pretty well... until all of a sudden it felt like we were carrying around lead balls in our guts. What the heck, Norovirus? I think we've paid the price and then some already, give it a rest. Jerk.

Of course, Johanna, being Johanna, is up and at 'em. Her recovery time was like 30 seconds. One minute she's on the couch and the next she's up banging on the drum my father-in-law made for her in his woodshop. "Johanna probably has more energy sick than I do on a good day," lamented Abby this morning.

Hey, Johanna turns eight tomorrow! That's pretty exciting. She's going to have her very first sleepover Friday night. She's been planning this since she was approximately five, so she's got lots planned. This morning as I was dropping her off, I asked what else she'd like to do, besides decorate scarves with fabric paint, and she was all, go on the computer! Wow, I was sort of prepared to get all crafty for the cause, but you know what? That is AWESOME.

But I'm thinking... and this is hard to write, let alone think to myself... that I am going to go buy Johanna a cake this year. I'm weak, you guys. I'm not sure how I'll manage to bake a cake and clean the house and pretend to be crafty and get four little girls to bed, too. Johanna has already chosen pizza as her birthday dinner, so I don't even have to justify that part. That's the upside.

I think the last cake I bought was for Jo's baptism party when she was like seven weeks old. Huh. Well, as I told Abby this morning, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. (I'm not sure how Abby is making it through school, let alone basketball. Eric has a meeting tonight and a full day of work. I'm so thankful I'm just part time and can go take a nap next if I feel like it.)

So anyway, to recap: Today is 12/12/12. I plan to just write that as often as I can, and eat more crackers. Well, you have to do something to pass the time.

Sarah McLachlan, Song for a Winter's Night. Sad and pretty, just like December. I'm so happy that I have Eric's hands to hold. Cheese alert: That's all I want for Christmas. And I already have it! Lucky me.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What I did on Saturday

Step 1: Empty all shelves.  (Mostly.)

Step 2: Try not to panic.

Step 3: Coffee.

Step 4: Enjoy.

Friday, December 7, 2012

This is me pretending

BLOODY HELL.  In my attempt to copy and paste text, I somehow lost an entire page of writing. Wow, that was fun.  I guess the good news is that I was getting way too introspective and nothing positive can ever come out of that.  So it's probably for the best.

Don't make fun of my hardback, special Twilight editions.
Unless you WANT to get beat up.  Your call.

What I should have been writing about, instead of all that self-awareness crap, is that I've been attempting to clean out my retreat, for reals this time, and it's not going well. I'm taking the "pile by pile" approach.  Which doesn't work.  All I do is move things from one pile to the next.  I'd like to just empty out the whole room and only put back what I love, but where would I put the spill-over while I do that?  I have no idea.

What's really killing me is that I can't just do a blanket clean and toss like I have in all the other rooms I've divided and conquered.  Sure, it's easy to put a dish in the rummage bag, but what the hell am I supposed to do with all of these pictures?  I don't scrapbook anymore (I make books online and have them printed and shipped) so there's no point in keeping them, but a lot of them are shots of my babies, for crying out loud, and how strong do you people think I am anyway?

Jeez, and the books.  I've got so many books that I will never read again, and books that I love but would rather read on my Kindle because I am a poser.  I've got a boat load of scrapbooking supplies I feel I need to keep in case I'm ever inspired to start that up again. And a bunch of recordable music CDs because we apparently live in 1998.  (Don't get me started on our very old music collection on tape and CD.)

Skilly is unimpressed with my dithering.

It's a lot of stuff that I don't want, but I can't get rid of.  I don't know why.  I just can't.  I'm a minimalist failure.

Now, pass the coffee and chocolate.

Linkin Park, My December.  Man, I love this song.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Oh deer...

Black tail deer, possibly with a death wish.
Abby and I came THIS CLOSE to getting hit by a deer on our way home tonight. Thankfully, no one was in the other lane--that actually ran through my mind as I was swerving--when the deer bounded over the guard rail smack toward the passenger side of our car.

We came home keyed up from our near miss, but Eric was all nonchalant.  Apparently that area is "known" for deer.

Um, what?

Oh, but: Why did the deer cross the road?  We have no idea, but look both ways before you cross the street next time, bastard.

P.S. At first I had a picture of a white tailed deer up, but Eric pointed out that we have black tail deer here in the Pac NW, so I changed it for the sake of truthful representation. You're welcome.

Monday, December 3, 2012

In the dark of this midwinter the moon slipped from night


Yesterday Eric and I ditched the children and headed to the Sort of Big City to the East to do a little Christmas shopping.  I've mentioned a couple of times that my goal for December is to just eat cookies all month, but sometimes you actually have to stir yourself and get things crossed off the list.

Oh, sure, we're still budding minimalists.  It's just that we like giving presents.

I don't know what else to say about that, people.  I keep reading about giving experiences rather than stuff.  And I really like that idea.  Yet most of what we're buying is stuff.  Well,  practical stuff, but it's still stuff.  So I'm probably breaking the rules.  Actually maybe I'm not, because the people we're buying for are not minimalists.

Looking at you, children.  They often remind me of their consumer status.  They like experiences... but they also really like art supplies.  And I really like making them happy.

Anyway, going from shop to shop with my one true love yesterday was fun.  We're not one for crowds (and wow, were there crowds), but we weren't in a hurry, so whatever.  You park that cart mid-aisle, we don't care.  AND THEN.  My parents ended up being in town, too, so we hit some shops together.  And then they took us to lunch.  Fish and chips. My favorite (thanks again, Public!).

So it was a nice day.  And now all I have left on my list is writing our annual holiday form letter and ordering prints.  Oh, and eating cookies.  And maybe taking down my Halloween quilt and replacing it with something more winter-inspired.  Who am I kidding, the house is still decked out in black and orange.  Panic attack.  Need more coffee.

P.S. This post took me like three hours to write.  I'm not even kidding.

Tori Amos, Snow Angel.  Tori always knows what to say.