Thursday, February 27, 2014

Are you a Traditionalist?

So much for my New Year's resolution of blogging more.... I can't believe it's the end of February already. I'm not sure where the time has gone. We started out January ready to go into the New Year. On MLK weekend, we have a tradition where Tim's parents take us, his brother, and sister's family away to Bretton Woods for a long weekend to ski and reconnect. We look forward to it every year. Amazingly, we (the siblings) all live in the same town but we hardly ever see each other. The kids are all different ages and we are all so busy but this is the one weekend a year when we know we will reconnect and have fun. The kids absolutely love it as well. We have so many traditions on this weekend. We eat the same meals on the same nights throughout the weekend. Friday we are on our own because everyone gets up to the condo at different times. Saturday night is pasta and homemade meatballs. Sunday is beef stew night. For skiing each day, everyone packs a picnic lunch and eats it at the mountain. Mimi and I don't downhill ski so we have our own traditions. One day, we always go either snowshoeing or cross country skiing and bring our own picnic lunch to the Nordic center where we eat lunch in front of the fire. On the other day, we walk to the Mount Washington hotel spa and get our nails and/or toes done. Afterwards, we go the lobby to get a glass of wine/hot chocolate and play cards. Eventually Mimi talks me into sharing some sort of chocolately goodness dessert. There is usually a wedding going on so we stay to watch that likes it's a tv show and then slowly make our way back. We could easily stay all afternoon. This year, Tim's sister came up on Friday night and just before they arrived they realized they had forgotten all of their ski boots, hats, and gloves. They were going to drive home and come back the next day but we convinced them that even though we had our traditions, we could easily make new ones. And we did! Instead of skiing first thing on Saturday morning, we all slept in and then enjoyed a nice breakfast together. This was a perfect year for this as the kids are entering "tween-dome" and enjoy the extra sleep. Then we spent the afternoon at the Mount Washington Hotel. While Mimi and I went to our spa appointment, everyone else went to the pool. The kids met up in the arcade while the adults met up in the Cave bar and enjoyed a drink together. We ended up staying to play games and enjoy each other's company. It was then that we decided that since had such a great time, that we would make an effort to get together each month for a monthly sibling/cousin dinner at home. Traditions are awesome. And this year we learned, sometimes, it's okay to stray from traditions and make new ones. I will say, when Mimi and I were at the spa the ladies were asking us why we were there. We shared our story that we have been doing this for the past 14 years, that we eat the same things during the weekend, and that she and I go to the spa together each year. By the end of our visit people we coming up to us telling us how great it was that our family did this and the loved hearing our stories. I hope we inspired some people to start new traditions! Every year we also always play games together. I'll admit it...I might have forced people to play games in the beginning...but now everyone likes it. We have gone from paper airplane contests to Bingo to Bunco to Boggle and double solitaire (thank you Auntie Libby!). Each year we try something new and have a blast. We always make sure it's something kids and adults can do and we always have fun. It's also Tim's Dad's birthday on this weekend and we celebrate his birthday with cake and presents. For the first few years, his Mom always had a cake made but for the last several years Mimi has designed and made the cake or cupcakes. One year, it was a cake decorated with trees and skiers. This year his cake resembled a Jeep grill...now we know where Tim's Jeep obsession comes from. On Monday, we have traditionally cleaned up, packed up, and then gone tubing before we leave the mountain. On the way home, all the siblings/kids have lunch. Because the ski conditions weren't great we all just headed home on our own and it was okay. We all did our own thing and it worked. For us, we stopped at the LL Bean outlet and got the kids some boots. When you have teenagers, they grow at crazy rates so my kids have blown through multiple shoe sizes over the last year. We didn't have any boots for Jack but luckily he and his grandfather now wear the same shoe size (what?!) so he was able to borrow some for the weekend. But we stopped on the way home to get him his own pair. Mimi and I now wear the same size (what?!) so we buy one pair of shoes for the both of us and it's considered a bargain. Well, to us anyways :) We also found a great restaurant on the way home and said "This will be great for the group next year". Love old traditions and also when life happens and new traditions emerge.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Deep Thoughts...

I love quotes. I'm the one at bookgroup that writes down my favorite quotes from the book we just finished. I have started a quote book for each of my kids to give as a graduation gift. Things like "Live the life you want to live. Be the person you want to remember. Make decisions, make mistakes. If you fail, at least you tried." and "Never regret anything because at one time it was exactly what you wanted." I feel like I come across little quotes like these at exactly the time when I need them most. I love when I read something and it just makes me stop in my tracks and think. I also love it when they make me just laugh out loud. I have a few funny ones that are my personal favs that I'd like to share. If nothing else, I hope one of them makes you laugh: "You and I are more than friends. We are like a small gang." "I don't run. And if you ever see me running, you should run too because something is probably chasing me." "We should open a store called Forever 39. We can sell wine and yoga pants." Amen, sister. "I'm afraid I can't go. I've already taken off my bra so I'm in for the night." And one of my favorites "Roses are dead, violets are fine, this day sucks balls, I really love wine." What's your favorite funny quote?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

End of the Year Pleasures

A few nights ago a friend of mine texted and said "Come meet us out for drinks!" Usually we hop at the chance but this was a tough sell. I've been home since Dec 20th - mostly off from work but working for the first few days of the year. I have been "going" since then with party after party, then Christmas, then I took my sister's kids for a few days. I feel like even though I have been off from work, I have been extremely busy...up until New Year's. Here's what I've discovered tho...having two weeks away from work have not been good for me. On one hand, I feel like I've gotten a lot of house projects done. On my list was cleaning out both my personal and work email. Check! I wanted to clean the fridge...instead I just swabbed it down. Sort of check. I wanted to reorganize my newly reorganized pantry. Check! I wanted the kids to thoroughly clean their rooms...nightstand drawers, closets, general room cleaning....that didn't happen at all. No check. I didn't plan to organize the basement. Well, I continuously have "reorganize the basement" on my list but it is never a priority for me. Except that Jack got a weight bench and rather than the weights falling through my dining room ceiling, we decided they belonged in the basement so we cleaned out a space for him. Once we got that going, we were inspired to reorganize the rest. Today I spent 4 hours down there...in gloves, boots, and a hat...but I have to admit, it looks great! Surprise, check! Sounds like I was productive but I wouldn't go that far. I was sick for most of the two weeks with a bad cold and crazy cough that still hasn't gone away. I didn't work out on the treadmill for about 1 1/2 weeks because I felt horrible. Then it was so hard to motivate to get back into the swing of things. But today, I finally got back into the swing of things and realized how much I missed it. It just takes one step to get moving. Much like when my friend Ann texted me. I said to Tim "what do you think?" as I sat on the couch in my yoga pants after eating a sub. He said "We should do it." I thought for a minute and then said "I don't know if I can motivate." I had worked from 8-6, granted from my couch in my yoga pants but that night I had planned to get working on my 2014 trip presentation that is "due" next weekend. He looked at me and said "You need to get off the couch." Ouch. So, I brushed my air dried hair, put on some makeup, and threw on some jeans. I was exhausted, sadly. Yet, so happy to see our friends. Within 10 minutes of arriving this was our conversation: Me: It was so hard to motivate but so glad you texted. Ann: I know...having time off from work makes it so hard to get off the couch. Me: I'll be honest...the shirt I'm wearing (I pointed to the shirt under my sweater)...I wore yesterday too. Ann: See this shirt? (She pointed to the shirt under her sweater)...I wore it to bed last night and all day today. And I'll probably wear it to bed again tonight. We laughed. Me: Look at my hair...I just dried my bangs and let the rest air dry. Ann: You can't even tell! Ann: I swear to God I was addicted to sugar in the last two weeks. I had to wean myself off. I was being mean to my family. Me: On New Year's Day, I decided to have a bowl of cheese curls and diet coke for lunch. Tim threatened to take a picture of me...with my bed head, my glasses...and big bowl of cheese curls. It was a frightening moment. But I've said it before and I'll say it again, cheese curls are my kryptonite. It's best if eat them and get them out of the house. Ann: I just showered yesterday for the first time in 2 days. Me: the socks I have on (under my boots)...I've had on for 3 days. They are so cute...I got them for Christmas. Ann: I did laundry yesterday and barely had any for myself. I realized it's because I've been wearing the same clothes all week. And I don't think that's good! Me: I thought the same thing today!! A few things to note here. I love when you realize you are in the same boat with your friends and can totally relate. I love the honesty of the conversation. That's the sign of a good friend. And I am sharing because I'm pretty sure it's not just Ann and I that are in the same boat. I love the time at the end of the year to regroup, reorganize, and get myself reoriented for the next year. It's like September for me. I love filling out my new agenda calendar, I love organizing, and I love starting fresh for the new year. I also love taking a break, sitting around in my yoga pants, and not feeling the pressure to be "on" all the time. I hope you had the chance to recharge your batteries, do some organizing...if you wanted to, and are ready for the new year. Time to get out of those yoga pants and get moving again, Ladies!

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 Resolutions

It hit me last night when I was trying to fall asleep what my other resolution was from last year that I couldn't remember...to have more game nights. Yep...didn't do it. The kids didn't seem to be around much, with their growing social lives, and we just seemed so busy that there was always something else to do. Well, at least I remembered what it was! And by documenting my 2014 resolutions here, at least I'll be able to look back and see what they were when I forget again this year. First, here is my approach to resolutions. Don't make too many or you are never going to do them. Or in my case, you might not even remember what they are. So, this year I have but two resolutions. One is to paint more. When I had a year off in between jobs I did a lot of painting and even took a watercolor class. I loved it! But, I had more time back then. I haven't painted in over a year. My goal is to get back to it this year. The other is to blog more. There were times when I had a lot to say and other times when I really struggled to come up with ideas. I realized that I lost my original intent for blogging which was to just share things that happened rather than trying to come up with specific things to say. To do that successfully, I just have to be more present and mindful about things going on around me...and not get wrapped up in the busy-ness of life. I have to be mindful of the little things...the things that make me laugh, make me think, and make me take notice. Getting caught up in the hectic pace of life doesn't allow you to notice the little things. So, I guess my resolution is to really slow down and be more mindful and the outcome, hopefully, will be that I blog more. Wish me luck! What are your resolutions?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Closing Out 2013

It's time to close out another year and start a fresh one! Lots to be thankful for this year, lots of lessons learned, and lots to look forward to in 2014. Have you made your resolutions yet? Some people say resolutions are self defeating and don't bother making any. I make them because they are a form of a list that keeps me on track with the things I promised myself I would focus on. I did pretty good with my resolutions last year. I wanted to eat healthier and lost weight. I worked on changing my diet and although I wouldn't call myself a vegetarian, I found that I know eat less meat, lots more beans/protein, and a lot of salads. In the end, I lost 10 pounds over the last 8 months. I discovered that in the end, it wasn't about the number I got to on the scale but rather the way I felt about myself and the way my clothes fit. Since I am just 5'3" gaining 1-2 pounds is really noticeable to me because there aren't many places for the weight to hide. Damn you, tall girls! I feel like this year gave me good clarity on what I need to do to maintain the weight that makes me feel my best. Now I just need to make sure I maintain...as though that's a piece of cake or something! I also committed to using the sitting area in my bedroom more. We have a fireplace in our bedroom...that has never been used. My closet is right by the fireplace and I don't want my clothes so smell like a campfire every day. Ironic, since I enjoy camping so much. By the fireplace, we have a nice seating area and a big screen tv...that we never sit in. We tend to hang out as a family in the living room so the sitting area just doesn't get used. I did try to accomplish this resolution but wasn't able to work it out. I need to work on finding a way to use the nice, relaxing area more but I need to balance it with the desire to spend time with the family, considering we have such a short amount of time together each night. And quite frankly, I can't think of what my third resolution was but I know I had another one. I'm going to guess I didn't do well on that one. Just being honest with ya....do you remember all of your resolutions?? Maybe it's just me. Each New Year's Eve we do something a little different - whether it's host friends here, go to a friend's house, or celebrate together. I was happy to spend the night with the four of us this year as I know it might be one of the last with the kid's growing social lives. We started the day by going into Providence. We had lunch and then the boys went to the Providence Friars basketball game while "us girls" went shopping at the mall. Now, let's just say that Mimi and I love a good trip to the mall. We started out with a few returns that we had and then we did a little shopping but for whatever reason, we didn't have our shopping mojo on and were ready to go home 2 hours later. However, the basketball game went into double overtime. I don't think Mimi and I have ever uttered the words "Hopefully we can leave the mall soon" but that's what we found ourselves saying. When we got home we had planned to do one thing per hour until midnight to keep ourselves busy...and awake. First up, ping pong tournament! I had got the kids one of those portable nets for Christmas thinking they would use it a few times on the island but somehow our dining room table has become a full scale ping pong table! We played 3 rounds, Jack winning each time. The next hour was spent making and eating some very yummy appetizers and watching a movie. We love "appetizer night". We usually do it when there is a Patriots game on in the late afternoon or sometimes on a Sunday night we combine apps with a movie night. Whenever we stay home on New Year's Eve, it's what we do. The next hour was spent discussing where we want to go for our trips in 2014. Apparently Tim and I were still thinking about camping trips and the kids were not. We worked it out...meaning, we are still camping and the kids are coming to terms with it. But we each shared our lists of where we want to go, then we narrowed it down to a top 3 for each person. Now we have 2 weeks to do our research and come back to share what we found out. Then we'll do a family vote and go from there! Thanks to my friend Pinterest, I started 2 new traditions last year. One, was the Jar of Good Memories. I have a jar that I keep on the counter with plain paper and a pen inside so there are no excuses that you couldn't find a piece of paper or something to write with. Each time one of us has a great memory from the year, we write it down and put it in the jar. Then we spent an hour going through them on New Year's Eve. It was really fun to see what people had written, to read about things we had forgotten about, and to see what everyone else had put in there. There were things like "I had a great summer vacation" to "We spent our 16th wedding anniversary in Beverly Hills!" to "Making the baseball team" to "Had a great time paddling in Wilmington, NC!" If you don't do this, I highly encourage you to do this. It was one of our favorite things to do that night! The other thing I started that we are just now reaping the benefits from was to start a perpetual calendar. I have a little vintage berry basket that I keep index cards in. Each one has the date on it and then each year I write the day of the week and the year. Then I just jot down 1 or 2 things that happened that day. For instance, on New Year's eve this year, it was already New Year's day in 2013 and we all went and took a walk in the afternoon. Honestly, some days I have nothing to jot down, so I'll just note the weather. We are only a few days in but already it is fun to look back on what happened this day a year ago. Again, do this one too!! Finally, we finished out the night by watching the New Year's eve special on tv, getting our toasting drinks ready, and ringing in the year with noisemakers and hats. We had a great night and I know that time with the kids is becoming limited since they will soon be off to school so this was a special night for me that I know I will remember for many years. Actually, I'll remember it for as long as I keep up my perpetual calendar :) Happy New Year to you!!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Homemade Christmas

As soon as we see friends and family on Christmas and soon thereafter, one of the first questions they ask is "Did you guys do homemade gifts this year?!" Yes - we did it again although for the first time ever I was making things on Christmas Eve day. December has been really busy for all of us and it just felt like there was never enough time in the day to get everything done. And as usual, I had to remind Jack about 5 times that he needed to get making his gifts...and I ended up having to give him one of my ideas because he couldn't think of anything. Hence the reason I was making things on Christmas Eve. But I refuse to give up this tradition because the gifts are always amazing and thoughtful. Here's the rundown on what we gave each other: I have my own personal candy stash in a "secret" location that everyone knows about. But everyone knows to never eat my candy. I just like a little bite of chocolate each day. Not a full size candy bar or anything but just a morsel of chocolate so I keep my treats in my own spot so no one eats them. Jack made me a candy stash box, that he painted pink and green, and filled with my favorite candy. And for a kid that loves candy, this must have been torture for him to make :) Each week I make a menu of what we are going to have and then I make the grocery list based on that. Then I have to remember not to throw out the grocery list when I get home because the menu is on there. So, Tim made me a grocery notebook with pre-perforated sections that I can write my menu on and then a section that I can write my list on and rip out. Then I can look back at the menus so I can get ideas on what to have each week. You know I love my lists and notebooks so this was great! Mimi has been taking a ceramics class this semester and she had told me that one of her pieces had been put on display at school but it never came home. Well, it did for Christmas and let me tell you, it is definitely worthy of its showcase status. It is an oval navy blue platter with a white lace type pattern imprinted in the center. It's absolutely beautiful! Mimi has one brown accent wall in her room and the other walls are pink. Jack spray glued her light switch and put brown glitter on it. It turned out great...although I have to put some spray poly on it because we were all wearing glitter by the end of opening our gifts. It is going to look amazing on her wall! Mimi is very artistic and loves to draw fashion outfits. She gets inspired by magazines and cuts outfits out and then makes up her own. This means that there are magazine clippings constantly falling off her desk and littering her floor. Tim made her a fashion sketchbook by getting her a big sketchbook and attaching a large see through envelope for all her clippings. On the front, he used some craft paper, in pink and green of course, and wrote "Mimi's Fashion Book". She loves it and we will love that all those little clippings have a home now. Since I had given Jack my idea of the glitter light switch, I was struggling what to make a the last minute. Then it hit me that she had some leftover flannel fabric that was pink with white whales from a sewing project she had never gotten to. I whipped up 2 pillowcases for her room and I have to say, they were super easy and absolutely adorable! Now I want to make some for the camper. Jack is 2 years away from college (how is that possible?!) and is constantly doing research on different schools. So, I created "Jack's College Notebook". I did research on his favorite schools so far and typed up on the info along with the school logo for each one. The information includes size of school, cost, average GPA, and some information on majors he might be interested in. Then I left empty note pages for him to add his own info on each school, as well as add new ones. Each year Jack and my mother enter a football league and my father does it with my nephew. They compete to see how well they do not only against everyone in the pool but against each other. Each Sunday morning my mother calls Jack for his picks and they go back and forth until they agree on what they are going to put in. And every Sunday morning you can hear Jack yelling "Where is my football sheet?!" So, Mimi made him a Football Pick Organization System which is a red folder that says Football Picks. Inside there are two pockets - one is to hold his football pick sheet and the other is for the articles he cuts out during the week to help him make his decisions. Then there is a notebook for notes. It was a perfect gift for him! Not only is Jack 2 years away from college but he is about 7 months away from getting his driver's permit. Tim made him a box that said "Save or Walk" and it had pictures of the Jeep Cherokee that he wants on it. Inside is a spot for his savings account register so he knows how much money he has saved so far for his car. The gift is very practical and necessary but also hysterical with the "Save or Walk" slogan. Of course both of our kids will have a jeep for their first car because of Tim's love/obsession for Jeeps. A few months ago he went on a Jeep trail in Western, Mass with his father, brother, and a few friends. Jack framed a picture of Tim, his father, and brother from that trip that showed all the Jeeps lined up in the back. It was a great picture and a great idea! Now that the kids are older and have busier lives, we find ourselves with more free time. So, I made Tim a date night box. There is one card for each month in an envelope. On the first of each month, he can open his card to see what we are doing and then he can decide when we'll go. They are silly simple things, like going out in the summer on a jeep cruise to get ice cream. It will be interesting to see how many of these we can fit in. I'll keep you posted. And finally, Mimi also made Tim something in ceramics class. Keeping with the Jeep theme she made him a green mug that has the imprint of a Jeep grill on the front and it is splattered with brown paint like mud. It's perfect for him. I'm happy to say that this year we inspired Tim's sister and her family to also start making homemade gifts and it sounds like it went great! My niece Lily is obsessed with horses and actually rides several times a week. I rode from 4th grade to my senior year in high school and when I was little I used to make horse jumps all over my house and spend hours "riding" over them. Lily does the exact same thing and so her brothers made her a horse jump painted with flowers all over it and her name...with the instructions "For outdoor use only". Apparently they don't want her jumping inside anymore. So clever!! Even though we are typically going to the craft store 2 days before Christmas I still love this tradition. I suspect it will come to an end at some point in the near future as the kids go off to college but I hope we can keep it going for as long as we can. I absolutely love the creativity and ideas that everyone comes up with. You should consider doing it too!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Things I am Thankful for...

I can't believe it's been a month since I last blogged. It's not like I've had nothing to say in the last month. If you know me, you know I have plenty to say. But I have no good reason for why I haven't blogged. But rather than dwell on it, let's move on. Since we just had Thanksgiving, I'd like to share some things I am thankful for. I'm kinda obsessed with my new treadmill and Parenthood. I love walking and I hate when it gets cold and dark because it gets harder and harder to motivate myself to get outside. At the end of the winter last year, my treadmill died. I literally wore the tread out. I was very thankful for two things. One, that my treadmill waited to die until it was light in the morning again and two, that the belt didn't bust in two while I was walking on it. I can only imagine what that would have been like. I can see the bubble over your head. You are imagining what that would be like, aren't you? In my horror film, the belt snaps, I go shooting off backwards like a rocket, but at the last minute my shoelace gets stuck in the motor and I get a tread burn from the belt repeatedly grating against my leg...as I frantically try to pull the kill switch. It's the same every time...no matter how I try to imagine it differently. I digress. So, after walking only on the weekends, and only when I motivated myself to walk in the cold on those weekends, I hit Craig's List and found myself a "barely used" and extremely heavy to move treadmill. This brings me to the next two things I'm thankful for. One, is the dolly that we used to move the treadmill with and two, is the playroom because that is where my new treadmill is living. And that's because it was the closest place to the front door that we could put it. My last treadmill lived in the office, up 2 flights of stairs, and there was no way Tim, Jack, and I could get it up the stairs. After my friend's recommendation to start watching Parenthood, and quite frankly, a lot of nagging... "You haven't started watching it yet?! Why?!"...I decided I would watch an episode each time I walked. I am thankful for both the recommendation and for my new friends, The Bravermans. I literally feel like they are my friends and I can't wait to see what happens next. I know, I sound crazy. That's ok. I like it that much. If you haven't watched it, you should start. After two episodes I asked my friend, "Is it normal to cry during every episode?" Apparently it is. I tried watching it on the train last week and I had to shut it down. I draw the line at boo-hoo'ing on the train over a tv show. I'm not THAT crazy. Speaking of crazy, we went out the night before Thanksgiving, with the rest of the world and everyone was asking each other "What are you doing for Thanksgiving?" I happily replied that we were hanging at home, just the four of us. People typically had two reactions. One was "Ohh...that's nice"...aka, that's sad you have no where to go. The other was "I'm so jealous"...aka, I wish we could do that. We cycle through one of three options every few years. We go to my sister's house, we get together with friends, or we hang at home. We love all of the options. And every few years we decide not to be stressed about cleaning the house, or rushing off to someone's house, or fighting the crowds on the road. And we just do whatever we want. This year we had a WII tournament...we literally haven't played WII in a year. We played games. We lit a fire. We watched a movie. We cooked and ate lots of food. And we do what we always do when we celebrate at home. We moved the kitchen table in front of the fire, turned out the lights, and ate by firelight and candlelight. Okay, to be honest, that lasted about two minutes before the kids said "This seems weird. Why are we eating in the dark?" So...we turned the lights back on. I am thankful my "weird" teenagers let me sit by firelight for two minutes. We also did our favorite thing...which is to dress up on the top and wear pj's or sweats on the bottom. I want us to look good at the table, but be comfortable. And let's be honest...It's what we all want to wear on Thanksgiving....elastic waist pants. Inevitably, we all unbutton, loosen our zipper, and dream we were in our pj's right after we eat so we just go right there. No need to wait. One year, Jack's idea of "fancy" was to douse himself in a bottle of cologne. This year, he "wore" a tie with his long sleeve white tshirt....except he hasn't quite got the tying part down...so he just tied it in a knot around his neck. It was quite a look. I am thankful for our crazy little traditions when we stay home for Thanksgiving. I think everyone should do the same every once in awhile. I can't tell you how many people told me they wished they could do the same but they "have" to get together with their family. You know what? You are your own little family and you are an adult who can do whatever you want. Give yourself permission every once in awhile to do your own thing...to not have plans...to enjoy your own little family unit...and to wear elastic waist pants from the get go. Trust me. You'll be thankful.