Friday, December 31, 2010

Yearly Recap: 2010

I read this recap on All and Sundry this morning and thought it would be fun to try. As I've been tackling it, I've come to realize that fun was not the right adjective for what has become this project. Overwhelming, eye-opening, timely. Each of these might serve as better descriptors. As I move forward with this reflection of the year, I'm coming to understand how rarely I stop to take it all in. What happened this year? What did I wish to do? What did I do?

Please let the following not be another forgotten goal, another well intentioned start without a finish... I will complete the recap this year as blank as parts of it might be. I will complete it this year with the goal of comparing it to the recap of 2011. I will complete this recap so that next year's will be full in comparison.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?

Started a business. Rode on a water slide.

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions and will you make more this year?

I typically do not make resolutions. I'm a great starter but not such a superb finisher so I tend to avoid resolutions... If I were to make them, I would center them around the following ideas- definitely ideas as they are way too vague to be goals: keep a list of books I've read, write more days than not each week, learn more about how to work my camera, make art books for the kids like Rob's sister does, gain a following on my work blog, create meaningful monthly business goals, cut down on my spending.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I can't think of a single soul although this doesn't seem possible so perhaps I'm forgetting....

4. Did anyone close to you die?

See #4

5. What countries did you visit?

We went to the Bahamas in April for our real love-hate relationship with Atlantis. And Rob and I went to Las Vegas (which felt like it should have been another country) on our first ever trip since Caroline was born. This was for Rob's business... not exactly the location we would have chosen for our first get away but lots of fun none the less...

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

When I think about the concept of one word resolutions (something that a lot of people are talking about in the blogosphere these days), the word trust pops up again and again so I'm going with that even though I don't know why... That seems to be the point of these one word resolutions. The word should come to mean something over the course of the year.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched in your memory and why?

There's that memory thing...I've got nothing.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Starting a business. And as it's hard for to remember too far back, I will focus on a current accomplishment. A few weeks ago I had lunch with my dear friend Donna. She and I set a goal to write daily until we met again a month later. Donna has had a daily writing practice recently and let it go. I haven't written daily in years. I have written consecutively for the past fourteen days (in a notebook, not on the blog) and am so darn proud of myself. It really does help to center me. Here's to fourteen more days.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Getting discouraged when my business did not grow the way I thought it would. I've had so many good ideas that just haven't caught on....I even had a speaker tell me when I told her my idea to present lectures similar to the ones she does for teachers for parents instead that it wouldn't work because parents just don't care. Instead of working harder through these disappointments, I've backed off and done little and I'm not proud of that fact.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I bruised my big toe nail last winter and for some reason, just waited for it to get better. Not a good move. I ended up with a podiatrist injecting me with toe Novocain and removing the nail. If you can avoid toe Novocain, do so at all costs. I swear it was more painful than childbirth and I delivered both girls without medication.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My iPad.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Clothes and books.

13. What did you get really excited about?

My business initially and my writing practice here at the end of the year.

14. What song will always remind you of 2010?

California Gurls. My 'gurls' listen to it again and again. I'm so glad that there are parts of the song where the lyrics are pretty hard to understand... I can hear the questions now...

15. Compared to this time last year are you

happier or sadder: happier

thinner or fatter: thinner

richer or poorer: same

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Made more money. Paid more attention. Done more yoga.

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Spend money.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

Mom visited. We spent Christmas Eve eating the seven fishes with Rob's family. We opened presents here in the morning and then went to Rob's sisters for the day.

19. What was your favorite tv program?

This one is easy. Modern Family. I also smile a big smile when I realize it's a Wednesday making it Modern Family night.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I simply must start writing down the titles of books I've read. I did it sporadically this year and it's so great to look over the list and remember titles I had forgotten. At the moment, the titles that come to mind include Room for the way it made me stop in my tracks and think and The Hunger Games for the way it consumed an entire day because I just had to find out would happen. I know there are so, so many more...

21. What was your favorite music of the year?

I've never been one to follow music so these types of questions are always hard. Thanks to Maren during the time that I was spinning I enjoyed California Gurls, Dynomite and Empire State of Mind. And thanks to Gayle on my favorite radio show I remembered that I really like Josh Groban.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Even after all the bad reviews and worse reports from friends, I loved Eat, Pray, Love. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I am also one of the remaining few who still love the book.

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

Well, here's a reason to pay more attention... I have no idea what I did on my birthday. I even went back and read posts from that time and there is no mention of anything. I do know that I turned 37.

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

A better memory and a business that took off magically without much leg work.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Warm weather: sun dresses
Cold weather: leggings and tunics or jeans and sweaters

26. What kept you sane?

Exercising. The first three quarters of the year were spent spinning and doing pilates with Maren in her basement. I loved Maren, the people I worked out with and the music but I did not love the chunky thighs it gave me. In the fall, I discovered RISE, a cross training class that is harder than anything I've ever done. I love it.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010?

I learned my lesson while completing this recap: slow down and pay attention!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I once had a writing teacher who spent a lot time telling me to avoid the use of cliches. I hope she does not read this post because it will revolve around a classic cliche. I just can't help it...

Sometimes I curse all the time that I spend on-line. I wonder what else I might accomplish during that time. The other day, I was reminded that everything happens for a reason as cliche as it is. I had checked a certain blog off and on for the past couple of months. I had found A Design So Vast after learning about Katrina Kenison and her book, The Gift of an Ordinary Day. Katrina's writing is so beautiful that I decided the blogs she recommended would be worth exploring. The writer of A Design So Vast looked strangely familiar to me. I decided though that it was simply the idea of this woman that was familiar. The writer is my age with children the same ages as my girls. We shared many of the same life moments and beliefs. The other day though, as I scrolled through another group of pictures, the writer began to look more like a person I knew than an idea I liked. When I checked the writer's contact information, my suspicions were confirmed. This writer, whose work I had so admired, was my great camp friend Lindsey. She and I shared many summers together at Cape Cod Sea Camps and letters throughout the winter. She is one of the many people I had lost touch with and wondered about over the years. We are now talking about the fun possibility of our girls going to camp together as we once did.

This week, I made a new friend out of an old one. What a hopeful way to enter the new year...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let it Snow...

In case you ever wondered what 22 inches of snow would look like at our house, here it is...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twas the Season

What a busy few days! For the most part, I'll let the pictures do the talking..

Our celebrating began on Thursday when my cousin Emily, her partner Amy and their little girl Payson joined us for dinner. Emily and Amy live in New Hapshire so we don't see them often and in fact not at all since Payson was born two and half years ago. Based on the fun we all had together, hopefully we will be seeing them all more often in the future. The best pictures I have of our get together include the ones in which Payson snuck up stairs after Emily had gotten her in her jammies, stripped to a pull up and put on Katherine's dress shoes. Katherine immediately followed while Caroline, continuing to play the role of the big girl that she assumed all evening, remained clothed. So I will refrain from posting two nearly naked girls although the pictures were so cute it is tempting...
Here are the pictures that passed the censors... Unfortunately there are no pictures of Katherine enjoying her cousins as she was naked in them all and there are no pictures of Amy although she did keep her clothes on so I'm not sure why her pictures are missing!
Our fun of Thursday continued into Friday when we went with Mom to Rob's parents to enjoy the seven fishes with Karen and her family. Again our pictures don't truly tell the tale as we only have pictures before we went. Once at our celebration, the girls had a great time running around with their cousins counting down the hours until Santa would arrive at each of their house.

And then the big day arrived...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And then there's this....

Yesterday I wrote about the beauty of Caroline's Christmas card. The message and the grown up language were amazing. And then she brought home a card filled with an entirely different grown up theme. Now Rob and I are really wondering who her creative muse could be...

Yesterday's card read:

Merry Chirstmas to you!
Roses are red. Violets are blue and I love you!
Merry Christmas again as you sit on a ben.
I throw you in a dump, as you thump.
Have some beer and holiday cheer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Christmas Card

Caroline's teacher is clearly looking for new and clever ways to keep the children happy during this week of school before the holiday break. For some reason our district goes to school until 3pm on Thursday which seems to be pretty uncommon in our area. Caroline continues to tell me about people who are already out (like her sister- the injustice!) or friends from other districts who at least have half a day on Thursday.

If I'm hearing all of this then Caroline's teacher must know how badly her students wish to be elsewhere this week. Yesterday she brought in materials from her own collection of scrapbooking, stamping and card making supplies and let the children create. Caroline decorated a lovely card on the outside but the inside was what made this a 'blog-worthy' event.

It read:

"Dear Family,

Merry Christmas and happy new year! I hope you all had a wonderful year, but just think whats to come! Love, xoxo Caroline"

I for one can't wait to find out...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Educational Equality

I try to not to carry over my professional posts to this blog but I really want lots and lots of people to read today's post. Link to it here or read the copy of it posted below...

Today I went to local school to learn how I could volunteer. I am friends with their professor in residence and have listened to many stories about the community she serves. I had expected to be shocked and disturbed by what I found but my expectations could not have prepared me for the hours I spent at School 12.

While the students were well dressed in uniforms and on the whole well behaved (thanks to an apparently superior group of teachers), the halls were staffed with monitors and the doors guarded by police officers.

While the teachers gave up their lunch hour to work with students who read below grade level, some of the third graders that I read with, read only as well as my pre-schooler.

While the building was beautifully decorated for the holidays (by a janitor whose position was cut last year but who returned to carry on his tradition), the director of special education asked me to evaluate some students in need of speech services because many, many children were under served if they were served at all.

While the principal and vice principal were actively involved, walking the hallways, interacting with students and teachers the whole time I was there, teachers complained that they had received no money back from parents for a planned field trip.

But then there is this:

The school has no programs in art, music or library.

In September, the principal learned that he had no money with which to pay a music teacher, an art teacher or a librarian.

I know there are bright and aspiring artists at School 12 and there is no one to watch their talent grow.

The vice principal told me that students come to her asking when they can bring books home from the library. There is no one to check out those books.

While the library at School 12 is small compared to the spacious libraries I have visted in my district, there were shelves of books waiting to be read. Instead of seeing a librarian doing her best to reach these children, I saw lights turned out and doors locked.

If you live in New Jersey, please share this story and any others you know like it with Governor Christie so he will know the damage that his budget cuts have caused. If you live outside of our state, learn what is happening in your own state. Italic

Beginning in the new year, I will serve as the School 12 librarian, in a volunteer capacity for the hours a week that I can. While this will help, there has to be a bigger and better answer.

There has to be.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Brady Bunch

After allowing the girls to watch the likes of Hannah Montana and The Wizards of Waverly Place for a few months, I finally turned in to 'Mean Mommy' over the summer and said that enough was enough. The story lines were silly and the girl's attitudes were beyond ridiculous. I wanted Caroline to be able to fit in with her friends but I just couldn't stand it anymore. The attitude was contagious and my sweet little girl was being transformed into an obnoxious teen before my very eyes.

A wise friend told me that her family enjoyed watching Full House. We dove head first into the 80s and spent the summer enjoying big hair and patterned sweaters. Then the channel that was covering Full House changed their lineup and I was forced to put my thinking cap on yet again. And 'that was how we became the Brady Bunch'. The girls are now totally engrossed with the same family tha Rob and I grew up loving.

As we snuggled on the couch this morning watching an episode in which Mike and Carol debated the pros and cons of doing a commercial for a product they didn't really like (ethics on tv- imagine!), Caroline said, "I wish the Brady Bunch was a book too." I beamed a big literacy consultant smile. And then it got better... Caroline's next comment was, "I think I'll write it." So watch out children's literature lovers- there's a new book on the horizon...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tis the Season

Last weekend was spent diving deep into the holiday spirit.
We began with the lighting of the Ridgewood Christmas tree. Unfortunately our camera froze so we have no pictures but it was a fun night- a neighborhood tradition that is a first for us. As we were talking about going, Caroline said, "Now doesn't that sound a bit too chaotic for someone in our family?" And she wasn't talking about herself! I guess that's why we've been here for three years and this is our first tree lighting. It was one of those events that was a ton of fun to be at but also a ton of fun to be home from...
Saturday we got our tree on a freezing day. At first, we were a bit afraid that we had brought Charlie Brown's tree home but it settled nicely. And the day ended with our annual visit to Santa. Each year, Katherine has refused to sit with the big man so I have been in the Santa picture with the girls. The only thing that has changed this year is that Katherine is now so big that I can hide behind her in the annual Santa picture. Look closely and you'll see that I still got to visit St. Nick. When he asked me what I wanted I should have told him that I wanted a year of not being in a picture with him!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Christmas Month

The girls began the month of Christmas with great joy. I brought out the Advent calendar that my Aunt Connie (a frequent reader of this blog!) made for me when I was little. We have used this calendar for ages in it's traditional format. We've reached into a pocket each day, hanging a minature ornament on each tiny golden ball.

This year, I have achieved records in the Christmas shopping category. I think because one of my good friends is Jewish and began shopping early for Hannukah, I joined in the early shopping rush. My shopping is nearly all done and my wrapping is close to complete. I have never gone into December with quite so little on my list. As a result, I've felt able to do some things that I have hoped to do for years.

I read many blogs each day and have always admired the women who put together activity calendars for their children. Each day their girls and boys will discover in their calendars a fun, holiday related activity to be done that day. With my extra time, I decided that I didn't need to be jealous of these women but could in fact join them. So with the inspiration that I've taken from TeachMama, The Artful Parent and Pink and Green Mama, the girls will be choosing little slips of paper from their calendar each day.

And in case you think I have gone off the deep end, this activity is actually a lesson in simplicity.

It is truly amazing how the littlest of things bring the greatest joy to the girls. Yesterday's activity read, "Enjoy our meals on our reindeer plates." Now, this was something we would have done anyway. I always bring out our holiday plates at the beginning of Decemeber. But because this message was written on a tiny slip of paper that was discovered behind the number one on our Advent calendar, the girls were beyond excited.

They actually said, "Really!? We can eat breakfast on our reindeer plates?!"

Yes, you really can and wait until you see what tomorrow will bring!