Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Obligatory New Year's Ramblings

Here we are at the end of 2009. The end of another year. Another decade. Whew.

I think back to where I was in 1999. That crazy moment when everyone thought the world would end. It didn't. But, oh my the changes I've gone through in these 10 years. Changing career. Twice. Meeting and marrying the man of my dreams. Moving from the city to the 'burbs. Giving birth to the sweetest, most beautiful little girl. Joining a gym and actually going. Yep, big changes.

Meanwhile, there are those that say the decade isn't ending at all, that it doesn't end until 2010. Because there is no zero year. Except that there is. We don't start at 1 year old. It takes a year to get there. Wouldn't the same be true of our calendar? And anyways, symbolically the new decade starts when you change that third digit. So I'm going with it's a new decade.

We'll be celebrating the new year with some of Neil's oldest friends. People that have come to be very special to me as well. We've been up since 5am when Sophie woke us quite unpleasantly with a coughing fit (The same cough that has been plaguing her, and therefore us, for six weeks now - we've been to the doctor three times. Sigh.), so there's a chance we won't make it all the way to midnight. Lame. But that's the life of a parent of young children. I've had more than my share of over the top new year's eves so I'm allowed to coast on a few of these.

No new resolutions. I have the 101 in 1001 that I began last year. I'm doing okay on that. There are a lot of things I need to work on. And I will. I see that as almost more of a new approach to life than a resolution.

Happy new year to each and every one of you. Be safe. Have fun.

See you in 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Ten Books of 2009

It's no secret that I love to read. I am an avid reader. Have been since I was a wee lass. In fact, I have a hard time going to sleep if I don't read at least a few pages after I lay down each night. I just love the way a good book can suck you down into its world. I suppose I am an escapist.

I do believe in the transformative power of literature. Of it's ability to lift us up, transport us, transfix us. To scare us silly. And perhaps most importantly, to bring us joy.

The following books were those that most inspired me in 2009.

1. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak: Told from the perspective of Death, this is the wonderful, sad story of a young girl in WWII Germany. I loved this book. I cried, happy and sad tears.

2. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman: (genre: Supernatural) After he saves a young woman, Richard Mayhew finds himself thrust into a fantastic world under London. In a mad chase to find the murderers of the young woman's family, he finds himself as well. I loved this book! LOVED. IT.

3. Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen: (genre: Fiction) Great book. When I checked it out, the librarian said I would cry. Well, I didn't, but I can see why he (I know, right?!) would say that. It was touching and vivid, a taste of circus life in the 30s. As well as the sadness and frustration of an old man living in a retirement home.

4. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins: (genre: Young Adult/Fiction) The sequel to The Hunger Games. I loved that book and this one did not let me down. It kept me riveted from the get go, wondering what was going to happen and surprised at plot twists. Now, the torture of waiting for the third (and I hope final) book to come out. Check out my full review at Blissfully Domestic.

5. The Guernsay Literary and Potato Peel Society - Mary Ann Shafer: (genre: Historical Fiction) A truly wonderful book. Told through letters, this book is engaging and emotional. I was reading it on the treadmill when I got to a certain part (when you read it, you'll know where I'm talking about) and I started crying. At the gym. It's that good.

6. The Motion of the Ocean - Janna Cawrse Esarey: (genre: Non-fiction/Memoire) A couple makes a trans-pacific journey on their sailboat discovering more than just how to navigate an ocean. An engrossing and beautifully written book. Check out my full review at Blissfully Domestic.

7. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman: (genre: Young Adult) The tale of a young boy who after being orphaned as a toddler is raised by the ghostly inhabitants of a local graveyard. A beautiful and well written tale.

8. This Is Where I Leave You - Jonathon Tropper: (genre: Fiction) Shortly after separating from his wife, Judd Foxman's father dies. As a last wish, his father requested that his wife and four children sit shiva, a Jewish tradition where the family stays in the family home to mourn the dead for seven days. Not an easy task given just how dysfunctional the Foxman family is. At times painfully graphic, this novel is intelligent and heartbreaking and real.

9. The Maze Runner - James Dashner: (genre: Fiction, Young Adult) When he awakens at the bottom of a black hole with faces looking down at him from the only opening at the top, Thomas has no idea what has happened or what to expect. What he finds is that he has been placed among a group of boys living in a compound at the center of a maze and all he wants is out.

10. How I Became a Famous Novelist - Steve Hely: (genre: Fiction) After being fired from his shady job writing college entrance essays, Pete decides he'll find fame and fortune by writing a novel. A charming faux-memoire that kept me thoroughly entertained and questioning my own thoughts on popular fiction.

11. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon: (genre: Fiction, Supernatural, Mystery) Daniel finds a book written by an unknown author when he is 10. As he grows older, a search for the author leads him on the chase of a decades old love story.

12. At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream - Wade Rouse: (genre: Memoire, Comedy) Fabulous gay man drags his equally fabulous boyfriend to a remote Michigan cabin to find his inner Thoreau. Funny, touching, and insightful.

13. Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer: (genre: Young Adult) The diary of a young girl's experience after the moon is struck by a meteor, causing massive environmental backlash on Earth. I loved this book!

Alright, so not all of these were published in 2009. But that is when I read them, and since this is my blog, they're the top books of 2009. Also, there are 13 books on my list. Cause I couldn't narrow it down to 10. Bite me.

Friday, December 25, 2009

From Our Family To Yours

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


For the last year or so, naptimes and bedtimes have been a breeze. Sophie happily climbed into bed and went right to sleep and then slept either for a full 2-3 hour nap or through the night. I contend that this easiness is to make up for the absolute hell that were sleepytimes for the first 15 months of her life.

But things haven't been so great lately. Thanks to a nasty cough and a subsequent ear/sinus infection, Sophie hasn't been sleeping well. More significantly, though, she hasn't been going to sleep well. She cries and screams. Generally, I leave her in her room and within a few minutes she will tire herself out and fall asleep. Unfortunately, she rarely falls asleep in her bed. Her favorite spot is on the glider. It's where I nursed her for 20 months and it is where I read to her now.

Most days, once I am sure she is asleep, I will creep into her room and as delicately as possible move her to her bed. I don't have empirical proof that she will not sleep as long or as well in the chair, but I hate to think of her contorted into strange positions, so I risk waking her to transfer her to her bed. The good news is that nowadays she is a whole lot harder to wake than she used to be and generally sleeps through the maneuver.

So today, when she went down for her nap easily, I was grateful and optimistic that it was the beginning of a return towards her old ways. I put her down in her bed, read Goodnight Moon, tucked her in and left the room. I watched her on the monitor as she rolled around on her bed for a minute and then got out. After this I couldn't see her anymore, but I could hear her puttering around her room. At one point the radio on the clock was turned on, but turned off after a minute or two and soon all other sounds quieted. A short time later, I crept up to her room, prepared to find her in the glider.

I got a surprise when I opened the door.

She wasn't in the glider. Nor was she in the bed. Or the floor. Or the changing table. All spots she occasionally curls up. I started to get a little panicky as I looked around the room. Could she have gotten out?

But just when I was about to totally freak out, I spotted her. She had found a cozy new spot.

My sweet little laundry bean.

Monday, December 14, 2009


So after all of my hard work. Selecting and editing the photos. Creating multiple versions of each potential card. Agonizing over which one to use. Fine tuning tiny elements that will go completely unnoticed by 99.9% of the people who receive them. Vacillating on the old Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas debate. After all this, now, NOW, there is a major setback.

My goldfrapping printer isn't working. Every time I try to print one on the fancy schmancy photo greeting card paper, she jams up.

I am muy frustrado.*

I have decided in the interest of my sanity, not ruining a bunch of expensive paper and the distinct possibility that I will throw the printer out in the yard, I will hold off on attacking the problem until tomorrow when I have had what I hope will be a good night's sleep. Something that hasn't happened in several days thanks to a sickly toddler who refused to sleep anywhere but in my bed. Which anyone who has ever slept with a toddler knows that means she was the only one getting any sleep. But after more than a little consternation on her part, we got her to sleep in her bed.

Tomorrow. That printer better work.

*Sometimes I am amazed by how much Spanish I know. One drunken night, I spoke nothing but Spanish all night. Apparently having a full conversation with a lovely Mexican woman. Normally, I don't speak it all that well. In fact, I would say that I don't speak it at all. But then I pull out words like this. Where from, she says?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

Husband and daughter are asleep together in the recliner. Scenes like that touch me in a way that a hundred posed situations never could.

Meanwhile, I'm laboring to finish our holiday cards. I am the ultimate last minute Lucy, nothing gets my creative juices flowing like an impossibly close deadline. I've been trying to come up with our card for weeks. For reasons I can't explain, I just can't order one of the perfectly adorable cards a la Tiny Prints, I need to create a unique and personal Christmas card.

It's not a foundation in graphics or the arts. I was an economics major, people. Which isn't to say I don't have my creative tendencies, but I have always gravitated towards the sciences and math.

So here I am, racing to get this thing done and mailed in time to arrive before Christmas. While just a few days ago, I sat in front of the computer, staring at a blank screen, now the ideas are pouring out. The burden now is to select the one that best represents our little family.

Decisions, decisions.

Neil picked his favorite. Went right to it from the dozen or so choices and proclaimed it the absolute best. Do I agree? Not 100% sure yet. They're all my babies and I love each one for different reasons.

I'll print out a tester and sleep on it.

Speaking of, I think I'll go join my family for a snooze in front of a football game we care nothing about.

PS - We got our tree up and mostly decorated today. I think I'm FINALLY getting some of that Christmas spirit I've been hearing so much about.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Cuteness

It's almost too much for me to take.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When It Rains...

So yeah, today was one of those days.

First off, Sophie got up at the arsecrack of dawn. Again. And since I was insomnia-bound again last night, waking up every few hours worried that I was sleeping through her hacking cough, I didn't exactly bounce out of bed well rested. She's had a phlegmy, nasty cough the last week or so that has gotten progressively worse. I finally took her to the doctor yesterday, only to be told that there was really nothing they could do. The good news was that evidently I had been doing all the right things. Honey, chamomile tea, Vaporub, humidifier.

When we came downstairs this morning, the ceiling in the living room was leaking. We have a cape cod and one of the dormer windows is right over the living room. This happened a month or so ago and Neil went out and cleaned the gutters and it seemed to fix the problem. We thought it might be backing up in under the flashing. But that did not fix it today. Which means that it is a much bigger problem. And bigger problems with roofs mean $$.

Finally, as my twitter and FB friends know, our big tv died last week. It's a 62" rear projection tv and the bulb blew up. Like, BLEW. UP. Loud noise. Shattered glass. While this is not great, it wasn't completely unexpected. These tv's need new bulbs every so often. So we ordered a new bulb. Which is not cheap, but a whole heck of a lot cheaper than a new tv. And since this tv is not even three years old, we're not ready for a new one. We ordered two bulbs, figuring that it would be nice to have an extra one, plus it saves on shipping. We got it the next day and Neil popped the new bulb right in. Fixed.


The next day it went black. No picture. We called a tv repairman and he came out that afternoon. He charged us $60 to open and close the tv panel and somehow it worked again. For about a day. And then the bulb blew up. AGAIN. So, thinking, foolishly it now seems, that something must have been wrong with the first bulb, we put in our last bulb. Fixed.


The next day, that bulb blew, too. So that's $400 worth of bulbs in two days. We called out the repairman. Again. He came out this morning and once he opened up the tv, he found that something was wrong with the ballast, which I guess is the power supply for the lamp unit. The guy was Russian (da!), quite odiferous (nyet!) and more than a little difficult to understand. Not that he didn't do a great job, it just meant that communication was challenging. So $500 later, we have a new ballast, a new bulb and a very stinky tv room.

So that's $900 on our tv and god only knows how much the roof is going to wind up costing. Not to mention we had to fix my car a couple of weeks ago. All this right before Christmas.

I need to get the lead out of my ass and get our tree up so I can get some holiday spirit. Because as of right now? I am NOT feeling it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Kickin' It With Some Friends

Busy, busy, busy around here the last week. We hosted not one, but TWO play dates and took a day trip to New York City to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. Not to mention all of the other regular busy stuff like my photography class, the gym and, you know, life with a toddler.

My not especially successful attempt to take a photo of the Rockettes. They're the blobs on the stage. It looked a lot better in real life. Also, it looks like we were a thousand miles away, but it didn't feel that way.

I wasn't sure what to expect of the show, would it be terribly hokey? Full of tourists? Boring? I'm happy to say that it was neither hokey nor boring, although it is very likely that a large percentage of the people in attendance were not locals. Honestly, I really enjoyed it. I've been to the ballet before. We had close seats and I spent the whole time laughing because all I could hear was the clomping of the dancers as the jumped around the stage. Hard to think about how graceful they are when they sound like a herd of elephants.

But our seats at Radio City were decidedly NOT close. So all we could hear was the music and the tapping, when appropriate. I am so excited to take Sophie there in a couple years. It is very much aimed at a young audience, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. For one of the scenes, the dancers were dressed as stuffed bears. LOVED IT. My recommendation to anyone considering going: get seats in one of the mezzanines. You can see the formations the dancers make perfectly without all of that stomping.

I wish I had some pictures to show you, but it snowed, sleeted and rained the whole time we were there, so all outdoor pictures, what few we took, are not great. And pretty much all of the inside ones are of my friends, who probably wouldn't love me posting their pictures. So you'll just have to take my word for it that we had a great time. And since there are no pictures to prove otherwise, that I looked freaking amazing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Twenty-five years ago, this little girl

hadn't even really begun to think about what her Mr. Right would look like. She was too busy climbing trees, stomping in puddles and beating up little boys. Far too busy to waste a moment, even for a picture, to comb her hair.

Had she been thinking though, she would have known that he was looking like this at about the same time.

That is the unbelievably wide collar, perfectly trimmed pageboy and slightly stunned face of her true love.

They just didn't know it yet.

Fast forward many years. The girl learned how to brush her hair and the boy ditched the page boy and thanks to the wonders of modern technology (ahem,, these two found each other. Many, many phone calls and emails later, they finally decided to meet in person. Their first date was not the great success they had hoped for, but the girl felt there was something there and called the boy for a second date.

On this date, all of the things that went wrong on the first date, went right. At the end of the evening, the boy kissed the girl. And when she opened her eyes, she saw a shooting star and KNEW.

After this, things progressed, as they do. There was a period of dating, and then moving in together, and then one day, the boy arrived with a beautiful ring and a question. One the girl was delighted to answer.

Because these two couldn't do anything the normal way, they had not one, but two weddings. Today is the first of their anniversaries. Their FIRST fourth anniversary.

Each year is better than the last, my love.