Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 in review the rear view mirror

Click here to sign up for the One Year to an Organized Life book giveaway.

New Year's Eve has never been a big deal to me. For several years I opted to say good-bye to one year and hello to the next while spending a quiet evening in my apartment with my VCR (dates me, huh?), The Godfather, a bottle of wine and a few good cannoli.

Tonight will be only slightly different...I've got cannoli and wine but this year Donnie and I will watch football (gotta keep up with my bowl picks!).

Not a review but a look in the rear view mirror at 2009 in no particular order:

Another year and Donnie has put up good numbers proving he still has the gold medal in patience when it comes to dealing with me. Thank you, buddy!

I've so enjoyed being with Bug. Hearing his first, "I love you, Mommy" was terrific and experiencing the world through his bright eyes has been a joy. What a wonderful reminder to take it all in--big and small--at a snail's pace or in double time! Just the other day he drew a picture that actually had two eyes and a mouth (on purpose!). It's a small thing but I've always been one to celebrate the little things because it's more fun than waiting for the big things.

On the flipside, he's also perfected the tantrum and sadly, I don't think those are going away when I change the calendar.

There was downsizing at my office and my full-time job went to three days a week but I know I'm lucky to still have a job and am now working four days a week. In many ways it's been a good thing because I get extra time with Bug and my boss is fairly relaxed about my schedule.

While my mom's health has been an issue all year, she's doing pretty well now. We've been told she'll likely be on some form of chemo for the rest of her life but lymphoma is barely on the radar these days. She's had ups and downs and certainly there were scary times but she seems to be settling in at the nursing home and it's been great to get back to visit her during the year.

Blogging has been more fun than I ever imagined and meeting new friends online (why does that sound a little dirty?) has been terrific. I was so apprehensive about blogging but then decided to jump in. In some ways I felt like the new kid at school hoping someone would be my friend or at least let me sit at the same lunch table. So a big thank you to all of you who were/are so welcoming to this new kid in the school world.

There were about two months during 2009 when I was faithfully working out again. It felt great but then I went on vacation and, let's face it, for me cantaloupe ice cream will always trump a run or sit-up or just about anything.

I've yet to come up with any resolutions for 2010 that would last past noon on New Year's Day so I don't expect I'll have any big announcements. Oh sure, I should start exercising, eat better, volunteer more, find my patience, blabbity, blabbity (© Mama-Face). In a nutshell 2009 seems to be ending on a happy and healthy note so that's good news. Having said that I'm ready to say farewell to this year and greet 2010. I'll toast all of you tonight while at home in my jammies and likely much earlier than 12am and look forward to catching up with you in the new year.

a new giveaway for a new year

As we're getting ready to kick off a new year, it seems like the perfect time to do a giveaway for this book: One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for GoodI'll pick a winner (well, will do that for me) on Monday, January 4, 2010 (gulp!). Leave a comment for a chance to win. Here's to a happy (and organized) new year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

My plan allowed practically begged for procrastination

Pathetic or brilliant? (Wait, don't answer that...)

Somehow I knew that I wouldn't be organized this year to get cards out before Hanukkah or Christmas so I opted for New Year's cards. It seemed like such a good idea and a simple one.

I could write cards at my leisure anytime in the month (of course that would also mean that I had ordered them early enough, ahem). Unfortunately, I must have placed the order the same day as half of the world because the cards took longer than I expected and I didn't receive them prior to our big snowstorm. That would have been perfect...a nice cup of hot chocolate with extra whipped cream, a holiday movie and a stack of cards...instead I helped shovel and shovel and shovel.

All I needed to do was write them and mail them prior to--oh, say--today. Well, most of them made it in the mail but I missed the mailman this morning (since when does he come in the morning?!) so I hope our happy new year greetings reach their destinations by December 31 at midnight. (Just in time for me to come up with a resolution for next holiday season...)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

'Twas the night before the Eve of Christmas

It was just a typical pre-Christmas kind of day. I didn't work so I planned to spend the day running errands--braving two grocery stores, having lunch with Donnie, possibly a smidge of last minute shopping, delivering holiday cards to neighbors while on a walk with Bug, wrapping gifts to take to the nursing home...all good stuff...

...until Donnie started feeling really tired and went to lie down. His nap lasted about five hours so I think it's more than just being tired. My fingers are crossed that he'll wake up 100% tomorrow (but I think I know better). I fully expect that I'll have to call our guests and cancel both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners. Here's hoping for a Christmas miracle.

Bug told me he wanted to make Donnie "MAN COOKIES." It took me a minute but I figured it out so I think we'll be making gingerbread cookies sometime over the next few days.

I was going through some holiday stuff and came across my favorite gift tag of all time today. We received it maybe six years ago when Donnie and I were visiting my mom and brother's family in SD for Christmas. None of the kids call me Mary or Mag...I've been Mooie forever. They go to a catholic school so the only time I hear Mary is if they see a church called St. Mary's and mention that it's my real name. So there was a gift for us under the tree with a glitter-filled sheet of paper that said;

Merry Christmas

To Donnie and Mary [followed by a big black marker that scratched out other words]

I hadn't seen the gift but after a couple of glasses of wine my sister-in-law and brother started talking about it and chuckling. They brought the gift over to show me then told me the scratched out part said;


My brother made my nephew cross it out. Oh, how I wish it were still readable. I'm thinking I may re-gift it and embarrass my nephew at some point.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

White (House) Christmas

My brother had tickets to see the Christmas decorations at the White House and invited us. He sent his photos to me (my pix are still in the camera because I'm not that efficient). Some of the photos are a bit dark but the White House was beautiful, festive and fun. And the smell of Christmas trees was great (our artificial tree doesn't come with that Christmas scent...).

This is dark but it was lovely...the matching trees by the fireplace with Abe Lincoln's portrait in between. Side note: I took a photo of Dolley Madison's portrait in the Red Room. She's always been a favorite of mine for a few reasons: 1) I read a book about her in fourth grade; 2) she took Washington's portrait out of the White House when the White House was burning and 3) those Dolley Madison treats that were advertised during the Peanuts specials that I've NEVER tasted and still long for.

These roses are in a magnolia leaf vase...

The White House made of white chocolate. It's a good thing there was a rope between it and me. That smell was pretty good, too!

A pretty mantle...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dear Someone

Dear Bug,

Five o'clock is much too early for you to start your day but I appreciate that you went along with the new game called "let mommy sleep" while you played quietly. I enjoyed it and hope you had fun.

A happy mommy

Dear Sweet Michael,

I can't believe today marks eighteen years since you died. It's so unfair that you were only here for eleven days but you were so loved.

I'll always treasure that I was able to hold you. The nurse scolded me saying that I shouldn't hold you because I was the aunt and only parents were allowed to hold you. She then quickly said, "well, as long as you're holding him--go ahead." A short time later I realized that she waited until you were in my arms before she told me I couldn't hold you. Even though she scared me more than a couple of times, I think she had a big heart and knew we all wanted needed to hold you and feel you in our arms to say both hello and goodbye.

Sweet little Michael, know that you're in our prayers, thoughts and forever in our hearts. You'll always be with us even if we only knew you for a short time.


PS. When I visited your mom and dad last week, I saw your baby booties hanging on the Christmas tree where they've been every year.

Dear Donnie,

December is a tough month--Hanukkah, Christmas AND your birthday are all swirling around on the calendar. You really should give me a list of things you would like or you could end up with a lovely gift that's perfect...for me.


Your wife

Dear Holiday Cards,

Address yourselves this year, 'k?


The tired one

Dear Blogger,

Again with the spacing...WTF?



For more letters say hi to Amanda at Family of Shorts.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Maybe we should just celebrate Festivus...

You know it's Christmukkah when your three-year-old:

  • wants to light the menorah while wearing his Santa cap
  • tries to blow out all the candles on the menorah each night
  • walks around singing "Let my people go" in a variety of voices
  • tells you "You're not on the same team as Daddy and me"
  • thinks that Santa Claus is called "jingle bells"
  • wants to sit on Jingle Bells' lap
  • thinks that he should get to open a present that's under the tree every night
  • wants to make Christmas cookies for Daddy
  • thinks that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is his brother (I don't even want to know where that came from...)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Warming up and a winner

He's a little bit Jewish and I'm a little bit Catholic so our house is beginning to look a lot like Christmukkah. I'm finally getting out our decorations (other than the new menorah that we've been lighting) and trying to make the house festive. Bug did his part by sporting a Santa cap although as the day goes on and I untangling Christmas lights or trying to remember when I put something from last year I feel like I'm playing Scrooge while trying to be cheerful. Ho ho humbug.

I had a good trip to SD and am still amazed that I didn't get stranded in Minneapolis for a day. Those first few blasts of cold air upon leaving the airport are rough. It was 1 degree when I arrived and the windchill was minus 16 or 20 (does it really make a difference if you have to say "minus" before the number--it's all just cold, right?). I was convinced I wouldn't have feeling in my toes until I returned to DC. It was so cold that we decided my mom shouldn't go outside. Mom wasn't happy but after hearing the temps a few times she agreed she would stay put.

Thursday and Friday mornings I did some holiday shopping for Mom and finished everyone on her list. We spent the afternoons wrapping presents in her room. On Friday there was a heatwave break and the afternoon temp hit 20 so Mom and I went to the mall. We were there for four hours and only hit two stores. She was thrilled. We had dinner at the food court (Taco John's anyone?! Yum!) and by then she was exhausted. It takes us a bit of time to adjust to the wheelchair, getting in/out of the car and I always feel like we're channeling Lucy and Ethel with some of our movements but we manage.

While I was back I got to see several people I knew. I had a lunch with four classmates while Mom had physical therapy. (One of them even visited my mom--how nice is that? Of course, it was Russ and he's pretty much the definition of a good guy.) While we were at lunch, I saw my cousin and his family then ran into other people from my hometown. (Everyone in my hometown goes to the town where my mom now lives to shop because it has the nearest mall [42 miles away] so it's not uncommon to see people you know.)

There's something very comforting being back there. Of course I get to spend time with Mom and see my brother and his family (and drink wine with my sister-in-law!). These trips are so different from past visits now that Mom is in the nursing home but it's great to be there for/with her and nice to see friendly faces and have people ask about Mom or stop by to visit her. Many of them know her from their childhoods. It's true there's no place like home...and no matter how cold it gets the hearts are always warm.

Dee from Two of a Kind, Working on a Full House is the Santa cake pan winner. Happy baking, Dee! Email me and let me know where I should send it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Check out the Santa giveaway here. (If I knew how to make a button I would do that and slap it on the side but this is all I've got.) Now onto randomness...

I have laryngitis. I'm almost sorry that this didn't happen several hundred years ago when I was a little girl and my brothers and I still lived under the same roof. They would love the fact that I can't talk and only a squeak comes out when I try.

My favorite new thing: Curbside Cupcakes! What's not to love about a bright pink vehicle that brings cupcakes to your door?! They've been near my office twice in the past week. Talk about turning a frown upside down...

On the subject of's Bug with his birthday cupcake. It was the first time I tried an egg-free cake recipe. I'm always so nervous with new recipes and we had a few friends over so I made cupcakes rather than a whole cake in case the recipe and I had creative differences. I was fully prepared to run out and get a separate cake for our guests but I was happily surprised that the cupcakes were tasty.
What are the odds that I make it to South Dakota tomorrow? From all the weather reports I've heard I think Mother Nature might have it out for my travel plans.

Visit The UnMom for more.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ho Ho Ho...Cough Cough Cough

If you want to make/win this...

click here for the Santa Cake(pan) giveaway...

Onto other things...

Apparently watching our lovely snow on Saturday gave me a cold/cough. If Hollywood is looking for a new face for a cold medicine commercial or possibly an unknown to play the role of a woman suffering from consumption, here I am. As a bonus the make up crew could take the day off...I'm sick and I look it. This pale shade of blah isn't a really good look for me.

If my coughing kept any of you awake last night, I apologize. Even Bug gave me a pass on telling him a story because I was "coughing too much." I'm now in the fuzzy world of cold medicine and hoping it all kicks in before I get on a plane Wednesday to visit my mom. Keep your fingers crossed that we don't get the "wintry mix" that's in the forecast Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I'm leaving my house at 4:45 am (as in MORNING...yawn) and would prefer to actually get on a plane if I'm going to be up and ready at that hour.

Side note: It's going to be single digits when I'm in South Dakota with the lows below zero! Welcome home!

So because I was lazy under the weather I did NOTHING to get ready for Christmas or Hanukkah this weekend. There's not tree in our house yet (well, it's there but not up or decorated--we're doing a fake, small tree this year because Bug seems to be channeling Curious George these days and I don't want my little monkey climbing a real tree and then me cleaning up the mess when he, the tree and crushed ornaments are on the floor. I never had a real tree until I met Donnie. I still find it funny that it took a Jewish man to get me to buy a real Christmas tree.) On the bright side, I do have a new peace sign menorah this year and can put that out immediately to feel somewhat festive:

The photo makes it look like a hamster wheel but in person I like it. We've yet to get Bug a menorah of his own. We have a few in the house. One that Donnie received when he was younger so that's the one we really use. He gave me one years ago and when Bug was born we got one made by an artist I like. Bug saw one that he wanted because it was a truck. It was also $118, handmade in Israel and is one of a kind. Yeah, that's not in our house.

When I return on Saturday and thaw out, I'll try and get the house ready for the holidays...none too soon since Hanukkah starts on Friday night! I'm thinking this isn't the year to make potato latkes from scratch. One of these years I'll give it a shot but not this year.

AND...I used the random number generator and Bea from This Wonderful, Crazy Life won the infant holiday tee giveaway. Bea, email me and let me know style and size.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Santa Cake(pan) Giveaway

Here's a giveaway for a baker...or a gift for a baker. I gave a couple of these cake pans as Christmas gifts before and found them at the Williams-Sonoma outlet last week so I bought one for a giveaway. The cake pan comes with a recipe (I think it's for a peppermint cake).

I can assure you if someone saw this cake on my table the question would be "where did you get that?" because no one would think I made it but I do think it's adorable...

Leave a comment if you want to enter the giveaway. You'll get two chances if you're a follower (leave a second comment) and three chances (three comments) if you mention the giveaway on your blog and link back to this post. I'll pick a winner on Monday, December 14.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot little bit like Christmas

We had snow today! It might melt by Monday but for now WE HAVE SNOW!

One of a few snowy roses left on the rose bush...

Check out Mama-Face at Blog-Ignoramus...she has a giveaway (like you didn't already know...)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dear Someone/Santa Knows...And Remembers

Click here for the oh baby holiday tee giveaway.

Dear Northwest Airline Pilots,

Please don't overshoot the Minneapolis Airport next week. My trip to South Dakota is short enough without getting re-routed.

An infrequent frequent flyer

Dear Snow,

I heard you were falling from the sky last night in South Dakota. Will you still be around next week? I'd love to say hi.

A Midwestern Girl at Heart

Dear Santa,

My list is short this year...I'd like some sleep.


PS...and world peace, of course

For more Dear Someone letters check out Amanda at Family of Shorts.

I saw the 31 days of goodness on JennyMac's blog, Let's Have a Cocktail. (I'm sure you all saw it, too, because who doesn't stalk follow her?) I emailed the list to several friends. It's been fun to get responses from people commenting on the list...what they want to do or what they've already decided to do this holiday season.

One former classmate emailed that he's adopted a local family in the town and will make a trip to Target so there will be gifts under their tree. He's also being Santa again this year and will show up at local daycare centers as well as homes in my hometown and another nearby town. He then added this to his note:

One thing that most people do not think about is that we have time, talent and treasures. A person does not have to give much of any of them to those who need it to get the warm fuzzies.

This ties in with Pseudonymous High School Teacher's blog featuring Travel Tip Thursday. Today I'm taking her advice and traveling to a Christmas in the past.

I wrote back to Russ and reminded him of a Christmas when he was the town Santa and I was back for the holiday. My mom told me for $10 you could have hire Santa to make an appearance at your house on Christmas Eve. You simply left a small gift for each child in your car and Santa would come to the house with gifts. (Side note: I had lived away from my small town long enough that I asked if she gave Russ keys to our car. She smiled and reminded me that people often DON'T lock cars there...right, I had forgotten.) My nephews were young at the time so I couldn't wait to see their faces when Santa walked through the front door (yes, I know he should have used the chimney and, believe me, I would have paid much more than $10 to see Russ pull that one off!).

So...Santa enters our living room and the kids squeal before they're stunned into silence. Russ Santa looks right at me says, "why there's little Mary Ann" (using my REAL name not what everyone calls me!) and says he remembers things I did as a little girl. Then he shares a few stories about me. (I went to first grade through senior year with Russ so he certainly had plenty to tell.) He then gently reminded my nephews that Santa remembers all of the children he's seen over the years and called my mom, brother and sister-in-law by name as well. The boys were thrilled to see Santa but that night--at that moment--they not only believed in Santa but that he truly sees you when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I see London, I see France...I'm glad I wore underpants (and another giveaway)

It was just yesterday that I was longing for colder weather. It’s really not much cooler today but enough that I opted to wear tights and a skirt or maybe I didn’t have any clean pants. Whatever…

Most days Donnie and I drive into work together. We work two blocks apart (weird, huh?). Anyway, he had a doctor’s appointment so he dropped me at the Metro before heading out to his appointment. I like taking the Metro except when I forget to bring a book like this morning…arrrrgggghhh. Again, anyway, I rode downtown, bounced off the train feeling like a real city commuter, made my way up the escalator and started on my short three-block walk to my office.

I’m happily walking down the street when something just seems wrong. It takes me a second to pinpoint it but the very tights that made me smile just a short time earlier are now slowly moving south….then not-so-slowly moving south. I was grateful for the short walk. By time I reached my office the waistband of my tights had somewhat settled on my hips. I was beginning to feel like I couldn’t walk with a normal gait but luckily, the crotch hadn’t dropped to my ankles—just mid-thigh. Oh, I'm a classy one…

I recall last year tossing out several pairs of wayward tights. This stubborn little bitchy pair must have been hiding and decided to resurface on a brisk Wednesday morning after a late Tuesday night. Why a late night? I accidentally got hooked on the season finale of Sons of Anarchy. Accidentally, because I’ve never seen the show and would have preferred to know what was happening instead of coming in not only at the end of the season but after this particular episode had started. No matter…I couldn’t leave the couch. Umm, does anyone watch that show? I get that it’s on cable rather than HBO or some other pay-extra channel but I swear it made The Sopranos look tame. I think I’ll now have to find season one on DVD to know all the players.

And then for some reason Bug woke up and wanted to chat around 3:30am. I don't have a lot to say at 3:30. Answer me this...why is it a baby’s first word is “da da” but the first word out of his mouth in the middle of the night is “MOMMMMY”? Then shortly after 5 he was up for good pretending he wanted to snuggle, which is apparently code for "put Winnie-the-Pooh down Mommy's pajamas." Fun game.

I guess that’s my long-winded way of saying I didn’t notice that the tights fit funny prior to my walk to work because I don't think I was fully awake until I got off the train.

Now onto other matters...

Want to win these vintage diamond and amethyst earrings? Nice holiday gift (for you, maybe?)and you can't beat the price...

Visit Deb at Menopausal New Mom and give it a shot. Tell her I said hi.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

First of all...if you're interested, sign up for the oh, baby (holiday tee) giveaway here.


Springsteen's tour has ended and just yesterday I found a terrific pair of boots that would look great at one of his concerts.

It's December! (Really, December?) I'm ready for the holidays and by ready I only mean in spirit. I love this time of year...people are nicer mostly or the meds are better. Last night we watched the Grinch or as Bug called him...Green Sam. (I'm thinking we read a lot of Green Eggs and Ham at our house.) I hope to catch as many of the holiday shows as I can with Bug...I can't wait for Rudolph. Rumor has it it's on tomorrow night.

I would prefer that our weather feel a little more like winter so I can start drinking hot chocolate.

Two hours in a bookstore last week was a little bit of heaven for me. Sigh... (I bought enough books and giftie things that I had to ship them back...that's a successful trip, huh?)

I think Bug is a leg man (and I'm not talking turkey). Twice in the past two weeks I wore a skirt and both times he said, "ooh, Mommy, nice legs."

Check out more at The Unmom.