I live in New England where the weather can be unpredictable. There are often times when I have come upon the problem of what to wear. Especially this time of year.
I mean, I am certainly no fashionista. Just ask my daughter, nieces, and well, anyone who has half a sense of style. The consultation of a color chart to make sure black goes with white is quite necessary in my life.
Please remember I’m from the 80s where you matched your socks to your pocketbook, so getting dressed is as difficult for me as putting a square peg into a round hole.
But I’m not talking about my fashion sense. Or lack thereof.
I’m talking about clothes you wear according to a change in the barometer. It’s not like headaches, and colds, and painful knees aren’t enough, but we also have to worry about our attire.
It’s October here. You know, like it is everywhere. Last week I wanted to pull out my riding boots. The ones I’ve had since 2008 because I have thick calves and these days it’s nearly impossible for me to find boots that I can zip past my ankles.
I googled “when is it appropriate to start wearing boots” and my answer was, “October.” Do you want to know why I googled that? Because I woke up sweating and it was only 6 o’clock in the morning.
I quickly looked at the weather app, and saw that I was sweating for a reason. The temperature was going to climb up to 90 degrees. Certainly 90 degrees in October is different from 90 degrees in August. Right?
Not really. No. Actually. It’s not. I suspect I would have looked silly in boots when it was still technically flip flop weather.
I had to forego my entire outfit — the one that included my beloved boots — and hit the closet again to see what I was feeling. Well, what I was feeling was a sundress and sandals. But that didn’t seem appropriate.
I realize the alternative is to just wear nothing, but I’m afraid the little fact that I went into work wearing nothing but my birthday suit would cause heads to turn, and not in a good way. I would most likely lose my job and end up in jail for indecent exposure. Although I always thought going viral for something would be fun, this is not what I had in mind.
If there were still newspapers, I can only imagine the headline. “Middle Aged Woman Loses Mind and Job Over What to Wear.” With a picture of my face on a body that has been blurred out by Photoshop. All I can say is, thank god for Photoshop.
I guess that means I have to wear clothes. At least to work. Back to the drawing board. So, does black go with white?
Eight hours. That’s how long it takes to fly nonstop to Rome from New York. But after you factor in packing, traveling to and from the airport, and going through customs, it feels more like eight days.
Is it worth it?
Even though the customs agents ask a million times if you have any goods you’re going to sell, it’s worth it. Even with people pushing and shoving, cutting you off, and trying to sell you useless crap, it is totally and completely worth it.
Then after a day and a half in Rome, the flight to Lisbon, Portugal is another three hours. A car ride to Porto, yet three more.
Worth it. For so many reasons. One being the beauty. Two, spending time with people you adore. Three, the experience.
Anyway, when you spend an extended amount of time with the same people, you can pick up some habits from them.
I am a definite habit-picker-upper. I cannot go to North Carolina to visit my parents for even a day without coming home sounding like an Appalachian pageant queen.
So, the habit I picked up from one of my travel mates (who shall remain nameless)?
Let’s just say it’s never a good idea to respond to a “hello” from a colleague by saying “hey hoe” in a staff meeting. “Hoe” as in not what you garden with. That will be 1% off my raise come appraisal time. If I keep that up, I’ll be owing the company money. Or begging for it in the street.
Europeans are unaware of the term, “personal space.” I am the type of person who, if you are not at least arm’s length away from me, I am offended. These people will not only enter your personal space, but they will take it. And with no apologies. As someone from New York, this is an offense of colossal proportions and people should be thrown in the clinker for stealing another’s space.
The street peddlers in Rome are a force to be reckoned with. If you don’t buy what they are throwing at you, you are a “cagna.” It’s nice to know I am a bitch in another country. I felt right at home.
I pretty much can’t eat anything fried, processed, acidic, or fatty because I suffer from GERD. During my visit I didn’t have one single bout of it. Do you want to know why? Because they eat the way people were intended to eat, and not like an African bush elephant. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything processed. Everything is fresh, and the portions are small.
Dinner isn’t until at least 9PM. We didn’t eat before 10PM. The streets are alive, people can actually walk around in public with wine, the joy was palpable. I wanted to stay forever just to be able to experience this every single day.
The breakfast that we are accustomed to does not exist. Unless you go to a touristy area. The sign outside a restaurant that says, “American Breakfast here” will make you feel at home like the African Bush eleph…er, I mean, American, that you are. Otherwise, you need to be accepting of croissants, fresh breads with jam, fresh fruit, and cappuccino. Forget about a normal cup of coffee. It doesn’t exist.
Since we’re on the subject of food, there is no need to tip at a restaurant (or anywhere for that matter) because they have an actual salary and don’t get paid in peanuts. Also, you can sit and enjoy your meal for hours. The servers will not bother you and will not bring the bill unless you specifically ask for it. And when you do ask for it because it’s been six hours and you have things to do, you know, like go to bed, they will respond by saying, “Are you sure? There is no rush.”
As someone who is always rushing, it was a little off-putting at first. But by the end of the week, I realized this was something I want to do for the rest of my life. I enter a state of calm when I even think about it.
Drugs are legal as long as you are carrying 5 grams or less. The smell of marijuana was everywhere. I believe I got a contact high from it. And guess what else? There is no Heroin epidemic over there. Let that sink in.
The Sistine Chapel is a glorious site to behold. As long as you have the patience to get to it, that is. You have to walk through a maze-like museum first. We felt like beef cattle on the way to a slaughter. It was terrifying. The ten thousand signs on the way let us know we were on the right track. And once we entered the Chapel, I didn’t realize it. “Why are all those people standing in the middle of that floor looking up?” Oh. Right. Michelangelo.
Even the McDonald’s was breathtaking. And instead of a plastic three inch princess, you get a beach towel. That actually absorbs water. Amazing. The plastic princess doesn’t do that.
I discovered I like port wine a little more than I thought. Not enough to partake in it on a regular basis, but enough to sit through a tasting. The “children” in our party — don’t worry, these children are both of legal drinking age — did not appreciate it. Youth is wasted on the young.
And the piece de resistance? The afternoon “siesta.” Or in Italy, a riposo. Businesses (apart from the touristy areas) shut down. Like, close and lock the doors, for up to two and a half hours, every single afternoon. This is called self-care. And we should take a page from their book.
In a nutshell, we all need to drink wine in the streets, take two hour naps daily, eat healthy foods, and slow down. I know I would be a better person for it. Wouldn’t you?
It’s that time of year for our family Christmas letter. I’m a little late because I suffer from a major case of something called “Procrastination.” I’ve added that to my New Year’s resolution list in the past, but I’ve always procrastinated working on my procrastination. So, I replaced it with “exercise more.” That one at least lasts halfway through January.
2018 was the year of ailments.
I am now into my fifties and my body knows it. It did not need a memo, reminder, or even a gentle nudge. Some things are just very reliable. I should be proud.
My knee is giving me more problems and the other feels like it needs to follow suit. I guess it has “FOMO” syndrome. Thanks to my twenty-year old daughter, I know FOMO means “Fear Of Missing Out.” My body may be old, but my brain is young and cool. Although, if I didn’t have a twenty-year old kid, that may not be the case.
Hmm, it makes me wonder if my life has just been a big sham the last seven years or so.
I threw out my back recently which is something I’ve never really done before. I’m not sure how I did it. I do know I was in the basement after my twelfth trip from bringing Christmas decorations up the stairs when the pain struck.
There’s nothing like a limping, bent over fifty-one year old woman, who pees her pants with every sneeze, giggle, and cough. I should have asked for a cane and a case of “Depends” instead of an iPhone for Christmas. Oh well. There’s always next year. But by then I may need a walker and bladder reconstruction.
I had a kidney stone episode this year. I thought it was ovarian tumors at first and went and got poked and prodded, tested and scanned by at least three different specialists. The bills for all that are just now arriving. The gift that keeps on giving. Thanks, Santa.
DH is good. If you recall, he lost the peripheral vision in his left eye a couple years ago. The downside is he can’t see my loveliness when I’m standing to the left of him. The upside is I can do amazing tricks, like flip him the bird when he’s pissing me off. It’s really quite fun.
He had his very first kidney stone episode this year. He now knows what childbirth feels like. Hearing him say, “how do women have more than one baby,” while doubled over the toilet bowl from pain-induced nausea was a proud moment.
The Kid got the flu at the beginning of the year. Even though she had the flu shot. She recovered from that after some motherly love and care. That was not fun for me. Seeing your kid suffer doesn’t have the same satisfaction of watching a man in kidney stone hell.
Oh, did I just say that out loud?
DH gets more handsome every year. What kills me the most is his pant size. That hasn’t changed in twenty years. Umm, can I pray for another kidney stone attack?
The Kid is doing really well in college. Can you believe she just finished her first half of Junior year? And I thought my knees made me feel old. I think I should start letting my hair go grey so I can get the full effect.
I started to bond with our German Shepherd. Finally. After four years, he no longer looks at me like I’m a pork chop. Now I can sleep with both eyes closed without worrying he might want a midnight snack.
We went on a nice holiday again this year. Two years in a row. Ireland was our choice this time. I’ve been before and fell in love, so I couldn’t wait to show my family how beautiful and green it was.
But like Turks & Caicos last year where it rained the entire week when it never rains, Ireland was in the middle of a drought when it never has a drought.
I was really upset when DH proclaimed that Ireland reminded him of New England in August. if you’ve ever seen New England in August, then you’ll understand what he meant. I argued with him and told him he was wrong, but brown is brown no matter what country you’re in.
I believe I need to stop planning vacations. It just doesn’t seem to work out for us. Next summer it will be feet in the kiddie pool on the back deck.
I just realized we never put the deck furniture away for the winter. Chores. They are the bane of my existence.
Speaking of chores, I pretty much got out of all of mine. I hired a house cleaner, use a grocery-delivery service, and DH decided he likes to cook so there is dinner on the table pretty much every night when I get home. Having a husband who works from home certainly has its perks.
That about sums up 2018 for our family. I gotta close this letter as I have presents to wrap, cookies to bake, and…eh. There’s always tomorrow.
I’ve been waiting two years for someone from our town to go to The Kid’s college. Why, you ask? To ride-share, of course.
I mean, it’s not that I mind the six hour round-trip drive. Typically, I love to drive. I always have. It’s just that that trip can be a bit trying on, well, everything. From my ankles to the ends of my hair.
Ok, so my hair doesn’t really hurt. But you get the picture.
And I pretty much do it alone. Since DH has lost most of the sight in his left eye, he has terrible night vision and really can’t, shouldn’t, drive once the moon comes out. And most of the time I’m coming back from getting her from school when it’s dark.
When I found out a girl from our town — whose mother is a friend of mine — was going to be going to The Kid’s school this year, I jumped up and down for joy so hard I peed my pants a little.
Someone to carpool with. Finally.
I realize it won’t always work out with schedules, etc. But it will work out sometimes. Even if just once or twice. And that is good enough for me.
Luckily, this Thanksgiving is one of the times it worked out. My friend was doing the retrieving, and I am doing the returning.
Except my friend kinda got the short end of the stick. For her retrieval, “they” were predicting a snowstorm. But hey, she’s tough. I knew it wouldn’t ruffle her feathers much. Besides, it wasn’t going to be all that bad. We’ve had worse.
Except this turned out to be one of the craziest snowstorms we’ve had in a long time, this early in the season.
The three-hour drive took exactly twelve. Door-to-door. No lie.
The storm they were predicting came on us strong and fast. No one was really expecting the velocity of which the snow and ice bore down in these parts. I don’t believe anyone, including the highway department, was prepared.
Roads quickly turned to sheets of ice. From what I was hearing, all the highways and byways pretty much from Virginia to Ohio to Connecticut transformed into “Disney on Ice” within minutes. With Cinderella being played by the Snow Miser.
Before she knew it, my poor friend, along with her passengers, were at a standstill.
A more-than-five-hour standstill.
Stuck. With thousands of other commuters. On the roadway to a major bridge. One that had shut down due to multiple accidents.
There was nowhere to go. Nothing to do. But sit. And sit. And sit some more.
As the mom of one of the occupants of this vehicle, I was a little anxious. I trusted my friend whole-heartedly. It wasn’t her driving I was concerned about. I was concerned they would run out of gas, get stuck on a snowy highway, and freeze to death (yes, I watch too much television, read too many books).
I had a daughter who was a bit distressed and sending anxiety-ridden texts to me. “Mom, I’m never getting home,” “It’s freaking me out,” “I feel trapped.” And finally, “I want tacos.”
Twenty-year-old people and their appetites. Ne’er shall an icicle, snowflake, or semi-crisis keep the hunger away. Stomachs on Kriptonite. There should be a superhero named after that.
My friend, who is amazing, kept the mood fun and light, spirits high. They broadcast their adventures via Facebook Live, which, let me tell you, was quite entertaining. Saturday Night Live had nothing on these three and brought a whole new meaning to “Carpool Karaoke.”
If they weren’t already on the road, I would have suggested they take their show on, you know, theroad. Ba-dum.
They were pretty resourceful on this trip. My friend’s daughter, using the highway to void. Because when you gotta go, you gotta go. Whether that toilet is on the inside of a bathroom, or on asphalt. Nature is nature and does not discriminate.
All of them figuring out how to turn half a bag of chips into a gourmet meal. Rationing water like they were lost on the prairie. Skills that will carry them throughout their lives.
What I found most humorous was the conversation they had with the man in the car next to them who was smoking a “blunt.” I suppose that’s a good way to deal with a situation like that. Although, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Just so you know, in my day it was called a “joint” or a “doobie.” There is nothing else in this world that shows my age more than having to ask what a “blunt” is. All this contemporary lingo got me like, “gag me with a spoon.”
Finally, they made it home. I think there was a little bit of each of us that wasn’t sure when it would happen. They were tired, a little worse for the wear, and totally freaked out. But they were safe. My friend is a rockstar. All of them are rockstars.
And those tacos? Have you ever had them at two-thirty in the morning? Me either. But I’m told they were pretty good. No blunt necessary.
Note: This post has been in the making for nine months, kinda like a baby except it wasn’t baking to perfection. I am just a Self-Proclaimed Procrastinator of the Universe.
As many of you may or may not know, I turned fifty last April. DH is and always has been Numero Uno in the birthday department. He makes it his job to be sure I have the perfect birthday every year.
For my fortieth, he gathered fifty of my closest friends and family and a big boat and we cruised around NY harbor to gaze at Lady Liberty under the stars. How can you outdo that one?
By taking your wife on a much needed vacation. When he asked what I wanted for my fiftieth I didn’t hesitate to ask for a tropical getaway. I was in dire need of a real, live vacation with palm trees, blue waters, and sand. Oh, and margaritas and rum punch. Lots and lots of margaritas and rum punch.
A drink boy would have been nice too, but I do have DH and he is totally nice to look at. Also, he likes to bring me drinks, so he would fit the bill.
My DH does not like traveling so I knew he would be less than thrilled, but it was my birthday wish. And birthday wishes must be fulfilled. It’s a rule. You know, in my rulebook.
After much research and reading every travel site known to man, I chose Providenciales. One of the islands of Turks & Caicos. Also, it was highly recommended by some friends and from my research it is known to have some of the best beaches in the world.
Who am I to turn away from the best beaches in the world? I would keep my toes in the sand my entire life if I could, so going to the best of them was right up my alley.
Also, this body of mine was depleted of Vitamin D (true story). Too much sun is bad for you. Too little sun is bad for you. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.
The Kid wanted to be a part of the festivities, so I chose a week in May after school got out and before she started summer activities. Three weeks before the rainy season begins there.
We rented a private cottage on a private stretch of beach. We could have gone to the other, more commercial side of the island, but in addition to needing a vacation I really needed peace and quiet.
When we disembarked, the heat from the sun was enough to make your skin melt off and the sweat factor was set at 165%. We all arrived in jeans because when we left New York it was chilly. I almost had to resort to scissors to get them off.
Sadly, that was the last of the sun for a week. Just to give you an idea of what we were dealing with, it is said to rain six days a year in Turks & Caicos. We saw four of them.
This is why I don’t play the lottery. My luck is so bad, I would probably owe the lottery people money.
Now don’t get me wrong. Our vacation was very nice. Our little cottage was sweet. Private and quiet just like I wanted with lots of vegetation right outside our back door.
But along with vegetation comes bugs that were on an apocalyptic level. It felt more like we were in a scene out of “Them!” than paradise, so any dreams of sitting on our beach were quickly swept away with the first bite from a sand flea.
But I couldn’t really complain. I mean, we were in Turks & Caicos. Turks & Caicos, people.
Besides the fact that our beach umbrella was used to keep out the rain instead of the sun, we had a lovely time. We were together and healthy so that’s all that mattered.
Until the “healthy” no longer applied.
Let’s just say I used my fair share of toilet paper and my stomach was cramped up in a vice grip from Day Two until well after our vacation was over.
When something disguised as Typhoid or Dengue Fever or parasites hits you like a fast ball at a Yankees game, it could be a vacation wrecker. But who was I to let a little diarrhea keep me from enjoying my vacation?
I powered through. I put on my snorkeling gear and spent the better part of our week with the fishies. When you are in the sea, you can’t really feel the rain falling on you. Also, something about the lightness of the water eased my cramping.
Remember I wanted lots of margaritas and rum punch? I may not have had lots of either, but I insisted on ordering a cocktail with my dinner every night whether I was in the mood or not. I swore that is what I wanted to do on vacation and that is what did do dammit.
And I sat on my cabana and watched the sunless sunset and drank a glass of wine from the $30 bottle of swill we bought at the local grocer, because the cost of all things there is astronomical.
All whilst being bitten to death by mammoth sized tropical bugs. But hello? Private cabana on private beach. Bugs or no bugs. It had to be done. If even for ten minutes.
So, I must know. Does something happen to our stomachs when we age? I’m not talking about how it heads south.
That is more obvious than knowing mimosas go with breakfast.
But this same thing happened to me in Ireland a couple years ago. Hmm.
After having testing done of my stool (yes, that was as fun as it sounds) when we hit American soil, all things alarming were dismissed. It looks like it was just a good old fashioned case of Montezuma’s Revenge.
Yup, traveler’s diarrhea.
In closing, when life gives you lemons, you add tequila. And Imodium. So, bring it on Monte. I’m ready for our next adventure.
Fa la la la la and welcome to Our Family Christmas Letter #5.
The year of 2017 was the year of discovery.
I discovered that I can’t sleep past 6:00am and that I can no longer sit criss-cross apple sauce. If I do, I feel like my hips are going to crack out of their sockets. Also, I’m pretty sure there is nothing left of my knees. How do I know? It could be the fact that I cannot so much as walk to the end of my driveway without feeling like someone took a baseball bat to my kneecaps. Call it a hunch.
Why is all this happening? I don’t really know but I’m blaming the number 50 because it all went downhill starting on the magical day of April 6. Yes, I am officially middle-aged and it ain’t pretty.
I’ve also discovered that my pits have decided to sweat a river a day. I spent the better part of the second half of 2017 looking for the perfect deodorant. Just so you know, it doesn’t exist. Not even on the men’s shelf at Stop and Shop so don’t bother. Those dress shield things — otherwise known as maxi pads for your armpits — work well enough until one of them pops out of the top of your shirt. That’s a nice look. I highly recommend it.
I had my first colonoscopy which was a real joy. Everyone told me it was nothing. That the prep was the worst. I discovered that was not true and that my friends are all liars.
The worst part of it was vomiting upon waking from my procedure. Anyone who knows me knows I would rather give a speech about quantum physics with centipedes crawling all over me to a room of 12,000 people, than vomit.
Maybe that’s an exaggeration…let’s make it spiders.
Also, I still haven’t figured out how it was possible to throw-up when I hadn’t eaten in nearly 20 hours. One of the many mysteries of the world, I guess. Maybe I’ll discover why in 2018, as that discovery just was not to be so in 2017.
(Note: three polyps were found, so please don’t let the fact that I threw up deter you from having a colonoscopy. It could very well save your life.)
Work for me is going great. It took a few months, but the cobwebs are finally clearing out of my brain. I seem to have grown out of all my old work pants though, so I’ve been wearing the same four pairs.
I plan on fitting back into those too-tight pants this year, but my New Year’s resolution track record is not a good one; therefore, I wouldn’t count on it. I apologize to all my co-workers but I promise I’ll try to wash them as much as possible.
Our dishwasher died this year. So, in addition to not being able to prevent the occurrence of the River Nile from developing in my underarm region, I have become a literal prairie woman by washing my own dishes. My new nickname is Caroline Ingalls. You can call me Carol for short.
Our washer and dryer also kicked the bucket this year, as well as our microwave. There is nothing like having to warm up your leftovers on an open flame. “Carol” seems to be more fitting with every appliance breakdown, don’t you think? And no, I did not hand wash our clothes. I have to draw the line somewhere. Attention co-workers: I just lied to you back there.
As for the other members of the family, they are doing just fine.
Our college age dear daughter has decided when she comes home she is a guest; therefore, expects us to pull out all the stops. I put my foot down at putting out a pitcher of Perrier on her nightstand, though. Poland Springs will have to do.
Other than that, she is doing great. The college debt is building up just like it should be. The best part is spending an evening applying for FAFSA when we don’t get a dime. I find it entertaining to be declined. It makes me feel rich even if for just a moment when in actuality l’m pretty sure if you have at least a house made of cardboard, you are too wealthy for a government handout.
DH is doing well. Nothing much has changed with him. He still likes to park the motorcycle in the living room during the winter season. Even though I tried to explain to him that we are prairie people now and prairie people don’t do those things. He never listens.
He still has his job he loves. Last week, I caught him trying to poke his good eye out with a fork. I’m so glad I stopped him. It’s hard to do the job he loves with only half an eye. If you recall, he lost part of his eyesight last year.
He’s still slim as ever. To all you ladies out there who don’t want a fat husband, cook really bad food. Twenty five years and counting so I am living proof this method works.
Then what’s MY excuse? I love bad food. I’m selfless like that.
I almost forgot to tell you, we finally went on a real vacation! After months of planning, the three of us flew to Turks and Caicos. It rained five days out of six and I contracted something close to Dengue Fever and basically got our money’s worth in toilet paper but it was fun overall.
I’m pretty sure we’re the only people on the planet who come back from the Caribbean without a tan but that’s just how we roll. (Toilet paper + roll = pun — see what I did there?)
That’s it in a nutshell. I would write a recap, but I need to go help pick up the Christmas Tree that just fell in our living room.
Discovery #9: If it seems like the old plastic Christmas tree stand that is leaking, leans to one side, and that you’ve had since the beginning of time is not going to hold a hundred pound tree, it probably won’t.
Why is there a live tree in the living room anyway? Yet another discovery hopefully to come in 2018.
When I was a young girl, my mother taught me how to knit. Or she tried to. There’s only so much you can do when your daughter is a lefty and can’t do so much as wipe her own face with her right hand.
We got as far as the knit stitch. My mom had to cast on and off for every project I did. That is, if you want to call my fifteen 7″ x 1″ Barbie scarves a “project.”
I will say this though: My Barbies had the warmest necks this side of the Hudson.
But as quickly as my new hobby started, it stopped. That was it. Done by the tender age of ten.
Until I saw something on the inter-webs last October and decided it was time to revisit that old forty-year dead hobby of mine. Except I didn’t remember how. And even if I did, I would only be able to do the knit stitch.
I had a friend who I knew would be able to get me started. Also, I know you can learn how to do anything from building a car engine to how to clean your toilet with Coca-Cola on YouTube.
Long Live YouTube.
I called my mom who immediately packed up all her knitting accoutrements, from needles to patterns, and put them in the mail to me. I could almost hear her say, “Sucker!” Because what I was really doing was helping her clean out her junk room.
I’m on to you, mom.
Anyway, I was going to be THE knitting phenom. I was going to have this untapped talent. I would be able to make everything from blankets to sweaters with those little sheep patterns on them.
I’m not quite sure what gave me this impression. Maybe because I’m really good at coloring inside the lines. Or it could be because art class was one of the classes I didn’t cut in high school.
Who knows? But I was pretty sure I was going to be good. Even though I hadn’t held a pair of knitting needles in my hands since 1977.
It turns out I wasn’t a knitting phenom. It wasn’t a God-given talent. If that’s even a thing. But more on that in a minute.
So, what exactly gave me the inspiration, after nearly forty years, to pick up my (mom’s) knitting needles again?
It would be this:
It all started with an accidental peek at a chunky blanket I spied on Pinterest. Or Etsy. Okay, I’m not sure where I saw it. It just saw it. Somewhere. And “they” said it would only take 4-5 hours to make.
A piece of cake.
Like I said, I had an epiphany and was 110% sure I could do this and do this well.
Me. The girl who uses the side view mirror of her car to pick off random mailboxes. The girl who has more squirrels running around in her brain than all of the Connecticut backwoods combined.
Anyway, I just HAD to knit one for my daughter for Christmas, who happens to be away at college.
I thought she could snuggle and think of her dear mommy every time she used it.
Because that is precisely what eighteen year olds do. Right? Right?
That friend of mine cast on for me and taught me how to do the purl stitch. We started with thirty-two stitches. After three days, I managed to increase it to forty-one.
I don’t know so don’t ask.
After approximately seven rows in, I decided to rip it all out. Because chances are I would have increased in stitches even more and my blanket would resemble a trapezoid something or other (thank you, Google) then, well, a blanket.
Also, I kept forgetting if I was supposed to be purling or knitting. So in addition to it being asymmetrical, it would be bumpy too. You know, kind of like my middle aged body.
Two words: not pretty.
Now of course I could only rip it out to the cast-on row, that first row, because I didn’t know how to cast on (yeah, I know..YouTube. Well, I forgot to look. Squirrel).
Then I decided to completely change the pattern. By accident, of course. The actual only decision-making was the act of choosing to take this project on. The rest just had a mind of its own.
Somewhere in there, I realized I didn’t like the knitting needles I was using so I hit Amazon and got myself new ones. And then didn’t like them, so I went back to the originals.
So far I have increased stitches, ripped, changed the pattern by accident, and switched needles. Twice.
A blanket pattern that claimed it would only take a half day of daylight hours to knit was now my life’s job. And it took almost my whole life to make the thing. Okay, so two months.
Christmas was fast approaching and my anxiety level was increasing. Not to mention the tension in my shoulders and back. Where is it said knitting is therapeutic? Sure. If you like to be tortured. I know a bed made of nails that is more relaxing.
Anyway, after hours and many weeks, this is the finished product. I, at least owe you a good laugh:
So, have I hung up my knitting needles? No. Because practice makes perfect, right?
We’ll see because I’m making all my nieces and nephews who are having babies, a baby blanket. Whether they like it or not. I apologize in advance, but you know, I’m an expert.
This is the reply you would get from my dad whenever anyone said, “Merry Christmas” to him. I used to get so mad at him. But now? I get it. Oh.my.god. I totally get it.
What the heck is so “Merry” about Christmas? Besides the fact that it’s Jesus’ birthday?
Well, really Jesus was probably born sometime in the summer because according to the Pastor at our church, it most likely took the three Wiseman approximately five to six months to get to Him. It gives a whole new meaning to “Christmas in July,” don’t you think?
Feeling duped? So did The Kid. That probably ranks up there with when our children found out we’ve been lying to them about Santa all these years (and the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy). I should feel bad about that, but I don’t.
Let me rephrase — I do not hate the actual day of Christmas. I love Christmas (although I like Thanksgiving better because…food all day. Need I say more?).
I just hate the month leading up to it.
It starts with standing in the living room trying to figure out which dang light on the three strings of lights is causing all of them to go out and then after two hours of trying just throwing in the towel and running to Rite Aid to buy all new lights and fighting the crowds to get them (and that’s before you get out of the car), it’s just really not merry.
Or the lines that start in the parking lot of Costco. The lists on top of lists of things to do. The cookies to bake. The 105 nieces and nephews to buy for. The Wrapping. The Christmas cards. The pushing, shoving, and absolute madness of the entire season.
Oh my gosh, how did I get so off topic?
Where was I? Oh yes. My Family Christmas Letter.
2016 was a fine year. And I don’t mean “fine” as in “ooh, yeah Brad Pitt is fine.” What I mean is that 2016 was “eh.”
It was the year where I proclaimed I was going to lose my double chin, when I actually gained a third one.
Also, my face decided 2016 was the year to start growing hair. That’s really fun. My tweezers are happy to have a daily chore though.
It was the year of me being a working mom for the second year. It went well. I mean, except for the fact that I had to shower every day, get dressed in something other than sweatpants, use my brain, and actually talk to people.
I suppose all those things right there are positive but I really do miss my PJ bottoms. And I get the feeling my brain may still be in sleep mode. But you’d have to confirm that with my co-workers.
DH started a new job that was nice enough to let him work 14 hour days and weekends. He also almost lost an eye, but he didn’t so I suppose that’s a positive.
The Kid finished high school and left me to go to college. Oh, I mean, she spread her wings and flew to where she will learn to be even greater than she is. So she can have a meaningful career and support herself.
The bad thing about that is our vacation money is being spent on an education. My body hasn’t seen the sun in ages. Seriously. My doctor says I’m severely depleted of Vitamin D.
Staying in a hotel two miles from campus for Parent’s Weekend does not count as vacation. Neither does it help with my Vitamin D levels because she is not going to the U of Hawaii or Stanford.
I suppose I could always OD on milk. But that’s a problem when your favorite drink is red wine. But hey. According to the American Heart Association, a glass a day has heart-healthy benefits.
Oh. A glass a day. So, math isn’t my strong suit.
Well, that’s about it. We are happy and healthy. We have jobs, a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and intact body parts. Overall, 2016 was decent, but looking forward to 2017. Here’s to hoping I don’t gain another chin.
Be well, my friends. Happy holidays and have a wonderful New year!
I write this as I lie here nursing a hangover. Too many white chocolate martinis will do that to a person. I guess New Year’s Eve of 2009 taught me nothing.
It is now 2016. More than half the decade is behind us. This year I turn 49, have my 30th high school reunion and will be the mother of a college student.
Can you believe three gray hairs sprouted out of my head during the making of that last paragraph? It’s true.
It is also the year when if you write 2015 on your check you can easily change the 5 to a 6 (creds go to my 17 year old for pointing that out), but that’s just an extra perk.
Anyway, a few months ago I had one of those episodes where the breath gets sucked right out of your lungs, you start to sweat ice and your heart races at 783 beats per minute.
No, I didn’t get hit in the gut with a baseball. Or remembered that I forgot to DVR last night’s Grey’s Anatomy (yes, I am that obsessed). It was much worse than that.
I suddenly came to the realization that my life is half over (actually if I’m going to be accurate, midway probably came about five years ago but let’s not say that out loud).
I wasn’t freaked out that my life is more than half over. I was more terrified of the fact that there is so much I still need and want to do in my life. Somehow those first 48 years blew by with ne’er a stiff breeze.
I have experienced some wonderful things. I fell in love, became a mother and went to Ireland. I have a good life. I am generally happy. But is that enough? I realized my bucket is still pretty full. And having a full bucket is not the same as having a full glass or full belly. It isn’t satisfying.
What is in my bucket? Besides Clorox and hot water on cleaning day? I want to go to Italy, make love under the stars (ok so I did that once but I was 20 and drunk so it doesn’t count), and write a novel. Just to name a few.
I also want to be healthier (I understand that should be on the resolutions list but I’m lazy), volunteer more of my time to my community and fill my weekends with more than television and Candy Crush.
So, I have proclaimed 2016 to be my year (right along with about 10 million of you). What makes 2106 any different and special from the other years? I mean, I have been making myself Queen since 1995 and have done nothing but fallen off the throne halfway through January time and time again.
Because I realized my life is half over and there is literally no more time to f*ck around.
Life is fleeting and can change in an instant. I don’t want to be on my deathbed with regrets that I didn’t live my life to the best of my ability. That I didn’t accomplish the things that are important to me, or at least gave them a good fight.
So, welcome 2016. You are my year. I can’t wait to get started. Right after I take a shower.
Merry Christmas Eve! Yes, I realize it’s Christmas eve and just getting my letter out. Procrastination is #12 on my list of New Year’s resolutions. Don’t worry, it will be broken by January 2nd, along with giving up wine and eating more greens.
Can you believe it’s December Christmas Eve already? I swear I feel like I just put away that pain in my ass village yesterday and here I am again. Hauling shit out of the basement like I’m some kind of Martha Stewart or something. Except I’m clearly not Martha Stewart by my decorating skills. I’ve been using the same crap decorations I’ve had for the last 23 years. Recycling at it’s finest, people.
Do you find that as you get older, it’s just the same year after year? The same routine, the same lights, the same fake cranberry wreath hanging from your foyer mirror. It gets so monotonous and exhausting. I truly see why the elderly just throw one of those pre-lit ceramic trees in the window, plug it in, and call it a day.
Now that that’s out of the way, I was reflecting on the past year. So much has happened. Okay, that’s a lie. Not a lot has happened. Well, maybe a little. Enough to make a killer interesting, sit on the edge of your seat letter? Well, no. But here is it anyway. You’re welcome.
I suppose the biggest news coming from our household is this whole process of college shopping and applying. Look, I didn’t go to college. But I have friends who did and I do not recall any of the crap fun stuff that goes on today.
I swear, if your kid isn’t class president, maintain a 4.99 grade point average, is the leader of every single club in school plus not only participate in 12 different sports but excel to the point where some professional league is knocking on your door, then you can forget about getting a juicy scholarship. Or even getting in. The College Application. The place where dreams go to die.
Although we only have one kid and this should be a walk in the park, I have to tell you I really want our money to be our money again. I don’t mean to complain, but it started with diapers on Day One and the monetary bleeding just keeps on coming. It’s a wound that doesn’t heal. So, although becoming Empty Nesters sounds really great in concept, we still will be broke because four years of college in the 21st century equals one large house, two vacations a year and a boat.
All joking aside, we are proud of our little crotch apple. Wherever she goes will be wonderful. I’m looking forward to taking over her walk-in closet. What shall I turn it into? I mean, since I won’t have the money to buy any clothes.
Let’s see, what else is new? Oh how could I forget? We got a dog! A big, sloppy, hairy german shepherd. And when I say “hairy” I mean hair everywhere, in every crevice, on every surface. Just think Christmas tree needles on Crack. Except Christmas tree needles smell nice. It’s really DH’s dog but that’s okay. The hair is for everyone and we love him nonetheless.
There was a little trip to Ireland! No, really. This time I mean it. Well, it was just me and a friend. The Kid was supposed to go because it was for a dance competition but she wound up getting another concussion (kids should not be allowed to play sports without bubble wrap taped to their head) and didn’t want to miss any more school (yes, she came out of my hoo-haa because I was there and saw it — go figure).
Anyway, that place is beautiful and green. Luckily, green is my favorite color so it worked out. The people are amazing and patient. I think everyone should go to Ireland to learn a thing or two. Although I went and learned and came home and my good patience lasted approximately 4 days (okay, that’s an exaggeration — it ended as soon as the guy in the seat next to me kept taking over my arm rest).
I started working a real live job this year. Which means I don’t have time for cleaning or shopping or making dinner or any of those things I didn’t do anyway. Except now I just have an excuse.
It’s fun being out in the world with people and talking and using my brain that I thought was past the point of no return and having to get showered and dressed before 5p.m. It took me about 3-months to learn how to walk in heels again without teetering over, and another 3 months for the bruises to disappear from my toenail beds but all is well. I can walk in heels like a pro now. As long as there is a wall nearby.
That pretty much sums it up. We are all happy and healthy to which I am eternally grateful. Cheers to a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you next year.